Lunchtime riding great way to break up the day

Along with all of the beauty that autumn brings us, there is the inescapable fact that our daylight hours are dwindling.

As I mentioned in my last column, riding in the dark can be a blast; but riding for exercise typically involves having enough ambient light to be able to spot obstacles within 20 feet. To take advantage of the brightest time of day, I recommend lunchtime riding as a great way to break up the day.

With my office only a half-mile away from Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Palatine, I'm especially lucky to have both paved and mountain-bike trails available.

Deer Grove is somewhat of a hidden treasure and is never too crowded. Located on the north side of Dundee Road, it surrounds Quentin Road (four miles of paved trails are located primarily to the east of Quentin and the off-road trails are on the west side).

The three-mile paved loop is a great place to get in some decent riding miles without having to deal with traffic. On my lunch hour I'll ride to Deer Grove, do five laps and ride back to the office with nineteen miles done and a fresh start to the afternoon.

The dirt trails there are also a joy to ride. They are about as good as it gets for mountain biking in our area, but a word to the wise: stay off the trails that prohibit bikes and horses. From what I hear, the fines can be quite costly.

Another of my local favorites is the Poplar Creek Trail. It is a nine-mile paved loop east of Elgin that is bounded roughly by Route 59, Bode Road, Barrington Road, and I-90.

This trail is rapidly gaining popularity and rightfully so. It consists of gentle rolling slopes that wind through beautifully wooded forest preserves; a welcome treat from the surrounding suburbia.

There are several old-fashioned hand-operated water pumps along the way that offer refreshment on a warm day and a scenic pond on the south side along Bode Road.

Parking is available in many locations along the loop, including the Shoe Factory Road Woods Forest Preserve on Route 59.

For those of you who work near Schaumburg, the Ned Brown Preserve, a.k.a. Busse Woods, offers more than eleven miles of paved bike trails. Weekday usage is considerably less than on weekends, especially as the weather cools down. This huge preserve offers varied scenery including lakes and prairies. It is bounded by Route 53, I-90, Arlington Heights Road, and Biesterfield Road.

Lunchtime riding is a great alternative for those who aren't able to otherwise get on their bikes during the week. Give it a try and see how invigorating it can be.

Todd Underwood covers cycling in the Chicagoland area. To contact him, email to or write to c/o Daily Herald, 385 Airport Road, Suite A, Elgin, IL 60123.

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