While our normal tours are typically $10, we still offer dozens of free rides each year. Free rides offer insight into tour construction and show participants even more sights within the area than can be fit into the final tours. Each tour requires 80 to 100 hours of research and the goal of the free rides is to enable those that are interested to see how it comes together by participating in the process.
There are three main types of free rides including research rides, event pre-rides and photo tours, which seek specifically to get high quality photos of particular sights along the route, over and above the scheduled stops. Research rides involve route planning and testing, photo-documenting and notating neighborhood features and spots. Finally, there are “Pre-rides” for each tour to ensure that the route is still safe and accessible and to assess any necessary changes, edits or details to the map and notes.
Each attendee at any free ride also earns $5 toward any paid ride or subscription. Free ride attendees also are given first opportunity to act as Ride Marshals on the paid rides. Ride Marshals receive free entrance to the paid rides, miss none of the tour, but act as tour safety aids and help the group stay together through the city traffic. Not every research ride, pre-rides or photo tour is necessarily announced or open-invite.
Charity, April fool’s and city Rides
Finally, we organize several free rides for charity, the April Fool’s Day Ride, the City of Chicago, various non-profits and aldermanic tours and a number of other random free rides each year.