7/3/08

Endurance Commuting in Chicago - 109 miles offroad

Gas Prices, Traffic, Offroad route and a desire to train are good reasons to bypass the car for the bike. There are a few obstacles with the biggest one being the distance. I presently commute 42 miles through Chicago traffic to work each way. Insane and not desired, yet temporary as I'm self employed and this is where one of my clients is located.

The route consists of two main trail routes, Des Plaines river trail and the Illinois Prarie Path (IPP) with the addition of one mile of road from the office to the trail, about four miles to connect the two and 10 miles through Naperville to reach home. The IPP is well maintained, well mapped and hard packed limestone. The Des Plaines is quite the opposite, not maintained at all, single track, multi track, mud, ruts, swampy, crosses a few sets of RR tracks at non crossings, multiple under bridge crossings with water and desolate. You don't even realize you're near O'Hare when you pass.

I've been wanting to do this ride for sometime and finally took the challenge yesterday. The decision was to drive the car to work in the AM, ride the bike home, sleep for the night and then ride the bike back to work so that I had enough time and energy to complete the task. I left work about 3PM with warnings of high winds, thunderstorms and lightning. I was able to make 2/3rds of the trip before it sprinkled, yet the winds and sky kept me on my toes. Arrival time was 3 hrs 50 minutes after I started with no stops or rests with the exception of a few traffic crossings. I was whipped, ate well and wondered how in the world I would make it back to get my car. I even reviewed the Metra schedule as my body wasn't feeling well.

The next morning came quickly with the alarm at 5AM. Showered, Cheerios and many pondered thoughts. The bike finally won out and I was out the door by 5:40. The rains did come over the DesPlaines river trail after I passed the day before which made for a very muddy commute and lots of standing water. I showed up at work quite dirty, another non-stop ride 3 hrs and 59 minutes later for a round trip total of 108.99 miles, most of it being offroad in Chicago!

Pics from the cell phone to follow...

2 comments:

Chris said...

You just signed yourself up -- next late winter, if it's frozen and not snow-covered, south end of the DPRT to Wisco and back. Ride on!

mzzm said...

Sounds like a great plan to me! I'm looking forward to it. Sorry no tag response yet as I've been swamped with various projects due to an upcoming house move.