Last weekend, spring came into full swing. The sun came out, green things came up out of the ground, and the temperature was ideal for cruising. I went out in bib shorts and a short sleeved jersey for the first time this year. It was weird, and I felt chilly at first, but quickly warmed up. I still wore the toe covers and wool socks, paired with some extremely hairy winter legs. It may not have been very #pro, but I was not very concerned. I was just real happy to be out in the sun.
I cruised up Elston, through the bike lane, all the way to the start of the North Branch Trail. The trail isn't too far from my apartment, and it's easily accessible via bike-friendly roads. If you aren't familiar, the North Branch Trail stretches about 17 miles from Caldwell and Devon in Chicago up to Glencoe, ending at the Chicago Botanical Gardens and loosely following the path of the Chicago river and the Skokie Lagoons. It is mainly paved, but there are many offshoots of offroad trail that meander through the forest. Some portions of the paved trail run along the equestrian trails, and if you're ok with horses, you can share those trails with them too.
In short, the trail system is a lot of fun and offers the opportunity for some exploration. I spent as much time off the pavement as I could, stopping numerous times for photos. I finished with something like 30-40 miles, and was pretty beat up by the end of it. I had a strong headwind all the way back home too. I guess I'm not used to this anymore, but I will be again soon. Thanks to the great weather and the discovery of this trail, I had the most enjoyable ride of the year... so far. I'll be riding out on this trail a lot.
A good ride deserved a good beer. I treated myself to this imperial IPA from Goose Island upon returning home. It was pretty alright.