We got on our bikes the first time this year on April 6 starting from Diehl Road in Naperville continuing east on the Aurora Branch of the Illinois Prairie Path (IPP) toward Wheaton.
Temperature topping out in the mid-50s, overcast with the threat of rain the whole ride. But the buzz of finally shaking winter out of our veins made all the craziness that happened during the icy months before this ride seem less insane.
The pre-ride bike prep wasn't easy. I hadn't pumped air in bike tires since I was a kid and the process of doing so now compared to then was -- for the lack of a better phrase -- fucked up.
I had a cheap hand pump but couldn't get it on the tire valves, front or back. Frustrated, I went out and bought a Schwinn Delux Analog Bike Pump from Target. Getting back home to fill the tires with this retro pump, I thought for sure we'd be in business but hooking the pump up to the valves was a wrestling match. I finally force-fed air into the tires after an hour of hand-to-hand combat with the pump.
But the excursion itself - 14.9 miles along a pitted, grooved, thawing crushed gravel trail - was liberating. By the end of this season's inaugural trip, we were sore but hopeful.
We made a vow that we were going to ride the IPP, Great Western, and Fox River trails this spring and summer, with a goal of 500 miles by August.
Any mileage beyond would be bonus.