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Ride diary

I've taken hundreds of bike rides, and had some fantastic moments; but my chances of remembering any of them are pretty slim. So, from the launch of this site on, I'll be jotting down a few notes about each ride right here. Some will be uneventful, but others will surely be really special -- and I'll have something to remember them by!

Return to my current diary

Monday, March 1, 2004 at 9:00 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 00 minutes

Yikes! I haven't been on a bike in two months. I really had the motivation this year to ride right through the winter, rather than taking the customary month or three off ... but I made some pretty big commitments to music projects this year, and it's looking like cycling isn't going to play that big of a role in my life for a while. We'll see!

For tonight, anyway, I got a great welcome back by picking up where I left off with the 2004 Tour. While I churned away at a steady tempo on the trainer, Mayo and Vinokourov and Ullrich attacked Armstrong on stage 13 while Sastre took the solo victory. One of the most joyful moments of all the bike races I've watched came when Lance rounded the final corner unexpectedly close behind Ullrich, and Phil Ligget shouted, "Lance Armstrong, you are brilliant!" Ah yes. But it's only the first day in the Pyrenees, isn't it?

See you next time!

Thursday, March 4, 2004 at 6:30 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes

I'm settling into a little routine for one-hour rides: a ten minute warm-up, a 20 minute steady effort, five minutes spinning, another 20 minute effort, and then five minutes warm-down. Obviously I'd rather be on the bike for a few hours, but this seems okay for a busy evening in the early season.

Anyway, I love watching these race videos! I left today's Tour stage with the Simoni break up the road and Rubiera dropping back to help Lance. And I was on the edge of my saddle because I think this is the stage where Lance gets hooked by a spectator's bag and goes down, then remounts and attacks. I can't wait until my next ride to see what happens!

Saturday, March 6, 2004 at 2:30 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 10 minutes

Today I started with 10 minutes on the rollers, then switched to the trainer for three, 15-minute efforts with five easy minutes after each one. And I watched Tyler bridge up to Armstrong, Ullrich, Mayo, and Zubeldia in the run-up to Luz-Ardiden. Lance hasn't hit that handbag yet, but it's sure making me nervous waiting for it....

Thursday, March 11, 2004 at 10:15 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes

Oh, man ... just when I stopped watching for Lance's crash, it happened ... and although I knew how it all turned out, my stomach was in knots for a good five minutes while he caught back onto the Ullrich group. Wow! What a ride. I can't believe I waited eight months to watch it!

It has taken a while to get through this 12-hour edition of the Tour, but one thing I was really waiting for was Tyler Hamilton's solo break on stage 16. So I was pretty disappointed to find that the editors skipped the first 120 km of his 140 km effort. Argh! It was even the video company's parent publication, CycleSport magazine, that called this the best day of racing in the 2003 season. Ah well, now we'll just have to wait and see what Tyler does in the 2004 Tour.

Saturday, March 13, 2004 at 3:30 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes

I didn't have much time today, because I was hurrying off to see Dennis Kucinich speak here in Chicago, but I did spin on the rollers for 10 minutes and then switch to the trainer for two long intervals. My 2003 Tour video is winding down, with a couple flat stages before Paris, and endless speculation about who will come out on top in the final time trial!

Thursday, March 18, 2004 at 10:00 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes

Ahh, the Tour is over! After a lousy, rainy, dangerous final time trial, Lance came out on top after all. (And I'm only eight months late in seeing the footage.) I couldn't believe how far Ullrich slid when he wiped out on that corner ... and I don't think I've ever seen sparks flying off of a bike like that! Although his crash did remind me of the awful, tearing sound that I had forgotten from my racing days. Blech, when you hear that you can only consider yourself lucky, and hope it doesn't happen to you next!

Anyway, it's getting warmer and my first outdoor ride probably isn't far off. But I bet I'll get one more race video in before the winter season ends.

Saturday, April 3, 2004 at 3:30 pm

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes

It sure is a contrast going from a 12-hour DVD of the Tour de France to a 2-hour video of the Tour of Italy. This tape feels like a slideshow, the cuts are so quick. No close-ups, no interviews, and no -- as good as Phil Liggett is -- color commentary. But I ordered the 1995 Giro during a clearance sale because it features a victory by Tony Rominger, who was my favorite rider for a while during the Indurain years. Go Tony!

Friday, April 9, 2004 at 12:30 am

Distance: NA miles
Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes

I have to say, I decided over the holidays that music needed to be a higher priority for me this year, even if cycling suffered, and I've succeeded in following through on that goal. I spent most of the evening doing some prep work for my upcoming album, then caught up on some computer work, and finally squeezed in a ride after midnight ... mainly so I could finish the 1995 Giro tape before the weekend, when I hope to get outside for the first time this year.

By the way, didn't anyone mention to Berzin and Ugromov that there were 196 other riders in the race? Those two acted as if their only opponents were each other -- and they were on the same team! Whew.

Sunday, April 11, 2004 at 1:30 pm

Distance: 13 miles
Duration: 0 hours, 48 minutes

I had hoped to revive an old tradition of taking my first bare-legged ride (no tights) on Easter Sunday, but today was a bit too cold for that. I did, however, revive another tradition of taking an interesting ride on Easter Sunday by traveling to Madison with Sally and bringing my bike and cold-weather gear along. With several familiar old rides to choose from, I decided on a quick jaunt around Lake Monona. It was my first outdoor ride of the year, and as always, it felt great and comfortable and exciting to be out.

For purposes of clothes planning, here's the lowdown on what I wore. 46 degrees, partly sunny, little to no wind. Medium weight tights, cotton t-shirt, insulated undershirt, long-sleeved jersey, long gloves, hat, toe covers. My arms were uncomfortably cold for a while, but after 15 minutes I hit a couple hills and warmed up just fine. So, overall, I'd say that was just right.

Thursday, April 15, 2004 at 6:00 pm

Distance: 11.6 miles
Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes

Okay, so -this- was my first bare-legged ride, and not only that, but I was also celebrating the acquisition of a new pair of Mavic Ksyrium wheels. Wheeeeeels! After 18 months of envy, I finally took the opportunity to buy myself a sympathy gift for putting up with braces and popped for a pair. It's hard to tell how much difference they make after being off the road all winter, but I think they're going to be pretty nice, and I definitely liked the feel of the Michelin Pro Race tires that I mounted onto them.

Since my goals for today were to try out the wheels and warm up for a longer ride tomorrow, I just rode to the north end of the lakefront path and back. Coming back, at one of the street crossings, I saw a station waggon waiting for a string of bikes to go by. But as I approached, a runner on the other side stopped and waved the driver through. She rolled through the intersection with her eyes fixed on him, and I had to sacrifice some of the tread on my new tires to avoid hitting her. Well, there's nothing unusual about any of that. But after she drove off, the runner put his hand up and said, "Sorry, my fault!" Now -that's- unusual. It must have been the nice weather putting everyone in a good mood.

It also got everyone out in their best cycling duds, judging by the number of Euro-pro jerseys on the path. The Acqua & Sipone, Credit Agricole, and, of course, U.S. Postal teams were all represented. I was a bit disturbed, though, by the pair of CSC jerseys that I saw. Last fall when Tyler Hamilton's fame was relatively new, I believe I had the only CSC jersey in Chicago. But there probably won't be many more, since Tyler has jumped to Phonak for 2004.

Okay, see you tomorrow...

Friday, April 16, 2004 at 2:50 pm

Distance: 26.9 miles
Duration: 1 hours, 40 minutes

Wow, I went from cold arms to a sweaty brow in less than a week! It was around 80 degrees today, so I left work early and took the lakefront path south this time for a decent length ride. I usually turn around at Promontory Point, lingering for a moment to enjoy the view, but now the path extends uninterrupted past the 63rd Street beach house. Will that be my new turnaround point? I don't know, but I'd like to go swim there some time -- it's cool!

Someone yelled "Go Tyler" after my CSC jersey today, and I rode with a former collegiate cyclist on a Colnago for a while before he turned around to get some tailwind. Everyone was in a good mood again ... although I felt sorry for the guy out jogging while talking on the phone with a Britney Spears style headset. Somehow I don't think he was enjoying the environment as much as the rest of us. I felt sorry for whomever he was speaking with, too. I wouldn't want to be casually chatting with someone while they're jogging along the lakefront ... that's just weird.

Anyway, I have the typical early season aches in my neck and shoulders, but I'm feeling less wobbly and very comfy on the bike. Until next time...

Thursday, May 6, 2004 at 5:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 42 minutes
Distance: 9.7 miles

Well, in all my years of cycling, from country roads to big cities, I've had lots of close calls but have never actually been hit by a car. Until tonight. Actually, I hit the car, depending on how you look at it. I was going straight down the Halsted bike lane, and he was coming from the opposite direction, when he decided to take a left turn right in front of me. Our paths intersected. I had about a second to react, which was fortunately enough time to lose a lot of speed and veer to the right, so that I just scraped across his front bumper rather than hitting the front fender and going over the hood. I'm proud to say I stayed upright and came to a controlled stop! The driver and I looked at each other for a moment, but when I started to approach him he told me to fuck off and drove away. Jerk. Neither me nor my bike was injured, so I followed him home and pulled up beside him in his driveway. I said, "I was just going to ask if I hurt your car. You don't need to tell me to fuck off." He apologized and said he was drunk from the Cubs game. I lectured him on drunk driving, but he wasn't too interested and frankly neither was I, so I took a deep breath and continued with my ride. Sheesh.

This was supposed to be a quick spin to warm up for what will hopefully be a nice, long birthday ride tomorrow. I did meet that goal; the rest of the ride was uneventful.

Monday, May 10, 2004 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 29 minutes
Distance: 26.3 miles

I signed up for cable TV for the first time in my life, so I could watch the Tour de France in July, but I was recently reminded that these days, you can watch other races, too. Since the Giro d'Italia started yesterday, I looked up the schedule for that, and voila, it started just before I got home from teaching a guitar class. When I turned the TV on and Phil Liggett's voice was the first sound I heard, I was pretty amazed!

After watching a boring sprint stage for a little while, I geared up to do some riding of my own. The weather was alternating between sunshine and thunderclouds all day, but I found a nice patch this afternoon and made the most of it. And, despite a pretty gusty wind, I think I set a personal record for riding to Promontory Point and back. Was it the new wheels? Or just a determined attitude that lasted all winter even if my fitness did not? Hmm...

Saturday, May 22, 2004 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 24 minutes
Distance: 19.8 miles

Finally I got out on the bike again! It wasn't the hot, steamy day I expected after the sun started pushing out this morning's rainclouds -- by the time I was suited up and ready to ride, it was cool and cloudy and looking like it might rain again. But it turned out to be a great ride in other ways! First, I set a new record by only hitting one red light between here and Legion Park, and that one didn't come until Wilson. I sailed right through Irving Park, Western, even Peterson on the way to the Skokie sculpture garden. Whee! Also, I found several trail improvements on my route, including an underpass in Legion Park at Foster -- that was always a tricky crossing. In general, it was a fun ride, especially when I turned around and rode a tailwind home. And the moment I closed the door behind me back at my apartment, it started to rain. I guess I just had great timing today.

Sunday, June 5, 2004 at 8:00 am

Duration: 1 hours, 6 minutes
Distance: 17.2 miles

I had a full day of condo painting scheduled for today, so I got up early to sneak in a quick bike ride up and down the lakefront. Unfortunately, I got tangled up in a Zoo Run, and then, further north, a Cancer Walk, so I cut west on Lawrence and took Elston and Diversey back home.

For the last leg of the ride, I was feeling really good and wanted to hammer pretty hard, but I kept getting stopped by stoplights at every frustrating opportunity. Argh ... it was truly frustrating.

At one stoplight, however, two guys wheeled up and asked how to get to the Botanical Gardens. Ahh! I was delighted to steer them toward the North Branch Trail, and envied them as they rode north at Elston while I turned south.

Saturday, June 26, 2004 at 2:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 57 minutes
Distance: 32 miles

I've been busy packing, moving to a new home, and unpacking, so I haven't been able to ride for a while. But now that I'm getting settled, I finally wheeled north for my first trip through the forest preserve this year. Ahh ... it was a lovely ride with a little of everything: warm sun, cool breezes, families playing softball, kids at a summer camp, recumbents, dads with baby seats, dogs and squirrels. I rode fairly hard going up and through to my turnaround point, but chilled a bit coming home, and by the last climb my legs were getting pretty tired. However, the -very- last climb -- the three flights of stairs to my place -- wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. But I made a big smoothie and am looking forward to dinner all the same.

Sunday, July 4, 2004 at 11:00 am

Duration: 1 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: 16 miles

Well, here's something I've never done before: my sweetie Sally and I went to Navy Pier and rented a tandem! After a few short trial runs in a grassy area, we headed south on the lakefront and I finally got to share my bike's-eye view of Promontory Point. Whee! The bike was a somewhat clunky mountain bike with platform pedals, wide seats, a long rake and a short stem, but we got the hang of it surprisingly quickly and had a great time. The other surprise was the attention we got from everyone we went past ... hasn't anyone seen a tandem before? As Sally pointed out, there were those who shouted, those who just stared, and those who pretended not to stare but couldn't help watching us go by. Even the families of eight globbed onto those four-wheeler Flintstones bikes were impressed. But my favorite part was when a little boy on a trike riding with his parents said, "Mommy, can we get one of those?!"

Now if I could just figure out how to get one of these up to the forest preserve. Oh well, we're looking forward to doing it again!

Saturday, July 10, 2004 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 42 minutes
Distance: 10.7 miles

I didn't have much time between a guitar class and an eye exam, but I wanted so badly to get a quick ride in this weekend, so I seized my opportunity. From home in Lincoln Square, I headed south on Damen, bouncing out of every intersection, and hammered up the bridge south of Clybourn ... so hard, in fact, that I didn't have much energy left for the rest of the ride. As planned, I then turned north on Elston, rode to Lawrence, and then completed the triangle coming back home. It wasn't an epic ride, but it served its purpose.

Thursday, July 22, 2004 at 7:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: 10.7 miles

I'm still short on chances to ride, and wasn't up for a full-on night ride tonight, so I just followed the same route as last time between a late day at work and nightfall. This time, however, I started out a bit slower and paced myself through the ride, hitting my stride at Elston and completely cranking it from Western to Irving Park, where I finally hit a red light. I was passing cars, scaring pedestrians, and flying through intersections at 27 mph. Woo ha!

Of course, being in the middle of the last week of the Tour de France contributed to my energy. I wore my CSC jersey, now iconic of current runner-up Ivan Basso rather than last year's hero Hamilton. And Chicago drivers have always seemed relatively unthreatening, but today they seemed even more so ... not only cautious, but curious. Lance Armstrong, after all, has had unprecedented media coverage this month. I can no longer joke that I'm the only armchair cycling fan in the country! But that's a good thing, and it was fun to be out, giving people an up-close look at a carbon fiber Trek and a Euro team kit.

Sunday, July 25, 2004 at 8:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 06 minutes
Distance: 16.3 miles

I have to teach a guitar class soon, but this is the last day of the Tour and I had to take a commemorative ride! I just buzzed up to the top of the Skokie sculpture garden, without really being sure how long of a ride that would be from my new place. But it turned out just right, and I feel great. Okay, gotta go!

Saturday, July 31, 2004 at 8:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 14.3 miles

Once again, I have a guitar class this morning, and the rest of my day will be taken up with rehearsals for my upcoming album, but I did manage to sneak up to the sculpture garden again today. I didn't go quite to the top this time, but it was a nice spin and I had enough fast sections to get my heart going. This summer has been a bit of a wash for cycling, but doing music is important, too. Here's hoping for a long, warm autumn to make up for lost miles.

Sunday, August 15, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Distance: 32.6 miles

Today had all the makings of a fantastic ride. There was a warm sun, a cool breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. I had two solid hours and the prospect of home-cooked Mexican food courtesy of Dan and James directly after the ride. However, I wasn't the only one relishing the day, and heading south on the lakefront turned out to be a dangerous idea. A small boy who ran across the path in front of me, an entire family crossed the center line coming from the opposite direction, and most of that section of the ride resembled an obstacle course and a test of nerves. After Navy Pier things got better, and I rode pretty hard, but I don't have many miles in my legs this year and they were hurting a bit. Coming home, I buzzed across the loop to take Elston home, and I was riding consistently there; but then, in front of Target near Elston and Logan while calculating whether I'd be home on time or not, I had a flat rear tire! I found a small grassy spot at the edge of the parking lot and got to work, earning sympathetic looks from various passersby and an offer of help from a bike messenger dude. I was gratified, though, by the 3/4" long wire that I found, pushed completely inside the tire and neatly puncturing the tube. I pumped up and made it home just in time for that Mexican food.

Saturday, August 21, 2004 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 27 minutes
Distance: 26.5 miles

All right, I'm back to my Iowa home town this weekend, with my bike and fave jerseys and lots of motivation to ride! Unfortunately, the heat and wind of these country roads are pretty brutal compared to my smooth, sheltered routes in Chicago. But I did a great loop today north on highway 59 to C-66, then east to whatever road intersects Galva, then back on D-15. I was averaging 22 mph on the first leg, with a tailwind, and managed to keep that above 20 on the second leg, with a crosswind; but it dropped as expected on the headwind section, and dropped even more on the final leg, when either the hills were steeper or I was just plain tired. In fact, the whole ride wasn't long but left me feeling pretty empty. Um ... but I'll do it again tomorrow!

Sunday, August 22, 2004 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 20 minutes
Distance: 23.5 miles

I'm still in my home town of Holstein, Iowa, and I set out for the mirror image of yesterday's loop today. West on D-15 to whatever road intersects Quimby, then north to C-66, east to 20, and back home. The wind was a factor again, and the heat was even higher. But my body wasn't quite up to the task. I started with a bad headache that throbbed with every bump (fortunately D-15 west of town has been freshly repaved -- yeah!). And when I got to the biggest, baddest hill of the ride, and rode at as determined a tempo as I thought I could hold, I got about as close to throwing up as I've ever been on a bike. Wow! Nevertheless, I kept the power high throughout and rode respectably right until the end, pushing it very hard on the last few hills before town. Now I'm feeling -really- empty. How the heck did I ever do RAGBRAI?

Friday, August 31, 2004 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 2 minutes
Distance: 15.0 miles

This was one of those beautiful summer evenings that makes me want to linger outside after the ride ends. Unfortunately, a new session at the Old Town School starts tomorrow, and I had to spend most of the evening preparing for my classes ... but I did enjoy it while it lasted.

One strange thing did disrupt my ride a fair amount. I've always marvelled at how natural and comfortable the bike feels even after a long winter away from the road. But today my bike felt absolutely awkward. It felt like it was always pulling to one side or another, as if a wheel were out of alignment and the gyroscopic force was working against me ... but I stopped a couple times and couldn't find anything wrong. It's possible that something happened to the bike in the trunk on the way back from my Holstein trip, but I guess I'll just wait until my next ride and find out if it was just me.

Saturday, September 11, 2004 at 8:30 am

Duration: 0 hours, 55 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

Another quick pre-class jaunt to the sculpture garden. I had "New York, New York" stuck in my head, because I'll be leading that song later as a small tribute to today's anniversary. Otherwise, it was an uneventful ride. I think my discomfort on the bike recently was mental; everything seems fine now.

Saturday, September 12, 2004 at 10:15 am

Duration: 1 hours, 37 minutes
Distance: 27.2 miles

Woo hoo! I came to Madison last night to see a play, and brought my bike along so I could take a ride today. Ah ... Madison. I rode through the arboretum, then out Seminole Highway on the other side to some hilly country roads that I can barely remember from when I lived there six years ago. Sure enough, everything was just as I left it! However, I had forgotten what a treasure the arboretum was. It has hills, it has curves, it's the full width of a road, it runs beside a lake, and it has no cars. Whew ... you can't ask for much more than that. And the first climb out the other side is something you could train up and down as many times as you like.

Toward the end of my ride I was cheered by some unsuspeting marshalls for today's Madison Ironman. I'm sure they were confused when I turned the wrong way, even if they didn't notice I wasn't wearing a race number. I'm not sure where the race course went, but fortunately, that was my only encounter with it. On the way back, I took the backwoods path behind Edgewood College, which used to and still does make me feel like I'm riding in Paris-Roubaix. However, the final part of my ride was spent puzzling over the best way to get back to the isthmus. Crossing streets and waiting for stoplights was a disappointing end to a great, un-Chicago-like ride.

Saturday, September 25, 2004 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 13 minutes
Distance: 34.0 miles

Ahh ... Chicago has had the best weather ever for the last two weeks, and I've been too busy working and writing songs to enjoy it. But today I finally took an afternoon for a long bike ride ... one of my first to the forest preserve all summer.

I had the idea of going out and riding really fast the whole time, but unfortunately I was riding on an empty gas tank. I had a small dinner last night and an even smaller lunch today, and that just wasn't enough to fuel a two-plus hour ride. And I sure was getting hungry coming home! I rode past a Mexican restaurant and started craving Mexican food. Then I heard a bus driver announcing Devon Avenue, and wanted Indian. At Kimball I rode past some guys selling huge apples out of a truck, and all I wanted was fruit. Argh! But I'm eating a Clif Bar and drinking Gatorade as I write this, and in a little while I'll be making a big pasta dinner. So I'm definitely over the hump.

In other news, I came closer than I ever have today to getting doored by a car. In the first part of my ride, I had a rare wind out of the east, so I was hot-dogging it heading west through traffic on Lawrence Avenue. And just as I was accelerating out of an intersection, here came the door, maybe one second before I passed it. Fortunately, it only opened part way; another six inches and I would have been dealing with a badly bruised knee and probably a nasty crash. Well, it's good to have these reminders, I guess.

Sunday, October 3, 2004 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 02 minutes
Distance: 32.4 miles

Ahh ... it's October! But it's been a beautiful weekend, so I figured I'd better get outside. Although from my new home it's a longer ride than I was up for today, I went down to Promontory Point ... motivated, in part, by the prospect of a strong tailwind on the way home. I wasn't let down.

I've always been a fan of hot weather, and have been known to respond to any complaints about a 90 degree summer day with, "Hey, I like it this way." But I have to admit -- and maybe this is just because I'm getting older, or I've been spending too much time inside -- 70 degrees is probably the perfect cycling temperature. And that's what we had today. Ahh....

I did have one near-accident today, and I did it all by myself. I was sweeping around a curve on the lakefront path, just south of the totem pole where the path is made of sections of concrete rather than smooth asphalt. Just as I tightened my curve to pass a couple pedestrians, my rear wheel slid out. I leaned precariously and gasped, and thought I was looking at a lot of road rash on my left leg, then the wheel suddenly got traction again and I snapped upright, just in time to change back into my lane to avoid an oncoming cyclist. Whew! I think that my wheel actually went into a crevice between the sections of concrete, and wasn't free to follow my line. Whatever happened, I was glad to stay upright. I think the embarrassment of falling at that moment would have been worse than anything else!

Thursday, October 7, 2004 at 5:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 14.4 miles

After a few days where I went so low as to get out my winter coat, today was 75 and sunny and I knew I had to get out for a ride. I left work a bit early and headed for the sculpture garden, and it was worth the trip.

I did have a close call heading up, although after my near wipeout a few days ago, it didn't phase me at all. I was coming around a near-blind corner (one of the new underpasses in Legion Park) and saw over the embankment a man standing on the other side of the path. What I didn't see until I was just a few feet away from him was his dog, a little poodle standing right in -my- side of the path, with a leash stretched across. I braked immediately, skidded, fishtailed, and considered going down to avoid hitting the dog, but I had enough room to get safely around it. I also had enough time to give the man an intense look, but he just gazed sleepily at me and said, half-heartedly, "Sorry." I don't think he realized how close his little poodle just came to a broken neck.

Fortunately, my good karma came back to me a little while later. While swooshing down the hill on Lincoln Avenue toward Peterson on my way home, I noticed that all the traffic in my direction had gone through the intersection. About ten feet from the intersection, I noticed the light turning yellow, but didn't give it a second thought -- most lights in Chicago are timed so that one doesn't turn green until a few moments after the other turns red. Well, as I cruised across the three lanes of traffic to my left, I noticed that the light for the cross-traffic was already green. Oops! Just as I was about to cross the three lanes of traffic to my right, all three waiting cars leapt into the intersection. My options looked pretty bleak at that moment. Fortunately, one car saw me and stopped, then I think the other cars saw him and stopped, and I had time to wave and shout "sorry" before exiting the intersection on the other side.

Speaking of karma ... a couple months ago I rode past some kind of ceremony in the Skokie sculpture garden that featured a huge silk ground covering, a PA system, lots of people in traditional Hindu clothing, several people in suits, and a few in yarmulkes. At first I thought it was a wedding, but the mix of cultures had me confused. The mystery was solved today: on that same spot was a new, giant, bronze statue of Ghandi, with a lotus-patterned stonework and lots of flowers all around. I stopped to admire this timely monument, and feel grateful that I'll be able to see this beautiful addition to the park each time I ride through it.

Okay, time for dinner, then off to a music rehearsal...

Thursday, October 28, 2004 at 5:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 06 minutes
Distance: 16.2 miles

Considering how cool and gloomy it was today, I sure felt spritely! I suppose it was the knowledge that this might be my last bike ride before daylight savings time ends. I would have preferred something warmer and sunnier, but as it was, the autumn leaves in the sculpture garden were beautiful, and I think I cheated the wind with a tailwind heading up, decreasing to no wind coming back.

While speeding home I was thinking about what separates a great from a normal ride, and I concluded that an experience of riding at high speeds with relative ease, or over long distances with relative ease, are the most important qualities of a great ride. And I felt very fast today, so the whole thing was pretty fantastic.

© 2002 Arlo Leach, all rights reserved.