Getting out on the bike before work
Working Sunrise on the Canal – As seen when crossing the Lemont Road Bridge.
I’ve been wanting to get out early before work on the bike for quite a while now. Actually, it’s been an embarrassingly long time that I’ve wanted to try the morning ride, versus the post work ride. I suppose I don’t have to tell you that, but I’m guessing that I’m not alone. So I finally woke up at 5:08am, which technically isn’t too early but it was a start. To get out earlier I’m going to need some headlights, and a tail light.
Lemonsters, new and old, are lucky to be so close to the Centennial Path as well as the Waterfall Glen Loop. The Centennial Path is primarily a flat path where you can rack up a lot of miles easily on the flat terrain. One knock on the Centennial is access, but more on that later. 😃 Now that I’m done with the Tour de Farms, I wanted to start riding more single track again, so I chose waterfall Glen.
Starting roughly at Norton + State Street out to Waterfall Glen with a full loop is approximately 14.7 miles. There is a lot of vertical change, a lot for the Chicago-area that is.. 🙂 The climbs, decent and loose gravel will help me reacquaint for some long awaited Palos Single Track. Hopefully help with some lung capacity on the hill climbs hills.
My Route With Some Thoughts
Getting to Waterfall Glen
I roll down State Street hugging the curb, traffic is low so it’s not really an issue. Cover the brakes and watch your speed near Cass Streets and Illinois Street, lots of folks taking right turns to get across the bridge. From there I cross the “Big Bridge” on the sidewalk. It’s a “normal” sidewalk width, which is about half as wide as a typical bike path lane. Not a big deal to me now, but at first it felt tight. A good trick on heights is to keep looking forward, not down. Try that and you’ll be across in no time. The bridge ends with you on the shoulder, which is paved and wide thanks to the Lemont Outdoors Tour de Lemont with Christian Van de Velde and Representative Dan Lipinski. The shoulder was rough and was paved soon after the organized ride. Hug the right side with the shoulder ending at Old Bluff Road. This is a relatively tough climb, 6-8% grade. I’m not fast, I drop gears, chug along and push until I get to the gate. There’s a single track path to the left (west) that get’s you into Waterfall Glen, this is legal.
Waterfall Glen Lap
Follow the Access Road north to the Model Airplane Field. This is a gradual climb, I don’t consider myself don climbing until I’m at the Airfield. Once I’m there, I turn right (east) onto the Full Loop for counter-clockwise lap. Follow the Glen signage to stay on the main trail. Watch speed on the downhills and the handful of blind corners.
I’m a little frustrated with the new signs that say Service Vehicles Only, I’m not sure if that means no bikes… I’ll find out more or please share with me if you know any details.
Waterfall Glen was always a cool place to ride because of it’s fire roads adding some variety to the typical lap. I think it would server the public users better if they were still there since it can be very heavy with traffic.
Once I return to the Model Airplane Field, I retrace my route back to Lemont starting on the downhill access road.
Returning to Lemont Starting Point
Watch your speed on the gravel Access Road decent as it’s more lose than the crushed stone Full Loop. It’s a fun, bumpy ride down back to the gate. Watch for slow trains on the track, which I’ve never seen. Duck through the mini single track around the gate and go down Old Bluff Road. Watch your speed on the decent, you’ll be doing 24-30mph without trying to hard. Old Bluff ends at Lemont Road shoulder. Follow the Shoulder against traffic, as far away from the cars and trucks as possible. While heading back, I don’t take my off of the vehicles until I’m on the bridge with the safety of the cement barricade. From there I go up the bridge to Illinois Street. Instead of following State Street up, I head east one block to Lemont Street and head up hill there. I do this because it’s easier to cross Illinois there and it’s nice climb. Yes, a nice climb. If you haven’t figured out that I enjoy climbing challenges, you will after this climb. 😃 After you get to the top at St Al’s and back to your start point.
I loved getting out in the early hours! !! I saw even more wildlife than I do at a dusk, post work ride. there are very few cyclists out, and only a few runners. Not that I don’t mind company, the morning solitude is a pretty awesome way to start the day. It’s easiest to get rolling faster if you prep more gear than less, I’m still working on this part. I usually have at least my CamelBak filled and my clothes laid out.
Please contact me if you want to ride together or if I can answer any questions. I can always use more company on a ride !
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I’ll see you in the Lemont Outdoors !
*This is my first draft, and I’ll keep updating as I need.
Bridge Headed North
Shipping Canal Sunrise
A couple of friends along the ride
Overlook Looking West with Service Road Sign
Looking East Near the East Gate
Sunrise Over the East Lake
Des Plaines River Sunrise