Yesterday marked the first day of our Midwestern cycling adventure and it offered a bit of everything,
You might think that because we had traveled across the country two years ago, we would know exactly how and what to pack. Apparently not and within the first half mile, Pat had already lost the piece on his hydration pack necessary for drinking water. He went back to the starting place, at our daughter’s apartment in Wheaton, but all he found was a flock of geese. Did we bring extra water bottles? Yes, we had but decided to leave them at Destyni’s apartment because why not?
A few minutes later, I watched Pat catch his wheel in a gutter and he almost went down. Not a good beginning but then we found the Illinois Prairie Path and our cycling abilities improved. We passed some mothers out pushing infants in strollers and crossed multiple streets on the path as in took us to Warrenville. The path was beautiful, tree covered on both sides and the surface was primarily crushed limestone. We circled around the St. James Forest Preserve that had multiple corrals all of which had no horses. Then came the highlight of the day when we arrived in Warrenville and spotted the memorial to the founders of the Illinois Prairie Path. Getting this path off the ground was quite the feat thanks to May Watts and close to 12 others who advocated for the creation of a trail on the abandoned rail line. This trail and the Wisconsin trail from Elroy to Sparta were the beginnings of the rails to trails movement and we have much to thank the visionaries who saw what was possible and protected the land.
We then entered a section of the trail next to large power lines on one side and cattails on the other, crossed railroad tracks and went through an industrial park section. It was here that the aroma of coffee was everywhere or perhaps I was fantasizing. The trail ended at the Fox River on the outskirts of Aurora, Illinois. We found our way to the city of lights, their nickname, because they were one of the first communities to use electric street lights in the 19th century. Multiple businesses on the main street were shuttered but eventually we found a side street for iced coffee across from the city’s library. Pat took charge of the rest of the trip; from one nature trail to another with suburban sidewalks and multiple housing developments.
The worst part of the afternoon occurred as we neared Interstate 55. No sidewalks, no shoulders and cars and trucks moving at a fast speed. My brilliant solution to walk inside the guard rails facing traffic was a no go when we discovered a jersey divider over the bride and had to turn back, find a way to cross the horrid road and try walking on the other side with traffic. At one point, Pat moved his bicycle into the lane where the cars were and I was wondering why when I, too, noticed the dead animal in our path. Yuck!!!
After surviving this road intact, we found sidewalks again and continued on to Bolingbrook and Romeoville. We were stressed and tired and knew our plans to cycle to a campground outside of Joliet was no longer in our sight. Luckily a nice gentleman suggested a few motels not far away and we found ourselves at a Holiday Inn Express. Apparently we arrived on the right night for free wine, beer (Bud Light) and popcorn. After a excellent night’s sleep in a bed, rather than our daughter’s floor, we are ready for Day Two.
Shevonne and Pat