Yesterday I discovered that it is possible to eat tacos all day while also riding a bicycle more than 62 miles. No, I do not mean that I actually ate a taco while riding a bicycle. That would be quite the challenge. I wear my tacos enough as it is.
The smiling guy in the picture is my friend, Ben. Ben and a few friends decided to ride their own personal one day tour of their favorite taco stands in Chicago, a pub crawl set to the tune of taco. That little excursion turned into a once a year tour called ‘Rando de Taco’, moved out to the suburbs of Chicago and organized by the original three taco riders. The ride is 62 miles that starts at the Roundhouse restaurant in Aurora, Illinois to follow the Fox River trail north to East Dundee, then heads east to Wheaton and finally back to the Roundhouse. There are 5 planned stops at taco stands along the way. Each rider is “required” to eat one taco at each stop. Beverages are optional.
At the beginning of the ride, the challenge is to find 4 riders for your team, if you don’t have a team to ride with already. I didn’t have a team, part of the fun of it as far as I am concerned. As it turned out, I met a new friend named Julie at the start and we joined up with 2 friends, Jeff and Gina, that I knew from a ride I did with Ben last July 3rd, plus three others (Greg, Glenn, and Dan).
We had a blast.. and I now have six new friends. There is something about sharing a long bike ride, a unique experience, plus tacos and horchata that brings a special bond. These people feel like my brothers and sisters.
The ride left the Roundhouse en masse at roughly 10:30 AM, a swarm donned in sombreros, fake mustaches, and a variety of other costumes. Three miles later, we hit our first taco stand in North Aurora, a small hole in the wall. Since Julie and I had invited ourselves into the group of five, we had to fend for each other at each taco stand. We decided to start off easy with chicken tacos. Tacos consumed our group of 7 rolled back onto the path towards St. Charles for our second taco stop, the Jalapeno Grill. Julie bought the tacos (shrimp and pork) there plus my first horchata (a spiced rice drink) of the day.
The second taco went down a little slower. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel any ill affects from the two tacos I had consumed. As a matter of fact, the tacos didn’t affect my riding at all the entire ride. Four of our seven team members were riding cross bikes and I was riding my new 29″ mountain bike. My guess is that keeping pace with the cross bike riders may have taken the focus off of the tacos in my stomach.
East Dundee was the third taco stop. My fake mustache was getting a bit crooked. I was also hooked on horchata, a necessity by then due to the high humidity of the day. The fish taco I bought was the best taco of the day, but it also turned into a fuzzy taco. My mustache did not survive the fish taco and somehow became part of the taco. Also, the taco loomed large as I tried to eat it, my stomach already full of taco. I survived to the last bite, burped a fishy belch, and climbed back on my bike to ride with my new friends. Wheaton was our next stop, a long ride from East Dundee. That was a good thing. I needed to ride a while to be ready for the next taco.
Asada taco at the Wheaton taco stop. Thank goodness it was a small taco. We were also a little past mile 50. Our group savored and paused over our tacos at the Wheaton stop, enjoying the company quite a bit more as we had gotten to know each other in between taco stops. I swear that we stopped at one point between East Dundee and Wheaton (Wayne, Illinois) just so we could spend some time talking to each other. It was funny how our group fell into a routine early in the ride — Jeff and Dan taking the lead out on their cross bikes, Julie and I on their wheel on our mountain bikes, Gina tight on my back wheel with Glenn and Greg in tow. Occasionally one of us would take the front, allowing Dan and Jeff to relax behind us.
We cleaned up a little when we got to the finish, posed for the picture I posted earlier in this blog, then enjoyed one last taco and some beverages before calling it a day. Julie had been like my sister from another mother from the beginning of the ride, so when our new friends found out as we talked over beers at the Roundhouse that Julie and I had just met in the parking lot that morning, they were surprised. They assumed we had known each other for a long time! It was a good day with people who became special friends… all because of a ride we shared.
Rando de Taco may be my favorite bike tour… ever.. or at least until the next one.