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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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Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

Well all right! I had no advance plans of taking a bike ride today, or any time soon, but when the temperature rose above 40 today, the idea of a New Year's Day bike ride hit me during lunch. After cleaning up and indulging in a nap, I layered up on Neoprene and pumped up my tires, figuring I'd make it about to the top of Legion Park before coming home to thaw out. In fact, other than the back of my throat I didn't feel cold at all, so I rode all the way to the top of the sculpture garden, just like any summer evening.

Normally I hate riding in the winter because I feel like all the required clothing limits my mobility so much, but this didn't seem bad; I guess some of the newer articles of clothing I've acquired are just more comfortable. Of course, the fact that it wasn't bone-chilling, thanks mostly to a lack of wind, helped, too. But this was a fun ride. I've never seen the North Shore Channel frozen over -- I don't think I've ever ridden on January 1. Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 14.1 miles

Another unseasonably warm day, and this time I didn't hesitate ... back to the sculpture garden again. Whee!

Sunday, February 19, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: NA miles

January had several more days in the 40s where I could have ridden, but I've been going through a job transition and didn't feel free enough to get outside again. Now we're back to our typical single-digit temperatures, so I finally put the bike on the trainer, selected a race DVD, and took my first indoor ride of the year. I rode fairly easily to break myself in, but it was fun and I'm looking forward to more.

Saturday, February 25, 2006 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Back on the trainer again, with the 2004 Vuelta a Espana DVD. Stage 9 was pretty exciting!

Saturday, March 4, 2006 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Another session on the trainer. Disc 2 of the 2004 Vuelta seems to have been mastered incorrectly ... I'm only getting the commentators in my left ear and have to turn the volume way up. That's not bad, until the music comes in at the end of each stage, in both ears. The first time that happened, I almost fell off the bike!

Thursday, March 9, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I remember hearing about Santiago Perez's "rampage" through the second half of the 2004 Vuelta at the time, but I'm just now seeing the footage on this DVD. Yes, he's doing quite well! But wasn't he caught up in the same doping scandal as Tyler Hamilton shortly after? That puts a bit of gloom over the whole thing. Not to mention Roberto Heras, who just took the golden jersey in the stage I watched today.

Sunday, March 12, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 07 minutes
Distance: 16.1 miles

The weekend forecast predicted 50 and sunny yesterday, and 60 with a good chance of rain today. I took a gamble and instead of riding yesterday waited for the warmer weather today. The gamble paid off, because the temperature did hit 60 but there were no rain clouds in sight. Hooray! I went to the sculpture garden again -- my only destination so far this year?! The last, unpaved section was pretty muddy, but I had fun.

By the way, one racer type pulled up next to me at a stoplight and said, "Nice ride, huh? Beats riding indoors, right?" I liked the assumption that I was so hard-core as to be riding indoors. Although he seemed to have plenty more indoor training hours logged than I do.

Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 7:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Back on the trainer, but its days are numbered for this year. I haven't ridden much this winter, because I still haven't even made it through one race video! I may just have to watch the rest on the sofa on a summer evening after a long ride!

I felt pretty tired and stiff today, so I just rode for 45 minutes.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 10:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 57 minutes
Distance: 14.0 miles

Spring is coming in fits and starts this year; it was warm enough today to ride with shorts and an insulated jersey. Since it's Friday (did I mention that I've been self-employed since January?) I figured the lakefront path wouldn't be busy and headed down there. There were more people than I expected, but it was still a good ride. I would have liked to have gone further, but I had a lot to do this afternoon, so I turned around and North Avenue beach and then took my time coming back.

Sunday, April 9, 2006 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 7 minutes
Distance: 13.6 miles

I went for broke this spring and bought a tandem bike so that I could take my fiance (did I mention that I've been engaged since March?) along for some of my two-wheeled adventures. It's a sweet ride -- a big ol' fat-tubed aluminum Cannondale with Ultegra components and serious disc brakes. I scored two pairs of Look pedals on sale and have been tweaking the positioning with her, but this was our first real outing on the thing since it arrived in the mail after an eBay purchase. We ended up riding longer than I expected, all the way up in to the sculpture garden with a little loop around the Gandhi statue -- she even found a sculpture by one of her college art professors. We have some more adjusting to do, but this was a good start, and I can't wait for our next ride together!

Sunday, April 10, 2006 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 9 minutes
Distance: 16.1 miles

Sally was a little tired from our ride yesterday, and she wanted to call some wedding caterers, but it was a glorious day so I wanted to get another ride in before catching up on work tonight. I went to the sculpture garden again -- I'll start brancing out as the weather gets warmer and my fitness improves! -- and rode all the way to the top this time, where there's a huge pile of broken concrete slabs from a road construction project. I started the day with energy in my legs for a bunch of wild sprints, but ended up taking it pretty easy. I was more tired by the time afternoon came on.

Friday, April 14, 2006 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 31.2 miles

This was an indecisive day ... the forecast was for mostly sunny and EIGHTY degrees, definitely the warmest day of the year so far ... but I had to get up and get dressed for a 7:00 meeting, followed by two job interviews, so by the time I got home around 1:00 I was already pretty tired ... and hot from walking around downtown in a black business suit. I was also carrying the burden of knowing that my main freelance project for the week was about a day behind, and that I wanted to finish it before leaving town for the Easter holiday. And I didn't want to work too late so I'd have some quality time with Sally this evening. So, I got my bike, put on my good summer wheels, stretched, ate, changed, and was all ready to go ... but by this time the sky was almost completely cloudy ... and I had quite a headache ... and I really didn't want to start that work too late ... so, just before stepping out the door, I changed my mind. My logic was that I could go tomorrow after my music classes instead, so I took off my cycling clothes and laid them out so everything would be ready for the next day, got back into regular clothes, and got back to work.

But as I worked, the clouds started breaking up again, and every time I burst of sun came through the window, I jerked around and studied the sky. I was feeling mentally sluggish, so I was working slowly anyway, but as the sky got clearer, I got more distracted, to the point where I could barely concentrate on the work. After an hour, I threw up my hands and decided to live for the moment and take that ride! I jumped back into my cycling clothes and was down the back stairs within five minutes. By the time I hit the forest preserve 20 minutes later, the sky was completely blue, the temperature was right at 80, and I felt good! Actually, my headache was a little bothersome throughout the ride, but for the most part I was enjoying the day, the trail, the bike, and the relief from working for a couple hours.

On the way up I ended up riding for a while with a guy named John, on an old Cannondale with a steel fork and downtube shifters, but whom I could nevertheless barely keep up with. We traded stories about car/bike accidents. On the way back I leapfrogged a younger guy, possibly a high-schooler, all the way to the end of the trail. He wasn't interested in chatting, just in testing himself against me, but I couldn't help giving him a bit of advice about his seat height at a stoplight. If he had a good position and some cycling shoes and clipless pedals, I wouldn't have been able to keep up with him.

Well, I still have a lot of work to do, but at least I'm not distracted, and I should remember never to underestimate how much better of a mood I'm in after a good ride!

Friday, April 21, 2006 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 03 minutes
Distance: 16.0 miles

I've been working as hard as I can to finish a big web project for the last two weeks, and I've seemingly always been a day behind. Today was my last chance to finish by my target date, and I assumed it would take all day to reach the end ... but I got lucky and finished by 3:00! So I hopped on my bike and took a ride!

The weather was great -- I started with arm warmers and took them off for the trip home -- and I had a guitar lesson this evening, so I just went to the sculpture garden and back. But it was nice to get some sun and fresh air for a while.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 41 minutes
Distance: 8.2 miles

Sally and I have been eager to take another ride on our new tandem, and we had targeted this afternoon after my guitar classes. This was especially exciting because since our first ride, we've gotten her her own shorts, jersey, helmet, and gloves, as well as a new gel saddle to try out. Unfortunately, the day that started sunny and warm turned cloudy, cool, and windy by the time we had eaten lunch and changed clothes. We went out anyway, but were too cold to have fun, so we turned around pretty soon and hoped for better luck tomorrow.

Sunday, April 24, 2006 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 19 minutes
Distance: 16.2 miles

Since Sally has Mondays off and I'm self-employed, it's no problem to take our tandem out on a Monday afternoon! And what a glorious Monday this was. Seventy degrees, mostly sunny, and hardly any wind to speak of. We suited up in the same clothes that left us shivering yesterday, and headed to the sculpture garden again. When we reached the point where we had turned around yesterday, it felt like our ride had just begun, so for the first time we rode all the way to the top together.

On the way back, we pulled over under a willow tree and enjoyed the outdoors for a while. When we got back on the bike, we practiced some starts and stops, then took three sections of fast riding, which satisfied my need for speed, and gave Sally a chance to get used to some fast curves and bumpy riding. We both felt just a little tired climbing the stairs when we got home, so we paced ourselves well.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 9 minutes
Distance: 33.9 miles

I just accepted a new day job yesterday, so it's important to get some good bike rides in this week while I still have a flexible schedule. Fortunately, the weather cooperated. Actually, it could have been a few degrees warmer, but while the sun stayed out of the clouds it was just fine. I went to the forest preserve and rode a bit farther than my regular turnaround point -- up to the edge of the Skokie Lagoons. On the way back, at the crosswalk at Dempster, I pulled up next to a guy riding an identical bike to my first Trek 1400, circa 1990. I chatted with him about it a bit -- he bought his recently for just $100 -- and it made my nostalgiac. But on the way back I was appreciating the perfect, smooth, and silent operation of my current machine.

Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 34 minutes
Distance: 26.5 miles

I had to do some on-site freelance work today, but figured I'd be able to ride all afternoon. Unfortunately, by the time I got home it was doubtful whether I would have time for the route I'd imagined before my evening guitar lesson. After deliberating a while, I decided to go for it, figuring the time crunch would keep me riding extra hard. Indeed, I headed up and out the top of the sculpture garden, over on Glenview Road to the forest preserve, and back home via Elston and Lawrence, jamming all the way and reaching an unusually high average speed for city riding.

During the ride I saw three interesting things. 1) A recumbent rider wearing cleated sandals that connected to his clipless pedals. 2) A tandem recumbent with the captain and stoker riding back to back, with the stoker facing backwards! 3) Three young deer wandering across the bike path; I stopped right in the middle of them and we all looked at each other for a while, closer than I've ever been to wild deer.

And the weather was nice -- perfectly comfortable with a jersey and arm warmers, and with a tailwind making the last leg on Elston a real rush. During that part of the ride I was thinking that if this were the last bike ride I was ever able to take, I wouldn't regret ending that way. (But I'm sure I'll ride again soon.)

Sunday, May 8, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Duration: ? hours, ? minutes
Distance: ? miles

Woo hoo! Sally and I took the tandem out again today and, with increasing confidence, decided to try riding in a bit of traffic. We rode to the top of the sculpture garden, then took Green Bay Road further north to the Green Bay Trail, and explored that for a few miles. We went over to the park on the road that I used to think was Tower Road and now don't know the name of, and sat enjoying the lake view for a little while, then rode back again, trying one fast section when the trail was empty.

Upon leaving the park we noticed a toy horse perched atop a garbage can. With memories of a Derby Day I attended the night before, it appealed to me, so we took it home with plans to mount it on our stem as a hood ornament. Giddyup!

Thursday, May 18, 2006 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

I'd been planning on taking a ride after work today, but it didn't occur to me that the weather would be damp and cool. Oh well, I put on tights, a hat, and winter gloves and went out anyway. I had kind of a lousy day at work and needed a cheerup.

As it was, the ride was a bit somber, or rather, mellow and meditative. Hardly anyone else was out, and wtih the air feeling more like November than April, I quickly felt removed from my concerns of the day.

There's a new bit of path connecting Legion Park to the sculpture garden, as an alternative to the Kedzie and Devon intersection, but the old route is such a habit for me that I forgot to try it going up and again coming back! Maybe next time...

Saturday, May 20, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 34 minutes
Distance: 26.5 miles

I got it into my head today that I wanted to ride into the forest preserve as far as the edge of the Skokie Lagoons -- but with an appointment scheduled for 5:00, I didn't think I'd have time to do it. Then, just as I was about to change clothes and give it a try, my appointment called to postpone until next week Huzzah! I did the ride and it felt great.

Sunday, May 21, 2006 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 32 minutes
Distance: 41.8 miles

I've had a pretty good season of riding so far, but I felt today that it was time to start increasing the length of my rides, so I downed a big lunch and headed off to circle the Skokie Lagoons. Oof! I won't say I wasn't ready for that, because I'm sure the next long ride will be that much easier, but that was harder than I expected. I was pretty tired by the end.

There are a lot more road bikes out this year than before, due in part to Lance Armstrong's seventh Tour win last year, I'm sure. I complimented one guy on his Eddy Merckx carbon ride at a stoplight, and he returned the compliment, when I realized that we were riding the two bike brands that Lance rode as a professional. Hmm. Anyway, this guy and a couple other speedy dudes gave me some carrots to keep my pace high, and I tried to push myself on the northernmost loop, but that didn't leave much gas in the tank by the time I got back to Lawrence. Oh well, it was a great day to be out, and there are many longer rides still to come, I'm sure.

Friday, May 26, 2006 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 5 minutes
Distance: 17.3 miles

It's a holiday weekend, and I had a rather bruising week, so tonight I decided to take a cruise down the lakefront and spend a few minutes enjoying the view from Olive Park. Ahh ... a bike ride is such a great way to end the week. My only regret was not wearing arm warmers, or a long-sleeved jersey -- it was so warm in my apartment when I got home from work that I could scarcely believe the real temperature by the lake was around 63. But it was a nice time to be out -- sunny and not too crowded -- and with a tailwind on the way home, I felt just fine.

Monday, May 29, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: 32.1 miles

Wow, timing is everything! The forecast for today was hot (90 degrees) and sunny in the morning changing to partly cloudy in the afternoon, so I figured I had most of the day to get my stuff done before taking a ride. But as I changed into my cycling clothes, the radio announcer mentioned that we were under a severe thunderstorm warning, with nickel-sized hail falling in the south suburbs. Hmm! I looked out the back door and sure enough, there was a wall of dark clouds building in the south. Back inside, I checked and it described "widely scattered" thundershowers with a 30% chance of rain, so I grabbed Carby and headed down the stairs tentatively.

After just a few blocks I felt a couple raindrops and almost turned back, but eventually I decided I'd be more disappointed if I cancelled my ride and it didn't rain than I would if I went through with my ride and it did rain. Besides, with the wind building at my back and the sun shining up ahead, I fancied I was outrunning the storm!

Indeed, by the time I reached the forest preserve I put thoughts of getting wet out of my mind and had a great ride up to my usual turning point. There were a lot of people out for the Memorial Day holiday, including a surprising number of people who made no reaction whatsoever to the repeated ringing of my bell from a few feet away -- oh well. I didn't get tied up in any distracting conversations or competitions with other cyclists, either, so I was able to stay focused and enjoy my ride!

Not long after I turned around, though, the sky suddenly became so dark that it was downright spooky to be in the woods. That spurred me to ride faster, although I figured I was riding back into the storm this time. My trip back was faster than my trip out, I stood in the alley watching the clouds build for a few minutes before coming in, and within ten minutes of closing the door behind me, a strong rain started pelting my window. Ah! I had been annoyed that my work took longer than expected and I thought that was going to dampen my ride, but as it turns out, my timing was just right.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006 at 5:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: 15.9 miles

The weather has been cool and a little rainy lately, but this was my last chance for a ride for a few days, so I took advantage and got out there. Just a quick run up to the sculpture garden ... this time I remembered to take the newly-discovered section of path between Peterson and Devon ... but I didn't have a whole lot of energy. On the way back it started to sprinkle and I thought I would get wet, but it didn't amount to much more than a bit of mud on the bike and jersey.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 4 minutes
Distance: 16.8 miles

I've been going to the sculpture garden so much lately that the only way I could get motivated for a ride tonight was to think of a different route. I also had the feeling that I'd ride harder in traffic. That sense was correct: I did the big Wilson/Lakefront/Grand/Elston/California triangle and felt surprisingly zippy the whole time. Accelerating around cars at stoplights and passing rollerbladers by the dozen felt fun. Must've been the hummus sandwich from Beans and Bagels that I had for lunch? Anyway, my ears were painfully cold down by the lake, but armwarmers and my CSC jersey were the perfect attire once I headed back inland. Whee!

Friday, June 23, 2006 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 9 minutes
Distance: 17.5 miles

I'll start out with a few miscellaneous thoughts from today's ride:

- Tailwinds rock.

- A bike ride is a great way to start the weekend.

- Slowing down quickly can be exciting as speeding up quickly.

- You gotta love a short commute that gets you home in time to take a 90 minute (that was my ride time including stoplights) ride and it's still sunny when you're done.

- What is so hard about using turn signals?

I did the same route today as my last ride ten long days ago, and didn't have quite the speed but I was sure enjoying myself. The temperature was about 65-70, with a warm sun and a cool wind, and I was enjoying the fresh lakefront air. I had a tailwind heading down to Navy Pier, and was spinning up over 20 mph effortlessly. Down by Oak Street Beach the path opened up a bit and I found myself cruising around 28 mph, so when I hit the long stretch between the curve and the Pier, I opened up the throttle and held my speed around 30 mph. As I approached the end, I brought the speed back down and eased up that ramp at Olive Park, and actually felt like a jet pilot coming back down from Mach speed. Whee!

I had a lot of stoplights coming through the Loop, and didn't feel all that racy coming back up on Elston. The good news is, I should be able to get two more rides in this weekend, and maybe a fourth on Monday. Whew -- making up for lost time.

Saturday, June 24, 2006 at 4:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 32 miles

I routinely have bugs bouncing off my helmet, glasses, cheeks and sometimes lips while I ride, but they rarely hit the bullseye and go into my mouth. In fact, I've only outright swallowed a bug once ... as of today, make that twice. It must have been a housefly or comparable size, and I saw it for a split second in front of my face before it hit the back of my throat. The first response in a situation like this is to cough it up, but when that doesn't work the second response is to swallow it down. Unfortunately, that was just as difficult, and after a few seconds of swerving across the trail, coughing, spitting, and gulping water, I felt that dreaded tickle of six little legs trying to get free. That's not a feeling that you like to have coming from inside your esophagus. Ugh. And I was on a real tear, too, when the bug hit.

Anyway, I rode north on a perfect 75 degree day through the sculpture garden and to the Green Bay Trail, which I took to Lake Cook Road near Ravinia. Usage was light and I actually had a few long, steady efforts, including a two-ish mile stretch coming back where I got into the drops and cranked it. I hardly ever ride in the drops -- in fact, I installed a bell in one of them, which hampered my racing position a bit today -- but after that section it felt awkward to sit up.

Oh, and I just booked a flight to visit my sister in Boulder in August, so I wore my CU-Boulder jersey today to celebrate that. Now I need to make some dinner -- and try to remove this lump from my throat -- and take in some calories for another ride tomorrow. Hooray!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 56 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

It's been a rainy last few weeks. In fact, I had planned to ride on Sunday and Monday, but decided to stay home and focus on housework when thunderstorms rolled in. But the sun was out when I left work today, so I decided to squeeze a ride in tonight instead. By the time I got home, dark clouds had already started to block out the sun, and a few sprinkles as I walked down the back steps were fair warning that I may be getting wet soon. Oh well, I headed out anyway -- I don't mind riding in the rain if it's not too cold.

The first part of the ride was alternately hot and cold as the dark clouds covered and revealed the sun. I was treated to the site of a brilliant rainbow as I waited at a couple stoplights heading into the sculpture park, and was riding fast and enjoying myself. Then, suddenly, I rode into water! I don't know how to describe it. The first thing I noticed was that the pavement was wet and my tires were kicking up spray; then my glasses fogged over. It wasn't raining, or drizzling, it wasn't fog, I simply passed into a zone where the air was full of water. It was a very unique experience!

I rode through this to the top of the park -- puddles, wet glasses, and a unique sensation in the air, but no actual rain -- turned around, and exited back to dryness. Very strange, but I'm glad I got to try it!

P.S. I also saw a really cute baby deer along the north shore channel -- about the size of a medium-sized dog, darting into the bushes just beside the path. And I got a good, fast section in toward the end of the ride, motivated by a pretty fast dude on a mountain bike wearing a Scotty Pippin basketball jersey, who I was able to smoothly pass in one of the last sections of Legion Park.

Friday, June 30, 2006 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 1 minutes
Distance: 34.6 miles

Since I always seem to have limited time for riding, I always have to decide just how long a ride I can afford to take. However, I rarely regret estimating on the high side and getting more ride than I expected. If anything, planning a longer trip than I really have time for motivates me to ride fast and always seems to lead to a happy ending.

That was definitely the case tonight, when I was planning to meet Sally to help her move, but had a strong urge to ride down to Promontory Point. That was a regular evening ride when I lived in Lincoln Park, five miles closer, but from Lincoln Square it's quite a haul. But I decided to give it a try!

On the way down, in the couple miles leading up to Navy Pier, I alternately passed and was passed by three fairly fast cyclists several times. Somehow around the Shedd Aquarium they all got pretty far ahead of me, so coming down past McCormick Place I decided to try reeling them in. I rode a steady pace and slowly passed the first two, so far so good. But just as I was drawing level with the third one, we were flagged down by several police officers blocking the bike path. It turned out there had been a helicopter crash on the lakefront earlier that day, and the path was closed for a section. They advised us to detour down Cottage Grove Road to the next LSD overpass. Hmm. I was on a roll and wasted no time continuing the detour, but I lost my race buddies at that point.

Anyway, it was great to see Promontory Point, and I made quite good time coming back, invigorated and with enough time to meet and help Sally.

Sunday, July 2, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: 15.5 miles

After a good first few weeks, Sally and I got busy and hadn't ridden our tandem in almost two months. We decided to rectify that situation today. Actually, one problem from my end is that I was getting tired of repeated trips to the sculpture garden, but no other route is as car-free. I -really- wanted to go to the forest preserve, but have been delaying the milestone of taking Sally down the Lawrence Avenue obstacle course. Not that I'm afraid -- but dodging bumper-to-bumper cars takes a lot of standing up and sitting down, which would be hard for Sally since we haven't gotten her a pair of cycling shoes yet.

But what the heck -- I suggested it, and she was game. So we did it. We actually made it to the forest preserve in roughly the same time it takes me on my own -- about 25 minutes -- and once there, we rode to the first stoplight. We hadn't planned on a long ride, so that was fine. And I started dreading facing Lawrence again on the way back, but we made it through just fine. It was a nice ride with some pleasant chatting along the way, and I hope we can do it again soon.

Saturday, July 8, 2006 at 12:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 46.5 miles

Today turned out to be a rather dangerous ride! I had been itching for a long ride, and although a waffle breakfast prepared for an overnight guest of Sally's kept me inside for longer than I would have liked, I had just enough time to strike out through the forest preserve toward the botanical gardens. Actually, Sally and I are going to Ravinia next week, and I'm considering taking the tandem, so I decided to ride up to Ravinia park to scope it out and confirm my estimate of the distance.

So far so good, and the weather was perfect. But on the way to the forest preserve, two cars ignorantly pulled out right in front of me, and at the first stoplight in the park, I got distracted by a tandem across the street and actually feel over in my pedals! For as long as I've used clipless pedals, that has actually never happened! I just wasn't thinking as I rolled up to the light, hit a bump that made me stop suddenly, and had just enough time to say "Damn - ow!" as I toppled over. The couple on the tandem stared blankly, but two frat-boy types on mountain bikes next to them had no shame about pointing and laughing. I could handle the shame, but the physical pain as I entered the next section of riding might have been a problem. My hand was sore as well as the elbow that locked up when I foolishly tried to brace my fall (professional cyclists will go limp and roll into it to minimize injuries). Riding was worrisome for a while, and I gained a new appreciation for the pros who race through sickness and much worse injuries routinely.

Anyway, eventually those aches diminished and I was back to enjoying my ride. I did see Ravinia and was enjoying the Green Bay Trail so much that I decided to take it back a little ways before cutting back to the forest preserve, and resolved to ride it more often in the future. Taking it all the way home might have been quicker, but I am bored with the sculpture park that ends it, and the preserve was so beautiful today that I had to see more of it.

By the time I got back there I was really cranking, and when I kitted up road cyclist that I passed latched wordlessly onto my back wheel, I decided to show my stuff and ride a couple sections quite hard. Oh! On a fast curve my front wheel hit a stick that made me bounce sideways, losing traction for a split second. I continued like nothing had happened, and my shadow still didn't say anything, but it did make me a bit nervous. Then, about two sections later (after I had dropped the guy), a small child on a tiny bike coming the opposite direction suddenly changed course and headed directly at me. His dad 20 yards behind was shouting and I swerved to miss, but that was just enough. What a ride!

When I got home I noticed that the rubber of my tires is not worn (the Michelin Pro Race tires seem to be the best I've ever used), but is not soft or sticky, either. Maybe I need to replace them to get better traction on those curves. Hmm...

Friday, July 14, 2006 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 55 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

Was this a hot ride? Yes! Was it humid? Yes! Was it fun? Oh yes!

Everyone was talking about the heat wave this weekend, but it didn't slow me down. It never actually feels that hot on a bike ... there's always a wind chill factor, and the clothing is designed to be cool.

I didn't have a lot of energy after a long week at work, but as always it was nice to get out and take a spin. I rode through the sculpture garden and then came back home to wrap up some work before a weekend trip to visit my family.

Thursday, July 20, 2006 at 11:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 6 minutes
Distance: 17.3 miles

I was late to discover the pleasure of a nighttime training ride, and haven't done one at all since I moved a few miles away from the lake. Riding on the lakefront path is nice, but riding on the city streets after dark seems dangerous -- many of the fatal car/bike accidents I've heard about took place at night.

However, I had a guitar lesson this evening and will be traveling the next two days, so I got the idea of a nighttime ride tonight, and that inclination was solidified when Floyd Landis had the most amazing ride in the Tour de France today. I was inspired and thought about his comeback during most of my ride!

I hauled for a while heading south, but stopped to check out a huge beach volleyball stadium that was under construction at North Avenue beach. That broke my rhythm so I took it easy the rest of the way to Navy Pier, where I rode around a bit just to see what things were like at night. But when I headed back north, I started hauling even harder, in the big ring, solidly until about Addison Street. Then once again I took it easy, and instead of going up to the top past Bryn Mawr, I just turned back on Wilson and headed home (to read more Tour commentary).

By the way, the trip to the lake didn't seem scary at all -- I only got passed by one or two cars each way -- so I'll have to do this a few more times this summer.

Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 8 minutes
Distance: 34.3 miles

We had plans tonight to go to a farewell dinner for our friends Marc and Kristen at their well-selected restaurant, Soul Vegetarian, on the south side, so I didn't have a lot of time after class. However, I did have enough time to get to the forest preserve, which was so stunningly summer-beautiful during my last ride that I couldn't wait to go back. Today was a bit gloomy, but I still had a good time. I saw a few deer, and there were so many cyclists up there that it almost felt like the lakefront path.

Sunday, July 27, 2006 at 6:45 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

What a depressing today! This is the day the news broke -- just four days after the Tour de France ended -- that Floyd Landis tested positive for testosterone. He probably didn't take any banned substances, but the prospects of a timely or clean resolution to this affair are not good. Argh ... to make matters worse, I actually received my much-anticipated Phonak jersey this morning, and was extremely excited to take a ride in it, but when the news broke I thought maybe I should just send it back.

Then when I got home from work, I popped open my laptop to read the news in more detail, and in the course of five minutes as I sat there the whole room fell dark (the keyboard on my MacBook Pro gradually illuminated in response) and I looked outside to see thunderclouds suddenly filling the sky. Argh! I waited for Sally to get home and chatted with her for a little while, and by that time the darkest clouds had passed and it seemed like I could ride after all. I changed and grabbed my bike, with just enough time before a guitar lesson, when I realized that the soft tire I noticed at the end of my last ride was now a full-fledged flat! I had to do a quick change and get out there, and had just enough time to ride to Golf Road and back before my lesson.

After an inauspicious start, one amusing thing did happen on the ride itself. When I turned around at Golf Road, I passed a young Hispanic man on a Wal-Mart level mountain bike, and didn't expect to see him again. But at the next intersection, he was right behind me, and mile after mile he stayed there, trailing a respectable 30 yards or so. However, after a few backwards glances, I noticed that he was riding no-handed the whole time!

At Howard I left the intersection slowly to let him get ahead of me, and was able to take a closer look. He wore big, baggy pants and a flowing t-shirt, kept his bike in his largest gear, and actually alternated between riding no-handed and making fast s-curves across the path. And he still matched my pace. When he noticed me behind him, he respectfully dropped his speed to let me pass, and as I drew level I yelled, "You're fast, man!" I don't know if he understood me, but he smiled broadly as I rode through.

It was nice to be reminded of the innocent joy of riding, on today of all days.

Sunday, July 30, 2006 at 8:45 am

Duration: 1 hours, 3 minutes
Distance: 16.8 miles

I have a regular and a make-up guitar class today, plus some freelance work, plus some housework, so I got up early to sneak in a ride before it all began. Last night Sally and I drove into Chicago at 11 pm after a day in Madison and noticed a sign displaying a temperature of 85 degrees, and that was up to 88 when I wheeled out toward the lakefront. It didn't actually seem that hot, except for a couple spots standing among cars waiting for a stoplight. I took the lakefront to Navy Pier, then took Grand, Elston, and California home. I wasn't thinking about much in particular or riding particularly hard, just getting some exercise and enjoying being outdoors before a long day.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 5:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 32.5 miles

Wowsers! We've been having a heat wave in Chicago, with temps in the high 90's for the last week, and heat indices up to 110. Naturally, I wanted to get out for a ride before that broke, to test my mettle in the heavy conditions. I scooted out of work a smidge early today and did a quick change to get on the bike.

I was planning to take Green Bay Trail up to Lake Cook Road and back, but when I got to the short segment of Green Bay Road that connects the sculpture park trail to the Green Bay Trail, I decided to just stay on that. Apparently it's one of the most popular routes for serious cyclists in the area, but I've never taken it. I'm glad I did! It had a few more bumps than the trail, and a few long stretches to get my heart rate up. The heat and wind were tough, though, and it actually felt like riding in Iowa -- that kind of exhaustion that runs deep after a long ride. But I was inspired, and took Lake Cook back over to the trail and hauled back home again.

Final time: just under two hours. Average temp: 96 degrees. Oh, and I had only gotten three hours of sleep last night. Not bad!

Friday, August 4, 2006 at 10:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 14 minutes
Distance: 17.3 miles

I didn't quite have the energy for a solo ride, after a long last few days, but I did decide it was about time to get Sally some cycling shoes. We went down to Kozy's on Halsted, which didn't have any women's shoes under $100, then went to Performance Bike and found a great pair of Shimanos on sale. Yipee! We drove down to River North to try some vegan comfort food at Karyn's, then came home and installed the cleats. Then we took the tandem out for a night ride!

Unfortunately, there was a bit more traffic, both on the streets and the path, earlier on a Friday than I had a couple weeks ago, later on a Thursday. But Sally did fine in the new shoes and pedals (she just stayed clipped in at stoplights, and the girl sure trusts me because she didn't even flinch as I put a foot down and held her up). We took the lakefront path down to Navy Pier, where we stopped and watched a new fountain in the park for a few minutes, then cruised back home.

Sunday, August 6, 2006 at 8:00 am

Duration: 2 hours, 26 minutes
Distance: 40.5 miles

Well all right! I wanted to do a longer ride today, but had so much housework on my to do list, so I decided to get up early enough to get the ride in before class. I wanted to ride up through the forest preserve to Lake Cook Road, then take the Green Bay Trail and sculpture garden back. I've never done quite that route before, so I estimated almost three hours, but it only took about 2'15". I tacked on a little extra loop at the end (down Lincoln to Montrose and back home) to bring my distance to over 40 miles. I didn't think I was riding particularly fast today, but my average was almost 17. That probably has mostly to do with less traffic in the morning, but I also rode consistently the whole route, so that's good.

Friday, August 11, 2006 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 14.3 miles

For some reason I haven't had a lot of energy in the evenings lately -- I guess I'm winding down the fourth consecutive session at the Old Town School and preparing for a few weeks of traveling on the weekends -- but it's still nice to get out and spin my legs. This was a typical after work ride through the sculpture garden.

Sunday, August 13, 2006 at 8:45 am

Duration: 2 hours, 19 minutes
Distance: 39.2 miles

Today I got up early again and rode the same route as last Sunday, but in reverse. I wasn't quite as quick -- I knew I had a bit more time, and also more riders on the path broke my rhythm -- but I still made it back in time for a quick lunch before heading to guitar class.

Sometimes I see riders wearing their helmets backwards ... it's not as safe, for sure, and must be uncomfortable, too. But today in the botanical gardens a rider came at me wearing his helmet backwards and riding on the wrong side of the road. I guess he had an internal consistency to what he was doing!

I also saw some kind of group event in the forest preserve, although I'm not sure what it was. Several riders coming from the opposite direction were wearing name tags, and at a few of the intersections support tables were set up with drinks, air pumps, etc.

In any case, it was a beautiful day, with lots of sun and the temperature rising from 70 to 80 during my ride. I finished strong and am looking forward to transitioning to some -long- rides in September.

Thursday, August 17, 2006 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 52 minutes
Distance: 14.1 miles

I had a date to take the tandem out with Sally tonight, but she got stuck at work, so I went out by myself. It was just as well, because it was a pretty gloomy day with a few sprinkles. Although I started out tired and yawning and almost cancelled the ride completely, though, I had a wave of energy that lasted for most of the ride, and I may have set a best time to Golf Road and back. That has partly to do with fewer people on the trail and fewer interruptions. In any case, whew! I was lovin' it!

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 9:30 am

Duration: 3 hours, 25 minutes
Distance: 56.4 miles

For my first 50+ mile ride of the year (finally!), I decided to ride to Wolf Lake on the Indiana border. Normally I would have taken the Lakefront path from Wilson, but I knew that the Air and Water Show was this weekend, so I took Lincoln to Halsted instead. I didn't think the bike lane on Halsted would be bad, especially on a Sunday morning. In fact, I got stuck behind one bus belching smoke for about a mile, then was nearly hit by another bus that was riding over the line of the bike lane. And then I missed the turn from Halsted onto Milwaukee and had to wend my way through the West Loop before I got back on track. Yuck!

Things were better once I reached the lakefront, although the south part continues to get busier every year. I really hit my stride when I exited to South Shore Drive -- I love that stretch -- and continued on the new Burnham Greenway.

Normally I would stop and admire the lake for a while (not that it's very beautiful, with power lines and factories on one side and the Chicago Skyway on the other, and, puzzlingly, a train track running right through the middle), but I had a date to meet Sally at her company picnic this afternoon, so I couldn't dally. I stopped long enough to adjust my saddle and eat half a Clif bar at a part of the lake where a dozen swans had congregated, then hopped back on and headed north into a strong headwind.

I lost my rhythm while waiting for a drawbridge around 75th street, then found it again on the lakefront, rode maybe a little too hard when a guy on a DeBernardi tried some wheelsucking, then lost it again when I hit the airshow traffic around Navy Pier. By the time I reached Elston for the last leg of the ride, I was actually quite tired and found myself taking shortcuts rather than longer routes home. Perhaps my first ride of the year is just bound to tire me out, and I'll be stronger next time.

The saddle adjustment was a response to knee pains I've been having for most of the summer. This is exactly the same pain I used to have in high school, but stretching and muscle cream before each ride has kept it under control. This summer, as far as I know, nothing has changed but the pain. But I thought my saddle might have slipped a bit lower, so I raised it an eighth of an inch. A little too much, perhaps, and my knee was doing weird and scary things for the first mile, but after that it seemed to relax, so I'll try it for another couple rides and see what happens.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 56 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

Is it possible to still be tired from a ride three days ago? I think so. I went to the sculpture garden tonight and could still feel an emptiness in my legs. Gloomy weather didn't help. Actually, the defining characteristic of this ride was the wind. Whew! It was sunny when I left the house but had clouded over within 15 minutes, and I think the wind switched directions 180 degrees by the end of the ride. It was a crosswind either way, but it was definitely tossing me around and making the ride even more tiring.

Saturday, August 26, 2006 at 10:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 30 minutes
Distance: ? miles

I made a deal last year with my sister, who lives in Boulder, CO, that we'd have to take turns visiting each other each summer. There are great things to do in both cities, but they're so different! Anyway, it was my turn this year, so I took yesterday off work and flew to Denver, then caught a bus to my sisters place. Unlike my last visit, I didn't bring my own bike, planning instead to focus on mountain biking with my sis. She has two mountain bikes, so we were all set.

What I didn't learn until I got there was that one of her bikes is set up as a single-speed, and she's been using it as a commuter bike and also to test her strength on the trails. Wow! She gave me her fancy dual-suspension rig and she stayed on the single-speed all weekend. That equalized our skills a bit ... no, actually she was still much faster than me on the trails.

Anyway, after arriving last night and driving to Nederland for Indian food, we got up this morning and drove to a trail near Lyons. It was a cloudy day, and as she unpacked our gear and I rode the mountain bike in circles getting used to the gearing, we heard a bit of thunder in the distance, but ignored it. The trail we were on was rocky and the first 15-20 minutes were a steady climb, so once we started, all I could think of was staying upright and breathing! But pretty soon a pair of riders came bombing down the climb, and mentioned the bad weather higher up. We said "uh huh" and kept riding. Then we encountered a larger group, and they said a storm was moving in and we'd better think twice about continuing. We stopped and considered our options ... go back to the car and wait, leave completely, or just keep riding. We agreed that we didn't mind getting wet, so we kept riding. But other riders kept coming down, like rats off a sinking ship, as the clouds got darker and the thunder increased. Finally a guy who had started after us and passed us going up came back down, and said, "it's really bad over the ridge." Well, at that point we were getting the picture that we wouldn't be able to ride the whole trail, but I at least wanted to see the view from "the ridge," so we decided to go a little farther. When we crested the first climb, it was indeed stormy, and I just had a glimpse of the trail swooping back down and around the next climb ... it did look like fun, and after getting into a rhythm on the first climb I was ready for more. But a mountaintop is not the best place to be in a thunderstorm, so we headed back down as a light rain started to fall.

By the time we reached the car we were halfway wet and didn't feel like waiting around, so we drove into Lyons and found an old-fashioned soda fountain that served one of my favorite post-ride meals: veggie dogs! Unfortunately, a post-ride meal doesn't make a great mid-ride meal and that filled me up enough that I didn't feel like riding again soon. We drove back to Boulder and, as the clouds broke up, changed into street clothes and rode over to Sanitas Mountain for a good long hike. Two workouts in a day ... it must be Boulder.

Sunday, August 27, 2006 at 10:00 am

Duration: 3 hours, 00 minutes
Distance: ? miles

When I got up this morning -- which was a little harder after yesterday's activities -- my sister said the forecast called for rain moving in. I said, "So we should get going?" "Yep." We downed breakfast while stretching and headed out for today's riding adventure. She was taking me to the only good mountain bike trail within riding distance of Boulder, which meant we would ride 45 minutes or so up Boulder Canyon before entering a nature preserve and beginning our bike ride. That first part might have been easy on a road bike, but it was pretty taxing on the dual-suspension mountain bike, not to mention my sister's single speed. When we turned off of the canyon road to a smaller road leading up to the park, it was a lung-buster for me and a leg-buster for my sister. But we did it!

The trail was pretty incredible. It started downhill, with some "rollers" that my sister literallly flew over, and which nearly knocked me off the bike until I got used to how the suspension reacted. As she bombed downhill at full speed, I was squeezing the brakes while negotiating rocks, gulleys, tree stumps, and loose gravel. Yikes! But my sister was so cool ... she kept riding ahead, then stopping to take pictures as I rode by, then easily catching up later.

When the trail flattened out, we had a new challenge: riding along the side of a cliff. Some sections were literally two feet of loose gravel with a wall on one side and on the other -- as Arlo Guthrie put it -- "nothing, just a cliff in the air!" Now -that- was a bit nerve-wracking. Needless to say, I took it slow.

Other challenges were tight corners, which I was surprisingly shaky on, and, when we came around the back side of the trail, short steep sections that had me getting acquainted with the full range of gearing on the mountain bike. How my sister did it on a single-speed, I don't know, but as she said, "I didn't have to stop!"

After one loop of the trail, which must have taken about a half-hour, we stopped to have a snack and chat about the experience. I felt that one challenge was not knowing what to expect around every corner, so we agreed to do it again. Indeed, the second time was much less scary, and I was able to focus more on trying to get over the obstacles gracefully and keeping a respectable speed. I even found a teenager riding at about my speed who I was able to catch and slowly pass, although lots of people had come flying by me. In any case, the second loop seemed to go more quickly and at the end I felt satisfied that I'd gotten a good amount of riding in exchange for my plane ticket.

We snacked again and took some pictures, and then rode the section I'd been waiting for -- all downhill back to Boulder!

After a quick lunch and an obligitory stroll down the Pearl Street pedestrian mall, my sister drove me to the airport and it was back to Chicago, and a traffic jam at 10:30 pm. Argh.

Thursday, September 1, 2006 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 22 minutes
Distance: 5.2 miles

It would have been nice to follow my Boulder trip with some good long rides, but alas, I had tons of work to do this week and was up late every night. I figured I could get a ride in tonight before another weekend trip, but I was just too tired ... I felt disoriented on the bike and was too preoccupied with the work still to be done, so after heading toward the sculpture park I turned it around at the end of Legion Park and headed home.

Friday, September 8, 2006 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: 21.7 miles

When I got engaged in March I should have figured I wouldn't get much riding in this summer. I think I actually did pretty well, but the wedding is now just two weeks away and the long rides I usually enjoy at the end of each summer just aren't happening. However, my fiancee Sally did agree to get our tandem ought tonight and take a ride together.

It had been quite a while on the tandem, so as we rode through the sculpture park we were talking about our positions and balance on the bike. But when we reached the end we were feeling a bit adventurous, so we rode east on Lincoln St. to the Northwestern University campus and took the bike path along the lake south to Greenview St. Then we planned to head back to the sculpture park and return the way we came. But just before Ridge, I noticed our front tire losing air, and we had to stop and fix a flat!

Sally was actually pretty excited to be part of a real live "pit stop," and I was happy to show her the tire-changing tips I've picked up over the years. Fortunately, the frame pump I found years ago and have never actually used worked well for us, and we were riding again within 10 minutes. However, dusk was falling by then, and I gradually picked up the pace for the remainder of the ride in an attempt to get home before it was too dark.

Coming home we did try standing together on the tandem a few times -- a skill I've been wanting to try -- but that's going to take some more practice. We did have fun, though, and felt good about the distance we had ridden together. I don't know how many more rides we'll have time for this fall, but it should be a higher priority next summer!

Saturday, September 16, 2006 at 1:30 pm

Duration: 4 hours, 18 minutes
Distance: 65.4 miles

With my wedding next weekend and a honeymoon after that, this weekend might be my last chance for a long ride this summer, so I turned down an opportunity to go sailing with friends (!), slammed some carbohydrates, and headed down Montrose for the Great Western Trail.

I've done this loop (triangle) a few times, and I remember that I bonked on it last time, so I was concerned about having eaten enough. On the other hand, I read an article in Bicycling recently explaining that the human body can only metabolize about 65 grams of carbs an hour, so I didn't bother overeating. A Clif bar here, a banana there ... in the end, I was fine.

What I didn't plan on was a flat tire about 1/4 of the way into the ride. I really need new tires, but have been holding out until next spring. After riding through plenty of broken glass around Maywood, one finally got me. The change was quick enough, but after that I was paranoid about getting a second flat, with no additional spare and no phone to call for a ride. I stopped a few times after riding through glass to check my tires. But on the unpaved parts of the path I relaxed, had fun, and cranked out some good miles.

Now that I think of it ... there are two weekends after the honeymoon and before daylight savings time ends ... maybe I can get ONE MORE long ride in...!

Sunday, September 24, 2006 at 8:30 am

Duration: 1 hours, 11 minutes
Distance: 18.0 miles

I never wanted a bachelor party, but from the moment Sally and I started planning our wedding, I imagined taking a bike ride that morning. I thought perhaps my friend Jeff would be in town to share a two-wheeled celebration, and although my sister -was- in town and would have joined me, I decided to just go solo and do some of the meditative thinking that biking brings me.

The day dawned cool and cloudy, and just as I started the ride I felt drizzle starting, but that ended soon and I was just short of shivering in shorts and a long-sleeved jersey. The lakefront path was more crowded than I anticipated at this hour, but when I crossed the Loop on Randolph to ride past the Catalyst Ranch, our wedding and reception venue, I had the road to myself. Good thing, too -- I remembered a few details of the wedding planning that I hadn't yet resolved, and was able to work out in my head before the ride ended.

When I crossed Fullerton and Damen on Elston, a newspaper vendor who walks the lanes of traffic called out to me from across the street: "You watch out for those cabs, okay? They just don't care. Okay?" At first I wondered why he was yelling at me, then I recognized the collegial nature of his advice and gave him a thumbs-up as my light turned green.

By the way, Sally and I had the distinction of getting married on the same day as the world championship road race, and I had joked about leaving the reception to check on the results. But with the time zone differences, the race actually ended in the morning ... actually, just minutes after this ride. I had been thinking earlier in the week about who I'd like to see win, and without a huge personal favorite in the race, I had decided on Paolo Bettini, The Cricket. Indeed, I got home, loaded up the VeloNews live coverage with 500 meters to go, then clicked refresh and saw that Bettini won! Way to go, Cricket!

Then I had to go put on my tux. Next time you read this, I'll be married.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 8 minutes
Distance: 17.2 miles

It was a little cool tonight, but my days are numbered and I figured I'd better get out when I can. Sally and I returned from our honeymoon yesterday, and after my first day back at work it was nice to return to a mini-vacation for the duration of one bike ride.

Unfortunately, I still haven't gotten used to wearing my wedding ring, and I'm afraid that it's too big, so I was preoccupied with pushing it up under my glove for the whole ride. The standing water left over from yesterday's big rainstorms didn't help, providing some lubricant for the ring to get over that knuckle. Ah well ... I rode down to Olive Park (north of Navy Pier) and spent a few moments comparing Chicago's skyline to New York before buzzing back home in the surprisingly fast-arriving darkness. And the ring stayed on.

Sunday, October 8, 2006 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: 32.1 miles

I'll start by saying that -yesterday- was the perfect day to ride. 75 degrees and perfectly sunny all day, it was a gift from summer in early October. Alas, I had a full day of cleaning and errands planned with Sally. I bided my time and suffered through a couple delays in my music classes today until I could get home and gear up for a late afternoon ride.

Today was actually warmer, but the sun was covered in clouds a half-hour into my ride, and dusk started sneaking in after another hour. But this was a fine ride, so I'm not complaining.

I headed to Green Bay Road through the sculpture park, and the sunshine gave me so much energy I was cursing each red light -- and I hit every one. That initial excitement faded by the time I reached Wilmette, but with the relatively empty Sunday roads I settled into a nice rhythm all the way to Lake Cook Road. Then I crossed back to the Green Bay Trail and rode home with varying intensity.

It was cooler and getting dark by then, but I was sweating. Not bad for October.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 3:00 am

Duration: 2 hours, 4 minutes
Distance: 32.1 miles

My mantra for the last couple weeks has been "one more ride," preferably to the forest preserve, and today I got it. It was the last day of a session of guitar classes, so I got out a bit early after the graduation performance and suited up. The temperature was as high as 60 on my bike, officially 55, and dropped to about 50 near the end, but I was comfortable in tights, long-fingered gloves, and an insulated cap. The yellow leaves were falling in the forest preserve, with a partly sunny sky giving the trees a breathtaking glow in some spots. The leaves were so thick on the ground in some areas that I had to slow down and guess where the trail lay. I went to my regular turnaround point, and noticed lots of parents with small children along with a few cyclists, just a couple golfers, and a soccer team.

I think this will do it for 2006, unless we get one of those crazy warm days in December. Meanwhile, I've got the 2006 Tour DVD to enjoy, and in another month or two I'll set up the indoor trainer and try keeping some physical and mental fitness over the winter. Next summer there won't be a wedding to plan or a new job to find (hopefully), so I look forward to getting a good start on big miles come springtime. Cheers!

© 2002 Arlo Leach, all rights reserved.