Black Friday Little Italy Toodle 2011

Ride Summary

Sign Outside Rapid Transit Bicycle Shop

You really have to visit the Little Italy neighborhood surrounding the University of Illinois Campus to get a taste of what the city could look like if Urban Renewal was allowed to thrive.

We did a very sort toddle around the area before making our way over to the Rapid Transit Bicycle Shop on Halsted Street to sample their Paçzkis and mulled spiced cider. Yummy!

As you can see from the ride map above we literally went up and down streets to get a glimpse of the kind of architecture to be seen. Most of the university housing is quite modern but made to look as if it has been there for quite a while.

The buildings are similar in blocks yet subtlety different. It makes for a very interesting tour. Even the low income (subsidized) portion of the enclave is quite nice. The yards are fenced and gated and there are kids living in what must seem a very nice area indeed.

Even the churches that surround the Taylor Street business district are marvels of splendor from a bygone era. We will return again to drink in the ambience.

Rapid Transit Shop

There are two shops in this local chain. The other is in the Wicker Park area around the corner from the Native Foods Cafe on Milwaukee Avenue. What separates the two for me is that if you are merely wandering in off the street the one on Halsted is far more “user-friendly”. There are no steps to drag your bike up to get into the store and in fact this shop has a downward slope to get in from street level. What is more you can park you bike along the wall and wander around gawking at those bikes hung from the or accessories lining the shelves on the wall.

Their staff is quite knowledgeable and willing to answer “dumb questions”. They have seen a surge in the sales of folder bikes (especially Bromptons). It seems that the 6-speed models are in demand for those who plan to ride outside the flat environs of a city like Chicago.

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We had a Paçzki and a cup of mulled spiced cider and then rode back to the van. Then it was off to the Native Foods Cafe for pickup and then off to the Chicago Lakefront Trail parking area by the Waveland Tennis Courts (near the Clock Tower) where we sat and ate our lunches and drank our lemonades.

Bikers and joggers were again out on the trail. Dogs were in the field across from where we sat chasing tennis balls thrown by the owners. It was a very nice day to have been out and about. Hopefully the weather prognosticators will have been wrong about the snow due to hit the area on Sunday afternoon. Brrr…

Cyclometer Info

Distance: 5.0 miles
Time: 0h 46m 04s