On a winter night, cycling along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail feels like embarking on a strange expedition, a la Labyrinth. Some areas are totally blocked off due to overwhelming ice accumulation, forcing bikes onto nearby dirt paths or streets; some areas have massive chunks of pavement missing, pulled out by the force of lake waves; some areas are especially dark and foggy, eerie as you look out to the blackness of the horizon. If I listen to David Bowie on my iPod as I ride along, the only effects missing are grotesque muppets with British accents.
During my first winter cycling, I rode the Lakefront Trail nearly every night. Last winter, with a new office further from the lake, I used the trail much less. This winter, yesterday’s ride was only my second time commuting along the trail. Nowadays, taking relatively quiet secondary streets that go straight home is a more attractive proposition than the out-of-the-way trail.
But sometimes the car-free environment, along with the moody mood, is too much to resist, even when the ride takes twice as long.
That’s when I cycle the Lakefront and I always enjoy the distinctive experience.