Ride 21: Sheridan Road

  Biking Illinois: 60 Great Road Trips and Trail Rides  

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Wilmette, IL             June 28, 2005

One potential criticism of my book that no one has mentioned yet is the dearth of Chicago area road rides. Out of 21 rides in northeastern Illinois, only two use roads, and one of those is on the edge of the metropolitan area. Most of the roads in Chicagoland just aren't much fun unless you ride them early on a Saturday or Sunday morning. That said, there was never any doubt that Sheridan Road would be included in the book. It is a favorite route for North Shore cyclists, especially those who like to go fast. If you are a casual rider who visits a central park bike rental when you feel like riding, this is probably not the road for you. Someone once told me that cyclists are friendly on Sheridan Road, but there is a certain snobbishness. Other riders will acknowledge you if you are on a racing bike, but if you're on a hybrid or mountain bike, you'll probably be ignored even when you say "hi." Don't feel  bad--North Shore  residents are notorious for that attitude. Just enjoy the ride.

Although I have biked many times on Sheridan Road, I picked an awful time to ride it "officially" for my book. Not only was it a hot summer day in the middle of a drought with temperatures in the 90s, but I chose to start around noon as the heat was nearing its worst. I worked up a good sweat just removing my bike from the car rack. The good thing about this was that I confirmed that the road is okay to ride midday, not just early in the morning.

The Baha'i House of Worship is an interesting place to begin the ride. It's a unique architectural treasure set on beautiful grounds. Here are several views:


I paused at the bridge near the mouth of the North Shore Channel to take a picture of the harbor and Lake Michigan in the distance.

Cyclists are not allowed on a hilly, twisty section of Sheridan Road called "the ravines." The detour puts cyclists on Old Green Bay Road, where this historical marker stands.

Watch for green signs like these to follow the route. Some  touring cyclists do the entire Lake Michigan Circle Tour, although they don't always follow the same roads as the designated route, which was chosen for cars.

Ravinia features  outdoor concerts on summer evenings.

The ride passes two Frank Lloyd Wright homes. This is the Ward W. Willits House, not far from the turnaround.

There are lots of beautiful homes on Sheridan Road. I took a picture of this one on the way back to Wilmette.

I will use the heat as my excuse for taking so few pictures. That was not my reason for ending the ride south of downtown Highland Park, though. There is some traffic congestion there, and I figured most cyclists would rather not deal with it. In retrospect perhaps I should have extended the route to old Fort Sheridan for historical reasons. Feel free to follow Sheridan Road north into Highwood and Lake Forest. But be forewarned that Lake Bluff (beyond Lake Forest) has a mandatory sidepath law. In other words, if there is a bike path next to the road, you have to ride on it. So Sheridan Road doesn't allow bicycles because of the parallel Robert McClory Path, even though the road poses no hazard to cyclists. It's a stupid law, particularly since cyclists often ride 20 mph elsewhere on Sheridan Road, which is way too fast for a bike path. Until the law is changed, I recommend boycotting Lake Bluff. Bikes belong.


Copyright 2002-2013 David Johnsen. All rights reserved.