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The Insider’s Guide to Biking Chicago

Where to find open racks, mobile repairs, and the best hills (yes, hills!) in town

biking map
Illustration: Bratislav Milenković

1 River Path Everyone Forgets About

A great alternative to the crowded lakefront, the paved North Shore Channel Trail follows the Chicago River from Ravenswood to the sculpture park in Evanston. traillink.com/trail/north-shore-channel-trail.aspx

2 Used-Bike Heaven

4075 N. Broadway
Two things you’ll find at Nearly New Bicycles in Buena Park: a huge selection and 60-day warranties. nearlynewbicycles.com

3 Best Place to Watch Cyclocross

4400 N. Lake Shore Dr.
In this (mostly) off-road form of racing, riders traverse grass, mud, and more. There’s a full schedule of fall races, ending with the state championship at Montrose Beach. (Yes, there’s a beer tent.) chicrosscup.com

4 Fried Chicken with a Biker’s Discount

3300 N. Lincoln Ave.
Show your helmet as proof you biked to Wishbone, and you’ll get 15 percent off your bill. wishbonenorth.com

5 606 Pit Stop

2051 N. California Ave.
You’re bound to work up an appetite biking the city’s elevated cross-neighborhood trail, so take a detour at California Avenue in Logan Square to refuel at Bang Bang Pie. bangbangpie.com

6 Bike Shop for Her

2113 W. Armitage Ave.
Vanessa Buccella and Annie Byrne’s Bucktown shop is the place for women’s bikes, accessories, and clinics ranging from racing basics to flat tires. The shop also hosts social rides where you might meet your next biking BFF. bffbikes.com

7 Best Place to Fix a Flat

2959 N. Lincoln Ave.
Locally made bikes? Check. Chance you’ll end up with the same bike Beyoncé bought? Check. But of all the reasons to visit Heritage Bicycles in Lake View, our favorite is that you get a free artisanal coffee while you wait for repairs. heritagebicycles.com

8 Hidden Hills

If you’re a racer, riding up and down hills is likely a part of your training—if you can find any. For mountain or cyclocross bikers, Yasmeen Schuller, who runs the cycling website the Chainlink, likes grassy Cricket Hill near Montrose Harbor, just off the lakefront path in Uptown. Road biker? Head to the paved hills of southwest suburban Lemont.

9 Euro Cargo Outfitter

1311 N. Wells St.
If you’ve seen an odd-looking bike with a big bucket loaded with kids, groceries, or both, it probably came from J.C. Lind Bike Co. in Old Town. Owner Jon Lind fell in love with Dutch bikes while living in Holland, and chances are you will too. jclindbikes.com

10 Restaurant for Bike Geeks

2311 W. North Ave.
From barstools made of wheel rims to the abundant racks on the rear patio, Handlebar, the Wicker Park purveyor of vegetarian comfort food and local brews, makes any biker feel at home. handlebarchicago.com

11 Maintenance Tips on the Cheap

2459 W. Division St.
Learn how to keep your bike running smoothly at workshops run by the nonprofit West Town Bikes in Humboldt Park ($20 suggested donation). westtownbikes.org/classes

12 Best Biking Street

Dearborn has the city’s first two-way bike lane, which was named one of the country’s best by People for Bikes. It has its own Twitter account (@DearbornBikeLn) and is dotted with landmarks (the Monadnock Building and Alexander Calder’s Flamingo, to name two).

13 Secret Parking

Can’t find an open rack? Samantha Arnold of the blog Ding Ding Let’s Ride shares some often-overlooked spots: for Navy Pier, outside the Imax Theatre; for Millennium Park, by the southwest corner of the Great Lawn or on Monroe behind the Lurie Garden.

14 Top Bridges

Many downtown bridges have metal grating, which gets slippery when wet. On rainy days, use the bridges with plate or cement coverings: Dearborn, Wells, Randolph, and Harrison.

15 Mobile Bike Repair Shop

Give Pedal to the People a ring (773-355-0882), and the company will send a mechanic to you. pedaltothepeople.com

16 Shower Spot

239 E. Randolph St.
If you don’t already know about the McDonald’s Cycle Center in Millennium Park, you should. You’ll find abundant parking, a repair shop, bike rentals, and even showers. Passes are available by the day ($5), month ($40), or year ($225). bikeandpark.com/city/chicago/locations

17 Rider’s Paradise

11600 S. Stony Island Ave.
Set to open in the Lake Calumet neighborhood on the Southeast Side this fall, the Big Marsh Bike Park will offer venues for mountain biking and cyclocross and miles of multipurpose trails in a natural area the size of Grant Park. bigmarsh.org

Best Routes

We asked local experts to pick the top rides around Chicago, from mellow to hardcore. See them all at chicagomag.com/bikeroutes.

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