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Gone are the days of last week, when two adventuring bike-bloggers cycled the city of Chicago, in search of architectural wonders, pizza pot pies, and separated bike lanes. Armed with bike maps of the city, our trusty steeds “Toro” and “Chicago Roll”, Elizabeth (Agent EA) and Mir.I.Am (Agent M) explore bike commuting options away from home (or as – in Elizabeth’s case – as a tourist in her own city!) Hard working Americans by day, and secret bike agents by night, Task Force Chicago double teams it up for some Vacation Commuting!
Mission 1: Get some Wheels: Only six blocks from the hotel in the loop, Agent M hoofed it over to Millenium Park to the McDonald’s Cycle Center: a set up complete with secure indoor bike spaces for rent, pay showers and lockers, and home to the Chicago Bike and Roll… where vacationers can choose between a variety of options for bikes to rent by hour or by day. All come with complimentary U-lock, map, travel bag, and helmet! (and valid til the end of 8/9/11 — deal on Bike and Roll Rental!)
Agent M and cohort codenamed “Freddie” have slim pickings in sizes and bikes available, as it’s late on a Saturday afternoon. The price is right for the whole day: $39 in store, or $35 if you reserve online – and less for half a day. They settle for two ill-fitting mountain bikes: 2012 Trek 3500, one in size “hurts my crotch when you stop” and one in size “seat post all the way up”. Agent M and Freddie 3500 mount their fully-equipped Chicago Roll steeds and jump on to the lakefront path for nice views of famous square buildings and bee-line it to the rendezvous point!
Mission 2: Rendezvous with Agent E.A. in Lincoln Park: After their first meet and greet just a couple night’s before, Agent EA and Agent M are now bonded in mutual bike love and ready to set out for some bike commuter fun throughout Chicago. With Agent bootcamp training (a.k.a. “work”) behind them and looking to get out on two wheels, Agent EA and Agent M decide to meet in Lincoln Park – just off the very crowded lakefront path. A direct path for directionally challenged vacation commuters, the path proves perfect for agent M and cohort Freddie, and is also just off seasoned local commuter Agent EA’s typical route to “work”.
Pizza pot pies — mmmm!!!! — fortify the Bike Commuters for the weekend’s evening adventures ahead.
Mission 3: Butterflies at Large: Satisfied, task force BikeCommuters.com heads back to the Lakefront Path in search of butterflies. Up near Montrose, the Agents find park goers enjoying an evening outdoors and discover the next generation of bike commuters talent.
So caught up in the search, the Agents pedal right through the butterfly sanctuary nearly missing their mark. Unfortunately, barely a butterfly in sight – but we know they’re out there! Butterfly threat level, neutralized.
Mission 4: Greet the Streets – Separated Bike Lane Maiden Voyage: Last stop on Task Force Chicago’s List is christening the city’s first separated bike lane along Kinzie Street. As sunset approaches, the beach-going vacationers start to disperse to take cover from nightfall, and the lakefront path becomes an open bike highway! Agent EA leads the way with cohorts Freddie, Dean, and Agent M trailing close behind. Descending on the city, the BikeCommuters Task Force Chicago ride single file down the 1/2-mile long “magical yellow-brick road” of Kinzie with blinky lights engaged.
They pull a U-turn and double back on the other side for the full experience. FINAL MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
With the all clear for landing, Agent M and Freddie make the drop at Bike and Roll Chicago, only minutes before closing. A whopping $42 after tax, a small price to pay for life as a secret bike adventurer away from home. Agent M reported that “experiencing the city on two-wheels is a must for a daily commuter away from home and Bike and Roll was the perfect convenient choice (and they have locations in 4 other major U.S. cities). Tips: come early for more sizes and selections, order online to jump the queue and get rolling early to take advantage of the whole day. Sure beats a rental car!” Cohort Freddie reported, “Ouch. I’ll get there early for a smaller frame next time! Still worth it!”
Til next time Chicago!