What to do at 2am on a Saturday? Bike all over Chicago of course!

Heather Smith's picture

Summer is all about long days and balmy nights, so why not enjoy it on the bike? Saturday I took part in one of my favorite events of the summer. The Chicago Friends of the Park LATE (long after twilight ends) ride. This is a 25 mile ride through the streets from 2-6am beginning downtown and ending with sunrise and breakfast on the lake. We met up at the Art Institute at 1:00am along with a growing batch of cyclists. It reminded me a bit of a zombie movie--only everywhere pedestrians were turning into cyclists. First I just saw a few cyclists, then several others biking all over downtown meeting up with friends, and adjusting their headlights and helmets and gathering near Grant Park, then more and more gathered. Two friends and I plus 9,000 other riders took to start line about 1:30am. There was a band and they were giving out McDonald's ice coffee and snacks to keep us awake.

We started out going south on Columbus, then turned West on Roosevelt. There is nothing quite like gliding along with so many other riders while the late revelers coming out of the bars open their eyes wide to see a never ending stream of cyclists. I'll never forget the sight of biking up and over the Roosevelt bridge with the skyline on one side and a nothing but 9,000 blinking red tail lights in front.

Some of the highlights included at least two riders who tied ipod stereos to their handle bars keeping us awake with Garth Taylor and then 80's tunes throughout the ride.

The best part was the feeling that cyclists have taken over the streets and no car could bother competing with all of us in mass. The cars that did honk in frustration were met with hundreds of bike bells and a few honking bike horns.

By the time we got to the rest stop at North Park University we were tired, but eager to bike to the sun rise. The evening was cool the entire time and we were treated to a wonderful windy sunrise. Just in time to go to bed and catch some zzzz's. As my friend says, "Everyone who bicycles is evangelical about it." Count me in! Now for some sleep ....

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