Did Somebody Say Donuts?

This past weekend offered plenty of opportunities for those seeking the road less traveled. Saturday, adventurers and gravel-grinders headed to Michigan for a rain-soaked Barry-Roubaix ride. Others heard the call of pastries beckoning from the west.


Pastry Brest gravel ride Aurora Illinois spring


The Paris-Brest is a wheel-shaped choux pastry filled with hazelnut praline cream and topped with slivered almonds and powdered sugar. The dessert was invented in 1910 by a pastry chef to celebrate a bicycle race of the same name, which passed by his shop in the western suburbs of Paris en route to Brest in Brittany.

The Pastry-Brest-Pastry is a nod to both the pastry and the bicycle race. Taking place in the far western suburbs of Chicago, the self-supported ride takes cyclists over 60 miles of mixed terrain, more than 60% of it unpaved. Coffee is available at the ride start, beer is provided at the finish and the checkpoints are stocked with pastries – specifically, with donuts.


Pastry Brest donuts


“Donuts make everything better,” laughs Kiki Demopoulos.

Kiki and her husband, Dave Hessert, have been training in Higher Gear’s CompuTrainer Studio all winter long, but no one else in the family had been. In fact, they calculated that Fiona, who was home on her spring break, and Owen had not been on their bikes for 18 weeks. But when they learned that the Pastry-Brest-Pastry ride was a fun ride, not a race – and that there were actual pastries involved – the foursome decided they could take on the challenge. “It was nice that it was ride instead of a race. We could do it as a family.”

The family headed out from Evanston early Sunday morning in a pouring rain, which thankfully ended before the ride began – at least before their ride began. The family was faced with a few mechanical difficulties at the start, which made for a delayed start for them. After sorting out their bikes, they were pointed in the right direction and promptly got lost. But they soon found their way again and were able to enjoy their time together.

The family had originally planned to ride out to the first aid station/donut stop and then turn around for a 25-mile ride. According to Kiki, “It looked like a pretty road, so the kids said, ‘How about we do another five miles?'” In all, the Hesserts rode about 36 miles. An added bonus of tacking on that extra distance? They passed that first aid station twice. “We got more donuts that way.”


Pastry Brest Aurora Illinois donut bike ride bicycle family Demopoulos Hessert


“It was our first family bike ride in a while. Everyone had a really good time.” The family enjoyed the well-organized event that was only an hour drive away from their Evanston home, but a world away. “We rode along, chatted and cooed about the cows we passed. Who knew we had farms that close to Chicago?”

The four enjoyed their time on those long country roads. “It was nice to ride along together, giving us time to chat.” As for future Pastry-Brest-Pastry rides, “We’re definitely on board for next year,” admits Kiki. “When it comes to going for rides, Owen’s line is always, ‘Will there be a snack bar?’ If there’s donuts involved, the kids will come.” The Pastry-Brest-Pastry, then, makes the cut.

Riding bikes on country roads while spending quality family time together… What’s not to love?

And did we mention donuts? Yes, there are donuts involved.


Specialized Amira 2017 Kiki Demopoulos Higher Gear Wilmette


Kiki discovered the Fountain of Youth on her bike >>

Kiki and Dave hit the indoor studio to train together >>

Higher Gear Junior Cyclist hit the graveled Barry-Roubaix last year >>

The Barry-Roubaix gravel ride is a great place to start your racing career >>

Fat tires – they’re not just for gravel >>




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