I have a passion for long-distance endurance cycling on gravel roads. I love seeing new landscapes and sharing the experience with old and new friends.
The longest ride I ever completed was a 200-mile race called Dirty Kanza 200, a 200-mile ultra-endurance bicycling challenge on gravel roads through the Flint Hills in Emporia, Kansas.
I am a supply-chain analyst for Dover Fueling Solutions, a Dover company. I’m married and have a 5-year-old son. I’ve lived in Wheaton for 10 years. My main interest is spending time outdoors with my husband and son, helping to engage the young one in the community where he is being raised.
Discovering DuPage Forest Preserves
I discovered the DuPage forest preserves about 10 years ago after moving to Wheaton and buying bikes to ride on the trails.
What Brings Her Back Time and Time Again
I come to the forest preserves mainly to have a quiet and safe place to ride my bike or walk with my family. Most of the time I ride from my house to one of four nearby preserves: Danada and Rice Lake, Herrick Lake, Blackwell and McKee Marsh, and St. James Farm.
What brings me back every season is the quiet yet strong presence of nature. I am usually alone, but I have so many things to notice, that I do not feel physically alone. I ride year-round in the preserves.
During the dead of winter, I have come across a coyote on a lonely walk. He was just as surprised to see me as I was to see him. When winter thaws and spring awakens, I also like to listen to the frogs when they awake from hibernation. It’s so loud and rich to hear.
During the spring dawn hours, it’s only the birds and me, and I’ve started to document the types of birds I come across. In the summer, I've also encountered a large deer.
Catching the Nature Bug
As I became more committed to long-distance events to train for in the last 3 years, I’ve taken more time to ride on the forest preserves year-round, and during off hours. I became less lonely in my surroundings and now I embrace it!
Isabel Reyes-Todd likes bicycling and hiking in DuPage forest preserves. Photo provided by Isabel Reyes-Todd
Favorite Things to Do in the Preserves
My absolute favorite activity is cycling in the preserves. It is a quiet and safe place for riding, close to home, and a beautiful landscape all-around.
I have a bike that I use for riding on gravel roads, and it’s perfect for riding on the crushed limestone trails. I can stay close to home or I can connect to other places like Aurora or Elgin, Illinois. Once I rode to Sycamore by connecting with the Great Western Trail.
I also like to bring my family on walks, especially to Herrick Lake and St. James Farm. My son is learning to ride his bike, and we walk with him to ensure that he learns the rules of the trail at a young age.
We come year-round so that we can observe what is alive and present in the preserve at various times of the year.
How Nature Inspires
We have 6 months of cold weather in DuPage County. Rather than stay locked up inside, I motivate myself to go out for a bike ride or a walk. Once I’m outside, I notice what is around me and truly feel part of the landscape.
Nature inspires me at how alive and fluid it can be regardless of the seasons. It inspires me to get outside in any conditions. I'm inspired to adapt and to find something fun in every season.
The cold and snow of winter doesn't stop Reyes-Todd from riding her bike through DuPage forest preserves. Photo provided by Isabel Reyes-Todd
Advice to Others
In light of the current situation that we are in with COVID-19, I have seen a spike in people on the trails, even in the early cold spring weather we were getting in March and April.
I'm happy to see people taking to the forest preserves and trails for exercise. I hope that people continue to use these outdoor networks of trails and preserves for their own physical and mental health.
At the same time, I encourage people to learn about the preserves, respect the rules of the path, and to encourage others to join them.
Reyes-Todd and her 5-year-old son on a bike ride together. Photo provided by Isabel Reyes-Todd