Biking the Drive
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May 25th, 2008 – by: agarcia
The City of Chicago closes 15 miles of Lakeshore Drive (Highway 41) that runs along the coast of Lake Michigan to vehicular traffic and opens the lanes for several thousand bicyclists. The Lakeshore Drive (LSD) closure lasts about 5 hours and begins around sunrise and ends around 11 am.
I have ridden in this event several times since it’s beginning and I always enjoy the view of a car-free Lake Shore Drive.
I have to admit the views along the northern side on the Drive are more scenic given the tree-lined median, the architecture and of course North Beach.
One thing about the ride that may be a surprise is that there are some small hills that would give riders who are used to a flat landscape a nice workout. These "hills" also occur on the northern segment of LSD.
In particular, the bridge that goes over the Chicago River is somewhat steep. When I go downhill in the NB direction I can almost get to a speed of 30 mph - I am pretty sure the true, avid riders can get an even higher speed. Of course, this means that the climb on the SB lanes can be a struggle. A number of people just decide to walk their bikes up the road rather than try to ride up.
This year I had a little problem with my bike - the crank arm fell off - bad bike maintenance by my usual bike shop.
The great thing though is that the event is organized to provide support with cars ready to take riders to the main staging area where several bike repair shops are set-up. The repair shops are meant to provide minimal repairs such as flat tires but luckily for me, the owner/worker for the Cycle Smithy was willing to use one of the bolts of his bike to repair mine.
And with that I rode quickly southward to catch up with my sister and her boyfriend at the rest stop by the Museum of Science & Industry. Unfortuantely, the delay with my bike maintenance didn't allow any of us to finish the whole course before they began directing riders off of LSD. So we were only able to ride the whole length of the south leg of the ride and a portion of the north leg.
Overall though it was a good way to spend a beautiful, sunny morning and a nice workout.
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