Having decided that ‘cheating’ was acceptable, we needed to work out the logistics. A quick call to Christin, our host in Chicago, confirmed that it would be OK for us to head over a night early, now just to work out how to get there. The best way that we could see was to follow Jennifer + Kyle’s previous warmshowers guests example and take the train. We would need bike boxes as being a commuter train they didn’t like bicycles. Thankfully we were outside a bike shop so C went inside and shortly after came outside with a couple of them.
The next thing was trying to get them back to Jennifer + Kyle’s. We didn’t have a roof rack or bungee cords and, for reasons that I still don’t understand, C’s bike was still strapped to the back of the car. That seriously impeded our amount of available space. We could fit the boxes on the back seat, but that would mean either some Cirque de Soleil style contortion or a couple of trips. That wasn’t a great option as it was a 25 minute drive each way.
The next option was to put one box on the back seat and then the other on the roof. Then Kyle would drive slowly while the other 3 of us put our hands out the windows and held on to the box on the roof for dear life. It seemed to be our best option, so we were trying it out. The problem was the shape of the box and the roof meant that any gust would be very likely to blow it away and possibly in to traffic.
While we were performing a test run, Matt, our saviour, came over. He had a truck and was out running errands, but had no problem putting the boxes in the back of his truck and following us back. C jumped in his truck with the boxes and Jennifer, Kyle and I rode to the airport.
We pulled up at the airport and asked around to drop the boxes off. The TSA and Airport Authority were both adamant that we couldn’t leave it with them. Kirsten, the train ticket sales lady had originally said no, but, after seeing we had been turned down by everyone else, changed her mind and let us put them in the conductor’s room.
There were a few hours until the train left so we all went back to Jennifer + Kyle’s for a very vegetable heavy pizza. It was the first one I’d had without tomato sauce and it was great.
When we got back to the station we couldn’t get back in to the room the boxes were locked in until the train arrived. No one seemed to know when it would come but thankfully when it arrived there were still about 25 minutes left to take our bikes apart and pack them. It was a pain to do, my bike in particular is much longer than the box, and it was definitely not a perfect fit, but it was good enough for me.
It took until about 2 minutes before the train left to get everything on board. That meant that we didn’t get to thank Kyle who was busy standing by the car to meet TSA requirements. We said our goodbyes to Jennifer and hopped on board glad to be on board and hopeful that the other side would be less painful.
The train took us in to Chicago and we got off about 3 miles away from Christin’s house. We pulled our bike and bags off the train mindblowingly quickly and then having taken them upstairs set about putting it all together. I found it incredibly frustrating to do as the area we were in was very muggy and I was sweating a lot.
After a frustrating time I got everything on and rode off to drop my things off. On getting to Christin’s I knocked on her door, said hello here are my bags but I’ve got to go back to the station to pick up C’s things, bye. I then rode back to the station and transferred C’s bags on to my bike. She then had the pleasure of pushing and carrying her bike for the 3 miles in an attempt to protect her rim. It meant it took a long time but there wasn’t much of an alternative available.
An ice cream a mile away from Christin’s kept us going and then we arrived to meet Christin and Ben, her roommate. We were shown upstairs and then after cleaning up found our way on to her roof which was absolutely glorious, so much so that I slept on it.