Cycling in Chicago - Be careful what you wish for!

It has been hot since we left Snowmass in Colorado. We drove across Kansas and cycled in Independence, Missouri in 90 degree F (30s C) heat. We rode The Tunnel Hill State Trail and The I & M Canal Trail in Illinois in the mid to high 80s F. We knew the mid-west would be hot this time of year but not this hot. Every exhausting kilometre we have been wishing for a cool change. Yesterday it arrived!

The trouble was it came right in the middle of a long cycle. We were riding the The Lake Front Trail in Chicago. The trail runs for 18 miles along the shore of Lake Michigan from the northern suburbs to the southern, past downtown Chicago. The sun was out, the trail was easy and the scenery was great. It reminded us of cycling The Rambla in Montevideo,Uruguay. With water stretching to the horizon on one side and  the city on the other it was a perfect traffic free way to see a large city. The only tricky thing was avoiding the hoards of other cyclists, joggers and pedestrians out enjoying the conditions.

Then the weather changed; suddenly and without warning. One minute we were riding along enjoying the sunshine and slight breeze coming off the lake and the next we turned a corner and got hit by a blast of arctic air and gale force winds - well they felt gale force. Next came the rain; sheets of ice cold precipitation driven hard into our faces by each gust.

David has not yet replaced the cycling jacket he had stolen in Chile. He is searching for the perfect jacket. With a bit of luck yesterday's experience will persuade him to lower his standards a little - lol. Without a jacket he was soon soaked to the skin. Even with a jacket I was not much better off. We turned for home as soon as the storm hit but by then we had cycled a good 12 or 13 miles. It was a long, hard slog back to the car - cycling into the wind the whole way. To add insult to injury we discovered that Chicago has the worst traffic of any city we have ever been in. It was another two and a half hours before we finally arrived back at our hotel at St Charles.

The sun came out again today and we considered returning to the Lake Front Trail but couldn't face the thought of the traffic. We will just have to make do with our memories of Chicago as cold, wet and icy. To hear the locals talk about last winter that may not be too far from accurate.

A perfect day for cycling- until it wasn't!

City bike schemes are growing around the world - lots of other the cyclists were riding these bikes.

Not far from the beginning of the ride. The gathering clouds were ominous.

A few miles before the storm hit.

The Rambla in Montevideo - you can see why Chicago's Lake Front Trail reminded us of Uruguay.

For the next post in this series click - here

For all my posts on this road trip click - here

4 July 2014

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