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Cruise the County with springtime biking challenge

A man wearing a helmet rides his bike on a trail.
(Photo by Chad Merda)

Spring is a great time to take a cruise.

So, strap on your bike helmet, pump up your tires and get rolling on the Forest Preserve District’s 2024 Cruise the County biking challenge. The free program is for ages 12 and older.  

Ride four designated trails from March 1 through May 31, record the routes on your smartphone and submit the proof to the Forest Preserve’s website. The online submission page will go live on Friday, March 1.

Those who complete all four rides will earn a multi-functional survival/bike tool. 

The challenge is designed to get people out into nature and show them how our communities are connected, said Em Wilcher, the Forest Preserve District’s recreation coordinator. Bikers will ride to Vermont Cemetery in Naperville, Lake Renwick Preserve in Plainfield, downtown Frankfort and U.S. Forest Service-owned Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. 

“We know how much folks love biking in the preserves, and how much they have enjoyed past spring challenges, including the Triple Crown Challenge and the Spring 95er,” she said. “So, this year, we wanted to offer another challenge with some longer biking distances to showcase both the beauty of our natural resources and how the trail systems connect our preserves with other areas of Will County.”

The four trails that have been selected for Cruise the County are:

Trail destinations

Wilcher said the trails were picked to offer participants glimpses into different aspects of what the county has to offer and with specific destinations in mind. Each bike trip has a story to tell. 

“For instance, the DuPage River Trail travels north from Whalon Lake to Vermont Cemetery where we can connect with history and culture, as well as the remnant prairie there,” Wilcher said. “On the Lake Renwick Bikeway, we can observe the dichotomy of wetland habitat right alongside the interstate and see what a difference it makes to preserve these precious ecosystems.

“Next, we get to mash up two of our most well-loved trails for a ride from Hickory Creek Barrens right into the heart of charming downtown Frankfort,” she continued. “Riders start with some elevation changes on the Hickory Creek Bikeway through the preserve and join up with the Old Plank Road Trail to cruise into town, and maybe even stop for lunch or a beverage before making the turnaround! 

“And finally, I’m really looking forward to our partnership with Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. We have such a treasure in these protected lands right here in the heart of the county, but a lot of people just don’t know it’s there. We wanted to feature the ride from Sugar Creek Preserve to Midewin on the Wauponsee Glacial Trail to highlight the relationship between the work we do on the county level with our friends at the federal level, and really to let the public know Midewin is just a ride away.”

Celebrate Trails Day

From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 27, there will be a Celebrate Trails Day group ride for those who want to bike the Wauponsee Glacial Trail together. The program includes a presentation by Midewin’s prairie archaeologist, Joe Wheeler. Attendance at the program is not required for those participating in Cruise the County. 

Registration is required for the group ride. Registration is not required for the Cruise the County challenge, just the online submissions starting March 1. 

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