Sunday, June 6, 2010

Family biking in Chicago: extended version

 We made it! My favorite dudes at the Museum of Science and Industry. Cool bike racks.

The ever-chic Dottie and the Bean (Cloud Gate)

When it comes to vacation, everyone's all looking for something outside their normal routine. City folks head for wide open spaces, and country folks want a hit of the urban vibe. We're no different. With a tiny urban farm and views of the mountains, we wanted to see monuments to human innovation, like exotic food, great architecture and bike paths.

Ah, Chicago! We were only there for 36 hours, which isn't nearly enough to do this fair city justice. We still managed to squeeze in some amazing Thai food at Big Bowl and boy time at the Legoland Discovery Center (both in Schaumburg), water play and sculpture gazing at Millenium Park downtown, and some wonderful biking along the Lakefront Trail (click for maps) to the ever-amazing Museum of Science and Industry. The boys ate their first Chicago-style hot dogs and got another taste of Chicago deep-dish pizza, too. We don't mess around when it comes to good food.

One of the highlights of the trip was meeting up with fellow blogger Dottie from the wonderful blog Let's Go Ride a Bike. She and co-blogger Tricia are one of the reasons that I decided to try biking through a Montana winter, and they continually inspire me to challenge my assumptions about biking and its lycra-clad stereotypes.

Over her lunch hour, skirt-clad Dottie was gracious enough to meet me with her gorgeous Azor Oma by Workcycles and we took a little spin on her turf--the Lakefront Trail. We chatted about the genesis of LGRAB's Summer Games, urban biking and the relief of finding other women who love everyday cycling.

My dudes' challenge of the day was getting from downtown to MSI and back via bike. Usually when we're in city, we rely on public transportation or our feet to get us from place to place, but this time, we brought the bikes. We weren't sure how the boys would react to the whole adventure, but Dottie assured us that the bike path extended that far south, so we put on our best faces and went for it.

We shouldn't have worried. To be sure, there were a few "Are we there yet?" moments, but it was a very pleasant trip, even on a warm, humid day. What I forget about summer biking is that you create your own breeze as you go along. The trick is to find the optimal speed so that you're biking fast enough to make that breeze, but not going fast enough to sweat buckets once you stop. It's not that hard when you're going kid speed.

Fueled by popsicles and the glorious view of the downtown skyline, we made it back to Millenium Park in what seemed like minutes. (Figure about an hour to be on the safe side.) Dragon Boy rode through every single puddle on the way, so we stopped at the Crown Fountain to hose off the grime.

I expected to be wowed by the Lakeshore Tail's views, but I didn't give much thought about what kinds of people would be on the trail. On downtown streets, it's smorgasboard of fashion-conscious folks. On the bike paths, the focus is on fitness and being outside. It's a facet of city life that wasn't really on my radar.

Without a doubt, it was worth taking the bikes. This post is long, so if you want more of the nitty-gritty details about hauling a family's worth of bikes into the city, leave a comment and I'll make sure I tell you more.

The family reflected in Cloud Gate

 Who knew one shiny sculpture could be so fun?

Dragon Boy and Tiger Boy splashing in The Crown Fountain

 Dottie and me after our lakeshore ride

On the trail . . .

 Geekin' over DNA

So that's how a tornado works!

At MSI before the ride back

Dudes and the Chicago skyline

Where city and nature connect


  1. What a cool family photo! Also, did you know Dottie before, or did you just get to know her via the blogosphere and common love of biking? Very cool to think you might have connected with someone new that way...

  2. I thought I commented here before. Must not have gone through.

    Anyway, beautiful photos of a beautiful family! Looks like you had a great time in Chicago. I'm happy to hear that the ride down to the museum went well. It's a bit of a trek, but peaceful and beautiful. So glad we were able to meet up!

  3. Oh that's so neat that you and Dottie met; glad you enjoyed Chicago!

  4. Cycling aside, I'm so glad your family enjoyed Millennium Park! It really is a great place for all ages.

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