Every year Chicago plays host to two lively music scenes: Lollapalooza and the South Shore Jazz Festival. I was unaware of the fact that we were going to run into them this particular weekend and therein lies the story of our ride.
We normally park at the La Rabida Children’s Hospital Parking Lot and then ride down to the South Shore Cultural Center to use their bathroom facilities. This is the site of the old Country Club and is still a grand building to look at and walk through. When we entered the grounds cars were lined up near the main entrance which was a bit disconcerting. I guessed that some sort of golf tournament must be underway.
In fact the place was filling up with visitors to the Jazz Festival. It meant that rather than entering by the main door we both had to walk in through the side entrances. That as it turns out was rather nice because it shortened the walk and made it quite easy to get in and out with little fuss.
A jazz singer sat outside the entrance waiting for some of her group to arrive. I did not recognize her face but one of the folks who was manning the door came over to complement her on her appearance. Guess that my knowledge of jazz singers is a bit deficient. I walked into the washroom with one of the radio personalities from WBEZ. He was the one who explained the nature of the activities going on.
We left and began pedaling northward towards another interesting situation. By the time we reached the Solder Field area it was time to decide whether or not to head directly to the new Native Foods restaurant opening or try and make it up to the northern terminus of the Lakefront Trail and back. We opted for the latter owing to the lateness of the hour.
That turned out to be a mistake. Sure the trail is busy on the weekend. But this was absurd! Lollapalooza was in full swing and the stretch of trail alongside the LakeShore Drive from the Field Museum to the Millennium Park was simply horrid.
There were thousands of folks walking all over the trail and none of them seemed to want to share the walkway. They took up both sides of the walk and that meant having to dodge folks who were headed into the oncoming pedestrian and bicycle traffic and unaware that there was a yellow line separating the two sides. Yikes!
But we made it north and then turned around to return.
At Oak Street Beach the boaters were gathered as they are each weekend with their radios all playing the same station. It was a smaller group today owing I would guess to their numbers depleted because of the concerts. Nevertheless it was deafening to hear the sound as it echoed off the buildings across the Lake Shore Drive.
And then around 35th Street the picnickers were everywhere on the trail. It was as if they had made a point to clog up the thoroughfare. It was however uneventful.
Back at the van we packed up the bikes and took questions about them from a couple of older cyclists who were just heading out for an evening ride. We bade the adieu and then headed north to the Native Foods Cafe. In a word “packed”. The line was out the door and onto the sidewalk.
It would seem that everyone who knew the place was finally opened had shown up to dine. A professional videographer was interviewing patrons as they left. We decided to leave and come again another less busy weekend.
Distance: 36.0 miles
Time 4h 04m 40s