Our Saturday morning training ride is open to all cyclists. We leave from the northwest corner of Wicker Park, south of the intersection of North/Damen/Milwaukee, at 8 a.m. The ride stops at the intersection of Pratt and Ridge at 8:30 and continues up Sheridan Road to Highland Park. (Note that April through early October we go by our summer hours of 7:00 and 7:30. Look for the official switch to be announced on the front page.)
After a stop in Highland Park, the group will split up according to ability and ambition. There will almost always be a group heading straight back to the city, but please keep in mind that after Highland Park the ride is no longer "no drop." You are responsible for your own way home. If you do not know the area, you should bring a map or smartphone.
Be aware that in the interest of safety and responsible use of the road, we will occasionally split the ride. This will be done on an as-needed basis at the Pratt & Ridge rendezvous point. The objective will be to split a large group into two halves, each of which has a strong presence of experienced riders. The groups will depart about three minutes apart. Important notes: This is not splitting the ride into a "fast" group and a "slow" group, and the ride to Highland Park mustn't become a race. It is not Group B's goal to catch Group A.
Popular extensions to the official route include the Ft. Sheridan Loop (aka "Fort" an extra 7 miles), "Old School" (23 miles), "Cemetery" (32 miles), and "Sisters" (40 miles). You can see more about xXx Racing’s routes here
There are several important things to keep in mind.
- Helmets are required. No exceptions.
- Your bicyle must be equipped with brakes.
- No earbuds in ears, regardless of whether they are in use.
- Aero handlebars may not be used (you can still ride if you have them).
- The ride to Highland Park is “no drop.” This means nobody gets left behind. We ride as slow as the slowest rider. If you are unable to keep up and a gap has opened ahead of you, you should yell “gap.” Do not be bashful. And if you hear that “gap” has been called, you must slow down and pass the word forward.
- We stop for flats. However, you are expected to have equipment (tube, tire levers and CO2/pump) to change a tube and the know-how to do so within 5 minutes.
- We ride no wider than two abreast. Not only is this the safest way to ride, but it’s the law. Although we proudly assert and defend our rights as cyclists, we try to minimize our impact on motorized traffic. In certain areas (e.g. Glencoe) we are required to ride single file; we will tell you where.
- If you are at the front of the group, you are responsible for keeping the ride smooth and safe.
Our team ride is a great way to get to know us and improve your own riding at the same time. We look forward to riding with you.
Some other tips to keep in mind:
When we're at the coffee shop you really have to stay on your toes and pay attention to what's going on. It is really easy to miss the group that is leaving the coffee shop, either going back south to the city or going north on one of the extensions. There is usually a "warning" a minute or two before the group leaves, but when they leave (especially the groups going north) the pace can be really fast. The group going north usually rides north up Sheridan Road from the coffee shop VERY fast. Be prepared. You may be able to find a separate group that is also going north at a more reasonable (i.e. slower) pace. Ask around when the group is at the coffee shop.
The group pace (meaning the typical moving speed) on the extensions or riding back to the city will be upwards of 20 mph. It's usually in the 22-24 mph range, and can easily get up to the mid to upper 20s depending on wind speed, wind direction, and the strength of the riders in the group.