Our first snow ride
We got our first snow ... big snow ... last week. Despite the occasional thaw we've got 3-6 inches of accumulation. And the weather gurus are predicting more by the middle of this week.
It all started Tuesday when nine hardy souls gathered at The Handlebar Tuesday night to celebrate the return of Bells to the City of Big Shoulders. Well, it wasn't exactly the official return ... it'll be several months before you can quaff Kalamazoo's finest throughout the city. It was more like a stealth return promoted by The Logan Square Draft Beer Preservation Society.
But as often happens with Chicago bikers, there was another BIG REASON to brave this winter's first great snow storm. When two inches (or more) of new snow fall on our lovely streets, folks are encouraged to meet up for an evening Snow Ride.
Not to be outdone by Critical Mass, there wasn't a preplanned route. As we waited for the required depth, a number of suggestions were offered and debated until we agreed on The Bloomingdale Trail. Billed as our Next Great Park, it's an abandoned 3 mile stretch of elevated train tracks that bisects the heart of our prairie metropolis from west to east. Local rail2trail advocates have worked hard over the last few years to get it opened.
Until that happens, it remains a tempting challenge for urbex stalwarts; especially with 4 inches of swirling, drifting, late night snow %) It was relatively easy to get onto the trail last winer when we rolled the tracks. The were huge gaps in much of the fencing. Since then, however, the city has fixed most of them. The only option left to us was scaling a 6 foot embankment wall near Damen Ave.
The surface up there, about 20 feet wide with the tracks running along the south side, is anything but smooth. Add the snow and it's about the most challenging off-road ride I've ever done. I almost went down a few times. Folks were cool though as I brought up the rear huffing and puffing. But it was worth it.
There was this devil may care camaraderie of plowing across potholes and near-tumbles. Even a couple of people watching us from their cozy condos gave us enthusiastic high-fives. Perhaps that's the whole point of bikewinter here: every day you ride, every icy street you survive, you feel more and more like a true Chicagoan.