It’s 9am on Saturday June 11th, and Bailey already has 150 miles of rugged Canadian terrain under his belt just 24 hours after starting the Tour Divide 2016 in wet and almost freezing conditions. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me back up.
The Tour Divide is a self supported mountain bike race spanning the full length of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, covering a total of 2768.4 miles with 200,000 feet of elevation gain. The route is the world’s longest off-pavement cycling route, mapped over the course of four years, and published in 1998 by the Adventure Cycling Association. Every year on the second Friday in June, a group of racers set off in the Grand Depart and attempts to complete the race as quickly as possible. The race is fully self supported, meaning there are no support vehicles for riders, no warm vans waiting at the end of the day to feed you and get your bike in shape for the following day. It is a test not only of speed and endurance, but of will and mental fortitude.
Bailey set off yesterday on his single speed Salsa El Mariachi into the wilds of Canada for an epic and challenging adventure that will take him pedaling along the spine of our country’s continental divide. Watch his progress on the live tracking website trackleaders.com. Read and hear a bit more from Bailey and his fellow riders at unlearnpavement.com.
So far this season, you’ve ridden the lakefront trail from bottom to top countless times, been on an overnight to Starved Rock State Park, gotten dusty on the Des Plaines River trail, and stopped in Highland Park for coffee on a road ride, but have you gotten rad on a mountain bike lately? Chicago’s flat as a pancake grid of streets doesn’t scream out “MOUNTAIN BIKES,” but if you’re in the know, you can easily find some dirt to rip. Have you been by the shop lately and seen some wider than average Chicago tires? We’re keeping a selection of mountain bikes in stock to slake the thirst of folks who are looking to get a little more variety into their riding menu. The Honzo AL is a great bike to handle the local terrain, and we’re keeping a size run in stock. Chicago’s closest local treasure is the trail system at Palos Forest Preserve in Willow Springs, IL. Palos offers a robust 50+ miles of singletrack and widetrack trails to explore. The area boasts elevation not seen in Chicago proper, which means you’ll be climbing and descending on tight twisty sections, hammering up long rolling widetrack, and navigating rocky technical sections. Your guide to adventure comes from the Chicago Area Mountain Bikers at CAMBr.org, where you can find trail maps, conditions, directions, and more. Also check out the mountain biking at Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin! Be sure and check the trail conditions before heading out, as riding on a muddy trail can damage them and make the trails unusable for others.
The shop will be closed Sunday May 1st for International Worker’s Day (May Day). Our regular hours will resume on Monday May 2nd.
If you wanted to celebrate the sacrifices workers have made for the 8 hour day, child labor restrictions, weekends, etc, in good company and support a wonderful non-for-profit we suggest swinging by the National Lawyers Guild‘s fundraiser party Saturday April 30th.
I’d also suggest stopping by the library in search of Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems. 1916.