We chose to park at the UIC campus parking lot at Taylor and Halsted Streets. This is the place where we previously began our Four Star Bike Tour ride. It is relatively cheap on the weekends and right up the street is a Caribou Coffee with a public washroom. So we parked and unloaded the bikes and donned the front fairings and got ready for an adventure.
The ground floor of the lot has doorways that spill onto the sideway along Halsted and we exited through the closest of these and made our way to the corner to get onto the roadway. Halsted is a fairly well travelled bicycle route. In fact as we hopped onto the roadway a gal in jeans and a fall jacked came gliding past and led us a merry chase for the better part of a mile or more up Halsted towards Milwaukee Avenue.
We lost her (or more precisely, she us) at Lake Street. There is a nice climb over an overpass that we take and that begins the ride along Milwaukee. You pass the Polish Catholic Museum and head northwest to Polonia Park before eventually entering the Wicker Park community.
The Cooking Demo
The ride is a quick one up to the restaurant. We pulled onto the sidewalk outside the demo and saw what appeared to be a nearly full room. I suggested parking the bike in among the outside dining furniture to impede their theft by someone looking to do a quick smash and grab. Then we locked the two bikes together using the rather paltry thin steel cables we own and strolled inside and took seats at the back of the room.
Up front Chef Kendall was holding court dressed as a witch, complete with hat, green nose, striped stockings and black dress! Cool! She had an assistant dressed as a winged monkey (guess which movie they stole that idea from) and others who were stylish in a less theatrical manner.
The audience listened intently as they learned about the various foods that she uses to create her holiday dishes and at frequent intervals the assistants would circulate through the audience with samples of the foods she was making. Yummy!
Towards the end of the demo, there was a moment when everyone was asked to reach under their seats to discover whether they had a prize winning ticket taped underneath. Alas we were sitting on mesh chairs taking from the outdoor furniture sets and so no tickets were used. Blast! But other lucky souls were treated to tote bags, mugs, and such. Drat!
Luncheon Is Served
Less that 15 minutes after the end of the cooking class the seating area was transformed back into restaurant table seating. We stayed and had luncheon and dessert. One of the patrons saw our bikes and came over to ask about them. He is in his early 50s or late 40s and wants something a bit more comfortable than his hybrid. Since he has an indoor recumbent exercise bike he thought that an outdoor version might be suitable.
He has an acquaintance who has since moved to Florida and rides a Bacchetta Strada recumbent bicycle. I suggested that he try the Amlings Bike Shop or the Rapid Transit Shop (less than a mile away) to see examples of not only the Bacchetta but Easy Racers bikes as well. Since he lives further north he will probably try out Amlings first!
After giving him a chance to at least sit on Connie’s Easy Racers Tour Easy we said our goodbyes and headed back to the van. Then it was off to grab a cup of ice chai tea before hitting the highway for home!
Distance: 7.3 miles
Time: 49m 04s