Monthly Archive: August 2013

Four Star Bike and Chow 2013

four star bike and chow

Yay, we did it- first organized family ride!

This Sunday we participated in the Four Star Bike and Chow ride, put on by the Active Transportation Alliance here in Chicago.  We really deliberated about which route to choose, as there are 12, 22, 35, and 62 mile routes.  We decided to attempt the 25, but had a backup plan to do 12 if the kids got too antsy. Surprisingly, it was Mr. M who got antsy, but we pushed on to rest stop 1 near Wrigley Field for Pierogi from the Red Apple Buffet, where everyone was happy to see fruit, cookies, water, potties, and awesome food.  Committed to the 25 mile ride and feeling the heat and our new saddles, we pushed North to Damen and Berteau, around and down to Seward Park for pulled pork from Smoke Daddy, and burned off a little energy at the playground.  That is, the kids burned off energy while adults drank more water and talked about possibly switching saddles…  We ran into the salesman who helped me out with my Mundo and sold Mr. M his new Pista, it was like a little reunion!  Then we headed back to UIC for the festival at the end of the ride and sampled Samosas and Thai Food.  Soooo good. I was able to chat with someone from I-Go, buy some gloves, and chat with some people about schools, kids, and how we’ve avoided the “lure of the suburbs.” (Their words-not mine!)

I LOVED being around others, seeing other families, and the friendly people who had little conversations with the kids when we were stopped at red lights.  Little guy was really taken with one big guy, who said, “How’s it going, buddy?  Give me five!”  He adopted this opener as his own and entertained a stream of people for the rest of the ride.  We saw one bike trailer, several seats, and two trail-a-bikes.  There were quite a few older kids riding on their own, as well.  At one point, near Lincoln and Belmont, a lady craned her neck around and loudly announced that she would absolutely NEVER bring kids on a bike in the city, it was just way too dangerous.  I’m not certain if this was for my benefit, or if she didn’t see the kids behind me, but I heard her…  and let it go.  It seems a lot of people think it’s crazy, and a lot of people think it’s great, and it really doesn’t matter what they think- it has been amazing for us!

This is an annual event put on by an organization that advocates for better walking, biking, and transit- definitely worth it and highly recommended!


Quick Trip- Ping Tom Park

yubapingtom.pngLast week we took a short ride down Wabash to 18th, then over to Ping Tom Park.  The entrance is a little hidden if you haven’t been there before- but it is a gem of a park right in Chinatown.

My kids love the playground, and always find playmates of all ages.  I’d say the equipment is best for ages 2 and up.  There are several picnic tables inside the gated playground, so we usually pack a lunch.  There are port-o-johns located nearby as well, and they were clean enough- but bring your sanitizer.

The pagoda, which I failed to take a picture of, is really beautiful and sits right on the river.  This is also the Southernmost stop for the Water Taxi, which will take you to Michigan Ave or now, North Ave for just a few bucks.  I highly, highly recommend the water taxi!  It’s a great way to see the city.

I used to come home North on Canal, and always wondered about the little house on the bridge just south of 18th- it is really crazy looking juxtaposed against the ultra modern buildings in the background- that is a photo I hope to take sometime soon.  I heard on NPR’s “Curious City” that the house actually contains all the gears to lift the bridge on its two towers.  Most of Chicago’s draw bridges open by lifting up in the middle, with a hinge on each end. This one is an older design that raised up with pulleys.  Very cool.

pingtom.pngNew to Ping Tom is a bird preserve, extended walking/bike path, and a kayak rental building with restrooms.  It looks great!  The kids and I saw several bunnies along the trail, a few ducks, and a butterfly.  There are always a few people- not busy, but definitely being used.

There is a Divvy station in place near the entrance, so it’s now pretty easy to get from river to CTA.  The protected bike lane on 18th makesthis an appealing destination- bring your camera!