Wednesday, November 19, 2014

North Branch Trail - Cook County Forest Preserve

Like many on the NW side of Chicago, I use the North Branch Trail, or NBT for short.  It allows a rider limited road crossings, a few bridges to march up, nice scenery and (usually) friendly path users.  I grew up riding from the Caldwell and Devon entrance to the Oakton bridge with friends.  As kids we thought going to Oakton was really far, now I am barely warmed up!

The trail has always been well maintained, and the CCFPD responds to requests for repairs when you call in.  Obviously this being a well used trail means the FPD wants to keep people coming back so they can prove the need for tax revenue.  I haven't ran into any problems other than a few times people will use the trail to cut around traffic....

According to the FPD police these gents are "regulars"

But there are plenty of places to stop and snag a photo that isn't someone being an unsafe imbecile.

Even on crappy, floody, fall days it is still pretty.

One thing to be aware of as a cyclist is the plethora of runners early mornings.  A friendly "on your left" and a "thank you" seems to go a really long way.  Like REALLY long way.  I can't say I have ever had an issue because of that; I have seen other riders go flying past silently without so much as a grunt and scare a runner.  That, in my opinion, is rude and dangerous.  I don't understand the mindset of why saying something is too hard for some, but I can't police the world.  At least not yet....

The other danger is the wildlife.  Many a time I have unexpectedly come upon a deer in the middle of the trail.  Now if you haven't hit a deer before on a bicycle just ride into a short wall.  Go on I'll wait...

A deer will launch you over it's back, glance at you, and walk away with no frogs given.  (See that, keeping my swear surrogates relative!)  I haven't been tossed yet, but I have run into a deer, they are solid beasts, and where there is one there is usually more.  Also the raccoons and their fellow critters are small, but they are darty little buggers that will head for a tire.  That means you have to be aware, especially in the evening times when they are out foraging for food.  I try to remind myself that I am in their house, and I don't want to cream one because cleaning guts off my bike isn't something I am excited about.

Riding later, like the afternoon and early evening, will also mean you are faced with the human critters.  Kids, and many times inattentive parents, can make things troublesome.  That means you'll need to slow down, like way down, almost to a point you are doing the balancing dance as you roll.  Not that this is a big deal, but if you don't plan accordingly your Strava times will suffer.  So just make sure you roll in the early morning.

Overall the NBT trail is a great ride, for fitness or family, and for a picnic.  Just be aware we, and humans, are in someone else's house and need to treat it that way.

And a send off picture from a frosty morning commute on the NBT.

No comments:

Post a Comment