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Chicago Has A Booming, Spandex-Free Underground Bike Club

By Justin Breen | August 22, 2016 6:50am | Updated on August 23, 2016 10:20am
 Chicago's Grace Tebbens on a recent Monday Night Ride.
Chicago's Grace Tebbens on a recent Monday Night Ride.
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Facebook/Monday Night Ride

CHICAGO — Mondays don't suck for Christopher Morrison.

Morrison, of the South Loop, founded and runs Monday Night Ride — an underground yet extremely popular cycling club that meets every Monday night through Halloween and rides throughout the city.

"I'm always waiting for Mondays," Morrison, 35, said. "For most people, there's the Monday blues, and Mondays are usually a bad time, but for us, it's always something to look forward to — and something to take back the streets."

There's never a planned path. After meeting by the Abraham Lincoln statue near the North Avenue and Dearborn Street intersection at 10 p.m. Mondays, the group — sometimes as many as 250 cyclists — depart around 11 p.m. For the next six hours or so, the scores of riders — Morrison and his wife lead the way on a tandem bike — travel throughout Chicago and the suburbs. Rides have gone through Englewood, Austin, Jefferson Park, Midway, Beverly and every Chicago neighborhood you can think of.

"It's about exploring new neighborhoods with people who have the same passion for the city, and you don't have to worry about traffic," Morrison said. "There's music because some of the cyclists bring speakers. There's laughter. Everyone's happy."

Justin Breen chats about the Monday Night Ride.

Christopher Morrison and his wife Leslie lead a recent Monday Night Ride through Chicago. [Facebook/Monday Night Ride]

Morrison said the rides are free, and there are no waivers to sign. Riders range in age from teens to mid-60s, he said.

"No exclusivity. No stuffy pretenses. No fake-ass Lance Armstrongs," he said. "We simply want you to come out and ride your bike. Anything beyond that is just fluff. We were here before all the copycats, and we will be here long after them, too. The ride is real."

Monday Night Ride started in Columbus, Ohio, in the early 2000s. Morrison first participated in those rides when he lived there in 2004 and instantly fell in love with them. He met doctors, accountants, lawyers, teachers and "people from all different talks of life."

When he moved to Chicago, he wanted to expand the club here. It started in 2013 with about 25 riders and has grown every year since. There are so many riders, he said, that if cyclists get injured, there are others who can pull them on carts.

Morrison has been amazed by Monday Night Ride's boom, and how it has brought Chicagoans together.

"People come from every neighborhood: Jefferson Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square, Northwest Side, Downtown, people from the Far South Side, Englewood, South Shore. You name it, there's someone from that neighborhood," he said.

Morrison doesn't have to worry about a Tuesday hangover either. He owns an aerial robotics company and can sleep in.

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