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Ride diary

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

Return to my current diary

Sunday, March 4, 2007 at 9:30 am

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

This must be the first winter in at least ten years that I haven't done any indoor riding over the winter. Well, up until now, anyway. After setting my bike up on the trainer a couple months ago, I finally got on it for a ride today.

Since last year's Tour was such a disappointment when I watched it, I decided to give it another try, so that's the video I chose for the ride. Ah, those innocent times, when the biggest problem in cycling was Basso and Ullrich being pulled before the race started. Sheez!

Friday, March 9, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I've had a sore back lately, and I've learned that that comes from a lack of activity, so I got on the trainer for another ride today. Another 50 minutes, a couple harder sections but mostly taking it easy, and watching more of last year's Tour DVD. Leipheimer really wanted that first mountain stage, didn't he? I wonder how he was feeling about Floyd at that time, given that Floyd had trounced him in the Tour of California and was sitting five minutes ahead of him in the Tour g.c. Now Levi is leading the Discovery team at Paris-Nice and Floyd is out of a job. Ugh.

Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 14.1 miles

Daylight savings time started early this year -- yipee! -- and the blizzard from two weeks ago melted away with the 50 degree temperatures of the last few days. I had music classes today, but it was still light and warm enough afterwards to take my first outdoor ride of the year. It sure was smooth and fast riding to the sculpture garden, but I knew it was too good to be true and turned around to face the wind on my way home. Still, the sun was warm, my bike was perfectly tuned, and my body felt right at home spinning the pedals.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: 32.0 miles

Wow! Just two days after my first outdoor ride of the year, I got to take my first ride with shorts. I'm fully enjoying my freelance lifestyle this month, and when the weather was predicted to be 70 and sunny, I decided to schedule some "meetings" for the afternoon and head for the forest preserve. I wore an insulated jersey and an ear warmer, but took the ear warmer off quickly and probably would have been comfortable in short sleeves, too.

The day was windy -- almost as windy as I remember the Iowa rides of my youth -- but I headed out into it and enjoyed it coming home. The forest preserve was very wet, with six inches or more of standing water in some spots, but the path was mostly dry. However, there were about a half-dozen patches of snow and ice still covering the trail, one of which was deep enough that I had to put a foot down and scoot across. I tried riding over it on the way back, but it was on a curve and as soon as I turned my front wheel it slid right out.

For most of my ride, I was thinking about my surroundings or just nothing, which is a great way to spend two hours. I love biking! I love springtime!

By the way, for this and my last ride I estimated my time and distance based on previous rides on the same route, because the battery in my cyclocomputer died over the winter. I thought it might be kind of fun to ride without a computer anyway, and I'm finding that I don't really need the speed and distance, but it is kind of unnerving to head out and not know the time! Oh well, I'll get a battery tonight and will be back to normal soon.

Sunday, March 8, 2007 at 9:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I'm back on the trainer today, and since I didn't get a chance to ride indoors and watch bike race videos all winter, I decided to start watching all of Lance's Tour victories and see how far I got. So, here we go with 1999...

I expected the race to start wide open, with Lance slowly emerging as the champion -- I had forgotten that he won the prologue ... then the first time trial ... then the first mountain state ... sheez! Nobody else even came close, and he never really showed any weakness. I never understood the criticism that Lance made the Tour boring, but I could see it now ... he not only won, but seemed to do it exactly when and how he wanted to. Well, that was pretty darn exciting at the time, and it's just awesome now.

One other surprise, going back in time like this, is how well composed and also humble Lance was whenever he spoke to the press. I'm not sure how to describe his image, but it seems at odds with the rather quiet, thoughtful, and gracious rider giving his summaries at the end of each stage. How could anyone resent this guy for his achievements? Okay, I'm looking forward to the rest of the race...

Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I could have ridden outside today (high 50's), but I'm all into the Tour tapes now and wanted to watch more of this 1999 Tour. Lance continues to impress, keeping Escartin at bay and humiliating Zulle...

Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Ah, I finished the 1999 Tour tape today, and it was a heck of a race. Actually, it was a heck of a tape. Except for some cheesy (and always unnecessary) background music during the two most important stages, it was very well made, with a great balance of g.c. struggle, stage action, rider profiles, and general interest stuff. Phil Liggett was at his best, and Lance was still accessible enough to talk with nearly every day. I would talk my wife into watching this with me, but she just a few weeks ago was kind enough to watch the final stages of the 2006 Tour with me ... and now I don't want to watch 1999 again, I want to move on to 2000! So unless the weather warms up soon, that will be my next ride.

Monday, March 26, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 22 minutes
Distance: 36.0 miles

I took advantage of my flexible work schedule today by heading outside as soon as my last client meeting ended. The temperature was in the high 70's, so this was my first ride of the year in full summer dress; and I considered riding all the way to the botanical gardens, but I didn't quite have enough time to get back in time for a condo association meeting. As it turned out, I barely had enough energy anyway ... I had to keep the speed relatively all the way home, but I was getting hungrier and hungrier as I got more and more drained of calories. And then I almost faced a terrible decision -- whether to eat, or shower, before the meeting, if I only had time for one or the other! Fortunately, my sweet wife got home when I did and prepared a quick dinner while I took a shower, so it all worked out. But in my excitement to take a long ride, I did forget my on-bike eating requirements, and I'll plan better for that next time.

Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 5:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Back inside today for a quick ride between work and dinner ... I don't know how far I'll get with this, but I broke out the 2000 Tour tape to continue the series. Ullrich and Pantani are back! And this is Millar's Tour debut? You'd never know it from his prologue victory.

Sunday, April 1, 2007 at 10:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I wasn't sure I'd have time for a ride before class, but I made it. I'm continuing with the 2000 Tour, which I must not have paid much attention to at the time. It sure was exciting now. After all the hoopla about Pantani, the best climber in the world, coming back to give Lance a real challenge, Lance sure made it look easy to ride away from him on the first mountain stage! I know it wasn't an easy victory overall, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the race.

Saturday, April 15, 2007 at 10:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I was out of town last weekend and sick all week, but I finally got to ride again this morning. Continuing with the 2000 Tour, I was newly annoyed by all the criticism about Lance dominating the race and making it boring. It wasn't his fault! The only time we saw Ullrich or his team move to the front is when a breakaway threatened his second-place position. The man just wasn't a fighter.

Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I finished the 2000 Tour tape today, and watched among other things Lance's infamous bonk on the Joux-Plane. If that was his worst day ever, he should feel lucky ... most stage racers yo-yo a lot more than that even on their way to overall victories. I was surprised by how irrelevant Pantani actually become to the race, despite the hype about him; and it was amusing to see Lance's description of him descend from great admiration to disappointment to dismissiveness -- calling him a "little sh**-starter" toward the end of the race. Huh, but number two was in the bag, and even then we had no idea what was to come.

It's time to start riding outside now, but it's fun watching the Tours in order, so hopefully I can carve out some time over the summer to keep watching.

Saturday, April 28, 2007 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 30.5 miles

Sally's parents are visiting this weekend, but between all of our varied schedules, I should be able to fit in two bike rides and enjoy the gorgeous weather we're anticipating.

Today after brunch at the Pick Me Up Cafe, I slapped on my new tires (the old ones were getting hard and slippery in addition to having lots of cuts) and headed north on Green Bay Road. The goal was maximum miles in the minimum time, and staying on the road is one way to do that. Actually, my bike was so perfectly clean from a big spring-cleaning session last weekend, I didn't want to muddy it already by riding on a wet path, but after I rode for a while it seemed that the Green Bay Trial probably would have been dry enough to stay clean. But by that time I had forced my way into a headwind for half the ride, and I wanted to enjoy the tailwind coming home, and the trail is relatively sheltered from the wind. So I just did a u-turn at Lake Cook Road and headed back the same way, keeping the energy high and cutting a few minutes off of my split time.

The I threw some civilian clothes on, grabbed a granola bar, and went for a walk with Sally and her dad. More tomorrow...

Sunday, April 29, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: 39.8 miles

I forgot how much longer it is to the top of the Skokie Lagoons compared to my usual turnaround point. It's an extra hour round-trip rather than a half-hour. I also forgot how much more calories a three-hour ride takes than a two-hour ride, so I got pretty bonked today. I rode the first half quite fast, then faded at the halfway point and only the desire to get home at a reasonable time to visit Sally's folks some more kept me motivated to ride as fast as I could.

But it was nice to get up to that part of the park today, a ride that I often save for my birthday, or later when the weather is not as good. The trail was dry, but more crowded than I've ever seen it at least at this time of year. Cycling really seems to be getting more popular each year. I even saw a tall bike with a posse of followers and, impressively, watched him mount it with a rolling start after stopping at an intersection. I like my speedy road bike and my racing duds, but that was cool.

Sunday, May 6, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 2 minutes
Distance: 29.8 miles

I almost didn't ride today, because the weather was cooler and clouder than was predicted, and I was a little sleepy after a relaxing Saturday with Sally. But I figured I'd better take the opportunity before another busy week started, and I didn't regret it. The cool air and dim light created a unique mood, but with lots of people on the forest preserve path again, a ride didn't seem out of place at all. I went to my usual turnaround point, and saw lots of deer and a bright red cardinal.

I feel like I've been riding faster this year, more aggressively, as if I'm trying to cram more rides into the available time. I looked back at some previous rides, though, and it's not clear ... I'm meeting some of my times from late in the season last year, which is a good sign, because I was more fit then ... but my ride to the Skokie Lagoons last weekend was quite a bit slower. One thing that's sure is that I need to recalibrate my computer. The battery died over the winter and it reverted to its default settings, and now my rides are coming out a couple miles too short. It's not a big deal for my regular routes, but I'll have to adjust it before any new adventures.

Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 56 minutes
Distance: 11.5 miles

Sally and I had to make a sudden trip out of town last weekend, but all week I'd been hoping that today we could get our tandem out for the first time. Indeed, we had perfect riding weather, so we cleaned off "Tubie" and headed for the sculpture park. We were both in a relaxed mood, so we found a nice willow tree to sit under for a while before riding home.

This is shaping up to be a busy summer, but hopefully we'll be able to work up to some longer rides over the coming months.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 4 minutes
Distance: 15.2 miles

I was tired today from a couple late nights working over the weekend, and I wasn't prepared for the sticky, 95 degree weather, and I think both of those factors show in my ride time, which is about five minutes slower than usual for the sculpture garden route. But after a year of deliberating and a month of trying different sizes, I finally got a new bike jersey -- Team Rabobank -- and had to give that a try. Whee! I came home sweaty, slurped some Gatorade, and got back to work.

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 9:00 am

Duration: 1 hours, 7 minutes
Distance: 17.3 miles

I had another late night working on my Compy School website, but we're leaving for Des Moines for the holiday weekend, so I forced myself out of bed to take a ride first. Actually, I had more work planned for this morning, but I stayed up extra late so I could have an hour for a bike ride instead.

I haven't seen the lakefront in a while, so I headed east on Lawrence, then took the path down to Navy Pier, and came back on Diversey/Elston/California. It felt good, and I rode pretty fast! The weather was cooler but sunny and there were other people out enjoying the path, but not too many to slow me down. Now I'm looking forward to packing a lunch, grabbing my iPod, and taking a nice drive with Sally.

Sunday, May 28, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 37 minutes
Distance: 25.1 miles

One of my music classes wanted to meet early today to have more time outside, and that was fine with me! I took the opportunity to take a slightly longer ride -- through the forest preserve to Glenview Road, then across to Green Bay and back home through the sculpture garden. I wore my new Rabobank jersey again -- the only thing I've worn since I got it! (smile)

I was expecting the Memorial Day crowds, but I wasn't prepared enough for several close calls with oblivious people on the paths. The first didn't actually happen until the gravel part at the top of the sculpture garden; I was going pretty fast imagining I was Juan Antonia Flecha riding in the Paris-Roubaix when an entire family on bikes came around the corner, using the full width of the path. The one farthest to my side was a boy of 10-12 on a mountain bike, and the look of sheer terror on his face indicated he knew he was doing something wrong (I hope). Fortunately, he braked but held his line, and I did the same, and then I swerved to my left and went between him and his parents. But completely involuntarily, I uttered the syllable "Mmm!" as I went through. I always wonder if people learn from these close calls, but perhaps these people were just thinking about that strange reaction.

Anyway, a couple miles later I came up behind two teenage girls who were walking side by side in each lane of the path. I shouted "on your left," but as I prepared to pass, the one on the left turned -to- her left and almost walked right into me. I swerved between them and this time my verbal reaction was an exasperated "oh jeez." Another mile after that and it was a large family picnic with an elaborate setup steps from the path, complete with a sub-1-year-old toddler standing exactly in the middle of the path sucking on a bottle. As I picked my way past her and glanced at her parents sitting impassively in lawn chairs eating hot dogs, my reaction was speechlessness.

But the ride ended on a better note. Just a few blocks from home I passed a man carrying about six pizza boxes toward the park. With dinnertime approaching and the fatigue of a good, fast ride growing, my response was once again "Mmm!"

Saturday, June 9, 2007 at 10:30 am

Duration: 2 hours, 04 minutes
Distance: 32.1 miles

Oh man, today was a perfect day for riding. The forecast said 69 and sunny with only a 4 mph wind. I had a few goosebumps but felt comfortable in straight summer clothes when I started, and eventually my computer registered 80 degrees. The only potential wrinkle is that I forgot to put muscle cream on my knees, and I could feel some soreness within a few blocks. I didn't want to come back for it, so I just massaged my knees for a few minutes with my fingers, and that seemed to do the trick.

The best thing about this ride was the cicadas, which are in their 17 year cycle this year. I hadn't heard them yet, but as soon as I hit Green Bay Road, there they were ... a tunnel of sound all the way through that part of my route. There were lots of them flying around the road, or walking on the road, or leaving their shells on the road, too. It was a cool and eerie sound, kind of like a car alarm is the best way I could think of to describe it, but I bet it's getting on the nerves of the people who live up there. Anyway, I didn't know about this 17 year cycle before, but I'm 34 years old, so that means they were out when I was 17, and the year I was born.

I still haven't worn any jersey but Rabobank since I got it! It's so cool.

I did the sculpture garden/green bay road/lake cook road/green bay trail loop and cruised pretty good until the last leg, where I got distracted thinking about my Will Shade tribute project and slowed down quite a bit.

And since this was a known route, I was able to update the circumference setting on my cyclocomputer, so now my mileages are accurate again.

Friday, June 15, 2007 at 9:00 am

Duration: 1 hours, 1 minutes
Distance: 16.6 miles

It's been a rough year on the family front for Sally and me. I March, my grandmother passed away, and this week, we lost Sally's grandfather. We had planned to attend a wedding and then a shower (for two different couples) tonight and tomorrow, but we ended up scrapping those plans and buying tickets to Tucson for Grandpa Harry's memorial service. Sally was working this morning, so I got up early to pack and then squeeze a bike ride in before the trip. Riding is like meditation for me, so it was nice to stretch my legs and relax my mind before heading to the airport. I took advantage of the lighter weekday traffic on the lakefront and rode down to Navy Pier and back.

Sunday, June 24, 2007 at 8:45 am

Duration: 2 hours, 37 minutes
Distance: 43.5 miles

I seem to be down to just one ride per week lately, so I'd been anticipating all week a long ride on Saturday. However, a string of sunny, 80-degree days stopped abruptly Saturday with cold and rain. I hesitated, then decided to wait one more day and try to fit a long ride in before my music classes this morning.

It still wasn't sunny (clear lenses), but it was warmer (arm warmers) and dry, and it felt great to be outside. I managed make it all the way up and around the Skokie Lagoons and back just in time. Actually, I stayed in bed 15 minutes longer than I should have, and then I absentmindedly rode to the sculpture garden instead of the forest preserve and had to backtrack a bit and cut across on Devon, so I was afraid that wasted valuable time. Other delays included an unexpected line when a kayak class showed up at the portable toilet I wanted to use, and a guy on a mountain bike who asked if I had an allen wrench to tighten his seat. This all gave me plenty of motivation to ride fast, and I kept a steady pace throughout the ride. I felt strong until the end, but when I walked to the Old Town School afterwards, my legs felt like jelly!

Saturday, June 29, 2007 at 10:00 am

Duration: 2 hours, 4 minutes
Distance: 32.1 miles

Another week, another long wait until Saturday. Today I needed to spend a lot of time on Compy School work, but it was essential to squeeze in a decent ride after being off all week. I rode north up Green Bay Road, then cut across on Lake Cook to the Green Bay Trail ... my newest regular route. I rode fairly steadily, but I was thinking about the school a lot. The weather was unremarkable ... it was mostly hazy clouds, but there must have been some UV rays coming through, because the jersey I wore today had slightly shorter sleeves and I got a 1-inch strip of sunburn at the top of my tan lines!

At one point I was cruising along lost in my thoughts, when a voice said, "Hey, how are you doing" and a dude on a tri-bike glided by. I didn't try to match his pace, but coincidentally in the next quarter mile I saw a whole cycling team coming from the other direction, and several individual riders on or crossing Green Bay Road. The tri-guy was waiting at the next stoplight, so I pulled up beside and said, "Bikers everywhere, huh?" and he said, "Seriously!" He asked where I was headed and then he said he was doing a 90-miler. That was pretty impressive considering his pace. I mentioned the Green Bay Trail and he said, "Hmm, have I ever ridden that?" I said it wasn't paved, and he said, "Ah, that's why I've never ridden that!" Indeed, it wouldn't work very well with his tri-bars. But it's smoother than the potholes on Green Bay or Sheridan Roads.

Surprisingly, the big cicada appareance of 2007 is nearly over. I only heard the tunnel effect in one brief spot, and another spot had a bunch buzzing around in the air. Otherwise, it was just the sound of normal summer insects. I expected the road to be littered with their bodies, but that wasn't even the case. They must have been washed away in the heavy rains that we had earlier in the week.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Distance: 67 miles

I've spent the last few holidays doing freelance work, so after Memorial Day I promised myself that I would NOT work on July 4 ... and of course, that implied taking a long bike ride instead. Sally did have to work today, so the day was all mine to ride, ride, ride.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the miles in my legs for anything approaching a century, so I chose the Prairie Path/Great Western Trail loop as a moderately long ride. That should have been perfect, but a few things dragged me down. First, an ill-timed morning nap threw off my eating schedule and left me cramming carbs an hour before the ride, which led to nausea by the end of the ride. Second, the forecast called for rain, so I brought a rain jacket that created a lot of extra bulk in my jersey pockets. And finally, the route somehow changed from 64 to 67 miles since I did it last, and those last few were killers!

As it was, I kept a reasonable pace throughout, but for the last hour I just wanted it to end, and when I got home all I could do was lie on the floor and drink cold water. This has happened before on my first long ride of the year, and it seems like a necessary step to break into a higher level of fitness. Too bad I'll be too busy the rest of the summer to take advantage of that.

Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 7:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 7 minutes
Distance: 18.2 miles

My family reunion was in Coon Rapids, Iowa this year, and my sister made the trip, so I brought my extra road bike along so we could ride together. The weekend was pretty busy, though, so the only chance we got to ride was a rushed hour before breakfast on Sunday morning. We parked on Main Street, in front of what used to be the Garst Store, and rode north, then east, then south, then back into town, taking the first county road we encountered in each direction.

It wasn't as hilly as I thought it would be, but the hills that there were took my sister by surprise. Used to a mountain bike, she kept saying "THIS is the granny gear?" And I would really liked to have ridden twice as far, but oh well. Even taking it easier on the hills, my average speed was 2 mph faster than I can ever get in Chicago, with all the stops and starts. We did take a few minutes to stop by the cemetery on our way into town, to visit the graves of Grandma and Grandpa Schoeppner.

Then we spent five hours tubing on the Raccoon River with our mom and brothers, and then Sally and I drove eight hours back to Chicago. No wonder I was wiped out at the end of the day ... but it was a fun day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: 14.1 miles

Sally and I have been talking about leaving Chicago, with one of our top reasons being all the rude people here ... I'd have to say rude drivers especially ... and after today's ride, I'd have to say dangerous drivers. While riding through the sculpture garden, I was nearly hit at almost every street crossing, including at -both- corners of one intersetion, by people turning without looking for -- or in one case, by people looking right at -- pedestrians and cyclists. I'm a pretty confident rider, but I've never felt so precarious as today. These people need to chill out, watch the road, and try not to kill someone ... is that so wrong?

Tuesday, July 21, 2007 at 9:00 am

Duration: 2 hours, ? minutes
Distance: 32.1 miles

I was busy launching Compy School at the Folk and Roots festival last weekend, so this is the first chance I've had to ride in a while. The Tour de France is in full swing now, and Michael Rasmussen just took the yellow jersey, but under very suspicious circumstances. So, I felt rather weird wearing my Rabobank jersey. I saw a lot of other cyclists, and they seemed to be giving me funny looks. Hey, man, I'm with Freire, okay?

Tuesday, July 28, 2007 at 9:30 am

Duration: 1 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: 28.6 miles

I wanted to ride the Green Bay Road again today, before our long-anticipated annual "high seas adventure" with jug band members Neil, Ellen, Sallie, and Mark. However, I stayed in bed a bit too long (I blame the gloomy weather that started the day) and had to cut my ride a bit short to get back in time. Ahoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2007 at 10:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 57 minutes
Distance: 14.2 miles

A quick ride before class, and I decided to hope for light traffic on the lakefront. It wasn't bad. I only went south as far as Fullerton, then rode north to the top of the trail before coming home. A nice ride.

Tuesday, August 5, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 3 minutes
Distance: 16.0 miles

I took a ride after class today, and was hoping the sculpture garden would redeem itself after some bad car encounters during my last trip there. It wasn't bad. I wasn't enjoying myself too much, still thinking about leaving Chicago and doing some -real- riding, but it was nice to get outside and see the rabbits and the willow trees.

Tuesday, August 10, 2007 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 2 minutes
Distance: 15.6 miles

Ah, this was pretty close to an ideal summer evening ride. The wind dwindled, the humidity relented, and the shadows lengthened during my hour on the bike. I still had a couple bad car encounters in the crossings of the sculpture park path, but the segments between the crossings were long and satisfying. Coming back I even rode faster than normal, after having several slower riders to pass and get my blood flowing. I can't remember what I was thinking about during my ride ... I guess that's a good thing!

Thursday, August 16, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 14.1 miles

I had a lot of work to do tonight, so I tried to keep it short -- just a quick trip through the sculpture park to Golf Road and back.

Friday, August 31, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 4 minutes
Distance: 16.6 miles

Sally and I are leaving for Portland tonight for a wedding, but I got my work done early enough today to take a quick ride. It was a perfect summer day, in the low 80's and not a cloud in the sky, so I thought I might as well maximize the beauty and ride along the lakefront. I had intended to turn around at North Avenue to avoid the most crowded parts, but the view of the Loop as I reached that area was so crisp and brilliant that I kept going to Olive Park.

Since the real racers ride elsewhere, I'm usually one of the fastest people on the bike paths, and I seem to only get passed a few times a year. But today I felt slow when I was passed by a rollerblader! I said "not bad" and then tucked in behind, and followed him at 18 mph for about a mile. He was fully decked out in a skinsuit and bike helmet and seemed to be clawing his way forward into a moderate headwind. When we reached the next turnoff, he did a little dance and made some pointing gestures, and for a moment I thought I was being taunted for losing a drag race I didn't realize I'd entered. Then I realized he was just signalling a turn, so I said "okay" and moved around him.

A mile or so after that, I came upon an older rider with a sign attached to the back of his bike that said "Bicycling against oil wars -- a quiet statement." I said "nice sign" as he went by and he said "thanks."

Coming home on Wilson, I approached an intersection and watched a middle-aged guy on a Wal-Mart bike come cruising out of the side street and make a sweeping turn right across my path and into the main lane, without a moment's glance toward oncoming traffic. I said "heads up" as I moved to the outside of the lane to pass him, and he muttered something as I went by. Then, while I waited at the next red light, he rolled past, through the red light, muttering "f*** that sh**." Okay, dude, good luck with that riding style!

And okay, dude, time for a shower then a trip to the airport.

Sunday, September 9, 2007 at 9:00 am

Duration: 1 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: 27.1 miles

Huh, I didn't realize until logging this that I was ridding on 9/9 at 9:00!

After going with Sally to an out-of-town birthday party yesterday, I made myself get up early to take a long-ish ride before my music classes. Sally helped by getting up -- even though she had the day off -- to work on a special breakfast using some of the fresh fruit we've been bombarded with lately.

I headed for the forest preserve, wearing Rabobank in celebration of Oscar Friere's three Vuelta stage wins this week, intending to reach my usual turnaround point in an hour. Unfortunately, several miles of the bike path were completely torn out of the ground, with a combination of wet clay, large rocks, and hard but very bumpy soil in its place. Taking my road bike off the pavement always inspires me with visions of Paris-Roubaix, so I figured I'd just keep going. Although most of the other cyclists disappeared, I did get pretty far ... but eventually the rough ride stopped being fun, and I started worrying about getting back in time to enjoy that breakfast. I finally turned around and booked it back -- riding in those conditions did give me a good workoug -- with just enough time to enjoy a hot serving of stuffed apple pancakes before heading to class. Whee!

Sunday, September 16, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 03 minutes
Distance: 32.9 miles

I've hardly been south of Navy Pier on the lakefront path all year, so I thought I'd take advantage of lighter post-Labor Day trail use and ride to Promontory Point today. A strong wind out of the south supported my plan -- I knew I'd struggle in the first half, then enjoy the reward of a turbo boost all the way home.

When I hit the trail at Lawrence, everything was going according to plan. Then at North Avenue Beach, I was passed by a fairly fast rider after he paced just behind me for a few minutes, and by another a short bit later. I caught up with both at the Navy Pier underpass, and let them go ahead when the light turned green.

At the yacht club, I winced as the first rider was almost hit by a turning car, so when my natural pace took me past him, I couldn't help commenting on the incident. I hit the curves by soldier field thinking I was on my own, then realized he and the other rider were right behind me.

Normally when I pass someone and they draft off me, I pretend to ignore them, and lift my pace slightly until they're gone. I always think it's weird to just catch a draft off a total stranger, without even saying hello to them. But after seeing these guys a couple times, I suddenly thought, hey, it would be fun to get some paceline practice in. And why not cheat the wind on my trip south, before catching that tailwind home?

So instead of trying to drop them, I cruised along steadily, pointing out road hazards as we went. After a mile or so, one of them came around and took the lead, and I dropped in behind. Another mile or so, and the other one took over. We still weren't talking, but we were clearly a team.

Eventually, the slower of the two was dropped, but the faster one stuck with me. In fact, I started getting cooked during his pulls, and considered letting him go when one gap opened. But he kept it steady and I made my way back. By that time, I could barely take my pulls, but I had decided to keep it going to Promontory Point, and I had my pride. I took the last short, slower pull to my destination, then signalled a turn into the park. He followed me in, but when I slowed way down, he said, "Oh, are you stopping?" I said, "Yeah, I'm beat ... have a good one!" He said, "Oh, okay! Well, thanks!" and wheeled back onto the main path.

I had to take two circles around the park before I caught my breath enough to head back, and then I was too tired to enjoy that tailwind. I think the wind had died down by then anyway. But this was one of my most memorable rides of the summer for the little taste of racing, and the unspoken but unquestionable teamwork I experienced.

© 2002 Arlo Leach, all rights reserved.