14 July 2009

Bike to the train museum

I got tired of waiting for Some Guy to take me to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. Well, isn't that why I have a bike? So last Saturday I finally went there myself.

It's about 10 miles from the Woodstock Metra station (Union Pacific Northwest line, out of Ogilvie Transportation Center). I might have saved a few miles if I'd gone to Crystal Lake instead, but Crystal Lake has sprawled the size of a small republic with correspondingly nutty traffic. I didn't want to deal with that, and it was high time I took on some bona fide country roads this season anyway. That turned out to be a good plan---it was a pleasant ride, and the drivers were (*gasp!*) courteous and safe, although I'd still try to avoid Dean Street in the future. Hills plus headwind plus heavy traffic is more than I'd prefer to handle at the same time, at least when I'm riding through a rural area. Or what's supposed to be a rural area. Or at least for now.

The museum wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I still had a geeked-out great time. If only I hadn't had to leave in such a hurry later that afternoon in order to catch my train back to Chicago. The subtle irony of this did not escape me, given that most of the other visitors riding the two demo trains running that day probably hadn't ridden any sort of normal train recently. Whereas I ride both diesel and electric trains all the time, some of which probably even qualify as "vintage," unfortunately. (Dear Amtrak: The fact that the passenger cars currently in use were built in 1979 really isn't something that should be bragged about.) It's just like riding a real train, I thought, complete with the repeating chorus of "are we there yet?" in shrill, youthful voices almost as soon as we'd pulled out of the depot.

This coming weekend is Diesel Days, so I'll probably be heading back to partake in the awesomeness. With better planning I would have put off my trip for another week anyway, since by midnight I was so tired that I ended up skipping the L.A.T.E. Ride. Again. As I had figured that I probably would. (And I'd finally snagged a rider number in the first wave, too.) Well, most of my adventures are pretty spontaneous. I needed to get out, and the Illinois Railway Museum was the first crazy idea that popped into my head at 6am. (Long story.) You do one L.A.T.E. Ride by yourself, and you've done 'em all.


At 14 July, 2009 02:30, Blogger reub2000 said...

I was traveling by train/bike this Sunday, and must say that it is too popular. I tried to get on a union pacific northwest line train at clyborn and was not allowed because the train already had the maximum number of bikes. This is too popular.

When you did this, where you using your folding bike?

At 14 July, 2009 07:56, Blogger Eric Allix Rogers said...

I wish I could go for Diesel Days, sounds fun. Unfortunately, I've already got too many things going on this coming weekend.

At 14 July, 2009 09:27, Blogger Benjamin said...

I'm impressed. I drove out there once with a friend, and I felt like it took freaking forever, so biking/riding teh train must have been quite the endurance test. Or so it seems to me; you're probably used to long rides by now.

At 14 July, 2009 10:28, Blogger Eric Allix Rogers said...

I do think this risks becoming too popular. I also rode the UP-NW this weekend, on Saturday, and it hit bike capacity going both ways. I don't know if the other lines have this problem (the Electric never does). I've also noticed the conductors on the UP-NW seem not to like bikes much in general, which may be a function of their overabundance. Time to start pushing Metra for bike cars - let's get our share of that $31 billion capital bill!

At 14 July, 2009 10:39, Blogger Jennifer said...

I took the hybrid, but I got on at Ogilvie. I think generally you have better luck trying to get on at one of the terminal stations, so that exactly what you describe doesn't happen. (Which is an enormous PITA, I know, but the train I take to my family downstate flies right past my apartment, so I guess I'm sort of used to such a thing.) It might also depend on the route. I think the UP-NW must be very popular with cyclists, since people complain about not being allowed to ride it with a bike all the time.

Don't tell me you're going to Pitchfork, you hipster. :-)

Um... I'm not even going to bother responding to that. You crack me up.

At 14 July, 2009 14:05, Blogger reub2000 said...

Metra times trains so that a up-nw train leaves at about the same time that a up-n train arrives. But you are definitly right about catching the train at Ogilvie. It's just that I'm lazy and would rather avoid the 12mi trip down to Chicago.

I still like the flexibility that this multi-modal transportation offers.

At 14 July, 2009 17:58, Blogger Jennifer said...

Actually, going to Starved Rock always feel like a longer drive than you'd think it really should be. There's just a whole lot of nothing to be seen from I-80.

At 20 July, 2009 00:06, Blogger Jennifer said...

I take that back---driving to the IRM did indeed take forever. I think my bike-train-bike route may actually have been faster.

Shame on you, Huntley.


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