August 7th, 2011 at 9:37 am by Dr. Drang
Yesterday morning I went out for a bike ride I’ve been wanting to take for some time: to Argonne National Lab, around the loop trail that surrounds it, and back home. Each leg is about 10 miles, so I ended up with just over 31 miles on my tripmeter when I got home. I’ve ridden more in a day than that, but never in a single trip.
The trail at Argonne is in the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, a doughnut-shaped preserve that encircles the Lab property.
I started at the west entrance and went counter-clockwise, which soon put me parallel to a train track that runs along the preserve’s southern border.
Except for a few glimpses here and there, you don’t actually see the Lab facilities from the trail. It’s mostly through woods and ponds, with an occasional open field or stream crossing.
There’s also a waterfall1 on a spur trail that I missed the turnoff for. Next time.
The trail itself is crushed limestone and wider than most DuPage trails, probably because it gets a lot of traffic. I passed countless groups of runners on my way around, and the extra width came in handy.
I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked to because the mosquitos were awful. We’ve had some decent rain recently, and all the dormant eggs laid in the spring have hatched in the last week or so. They didn’t bother me while I was moving, but whenever I stopped on the trail to pull out my phone and take a picture, in seconds they’d be all over me. The runners must have been fully doused in repellent; otherwise, they’d have been drained of all their blood by the time they got around the loop.
I did get soaked on the ride home. The sky had been threatening all morning, and when I was half a mile or so from Argonne it opened up. Not a sprinkle, not a thunderstorm, just a good steady rain that you’d generally welcome in August if you weren’t out on your bike ten miles from home. Actually, it was fine. My phone, wallet, and keys were protected in a ziplock bag in my rack pack, and the rain was never heavy enough to affect my visibility. The only trouble I had was riding through Greene Valley, where the trail got so soft my tires were sinking almost to the rims into the crushed limestone. I had to leave the trail at the first opportunity and ride on the street.
The ride around Argonne neatly bookended the midnight ride my wife and I took around Fermilab last weekend.
This was an organized ride of a few hundred people called Chase the Moon. The entrance fee supported a local conservation group. In this case, we really did ride on the lab property itself, zigzagging among the buildings and ending with a loop around the accelerator ring.
There are no other national labs in the area, so I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself next weekend.
Every writeup of Waterfall Glen notes that the “waterfall” in the preserve’s name doesn’t refer to the falls but to the name of one of the Forest Preserve District’s former commissioners with the Lettermanesque name of Seymour “Bud” Waterfall. I have a sneaking suspicion this is an elaborate prank put on by DuPage County. ↩