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  1. #1
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    Any mountain biking to do in Chicago

    We are thinking in moving to Chicago but I'm scare sh^tless of a place with out mountains..

    So the question is any decent and hilly trails near Chicago.

    thanks in advance

  2. #2
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    The great thing about Chicago mtb riding is being close to the surrounding states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Close to the city is Palos, western Springs and Oswego. Look up CAMBR.com for riding info.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAGASAN View Post
    The great thing about Chicago mtb riding is being close to the surrounding states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Close to the city is Palos, western Springs and Oswego. Look up CAMBR.com for riding info.
    Thanks for the advice, now we are 3hours away from Moab and have a trailhead about a mile from my house, so is going to be difficult to adapt.

  4. #4
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    Palos and Saw Waw Kee are a blast. I moved down from Wisconsin last year and am pleasantly surprised that there are some decent places to ride around the Chicago burbs. Definately check out the CAMBR website.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BP302 View Post
    Palos and Saw Waw Kee are a blast. I moved down from Wisconsin last year and am pleasantly surprised that there are some decent places to ride around the Chicago burbs.
    very glad to hear

    Definately check out the CAMBR website.
    I'm checking right now, looks promising.

  6. #6
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    Coming from MOAB you will be mtb home sick. But we are lucky to have some great places to ride and CAMBR does an excellent job maintaining the trails. No mountains here but it is hilly in the try state area. Fear not, there is riding here.

    Where in Chicago are you locating?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAGASAN View Post
    Coming from MOAB you will be mtb home sick. But we are lucky to have some great places to ride and CAMBR does an excellent job maintaining the trails. No mountains here but it is hilly in the try state area. Fear not, there is riding here.
    thanks for the words of encouragement

    Where in Chicago are you locating?
    We have no idea, we are just exploring new opportunities, but have no clue about home buying prices, etc.

  8. #8
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    Palos is pretty good.

  9. #9
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    I just moved to the mountains from Northwest Indiana. Depending on where you work you might want to look toward this area. Housing is cheaper, traffic is less and there are more trails. Plus you are out of the city so it is easier to get to Michigan or down to Brown County, which is a decent hilly trail.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulletSlayer View Post
    I just moved to the mountains from Northwest Indiana. Depending on where you work you might want to look toward this area. Housing is cheaper, traffic is less and there are more trails. Plus you are out of the city so it is easier to get to Michigan or down to Brown County, which is a decent hilly trail.
    We want to stay close to the university hospital (will work there) so we can make the commutes shorter if possible, but all depends on housing prices I guess

  11. #11
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    I just moved to Chicago area from Wisconsin (and previously Michigan) last summer. Palos is decent for a weekday ride, but I still make the trip to Kettles or Blue Mounds in Wisconsin and to Yankee or Custer in Michigan on the weekends to get some nicer trails. The reality is there is just not many hills in this area. But hey, you are only 15 hours from Colorado's front range...

  12. #12
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    This place sucks, I'm sorry to hear you have to move here. Palos is a flat dog track, the fact that the locals think it's OK is proof just how sad the local MTB scene is. Road riding is a dangerous activity here, my roadie buddies are giving up riding due to all the cell phone use while driving, still allowed under state law. I leave the state for mountain biking. The best local riding is the Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin, ~1.5hrs drive from NW suburbs. It's 10 hours drive to Chequamegon National Forest or Pisgh, they as good as it gets around here. Brown County, IN is ~6 hours drive, not bad for living in Chicagoland.

    Kettle Moraine South - Wisconsin DNR

    If you can avoid the state of Ill, do it. Ill is so far in the hole with no hope of fixing things. Taxes just doubled and not a single state employee was laid off, they just increased deficit spending. State pension systems is $80B in arrears with a ~$50B annual budget and ~$8B in un-paid bills. Local state university cost $32,000 per year with no help to working parents, they expect you to saddle your kid with $100K in loans for their degree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    This place sucks, I'm sorry to hear you have to move here. Palos is a flat dog track, the fact that the locals think it's OK is proof just how sad the local MTB scene is.
    I would agree that Palos is not a place to enjoy fast downhill decents or slow, technical terrain if you have a full suspension bike with lots of travel.

    The people that love Palos usually are the XC riders that enjoy fast, flowing singletrack. I compete in the WORS XC race series so Palos is the perfect training ground for that. One thing that Chicagoland has is tons of forest preserves with limestone and paved trails. This is nice for people that want to get out and just ride to exercise. I would guess that most people coming here from the West will be dissappointed with our flat land when it comes to mountain biking unless fast, flowing singletrack on is up their alley.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAGASAN View Post
    The great thing about Chicago mtb riding is being close to the surrounding states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Close to the city is Palos, western Springs and Oswego. Look up CAMBR.com for riding info.
    I grew up in Western Springs! I presume the riding takes place in the Bemis forest preserve across Ogden Ave? Can't really think of any place else around there that would work for riding. I used to go tear up the streets of rich white suburbia on my old BMX bike tho back in the day!

    If you do go to WS, be sure to check out Keirshbaums bakery afterward. Best damn cookies / cake in the world. If you want ice cream, go to Oberweis dairy just down the street. Can't loose! There are days I do miss living there...
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    This place sucks, I'm sorry to hear you have to move here. Palos is a flat dog track, the fact that the locals think it's OK is proof just how sad the local MTB scene is. Road riding is a dangerous activity here, my roadie buddies are giving up riding due to all the cell phone use while driving, still allowed under state law. I leave the state for mountain biking. The best local riding is the Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin, ~1.5hrs drive from NW suburbs. It's 10 hours drive to Chequamegon National Forest or Pisgh, they as good as it gets around here. Brown County, IN is ~6 hours drive, not bad for living in Chicagoland.

    Kettle Moraine South - Wisconsin DNR

    If you can avoid the state of Ill, do it. Ill is so far in the hole with no hope of fixing things. Taxes just doubled and not a single state employee was laid off, they just increased deficit spending. State pension systems is $80B in arrears with a ~$50B annual budget and ~$8B in un-paid bills. Local state university cost $32,000 per year with no help to working parents, they expect you to saddle your kid with $100K in loans for their degree.
    Retro-Grouch you certainly ARE. I have no love for the state of IL, and plan to get the hell out of here in the future, but for what is available to us in geographc terms, I'd say the Palos system is pretty damn good. I've ridden there for over 20 years and I still love it. Old and grouchy must mean you are one of the people that drive too slow in the fast lane...Brown County is a 4 hour drive, and Cheq is more like 6 or 7. Kettle is an awesome option, but you aren't likely going to make the 1-1/2 hour trip after work on a weekday, so Palos is probably gonna be your best option.

    Compared to Moab, I'm sure we haven't got $hit, but if you love to bike, you can find dirt and be happy.

  16. #16
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    ^ Well said Palos is the only type of mnt bike action around the area on a weekday after work. If you want to ride on nicer trails then leave it for the weekend and drive a few hours up north.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by T1TO View Post
    ^ Well said Palos is the only type of mnt bike action around the area on a weekday after work. If you want to ride on nicer trails then leave it for the weekend and drive a few hours up north.
    I agree.... Thing is, so many "locals" piss on Palos, yet feel its reasonable to drive their polluting cars 2 hours each way.... If its with in reach, kettle is awesome. But to be so grouchy because its geographically challenged for thousands of cyclists doesnt make sense..
    CDT

  18. #18
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    I just gave up having premiere year round riding and a mountain in my backyard in Arizona for the past 6 years to move back to Chicago and yes, there isn't any elevation here, but for local options, Palos and Saw Kee Wee are great ways to get your fill of dirt for living in a major metropolis.

    In the fall when I moved back I got out to Palos 6 or 7 times before the weather went bad and rode both my 29er SS hard tail and my 5.5" 26" AM bike and had equally fun times on both. Now just in the last week since the weather has shaped up I have been out to Saw Kee Wee twice and I will say that CAMBR has done a hell of a job with the place. Yes, it's a short 8 miles, but it's a really fun and somewhat challenging place to ride on a SS bike.

    There are also numerous little pieces of hidden single track scattered throughout the preserves that are close to the city They may only be 4-5 miles here, and 7-8 miles there, and while not "official" they make for a quick escape if you just need to ride.

    The Garden Jumps are great in the summer if you want some air time in the city, and in the winter Ray's MKE is 70 minutes from the northern burbs and also a lot of fun no matter what bike you take up there. And Kettle Moraine is a good weekend destination.

    Michigan has some great single track within 3 hours of Chicago like Fort Custer and Yankee Springs, as well as Indiana.

    For longer road trips, In 6 hours you can be at Traverse City which is beautiful and has the Vasa Single Track or in Boyne Highlands, which has lift assisted DH in the summer (not much elevation or tech, but it's actually better than the only lift assist we had in Arizona) and within 8 hours you can be in Copper Harbor Michigan, which has some great epic rides as well as downhill.

    Also if you go 15 hours either direction you can hit either all the east coast bike parks, or all the Colorado bike parks, so in my book it just makes for a better central launch point.

  19. #19
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    Copper Harbor is worth every minute and every dollar you spend getting there. Best riding in the midwest hands down imo
    -Eric
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  20. #20
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    I'm in the midwest & someday would like to get out west......

    It boggles my mind to think of moving from the mountains to this area.....blah.... LOL.

    Palos is Ok for what it is, usually give it a go if we're up in the area for work, but wouldn't travel too far to get to it. Luckily I'm close to Brown County so that's my local trail.

    PS, your sig is spelled wrong...

  21. #21
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    i grew up i hickory hills with palos singletrack a 5 minute ride down 87th st to hidden pond (no one cared which trails were legal back then). last summer i moved to Mesa, AZ and have already done more riding in the past 9 months that i did in the past 9 years in IL. at first i thought i would miss the lush greenery that the IL forests provided during the short summer. that thought lasts about 15 minutes into your first ride.
    Last edited by longhairmike; 03-17-2012 at 01:57 PM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by patineto View Post
    We are thinking in moving to Chicago but I'm scare sh^tless of a place with out mountains..

    So the question is any decent and hilly trails near Chicago.

    thanks in advance
    I live in the Chicago area, if you live somewhere with mountains your idea of decent trails will be vastly different than most of the people that live here. Your idea of a boring trial is probably still 10x better than any of the trails here. There are a few ok spots for trials, dirt jumping, and street, and Palos/SWK has excellent XC riding. With that being said, CAMBR does an excellent job with the terrain they have to work with, and I still frequently drive 45min to an hour to get to Palos.

    Disclaimer: I don't plan on staying here long term, the idea of living in weekend driving distance of somewhere like winter park and near valmont bike park is too appealing.

    Also, traffic sucks... check out google maps traffic during rush hour, pretty much everything is stopped (red), and paying 1.90 for a toll every few miles allows you the opportunity to go 0-5mph on a highway that is continuously under construction. Also, gas is like 4.80 for regular in the city right now, and cook county has about a 10% sales tax. There are plenty of awesome places to eat though, and lots of bars / clubs in Chicago.
    Last edited by kitejumping; 03-22-2012 at 11:37 PM.

  23. #23
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    If you have ever ridden a bike out west, Chicago area will be a huge disappointment for you. Brown County Indiana is the best thing locally, and that is still 4-5 hours away. I have since ridden out west a few times and was blown away at what the locals thought was a beginner or moderate trail. Avoid this area if you can.

    Not to mention the city had about 70 shootings in the past 5 days....we are on track to surpass our "most homicides in a year" record.

  24. #24
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    If you move here, stay out of englewood.

  25. #25
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    fat bike the beaches, that really was all I found worth wild when I was in chicago last (for a week). Best part, getting on the bike path filled with sand and flinging that crap in every direction as you get up to speed. Loads of pissed off people lol. The Garden was fun too, but that is not mtbing.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by patineto View Post
    Thanks for the advice, now we are 3hours away from Moab and have a trailhead about a mile from my house, so is going to be difficult to adapt.
    Yor Farked.
    Good Luck dood.
    Banned for showing Boobies.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontpanic356 View Post
    If you have ever ridden a bike out west, Chicago area will be a huge disappointment for you. Brown County Indiana is the best thing locally, and that is still 4-5 hours away. I have since ridden out west a few times and was blown away at what the locals thought was a beginner or moderate trail. Avoid this area if you can.

    Not to mention the city had about 70 shootings in the past 5 days....we are on track to surpass our "most homicides in a year" record.
    I agree that those coming from the moutains out west will be disappointed, but anyone who doesn't expect flat terrain might want to look at a topography maps of the US. For the terrain we do have Palos is well run maintained fun system.

    To your second comment about homicides in Chicago you're either very young, very new to the area or just completely making stuff up. While it's been a bad year, with somewhere around 114 murders through 3 months(95% of which are gang related and easily avoidable) It's not even close to being on track to set a record. Go do some research and see what the numbers were in the early to mid 90s, here's a start..900+ murders a year was common. Basically double this years "pace".

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by esundell90 View Post
    I presume the riding takes place in the Bemis forest preserve across Ogden Ave?
    Isn't that a paved trail?



    I grew up in Chicago, but currently live downstate in Peoria. I am actually surprised how many trails there are around me and how nice they are. I have only ridden 2...Farmdale Resovoir in East Peoria, and Jubilee state park. Farmdale is much nicer than Palos and offers more hilly topography. There are still 4 trails around me I haven't even tried yet.

  29. #29
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    Wow, the hate for this state is amazing. My first comment, or question, would be that if you really dislike it that much why are you still here?

    With that said, Illinois is Illinois and if your going to live near Chicago then your going to have relatively flat terrain, but as others have already stated Palos will keep you busy and I think SWK is as much if not more fun then Palos. Why anyone would even try and compare anything in the midwest to MOAB or similar places is beyond me, as good as the KMB is its no where near Moab.

  30. #30
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    Good info here

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdepaola View Post
    Wow, the hate for this state is amazing. My first comment, or question, would be that if you really dislike it that much why are you still here?

    With that said, Illinois is Illinois and if your going to live near Chicago then your going to have relatively flat terrain, but as others have already stated Palos will keep you busy and I think SWK is as much if not more fun then Palos. Why anyone would even try and compare anything in the midwest to MOAB or similar places is beyond me, as good as the KMB is its no where near Moab.
    It's like people who always ***** about the snow. Either move or shut up.

  32. #32
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    The MTB riding here is pretty weak, considering how few trails we have for the third largest metro in the country. Especially in Dupage County, home of the 8ft wide single track!

    But I still ride everyday and this has been the best spring we've ever had!

  33. #33
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    definitely not the west or even parts of the east in terms of mtb. as others have said, palos, swk, and kettle are your best bets and then longer trips on weekends or when you have other days off.

    i think what really pisses me off is we have soooooooooooooo many forest preserves but so little hiking or biking trails- yeah, we have paths but just not the same as being on singletrack either on foot or bike. i'm happy to hear more trails are being made very soon in the nw burbs.

    and yes, i am trying to get out of the state but need to be better about losing my azz on my house

    for anyone who has never lived here before, why make the move? yeah, chicago is a very nice city and i think the people are great, but the taxes absolutely BLOW! i'm surprised so many people stick around with $7k+ taxes.
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  34. #34
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    any one have any pick of trails in the area
    Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
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  35. #35
    blet drive
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    is the riding good for a rigid ss
    Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by JUNGLEKID5 View Post
    is the riding good for a rigid ss
    all (palos and swk) are good for a rigid ss. kettle has some valleys and climbs where it might be a bit harder on a ss but not horrible. the rigid part is what will get me with the roots and rocks here and there at all but that's just me feeling old
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  37. #37
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    I moved to Texas a few years ago, but used to ride Palos a few times a week. It's a gem, I don't know why people bash it. It's great flowy singletrack and there are enough trails that you can mix it up and do a different ride every time out. I'll be visiting Chicago later this year and can't wait to get a ride in at Palos.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkKnight369 View Post
    It's like people who always ***** about the snow. Either move or shut up.
    I think most people complaining plan on moving at some point but are stuck here in the short term for various reasons.

  39. #39
    blet drive
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    any picks
    Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
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  40. #40
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    <------Native.

    It's true, there isn't any killer mind-blowing riding in Chicago. For me, Palos is pretty sterile, but I ride it with my brothers when I come home in the summer.

    You guys are forgetting that 2.5 hours south in Peoria, the PAMBA guys have miles and miles of killer singletrack.

    Also in the winter, Ray's in Milwaukee is a quick day trip.

    With that.....I won't live in Illinois until the State gets its **** together and brings the corruption down a couple notches. I don't discuss politics but I know what I agree and disagree with, and I disagree with the state of Illinois.

  41. #41
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    ^ What he said! IL sux, but Im rooted now, so I gotta ride it out.

    Im a Peoria native. Peoria really does offer some of the best trails in the state. You guys should visit here more.
    Grit, spit, and a w**** lot of duct tape!

  42. #42
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    I am in chicago working for short to long term at midway airport. Guess will drive to Palos and check out what type of bike to get to ride for next couple months. I do not think my FS 5" will be needed.
    Thanks for posting this, it was timely for me.

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    Don't forget Imagination Glenn,m just 30 min over the Indiana in Portage.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Switchback View Post
    Don't forget Imagination Glenn,m just 30 min over the Indiana in Portage.
    Just don't go if it has rained in the last day. The dirt there always creates a nice layer of slime on the top after a rain.

    29er SS is the way to go in this part of the country in my opinion.

  45. #45
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    What about the Salt Creek Singletrack, anyone ride that? I didn't know it existed until today. Seems to extend from Brookfield Zoo to 294 and weaves around the Beamis Woods paved trail. I would love to give this a try, just not sure where to even start with it.

  46. #46
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    I grew up in the Chicago area and now live on the west coast. I think the best part of Chicago is the city life itself: great nightlife and good food (for non-vegetarians). That said, I've often said to my riding buddies that I'd sell almost all of my mountain bikes if I were to move back."When in Rome..." so goes the cliche.
    It's not dirt in my apartment --it's Earth.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by awai04 View Post
    I grew up in the Chicago area and now live on the west coast. I think the best part of Chicago is the city life itself: great nightlife and good food (for non-vegetarians). That said, I've often said to my riding buddies that I'd sell almost all of my mountain bikes if I were to move back."When in Rome..." so goes the cliche.
    yes, the city is wonderful. i just hate how it's not a very outdoorsy area. i look forward to eventually moving west (co most likely) to raise my child in an area that appreciates outdoor activities year round. i do the best i can here but much easier when others around are excited.

    enjoy the mtb'ing out west- i know it's wonderful!
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  48. #48
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    I hear ya. There's something strange about seeing a North Face store on Michigan Ave that sells clothes for people to wear on weekends between downtown Chicago and the suburbs. Over the years, the more outdoorsy people I've met in the Midwest seemed to come from Michigan or Wisconsin more often than Illinois. Must be the terrain, I think.

    Thanks, & Cheers! CO should be nice. Reasonable cost of living too.


    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Z View Post
    yes, the city is wonderful. i just hate how it's not a very outdoorsy area. i look forward to eventually moving west (co most likely) to raise my child in an area that appreciates outdoor activities year round. i do the best i can here but much easier when others around are excited.

    enjoy the mtb'ing out west- i know it's wonderful!
    It's not dirt in my apartment --it's Earth.

  49. #49
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    Any mtb groups or organizations in Chicago?

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickjoseph View Post
    Any mtb groups or organizations in Chicago?

    CAMBr - Chicago Area Mountain Bikers - The CAMBR group is very involved and very open to new members.

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