General Information for Saturday Team Rides

Scroll down to read about our virtual team rides on the Zwift virtual cycling platform

Come ride with us! Our Saturday morning training ride is again open to all cyclists, including those who are not members of the team. Please make sure that you read and understand all the information on this page if you have not been on our team ride previously, including the safety protocols related to COVID-19. The ride from Wicker Park up to Highland Park is “no drop” pace. This means nobody gets left behind. The intent is to help riders develop group riding skills, and our goal is to arrive at the coffee shop in Highland Park as a group. Typically, the ride pace is between 18-20 mph, but we will ride as slow as the slowest rider. If you are unable to keep up and a gap has opened ahead of you, you should yell “Gap!” and we will slow down the group to accommodate all riders.

Meeting times and locations ("Winter" hours): We leave at 8 a.m. from the northwest corner of Wicker Park on Damen Avenue (the Chicago Park District park, which is also the name of the Chicago neighborhood in that area). The meeting location is at the southeast corner of Damen Avenue and Wicker Park Avenue, about 600 feet south of the six-legged intersection of North Avenue, Damen Avenue, and Milwaukee Avenue. The ride stops at 8:30 a.m. to meet more riders at the southeast corner of the intersection of Pratt Boulevard and Ridge Boulevard (in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago) and continues up Sheridan Road to Highland Park.

**Please note that from the first Saturday in May until the first Saturday in October we go by our summer hours, and the ride leaves Wicker Park at 7:00 a.m. and gets to Pratt and Ridge at 7:30 a.m. Between October and the end of April we go by our winter hours, and the ride leaves Wicker Park at 8:00 a.m. and gets to Pratt and Ridge at 8:30 a.m. Look for the official switch to be announced on our home page and social media channels.

**Please scroll down for COVID-19 safety protocols.

Ride route and logistics: The ride is about 47 miles round trip from Wicker Park, or 40 miles round trip from Pratt & Ridge. We have posted our ride route on the following platforms:

Be aware that in the interest of safety and responsible use of the road, we will occasionally split the ride into two groups. This will be done on an as-needed basis at the Pratt & Ridge rendezvous point. The objective will be to split a large group into two halves, each of which has a strong presence of experienced riders. The groups will depart about three minutes apart. Important note: This is not splitting the ride into a "fast" group and a "slow" group, and the ride to Highland Park must not become a race. It is not Group B's goal to catch Group A.

After a stop in Highland Park, the group will split up according to ability and ambition. There will almost always be a group heading straight back to the city, but please keep in mind that after Highland Park the ride is no longer "no drop" and the speeds can be significantly faster. You are responsible for your own way home. If you do not know the area, you should bring a map or smartphone. In addition to the group heading directly back to Chicago, there is almost always one or more groups continuing north on one of several popular extensions that we ride. See more info about the extensions below.

There are several important things to keep in mind on the ride.
  • Helmets are required. No exceptions.
  • Your bicyle must be equipped with with a mechanical brake on the front wheel and either a mechanical brake or fixed drivetrain on the rear wheel.
  • The ride from Wicker Park up to Highland Park is “no drop.” This means nobody gets left behind. We ride as slow as the slowest rider. If you are unable to keep up and a gap has opened ahead of you, you should yell “GAP!” Do not be bashful. And if you hear that “GAP!” has been called, you must slow down and pass the word forward. We will slow down the group to accommodate all riders.
  • We stop for flats. However, you are expected to have all the equipment (spare tubes, patch kit, tire levers, and air pump/CO2) necessary to change a tube and the know-how to do so within 5 minutes.
  • If you are at the front of the group, you are responsible for keeping the ride smooth and safe. We endeavor to have four experienced team members at the front of the ride at all times. These riders are familiar with the route and will aim to keep the pace steady. We also try to have at least one experienced team member patrolling the back of the group to make sure the group is staying together and riding safely.
  • We ride no wider than two abreast. Not only is this the safest way to ride, but it’s the law. Although we proudly assert and defend our rights as cyclists, we try to minimize our impact on motorized traffic. In certain areas (e.g. Glencoe) we are required to ride single file; we will tell you where. You will see riders put their arm in the air with one (1) finger extended meaning that we must ride single file.
  • No earbuds in ears, regardless of whether they are in use.
  • Aerobar extensions (aka "aerobars," "TT bars," or "triathlon bars" as typically used in time trials and triathlon) may NOT be used during the ride (but you can still ride if you have them on your bike).
  • If you need to spit, blow your nose (aka "snot-rocket"), cough, or sneeze, riders should pull out of the group or go to the back of the group to do so.
  • COVID-19 is still a public health issue and should be treated as such. Riders should not join, and will not be allowed to remain on, team rides if sick or symptomatic (with cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever of 100.4° F or above, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, or other COVID symptoms). Sick or symptomatic riders are encouraged to seek a COVID-19 test at a state or local government testing center, healthcare center, or other testing locations, and follow guidelines for self-isolation. Do not attend team rides within 14 days of a positive COVID test, any COVID-related symptoms, or exposure to someone known to be infected with COVID-19.
  • We stop at a coffee shop in Highland Park called Perfect Blend. Please abide by the requests from the management of Perfect Blend and do not use the restroom if you are not a paying customer as per the sign on the front door. Also DO NOT lean your bicycle against the windows of the shop. There are signs on EVERY single window.
  • Please be courteous and aware of your surroundings at and around the coffee shop. Do not block the sidewalks and the path of pedestrians walking by or into/out of the coffee shop.
  • Scroll down for more tips.
Popular extensions to the official Saturday team ride route include: Some other tips to keep in mind:

When we are at the Perfect Blend coffee shop in Highland Park you really have to stay on your toes and pay attention to what's going on. When we get to the coffee shop we all stop for 10-15 minutes to fill up water bottles, use the bathroom (only if you are a paying customer at Perfect Blend), and/or get a snack or coffee or some other beverage. It is really easy to miss the group that is leaving the coffee shop, either going back south to the city or going north on one of the extensions. There is usually a "warning" a minute or two before the group leaves, but when they leave (especially the groups going north) the pace can be really fast. The group going north usually rides north up Sheridan Road from the coffee shop VERY fast. Be prepared. You may be able to find a separate group that is also going north at a more reasonable (i.e. slower) pace. Ask around when the group is at the coffee shop.

The group pace (meaning the typical moving speed) on the extensions or riding back to the city will be upwards of 20 mph. It is usually in the 22-24 mph range, and it can easily get up to the mid to upper 20s depending on wind speed, wind direction, and the strength of the riders in the group.

Remember, when riding the extensions or riding directly back to the city from Highland Park, the ride is a "drop" ride, meaning that the group will not wait for the slower riders. The group will USUALLY wait for someone with a flat tire, but there is no guarantee. The group may also wait for slower riders to catch up assuming they are not too far behind; typically that means they'll wait at a corner or a convenience store along the route and wait for the slower riders to catch up. That does not mean that they will slow their pace to the pace of the slower riders.

Our team ride is a great way to get to know us and improve your own riding at the same time. We look forward to riding with you.

  Optional virtual Saturday Team Rides on Zwift

If you would like to join us for our free virtual Team Ride on Saturday mornings on the Zwift platform, teammate and coach, Chris Navin, will be leading the Saturday Virtual Team Rides. You can join these rides on Zwift or just ride your classic trainer (if you're not a Zwift member). With both ride options you can participate in voice or video chat with teammates via the Discord app. The virtual team rides start at 8am, the same start time as our outdoor Saturday Team Ride. Please note that our outdoor Saturday Team Ride is still happening every Saturday year-round, rain or shine (or snow).

To connect to the Virtual Team Ride voice or video chat via the Discord app: To join the Virtual Team Rides on Zwift:
  • You need to be INVITED to the team ride in Zwift by Coach Chris Navin. You will not be able to join the ride in Zwift without an invite because of the way Zwift works currently.
  • You need to edit your Zwift profile and add "XXX Racing" or "XXX" to the end of your name in Zwift so that Chris Navin can more easily search for and find you in the Zwift Companion App.
  • You need to connect with "COACH CHRIS NAVIN" via the Zwift Companion App so that he can INVITE you to the team ride. Go to "Find Zwifters" in the app and search for "COACH CHRIS NAVIN".
  • Once you receive the invite to the virtual Team Ride on Zwift from Coach Chris Navin, make sure you accept the invite in the Zwift Companion App so that it is added to your events.
  • Get your trainer set up and start riding early, and you should get a pop-up notification in Zwift to join the event 5 minutes before the ride start time.

Routes of the Month

In June 2020 during the early month of the COVID pandemic, we encouraged our teammates to explore different routes in the area either on their own or with a small group of riders in their cohort, and we started sharing a different "Route of the Month" each month. The Route of the Month is a way for our teammates to have shared ride experiences while riding solo or in small, safe groups.

*Note: We will continue to update this page each month as new Routes of the Month are shared with the team. You can download a .gpx file to your Garmin (or other cycling computer) from the Strava or links below. These are not intended to be group rides at this time. Ride alone or with people in your bubble, mask up, maintain distance, and follow all other required safety precautions related to COVID-19, including stops in neighboring states affected by Chicago's Emergency Travel Order.

June 2020 Route of the Month - Jimmy Ray's Wild West Show Ride (by "Jimmy Ray" Barclay)
This route runs through Skokie & Northbrook, through Riverwoods and then crosses over to Long Grove. From there it loops around the rolling hills and open air of Barrington, before and back home. It's not short--even longer for those coming from the eastern or southern sides of the city. However, anyone who wants to shorten it could easily drive out to Long Grove and just do the main Barrington circuit.

July 2020 Route of the Month - Rides to the southwest - Burr Ridge and Lemont (50-mile and 80-mile options - sometimes referred to as the "Deluca" ride)
XXX Racing Deluca 80-mile route with Lemont climbs (from Wicker Park):

XXX Racing Deluca 50-mile route to Burr Ridge (from Wicker Park):

August 2020 Route of the Month - Wolf Lake Ride (Wolf Lake and Mascot Hall of Fame)
Ride to the south - This 57-mile route uses the Lakefront Trail (or Lakefront Path), south to the southern end of the path. From there you will be on city streets until you get to the Burnham Greenway near the Indiana border. The ride includes the Burnham Greenway Trail, loops of the Illinois and Indiana sides of Wolf Lake, The Illiana Marina Trail, The Wolf Lake Memorial Trail, the George Lake Trail, the Mascot Hall of Fame, and the Whiting Lakefront Park.

September 2020 Route of the Month - Oktoberfest Brewery Ride (by Gaylord Otte)
In honor of Oktoberfest not happening this year, we have a route to 13 craft breweries in Chicago. (*Note: Needless to say, we highly recommend that you do not drink at every brewery along this route during a single ride. Pace yourself and/or prioritize your stops.)

October 2020 Route of the Month - Eric Sprattling Memorial 3-States Ride
Get all of the details here:

Summary: The 2020 Eric Sprattling Memorial 3-States Ride will be a little different this year since we have cancelled all group rides and activities. There are a number of options for completing the Eric Sprattling Memorial 3-States Ride this year. We know that everyone may not want or be able to do a big, 100+ mile ride at this point in the season/year so we want to give you options. There are three route options in Chicago: the full 150-mile 3 states route, a 100-mile (OK, 111 miles) route to Wisconsin and back, and a 57-mile route to Whiting, Indiana, and back. And if you would like to ride a different route or don't live in Chicago, get creative and plan your own route in Chicago or elsewhere! Teammate Dana Kotler, who lives in Massachusetts, did just that by riding a 122-mile route in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Maybe you want to do a ride on Zwift or your other favorite indoor/virtual cycling platform... great, show us what you got!

In 2009, as part of our 10th Anniversary celebration, we started an annual Eric Sprattling 3-states ride. Eric was a co-founder of XXX Racing, a long-time bike messenger, and a mentor/coach to a lot of the initial team members. One of the hearts on our team jersey is dedicated to Eric; he passed away in 1999. Eric would sometimes do a 3-states ride for training, and we continue to honor his memory every year with a memorial 3-states ride. We use this ride every year as an opportunity to remember Eric and the contributions he made to XXX Racing and the Chicago cycling community.

This year we are using the Eric Sprattling 3-States Ride as a way to keep our teammates and team friends engaged in fun bike rides and also as an opportunity to raise awareness and funding (which is completely optional) for XXX Racing's FixXxiE Racing Junior Track Program. In 2019, the FixXxiE Racing Junior Track Program was established to provide youths from underserved communities in Chicago with the resources, transportation, and funding they need to race at the Thursday Night Track Racing series at the Ed Rudolph Velodrome in Northbrook from May through September.

November 2020 Route of the Month - Gravel Exploro (by Jared Verbeke)
This is a great gravel route that hits some really fun, secret gravel around Chicago. First, you head out to the Des Plaines River Trail (DPRT) for some fast, smooth gravel riding. After that, ride East on quiet roads through Northbrook until you end up on this great secret trail that connects through to Voltz road. Shortly after that, you ride an old rail path south which will take you close to the Skokie Lagoons, where you'll ride south on the horse path that parallels the North Branch Trail (NBT). Enjoy! - a.k.a. "DPRT Sunday (w/Voltz, Skokie Valley)"

May 2021 Route of the Month - Rough Road 100 race routes
Although the Rough Road 100 (RR100) race was cancelled in 2020 and 2021, you can still enjoy the race routes that begins and ends in Morris, Illinois, approximately 25 miles southwest of Joliet. The Rough Road 100 race course (100 kilometers/62 miles) is a mixed-terrain route that is mostly paved roads but that also includes seven (7) gravel sectors between 1 mile and 3 miles in length (about 12 miles total) and one final crushed limestone sector of 9.5 miles in length along the Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal. There is a also a shorter route option that is 64 kilometers/42 miles long.

Tips from our teammate and resident expert on the RR100 race course, Sean Metz:
  • Sean lives in the area (in Plainfield), and he rides these road frequently. If you have questions abour the routes, please feel free to reach out to Sean.
  • You can ride these routes on a road bike with 25mm tires, but 28mm or wider tires are preferred. You can also ride on a cyclocross, gravel, or all-road bike very comfortably.
  • Make sure to bring adequate hydration and nutrition, and be prepared with a repair kit for flat tires as always. Most of the route is very rural. When you leave Morris at the start, there is NO place to stop for refueling (hydration, snacks, bathrooms, etc.) until you get to Mile 39 in Marseilles. After Marseilles, you can also find gas stations at approximately Mile 50 in Seneca.
  • Keep your eyes open for large rocks on Mine Road between Miles 17-25.
Strava and Ride with GPS links
100 Kilometer Route (Ride with GPS):
100 Kilometer Route (Strava):
64 Kilometer Route (Ride with GPS):

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Updated January 6, 2022