While on a trip to Chicago for work I was at a coffee shop below our filming location where I found a flier for an exhibit about how the bicycle shaped Chicago in its forming years. so, naturally I wanted to know more and called the place & got some info and it turned out to be just four blocks from my hotel. Why the hell not go check it out? I walked out of the hotel and to say it was freezing and windy would be an understatement to a Texan. I made my way past a ballet school, enormously bright theaters and a news station complete with gawkers standing outside the floor to ceiling glass windows of the reporters. A couple twists & turns and I was there. Best of all this show is totally free. Just like cruising down a familiar or uncharted street hunting for spots.
There was a subtle timeline to follow the impacts bicycles and bicycle manufacturers have had on the Chicago area and although that narrative was what brought me there it was the details from various forms of cycling and the items on loan from the American bicycle museum in Ohio that stoked me out.
Vintage head badges, various diagrams of bicycle manufacturing warehouses, pictures of people sewing Schwinn seats together by hand and best of all, old bike route maps. That’s right. The map making giant Rand McNally actually designed, printed and shipped these bike route maps all over Chicago to serve as an ad hoc ‘surf report’ to tell riders like the “wheelmen” whether or not a road was suitable to ride on at the time.
This hit me like crashing in a concrete ditch. Riders from more than one hundred years ago were working with map makers to share routes, something meaningful exclusively to like minded riders, just like we are today on Landmark BMX spot maps.
The exhibit will end on March 3rd 2019 so get to it in the first quarter of the year or while you’re on holiday break. Here’s the link if you want more info.