It’s pretty scary. It’s sheer panic. That moment when your life flashes before your eyes. It’s the same moment you lose control of your tandem bike and you think you’re about to ride it into the unsightly green, murky waters of the Chicago river. A thousand thoughts are running through your mind but you just can’t seem to grasp the one that will stop the bike. Until you pray and pray to whatever higher being will listen and it’s almost as if some miracle has been bestowed upon you and the bike comes to a full stop – just inches of concrete away from the water.
Alright, I might be being a TAD dramatic with the whole death thing. But the almost plunging into the river thing really did happen. You would think there’d have been a fence next to the bike path, but NOPE. I was pretty certain we were going in. Tandem bikes are very hard to steer; at least it is if you’re the lighter of the two riders. If you think that knowing how to ride a single person bike will prepare you to ride a tandem bike, you are wrong.
We picked up the bike from McDonald’s Cycle Center in Millennium Park. You can rent hourly or by half/full days. The original plan was to ride it from there to Willis Tower. But as soon as I hopped on, I didn’t even feel comfortable riding it on the sidewalk, let alone the streets. So we ended up riding it to the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park instead because that was a lot closer (and safer). Plus, we were able to ride it along the car-free Riverwalk, while getting a great view. It was a big relief to know I couldn’t swerve into oncoming traffic. But I did have to worry about swerving into people and in this case, the lake. After that incident, we decided to take the bike on the outer bike path. On a single bike, it probably would have taken me 5 minutes for that trip. The tandem bikes turned it into probably 15 minutes each way. It would have been faster if we just walked! But of course, it’s all for the experience! Besides, it makes for a more interesting story than “I walked over to the fountain.”
The fountain (in September 2015) was closed upon arrival. I’m not sure if they were just cleaning it for the day or if it was part of a bigger restoration project, but there were people working on it that day, therefore no water flowing. I guess I just have bad luck when it comes to fountains. But even dry, it’s still a sight to see. And a pro is you won’t have to fight with other tourists. It wasn’t crowded at all that day. And by not crowded, I mean there were literally maybe three other people walking around. It’s open from 8 am to 11 pm from April to mid-October. I also read that there’s a light/music show after dusk that starts every hour on the hour with the last show being at 10 pm, lasting for 20 minutes.
Fun fact – this fountain was modeled after the Latona Fountain in Versailles. Check out this site for some other interesting tidbits of information.