Day 13, June 21, Joliet to Chicago
First at 4 a.m. we discovered none of us were connected to the church wifi and could not reconnect, so could not get/send messages, plus the map that Eric (cyclist from Joliet) sent of how to drive to the Old Plank trail from the church would not upload, so we had no idea which way to go. Never fear, Sherri with her I-phone googled the nearest McDonalds for wifi, and also googled directions to the trailhead. So 1st stop today was McDonalds, and connected even tho when we walked in with our tablets, the local “old guy” coffee club told us there were no plugins and wifi not good here. Did you notice our 1st step of the morning was our “gadgets,” and we complain about the kids wih their noses hooked to their phones?
Next step to find the Old Plank RoadTrail, and after circling around half an hour with no success with Sherri’s I-phone google directions, decided to go back to McDonalds to connect my tablet to wifi to open the map that Eric sent last night. So an hour later, we are back at McDonalds! We open the map and upon trying to enlarge it, we completely destroyed it, obviously by hitting the wrong things, and had to give up on that! So here we are again, not knowing which way to go.
Okay, we can do this; we used to be able to find things before we had our gadgets– oh yes, an old fashioned map and street signs. We will go back to where we were on R66 yesterday before we turned off to find the church and we can find Old Plank RoadTrail from there. We retraced our steps and with much guessing and see the English cyclists from yesterday–followed them, and we are finally at Old Plank Road Trail on Washington Street! It is now 8 a.m., 2 hours since we left the church!
I am driving first today because there will be less traffic. The closer we get to Chicago, heavier traffic with which Marie does better. So we scrutinize maps for my route. It appears to be Hwy 30 (Lincoln Hwy) the whole way (23 miles) to where this trail ends. However, driving in unfamiliar places is always stressful and alway drive with much trepidation. Relieved to find Hwy 30 with a couple turns, and relieved to find the speed limit basically 40 mph the whole way (gives me time to watch for lights and signs), and the traffic was light (most over on Hwy 55), and the whole 20 miles was east with no turns!
Passed through Mokena, Frankfort, to Matteson (all tied together with businesses, homes). Here is where I turn right on Western Avenue to Old Plank Road trailhead, watching intently for Western as go by street after street and turn right, now watching intensiely for trail sign. Caught a glimpse of a green on the right and drove right by the small Old Plank Road trailhead sign because very small and obscured by grass, so U turn to be sure there is a trail sign. Yes this is it, very small difficult to see. Nowt where to park along this city street. Do another U-turn to look around and see a couple parking spaces in an area obviously for trail parking. Whew, so relieved to be here and parked.
Now to wait, bicyclists have 23 miles. The English couple comes by (love their accent). Then a group of 10 or so come by and a man stops to visit. From him, I learn the trail does not end here as on the map, but now can goes on clear to Lansing, a new section the last couple years. This is a local group, bicycling from Franfort to Lansing to the donut shop there and then back to Frankfort–round trip 70 miles. Three hours later,my 3 emerge — 11:30, 71 degrees, sunshine, beautiful skies perfect day for bicycling.
Eat a few bites from cooler, and now it is my turn to bicycle. So we continue down the trail lined with yellow and blue flowers. This is all paved, so we fly along. Giovanna sets a blistering pace of 10-11 mph, the fastest she has ever ridden, and I have to “put the metal to the pedal” to keep up. Sherri and I are astounded as we usually have to wait for her. The scenery is spectacular as we are mostly in woods, sometimes bushes lining the path–green, green, wild flowers in spots. There are many roads that we cross over with varying traffic. We go through a couple parks. There are quite a few bicylists as this is an urban area. 15 miles later we end up in a parking lot in Lansing at end of this trail. Where do we find the next trail–Burnham.
Diligently study map on bulletin board and remember local bicyclist said we must go on streets a while to pick up next trail, so right on 186th Street, left on Chicago. In a residential area a man in car stops as we are looking around. He tells us where to go—right on next street, left on Roy, and here is beginning of Burnham trail, which we happily take. Now thru woods, cross many roads carefully, Marie calls to say she is parked in a parking lot in Sibley. We stop there — 20 miles.
It is 2 p.m. and decide to have lunch here out of the cooler, as there is a big tree for shade. I have my PB sandwich, others pizza from last night. Discussion. With our 2-hour delay this morning we are not going to be able to complete the ride we planned. We are still a long way from downtown Chicago. Decide to quit bicycling here, and drive into Chicago to beginning of Route 66 on the lake, take pictures, and meet up with Anne Alt from the Chicago cycling group who designed a route for us, in contact for 2 months with advice about bicycling in Chicago, Now nearly 3 p.m.
Interesting drive into Chicago with varying neighborhoods and buildings, people. At 4 p.m. we are on Lakeshore Drive, with all lanes full of traffic, and realize we are not going to be able to stop as there is no parking anywhere, just cars, cars, so decide we cannot stop at all–either for pictures or for Anne. And drive on to the Kortes…Neither Sherri nor I can get our Google maps to work driving into Chicago, Sherry finally gets hers to work for the Kortes address and arrive at their city home at 5 p.m., 77 degrees.
This is typical city living–everyone parks on street, so have to parallel park, street packed with parked cars both sides. Jeff parks the van in a very tight spot with bicycles on the back. Tree lined streets, older neighborhood, homes only have walking room between, everything seems packed full. People living very close seems normal to them. There is a garage behind from the alley. Can see into neighbors very small back yards. Home inside also compact with sliding doors to bathrooms, the back door swings out so as not to swing into the kitchen and take up room. Jeff makes us great fresh ground coffee.
Jeff is an architect, Angela a social worker, daugher Isabel 12 will be in 7th grade. She and her mother have beautiful thick brown hair. They are members of an E-Free church I contacted for overnight. They delighted to take us in because Angela’s best friend died from HD at age of 50 just a couple years ago. Jeff has made a Thai chicken dish which we spoon over rice with coconut, a unique idea and adds a lot of flavor to the rice.
Here my tablet works and able to send yesterday’s blog, and Jeff also fixes my phone so Google maps works again! We are in the right place again! Have a couple phone conversations with Al, bicyclist from Schaumberg who is going to lead us tomorrow to the door of the convention hotel!, a contact thru Anne for which we are so grateful taking a lot of stress away for tomorrow.
Thanking the Lord for another beautiful safe day with generous people taking us in again.
Day 14, June 22, Chicago to Schaumberg, IL Renissance Hotel
In home of Jeff and Andrea Korte in Edgewater, NW suburb of Chicago. What a treat to sleep in until 6 a.m.! This is our final day, a short ride with later start. Jeff has made delicious coffee, Andrea puts many fruits on table and we have cereal, plus Girl Scout cookies as Isabel a Girl Scout and Andrea a leader, happily munch on those! Notice humidity this morning, 77 at 8 a.m.
Load and leave at 9 a.m. all in van driving NW 12 miles. We are to meet Al Gibbs, a bicyclist from the Schaumberg Cycling Club who is bicycling south about 12 miles to meet us in Park Ridge (pop 37,500) at 10 a.m. at Lola’s Cafe. He suggested 10 a.m. with morning rush hour over. He is our contact thru Anne Alt of the Chicago Cycling Club whom I contacted in March, looking for help to get to Renissance. Schaumberg is a NW suburb of Chicago, and no problem getting to Park Ridge as Google maps working this morning, thanks to Jeff!
Here is Lola’s Cafe and big straping older man outside with bicycle and helmet must be Al. Lola’s Cafe decore like the 50s, still busy at 10 a.m., memories of good old days. We will leave the van parked here and all 4 ride this final 17 miles (come back for it later). We are off, single file, and spend the next 2.5 hours bicycling, a very pleasant ride, only on 4 lane road for 1.5 miles, mostly 2 lane residential, crossing many streets with no traffic, beautiful flowers, yards, the wind keeping us cool, although it became strong headwind and difficult any time we turned west. We zigged and zagged, a route we would never have been able to do on our own. Any route we would have taken would have been double time as we would have had to look at every street sign, so we very grateful for Al giving up his morning for us, but he is retired. He delivers us right to the front door of the Renissance without every going on any busy street! Only once we were bicycling beside the noisy and very busy Hwy 53.
The HDSA photographers are at front door for pictures as we bicycle in, some of our long-time HD friends, and we are grateful for cold bottles of water. Sherri and Marie decide to use a Lyft driver to take them back to the van ($23), Giovanni and I visit with HD friends in the restaurant. When they return, we unload all our bags and we 4 spend all afternoon sorting, showering, my fingernails in terrible shape.
We are just back from the opening reception in the ballroom where we had Chicago pizza, salad, funnel cake and ice cream! We 4 were called to the front, applause for 19 years of bicycling for HD, this year ride generated over $20,000, with thanks to lots of small donations from many and thanks to all of you. There are over 900 people registered. Friday and Saturday speakers, workshops all day. Always very interested in scientists Saturday and progress made over the past year. Youth group talent show tmro night. Saturday night is banquet and dance. Next year convention in Los Angeles.
Hard to believe the ride is over, takes 6 months to plan, and once the ride starts it is like being on a roller coaster with days flying by. We are so grateful to God for safety and all those who helped us to make this possible again, old and new friends along the way. Thank you.