"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door" … "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
~ Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Monday, May 4, 2015

PREPARATION - The Trial Run April 15 & 16

The Day's Route: Wilmette, IL - Racine, WI

Start at the green balloon in Wilmette and follow the red line until
its end at the red one in Racine. Those smaller, yellow balloons
indicate rest stops along the way.
Trying to see how our bikes, panniers and Garmins work. Testing our resolve to encounter history along the way.

Departed:Apr 15, '15, 08:59AM
Starts in:Wilmette, IL, US
Distance:60.5 mi
Elevation:1889 / - 1821 ft
Max Grade
7.0 %
Avg. Grade
0.1 %

Max Speed:23.4 mph
Avg. Speed:12.8 mph
Total Duration:08:26:50
Moving Time:04:45:36


Bikes all set and loaded to go!
Riders all set and ready to go as well. Weather looks great!
Great view of Lake Michigan from the Open Lands path in
Fort Sheridan. Its going to be a beautiful day to ride!

We figured the best way to ensure we're ready for our great adventure was to load all our stuff into our panniers and set off for a multi-day, mini adventure.  Headed to my family's place in Oconomowoc, WI, we chose a route that would lead us north the first day to Kenosha and Racine and then northwest through Milwaukee and Waukesha counties the next. We hope to catch some of our Lake Michigan sites along the way. 

Bags packed. Bike loaded. Riders fed. ALL SET AND READY TO ROLL! The weather is great, the sun is shining and Will and I are in shorts. First stop, Lake Bluff and a favorite EBC stop, Bluffington's. We're in luck, the usual EBC Wednesday Fast ride is still there. We show off our rigs, wave goodbye to the group and then settle down for a second breakfast of Eggs Bluffington. Can't get a better start that this. 

Once we leave Bluffington's though the NE wind picks up and the day turns a little cooler. We're a bit in-land, traveling up the Robert McClory path, so we're sheltered from the wind until we turn east just south of Kenosha. Phew… our local saying "cooler near the lake" definitely applies.

Jacketed now, we ride past inviting lake-side homes and parks, sand dunes, power plants and a lovely 1936 WPA constructed bath house as we enter the city of Kenosha, originally known as Southport. A reminder of a by-gone era, the stately Southport bath house needs a new roof and some plaster work, but still gives testimony to wonderful hot summer days spent cooling by the beach. Funded by federal programs, buildings like this gave work to the unemployed, a boost to the local economy and enjoyment to many future generations. We wish the day were nicer so we could visit the lake ourselves.
1936 Southport (Kenosha) Bath House

Instead it grows windier the further north we ride and we're glad to move in-land once again after visiting the Southport Lighthouse and Kenosha's lake front park. 

Our destination for the night, Racine, boasts both a residential and business historical district. While stopped on a windy bluff, consulting our Wikipedia listings, a friendly neighbor approaches to see if we're lost. No, but we'd like to know a little about these historic homes. So Kathi shares some history, gives directions to a few more interesting houses and sends us on our way to the S.C. Johnson complex. Kathi is not the first friendly encounter we meet along the way, and we're sure she won't be the last. We realize that business, or rather trip cards, will be an essential part of our packing list.

A quick visit to the S.C. Johnson complex is all we can muster. We're cold, tired and more than a little bonky for having been on the road now almost eight hours.  Frank Lloyd Wright designed the buildings, interiors and even furniture. The Rondelle reminds me of Wright's Greek Orthodox church in Wauwatosa which I passed frequently on the way to high school. We'd love to come back for a tour but, I think that will have to wait until we're done with our Lake Pilgrimage.
1886 Southport (Kenosha) Light House

First test ride successfully completed. Bikes, panniers, and even gamins performed well. Having found several historical sites and met a few interesting people we're ready for warm showers, a few beers, dinner and a well deserved night's rest. Another test day tomorrow - Racine to Oconomowoc coming up. 

The Golden Rondelle, the S.C. Johnson exhibition
at the 1964 Wold's Fair in Seattle, moved to Racine afterwards. It
now houses a community theater in its space-ship like space.

On this, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death
we pass two Lincoln statues. This one's in
Kenosha's Library Park. the other's in Racine.

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