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OUTDOOR FITNESS GUIDE: Four sports that will make you break a sweat and have fun

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CYCLING

Track cyclist Edmund White

EDMUND WHITE, 32
Silver medalist at the Illinois State Sprint Championship; member of the Bouledogue Tout Noir cycling team

REGIMEN
A track cyclist who competes in short sprints that can clock in at 42 miles per hour, White has devised a competition-prep routine that takes him to the velodrome, the road, and the gym. He kicks off on Wednesdays, his heaviest training day, at Evanston Athletic Club, where he spends an hour doing squats, seated box jumps, dead lifts, and core work. Wednesday evenings, he participates in a group ride that leaves from Turin, a bike shop in Evanston, and covers 40 miles to Lake Forest and back. “That one is at nearly race pace,” White says. “We’ll go 28 to 30 miles an hour for certain stretches.”
 

BEST BICYCLING ROUTES

1. FOR ROAD CYCLISTS: White recommends that road bikers of all stripes build up speed on the stretch of Sheridan Road from Evanston to Lake Bluff, with its views of the lake and gorgeous manses and, most important, its flat terrain. Sheridan will take you all the way to Wisconsin, but it’s especially biker-friendly—in good condition, not as congested—through Lake Bluff. Start early on a weekend morning before traffic builds. EXPERT PICK

2. FOR BEGINNERS: The tree-lined, partially paved North Branch Trail starts at Devon and Caldwell Avenues (if you’re driving, park at entrance 1, 2, or 3 at Caldwell Woods Grove) and snakes north 17 miles to the Chicago Botanic Garden, where bike racks are provided for those who want to stop and smell the roses. Families with younger children can drive to the Skokie Lagoons (there’s a parking lot on Tower Road) and pick up the breezy four-mile trail loop that encircles the manmade lagoons. At the north end, it’s only a quick jaunt across Dundee Road to the botanic garden. fpdcc.com

3. FOR BUDDING DISTANCE RIDERS: A good way to build stamina and accumulate mileage is to ride with a group. One of the most accommodating is the XXX Racing–AthletiCo No-Drop Ride (no rider left behind!), which starts at 7 a.m. every Saturday in Wicker Park and goes nearly 50 miles, to Highland Park and back. Faster cyclists often split from the group in Highland Park to take spirited extensions farther north. xxxracing.org

4. FOR LEISURE RIDERS: The beautiful Fox River Trail meanders through picturesque prairie for much of its 39 miles between Algonquin and Oswego, but the highlight is the 17.5-mile stretch that starts in Elgin at the Trout Park Nature Preserve and heads south to the Fabyan Forest Preserve in Geneva. There you’ll find a restored Dutch windmill and a traditional Japanese garden. Pack a picnic—what was once a bear cage on the grounds is now a pavilion lined with flowers. kaneforest.com

5. FOR CHALLENGE SEEKERS: The hilly northwestern suburb of Barrington offers road cyclists several options with inclines. One favorite is the Barrington Bicycle Club’s 25-mile loop, which rolls along the western edge of the Spring Creek Valley Forest Preserve for more than three miles and peaks along Haegers Bend Road, at 880 feet above sea level. Access the loop via Barrington High School’s parking lot—ditch the car there and take County Line Road east before going south on Dundee Avenue. barringtonbikeclub.com
 

EXPERT ADVICE: HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PEDAL

White suggests using toe clips and straps, or clipless pedals to increase foot retention and maximize efficiency.

How to get the most out of your pedal: Panel 1

(1) With your feet at noon and six, push down with your leg, not your foot. Slightly bend your knee even at the fullest extension.

 

 

How to get the most out of your pedal: Panel 2

(2) From six to nine, pull upward. “Forty percent of my stroke is a pull, which helps me conserve energy,” White says.

 

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Photograph: Brian Kuhlmann; Assistants: Colin Beckett, John Ruzich; Stylist: Nicole Cap/Ford Artists

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