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Post your thoughts on the Chicago area riding/racing scene(21 posts)

Post your thoughts on the Chicago area riding/racing scenespeedisgood
Jul 17, 2002 6:33 AM
Some friends are trying to convince me to move the Chicago. I was there last weekend and was pleasantly surprised the city. Very nice.

The cool thing was I saw hundreds of cyclists out on their mountain bikes, lots of bike lanes, really busy shops, etc. Didn't get a chance to ask about the road training/racing, though. I talked to a few friends around here who have family there and said that you have to drive a fair distance to get out of the city to train but otherewise it's not a bad place as far as racing (are there mid-week training races?)

Thanks for your input!
Without the benefit of comparison...Alex-in-Evanston
Jul 17, 2002 6:47 AM
On the positive side: there are plenty of racing clubs, a velodrome close by, and an enthusiastic mayor who bikes and promotes biking. On the north side, most clubs travel the same roads, so recognition and acceptance by drivers is not a problem. There are tons of recreational cyclists, and paths and bike lanes are above average for this reason.

On the negative side: every single club on the north side and in the northern suburbs travels the same roads because the road routes to be had are not varied. You will become VERY familiar with Sheridan, St. John's, Everett, St. Mary's, and Green Bay. None of these roads is particularly pretty. If you live in the city and ride loops into the northern suburbs, the interesting rural routes only open up to you 50 miles from home.

My verdict is that Chicago is a wonderful place to be a recreational cyclist, but not a great place to be a long distance road rider.

Check out for info on the Chicago racing scene. I think you'll find what you're looking for there.


Agree to a point...FlyByWire
Jul 17, 2002 7:10 AM
I agree that the routes on the north side are not varied. Additionally, the roads can be rough. However, once you get on Old Elm and St. Mary's, it smooths out quite nicely.

I disagree on the verdict of long distance road riding. My racing team frequently does 4 hour rides of 70+ miles on the north side and into the north suburbs. However, I would agree that the rural/nicer roads are farther out (however, Barrington is not 50 miles away).

There is a mid-week racing series, hosted by the South Chicago Wheelmen. The crits take place in Matteson, IL (about 25 miles south of Chicago) at the Ace Hardware Paint Factory.


The obvious limitation:djg
Jul 17, 2002 8:27 AM
The weather sucks. There's a long, harsh winter--I felt that it limited my riding a fair bit (and I moved to Chicago from New Hampshire).

Also, it's not much for climbing.

Chicago is a great town. I lived there for 6 years and loved it. And I did find places to ride, and a good team, and a decent race scene. I'd say that there are lots of good reasons to live there, and you can certainly ride, but it's not ideal by a long shot, just by dint of the geography.
re: Post your thoughts on the Chicago area riding/racing sceneNo_sprint
Jul 17, 2002 8:31 AM
I like to visit Chicago in the early Fall or the late Spring. Other than that, it's all yours. A fine town but I am a fair weather Johnson and it aint fair weather there.
I spent the first 33 years of my life...RhodyRider
Jul 17, 2002 9:13 AM the west & southwest 'burbs (Downers Grove mainly, and then Bolingbrook for 5 years), and unless I beat it way out of town(-s) to the west, it was hectic traffic-laden cycling purgatory. Simply too many folks, in cars. And a seriously big *yawn* factor on the geography & roads. Glad to be here in S. New England, that's for certain. My $0.02 worth.
I agreeKristin
Jul 17, 2002 10:21 AM
If you are into cycling. Serious cycling. Chicago will become a big snooze fest before long.

Winter: September thru April. Average temp: 30. Construction ceases in October. (Except for on Wacker Drive.)
Pre-Spring: April to June. After one 70 degree day, 50 degree days are in order for two months. Construction begins.
Spring: June. It rains every other day.
Summer: 3 weeks in July. Average temp: 96
Fall: August to September. 3-5 weeks of heaven.

Chicago is a great city, with a good pay scale; but no hills. Plus you end up riding the same roads over and over and over an over and over get my point. Oh yeah, our housing boom is out of control. Property prices are inflated to an insane level, and the real estate market is ready for a reality check.
Sounds like my life nowspeedisgood
Jul 17, 2002 11:58 AM
The problem with Cleveland is Lake Erie which keeps this overcast in the winter (and the temperatures mild.) So everything tends to be a slushy gray color from November to Aprilish. The summers are great until August when the humidity goes up.

The one big plus is the cost of living is pretty cheap compared to major cities. By my reckoning, cool places in Cleveland (Ohio City, Tremont) will turn into Lincoln Park-ish type neighborhoods in 10 years or so. Because of that growth, property prices are starting to go up, FWIW.
is no one going to mention the wind?ET
Jul 17, 2002 12:00 PM
It ain't called the Windy City for nothing. 30 degrees in winter (isn't it colder than that?) is something you can deal with, but nonstop wind is the pits. Every time I've visited, including several times in summer, there are rather high winds. In addition, no hills make for boring riding.
30 is the AverageKristin
Jul 17, 2002 12:26 PM
In January/February its often below 20.
re: Post your thoughts on the Chicago area riding/racing scenepben
Jul 17, 2002 9:33 AM
Where do you live now?

I've lived in Chicago 5 1/2 yrs now, moved from St.Louis where I raced. I do not race any more (kids, wife, mortagage, on and on), but I ride fairly regularly. If I did race, and wanted to train, Chicago would not have alot to offer (at least compared to St.L). The riding is boring, extremely flat, and unless you live in the burbs, is stop and start. I wind up riding on the lake front alot, SOUTH. It's not crowded and does offer good scenery. When time permits, I ride north (Sheridan rode, etc.). I live in the City so alot of my ride is getting out of it.

There are alot of good shops, although I don't know much about the clubs, but have heard very positives.

One other BIG point, the winter weather SUCKS. I sum up Chicago living as, you survive eight months to LIVE for four.

All this being said, Chicago in and of itself, is a GREAT city to live in. If you are basing your move on bicycle racing, training, etc., Chicago will be a disappointment. If you are looking to live in a vibrant, fun, dynamic city, pack your bags and get here now so you can still enjoy the rest of the Summer.
Live in Clevelandspeedisgood
Jul 17, 2002 11:49 AM
That said, I was born in Milwaukee and have lived in Michigan (Ann Arbor and SE Mich.) I know all about sucky weather and it doesn't bother me if it's cold. I just don't appreciate overcast-all-the-time and cold, like it is here. Our "spring" goes from Feb. thru May. Yuck.

And I'm on the Westside of Cleveland which is hella flat. But I hate climbing (even though I train hills) and prefer flat crits. My whole existance in bike racing is centered around 20-30 mile flat crits around here and I'm happy with that.
Its grey here all winter tooKristin
Jul 17, 2002 12:30 PM
At least downtown. When I worked downtown and lived in the suburbs, I never saw the sun--rarely saw daylight--between October and March. Every morning a big cloud forms over the lake that blocks the sun from the city.

Now I live and work in the suburbs, I can see that massive cloud to the east as I commute down a sunny 355 to my office. Its better that way.
Live in Madison instead. It's only a 3-hour commute! (nm)Geardaddy
Jul 17, 2002 10:55 AM
Or Galena. 2.5 hours away and more hills. (nm)Kristin
Jul 17, 2002 10:57 AM
someone has to defend poor old Chicago ...tarwheel
Jul 17, 2002 12:06 PM
Leave it up to a North Carolinian to do it. My brother lives in Geneva, on the western edge of the suburbs, and that is a great area for cycling. He generally rides 5,000-6,000+ miles a year. There are lots of paved bike paths in his area that run on both sides of the Fox River for literally miles. He can ride paved trails all the way into downtown Chicago or north into Wisconsin. He also can head west into farm country and ride country roads with little traffic for miles and miles. In nearby Batavia is the Fermi Lab, which has lots of nice roads with little traffic that they allow cyclists to ride on. Finally, it's a short drive up to Wisconsin, with lots of nice rural routes to choose from. The weather is a big factor, though. You can just about always count on a headwind for at least half your ride and need to take that into account. Winter is long. But, according to my brother, it seldom rains in the summer and he rarely ever misses a weekend ride from June through September. Nevertheless, I would choose NC over Chicago in a heartbeat.
That's pretty far from ChicagoAlex-in-Evanston
Jul 17, 2002 12:32 PM
Until a decade ago, Geneva would never have been considered a suburb of Chicago. It was a suburb of Aurora.

I've been out there, and the roads are quiet and lovely. A few miles puts you into true corn and soybean country. The problem with living in Chicago (or Evanston for that matter)is that it takes 40 miles to hit real farmland. Much of the cycling routes in between are 50mph suburban super-arteries.

OK, let's say I want to move therespeedisgood
Jul 17, 2002 5:29 PM
Don't know if anyone will read this on the second page but here goes.

Let's say I have potential jobs in these cities:

LaGrange Park
Elmwood Park
Crystal Lake

If anyone has opinions and the time, please tell me your comments on these communities based on: proximity to decent riding/training and proximity to fun (bars, clubs, hangout-type places a 30 single y/o male would want to go to), and general pleasantness of the area.

Ameritech, Motorola or Lucent?Kristin
Jul 18, 2002 4:55 AM
I'll respond only to the townships I'm familiar with:

Geneva: 43 miles west of Chicago. Open farmland.
Typical roads are long, straight, flat and open aired. Don't expect much climbing. Do expect headwinds. The Geneva spur of the Prarie Path runs into Geneva along the Fox River. That creates a route into Chicago. But the Prarie Path is limestone and busy in summer. Depends on what you like.

LaGrange Park: A wealthy community 20 miles from Chicago. There is a small but surprisingly hilly area nearby. However expect plenty of traffic and stop signs. LaGrange would put you about 15 miles away from quiet, country roads.

Elmhurst: About 15 miles from Chicago. Elmhurst is home to many Loyola physicians. This is an attractive suburb with a nice downtown area. Riding would be stop and go for at least 15 miles. Considering riding and training, I would not choose Elmhurst.

Crystal Lake: 51 miles from Chicago and only 30 miles from Lake Geneva, WI. Crystal Lake is an ever growing vacation spot. Booming in the summer and quiet in the winter. Most people who live here year round telecommute or own businesses. They is no shortage of shopping--you won't have to drive 25 miles to find a store. In my opinion, you'd have some of the best riding in the area. There are no long hills until you get into Wisconsin, but there are plenty of short, steep grade hills nearby. You could ride down into Barrington or up into Wisconsin. Purely from a cycing stand point. I'd choose Crystal Lake. That said, consider job market. Retail is the biggest industry out there; but there's not much else. If you were to change jobs, be prepared to commute.

I not into the club scene, so I can't speak to this. I imagine clubs are better the closer you get to the city though. I also can't speak to racing. Sorry.
Actually, I'm looking for a job in sportsmedicinespeedisgood
Jul 18, 2002 8:41 AM
and those are where some openings are in the area. This info helps a lot. Thanks!
Get as close to the lake as possibleAlex-in-Evanston
Jul 18, 2002 6:27 AM
Not only is it our only source of true natural beauty, but the weather's better too. There's a nice microclimate along the lake (close to 1 mile depending on the wind) that keeps it 10 degrees cooler in the summer and 10 degrees warmer in the winter.

All else being equal, I'd take the job in Winnetka (retail?) and choose to live somewhere along the Chicago/Northwestern rail line. That includes the whole North side of Chicago, Evanston, Wilmette, and all the lakeside burbs up to the Wisconsin border.