We've reached that sweet spot on the calendar: The heat of summer is behind us, the chill of winter isn't here yet, the sun is shining brightly and the wind gently rustles the lush green leaves on the trees.
Let's face it, there are a lot of great reasons to live on the North Shore, but the weather isn't one of them. We have just two good months per year, and they're September and October. So, workout warriors, get out there while you can. Before you know it, we'll have subzero temperatures, snow on the ground and ads from real estate developments in Florida tempting us.
Fortunately, from two-mile walks to 100-mile bike rides, there are plenty of reasons to spend time outdoors over the next few weeks.
First up, we have a big biking weekend on the horizon. On Saturday, Sept. 17, the Winnetka Park District hosts Bike Winnetka, a one-hour bike ride around the village at about an 8 mph pace. This is a new event for the Park District, and it's sure to attract riders of all ages.
The ride begins at Skokie Playfield at 2 p.m. (registration and bike check-in need to be completed by 1:15) and will end back at Skokie Playfield at 3 p.m., just in time for the Park District's Fall Fest fun fair.
The following day, Sept. 18, bikes will once again be rolling through the area, only this time riders will be going a bit faster as they take part in the North Shore Century. This event, hosted by the Evanston Bike Club and now in its 27th year, offers routes covering several distances, from a short, scenic 25-mile ride to the classic century challenge of 100 miles.
The popular half-century option, covering 50 miles, goes from Evanston to Lake Forest and back, while the full century ride extends all the way up to Kenosha, WI. The event is limited to 1,600 participants, so online registration is recommended.
For the noncyclists out there, Sept. 18 also offers the New Trier Run to Remember, a 5k run or walk. The Run to Remember is in honor of Sam Farmer, Shea Fitzgerald and Julie Sorkin, three New Trier graduates who died when a porch collapsed at an apartment building in Chicago in 2003. The event raises funds for scholarships and charities in their memories.
The course starts at the New Trier Northfield track and proceeds around the campus and on the North Branch bike trail. Both runners and walkers are welcome.
The following weekend, runners and walkers can head up to Highland Park for the District 112 Fun(d) 5k on Sept. 24. The race begins at Ravinia and follows the scenic Green Bay Trail.
That same weekend, cyclists who are willing to go farther afield can venture over to Three Oaks Michigan for the very scenic Apple Cider Century on Sept. 25. This event offers routes of varying lengths, including the standard 100-mile ride. It's a bit of a drive, but the scenery is stunning, both along Lake Michigan and through rolling farmland. They have great apple cider doughnuts, too. The ride is close to selling out, though, so make your plans in advance.
If walking is more your style, Hounds for Hadley on Oct. 1 offers a two-mile walk through the Village of Winnetka for dogs and their owners. The walk raises funds for the Hadley School for the Blind's distance education program, which includes, appropriately enough, a guide dog training course.
Last year, 100 people and their pets paraded around town. In addition to offering a scenic walk and treats for both four-legged and two-legged creatures, there will also be a canine costume contest for some extra fun. But if your dog is one of those sensitive types who doesn't like getting dressed up, don't fret, costumes are completely optional.
For cyclists in search of one last ride, the Team in Training Blood, Sweat and Tears ride will be held in Highland Park on Oct. 2. The event began nine years ago as a small group ride among friends to remember survivors, patients and loved ones who had lost their battle with cancer, but soon grew to the point that it was opened to the public four years ago.
The ride benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and is open to all riders at all levels. There's a family friendly five-mile option, all the way up to the 100-mile option, and just about everything in between. Simply pick a distance and sign up.
And, of course, the following weekend is the grand dame of the Chicago Area racing schedule, the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9.
Before you know it, we'll be feeling November's icy breath on our necks, so take advantage of one of these local events to enjoy the perfect fall weather before it's gone--just like the leaves on the trees.