Janée Matteson is a little wary of technology. The more ubiquitous it becomes, she finds, it has more potential to keep kids indoors (a trend she has dubbed “acute nature deficit disorder”). Janée, whose family’s roots have been growing in Morris for nearly 200 years, basically spent her entire childhood outside, learning fur trapping and duck hunting with her father on the banks of the Illinois River. So in addition to her deep passion for the outdoors, founding Kayak Morris was largely inspired by doing whatever she could to help kids, their families, and domesticated teddy bears spend more time in nature.
Kayak Morris offers kayak and canoe lessons, and in addition, patrons can borrow their largely new fleet for leisurely trips along the Illinois River, Mazon River, or Illinois and Michigan Canal, which are home to wildlife such as great-blue herons, bald eagles, coyotes and red-tailed hawks. The staff also lead guided ecotours, which teach kids and adults about natural resources and what they can do to preserve and protect them for future generations. Family-focused private campgrounds is adjacent to the State Park along the rivers’ sandy shores invite groups to stay for monthly Glampouts (glamorous campouts) and spend their days taking advantage of potluck dinners, hiking, fishing, bike rentals, or guided kayak tours and to spend their nights watching a movie on Morris’ outdoor projection screen as campfires crackle nearby.
Chicagoans may have noticed the city looking a little bluer lately. That's not due to seasonal gloom. This blue is reminiscent of the sky on a sunny day—the kind that invites a leisurely bike ride around town on one of Divvy's blue-painted cycles. There are currently more than 3,000 of them cruising the streets and parked at 300 solar-powered, touch-screen-equipped stations, which make up Chicago's still-expanding but already highly popular bike-share program.
Getting in on the action is simple. Purchasing a 24-hour pass or an annual membership lets you unlock any bike at any Divvy station. After adjusting its seat to fit your height and the number of streamers you want to tie to the seat post, it's ready to take for a ride—perhaps along the Lakefront Trail, to work, or on an adventure with friends. If your trip lasts less than 30 minutes, you won't pay anything extra. For longer jaunts, you can pay an overtime fee or just re-dock your bike at any station and take out another one. (Stations have twice as many docking spots as bikes, so you should never have trouble finding a parking space.) Annual members can pick up accessories such as helmets with gear discounts at a wide range of bike shops, or just feel extra-special with perks at participating restaurants and other businesses.
The cheery blue bikes themselves are designed for smooth city riding. An internal gear system means there's no chain to snag pant legs or skirt hems, and a front rack relieves shoulders of purses and bags. Flashing front and rear lights and a bell ensure that other road and path users know that you are rolling through.
Groupon Guide to Chicago
A First Timer's Guide to Divvy Biking
Most Divvy rides go smoothly, but sometimes you?ll hit a bump along the way. Be prepared with these tips and tricks for bike-share newbies.
The exposed-brick walls of Iron Cycles speak to the straightforwardness of its employees, who prefer to focus on riding, not attitude. This judgment-free approach leads to unbiased treatment for every cycle. The staffers treat well-worn heirlooms with the same degree of care and dignity as they do snazzy titanium builds or a custom-crafted commuter. Perhaps their respect for bike diversity stems in part from their disparate cycling backgrounds: founder Brandon is an off-road racer, Ben was a bike messenger, and Steve has more than 25 years of both pedaling and mechanic experience.
Regardless of the bike brand or model, each of the shop’s services adheres to the mission of safer, savvier trips. Repairs address basic adjustments as well as complete overhauls, furnishing customers with new saddles, kickstands, and even handmade tires imported from overseas. The staffers oversee fitting sessions that fine-tune parts to suit the bike's function and the owner's body type. They can also build custom cycles that correspond to clients' goals, whether they want a frame that can hit high speeds or wheels that can store several decks of playing cards at once.
What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition?
WanderBikes is the exclusive electric bike rental outfit in Chicago. We have an exclusive product and experience that nobody can match. A must do on the Lakefront.
What was the inspiration to start or run this business?
As residents, we felt Lakefront bike riders were only discovering a small sliver of the beautiful trail. We saw the opportunity to discover more from the capability of electric assisted bikes.
What do you love most about your job?
A new experience almost everyday. We love meeting new people from around the world.
What is the best reaction you've ever gotten from a customer?
The ability to see and discover more of Chicago.
With a fleet of futuristic Segways and classic beach-cruiser bicycles, Bike and Roll Chicago outfits travelers with wheeled transportation to explore the city's paved surfaces. Tour guides lead groups through Millennium Park and along the lakefront to catch the skyline when illuminated by sunrises or backlit by one of Chicago's many moons. Misty Lake Michigan breezes ruffle riders' hair peeking through helmets as they pass by sailboats swaying lazily in the harbors and fishermen casting lines for trout and perch. Bike and Roll Chicago designs routes around classic architectural landmarks such as the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum as well as popular neighborhoods home to a number of restaurants and art festivals.
In Focus: Killerspin House
The house game: table tennis
AKA: ping pong
The tables: top-of-the-line Revolution models, available for open play
Services: lessons, private parties, and corporate events
To get away from the pings and pongs: book a private meeting room
Other features: numerous flat screen TVs, mini fridges, and couches
Playing solo? Book the Throw Robot, your new mechanical partner.
Need any gear? Buy rackets, balls, and other equipment at the pro shop.