Welcome to OOFD Summer
Y’all! This has already been quite the year! OOFD’s 8th season, and we are rolling like never before. Our volunteers are stepping up something major to bring OOFD to the next level. And folks just want to get out on bike adventures! We have sold out Every. Single. Ride. to this point including the 25 slots on the big 5 day SWMI ride next weekend. We have added some awesome day rides that have been hugely popular, and the Family Overnight Program has been rocking in its effort to welcome folks with adaptive needs into each of the overnights.
Its the heart of summer, so you know we got all kinds of fun events that will get you out on your bike and into nature from habitat restoration, to hangs at the lake, to day rides, and of course, bike camping.
Flock Off the Block
Come Flock Off the Block with us! This is one of OOFD's biggest rides ever. We rented the entire Camp Shabonna in South Holland, IL including 17 campsites, the group site, and 4 cabins. Also, we have the most excellent partners on this one, both Patagonia and Specialized!
We will have a van that can haul your camping gear too. This is a family friendly party. It's our first time combining the Adult and Family Programs in one overnight bike camping trip. It includes a catered dinner, live music at the campsite, and so much more!
We will have a variety of start points around the city with very mileage ranging from 25-40 miles with a century option to the Dunes and back for those that want to get more miles in.
Shoutout to our Bike Shop partners that will be starting points: Cog Cycles (North Side), Bikes N’ Roses (West Side), Specialized Fulton and Patagonia Mag Mile (Central), and Small Shop (South Side).
This ride will sell out! Read more about the event here and register here.
Ride and Event Recaps
What a Spring. We’ve had 4 Adult Overnight Rides, one Family/Adaptive Overnight Ride, and two research rides.
Major props to our lead guides and their crews: Ashley Lyons (What Lies West to Blackwell - 12 riders), Jordan Evangelista (The Good Land to Milwaukee - 15 riders), Rachel Shultz (Battle to the Dunes - 50 riders), and Lauren Fihe (Free Bike Camping Trip for Essential Workers to Shabonna - 5 riders). Also, Bradley Fisher rocked as the lead guide for the Bike Camping in the City Ride that got nearly 40 folks out bike camping including 3 youth with adaptive needs.
We also had two different crews of OOFD volunteers go on scouting rides to explore potential new routes to add to the OOFD lineup in 2024 including a group to Bullfrog Lake and one that took the Western route up to Chain O’ Lakes State Park. Stay tuned to see if either of those make the cut for next year’s ride lineup. Thanks to Alex, Rachel, Chris, Erin, Angie, and Will.
Day rides are a thing at OOFD too! Helping folks gain the confidence by going on long local bike adventures just for the day. Ashley Lyons, Serena Larkin and Lauren Fihe led a crew of 15 on an educational ride on the North Branch Trail to the Skokie Lagoons and back to Une Annee for some lunch and beers.
A Bike Camping Clinic with BFF Bikes was organized by Steph Reid. She also put together a scavenger hunt with our partner Ride with GPS for their Cutty Caps challenge.
Ashley Huerta tabled for OOFD at a Biking Out Negativity event in North Lawndale, and made heaps of s’mores with the kids in attendance. We also helped our partners at Patagonia celebrate their 50 year anniversary by tabling at both their Mag Mile shop party as well as their Fulton Market location family friendly party where we taught kids how to set up a tent. Thanks to Hope, Jacob, Glenn, and Ahleli.
Lauren, Claire, Angie, and Glenn lead a bike rack installation workshop in partnership with West Town Bikes to help folks get geared up to haul camping gear this summer!
Our volunteers continue to get trained up to be even more rad guides for OOFD riders. Most recently, Breanna led a half day Adaptive Sports Abuse Prevention training and a number of our Youth and Family guides have finished their Mandated Reporter Trainings as well as their CPR/First Aid Trainings.
Oh, and we had a a couple 30-40 person Monthly Hangs, one at Maria's and one with a bonfire on the lake up in Edgewater. We also had a great showing for our inspiring book club discussion of Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Will HaleyWill is a car-less Chicagoan who favors getting everywhere by bicycle and public transit. A bikepacking and camping clinic at his local bike shop introduced Will to Out Our Front Door. After one ride he was hooked, and he signed up as a volunteer shortly after. Will loves the camaraderie of long-haul cycling with a group of OOFD campers through breathtaking scenic trails. He's happy to cheer you on as you cycle up that steep hill and talk with you at length about your favorite so-bad-it's-good movie.
Will came on as an OOFD guide last year on the SWMI ride and continued on as a guide for the Waterways to the West ride as well as Valhalla. That’s our 3 longest rides! And he rocked them all earning him the honor of one of the three “Star Volunteers” in 2022. He has stepped up huge this year in a number of ways including as lead guide for our 5 day, 250 mile ride up into Southwest Michigan. Will is an incredible example of the welcoming adventurous OOFD spirit. If you get a chance to ride with him, you’ll be happy you did.
Interesting Content and Good Vibes
Some of our guides have been cranking out excellent content on all things bike camping. Check out this awesome blog by Steph about the Chicago Tool Library, and this one from Breanna with some of their Packing Notes for Bike Camping. We put one together about our new Transfer Policy too.
Also, tons of soaring accolades came in from the participants that are enough to make anyone that is a part of OOFD smile real big. Here are just a few from the post ride surveys:
"I had never bikepacked before doing the Dunes ride, and I felt so empowered by OOFD. The guides were absolutely fantastic -- their support, attitude, organization, and encouragement was amazing. I did not have all the "fancy" bikepacking equipment, and the OOFD guides really showed me that it was not necessary and anyone can bikepack with the right attitude! Strap on a milk crate, filled plastic bags, dry bags, whatever you have! It was absolutely the best experience with such positive, accepting, and welcoming people."
"I don’t normally think of Chicago as an outdoor vacation destination. Out Our Front Door has proved otherwise. What a unique and wonderful experience to travel with them, and explore and learn about and enjoy our region. If you can ride a bike, you should try it."
"This was an insanely welcoming, encouraging, and supportive group of people coming together with a common love of cycling and adventure. They do a wonderful job of creating fun and challenging experiences that build community and confidence. Guides were supportive, knowledgeable and all made a very strong effort to connect with everyone individually and as a group. I look forward to more rides!"
The Youth Program Update
The Youth Program has a stellar new Program Director in Claire Meyers. She brings all kinds of awesome experience, connections, and enthusiasm to the role. So far this year, we have been focused on showing up for our partners and supporting them in their events including some night rides, tabling events, and even a bike bag making workshop with youth in the Bikes N' Roses program.
We got input from our partners on how we can best support what they do, and then we put together a summer adventure menu including a number of potential day rides (Blvds or Lake), environmental service days, and of course, a bike camping trip towards the end of the summer.
We mainly have been focusing on our key partners Bikes N' Roses, West Town Bikes, The Recyclery, and a new partner this year - Equiticiy. We also will likely do some events with Greencorps Chicago Youth as well as the Chicago Green Ambassadors out of the Field Museum.
Sold Out Rides
Wanted to give a heads up on the upcoming rides that are sold out. This has been a theme this year. Its likely we are going to sell out all our rides this year. So if you are contemplating joining a ride, best to not wait!
Family Overnight Bike Camping Trips - All 4 summer rides are sold out. We are hoping to maybe add a 5th in the fall. Remember families are welcome on the Flock Off the Block event.
Waterways to the West (Starved Rock) in late August - This ride has been done sold out for over a month. Just a reminder to get your spot early for this epic weekend next year (110 miles on Day 1 with an off-day at Starved Rock).
Day ride to Morton Arboretum in late July - We made some friends from the Morton Arboretum at this year’s Wild Things Conference, and they were stoked to give some OOFD folks a tour of the Arboretum. So some of our Day Ride folks put together this free day ride. This one too filled up in like a week with both a train option or full round trip option! So stay tuned for our next day ride as those rides have been filling up crazy fast.
Where the Wild Things Grow Ride - July 22 - Our third annual ride from Patagonia Mag Mile to Bill Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary has already filled all 20 riding slots!
Even with those sold out rides, we do still have a number of great events and rides on the docket.
Phew! That was a lot! And that's to be expected because we are in full bike adventure mode. We have all kinds of hyped volunteers and riders that just want to be outside on bikes in nature. Hope to see you out there riding!
Glenn and the whole OOFD crew
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"To immerse , educate, preserve & advance the history, culture, trails and native habitats of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area"