The Chainlink

Good news for those who like to ride thought Fermi Lab on the bike path.  They've repaved over all of the old cracked asphalt!  I cut through there today on my way from the Fox River Trail to Two Bros. Brewing and saw new pavement from the main building (Fermi LINAC) to Eola Road.  I was not able to ride on it yet because the construction crew was still completing some minor details, so I had to ride on the road.  Last year they repaved the section from Eola Road to the East where the trail ends near the guard shack.  For those not familiar with the situation, the old pavement had cracks across the asphalt just wide enough and spaced just far apart enough to convince one that they had square wheels.  A welcome improvement indeed!

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I have always wanted to ride out that way, is it a nice ride?  Lots of people or usually pretty sparse?

I've ridden through Fermilab several times and it's worth the detour off the IPP or Fox River Trails. Both of which are also fun to ride. There's a herd of bison in Fermilab too which you'll probably see. I have seen other bikers riding through but plenty of room for everyone. 

Make sure you stop at the stop signs in Fermilab since they are enforced. Penrose in Geneva and Two Brothers in Warrenville are both great stops for cold one during your ride. 

Chitown_Mike said:

I have always wanted to ride out that way, is it a nice ride?  Lots of people or usually pretty sparse?

Fermilab is an almost 50-year-old high-energy physics research center funded by the federal government.  (Before LIB, I worked at and bike commuted to Fermilab on and off through high school and college, and then for ten years afterwards.)  On weekends, its miles of roads are almost entirely free of cars - and are a haven for bicycling.  Besides the bison herd, farmland, lakes, forests, and prairie restorations, there are a bunch of interesting buildings and structures to see around the site, including earthen berms over huge (e.g., 4-mile circumference) accelerators used to discover various subatomic particles.  The main building, Wilson Hall, has a small visitor's area on the 15th floor, near the top.  The Lederman Center, not far west of Wilson Hall on Pine Street, is another place for visitors to stop.  Funding is not what it used to be at the lab, so road and trail conditions can be somewhat bumpy.  But, if you're looking for an interesting place to explore by bike while riding on empty roads still within Chicagoland, try out Fermilab.  (From Chicago, you could take Metra to Geneva, then the Fox River Trail to Batavia, and then head east.)

You have 4 options. From north to south they are:

Crystal Lake (UP-NW)

Elgin (MD-W)

Geneva (UP-W)

Aurora (BNSF)

It's about 40 miles from Crystal Lake down to Aurora but riding through Fermilab will add some miles. My preferred station returning to the city is from Aurora since it's right outside the Roundhouse. Only 10 bikes per train on that line so not ideal to get out to Aurora.  

If my ride is flexible then I like to check the wind direction and ride the Fox River Trail with a tailwind.  

Ken H said:

This is slightly off topic but I'm wondering which are the best train stops to use if someone wants to ride the Fox River/Fermi/Two Bros Brewing routes if you're coming from downtown Chicago.  I generally like 20-40 mile rides and would prefer not to have to double back to the original train stop and, as much as possible, stay on trails rather than roads.  Thanks!

Just a public service announcement: The Fermilab trail is currently closed to the public. I tried to ride through there last weekend and was stopped by a very apologetic security guard.


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