Hop on your bike and join a community ride this weekend
Can't find an organized bike ride? Really?
Club rides abound -- distance-leveled fundraisers: 15-25 mile family rides, metric centuries (62 miles) and classics (100), plus weekly shorter "slow-rolls," many welcoming nonmembers. Check your local club; while you're at it, join!
Ride Illinois (rideillinois.org), the statewide, nonprofit bike advocacy organization, launched "Let's Ride, Illinois," running through Sunday Sept. 19, encouraging all ages and abilities to enjoy free community rides. Its site map summarizes date, time, length and other details.
At Palatine's Oktoberfest Saturday, Sept. 18, Bike Palatine Club (www.bikepalatine.com) leads two rides, 9- and 20-milers, at 11:30 a.m. from Towne Square, Palatine and Smith streets. Per President Wayne Mikes, the club has traditionally led this ride, finishing at Rotary Club's Oktoberfest tent.
Highland Park Bike Walk Advisory Group's (www.cityhpil.com/environment/transportation/biking_and_walking.php) ride rolls from the Trek Store, 1925 Skokie Valley Road, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18. Bike safety checks start at 1:30 p.m. Organizer Brent Ross reports the route follows Highland Park's Family Friendly Bikeway.
Richard's Bicycles (www.rbikes.com) in Palos Heights leads a 9 a.m. ride Saturday, Sept. 18, from the shop at 11933 S. Harlem Ave.
"My local shop for decades, I was thrilled they wanted to host a ride with us," said Gina Kenny, Ride Illinois Communications and Projects coordinator.
Riders and Raptors Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove (www.egvbikes.org) plans a 10 a.m. ride Sunday, Sept. 19, from the Al Hattendorf Center, 225 E. Elk Grove Blvd. The 12-miler pedals to Springbrook Nature Center, where Ron Skleney, family ride organizer and retired raptor educator, discusses birds of prey.
Fox Valley Bicycle and Ski Club (fvbsc.org) guides a 9.4-miler, leaving Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles Saturday, Sept. 18, at 10 a.m. Following the Fox River Trail, riders glimpse Collins Tower, St. Charles Pavilion, and other art along the Fox, including "Fox Cycle," built from bike parts.
President Carrie Halle supports Ride Illinois's mission.
"Biking is good for the mind, body and planet, no matter the age."
Grayslake businesses featured on ride
Grayslake village Trustee Laura Dias, along with Jess Albert and Scott Manning, shows the "community, especially families, how extensive and accessible our bike paths are for all riders."
Six and 10-mile rides start at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, from the village parking lot at Whitney and Hawley streets, highlighting organics at Prairie Wind Family Farmstand and Trillium Yoga's stretching demos.
Grayslake Bike Share (www.villageofgrayslake.com/686/Grayslake-Bike-Share-Program) provides low-cost rentals. Kickstands drop at Light the Lamp Brewery, 2 S. Lake St.
North Shore Century
Speaking of rides, Evanston Bike Club (www.evanstonbikeclub.org) marks its 50th anniversary, celebrating summer's end with its 36th North Shore Century on Sunday, Sept. 19. Offering 25-, 50-, 62- and 100-mile routes, it's one of Illinois' most popular rides.
Fifty-year member Dave Tibbetts, early 1980s club president, asserts its 1984 origin was the westbound Elgin Century, "soon switching north, growing considerably."
Capped at 2,500, same-day registration is unavailable this year.
"It's our primary source of general funds. Membership fees cover most annual operating expenses. A large portion of NSC's net proceeds go to worthy cycling-related 501(c)3 organizations," said club President Alvin Spector. "Even without it in 2020, we still donated $20,000 this year."
Free Route Library
I've cycled its classic and metric centuries, impressed by EBC's organization and delicious rest stop treats. Like this event and its website, so much about EBC seems well run.
Free to everyone, its route library (ridewithgps.com/clubs/3-evanston-bicycle-club) encompasses 250 rides. Rides chair Will Heelan maintains the library, ensuring Ride with GPS routes are updated/uploaded correctly.
He also manages more than 20 ride leaders, conducting annual mandatory trainings.
Five routes meander past North Shore "architectural gems," per route creator and club secretary Bruce Miller, including 18 Frank Lloyd Wright structures. Collaborating with EBC, Chicago Architecture Center's "Open House Chicago" app includes an October architecture bike tour.
Evanston Parks and Recreation helped EBC launch with 30 members, with Larry Young serving as president and wife Rosemary as secretary. Biking legend Phyllis Harmon helped found EBC before establishing the Wheeling Wheelmen, Tibbetts adds.
"We have so many members, over 480, because we're as much a social club as we're about cycling," Spector said.
EBC offers several ride options: Casuals (10-12 mph), very fast (19-21 mph), with three speeds in between, expanding beyond 1971 Sunday-only outings.
Tibbetts also boasts of members' community achievements over the years: Bike routes, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (Active Transportation Alliance), and Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission efforts.
Founded among traditionally engaged citizenry -- think 1900s abolition and temperance movements -- it's no surprise EBC ranks as a cycling institution.
Sharing the Road
Becoming law on Aug. 30, HB270 leveled the Illinois transportation playing field for pedestrians and cyclists. Passed by large bipartisan majorities in May, it mandates Illinois cover 100% of costs for biking and walking improvements on state road projects.
In the past, lacking local funding matches, such improvements were scrapped from projects' final designs. Effective January 2022, Illinois Department of Transportation eliminates the 20% local match for these facilities for municipalities with 1,000 or more residents.
Working with chief sponsors state Rep. Anna Moeller (43rd Elgin) and state Sen. Christopher Belt (57th East St. Louis), Active Transportation Alliance, Ride Illinois and Metropolitan Planning Council advocated the bill's passage.
• Join the ride. Contact Ralph Banasiak at firstname.lastname@example.org.