Emanuel Discusses His Plan to Bicycle Around Lake Michigan After He Leaves Office

Emanuel rides a Divvy bike at Daley Plaza. Photo: John Greenfield
Emanuel rides a Divvy bike at Daley Plaza. Photo: John Greenfield

This morning at the ribbon-cutting for a streetscape project in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, Mayor Rahm Emanuel confirmed a tip I’d heard earlier this week, that after he leaves office on May 20 he will depart on a bicycle trip around the perimeter of Lake Michigan.

“The next morning after not being mayor, I’m starting at Montrose,” Emanuel said, referring to a beach next to the Lakefront Trail, not far from his home in the Ravenswood community. He said he’ll be riding about 70 miles a day with an old friend who was his roommate when Emanuel went to go to work for President Bill Clinton in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“I want you to know I love you all, but when I’m up in the [Upper Peninsula of Michigan] I won’t be thinking about you,” Emanuel told the crowd. “I’ve really have always wanted to bike the entire lake, but I was shocked, I should have researched this before I came up with it. It’s a thousand miles. I should have found something that’s about 500.”

Emanuel and his friend bike regularly on city streets, the mayor said. “We both had this dream. I’ve never found the time [to do the trip] with all the other things that are my responsibilities, so that’s what I’m going to do. So I look forward to it.”

Emanuel on his Parlee.
Emanuel on his Parlee.

After the presser, Emanuel told me he plans to ride his lightweight Parlee road bike. “I bought it as my midlife crisis bike when I turned 50,” he said.

Will he be staying in B and B’s or camping? “I’m 59 man. I need a shower the next morning.”

I’ve ridden the entire perimeter of Lake Michigan myself, over the course of a few different bike-and-transit excursions. I recommended to Emanuel that he stop at Legs Inn, a cliffside Polish restaurant in a remote location 25 miles north of Petoskey, Michigan, near the top of the Lower Peninsula. The eatery is known for being decorated with bizarre folk art carvings, and it has a mind-blowing view of the sunset over the lake.

Emanuel accomplished quite a bit for Chicago bicycling during his eight years in office, so here’s wishing him a safe and enjoyable journey, free of flat tires.

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