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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!

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Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Wow, daylight savings time was the end of my thin season last year. But my main goal for the year was to record a new album, after all, and I did accomplish that.

Hopefully I'll get more riding in this year, and at least I'm starting early. I finally overcame my fear of annoying my neighbors and set up the trainer ... the new fluid system I bought last year to replace my ancient wind trainer is so much quieter that I didn't have anything to worry about. (A couple 1/4" rubber mats seem to suck up the vibrations before they rattle the hardwood floor.) And I finally got to start watching the 2004 Tour de France with a brief ride today. I just have to ask ... why are people always surprised when Lance becomes dominant in the last week of the race, when he usually either wins or takes second place in the prologue? Hmm ... well, I'm looking forward to the rest of the race.

Wednesday, January 8, 2005 at 7:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: NA miles

All right, I just took my second ride in three days, and felt a lot smoother this time. Rather than varying my intensity, I just started slow, gradually worked up to a modest peak, then tapered down again. Meanwhile, I continued watching the 2004 Tour ... a cool team time trial, very little footage of the "cobblestone stage," and otherwise just sprint stages.

But hey, the pain that's been lingering in my ankle since I twisted it a week before Christmas has finally gone way down. I had wondered if simply getting my body moving and my blood flowing would accelerate that healing process -- I guess the "biking cure" really works!

Friday, January 14, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Slowly increasing the duration, feeling good ... the Tour continues...

Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 7:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Today I did some longer intervals, and it felt really good to ride. The Tour entered the mountains and I got to see Ivan Basso riding with Lance for the first time. Didn't see much of anyone else, though. They were dropped hard.

Friday, January 28, 2005 at 9:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 30 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Argh ... today I reached the long-awaited Alpe d'Huez time trial stage of the 2004 Tour de France video I've been watching, and the lead-up to the life coverage was gripping. Then, just a few moments into the climb, my DVD got stuck. After stopping and messing with it for a few minutes, it got stuck at the same spot again, and again, and again. I spent at least 20 minutes trying to get the disc past this trouble spot while missing as little coverage as possible ... argh! ... but by that time, I had lost my rhythm, and when I started to ride again my knee was hurting. I ended up just spinning slowly until the end of the stage and then giving up. Technology ... hmph.

Monday, January 31, 2005 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: NA miles

It's been a great race, but the end has come so soon! Last year I spoiled myself with the 12-hour version, which admittedly was too long in spots. But this four-hour version seems to have come and gone so quickly. Perhaps it was the design of this year's Tour, with all the action in the last week. But I can't say I'm disappointed ... I finally got to see some of the footage that I had only read about last summer, and World Cycling Productions' commentators were as entertaining as ever. Maybe this year I'll allow myself to watch the race off the bike for once, and take it all in again with more concentration.

Anyway, this concludes my first month on the trainer, and it's been nice to get my blood flowing again. In February I'll try to increase the distance and add some upper-body exercises. Oh, by the way, the 1/4" rubber mats I bought for under the trainer seems to have done the trick as far as staying friendly with the neighbors is concerned. But I'm afraid to try the rollers, and will probably save those until I can ride them in the courtyard this spring.

Saturday, February 12, 2005 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 55 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I've been reading an exceedingly interesting issue of CycleSport magazine that piqued my interest in the LeMond/Hinault rivalry during the 1986 Tour de France -- and, lo, I own a copy! So for today's ride I took another look at that famous race. The magazine had made something of the fact that Hinault won the final time trial, making it harder for the French to accept LeMond as the rightful winner. What the magazine didn't say, but the video made clear, is that LeMond only lost by 15 seconds, after a crash and then a second stop for a bike change! I applaud him that much more for keeping it so close.

Well, that was a great race. Too bad the video coverage was marred by that 20th century habit of covering up the live audio with cheesy music -- including, to my great horror, "When the Going Gets Tough" by Billy Ocean during Hinault's ferocious attacks. Argh! Oh well, you can't win them all, can you, Bernard?

Thursday, February 17, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I've had the worst luck with my health this winter. No, I haven't gotten sick once, but I've fallen on stairs or ice three times and have spent a total of about two months limping. Right now my left thigh has been making ordinary movement pretty painful. But I've also learned that a moderate bike ride with a gradual warm-up can leave these sorts of injuries feeling better than ever. I was banking on that tonight, and the strategy paid off.

The entertainment was nice, too. The last few editions of the Vuelta a Espana have been quite good, and I've been disappointed that they weren't available on video. Then, somewhat accidentally after falling prey to a clearance sale at World Cycling Productions, I ended up with a three-DVD set of the 1993 Vuelta, when Heras narrowly beat the youngster Nozal. I started it today. It's just reconstituted OLN coverage, complete with an occasional overlay of the WCP logo on top the OLN logo, but the racing is great. After two Petacchi sprints and a Nozal time trial, we'll enter the Pyrenees on my next ride.

By the way, I started my winter muscle toning program after my last ride and continued today. Pull-ups, pushups, situps, and a strange back exercise that I might have invented myself ... it all feels good.

Sunday, February 27, 2005 at 3:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I haven't been able to ride all week, but I finally got on the bike today, and watched the next installment of the Vuelta a Espana. It was great to see Aitor Gonzales launch impressive attacks on two consecutive days, with a relaxed Roberto Heras bouncing along behind him. But, with hindsight, it was awful to see Isidro Nozal, in the leader's jersey, setting the pace for Igor Gonzales de Galdeano. It's a hint of the pressure Manolo Saiz is about to find himself in, and I'm looking forward to seeing it boil over in his famous altercation with a motorcycle cameraman later in the race!

I also did two sets of upper-body exercises, and should be ready to increase that to three after my next ride.

Saturday, March 5, 2005 at 7:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

All right, I continued with the Vuelta today, and if ONCE doesn't give the leadership to Nozal, Saiz himself must be blind. Heras was as bouncy and relaxed as ever, but the young race leader not only stayed with the lead group, but somehow put a few seconds into Heras at the finish. I also watched two flat stages, both won by Eric Zabel. Hmm! Nice job, Eric.

Unfortunately, my computer choked on this DVD again, and my ride was interrupted halfway through by a couple restarts and messing around. That made my ride a little shorter and less intense than I had hoped. But, as promised, I followed up with three sets of upper-body exercises.

Sunday, March 6, 2005 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 46 minutes
Distance: 11.3 miles

Well! I woke up this morning thinking, "Okay, really, I've had enough of winter and it's time for it to end." Lo and behold, the day turned sunny and warm, with a forecast of 61 degrees. So, quite unexpectedly, I got to take my first outdoor ride of the year!

I was even a bit overdressed with tights, insulated jersey, and insulated undershirt, but I selected a modest route, east to Damen, south to Elston, north to Lawrence, and east back home. Damen between Diversey and Fullerton, including the river bridge, has been converted from four automobile lines to two automobile lanes, a meridian, and two marked bike lanes. Hooray! And flying home in the Lawrence bike lane at a tailwind-assisted 25 mph was a thrill.

On a side note, I saw a bumper sticker that said, "Don't mess with Texas," followed by another that said "I mess with Texas" less than a block later. And I saw a bumper sticker for my man Wes Clark from the 2004 election that read, "Support our troops -- elect one."

Anyhow, the neighborhood parks are full, car windows are rolled down, and everyone is smiling. Hooray for spring!

Sunday, March 20, 2005 at 8:30 am

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I dropped Sally off at work this morning, then decided it was as good a time as any to get in a bike ride before my guitar classes at noon. I would have ridden longer but needed some prep time; I did watch a couple more Vuelta stages and did three rounds of upper-body exercises.

Saturday, March 26, 2005 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Another typical ride; more Vuelta, more upper-body exercises.

Sunday, April 3, 2005 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 10 minutes
Distance: 18.7 miles

All right! Today was my first ride with shorts and my first trip to the forest preserve for the year, plus I saw my first robin. The weather included "abundant sunshine," as the forecasters put it, a slight breeze and temperatures around 63. I was picking Sally up after work, so I drove to the forest preserve, and rode pretty fast to the Happ Road split and back again. Because of a job transition, I have this week off, so I'll ride again tomorrow!

Monday, April 4, 2005 at 1:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 22 minutes
Distance: 21.3 miles

In the second of three consecutive days of riding I've planned for this week, I decided to head down the lakefront and pay my first visit to Promontory Point. Unfortunately, shortly after leaving I realized that that's a longer ride than it was from my old apartment, and that I probably wouldn't have time for the whole thing. My next realization was that "cooler by the lake" really does mean something, as the lake breeze made most of my ride feel exactly like a cold shower. And then, just when I got cranking, enjoying the light, workday path traffic, I ran into a two-mile detour that had me criss-crossing Lincoln Park on gravel paths. Sigh. I spent a few minutes enjoying the view from Olive Park as a consolation, then rode all the way to the north end of the path before looping back to Lawrence and home, riding at a consistenly fast tempo until I got back onto the streets. Although cold, it was still fun, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow, which should be the best of the three.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 at 1:15 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 39 minutes
Distance: 41.8 miles

Well all right. In a week of firsts, here's another: my first ride with short-sleeves. I started out with the same insulated jersey I'd worn the last two days, but as soon as I stepped onto the back porch I knew that would be too warm. Instead, I changed into my Kelme jersey with arm warmers, but after 15 minutes of easy riding even those were gone. Hooray! Finally some sun on my pale skin.

My goal today was to ride to the top of the Forest Preserve trail, at the edge of the botanical gardens, so that's what I did. However, the wind was out of the south, so I kept slowing myself down in the first half to conserve energy. That prevented me from dying on the way home.

The ride itself was uneventful. My neck was quite sore when I got back, but that feels better after stretching and then lying down for a while. I do have that cool-weather cough still, but that should go away soon. Overall, I feel good. What a nice three days!

Sunday, April 10, 2005 at 3:45 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 10 minutes
Distance: 16.8 miles

After a week of firsts, this ride was a last -- my last ride before my new, and potentially far less flexible, job starts tomorrow. I might be more worried than I need to be -- the extra half hour I usually need to get in a summer evening bike ride might not be too big of a deal. And I could always do what many others do and take an early-morning ride before work. Anyway, I felt pretty liberated today, with the sun and wind on my arms, legs, and ears (i.e., no tights, arm warmers, or headbands) and the prospect of a fresh smoothie for dinner afterwards.

Another nice prospect is that of the improvements underway for the Legion Park and Skokie Sculpture Garden route that I took today. A large underpass is about to eliminate the daunting intersection at Lincoln and Peterson -- the only intersection that I routinely approach as a pedestrian rather than a vehicle -- and widened corner areas at several intersections along the North Branch Channel will open up visibility to cars and reduce the danger of collisions by right-turners. Cheers!

Saturday, April 30, 2005 at 5:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 30 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Oh boy. I've had a lingering throat infection for two weeks now, but didn't think it would affect my ability to ride a bike so much. I could barely turn the pedals on the trainer today, and stopped after 30 minutes of easy spinning. I did want to finish up the Vuelta a Espana video I've been watching, and don't anticipate any more indoor riding this year, so I gave myself a rare treat -- finishing the video on the sofa rather than on the bike. Cheers!

Saturday, May 7, 2005 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: 10 miles

I've made a tradition the last couple years of taking my birthday off for a bike ride. This year my birthday fell on a Saturday, so I didn't have to take the day off. But with my girlfriend Sally off as well, and my sister Cyndi visiting from out of town, a solo ride wouldn't have been so fun. Instead, the three of us went to Navy Pier and rented a tandem and a "comfort" bike. Sally and I shared the tandem and my sister cruised on the comfort bike most of the time, but we switched around a couple times.

Unfortunately, the weather didn't live up to expectations and we were underdressed for a 50 degree, cloudy day. But we had fun riding south on the lakefront, then over to Buckingham Fountain and Millenium park, munching French fries fromt the Buckingham Fountain Cafe. Then it was home to warm up, order pizza, and prepare for my birthday party. Whee!

Sunday, May 8, 2005 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 56 minutes
Distance: 42.9 miles

On the second day of my sister Cyndi's visit, we headed to the forest preserve on my two road bikes. My older Trek 1400 was technically a bit too large for her, but she didn't seem to mind and caught on to the different feel of a road bike pretty quickly. She told me early on to ride at whatever pace I wanted, and that she would try to keep up. Indeed, I rode a bit faster than usual and she was right behind me most of the way. I thought the mismatched bike and the lack of clipless pedals gave her a disadvantage, and she thought her high-altitude home in Boulder gave her an advantage. In any case, we were motivating each other to put in a good ride, and we were pretty evenly matched.

It was a pretty perfect day for riding, with the temperature about 80 and some thin clouds keeping the sun from being too hot. We rode from home to the top of the forest preserve and back with just one quick stop to open our Clif bars. When we got back, we threw on some clothes and headed for Devon Avenue, where a dinner buffet turned out to be a great way to get lots of food before we collapsed from exhaustion!

And when we got home later, Cyndi even let me show her some of my favorite cycling video clips. What a great sister.

Friday, May 13, 2005 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 15.9 miles

I started out thinking this was the perfect spring evening, calm and with a temperature right around 70 degrees, but by the time I reached to north portion of the sculpture park in Skokie, I was amazed by how quickly some storm clouds had risen in the west, and by the time I reached Legion Park on my way back home, I caught a light sprinkle. That didn't last long, though -- barely wet the road -- and ended up only making the ride more sensual.

Thursday, May 19, 2005 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 57 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

Not a lot of time to ride lately, but here's another quick jaunt through my favorite after-work route, the Skokie sculpture park. Improvements there continue, with wider sidewalk areas at the intersections and various new signs and maps throughout the park. I just hope it doesn't get too popular; I might have to slow down!

Sunday, May 29, 2005 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 26 minutes
Distance: 24.8 miles

Chicago offers plenty of nice routes, but whenever I leave town for a more rural area, the idea of getting a more substantial ride always pops up. So, when I planned to attend my annual family reunion, held this year in rural Michigan, one or two nice rides was part of the attraction. I packed my Trek into the trunk and as I drove in circles trying to find my aunt and uncle's new home, on Grand River Road south of Lowell, I became more excited as I passed cyclist after cyclist climbing the hills and swooping through the curves of that country route. It turns out that a large, local club dominates the area with group rides, races, and lots of individual training. When most of my family departed to explore some antique stores, I changed into my riding gear to join the local cyclists out on the road. Whee! Climbing hills always excites me, and reminds me what a different class of fitness I've settled into here in flatland. I didn't have a lot of time, and the roads were so windy and interrupted that I didn't stray too far for fear of getting lost, but I rode hard while I had the chance and thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of a new route, a nice day, and an environment where I felt like bikes belonged.

Saturday, June 4, 2005 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 10 minutes
Distance: 19 miles

I didn't make it out for a second ride in Michigan last week, but this weekend I'm on an even more special trip: my 10th college reunion in Grinnell, Iowa, a place where I put in hundreds of miles during the course of four years and haven't visited since. It's not an exaggeration to say that I was as excited to see my old training routes as I was to see some of my old classmates.

First up was the classic ride to Rock Creek Park ... I only vaguely remembered what it looked like and remembered even less how to get there, so before I left I asked a local college employee. She proudly told me about a new bike path that went all the way from the edge of town (at 11th St.) to that rural state park. I wasn't sure I believed here, but sure enough, a wide, paved path followed right along the roadside all the way to my destination. Wow! That's a nice ride. But very hilly ... wow. I forgot what it was like to be in your smallest gear going up, and your largest coming down, over and over again. The wind was pretty outrageous, too, to the point of spoiling the ride somewhat. I couldn't concentrate on much besides keeping my balance in a fierce crosswind all the way out and back.

Reaching the park, though, was a treat. As I approached, I started remembering a hilly, curvy road behind the park, and there it was ... but as I churned through it, I couldn't remember what lay at the end until I reached the final corner. Then, as soon as I reached the end -- a large circle in the road with a swimming beach nearby and a longer arm of the lake stretching off in the distance -- it brought back a sudden memory, of driving there with my friend Eric one summer night to watch a meteor shower. The weekend was full of memories, but this bike ride unlocked a few really special ones.

And when I turned around, I got to enjoy the best part of the ride -- blasting back through that curvy road, with the full force of the wind at my back, climbing in the big ring and reaching 35 mph on the flats.

Sunday, June 5, 2005 at 8:30 am

Duration: 1 hours, 20 minutes
Distance: 21 miles

I didn't take a second ride in Michigan last weekend, but not even dark clouds flowing overhead could stop me from a second ride in Grinnell today. I had a date with my most common cycling route, the county road to the south and east of town. As it happened, the storm clouds past, but the wind was outrageous again, even at this early hour, to my great distraction. But the ride was good, suitably exhausting, and a couple miles of tailwind saw me accelerating up hills in my big ring and sprinting for various arbitrary goals on my speedometer. When I got back to town I wasn't quite done, so I headed out the other side to revisit the road north of campus that I used to take when running for cross-training during the winter. The intersection where I used to turn around was either incorrect in my memory, or the surrounding roads had been paved since I last saw them. Then I rode past the apartment where I last lived -- and from which my beloved Trek 1400 was stolen on a tragic night -- before putting my current Carby back into the trunk of my Hybie and getting ready to head home.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 14.1 miles

I tend to ride more later in the week and on the weekends, but after a successful dentist appointment this morning and a successful day at work -- and a darn nice day -- I skipped away to the sculpture park for a nice ride before dinner. Ah ... I like biking.

Thursday, June 23, 2005 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 9 minutes
Distance: 16.1 miles

I'm afraid of congestion on the lakefront these days, and haven't had time to go to the forest preserve, so the sculpture park is really becoming my main ride lately. Fortunately, all the improvements are just about done ... the interesections are looking nice, and this is the first ride in a while where I haven't had to dismount and pick my way around gravel piles!

Tuesday, July 5, 2005 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 57 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

Summer is progressing quickly, and the Tour de France is already here! In fact, David Zabriskie won the first stage and became only the third American to wear the yellow jersey, and I didn't even have a chance to take a ride in my CSC jersey in his honor until he had crashed out of the lead on stage four. Oh well, it looks like this is going to be a great race, as always. Every year doubters throughout the sport come up with all the reasons why Lance can't win again, and every year he silences them all on the opening stage. This year he placed second by 2 seconds, then won the team time trial on stage four. So Lance is already in yellow.

Thursday, July 7, 2005 at 7:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: 14.3 miles

Ooh, two rides in one week, I like it! On my last couple rides my old knee pain had flared up again ... possibly due to a lack of riding, or hasty stretching before the ride. But today I felt much better, and an encounter with a pair of somewhat-serious cyclist in the sculpture park motivated me to ride fast for a stretch, and then keep going. In fact, coming back through the last, curvy section with a tailwind was quite a rollercoaster ride, with me -almost- reaching for the brakes to stay on the path in the curves. Leaving a little later today, however, meant more pedestrians I had to slow down for on the way home. Live and learn.

Sunday, July 10, 2005 at 9:30 am

Duration: 2 hours, 9 minutes
Distance: 35.5 miles

Now that's a ride! I haven't been to Promontory Point much lately since it's considerably further from here compared to my last home. But today was quite a nice day, and with a sailing trip scheduled for the afternoon, I decided to go all-out and take as long a ride as possible in the morning. I was pushing it to make it down there in time, but that only motivated me to ride consistently, and as I headed back north I felt so good I decided to continue to the top of the lakefront path before heading home.

I wore my CSC jersey in honor of Jens Voigt, who moved into the Tour lead this morning as I ate breakfast. On the last leg of my ride, a young woman on a mountain bike whom I had passed coming the other way smiled and said, "You could be in the Tour!" Ha!

Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 7:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 44 minutes
Distance: 10.7 miles

Well, I decided to take a ride after work tonight, but didn't expect to get home so late ... due to a security issue on the CTA, my train ride took almost an hour longer than usual. I could have skipped a ride completely, but I went ahead and suited up, and just took the quick route from Wilson to Damen to Elston to Lawrence. It wasn't amazing in any way, but it was nice to be out, and it wasn't even getting uncomfortably dark by the time I returned.

Friday, July 22, 2005 at 10:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: NA miles

After a year and a half of relative chaos -- moving, changing jobs, and then figuring out a good weekend schedule -- I'm finally feeling settled enough to start taking some long bike rides. Whew! My first 50+ mile ride in a long while is planned for tomorrow, and to make sure I get off to a good start, I hopped on the rollers for 15 minutes tonight to loosen up. It's supposed to be hot tomorrow, and I'm ready!

Saturday, July 23, 2005 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 4 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: 66.6 miles

All right, finally a long, hot ride. Actually, the sky clouded well over by the time I finished my morning guitar class, and rain looked like a real possibility, so I rather trudged home to change into my bike gear. But I perked up as I headed west on Montrose toward the Illinois Prairie Path. I ended up doing the big loop out to the Great Western Trail, through at least a dozen different Chicago suburbs, and was happy to have remembered nearly every inch of the route even after a two year absence.

On the paved portion, around Mayfair, I came upon a group of young boys with an old but full-sized basketball hoop set up right in the middle of the path. As I approached, I was asking myself, "Is this cool, or annoying?" and when they all looked up at me, then went on with their game, I decided, "annoying." But as I swerved between them and came out the other side, one yelled after me, "Pop a wheelie!" and I decided, "okay, not cool, but cute."

As is fitting for my longest ride in a while, I rode the first third very conservatively, then kicked it up a couple notches when I got to those long, uninterrupted stretches on the back side of the loop. However, as I started working my way back into the city, I really wore out, and the last hour was thoroughly exhausting. Clearly I hadn't eaten enough in preparation for my ride, but I don't remember ever being this tired on the bike. When I finally made it home I could barely get off the floor after a half hour, and even a trip to Blind Faith didn't perk me up -- in fact, I was too tired to eat! But perhaps I was just dehydrated -- it never did rain, but it was hot enough -- because all I wanted to do was drink ice water, and I did plenty of that all evening and felt better the next day.

Whew, I must admit, that sapped a lot of my enthusiasm for long rides this summer! But I'm sure I'll bounce back, and we have about ten weeks of summer riding still to come.

Saturday, July 30, 2005 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: 33.7 miles

Well, there sure is a big difference between a 4 1/2 hour ride and a 2 1/2 hour ride. I rode over to the lakefront, then north through Evanston to Linden, then across on Wilmette and Glenview Roads to the Forest Preserve, and back home, and I had plenty of energy the whole time. The ride was uneventful -- for some reason it seemed like there was no traffic anywhere -- except for a detour to Norwood Park Home to try and catch Sally as she left work. It turned out she had stayed late, and I didn't really know where to look, so after looping through her neighborhood a couple times I worked my way back to Milwaukee Ave. I got home with just enough time to eat a couple veggie dogs and a smoothie and then change for a play in the evening.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005 at 6:45 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 05 minutes
Distance: 16.1 miles

I was mindful enough to note the considerable tailwind, but still had a glorious time cruising north through the sculpture gardens after work today. I even caught an extremely rare green light with no oncoming traffic at the intersection of Kedzie and Devon. In fact, cruising toward the intersection at a high speed, the left turn surprised me and I felt like a crit rider angling sharply and decisively into it. I kept that spirit all the way to Green Bay Road, then took it easier on the way home, enjoying a warm, summer dusk that was just about too dim for my sunglasses.

, , at :

Duration: 0 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Friday, August 5, 2005 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 4 minutes
Distance: 16.8 miles

All right! I'm planning another long ride for Sunday, so I just needed a short ride today to loosen up. I haven't done the lakefront/Grand/Elston loop much since moving to Lincoln Square, but it turned out to be quite a nice alternative to my sculpture garden route for summer evenings, getting me home before dusk. Both bicycle and car traffic was light, and I enjoyed fast sections on all three legs of the ride.

Sunday, August 7, 2005 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 3 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: 56.8 miles

All right ... sum-mer-time. Continuing with the recent trend of revisiting some of my favorite long rides from the last few years, I rode south today to Wolf Lake at the Indiana border. I was a little nervous after my exhausting Illinois Prarie Path ride from a couple weeks ago, but I ate a big breakfast, brought some snacks (graham crackers and a Clif energy gel), and started out slow -- had to, on the lakefront path. But I felt just fine at the turnaround point, got a little tired about 3/4 of the way through, then rode easy through the crowded parts of the north side and finished strong.

It's always delightful to discover a new route, especially when it didn't exist before, so I was pleased to find a new section of paved path along Indiana Boulevard just before the Burnham greenway. This path is brand new, and the little parking lot beside it was completely empty. Too bad it's only about a mile long ... but it was a nice cruise, especially on the way back, with a tailwind.

I didn't see anything too interesting today ... some great kites in the south part of Lincoln Park, a group of old ladies fishing at the end of the road at Wolf Lake, several tandems ... I kind of just kept my head down and rode. A few blocks from home I realized my seat had come loose from the seatpost, but otherwise Carby is doing just fine this summer.

Okay, time for dinner, and to think about where I'll go next weekend!

Saturday, August 13, 2005 at 9:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 34 minutes
Distance: 8.1 miles

All right, I have another long ride planned for tomorrow, and this is just a warmup. Actually, I had wanted to go last night, because I'm really loving the feeling of a warm, summer evening bike ride at the end of a work week, but I had a party to attend and was also behind in quality time with my sweetie. So I waited to squeeze in a ride before guitar class this morning. Then a bit of extra snoozing forced me to cut it shorter than I had hoped ... but this ride should serve its purpose, loosening up my legs for tomorrow.

Saturday, August 14, 2005 at 12:00 pm

Duration: 5 hours, 43 minutes
Distance: 86.0 miles

Wow! I've been scared of long rides since my surprisingly exhausting trip to the Great Western Trail a couple weeks ago, but today marked the end of a string of four jug band gigs and the start of my two-week break from music teaching, so it was the perfect day for a long ride and perhaps my longest of the season. I prepared well by eating two breakfasts and two lunches yesterday, and having a nighttime snack of pasta last night. Since I rode to the Indiana border last weekend, I had a dream of riding to the Wisconsin border today, and when I added up the miles on my CBF bike map over a breakfast of hash browns and English muffins, it looked doable. So, after a short nap and then a quick lunch, I suited up and headed out!

Of course I start conservatively, and it was amazing how reaching the end of the sculpture garden -- my end point for a typical after-work ride -- seemed like just a warm-up. The Green Bay Trail arrived surprisingly quickly, and as I followed it through a beautiful canopy of overhanging trees, I wondered why I didn't ride that more often.

As I settled in for the long haul, I became preoccupied with counting the miles and, as they added up, wondering when and if my energy would give out again. That's when I wasn't worrying about something else -- a cool, cloudy day and somewhat overeager pre-ride hydration meant I had to stake out two spots for what the pros call "nature breaks."

My route north went through all kinds of communities, from huge North Shore mansions to working-class neighborhoods to industrial areas. Around Waukegan, Hispanic residents were the only trail users, and they all stared wondrously at my Euro-poseur getup. The most humorous sight was a sign on a fence outside a chemical facility that read, "No trespassing beyond this point." Apparently, trespassing up to that point was okay.

Anyway, I reached the northern end of the trail in good shape, and even rode a half-mile into Wisconsin before I realized I had crossed the border. I incorrectly remembered the trail ending abruptly at the state line. I wheeled back to the bridge at Russel Road to eat a Clif bar and take off my helmet for a while, then hopped on and headed back. During the trip home I continued to wonder when my energy would run out, but as more and more miles added up and I kept feeling good -- a few well-timed PowerBar energy gels helped -- I started picking up the pace. In fact, my average speed was about 14.7 mph 3/4 of the way into my ride, and I got the idea of raising it to 15 mph. I rode at around 18 mph whenever I had an open space, all the way to the end, and succeeded in that goal!

Traffic was light today and it was an altogether pleasant ride. The only exception was a quarter-mile stretch in Legion Park just a few miles from home, where I was nearly hit by three people in quick succession -- a cyclist who veered all the way to the left edge of the path, running my into the grass, -after- I had said "on your left," a small (6 year old?) boy who ran directly in front of me and planted himself right in the middle of the path, during a game of tag, and never did notice me going by, and a woman jogging with a baby stroller who decided to turn left off of the path just as I was about to pass.

Otherwise, I have no complaints -- I rode to two different states in the last two rides -- and perhaps my new fear of long rides is already behind me!

Saturday, August 20, 2005 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 38 minutes
Distance: 8.5 miles

California to Elston to Lawrence and home ... just a quick spin to loosen up for another long ride tomorrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2005 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 4 hours, 27 minutes
Distance: 71.8 miles

All right! I've been developing a plan to do three long rides, over three great routes that I hadn't seen in a few years, in three consecutive weekends, and this wraps it up. Today I rode north through the forest preserve to Tower Road, then jogged over to Skokie Boulevard (parallel to a bike path that I couldn't quite find; try leaving the forest preserve at Dundee next time) and up to Lake Cook Road, where I picked up the path, the Skokie Valley Greenway. Whooee, I had remarked during my only previous visit there that it was painfully bumpy, but it has been completely repaved since then and it was smooth as silk. I rode strong against a headwind almost to Rockland Road, where the path ended, and I jogged east to Green Bay Road to complete the connection to the North Shore Path.

Reaching that was a wonderful feeling ... I rode over it on Green Bay Road and it was bikes and pavement as far as the eye could see ... then swooped down onto the path and cranked west, still into the northwest wind, until I reached the Des Plaines River. And then the most glorious part of the ride began. For maybe 45 minutes or an hour, it was swooping, cruising, spinning through a winding, forest path with occasional breaks into sunny prairie areas or bumps over the river's many bridges. Ah ... I got to pass lots of people and practice my bike handling skills on the corners in the gravel. And it just felt marvellous.

I had planned to take Half Day Road east to Highland Park, and then take the Green Bay Trail back to the Skokie Sculpture Garden, as a reprise of last weekend's ride, even though Half Day is notably unmarked as a bike route on my CBF map. But I did it anyway. Fortunately, traffic was light and polite, and I had that strong tailwind pushing me along at 25 mph. At one point, during a narrowing of the lanes for road construction, I saw a recumbent headed toward me, and was surprised that someone else was being as rebellious as I was. When we passed, it turned out to be an old, plump fellow, beaming at me with the delight of handling such an intimidating road. As it turned out, Highland Park came pretty quickly, and soon I was back on the path and sucking some energy gel for the last leg of my journey.

Last week I had started very conservatively and had been excited to finish with an average speed of 15.0 mph. Today, after an initial warmup, I rode at my typical pace, and decided to just keep at that and see what happened. Although I was definitely tired in the last 25 miles, and took care not to cross my anaerobic threshold, I did just fine, kept the pace high all the way to the last underpass in Legion Park, and ended with an average of 16.1 mph. Whee! The idea of setting goals for speed -and- endurance in the same ride is frightening, but I definitely felt good at the end of that.

I've been so taken with the CSC team this year that I haven't worn my ONCE jersey yet, but I slipped it on today and immediately decided that it's the most comfortable jersey I own. And it looks pretty sharp, I might add. So I was glad to be wearing that, and had nice memories of Laurent Jalabert while I road.

My ever-improving no-handed skills served me a few times today -- twice when bugs flew into my helmet, and later when I decided to take all my snacks while riding and do the whole ride without stopping. Those Clif bars could definitely be easier to open, but I did it.

Oooh, and in a parking lot during the first part of my ride I noticed an older couple unloading a tandem from a roof rack -- I must have seen four or five tandems today -- so I stopped to ask him how that worked. It was pretty nice -- it lets you attach the front wheel first, then the front wheel mount swivels as you swing the bike up onto the roof -- and he said, "I'm 64 years old, so if I can do it, you can sure do it." So, that takes care of one of the two obstacles I see in owning a tandem, transportation and storage. Assuming a similar rack (theirs was a combo from Yakima and Atoc, I think they said) would fit on my car, I would just need to find a place to store the thing.

By the way, this is a ride diary, but I just wanted to give a nod to my nice little hybrid car, dubbed Hybie. While waiting at the intersection of Skokie and Lake Cook, I noticed how damn hot it was in the middle of six lanes of idling cars. Of course Hybie has the auto-shut-off feature, so it would have been just chilling (in both senses of the word) in that situation.

Okay, that's a great high point to my riding season. I'll still ride into October, but can enjoy my fitness with spins through the forest preserve and look forward to more long rides next year.

Thursday, August 25, 2005 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 56 minutes
Distance: 12.7 miles

Well, this must have been my slowest ride in years. But at least I rode ... it's been a very busy week, preparing for a new session at the Old Town School and doing a hefty freelance job in addition to my day job. I've hardly been sleeping. But, I took an hour to see the sculpture garden and was happy just to get a little sunshine. This weekend I'm going to Madison and I may be able to take a ride there, if I have the energy and inclination.

Friday, September 2, 2005 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 06 minutes
Distance: 16.8 miles

Man ... this ride was almost all in the dark! I remember riding until daylight savings time ended in years past, but now I have a job with inflexible hours (no early shifts on nice days), a slightly longer commute, and I was held late tonight to accommodate someone else's panic. Urgh. I rode the lakefront/Grand/Elston/California loop, but in addition to the fading daylight, it was cool, and I hit nearly every stoplight across the loop. Carby was splendid and I didn't feel to bad, but it did seem that summer was ending quite suddenly.

Sunday, September 4, 2005 at 9:00 am

Duration: 1 hours, 25 minutes
Distance: 26.5 miles

It seems like I was just writing about a nice Iowa bike ride, and here I am again. I took advantage of the Labor Day holiday to visit my family in Holstein, and of course brought Carby along. While my brothers slept in to avoid church, I took some religion of my own and hit the country roads.

I started north out of town on Highway 59, then turned east on C66 (which my mom reminded me has the local name of "the hawkeye"), south on M27 into Galva, and then back home on good old D15. I rode steadily but not particularly purposefully for the first half, although I was somewhat amused by my average speed, hovering around 20 mph with a tail and cross wind, but in the 3rd leg I started to push myself on the hills just to make the most of my ride. And as I flew down toward the Maple River out of Galva, I decided to try making a full effort on each of the six familiar hills between there and Holstein. Whew! I gritted my teeth and counted them down, and gave myself the best workout I've had all year.

Just as I was wrapping up this effort, with about 2.5 miles of flat road before town, I spotted -- what? -- another cyclist on the road ahead. Now that's unusual. I couldn't help picking up my pace just a little bit, but even then it took until the last corner (at the paved end of 2nd Avenue) to catch up. It turned out to be a friend of my mom's, looking surprisingly fit and riding surprisingly steadily, on a nice Trek city bike. I congratulated her on her pace, which I hope wasn't condescending, and lingered to chat for a few minutes. Truthfully, I was just so excited to see another cyclist in Holstein, after all the years I was treated like an alien there.

When I got home a few minutes later, my mom was just putting her homemade sweet rolls into the oven, so with a quick shower and then a great breakfast, my holiday weekend was off to a grand start.

Thursday, September 8, 2005 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 2 minutes
Distance: 16 miles

After my last after-work ride ended in a dusky chill, I made sure to leave work on time today and get right outside after getting home. Alas, the evening was cool again -- this time I wore an undershirt, which was a good thing -- and darkness fell quite suddenly about 3/4 of the way through my ride.

I took the first portion at a leisurely pace, but when I hit the gravel section at the top end of the sculpture park -- it actually took me by surprise, I hadn't realized I'd come that far already -- I suddenly got inspired and started riding hard. Being on the gravel and rocks appealed to my growing confidence with bike handling, and I ended up speeding along, throwing up dust and cutting corners until Green Bay Road. Then I ended up holding that spirit all the way home, spinning up to top speed on the flat sections and standing to push over the modest hills. At one point I was riding so fast over a bumpy path that I hardly stayed on the bike! But it was a lot of fun, dark and cold be damned -- my season might be almost over, but I got the most out of this ride nevertheless.

Saturday, September 10, 2005 at 10:00 am

Duration: 2 hours, 28 minutes
Distance: 41.5 miles

If my ride in Holstein last weekend was about keeping my nose to the grindstone on the climbs, this one was about riding on a pure adrenaline rush. I was in Madison for the weekend for a wedding, so I brought my bike along for at least one long ride. Actually, I had been in Madison a few weeks ago, but didn't have a chance to ride, so my goal for today was to revisit two separate routes that I used to ride when I lived there. The only problem was my uncertainty about how to find them, not to mention how long they would take -- I rose a little too slowly and enjoyed the surprisingly comprehensive hotel breakfast a little too long, and left myself with scarcely three hours for a grand tour of my old Madison rides. Essentially, I was faced with the question, "How much riding can I do in three hours?" Fortunately, it worked out perfectly. I even got back to the hotel in time for a Vuelta a Espana recap before changing for the wedding.

Anyway, I made my way from the East Towne area down East Washington, to First, and Gorham, and then across the downtown and campus areas to the UW Hospital area, where I wanted to find my way back into the Maple Bluff roads that I used to play on. I had been trying to review this route in my head all morning, and was able to reconstruct a few pieces, but ultimately I went on instinct, and got almost there but not quite. What I needed to do was go all the way behind the hospital toward Eagle Heights, and then look for the divided road up through the trees to Lake Mendota Drive. Instead, I entered the neighborhood a bit too far south, and ended up climbing a ridge and getting confused until I came out on the top side of a golf course that I used to always see from the bottom. SWOOP down a big hill, and then I was on familiar ground at last. I rode as far west as the road went -- right up to a dead end at the top of a steep little hill -- and then back and out near the hospitals via a slightly less confused route. I could have taken the bike paths back through campus, but I recalled those having lots of stops and starts and had stronger memories of Old University Avenue, so I took that both ways.

University near the football stadium was an experience, by the way. I can see how professional cyclists reach their peak performance in front of large crowds, just as I definitely play my guitar better with a sizeable audience, and today I found myself riding impressively in front of a huge flow of people heading toward the stadium for a UW Badgers football game. Their uniform red dress was eerie, then scary when I realized that I had unwittingly donned my CU-Boulder Buffaloes jersey! Argh. Nobody mentioned it, but my comeback would have been, "Well, they -do- have a better cycling team."

Back down Johnson to Blount (? - the street after Norris Ct.) and over to Sherman for my second destination, Shorewood Hills. This one was easier to find -- past the Governor's Mansion, the beach, etc. -- but I was disappointed to remember that the neighborhood portion of this route really only had one hill (more were waiting on the other side, around the Mendota Mental Health area). I was even more disappointed to find that a mile-long stretch of road at the bottom of that hill was gone, with only a packed-dirt and rock surface in its place, due to heavy construction in the area. Disappointment turned to daredevil excitement, though, as I rode on the rocks and tried to keep a strong pass. A complete lack of auto traffic in this area helped; in fact, I didn't encounter a single car in either of these swank neighborhoods. Anyway, I buzzed through my old route here, then back through the park whose name I don't know, then back to Sherman and Tenney Park, and to First and East Wash and back to the hotel.

Whew! With an event to get to, I was highly motivated to ride fast all day. The beautiful weather, rested legs, and full stomach helped, too. It was a great ride! When I come back next summer I'll have to do one -- or both -- again.

Saturday, September 17, 2005 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 31.5 miles

After a summer of quality, if not quantity, riding, my plan for the next few weeks was to take a few long rides through the forest preserve to say goodbye for the season to my favorite route of all. Today didn't quite go as planned, though. I'd been wanting to add a bell to my bike and re-wrap my handlebar tape for a week and just hadn't had time, so I finally did that just before I started today. That turned out fine, and then I decided to quickly pull out my seatpost and hang my LiveSTRONG bracelet around it, since I've never gotten into actually wearing that thing. That's when the trouble started: with a surprising BANG, the seatpost bolt broke on the first quarter-turn. Fortunately I was able to twist out the broken part with a pliers, but then I had to walk over to the hardware store for a new bolt. Also, fortunately, they did locate the right bolt in the metric bin, but then I got into a slow line behind someone returning some items, and didn't get back home with the new part until about 30 minutes later.

When I finally changed and stretched and was ready to go, I then suddenly got bothered by my headset, which has seemed loose lately, and decided to tighten that up. However, I sort of forgot how a threadless headset worked, and made a bit of a mess of that, and spent another 20 minutes setting it up properly. With all of that finally accomplished, I just had two hours left before my scheduled rendezvous with Sally for dinner. Hmm ... I left home not knowing what to do, but eventually I decided just to turn around at the halfway point and not go all the way to the Skokie Lagoons. As it turned out, Sally was an hour late and I could have made it! But I was tired anyway, and used that extra hour to rest up a bit, and everything was fine. I'll try again next weekend...

Saturday, September 24, 2005 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: 42.5 miles

I definitely feel like time is running out for outdoor riding, so when a long round of thunder rolled across the sky just as I clipped into the pedals behind my house this afternoon, I figured I'd better ride no matter what the weather brought. I wasn't able to complete my full forest preserve ride last weekend, so this weekend my commitment to do so was double. However, I wasn't prepared for rain to start just blocks from home as I rode west on Lawrence. I had checked an hour before, and it didn't say anything about rain! I don't mind getting wet, but I spent the first portion of the ride thinking about how much cosier I'd be in a rain cape, or at least a pair of arm warmers. With the temperature dropping from 71 to 65 as the rain picked up, I was a bit chilly at times.

That became a smaller concern, though, after the first section of the forest preserve, when a small and then a large group of mountain bikers participating in an "adventure race" caught up to me at consecutive stoplights. Both times, they asked frantically what road we were at and how to get to Oakton Road. I was sorry that I hadn't paid more attention to street names during my many rides through that area, and couldn't tell them. Would that have been cheating? Anyway, it was fun seeing those guys and gals as wet as I was, and muddier, and working a lot harder toward whatever their goal was. Besides, they were quite a bit slower in a race than I was on a casual ride, and pointed it out a couple times! But mostly it was nice to know I wasn't crazy for being outside as the rain got heavier and heavier, so I put petty thoughts of armwarmers out of my mind, picked up the pace, and decided for sure to stick it out to the end.

Indeed, it was worth the trip. The first section after the halfway point (I'd tell you that road name, but I don't know it!) was beautiful, with eerie rainstorm lighting, a canopy of trees, and quite a few autumn leaves on the path. Squirrels were burying nuts along the path, and at one point I came across a half-dozen adult deer slipping just out of view as I rode by. I enjoyed some thunder and lightning during the last section north of Tower Road, and just on the backside a bit of sun started shining through, lighting up the misty lagoons and drawing my attention for the first time to all the color-changing trees. The rain slowed and eventually stopped, and I had my mind on the road for the rest of the way home.

I'm happy to say that the bumpiest stretch of Elson is torn up now for repaving! Since it had been coated with oil and I was wearing a white jersey, I avoided riding that section, taking Central on the way up and Milwaukee on the way back, and will probably have to do so for the rest of the year, but that will really be something to look forward to next spring: smooth sailing to my favorite two-wheeled destination, to say hello again after a long winter.

Sunday, October 1, 2005 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 52 minutes
Distance: 32.3 miles

First, a confession. I didn't log any of my October bike rides at the time, and I'm playing catch-up now, on November 13. So, this ride and the next few will contain skimpier details and occasional guesses about times and distances, and I'm pretty sure there are one or two rides I'm forgetting completely.

This ride, though, I remember fairly well. I had plans to travel to Rockford, IL with a couple jug band buddies to see a Geoff Muldaur concert -- a real highlight of the season. We needed to leave at 3:45 -- in fact, they were meeting at my place for a ride -- but when I got out of class at 1:00 it was such a warm, sunny day that I knew I had to get a ride in. And since I had hardly ridden to Promontory Point this year, that was my goal.

As I changed clothes for the ride, I added up the times over and over again and couldn't face the reality that there wouldn't be time for the ride. What would I sacrifice -- not getting a shower afterwards? Making my friends wait while I changed clothes? Or cutting my ride short? The best I could do was get as far as I could and turn around early if I needed to.

Well, that and the beautiful weather was plenty of motivation to turn in my fastest ride of the year. And just after I turned around after the briefest of stops at "the point," I realized that the ride time I was basing my planning on included an extra leg to the top of the lakefront path -- so if I kept up that pace, I'd have time for a shower, too!

Indeed, the timing worked out perfectly (actually, I went downstairs and waited for my friends for a few minutes before they arrived), the warm weather held into the evening, and it was good that I took that shower because a few hours later Geoff put his arm around me for a charming group photo. Huzzah!

Sunday, October 15, 2005 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 14 minutes
Distance: 17.5 miles

With the season definitely winding down, and not much riding in my legs, I took a leisurely trip to the Skokie sculpture garden today. I was chilly at first, but warmed up into the ride, and by the time I approached the turnaround point, I was taken with a surprisingly strong desire to just keep riding, and riding, and riding. Sigh ... it's going to be a long winter. I turned around as planned to be on time to meet Sally for dinner.

Sunday, October 29, 2005 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 02 minutes
Distance: 31.4 miles

The forest preserve was a great destination today. I had to break out the long-sleeved jersey (and pack a cap, which I didn't end up needing), but it was a fairly sunny day and the forest was lovely. Riding on fallen leaves is always fun, and in some spots I had to take care to stay on the path since its boundaries were completely covered up. In one of the picnic areas, where I stopped to use a bathroom, a group was having a pumpkin carving party. The only tough part of this ride was the traffic on Lawrence Avenue on the way home. Within a two-mile stretch, I was nearly run into about three times by careless or impatient drivers. Grr.

© 2002 Arlo Leach, all rights reserved.