2023 Ride Report by first time OOFD guide Steph
When our group set out on our ride to Blackwell on the Out Our Front Door season opener, there was certainly a myriad of expectations in terms of what lay ahead of us along the trail. From first-time campers and guides to seasoned bikepackers, there was truly a range of experience levels which made for a really fantastic weekend!
As a first time OOFD guide, I wanted to be sure to exceed everyone’s expectations as the guides on Decemberg 2022 had done for me. I wanted participants to feel the same sense of relaxation and joy I felt on my first Out Our Front Door overnight. I was also excited to help guide What Lies West in particular because of the route - I ride the Illinois Prairie Path fairly regularly for transportation and recreation and relished the opportunity to share it with others.
The existing spiels that Out Our Front Door shared with the guides ahead of the trip were full of interesting facts about the Prairie Path and the surrounding areas. As I reviewed them in anticipation of the ride, I even learned some new facts! One of my favorite parts of the weekend was the spiel that my fellow guide Jacob put together about the Haymarket Martyrs’ monument. It was a new addition to the What Lies West script, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about it.
Once we arrived at the campground, participants set up their camp gear and chose their side quests. I led a small contingent several miles west to Fermilab, where we hoped to enjoy their bike trails and herd of bison, but unfortunately, the laboratory now requires a Real ID (or passport) to enter. Crucial guide lesson learned - when leading a side quest in the future, I will always double-check to make sure everyone can partake in the activity!
The rest of the weekend went off without a hitch. We sat around the campfire that night, suckin’ on chili dogs and eating s’mores. Storms rolled in right as everyone had gone to their tents for the night - it couldn’t have been more perfect timing!
Ultimately, What Lies West was incredible camaraderie, perfect weather, stunning nature, and most importantly, friendship. It was a tremendous experience to guide and I can’t wait to do it again!
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"To immerse , educate, preserve & advance the history, culture, trails and native habitats of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area"