Think you know the way?
Riders in the third annual Gran Fondo Hundo will be treated to a new route up to Simmons Field on Sunday.
The third annual Gran Fondo Hundo will depart from Higher Gear in the historic Plaza del Lago in Wilmette. The Plaza is rumored to be the second oldest car-friendly shopping center and perhaps the first in the United States. When it originally opened in 1928, it was so far out of the city (and not subject to prohibition laws), it was nicknamed the “No Man’s Land.”
Take a moment to look around at the facade of the buildings here. Much has been done to maintain the Plaza’s original appearance which, according to the style of the “rich and famous” in the 1920’s, was meant to mimic Spanish architecture.
A fire in No Man’s Land in the 1930s destroyed many of the buildings. “No Man’s Land” became a honky tonk town, complete with a questionable theater. After Wilmette annexed the property in the 40’s, much was done to clean up the Plaza. A Howard Johnson’s occupied the plaza for almost 20 years. In that time, a very young Charlie Trotter worked in their restaurant.
On our way north, we’ll ride past Ravinia Park in Highland Park. Ravinia is home of the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States, offering a series of outdoor concerts and performances held in summer. It has been the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1936. While the open-air pavilion seats 3,200, most prefer to enjoy concerts while picnicking in the 36-acre lawn.
Our group ride participants are no strangers to Fort Sheridan, a favorite turn-around spot for many group rides.
Fort Sheridan, originally called Camp Highwood, was established on 632 acres of land as a United States Army Post. Troops stationed at Fort Sheridan have seen action in the Pullman Strike, the Spanish-American War and World War II.
During the Cold War, Fort Sheridan served as the base for servicing and supplying all Nike antimissile systems in the upper Midwest. The Fort was officially closed in 1993. The majority is now home to a residential neighborhood, with some Navy family housing for nearby Great Lakes and 90 acres serving as an Army Reserve base.
Trail enthusiasts will enjoy a peek over into the MacArthur Woods and its DesPlaines River Trail, affectionately known as the DPRT.
The DPRT traverses north–south along the route of its namesake river along its course through both Lake and Cook counties. The corridor protects 85% of the riverine habitat in the county. The 56-plus-mile trail connects numerous forest preserves, parks and communities between the Illinois–Wisconsin border and south, well into the western Chicago suburbs.
The DPRT heads north into the Old School Forest Preserve, named for the Bradley School, which once stood near the preserve’s southeast corner. The log cabin schoolhouse served the community as early as 1873.
Old School Forest Preserve encompasses 380 acres of natural landscaping, which provides an ideal habitat for birds, mammals, insects and other animals. It has the distinction of being the first forest preserve in Illinois to use native prairie restoration to enhance recreational facilities.
Independence Grove is the site of our rest stop. This scenic location in Libertyville, IL is a favorite for outdoor enthusiasts, offering outdoor recreation and education opportunities centered on a 115-acre lake. Surrounding prairie and woodlands provide a picturesque backdrop for hiking, biking and picnicking.
Wrigley Field Road Tour friends might recall that we stopped at Independence Grove for a long lunch. For us on Sunday, it will be a quick stop for refreshments and before heading north.
Gurnee is home to Six Flags Great America, a theme park with awesome rides, great shows and incredible attractions. Great America has some of the fastest, tallest, wildest, gut-wrenchingest, rides in the country-including a few record-breakers. Perhaps the most iconic roller coaster there is the American Eagle, the classic wooden racing coaster that’s been pleasing thrill-seekers for over 30 years.
Just north of Gurnee is the Pyramid House in Wadsworth, Illinois was built in 1977 as a private residence. In stark contrast with, well, any architecture found in the United States outside of museums, the gold pyramid is flanked by an enormous statue of Ramses II and a three pyramid garage. This 17,000 square foot 6 story structure is surrounded by a moat.
Soon you will reach the State Line, where we cross the “cheese curtain” and enter into Cheesehead territory. No need for a passport here. Though the divide between us FIBs and the Cheeseheads is fierce, especially where football is concerned, our neighbors to the north are friendly. They also have good beer and cheese curds. (We knew you’d warm up to them.)
You’ll be filled with a sense of accomplishment and you’ll probably start thinking about getting to those burgers and brats.
The village of Bristol, Wisconsin is home to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, which recreates a visit of Queen Elizabeth I to the English port city of “Bristol” in the year 1574 every day each summer. The Queen and her glittering Court roam the grounds. Crowds are entertained by a fully armored joust, the many street performers and 20 stages offering a variety of entertainment all day long.
Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin is known to local athletes, as it is host to several triathlons throughout the summer. It is also home to the Kenosha Sand Dunes. What outdoor enthusiasts may not know about the are is that Pleasant Prairie was once the site of a blasting powder plant. Perhaps, here in Pleasant Prairie, our Hundo riders will find the explosive power in their legs to make the final sprint in to Kenosha.
At the end of our 62-mile (metric century) ride, we’ll arrive at Historic Simmons Field, home of the Kenosha Kingfish.
Simmons Field opened in Kenosha in 1920 for the Simmons Bedding Company’s baseball team, the Simmons Bedmakers
The 1919 Chicago White Sox — the team later known as the Black Sox — even made plans to play against the Simmons team during the summer of 1920. However, a fire destroyed the wood grandstand in the stadium’s inaugural season. Rumors persist to this day that members of the rival Nash Motor Company team started the Simmons Field fire.
The stadium was rebuilt and since has been home to several teams. Most recently, Historic Simmons Field became home to the Kenosha Kingfish, who played their first season in the summer of 2014. The Kenosha Kingfish are one of 18 teams in the Northwoods League, featuring minor-league style entertainment and the top college baseball players from across the nation.
On the afternoon of July 31st, Historic Simmons Stadium will welcome our third annual Gran Fondo Hundo participants and their families. Once we arrive, riders will be treated to cold drinks, snacks and oh-so-welcome hot showers before we enter the stadium for barbecue and a game against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters.
Want more info about the Gran Fondo Hundo?
- Get all the details about our third annual Gran Fondo Hundo.
- Don’t miss your chance to pick up this sweet jersey!
- Looking to ride with a purpose? Ride the Gran Fondo Hundo to support WBR.
- Begin your fundraising now to compete for the dream bike.
- Click here to stay connected with WBR and to register to receive their email updates.