My trip to Chicago this weekend was a wonderful whirlwind!
The trip began Friday night with five people and one bicycle piled into one car for a three and a half hour drive to northern Chicago. Those five people then packed themselves into one hotel room for six short hours of sleep before embarking on their various adventures.
Early Saturday morning, while my husband and our friends got ready for a Magic the Gathering tournament, I woke myself and my bike and took a shuttle to O'Hare airport where I boarded the blue line train into the city. I got off the train to ride my bike a couple miles through construction and light morning traffic to reach the terminus of the brown line. Finally getting off of the Southport stop, I was greated by a sight that made me smile - a bike lane!
I sat down at Ann Sather, the shop under the El bridge with the orange canopy. I got a cup of coffee and read my new copy of Mountain Biking while I waited for Dottie of Let's Go Ride a Bike and Elisa of Bike Skirt to arrive. When they came through the door, I recognized them right away!
It was a pleasant suprise to also meet Mr. Dottie, Elisabeth from Bike Commuters and Braxton and Ashley visiting from Alabama.
We had to partake of Ann Sather's famous cinnamon rolls.
It was so strange and wonderful to me to be known by people I've never met in person. And this was the first time that I've met some of the inspiring people that I feel like I've gotten to know through the online cycling community. Over our omlettes and crab cakes, we talked bike commuting, racing, blogging, life... We come from all over the country, but we share so many experiences. And I know I have learned from these cycling blogger women, too.
After breakfast, Elisa had to get on the train to head home. But Dottie, her husband, Elisabeth and I hopped on our bikes. The cycling Chicagoans served as very gracious tour guides as they showed me the Lakeshore Trail and stopped every five minutes to take pictures. One of the nice things about hanging out with other bloggers is that we all want to record the highlights of our experience in photos to post on our blogs!
At the end of the Lakeshore Trail, we discovered a cute path covered in a tunnel of trees near the Navy Pier. The Dotties had never seen it before, so it was exciting to check it out...and of course, take more pictures.
Then it was time for me to meet my college friend, Melissa, for a trip to a pumpkin farm. At this point, I could have consulted my maps and found the nearest subway stop, but Elisabeth took the lead, and we wove our bikes through the busy Chicago streets right to my friend's door.
I truly had a wonderful time with my fellow cycling bloggers in the windy city. I had a huge smile plastered to my face as I rode along Lake Michigan taking in the cityscape and hearing the stories of how they each fell in love with cycling. All of our conversation about riding in the winter and attempting to ride my bike in street clothes instead of my normal bike shorts and jerseys was inspiring. I think I might commute to work more this winter - layered in my comfy wool sweaters and long coat. I might have to pick up some of those studded tires, though.
As the day continued, I went to the Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm with Melissa and some friends and ended up tagging along with them to see Seinfeld do his live standup show at the Rosemont Theater. Then, Melissa and her boyfriend helped me find the impossibly hidden comic shop where the rest of my GR crew had played Magic all day. We once again loaded up the car for the cramped but smooth drive home to Grand Rapids.