The Chainlink

Hey there everyone,

I'm looking to do a century some time soon, but have no idea where to go. Not looking to do an organized ride, just putting in some miles with a buddy. What are some of your favorite Chicago century routes? I've heard legends of elevation SW and NW of the city that I'd like to check out. 

Thanks for your input and GPX files if you'd be so kind!

Pete P  

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Normally, my favorite century route is straight out of my house (live in South Loop), to La Rabida Children's hospital south of me, then up all the way to Lake Bluff - make a left on the trail that heads toward Libertyville, end up at the Old School forest preserve... head to Half Day rd - I fennagle my way through and end up in Glancoe again, and then back south home. 

Go to the website of your favorite ride and use their routes.

I've rode up to Kenosha plenty of times. That's 50 miles from Logan Square, then another 50 back. If the weather changes or you get tired, you can find a metra station that will return you to the City.
https://goo.gl/maps/eraC1XLuhk72

I love riding to Kenosha, although there's a long stretch from around Waukegan to the Wisconsin boarder that is just pretty mundane/drab and downtrodden, with busy streets with fast moving traffic that you have to keep stopping for every mile (or half mile), until you can cross.

Also, Indiana Dunes is a little over a century(out and back) for me. Similar to the Kenosha ride, you can take the South Shore line back to the City if needed.

Bass Lake, Indiana is about 100 miles and a nice ride.

If you want to camp overnight, Illinois Beach SP near Wisconsin, Starved Rock SP (pretty far), and Indiana Dunes are great places. And https://www.strava.com/heatmap is great to find where GPS equipped bicyclists actually ride.
Chicago to Geneva to Crystal Lake to Lake Bluff is about 100 miles...

Another option is to figure out a bike-train option you'd want to explore (riding out and taking Metra or Amtrak back). One option is to take the Prairie Path West, visit Two Brothers and take a Metra back in to the city.

Does it have to be exactly 100 miles? My favorite type of ride is combining Metra to get out as far as possible from the city, ride the numerous rails-to-trails (use Google Maps bike mode), and take the Metra back. On the weekend, $10 gets you unlimited rides. This Sunday I took the UP-W to Geneva, rode a little bit on the Fox River to St. Charles, then to Sycamore on the westernmost part of the Great Western Trail (parallel to IL-64/North Avenue). Then took roads back to Elgin to catch a different Metra back. Expect hills, corn fields, ponds, some suburbia, some country, and friendly people saying "hi".

For me, the best rides are improvised.

A Perimeter Ride -- can run from 90 to 100 miles.

This is how I map my ride.

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