"Winter is not a season, it’s a celebration"
- Anamika Mishra
As all of the LOYAL SUBSCRIBERS (LS) to MILES PEDDLED (MP) know, Management is a proponent of biking all year long even in the Midwest winter months. Hence, this edition of MP will be entitled FAT TIRE TIME. Management will be making recommendations for fat tire bikes(fatties) and local trails. Past fattie recommendations
can be accessed at https://www.milespeddled.com. Playlist suggestion: WINTERTIME by Norah Jones.
Before we get to the subject matter of this Month’s edition, however, a follow-up to some recent editions of MP is in order. First, as all of the LS know, the December Edition of MP was guest authored by the MAD VIKING (MV). Management would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank MV for taking all of us on a wild GEORGE SANTOS inspired fantasy laden trek. Playlist suggestion: MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR by The Beatles.
The second issue that must be addressed is Management’s love for its LS. It is for this reason that Management stresses the THIRD RULE OF BIKING: SAFETY FIRST. To this end, now is a very good time to purchase a new bike helmet. Sales are everywhere. A FULLY FUNCTIONAL helmet is the most important aspect of bike safety. Before reaching a decision that you do not need a new helmet, please consider the following:
First, please note that bike helmets are single use safety devices, designed to do their job only once. Accordingly, if you are in any accident during which your bike helmet strikes any object it must be replaced. Even if the damage looks superficial, the foam has likely been compromised. Thus, the golden rule is to always replace your helmet after a crash.
Second, many factors, for example sun and sweat, will cause a bike helmet to degrade. Thus, if there are any noticeable cracks or sun damage to the helmet it should be immediately replaced
Third and finally, please note that every bike helmet has a shelf life, it will not last forever. Most manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every 3 to 5 years. The Snell Memorial Foundation in conjunction with Miles Peddled Institute, recommends that your bike helmet be replaced every 5 years, or less if the manufacturer so recommends. Play it safe and stay out of the danger zone this holiday season. Playlist suggestion: DANGER ZONE by Kenny Loggins.
Now onto the subject matter of this Month’s edition- FAT TIRE TIME. Management will provide its LS with the Why, What and Where to fat tire bike in and around Chicago.
The first question is: Why bike all year round in the Midwest? The simple answer is crowds and calories. When you are biking on a fattie in the wintertime in the Midwest you can go anywhere. Generally speaking, there are no crowds and it is very quiet and relaxing. At the same time, the body works to keep your core temperature at the right operational level which means you burn off more calories when you bike outdoors in cold weather. This is especially true when riding a fattie which takes a little extra effort. Playlist suggestion: STRONGER by Kelly Clarkson.
The second question is: What do you need to bike all year round? You already have a new helmet, so now you need a fattie. The monster trucks of the cycling world, fatties can take you places other bikes can only dream of. Simply put, a fattie is a bike with very wide tires usually ranging from 4 to 5 inches in width with a knobby surface (sometimes even metal studs) to provide traction on snow, sand and dirt. Unlike mountain bikes, fatties do not have a front or rear shock. Rather, the oversized tires are run at a very low pressure usually between 5 to 15 psi and act as a shock absorber. While fatties may look heavy, since they have no shocks, they are light compared to mountain bikes.
There are some very nice fatties made by Salsa and Surly, but these are expensive. If you are an experienced rider and looking for an upscale fattie check out the Salsa Mukluk Deore 11, or the Surly Wednesday.
Most riders, unlike the disgraced and now convicted former Alderman Ed Burke, “Do not need to land the big tuna.” Hence, you do not need an upscale fattie. Book recommendation: WHEN CORRUPTION WAS KING by Robert Cooley a Chicago mob attorney leading a double life as an FBI informant. The book includes many stories of Burke’s corrupt ways dating back to the late 1970’s and early 80’s.
For those LS just starting out in the fattie world, Management recommends that you check out the following: Gravity Bullseye Monster; Mongoose Argus Sport; Framed Minnesota 1.0 and 2.0; or Diamond Back El Oso Uno. These fatties retail for less than $1,000.00. If you want to spend a little more, check out the Norco Bigfoot II which retails for $1,100.00 and comes with 4.9 inch wide tires. The wider the tire, the more traction and versatility you will have on your trek.
What to wear?
· Cycling Headwear:
To wear under your new helmet you will need a balaclava which can be pulled up to cover your nose or pulled down below your neck. Add photosensitive bike glasses or goggles to protect your eyes.
At a minimum get fully waterproof gloves. Better yet, consider battery heated gloves such as Savior Heat.
Dress in layers with wicking clothing. Start off feeling a little cool because you will warm up as you ride. Stay away from starting out with too much bulk, you can always add another layer if necessary.
There are some great winter riding boots on the market, but these can be expensive and more than what is necessary. For example, the 45 NRTH Wolvhammer Winter Riding Boot will protect your feet down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, but they cost $325.00.
A more realistic option is to outfit your fattie with mountain bike tires to add additional grip and go with a pair of FIVETEN Trail Cross Gore-Tex Waterproof MTB shoes and a thick pair of hiking socks. You can usually find these mountain bike shoes on sale. Playlist suggestion: FIRE IN YOUR NEW SHOES by Kaskade featuring Martina Sorbara.
The third issue to be addressed is: Where to ride your fattie?
Management likes to ride the beaches along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail starting on the north at Kathy Osterman Beach and then proceed south along Montrose Beach, continuing south and to the east of Sidney Marovitz Golf Course on the gravel trail next to Lake Michigan. Use Google Maps or the more enhanced DMAPS to plot your journey. The beauty of riding a fattie is you can go anywhere and ride almost any terrain. Playlist suggestion: FREE by Cream.
Below are 3 well-recognized trails made specifically for mountain and fat tire bikes.
· Big Marsh Bike Park
Big Marsh Bike Park (BMBP) is located at 11555 South Stoney Island Avenue in Chicago. BMBP is run by the Chicago Park District and is designed for all ages and skill levels. There are two tracks located on 40 acres of park which are modeled after the Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, Colorado.
· Paul Douglas Preserve
The Paul Douglas Preserve (PDP) is located in Hoffman Estates with parking on West Central Avenue east of Huntington Boulevard. The PDP is run by the Cook County Forest Preserve and recently added 13 new miles of bike trails. The Cook County Forest Preserve website has a very nice interactive map which outlines all of the trails. They run in length from 1.1 miles on the purple single track trail up to 5.3 miles on the yellow single track trail, but many of the trails connect and you can extend your ride. Please note that MV and his Vikingettes helped build many of these trails. For more information contact MV at: mv@firstpillagethenburn.
· The Forge at Lemont Quarries
The Forge at Lemont Quarries (F-LQ) is located at 1001 Main Street, Lemont, Illinois. There are activities for the entire family at F-LQ, but for the fattie rider there are numerous trails that can be explored at no cost.
On Saturday, January 13, 2024 at 9:00 a.m. there will be a fat tire race at F-LQ. There is both a long 20k course and a short 10k course. If interested register at the website for F-LQ. Playlist suggestion: BICYCLE RACE by Queen.
Time for this Month’s trivia/quiz section. As noted above, one of the best places to take your fattie is the Lemont quarries. The dolomite limestone that was harvested from the quarries was a chief building material in many things that made Chicago the city that it is today. Below are some trivia questions regarding the Lemont quarries. The answers to the questions will be in the postscript section.
1. What famous transportation route/hub was built using stone from the Lemont quarry? Route 66; Midway Airport; the Illinois Michigan Canal; or the Eisenhower Expressway.
2. Which 3 of the following buildings used limestone from the Lemont quarries? Chicago Water Tower; Holy Name Cathedral; James R. Thompason Center (n/k/a Googleplex); Soldier Field; or, Illinois Capital Building in Springfield.
3. How deep is the Lemont quarry? 60 feet, 90 feet, 120 feet or 150 feet.
4. Most importantly, which Chicago brewery has its main location on the IM Canal in Lemont? Half Acre; Pipeworks; Pollyanna; or Prairie Street Brewing Company.
TEASE TIME: The February 2024 Ed. of MP will outline some biking treks that can be taken during your spring break. Playlist suggestion: SPRING VACATION by the Beach Boys.
Time to go, but remember: “All great things begin with a vision…a dream.” - Estée Lauder. Think of yourself riding the fattie in the beautiful outdoors with the steam rising from your body. Playlist suggestion: LIVE A LITTLE by Kenny Chesney. Happy holidays and until we meet again remember to R, R & R!
Answers to Trivia/Quiz Section:
The Lemont quarries were discovered while digging the Illinois Michigan Canal. The dolomite limestone from the quarries was used to line the canal which became the major transportation route connecting the Illinois River to the Des Plaines River to the Chicago River and to Lake Michigan. The IM Canal was instrumental in the development and growth of the City of Chicago from the 1840’s to the 1880’s when it became obsolete and was replaced with the Ship and Sanitary Canal.
Limestone from the quarry was the primary building material in Chicago Water Tower, Holy Name Cathedral, and the Illinois Capital Building in Springfield. There was no limestone used in the Thompson Center, but Management would like to take this opportunity to thank WONDER WOMAN (WW) for convincing Google to purchase and renovate the Thompson Center. A petition drive has been started to re-name the Thompson Center the Wonder Woman Superhuman Center.
The quarry runs up to 90 feet deep and is filled with ice-cold spring fed water.
Pollyanna Brewery is a beautiful brewery with outdoors space along the IM Canal in Lemont. Go and enjoy their trademark The Full Lemonty, a golden ale ABV-5.0%; or, try one of their seasonal beers such as the Bourbon Barrel Aged Highway which is a high rye bourbon barrel aged imperial milk stout with cocoa nibs, maple, vanilla bean, and coffee ABV-13%. One is all you will need after your fattie ride. Playlist suggestion: ONE BOURBON, ONE SCOTCH, ONE BEER by John Lee Hooker.