It was not without some trepidation that Laura and I embarked on the Active Transportation Alliance's Four Star Bike Tour yesterday. After all, we had to get out of the RAGBRAI kitchen last month because we couldn't stand the heat. Who know how we would fare on this route?
Actually, I was fairly certain we'd do fine. The Four Star Bike Tour, which takes its name from the four stars on the Chicago city flag, offers a 62-mile tour of various Chicago neighborhoods and western suburbs, none of which are particularly hilly. And since we wouldn't be likely to encounter any triple-digit temperatures, we figured this ride would be a good way to restore our cycling confidence in ourselves.
What we didn't count on, about 26 miles into the ride at not yet 10 a.m., was the early arrival of the torrential rains that were predicted for the afternoon. The rain did ease up or stop from time to time, but there were also stretched where it rained so hard we could barely see. We were navigating by a combination of route map and green stars painted on the street. With the rain so heavy it became almost impossible to use the map, and it was very easy to miss the street markers.
There was also another dropped-chain incident with Laura's bike that required the application of an Allen wrench to fix, and the occasion bit of backtracking, but we persevered and made it through in about six and a half hours. Along the way we saw some of the toniest neighborhoods around, and some of the poorest too. As a study in contrasts without borders, it was instructive.
We arrived home waterlogged and mud-spattered, having learned that it's still possible to push on when you're carrying an extra twenty pounds of water weightin your shoes alone.
Laura quipped that she was docking the Four Star Bike Tour half a star because of the rain. All in all, though, not a bad day in the saddle.