Open Streets Chicago : Downtown State Street

Outbound Leg

Major Taylor Club Riders returning from their 48-mile loop

By the time we had reached the highway and were heading into the city it seemed reasonable to park on Recreation Drive and head south to the State Street area where Active Transportation Alliance was conducting its Open Streets event. But I was curious whether the turnout for the Major Taylor Club ride had been satisfactory so we planned to at least swing by the La Rabida Children’s Hospital parking lot along the Chicago Lakefront Trail to see how things looked.

As luck would have it the group was just returning from their 8:00 AM start. Sean and a couple of friends were just finishing up a 48-mile loop and had left the others eating their lunches slowly while they hurried back to attend to other duties of the day.

Since we were already down here and the parking lot was only half full we decided to stay and begin our trip northward to State Street in downtown Chicago. Sean came over to say hello. He indicated that there had been about 15-20 riders from the group today. The fellow pictured above in the club jersey is a newbie rider with a very nice bike. He is formerly from an African nation and has come here to America to cast his lot with us.

We said goodbye and headed down to the South Shore Cultural Center for a pitstop before beginning our journey northward.

The Cultural Center was busy today. Some golfers were out and playing through. There must have been a school tutoring session going on indoors as several kids left with their parents deep in discussion about this or that class for which they need remediation. When I went indoors the Parrot Cage restaurant was serving a large group a late brunch.

Into the Wind

Chicago has been dealing with high winds and choppy lakefront conditions for the past few days. While not as bad today the windy conditions were still very much in evidence. Waves crashed against the rocky shoreline areas and were tossed a couple dozen feet into the air in several areas.

The water was so roiled it looked muddy.

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By the time we reached the Museum Campus area it was nice to head inland and find some relief from the winds coming off the lake amidst the tall buildings along Michigan Avenue.

Open Streets

The Open Streets event stretch for several block along State Street beginning just a block north of the Harold Washington Public Library. It reached as far as Lake Street to the north. For most of that distance folks were out and about on the street looking at competitions, enjoying performances like that put on by the DePaul University Jazz Band or the Chicago Women’s Roller Derby Team.

Young children were on their trikes or walking with their parents or being pushed in strollers. Adults and youths were drinking in the ambience. There were at least two Chill Zones where real sod had been laid down on the tarmac and lawn chairs spread out for passersby to settle in and “take a load off”. But frankly it was a bit too chilly for me to even contemplate taking a breather right there.

We moved slowly from one end of the street to the other and took pictures along the way. By the time we reached the far end the exhibits were in some instances already being broken down. Nevertheless the attendance was good and the event seemed to be enjoyed by all the visitors.

We returned to the south end and make a pit stop before heading back towards the lakefront.

InBound Leg

Two things were true by now. I was getting hungry and needed to nosh on a bagel with peanut butter and it was getting colder. But the good news was that the winds were dying down and were more from the rear rather than the headwinds we fought on the way into the downtown area.

We rode along Michigan Avenue and climbed up the slope leading to the Buckingham Fountain area. There we found a park bench out of the strong breeze where the sun felt great and we were less likely to suffer hypothermia.

The pumpernickel bagel (smeared with peanut butter) we shared was delicious. Squirrels who were obvious rather tame came over to beg a bite or two from us. We obliged. Before long we had four of the little critters scampering about all over me and our bikes. We broke out a ProBar and shared it between ourselves and at least one of the squirrels.

Then it was back across the Lake Shore Drive before continuing our ride southward to 67th Street. The bagels had done their magic and I felt a bit of welcomed liveliness in my legs. Besides without the headwinds riding felt so much better that I decided to sprint a bit. After making it up the last overpass entering the Hyde Park area we rounded the corner and rode the final leg into the parking lot.

For good measure we circled the northern end of the lot before settling in behind our van and packing up our bikes to head home. It was a great ride and there were lots of neat things to see and do!

Ride Info

Distance: 22.5 miles
Time: 2h 38m 38s