The Haul-a-Day Rides the CTA!

We got this!

We have vertical bike racks in our building- it was almost IMPOSSIBLE with the Yuba, but I can lift this one and turn the front tire without too much trouble. Here’s big kid in front, little in back- easier on me, but they felt I’d disrupted the natural order of things…

We tried something a lot different the other day.  We planned to meet some friends at the Peggy Notebaert  Nature Museum- which by the way, is running an insanely good deal on membership through Groupon- and with a high of 35 predicted, it seemed like the bike was the best way to go. It’s a little over six miles on the Lakefront Trail, and public trans estimated time was 45 minutes, so we loaded up, put on our Cuddl Duds, and were on our way.


DANG IT. Could they maybe have put some signage up earlier??

Wind definitely adds on to our biking time in the winter.  We have to take care in a few places thanks to ice and snow, but for the most part the trails are clear- especially of people- and the only change from non-winter biking is allowing extra time and wearing extra layers.  I was a little shocked though at how TIRED I was as this trip went on- it was a pain to get west over to the next North/South bike lane (Dearborn) and the kids were whining a lot.  Me too.  The closed path was a big setback, and I kicked myself for assuming it had reopened.  (It was closed after this storm back in November.)  This is why I ought to be reading the Chainlink, though it sometimes drives me nuts.

So the ride, in total, was a bit over 7 miles.  We were only about 15 minutes late, but I was pushing against a pretty decent headwind.  We had a nice visit at the museum, said hello to the butterflies, and ate some lunch.  Then we rode over to see our friends at Alt-Cycle to check out the Xtracycle accessories Shane mentioned in a comment a few weeks ago- the flight deck and hooptie.  I think it’s a significant investment to change out our setup, but the kids might be a little happier with more room, so stay tuned.

After Alt-Cycle, we were tired.  It was pretty windy and cold, and it seemed like an ideal time to try out our mixed-mode transportation option!  We walked the bike down Fullerton to the Red Line Station and felt a lot nervous… I’ve never taken a bike on the train before, so a cargo bike seemed like kind of a big deal.  Plus, you know- two tired kids!

At the Fullerton station, wondering if we can pull this off!

At the Fullerton station, wondering if we can pull this off!

I double checked with an attendant in the front, she reassured me bikes are fine until 4:00.  CTA restricts bikes during rush hours- from 7-9 and 4-6.  The guidelines are here. We swung into the elevator with no problems, got up to a pretty crowded platform (DePaul students heading out) and waited for what I hoped was a very vacant train.

We got this!

We got this!

The train came, and there were a few empty seats- we spotted the handicapped symbol near a door and scooted ahead- I’d learned this trick from my stroller days.  On the newer CTA trains there are no dividers by the doors at these entrances, which makes it a lot easier to park something big like a stroller or bike.  I flipped the front tire around and pushed it in at an angle by the front seat- the kids each sat next to a new ‘friend’ while I held the bike and a pole.

Waiting patiently.  NBD.

Waiting patiently. NBD.

While we were riding, I’m seeing my little guy’s eyes getting heavy, and I momentarily have a moment of panic.  What am I going to do if he falls asleep and we reach our stop?  The kickstand isn’t sufficient to leave the bike freestanding with the stops and starts, you definitely need to hang on to it.  So at a stop in the loop, I motioned him over and had him sit on the deck.  It wasn’t too tough to hold onto, plus it simplified the exit when it was time.

We made it!  Hello, Chinatown!

We made it! Hello, Chinatown!

I probably should have mentioned this earlier- but you should definitely check that your destination has an elevator!  We usually get off at Roosevelt, but I know those are broken down frequently and pretty small (thank you stroller) so Cermak is a better option- newer station.  I felt relieved as we completed our commute…

All of us fit in the elevator- no problem!

All of us fit in the elevator- no problem!

And just in time- since this guy was DONE.

So the first one is the hardest, right?  I’m feeling like I could easily do this again.  It’s nice for one way trips, or to get out a little further than we’ve been going regularly.  Also, I’m really excited to do some Metra trips once the weather is nicer.

I’m still hesitant to do a bus trip, especially after reading this horror story this week on the Chainlink!!  (and this, and this, and this!)

Being able to mix up our transportation was the #1 reason we got this bike, I am dreaming about all the possibilities!  This little guy was dreaming, too.

Sure sign of a great day.

Sure sign of a great day.

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