On Friday morning, I packed all of my camping gear onto my bike and headed downtown to work a half day. By 1:30, I was on the train to Harvard, IL and getting ready to bike 30 miles to Kettle Morraine State Forest in Wisconsin for a weekend camping trip with an awesome group of women.
The train ride was crowded, but uneventful, but at 3:20 I was on my bike and rolling towards the Cheddar Curtain. It's always so strange to get out of the city these days. Being able to bike for miles wihout seeing a car or another person is relaxing and peaceful.
I knew that i had the tools on hand to fix flats, or my chain, or even to replace my brake cables. Being self-sufficient is a wonderful feeling. It was also comforting to know that I had a friend coming along in a car to meet me at the camping site.
My "new" handlebar bag made it easy to grab my camera for on-the-bike shots and quick checks of the map. or to be able to grab a handful of trailmix
Before I knew it, I crossed the state line and the hills began. Living in Chicago, it's easy to think that the Earth is indeed flat. My inexperience with hills really shows as I panted and gasped my way to the top. At least the rides down almost made it worth it. My bike felt solid and my bags were balanced.
After miles of corn and soybean field with nothing around, I made it to the town of Delavan, Wisconsin. This town was adorable...a brick main street, indepenedent store fronts, and a chance to refill on water, get a snack and to cool down before finishing up my ride. Aparently the town is a former circus colony, which would explain the Giraffe, Elephant and Lion statues by the town's water tower.
The Delavan break was followed by more hills, and more hills, but also very quiet roads, a solar farm, llamas, picturesque scenery and my final destination, Kettle Morraine State Forest's Whitewater recreation area.
Over the weekend we spent lots of time swimming, I got some reading done, tried to waterski, cooked over a campfire and all the other awesome stuff that one does while camping. I also battled mosquitoes and kind of lost.
On Sunday morning, we packed up, and repeated the trip. This time I rode with five other women back to Harvard for the train. I sent my heavier stuff back in the "team car" so I could keep pace with the others. Having the hills at the beginning of the ride was easier in some ways, but also killed my motivation a bit. However, the pressure to keep up with the group kept me going.
After a lunch break, some water stops and battling a cross wind, we made it to Harvard, had a few drinks then got on the Metra.
Getting off at the Irving Park Metra station was very different than my weekend riding. There was traffic everywhere and cars all around. However, it was flat and I rode the 3 miles home in no time.
So, with going 200 miles out of my way, 60 of that on a bike, it certainly was going the long way home...and I can't wait to do it again.