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Presenting…the Illinois Trail Corps, logo, soon to grace our Hauler of Fame tool trailer and the swanky t-shirts of donors to our Make Trails Work campaign. Thank you, Yellow Barn Design!

Presenting…the Illinois Trail Corps, logo, soon to grace our Hauler of Fame tool trailer and the swanky t-shirts of donors to our Make Trails Work campaign. Thank you, Yellow Barn Design!

Throwing down at GoodSpeed Cycles Saturday evening to determine which legendary chain saw will be the first to power #ILTrailCorpsHusqvarna USA(represented by the mighty left arm of Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance's Diane Banta) vs STIHL USA (with Steve as their champion). And the winner is…Illinois! Thank you Graham & Goodspeed for donating the saw! #overthetop #IcingMyArm

Adventure Cycling posted an interview with me about Trails for Illinois to their blog; we’re inspired every day by Adventure Cycling and its US Bicycle Route and Bike Overnights efforts.

The interview includes a video of a song I played at the Great Lakes Coastal Trails Conference mid-May. I wrote it in my head on the drive up and scribbled it down quick when I got there, so it’s rough but it’s got potential. It’s about a guy who, down on his luck and only a bike to his name, sets out on a journey to find a better version of himself on USBR 36 & 37, Illinois’ new routes along the lake. Eventually he arrives back in Hammond, but now sees it with explorer’s eyes and falls back in love with his home.

It’s a sing along! And deserves some practice :-) and some more verses!

What I’ve got so far:

"I’m on the USBR"

At the Horseshoe in Hammond playing cards and slots
I lost my car and my house; this bike’s all I got
I had to get out of the 219
On Route 36 I’d leave my troubles behind

Chorus
On the USBR
Ain’t no tellin’ how far
'Cross the country I'll roam
I might never go home

Waved good-bye to the Hoosiers and all my mistakes
Crossed the Illiana line and turned right for the lake
That big shoulder skyline rising up from the shore
Mini Abe was my guide on my emancipation tour

Chorus

Headed north from the city on Route 37
Caught Tweedy at Ravinia, man it sounded like heaven
Through north shore towns I rode without a care
Spotted cows up ahead, the smell of cheese in the air…

Chorus

Joanie Lum and the Fox32 Chicago crew were huge friends of Illinois trails this morning, airing four segments by noon featuring the Cal-Sag Trail groundbreaking and Palos Forest Preserves. We’re honored to represent the Cal-Sag Trail, and I’m pleased to have snuck in a plug for the Forest Preserves of Cook County and our trail building friends at CAMBr, who together work so hard to make Palos a jewel for the state. 

USBR Photo Contest: And the winner is…

A Legacy for Illinois Trails (guest blog)

My name is Levi Borreson, and I am the owner and framebuilder at Legacy Frameworks in Bridgeport (http://legacyframeworks.com). I have decided to build a bicycle to honor and support Illinois Trail Corps, and its effort to empower Illinois communities to be trail builders again. My great grandfather was part of the Civilian Conservation Corps that partly inspired this effort, so this initiative is close to me.

The bicycle I’m developing is a fast cross-country machine sometimes called a Randonneur, the type of bike you take on a quick 150-mile overnight tour, good for carrying a sleeping bag with a sandwich and clean bike shorts rolled up in it…but also good when you don’t plan to stop at all.

I’m calling it the Scout, being a fast moving and steadfast machine—and invoking the spirit of citizenship.

image

The first production bike will be a special edition called the Phil T. Hodge. He was the crazed genius of the Illinois Prairie Path’s Volunteer Bridge in Wheaton, who led volunteers and teenagers to weld trusses and pour concrete from a crane. It’s his spirit that fuels Illinois Trail Corps, and I want this bike to embody that.

It will be Trails for Illinois green—Pantone 577, thanks for asking—and while its heritage reaches back to the fast French light touring bikes of the 1950s, its components will be modern with brake lever shifting, disc brakes, and a 10-speed compact drive train. The front rack, appropriate for a sleeping bag and/or six pack, is included.

While I will use this effort to create a new line of fast touring bikes, there will only ever be one Phil T. Hodge edition, and it will only be available as a premium for donating to Illinois Trail Corps.

Please join me in launching this effort by contributing to Illinois Trail Corps.

Levi Borreson, owner/frame builder
Legacy Frameworks
levi@legacyframeworks.com
http://legacyframesworks.com

Caught!: this seemingly innocent looking teen attempting to abscond with the Po Campo Humboldt Messenger Bag, generously donated by owner & designer Maria Boustead as a premium for your $100 donation to Illinois Trail Corps. 

Donate here. See more of Maria’s covetous, Chicago-made bags at http://pocampo.com.

Caught!: this seemingly innocent looking teen attempting to abscond with the Po Campo Humboldt Messenger Bag, generously donated by owner & designer Maria Boustead as a premium for your $100 donation to Illinois Trail Corps

Donate here. See more of Maria’s covetous, Chicago-made bags at http://pocampo.com.

Notification came late yesterday afternoon: Illinois Trail Corps is officially an Americorps National Civilian Community Corps project for summer 2014!
We are deeply honored to be part of the legacy of civilian service in America, whose foundation was laid by the Franklin Roosevelt administration and Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression and World War II. The work CCC accomplished in Illinois between 1933 and 1942 is astonishing:
Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail (Will, Grundy, and LaSalle counties)
White Pines State Park, in Ogle County
Pere Marquette State Park, in Jersey County
Starved Rock State Park, LaSalle County
Trail of Tears State Forest in Union County
Giant City State Park in Union and Jackson counties
Fox Ridge State Park, in Coles County
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has an excellent history of the CCC and its work in Illinois. Please check it out.
This is the legacy that Illinois Trail Corps carries forward. All our efforts are focused on equipping this team and our volunteers with the trail building tools they’ll need this summer and for many more—tools have a long life, and so will your donation: http://www.razoo.com/story/Maketrailswork
We will be trail builders again!

Notification came late yesterday afternoon: Illinois Trail Corps is officially an Americorps National Civilian Community Corps project for summer 2014!

We are deeply honored to be part of the legacy of civilian service in America, whose foundation was laid by the Franklin Roosevelt administration and Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression and World War II. The work CCC accomplished in Illinois between 1933 and 1942 is astonishing:

  • Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail (Will, Grundy, and LaSalle counties)
  • White Pines State Park, in Ogle County
  • Pere Marquette State Park, in Jersey County
  • Starved Rock State Park, LaSalle County
  • Trail of Tears State Forest in Union County
  • Giant City State Park in Union and Jackson counties
  • Fox Ridge State Park, in Coles County

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has an excellent history of the CCC and its work in Illinois. Please check it out.

This is the legacy that Illinois Trail Corps carries forward. All our efforts are focused on equipping this team and our volunteers with the trail building tools they’ll need this summer and for many more—tools have a long life, and so will your donation: http://www.razoo.com/story/Maketrailswork

We will be trail builders again!

He wrote the book on best hikes in Illinois. Also the book on best rail trails in Illinois. Also the book on camping in Illinois.
He and his outdoor expertise is our newest premium for supporting Illinois Trail Corps. 
He’s Ted Villaire, and Illinois’ prolific writer & outdoorsman has generously offered to lead you and four friends on an overnight hike on the 11-mile Illini Trail at beautiful Lake Shelbyville this fall. We’ll help you prepare by giving your group $250 in gift cards for REI, good at any store and http://rei.com.
Please check it out: http://igg.me/at/maketrailswork
Thank you, Ted, for helping us build Illinois Trail Corps! 

He wrote the book on best hikes in Illinois. Also the book on best rail trails in Illinois. Also the book on camping in Illinois.

He and his outdoor expertise is our newest premium for supporting Illinois Trail Corps. 

He’s Ted Villaire, and Illinois’ prolific writer & outdoorsman has generously offered to lead you and four friends on an overnight hike on the 11-mile Illini Trail at beautiful Lake Shelbyville this fall. We’ll help you prepare by giving your group $250 in gift cards for REI, good at any store and http://rei.com.

Please check it out: http://igg.me/at/maketrailswork

Thank you, Ted, for helping us build Illinois Trail Corps! 

Trail guy’s observations riding through Chicago

I parked my van by the Adler Planetarium on Chicago’s lakefront today, and rode my Xtracycle cargo bike through the Loop and up Milwaukee Avenue to Revolution Brewery. 

I was meeting the Michael half of awesome TforI supporters Michael & Janet Hanley to talk with him about Illinois Trail Corps. I’ve done gobs of riding in and around Chicago, but it’s been a LONG time—all of the new stuff, the buffered bike lanes, the two-way bike lane on Dearborn, the bike signals, Divvy, bike racks where parking spaces used to be…NONE of that was there the last time I rode in the city. All my biking’s been local for a few years now in my small town; any distance has been on trail.

So some observations:

• Biking in the Loop at mid-day is no faster than driving. That is to say, it sucks. And on a cargo bike, the gaps to sneak by just aren’t as plentiful. Uck.

• I obey more traffic lights than I used to, and I contend it’s not because I’m old. All the bike accomodations make me a little more respectful of the regulatory stuff. It’s like, wow, the streets are respecting me a little more, I should honor that. That’s how it feels, anyway. Also, I’m old.

• Buffered bike lanes…oh, you tempt me. I’ve been a LCI (look it up) and a street cyclist all my adult life. My training is to not be fond of fancy on-street bike facilities. But to my embarrassed surprise, I’ve discovered that I am. At least in the context of Milwaukee Ave. The separation from the cars, while it DOES make for an awkward dance with right turning cars at intersections, just feels…so…nice. (Duh, really: that’s why we like trails so much.)

• To continue the point: the Dearborn 2-way bike lane is fantastic; it was the only place in the Loop I rode that made me glad to be on a bike.

• Two people in the Loop shouted my name as I rode by, once going to the brewery, once coming back. That happens in Homewood all the time, but hello. It was awesome. One was Josh Ellis from Metropolitan Planning Council, who last week bought Illinois Trail Corps a Pulaski, and we will name it for him.

• Taxis seem so much more respectful than they use to, giving quick beeps as they came around me to cut me off. When did they ever alert anyone before? Buses crowded me like they had some point to prove, or maybe they are frighteningly blasè about stripes on a street.

• So many helmets! I would have never guessed so many people—young people!—would wear them. I wore one, but I confess that on a nice quiet trail, I dump it—I’m pretty much a situationist. Maybe they would too, but still, the urban helmet thing is good.

Divvy bike share is everywhere, at least everywhere I went. Both kiosks and riders, every direction. #Phenomenal

• The Chicago Lakefront Trail, south of Navy Pier, is probably one of the most beautiful, spectacular trails in the whole world, and very likely THE most beautiful urban trail, anywhere, ever. North of Navy Pier, meh. 

• And the Chicago Lakefront Trail is the foundation of this world-class cycling city.

• Hot parking tip: Solidarity Drive, between the Field Museum and the Planetarium, was the in-the-know person’s parking when we had Field Museum memberships with a 3-yr old in tow. It was awesome to find that it is still awesomely cheap: 4 hours for $8.

It was a lot of fun, and lunch & a beer with Michael was fabulous. Get the Mother of Exiles pilsner. My god, that’s a good beer.