Bike the 2nd Ward gets record turnout

Bob Fioretti hosts annual ride

09/15/2012 2:26 PM

By Bill Motchan

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Alderman Bob Fioretti greets a rider before the "Bike the 2nd Ward" event began.

West Loopers Josh Klasic and Meghan Galbreath at the mid-point of the ride.

A blue sky, mild wind and low humidity greeted the 200 cyclists who participated in Alderman Bob Fioretti’s annual “Bike the 2nd Ward” event this morning. The Alderman joked with me that it was a struggle getting approval from City Hall for good weather.

The 13-mile route provided us with a leisurely ride through the West Loop and South Loop. “This is not just a bike ride, but also a view of Chicago from its infancy to the present day,” Fioretti said from the starting point at Fair Oaks Farms dairy.

Indeed, we rode past historic and noteworthy architectural sites, including the Blackstone Hotel at Balbo and Michigan Ave., where many U.S. presidents have stayed. It’s also famous for its “smoke-filled room” where political deals were often completed. We also passed the South Loop Hilton where the CPS hopes to forge a strike-ending deal of its own today.

We rode east through Northerly Island, then down to the southernmost extremes of the 2nd Ward. The mid-point and a water stop came at 31st Street on the Lakefront Trail. West Loopers Josh Klasic and Meghan Galbreath were among the bikers I met at the break.

“This is our first time riding in the event,” Galbreath said. “It’s a great way to see the city.”

The circuitous path took us back north past McCormick Place, then west on Roosevelt, over to Taylor, and past the medical center. The route was planned by Greg Borzo, author of “Where To Bike Chicago.” Borzo got involved when Fioretti reached out to him for the 2011 ride.

"I change the route to give it some variety,” Borzo told me. “We also have to adjust it to avoid construction.”

Bike the 2nd Ward had it's biggest turnout in this, its fourth year.

Full disclosure: As I sit writing this blog post, my back aches and I long for some Advil. I was motivated to finish after being mocked by my wife during the pre-ride stretching exercises led by the staff at Fitness Formula Clubs. I failed miserably at the hold-your-leg-up-behind-you for 10 seconds stretch, but I made the full 13-mile ride!

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