Rockford Illinois

After my first two rides here, I envisioned this post to be a negative, stay out of Rockford type piece. I could not find suitable roads. The one bike path/sidewalk was a pot holed mess. Then, after some research, I uncovered a few hidden gems.

A short downtown ride proved to be the first of many interesting routes around the screw city (for the numerous fastener factories in and around Rockford). As I cruised past Beyer Stadium (or what’s left of it), I glanced over at the ticket booth to see that it was the home of the Rockford Peaches of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. The stadium and team were featured in the classic movie, A League of their Own. I stopped and walked around. The stands have been removed and the field renovated. But, the original ticket booth still stands.

On the weekend, I wanted a bit more. So, a quick search on Ride with GPS brought me to Caledonia, a very small town about 4 miles outside Rockford. This was the highlight of my first week here. Rolling hills, quiet roads and beautiful farmland for as far as the eye could see. For 50 miles, I might have seen 4 cars. But probably 30 cyclists. A good ratio in my opinion.

Looking for something more local, that I could ride from the hotel, I headed down Bell School Road to Harvey Road and found Harlem Road, a rolling thoroughfare that’s winds through corn and farmland for about 8 miles. I turned around and found Rock Cut Park on my way back. This incredible 3,100 acre forest packs singletrack, paved cycle paths, two serene lakes and beautiful roadway all inside a very picturesque setting. I did several rides here, exploring all sides of the park.

What I learned: Do not judge a book by it’s cover. Explore, uncover and find the beauty in all areas of this incredible country.

Single Speeding – Well, Kind Of

When building up the Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross, I stripped the Van Dessel WTF 853 and used the drivetrain, wheels and seatpost. Xavier at Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, built up the Monstercross and converted the Van Dessel to single speed for me.

I was not sure how my body would react to pedaling without gears. I mean, why would anyone want to ride with one gear when 11, 12 and even 13 speeds are the modern norm? There are several answers, but I think most riders will tell you: simplicity. While I agree that is a good enough reason to shed gears, for me, adding a new wrinkle to spice things up a bit was all it took.

After a few rides, I’m starting to get a good feel for whether or not the 42/20 setup will work for me. I am getting up the bigger hills, but at what cost? Can I sustain this for 40-50 miles? Anything beyond that will be on a geared bike.

That said, I look forward to integrating the single speed into my daily rides as I’m sure it will help my fitness and add strength, allowing for more comfortable journeys.

What’s playing? (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around n my head while riding) – today – The Pretenders – Middle of the Road