Hot and Sweltering Lakefront Trail Toodle – 2 July 2011

Museum Campus Area

Tom Skilling of WGN fame had predicted for Friday what we got today. It was a bit of a sweltering scorcher. So we planned our activities accordingly.

Breakfast was first. We picked up extra bagels with peanut butter for later in the afternoon and then ordered acai fruit smoothies from Jamba Juice. Finally a couple of ice coffees from the Starbucks next door and we were off to find the Yorkville location for The Sports Authority to pick up our packets for the upcoming L.A.T.E. Ride.

These folks do a great job of providing swag to offset the steep cost of the ride. Then it was a longish drive to the LaRabida Children’s Hospital parking lot be unpack our bikes and begin the ride.

A couple of middle-aged women who saw our bikes were enthralled with them. I always find this refreshing. Kids of course like anything new and exotic but to find folks who are past 50 years of age who can appreciate a recumbent is always a plus.

Outbound Leg

We hopped onto the trail heading south towards the South Shore Cultural Center. Despite the name change it is still the site of the South Shore Country Club links.

As we pulled up there were a couple of folks who were carrying out table decorations and other things from a buffet held earlier. I sat and waited for Connie and then went into use the washrooms myself. On the way back out Connie was examining her sandal cleats.

I had just installed them this morning and the Keen Commuter Sandal on one side was not clipping it. So after looking closely I suggested that we move both cleats forward a bit to take advantage of the more generous cutout area. That seemed to work so it was off towards the Museum Campus where the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Field Museum of Natural History sit.

Taking A Breather

When we reached the campus area folks were out and about moving slowly but nevertheless enjoying the lakefront breezes. We sat on a park bench just south of the Field Museum watching the folks pass by. Several of the passersby were curious about the bikes. Some smiled and acknowledged that they thought they looked cooled.

The nice thing about Chicago is that like other big cities with fine educational institutions and a lively commodities market it draws people from all over the globe. And you could tell this from all the various languages that we heard spoken as families, couples and small groups passed by.

We split the bagel with peanut butter I had brought along for the purpose. It was nice to get refueled. Knowing how busy the north end of the trail can be and acknowledging that we had started rather late in the day (1 PM) we decided to head back towards the van.

Inbound Leg

There was a brief notion that we could take in the Northerly Island loop, but after a bit of deliberation it was decided to pass up the opportunity and get back with as little energy spent as possible.

By this point in the afternoon, the families that had set up positions along the lakefront trail to barbecue and socialize was beginning to pack up their chairs and tents and head back towards their vehicles.

We passed carefully as there were small children who tend not to watch what they are doing. It was nice finally to be south of 31st Street beach where things “open up” a bit.

By the time we were back at 67th Street Beach it was easy to hear the sounds of the drum group that plays there each evening. I would have stopped and captured a few frames of video but the heat was oppressive and I decided to continue.

We pulled into the parking lot where the van was parked and quickly got our sandals off and our bikes packed. It felt great to get into the vehicle and have the air conditioning wash over us. Connie made a brilliant suggestion to visit the Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen to grab some falafel sandwiches and head homeward.

The sandwiches and salads really hit the spot. We washed them all down with a couple of Honest Teas and Starbucks iced coffees.

Then it was back the way we had come. We stopped for a brief bit to capture images of a heavily gargoyled house along 55th Street. And then continued towards home.

Afterword

Just want to sing the praises of the Easy Racers GRR. This is one great bike! Ours have been hanging up in the garage for nearly a year. This happened because we purchased some Easy Racers Ti-Rush bikes and a couple of Sun Tour Easy LEs. So something had to hang upside down from the ceiling hooks.

Initially these were the Tour Easy LEs (Taiwanese-made). But we ride trails fairly often and it got to be a chore taking them down and then putting them up. Of all the bikes we own they are the heaviest. So we relegated the GRRs to the ceiling and forgot about them for a year.

Taking them down last night in preparation for today’s ride was a renewed revelation. I’d have to give the GRR the superstar position among the entire line of Easy Racers bikes. They are stiff frames that are quite light in weight and handle like a dream. And that stiffness translates into a nice climbing and sprinting advantage.

Sure the Ti-Rush is a plush dream of a bike. But nothing in the line of Easy Racers metallic bikes is as impressive as the GRR. At while none of the bikes is cheap, it is not as dear in price as the Ti-Rush and yet performs as well in every category with the exception of comfort.

If you really want a great all around performer then my advice is to buy the GRR if you can’t decide on which of these fantastic bikes is the one you really want.

Distance: 17.8 miles
Time: 1h 45m 19s