The Chainlink

I've searched the forum and the last time anybody talked about this was two years ago, so i'm going to consider that information mostly irrelevant.  However, has anyone gone bike camping yet or possibly last year? Im looking for a good weekend getaway that isn't too far out of the city or too far from a train if weather turns and my friend and I decide to head home.  I've always wanted to go bike camping, and I went to a couple different camp grounds last year (via car) such as chain-o-lakes and the dunes.  And although those places are nice, I hiked all their trails and seen most of what those places have to offer.  And even though my friends and I aren't rowdy, we always enjoy relaxing with a quiet mug of red wine by the fire after supper and it would be even more relaxing if the place didn't have security poking around so much.  We're looking for a four or five hour ride outside of the city, but someplace that isn't more than a few miles from the train.  I'm still fairly new to Chicago, so any suggestions would be awesome!   


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Check out the bike camping group.  There were trips to starved rock and kettle moraine last year.  I'd look at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.  It's a reasonable ride from the city and about a mile from the Metra so you can bail fairly easily if needed.

I've met up with The Chainlink's riders at Illinois Beach State Park near Zion, met up with Adam (Cesar) Jenkins at Bong Recreation Area in western Kenosha County, WI, and joined up with the Chainlink crew at Pinewoods Campground in  Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit.  KM isn't too far from Harvard's Metra stop. 

Starved Rock is about 60 miles or so from the Joliet Metra via road or I & M Canal trail - there are also campsites directly along the trail within a few miles of the park, and Channahon State Park is in the mix around there as well for camping. 

If you want Metra as a bailout option during your ride, heading to Illinois Beach State Park, whether you ride roads or trails or a mix, you're never too far away from the Metra. Which is nice.

How is the ride out to Illinois Beach State Park? (road conditions, things to see, etc.) And which is nicer in terms of camping and hiking, there or Indiana Dunes? I've read up on both but appreciate any comparative info! 

You could meet us on Sat. May 25 and head to Illinois Beach State Park. We'll be continuing to Milwaukee if you decide to stop at that point.

You can ride trails almost the entire way to IL Beach - not the most exciting thing in the world, but pretty direct and traffic-free. You can also ride up Sheridan most of the way through the John Hughes-ian moonscape of the North Shore. Either way you should have a pretty smooth ride. If leaving from the city I think the Botanic Gardens makes a nice halfway-point lunch stop, any way you're riding. Though riding to the dunes gives you an excuse to stop at Three Floyd's on your way too. 

Not sure about hiking and camping - I've ridden through both but never camped. I'm sure others have experiences...

I did the IL Beach ride last year and it was fun, but be aware that the paths are kind of rough and gravely in parts. All that vibration made my hand numb for a month! No permanent damage though :)

thanks guys for all your input!  i'll let you know how it goes- i'm aiming for late may or june.

Hey Matt, what time are you guys leaving and what approx traveling speed?  I might be headed up there that day, need to make some decisions soon. 

Matt M. said:

You could meet us on Sat. May 25 and head to Illinois Beach State Park. We'll be continuing to Milwaukee if you decide to stop at that point.

8:00 AM is the official meeting time.  We will be loaded down so the average cruising speed should be around 10 miles an hour.  Of course there might be one or two guys who love cranking watts as if they were hooked up to the city grid, but I'm not one of them.  :-D  Let me know if you'd like more specifics as to our meeting location and routing.  Clark Square Park is more of a suggested meeting site as opposed to a set location.

Great, I will be in touch closer to the date if I end up going there that weekend. Glad to hear I wouldn't be the only not super fast one! :)

The hour is upon us. Were you planning to meet our tour group?


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