The Chainlink

Hi,

I am a Canadian who will be visiting my friend in Chicago for the weekend. I would like to spend a few days next week doing some riding a couple of hours outside of Chicago. Can anyone recommend an area a couple of hours from Chicago that would have a nice hotel or resort and great road cycling? 

Many thanks

Brad Sage 

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If you like beer, go spend a few days in and around New Glarus, WI. Beautiful country roads, plenty of hills, and most of all, really, really good beer. It's a good recovery drink. 

Couple of hours driving or riding? If driving, then the New Glarus area would be a great choice (it's about 3 hours drive), though New Glarus the brewery is not the only good beer around there. Also there's a good hotel in New Glarus proper (Chalet Landhaus), if a bit pricy.

Anywhere along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Michigan would be good.  Although it is the busy season and finding a place to stay might be challenging

If you don't have access to a car (or even if you do) you may want to look into taking Metra (the region's commuter rail) to the end of a line and riding from there.  For example the UP-NW line takes you to Harvard which is about 20 miles from the resort town of Lake Geneva...

The whole area between Madison and the Mississippi River is great, but closer to 3 hours from Chicago than 2.  The area between Mt. Carroll, IL and Galena has great riding.  I'm sure there are some nice places to stay in Galena, but it's close to 3 hours from Chicago.

I'm 2 hours from Chicago via Amtrak or I-80 (on a good day).  More almost totally deserted roads than you could ride in a month.  There are a couple of nice B & Bs if you don't want a motel.  I could provide routes to ride or act as tour guide.  Couple of typical road pics below.  The first one is about a mile from one of the B & Bs.   

There are also some upscale B & Bs in the Starved Rock area.

:O

 

Those roads look AWESOME.

 

If you have any routes handy, I'd be extremely interested.

So many great suggestions. Thank you everyone. Now the big trick is selecting just one of these.

You could start with these 6 routes from the local century: http://z-tour.org/routes  I ride bits of these routes almost daily, but if I'd done the route planning there would be more hills included, and probably some rougher roads.  One of my favorite hills can only be reached by riding a stretch of Hennepin Canal Trail, then a short piece of gravel road, so it's never included in the local centuries.  I used to get to it on this bridge, but after this spring's flooding the bridge is now collapsed.

 


I have lots of my own routes mapped.  They vary widely, as I'm attempting to ride every road in Bureau County.  Last night I was concentrating on gravel roads in the SE part of the county and rode a two mile stretch that was little more than a dirt path between two fields, so not for everyone.  I've mapped a 115 mile mixed surface route that incorporates as many miles of gravel as possible, includes stretches of the Hennepin and Rock Island trails, and goes through 5 counties.  I'm not sure I can handle that one but would like to make an attempt some time.  You can ride as much as you want and never touch gravel though.  Let me know what kind of riding you want to do and length and I'll be happy to map something out.  That also applies to anyone else who is interested.
Alex Z said:

:O

 

Those roads look AWESOME.

 

If you have any routes handy, I'd be extremely interested.

Mark, how long is it on the train?  Please forgive my ignorance--I have a rule that I don't go west of Western Avenue unless it is on a bike. :-)

mark stetson said:

You could start with these 6 routes from the local century: http://z-tour.org/routes  I ride bits of these routes almost daily, but if I'd done the route planning there would be more hills included, and probably some rougher roads.  One of my favorite hills can only be reached by riding a stretch of Hennepin Canal Trail, then a short piece of gravel road, so it's never included in the local centuries.  I used to get to it on this bridge, but after this spring's flooding the bridge is now collapsed.

 


I have lots of my own routes mapped.  They vary widely, as I'm attempting to ride every road in Bureau County.  Last night I was concentrating on gravel roads in the SE part of the county and rode a two mile stretch that was little more than a dirt path between two fields, so not for everyone.  I've mapped a 115 mile mixed surface route that incorporates as many miles of gravel as possible, includes stretches of the Hennepin and Rock Island trails, and goes through 5 counties.  I'm not sure I can handle that one but would like to make an attempt some time.  You can ride as much as you want and never touch gravel though.  Let me know what kind of riding you want to do and length and I'll be happy to map something out.  That also applies to anyone else who is interested.
Alex Z said:

:O

 

Those roads look AWESOME.

 

If you have any routes handy, I'd be extremely interested.

You sound like me, I hate to put the bike in the car and haul it somewhere to ride.  I've done it twice so far this year.

Union Station to Princeton is right at 2 hours.

Mark, any route that looks like those first few gorgeous pictures you posted is something I'd be interested in. I'd love to take a weekend trip "out west" and ride around on some open, low-traffic roads like that.

 

I'm not so interested in hills or anything. Gravel is okay but not preferred; I guess that's the tough thing about using Google Maps as a lot of these back roads I think may not be on Street View.

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