Day Six: Racine, WI to Chicago, IL: the Gales of May

Not a nice day at the beach

So, not to make too fine a point of it, but yesterday was one of the most difficult riding experiences we’ve ever had – the very strong headwind, driving rain and dropping temps combined to make for a slow and miserable ride. We were so lucky to relatively quickly find a way to get to our hotel.

Over dinner (baked scrod for Lisa, duck for me – I’d seen so many in the last few days I wanted to eat one) we discussed our plan. Our ride into Chicago was to be 70 miles, very doable normally, but a dreadful and even dangerous prospect under these conditions. Lisa learned that we could catch a train in Kenosha and that there was an option to bring bikes on board. We decided that was a good option.

I had not really warmed up and when we got back to our room, we actually got out a sleeping bag and sat under it on our couch. We were able to dawdle for a while in our nice room this morning, then loaded up and went out into the driving rain for an 11 mile ride south to the Kenosha train station. We stopped by a beach for a photo op by the stirred up lake. The wind and cold were almost unbearable (the “feels like” temp is 38) and we hopped back on the bikes and were at the station about an hour after leaving the hotel.

We had lunch in a little diner in the train station as we figured out the ticketing situation (all done on apps) and the bike rules. There were electric trains running around the perimeter of the room, some pulling little cars with empty dishes going back to the kitchen. The servers let us linger and drink coffee as we did our work on our phones and wait for the train.

As we travelled into the city, I remembered all the towns from my ride to Chicago two years ago – Waukegan, Lake Forest, Winnetka, Highland Park, Evanston. I wished it was a beautiful day and we were riding south and arriving at the lakefront trail, with the lake on our left and the downtown skyline ahead of us. Still, it is fun to ride a train, and we are being “flexible” as many have advised. And, as Lisa said to me last night “it is our vacation and we can do whatever we want to do.”

It was about 5:00 PM when we pulled into the downtown station and we got off the train, loaded up the bikes and rode through the rainy streets reflecting the city lights, jockeying with cars heading home for a long weekend. We checked into a busy aloft hotel and settled in, unbelievably happy with our room. We started to listen to WBEZ and learned that the Lake Shore Trail was closed due to high waves and downed branches, so riding in on our route wouldn’t have even been possible.

I always hold the idea of a day off in a nice hotel, with a big bed, good sheets and towels and a shower, in my thoughts on the hard days on these trips. It is our reward and here we are, and I am finally warming up.

6 thoughts on “Day Six: Racine, WI to Chicago, IL: the Gales of May

  1. You guys!!!! I’ve been worrying about you. It is FREEZING here so I imagine that being safe and warm is a great thing. Hoping it warms up for you!

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  2. So…great call to take the train!

    And is that your hotel, The Allerton? The one with the “Tip Top Tap?”
    If so, looks like you made the right call there, too. Skoal!

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  3. I love riding trains, and given what you two were dealing with, I would have been checking the schedule for a train from Chicago to almost any city to the east – Cleveland, Pittsburg… I tip my hat to the grittiness that you two have. Here’s hoping the rest of the trip is downhill, with the wind at your backs, and the sun shining. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to dream a bit.

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  4. I was thinking of you guys as I turned on the heat and covered my plants – glad you opted for the train. I’m loving your adventure.

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