The Windy City

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ver the broad and vast expanse of grassland to the west, the temperatures heat up and the low and high pressure systems collide. Traveling with immense force like nothing can stop them, the winds forge over the Great Lakes, blasting their way into the heart of the appropriately named “Windy City”. The origins of its name are still under debate. Did the “Windy City” receive its nickname as a result of its close proximity to Lake Michigan? Its long-winded politicians? Its bidding for the 1890 World’s Fair or for its rivalry with Cincinnati? The true origin may never be known, but adding another to the list, if it hasn’t received its nickname for its kiting yet, it soon will.

Photo: Paul Payton // Rider: Matt Novotney

Photo: Paul Payton // Rider: Matt Novotney

Just South of Chicago, away from the hustle and bustle and hidden amongst its 125 ft dunes, lies Indiana Dunes State Park, but more importantly, twenty miles of kitable coastline. Ranked #4 by Coastal Living as “Best Beaches in America for 2016”, you’ll loose your landlocked mentality and feel as though you’ve been transported to the sea, transforming your urban kiteboarding experience into a coastal paradise. The towering dunes provide summertime thermals creating perfect winds and picturesque views for an uninterrupted downwinder as the sun sets behind Chicago’s infamous skyline.

Photo-by-Richard-Hallman-Kiter-Casey-VanSanten

Photo: Richard Hallman // Kiter: Casey Van Santen

Local, Tyler Spence has put this spot on the map with his kite school, Stoke Riders, and is one of the mid-west’s only IKO certified instructors. Sunrise to sunset, he is always available whenever it’s windy. His mobile site offers lessons, rentals, kite repair, boat support, downwind pickup service and of course, an abundance of friendly midwestern hospitality. With the perfect teaching conditions for beginners, he’ll start you at a shallow flatwater spot just 30 minutes from Chicago until you’ve reached the skill level and are ready for a mindblowing downwinder at the dunes.

Photo: Corey Winowitch // Rider: Tyler Spence

Photo: Corey Winowitch // Rider: Tyler Spence

For the more advanced kiters, just a 15 minute drive from downtown stands Chicago’s urban kiting convenience. With just under 300 acres of hard packed sand perfect for landboarding or snowkiting on a NE wind, Montrose Beach is the only beach for kiting within the city limits. Highly regulated as the metropolis masses flock to this beach in the summertime, a streamer must be worn on your kite proving minimum skill level of IKO 3L or PASA 2 (pick one up from Stoke Riders). It’s earned its nickname as “the washing machine” because of the occasional backwash from the Jetty on a north wind, so be sure to kite its buttery flat waters behind the jetty on a SE day.

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Photo: Corey Winowitch // Rider: Richard Hallman

With a kite scene as diverse as the city’s population, hidden just outside its limits, there’s something for everyone; shallow, flatwater perfect for learning, a beach of bustling bystanders waiting to be wowed, or a seemingly endless coastline perfect for practicing. For more info on kiting the Greater Chicago area visit: www.stokeriders.com