Tour de Farms cycling event successful, despite bad weather

  • There are many trails at Fermilab in Batavia. Cyclists who sign up for the Chase the Moon ride on July 31 will have the opportunity to ride them at night.

      There are many trails at Fermilab in Batavia. Cyclists who sign up for the Chase the Moon ride on July 31 will have the opportunity to ride them at night. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, 2007

Posted7/23/2010 12:01 AM

The 29th edition of Illinois' Bike MS Tour de Farms cycling event on the weekend of June 12-13 was successful on many levels, despite some dangerous weather conditions.

The ride, benefiting the Greater Illinois Chapter of the National MS Society, began spectacularly. On the first day, more than 1,700 cyclists showed up in DeKalb to ride their choice of 35, 75 or 100 miles.


Unfortunately, Mother Nature had her own plans that day and midway through the morning, the staff made the tough decision to end the day's riding due to two rapidly approaching severe thunderstorms. With the help of good contingency planning and some very gracious residents along the route, everyone was able to survive a scary combination of lightning, hail and rain driven sideways by 50 mph winds.

One farmer, who lived across the road from a rest stop, allowed a couple hundred of us to hide out in his barn while the worst blew over. Shortly thereafter, a luxurious motor coach provided by Northern Illinois University pulled up and whisked groups of us safely to the finish line. That evening, the traditional outdoor festivities, including rockin' music from the Dead Beat Dads, refreshing beverages from Goose Island Brewery and much more, were moved inside the NIU Convocation Center.

Sunday was a much better day for riding, and we were able to get in a full 78 miles before the skies opened up again in the afternoon.

Despite the challenges we had that weekend, the ride is on track to meet its goal of raising $1.25 million by the end of this month. For more information, or to help out with a post-ride donation, visit

Moonlight ride: We're rapidly approaching another of my favorite rides of the year.

Chase the Moon will take place Saturday, July 31. This nocturnal fun ride begins and ends at Marmion Academy, one mile west of Kirk Road/Farnsworth Avenue on Butterfield Road in Aurora. Free parking is available, and festivities start at 10 p.m., with the ride officially beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.

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Most of the ride will take place within the grounds of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, including the beautiful inner ring with cooling ponds. Participants will have the unique opportunity to travel typically limited-access roads and enjoy a healthy breakfast. Because the route has several loops, riders can customize their route to pedal up to 25 miles that night.

In all of the years my kids and I have ridden Chase the Moon, we've thoroughly enjoyed the refreshing night temperatures, more than 1,000 candle luminarias, moon shadows, rolling fog, buffalo off in the distance, ducks floating on ponds, and the quaint village where visiting scientists live.

The Conservation Foundation is once again running the event. It is a big fundraiser for the organization. Established in 1972 by business and community leaders, The Conservation Foundation is a private, not-for-profit land and watershed protection organization serving Northeastern Illinois. Its mission is to preserve natural areas and open space, protect rivers and watersheds, and promote stewardship of the environment.

Even if you've never ridden at night, pick up a headlight and join us - it's great fun. For information and to register, visit

Todd Underwood covers cycling in the Chicago area. To contact him, e-mail