Riders Soar in Bike the Drive 2016

June 3, 2016

Thanks to staff member Rob Larson for this guest blog post sharing the experiences of our Dream Team at Bike the Drive 2016!

We all stumbled into the office at 5:30 in the morning on Sunday. Some of us were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while others were still dreaming. Either way, we were together putting on our last stickers and wristbands for Bike the Drive 2016. We had been preparing for the day for over a month, and it was finally time to ride. After eating granola bars and bananas, we piled into three taxis to take us downtown.

The taxi drivers quickly realized that they were going to have to veer off course because Lake Shore Drive was closed to all vehicles. As we zoomed down I-94, Matt told us about an app called Waze, which gives drivers updated information about traffic. The taxi driver was so excited that he found it on his phone and started to use it. We encouraged him to keep his eyes on the road. Sadly, the use of cell phones by drivers has made biking more dangerous. I couldn't wait to have a whole highway to ourselves without any cars around.

Our taxis dropped us off at Michigan Avenue and Congress, and we unloaded the bikes from the Plain and Simple Furniture truck. Plain and Simple generously provided the truck to haul our bikes around this year. The truck gives us the freedom to customize the distance of our bike ride, giving us flexibility to accommodate the needs of our team.  

One bike in particular stood out as we set up for the ride. I don't think Chicago has ever seen the likes of the 'Wildebike!' This bike resembles a mix between a goat and a wildebeest, with white fur and black horns. It’s one of Jeff Morthorst's creations and has become a head-turner as he pedals around town. As our Activities Coordinator, Jeff makes sure that we always have a safe, fun, and hilarious time doing our activities together, including Bike the Drive.  

As the ride got underway, I hadn't even left the shadow of the Hancock building when I saw Mike stranded on the side of Lake Shore Drive. I pulled over to see what was the matter: his chain was broken. We walked to the shoulder and flagged down a mechanic. The mechanic was very helpful and quickly got out his tools to crank away at some loose bolts. Unfortunately, the bike was broken beyond repair.

The one redeeming quality of the bike was that it could still coast just fine, but without a chain it could no longer propel itself. And that is when an idea as old as friendship hit me. What if Mike could grab a hold of my bike basket and I could pull him along? At that moment, I saw a father/daughter team go by doing the same thing. We didn't have anything to lose. Mike grabbed onto my bike and away we went.

Nine miles later, we pulled into Bryn Mawr like two men who had survived an ordeal. We were thrilled that we made it. Mike had coasted down the hills, I had worked extra hard going up them, and together we made it to the where the team was waiting with the truck.

Eight riders decided to continue biking from Chicago all the way back to Evanston, navigating our way through Rogers Park. As we entered South Evanston we connected with another  group coming back from Bike the Drive--none other than the Evanston Bicycle Club. Niki Moe Horrell, Center for Independent Futures’ Development Director, struck up a conversation with one of the riders about the club’s generous community involvement.

Other riders took a different path back home on the ‘L’ train, which was also an adventure! Some riders were more experienced at purchasing Ventra tickets and navigating the route than others. Mike kept an eye on Ann Sickon, our Executive Director, as she figured out the process, and he helped ensure the group arrived home safely.

Our entire Bike the Drive team was riding in honor of hopes and dreams, raising money to support Center for Independent Futures’ mission. The team has raised over $4,000, and our goal is to reach $10,000. There is still time to give! Visit the team’s Crowdrise page here to donate to the team or individual riders. If you have any questions about how to support the team, call us at (847) 328-2044.

If you donate before Wednesday, June 8, you will be automatically entered to win a customized tote bag by Rob Larson. This bag will be a useful and fun addition to any summer outing, especially if you plan to go to the Chicago Air and Water Show, which inspired the painting behind this bag’s design. 

If you have never experienced the peaceful, quiet, and relaxing experience of bike riding on a four-lane highway, I'd encourage you to join our team next year. See you on Lake Shore Drive!

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