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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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Monday, March 10, 2008 at 8:30 am

Duration: 0 hours, 35 minutes
Distance: NA miles

It's been another busy winter, between Compy School and freelance work (not to mention the Will Shade project, and every month I've thought I'd start riding the trainer. I finally did today, an easy 35 minutes while reading CycleSport ... something else I've fallen behind on over the last few months.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 8:30 am

Duration: 0 hours, 35 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I'm thinking I could ride every Monday and Wednesday morning until outdoor riding begins. Then again, I haven't succeeded in getting my time into any kind of routine schedule since I've been self-employed. Anyway, more CycleSport this morning, then to work.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 9:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Argh! The last two weeks were some of the busiest of my life, with so much freelance work, teaching, and music activities ... with biking at the bottom of my priority list. But I've gotten through it, and today I not only rode, but pulled out a video, the 2002 Ghent-Wevelgem DVD that I received as a bonus for renewing my CycleSport subscription. It's funny how we know that Cipo is the winner in retrospect, but in the pre-race and early race commentary he was hardly even mentioned.

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 8:30 am

Duration: 0 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Another ride and more Ghent-Wevelgem, which I somehow assumed was about an hour long, but at the end of this second session they still have 20 miles of real-time coverage to go. Since I'm finally relaxing after some insanely busy workweeks, I finished my ride and continued watching over breakfast. This was the year that Tom Boonen rode for U.S. Postal, with George Hincapie as his team leader. The commentators kept talking about this promising young rider, and how lucky he was to be riding with George and Lance and learning from them, so that maybe he could go on to be a race winner one day. Was it much more than a year later that he switched to QuickStep and started winning Classics multiple times? Somehow I don't think he needed U.S. Postal as a springboard.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Hooray! My first outdoor ride of the year. It's just over 60 degrees with, as says, "abundant sunshine" ... my favorite kind. I wasn't up for a long ride and I didn't feel like taking my good bike off the trainer, so I took my older bike and just rode down California to Humboldt Park. That was somewhat strenuous with a headwind, but then I just toodled around the park and explored the different lagoons and fieldhouses. I headed back north on Kedzie, enjoying the headwind.

This was also my first ride after having Lasik surgery in December, and I love it! No contacts to worry about before, during or after the ride ... just sharp vision all the time. Whee!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 9:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 40 minutes
Distance: NA miles

My Monday/Wednesday trainer routine really isn't taking off, but I did get on for a quick ride today. I watched the old "Road to Paris" DVD with Lance Armstrong and I was amazed by how cool it was! Really neat footage, and great editing. But I was looking forward to the "I don't think so" comment when Lance rides up to the flooded road (a raging river running right across the road) and then realized it was in the bonus features. I ran out of time but I'll have to watch those later.

Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 56 minutes
Distance: 14.1 miles

I thought I'd get outside in short sleeves today, but it was only about 65 and fairly windy, so I took a long-sleeved jersey and got cold ears, too. But it was sunny, and I was outside! I rode to the sculpture garden for the first time today. I felt out of shape fighting a headwind north, but then I cruised home with a 3 mph faster speed and barely got out of breath. I'm feeling a little weak and there's a bit of a love/hate thing at the moment; I'm glad I don't ride competitively, that's for sure. But if I can manage my time this summer I'll get more riding in than last year and will get into better shape.

I did almost get hit by a lady in a minivan talking on her cell phone at Kedzie and Devon, and that was annoying. There was also the old guy in the Jaguar driving down the bike lane on Lawrence. I'm already sick of that crap and it's only my second outdoor ride of the year. Sheez. Sally and I are hoping to leave Chicago next summer, so I have country roads and responsible drivers to look forward to eventually.

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 35 minutes
Distance: 23.3 miles

I'm leaving for Memphis tomorrow to wrap up the Will Shade tribute project, and I'll be away from my bike for a week, so I thought I'd better get a ride in today. It turned out to be a good choice, sunny and fairly warm to the extent that I started with arm warmers but was able to take them off after a few minutes.

I've often felt that I'm solar powered, and I got more evidence for that today because I had lots of energy and enthusiasm compared to my last outdoor ride. Whee! I started with the sculpture garden, but felt so good that I continued on up Green Bay Road. I didn't have time to go all the way to Lake Cook, but I did ride as far as "that one hill" and then cruised back home to finish preparing for my trip.

, , at :

Duration: 0 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: NA miles

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 57 minutes
Distance: 14.0 miles

With a big project on my plate this week I didn't feel like I "deserved" a bike ride, but today was the warmest day in the forecast, so I convinced myself that I could afford to take an hour-long break. I'm feeling refreshed and glad for that decision.

The day was partly sunny and 70, but with a gusting wind out of the south, I could have put up a sail and coasted to the sculpture garden. I had a nice, fast ride, but a rather tough struggle coming back. I put in some effort and almost maintained my average speed on the return trip.

As I got back I realized the wind had shifted largely to the west, so a trip to the forest preserve would have given me that excellent last-leg tailwind. But I'll save that ride for a special day when I don't have any work to do!

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Distance: 33.7 miles

Well all right ... it's the Memorial Day weekend, and I have a bit of work to do, but mainly this weekend is about getting organized around the house and RIDING. I spent a couple hours this morning giving my bike a thorough spring cleaning (on the back porch while listening to the Hoosier Hot Shots, that was fun), then ate a carb-centered lunch and headed to the forest preserve for the first time this year.

It was actually a little chilly out. I left my arm-warmers on the whole time, and my ears ached a bit. But it was so nice to ride without any time pressure and go as long as I wanted. I have another ride planned for Monday!

Monday, May 26, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 3 minutes
Distance: 31.9 miles

As planned, I spent the morning getting organized around the house -- finally finishing my spring cleaning list! -- and then headed out for another long (for the time of year) ride. This time I went north on Green Bay Road to Lake Cook, then came back on the Green Bay Trail.

I can't believe the pothole field that passes for Green Bay Road. Sheez!

Riding back was fun. I had the wind at my back and at one point I passed a woman who yelled, "Go Speed Racer, Go!"

Monday, May 31, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: 13.4 miles

I had an all-day class at Compy School today (my first time teaching for eight consecutive hours, and it was fine), but I was HOPING I could get a ride in, too. The temperature reached 80 for the first time this year and I couldn't wait to go. Well, it did work out ... class ended on time and I got home to find Sally finishing up some things, so I made a quick change and hit the road.

I didn't have time for the forest preserve, but was tired of the sculpture garden, so I just rode TO the forest preserve and took the little alternate path from Cumberland Road to Milwaukee Ave. That was a fine, quick little loop.

It was hot, and very windy, from the north, so I rode really hard into the wind with the motivation of a tailwind in the second half. Indeed, I was flying back down Elston with the tailwind. But then bad drivers started to disrupt my ride. On Lawrence, I must have gotten got off or swerved into eight times ... seemingly every block.

That made me think about leaving Chicago, and finding a place to ride where I could build up adrenaline about a fast ride, not about surviving the traffic. Ugh.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 51 minutes
Distance: 13.4 miles

Ever since the weather forecaster mentioned increasingly hot, "summer-like" temperatures this week, I've been waiting for the best time to sneak in a ride. That finally came today, even as dark clouds on the horizon hinted at the "isolated thunderstorms" she mentioned.

I had some time between my jobs, so I decided to take my chance. Unfortunately, as soon as I got out, it clouded over (and got sunny again an hour after I returned). Oh well, it was still a pretty nice ride, with less traffic in the middle of the day. I went to the sculpture garden but turned back a bit early to catch the Obama-nomination news (he won the primaries last night) on All Things Considered.

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 11:00 am

Duration: 1 hours, 7 minutes
Distance: 17.0 miles

Sally and I are going to Madison to visit her folks this afternoon, but after getting up early to finish some work, I took an hour for a bike ride. I hadn't been to the lakefront yet this year, so that's where I headed ... to the little lookout platform at Olive Park.

Unfortunately, it was terribly windy, and it was a real grind getting down there. And the wind wasn't directly out of the south, so the trip back wasn't as satisfying as it could have been, either. But it as interesting.

At one point, as I was into a 25 mph burst, a young guy walked right across the path. When he saw me, he froze, exactly in front of me. I had to dive behind him while yelling, "Come on, man!"

During the same stretch, I saw a big sand cloud moving along the beach, and I was moving just a bit faster. I slowly overtook it, rode through it, and came out the other side. Cool!

I got a brief rainshower on Wilson coming back, and ran across a couple stupid drivers, one of whom decided to accelerate and pass me while I was slowing for a stop sign! Sigh ... stupid drivers.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 10:00 am

Duration: 1 hours, 47 minutes
Distance: 28.5 miles

Oooh ... Sally and I planned to visit her folks in Madison today, and, ever eager for opportunities to ride on real country roads, I packed my bike and headed out while they went shopping. As has been the case for the last couple weeks, the weather was HOT and WINDY! I knew I didn't have any hill-climbing legs, and I headed south into the wind, so my plan was to start conservatively and try to get through a two-hour ride in good shape. In fact, I ended up riding at a survival pace heading south out of town. The wind was so stiff, that was the only way to keep my morale up! Then I hit the hills, which really bit hard. I tried to put in some respectable efforts, but I couldn't help continuing to ride a bit conservatively. When I turned around, as expected, I could have blown home, and I tried to make the most of that, but was slowed by other traffic a few times. Overall the ride was a success, but it did drain my energy quite a bit ... I hope to have a lot of food and rest for the remainder of the weekend!

Tuesday, June 11, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 4 minutes
Distance: 16.9 miles

My plan for this week was to set my largest web project aside and catch up on a lot of smaller obligations. This means my time has been more fragmented, and the next couple days are like a constant Tetris puzzle in my head. But today I seemed to have more time than needed, so with a bikeless weekend trip coming up, I suited up and headed out.

I took advantage of the work day to go down the lakefront, repeating my ride from last Friday. It was just a bit less windy this time, and no rain, and fewer obstructions on the path, but I wasn't totally into the ride. I'm glad I went, though. Oh, and in temperatures ranging from 95 to 101 degrees, the CU-Boulder jersey I wore today was SO much more comfortable than the Kelme jersey I took to Madison last weekend. I'll have to remember that.

Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 5 minutes
Distance: 17 miles

This morning I met with an affluent client in his stunning high-rise condo in the Gold Coast. It left me feeling pretty disoriented, so after a second appointment I went for a ride, down the lakefront again, to look at those Lake Shore Drive condos from a different perspective.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 50 minutes
Distance: 12.1 miles

I tried heading to the sculpture garden today for a quick mid-day ride, but they're currently repaving it and the path was completely torn up. I tried riding in the rock bed for a while, then the grass beside it, but it was pretty rutted and eventually I caught up to the work crew and their active machinery, so I skipped over to McCormick Boulevard and just rode there. That wasn't very fun, so I turned around a little early. Still, it was better than nothing.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 52 minutes
Distance: 13.4 miles

This morning I had to run an errand downtown, and also stop by Type A and Compy School afterwards, so I ended up spending about four hours on public transportation. Argh! After that I really needed a ride, but that wasn't too fun either. I headed for that little short forest preserve loop I've been using in lieu of the sculpture garden and had a really annoying incident on Lawrence. I had leapfrogged a large delivery truck -- a separate tractor/trailer unit, but smaller than a full-sized semi -- several times, so I assume the driver had seen me in the bike lane. But at one point, he just started veering across the bike lane, cutting me off. I slowed, assuming he was heading toward a large parking space at the curb, and once I got behind, came around to pass on the left. Just as I was accelerating to pass, he suddenly jerked it to the left, across the road -- making a sudden U-turn! I slammed the brakes and skidded to a stop in the middle of the U. The driver seemed to notice me for the first time at that point, because he then froze in the middle of the road. I clipped out and backed up, to pass again on the right, but at that point I was almost run over by the line of cars behind us, which decided to use the bike lane to pass him on the right. I'm honestly starting to think I must be invisible.

I have a lot of incidents like this, on nearly every ride, but I usually forget about them quickly. This one has really stuck with me, and I'm not sure why. Probably because I can usually anticipate driver errors, but this one caught me totally off guard. I don't think the truck was signaling his turns in any way, but apparently I was the only one flummoxed by his veering across the bike lane, then jerking across both lanes of traffic. The other cars quickly flowing over to the bike lane to pass, putting me between a rock and a hard place, added insult to injury.

Jeez, this is becoming more of a traffic complaint log than a ride log! Is it really getting worse? Maybe since I mostly just have time for shorter rides this year, I'm spending proportionally more time in traffic. Maybe with more bike lanes in the city, my expectations for predictable riding have gone up. Or maybe I'm just getting sick of these oblivious freaking drivers. !@#$

Sunday, June 29, 2008 at 10:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 51 minutes
Distance: 13.4 miles

This morning I needed a quick ride before class, so I repeated my alternate short route to the east corner of the forest preserve. Once again, I was tricked by the fridge thermometer, which showed 66 degrees. I put on a long-sleeve jersey, and then hit the road where it was up in the 80s. Now I feel deprived of a little extra suntan!

One funny moment came when I was standing at the stoplight in front of Superdawg just before the forest preserve entrance. I looked over at the car next to me (because I was noticing the waves of heat coming off it) and the driver had been texting on her phone. When she saw me look, she jerked her phone into her lap and looked around innocently. "Hmm hmm ... there's nobody texting here!" That inspires confidence ... jeez.

Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 14 miles

The Hump Night Thumpers have a gig tonight, a vaudeville show in Watseka, IL, which should be fun. But the trip down is going to be stressful, so after I finished a couple meetings this morning I headed out for a ride. I decided to check out the sculpture park for the first time since they tore it up to repave it. Some workers are still there, but the paving is done and it's nice and smooth and a little wider than before. They did take out a few of the curves, but it's still a nice ride. The first intersection is also much safer now since they opened it up and pulled the path back from the road ... I used to have to duck between an electrical box and a low-hanging road sign while balancing on a narrow strip of concrete a foot or two away from right-turning cars.

Although the temperature was 75 or so, a strong wind kept me pretty chilly going up. But coming back was fine ... uneventful. Now I'm mixing up a smoothie and changing clothes for the gig.

Friday, July 4, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 35 minutes
Distance: 41.6 miles

All right -- holiday! It's July 4th, and we couldn't have a nicer day here in Chicago. I rode up around the Skokie Lagoons, a ride that I've used on my birthday in years past, but with a busier summer it took me this long to make time for it. Anyway, this was a really nice ride, and my only concern was eating enough to have energy for a longer ride tomorrow. In order to help with that, we're going to Chicago Diner now for some vegan lasagna ... and I suppose a chocolate shake, too. Mmm.

Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 4 hours, 24 minutes
Distance: 66.3 miles

Today I had literally nothing planned but riding. Actually, I got up, ate leftover pancakes from yesterday, and did the Saturday cleaning, and relaxed with Sally for a while, but then I was off. I had considered riding past the forest preserve to that trail that goes up past the Old School forest preserve, but I didn't want to repeat all of yesterday's riding, so I decided to head west to the Prairie Path and Great Western Train instead.

Oddly, I had a tailwind for the first hour, but then the wind stopped, and then a headwind in the last hour. In other words, there was a wind out of the east in Chicago, but no wind in the suburbs. The day was perfectly sunny and 80-90, just the way I like my long summer rides.

I was half concerned about having eaten enough, but half confident, and started conservatively with enough snacks to eat every hour. But another bad surprise happened instead. Sometimes after a long ride I spend a half-hour afterwards coughing, because my throat constricts in a strange way and I can only take shallow breaths. Well, today, for the first time, this happened about half way into my ride. Just when I wanted to start cranking on those wide open stretches, I could barely breathe, and that was extremely uncomfortable and distracting. I considered calling for a ride home, or stopping to rest, but I really wanted to do this ride non-stop, so I kept going.

With 90 minutes to go this condition eased somewhat, but by then I was getting tired, and my last hour into Chicago was pretty hangdog. I've never before looked forward to red lights as a way to have a rest! And the final climb up my back staircase made my heart race.

Oh well, it was a good ride considering, but I could have down without that weird breathing thing. I've never considered myself to have allergies, but I wonder if that's what that was. My nose was also runny all day today and yesterday, so it makes sense. If that's the case I might have to look into some kind of allergy medication -- I've never paid any attention to that before. But hopefully it's only a very-long-ride thing, and even more hopefully, just a freak thing today. Although the ride was sufficiently uncomfortable to make me question my idea of a RAGBRAI adventure next year, or even of doing additional longer rides this summer. Yikes.

Yet one more lowlight of the ride, by the way, was trying to eat pineapple cubes out of a ziplock bag without stopping. I ended up sort of smooshing my face into the bag and sucking them out three at a time, and still got syrupy juice on my hands and handlebars. Oh well, I could deal with that. They were moist and delicious, much more so than the Clif bars I'm starting to hate again.

Anyway, this ride was significant because I decided it would be my last before sending my frame back to the Trek factory for an inspection. I had noticed some cracking near the lugs earlier this year, and showed it to a dealer, who recommended sending it in. Unfortunately, that means completely stripping the frame, a job I think I'm up for, but I won't have time to do that AND take a final weekend ride tomorrow. So, this is it. Then I'll hope my old friend is okay.

Sunday, August 10, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 51 minutes
Distance: 13.4 miles

I took my white bike to the sculpture park a couple times in July, but I didn't log the rides ... partly because it has no computer, and partly because I've been so busy I've had to get right back to work afterwards. And I finally got my green bike back at the beginning of this month, but I had to leave for a family reunion the next day and didn't have any time to assemble it. I finally did that yesterday -- it didn't take as long as I thought -- and the lengthy part of disassembling it was all the cleaning I did as I went. And I really needed to focus on other things today, but the weather was just perfect, so I couldn't resist. After my music classes, I put a few tools in my pocket in case I needed any further adjustments, and headed to the little loop on the edge of the forest preserve. The bike actually performed perfectly, except I wasn't able to shift into the big ring, which I wouldn't have needed on this ride. Everything felt smooth and silent, and the bike is absolutely pristine right now, too. Hooray! It's great to have my pal back.

Friday, August 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 14.0 miles

What a perfect, perfect day for riding! It's 75 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and a cool breeze from the north. I've been heads-down on a web project all week, but I worked late last night to carve out some time for this, and even though I was tired, I woke right up on the rode. I just went to the sculpture park, but it was nice and quiet there and I had some good, fast sections. I did get to test my reflexes once when a mother and her pre-teen daughter rode toward me, and the girl swerved over into my lane just as I passed by. I was on the far edge of the path with both hands on the brakes and an eye toward an exit route in the grass within a split second! Otherwise this was just a great pressure release and a beautiful chance to spend an hour outside.

Friday, August 16, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 9 minutes
Distance: 33.9 miles

After the morning cleaning I headed up to the forest preserve today, and the most memorable thing about the ride is the number of nice bikes and capable riders I saw. Usually I see may one pair of good riders on high-end bikes; today there must have been 20. I thought there was a special event, or maybe Green Bay Road was closed. I never did find out what happened.

Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 52 minutes
Distance: 14.0 miles

Since I'm self-employed, I could theoretically ride any time I want, and ideally I would ride during the day when there is less traffic. But I end up focusing on my work throughout the day; and I must admit to a bit of embarrassment about being out when people might think I'm a deadbeat. Oh well! Today both factors had me wait until the late afternoon, and for the record, I just took a quick ride and got back to work.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 52 minutes
Distance: 14.0 miles

This was just another quickie ride during the week. My work has been pretty intense with a big project milestone at the end of each month this summer, but it's nice to get out a little bit and release the pressure.

Tuesday, August 31, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 3 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: 61.8 miles

Oh my goodness. I took one of my "long" rides today, down to Wolf Lake and actually a little further to check out the "Burnham Woods" (which turned out to be a golf course) and I am completely wiped out. What's up with that? Was it the heat (90's and sunny), the lack of adequate eating the day before, my stubborn refusal to take any breaks, or am I just getting old? Anyway, I'm torn between wanting to stop with these long and exhausting rides, and wanting to conquer them! So maybe I will try one more this summer still.

Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 1 minutes
Distance: 31.9 miles

Whew, after last week's demoralizing ride it was nice to get out today and feel perky again. I rode north on Green Bay Road, then took Lake Cook a bit east to Green Bay Trail and took that back. Green Bay Road is fun because it actually has a few long hills, so I feel like I have something to push against and challenge myself. And on the other side, Green Bay Trail has several miles of uninterrupted riding, so I can focus on rolling continuously at a high speed.

I went through the sculpture park on the way up and back, and on the way back I saw a deer, for the first or maybe second time. She was a little one, brown with pronounced white spots on her back, standing about 10 feet from the path. I slowed way down and we checked each other out, then I told her to be careful of all the cars on the adjacent McCormick Boulevard.

It's been rainy here most of the week, but today was partly sunny, and a cool 70 degrees after a few hot August weekends. So, I was chilly just at the start of the ride, and feared rain when a few dark clouds passed overhead, but in the end it was a pretty ideal day to ride.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 2 minutes
Distance: 16.3 miles

I did some serious internal debating yesterday about whether to take a ride. It was beautifully sunny, although a bit cool, but my day was broken up with several teaching gigs and I also needed to get some web development done. One forecast for today said sunny and one said cloudy, but ultimately I decided to wait and take my chances on today.

It turned out that both forecasts were right. It was very sunny this morning, then clouded up around 1:00 when I was ready for my ride. But it was warmer than yesterday, so I went for it.

I took the opportunity to ride on the lakefront during a low traffic time, and I was reminded of how good a workout you can get there if the path isn't too busy. There was a fairly strong wind out of the south, but I just kind of ignored it going down, pushing along at about 17.5 mph. Then when I turned around the wind lifted my pace to about 21.5 for the whole trip back.

At one point near the totem pole I saw a guy doing a unique workout. He had two car tires connected by heavy metal chains that were wrapped around his chest, and he was dragging them alongside the bike path, also pushing on two ski poles. I immediately thought of three or four jokes, but he probably wouldn't have found them funny. I don't know what kind of event he was training for, or where he got the tires ... wow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 8 minutes
Distance: 17.1 miles

I've been enjoying a lighter schedule the last couple weeks, and the ability to ride during the day when the bike paths are less crowded. After getting tired of the pushy cars at all the sculpture park intersections, it's been a no-brainer to keep going back to the lakefront path. So, I did that again today in between helping clients and preparing for my evening classes.

Friday, September 19, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 46 minutes
Distance: 17.1 miles

Amazingly, Sally and I didn't ride our tandem once last year, and hadn't gotten it out this year yet, either. We finally took an afternoon we both had off, with gorgeous weather, and took the plunge. Well, as they say, it's just like riding a bike. Actually, my arms got pretty tired for the first few miles fighting against the shifts in balance, but then we smoothed out. Also, it's still stressful for me to hold the bike up at intersections with Sally staying clipped in, but I'd guess that would get to be as easy as riding with clipless pedals, with experience. Anyway, I took Sally down to my little lookout area at Olive Park and we discussed the merits of remaining versus leaving Chicago. The skyline is just beautiful, but is it as beautiful as a mountain or an ocean? Nah, I guess not.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 11:45 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 3 minutes
Distance: 16.3 miles

Well, this has really been the best year for weather in a long time. Today was just perfect, the latest in several weeks of sunny, high-70's and low-wind days. I had an early lunch while I worked, then rode down the lakefront again and got back in time to listen to the Political Junkie on NPR.

Friday, September 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 26 minutes
Distance: 5.1 miles

I've been planning to try one more long ride this summer, and I have tomorrow pegged as the best opportunity. The recent weather is still holding, and I have the day free plus tonight free to eat lots of pasta! However, my bike has needed a bit of attention since the big disassembly in July. So, I took a quick spin this afternoon to test everything out. Chain lubed ... check. Front derailleur adjusted ... check. And mysterious creaking noise from pedals or cranks? Actually, the front wheel skewer was a bit loose. Check!

Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 11:00 am

Duration: 5 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: 77.0 miles

This was the big day! My last attempt to do a long ride without wiping myself out. And I'm afraid I struck out.

Even after eating tons of pasta last night, and a good breakfast this morning, and a careful regimen of on-the-bike fuel, I just ran out of energy again. But maybe it's not the carb supply, maybe I'm just getting physically tired. All I know is, three years ago I had plenty of snap at the end of these rides, while today I just dragged myself through the last 25 miles. Sigh.

Anyway, I rode up through the forest preserve, then before the last leg I cut over to the Edens frontage road and kept going north to Lake Cook Road, which is where the Skokie Valley bike path starts. Then I took that further north to the North Shore path -- which is quite nice, I should ride the rest of that some time -- and into the Old School Forest Preserve, where I felt like I was in heaven.

That feeling didn't last long, though -- the path was rutted from runoff (the Des Plains River had been flooded for the last couple weeks) and the ruts were full of loose gravel that was rather treacherous. I had to slow on most of the corners, allowing two mountain bikers to pass and stay ahead of me, to their delight. I went off the path twice when I came around a blind corner into loose stuff and couldn't turn fast enough. It's not an Alpine descent in the Tour de France with guys grazing the shoulders, but that's what it reminded me of!

Unfortunately, that's also about the time I started getting tired, and by the time I rode back on Half Day Road and found the Skokie Valley path again, I was ready to be done. Oh, and something is up with my odometer, because at that point I thought I'd have 25 miles to go but it ended up being over 30.

When I hit hour four, I just couldn't bear to eat again, so I skipped it, and that's what made me think perhaps it's not a carb problem but just an overall fatigue problem.

One bad incident happened on the North Shore path, which was closed for a hundred yards where it passed under a bridge that was being renovated. I switched to the road, which had barely any traffic on it, and rode under the bridge where the lanes had been narrowed by pylons, thinking nothing of the detour. Suddenly, I got all this honking from behind, and looked back, and there was a huge pickup truck with the windows rolled down and two women shouting and gesturing at me in Spanish. I sat up and said, "What's your problem?" because I honestly couldn't see what was wrong. There were a few cars queued up behind them, and I guess they felt the road was too narrow to pass at that point, but seriously ... the pylons lasted 100 yards at most, and if they didn't have such a stupidly oversized vehicle, it wouldn't have been a problem. A minute or two later I switched back to the path just as they were doing a u-turn in front of me, and I relished the opportunity to sit up and give them a long, harsh glare. They glared right back, and I still couldn't figure out what they were so upset about.

On a nicer note, there were quite a few serious cyclists riding on the Skokie Valley path. The first time I rode there it was pretty desolate. One guy even had a CSC jersey like the one I was wearing, and we smiled at each other about that!

Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 14.0 miles

After a cool and rainy few days, the sky cleared and the temperature climbed to 70 today, so I took a break from work and revisited the sculpture garden after a long absence. True to form, two cars cut me off with right turns at two consecutive intersections ... jerks. Otherwise I just cruised easy and enjoyed the break, except for a fast segment right at the end which got my blood pumping good before I returned home.

Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Distance: 33.6 miles

I had a feeling that the season was winding down and today might be my last chance at a medium-length ride. Next weekend we're going to Madison and I can't expect too many warm days after that. So today I did my morning chores and headed up to the forest preserve for probably the last time this year.

I had no pressure and no goals other than to enjoy the day, the colors in the trees, and the crackling of fallen leaves on the bike path. But at the Dempster crossing, a pretty speedy in a blue jersey decided to try and follow my wheel ... which naturally made me decide to try and ride him off. I pushed the pace from that point until the edge of the Skokie Lagoons -- always edging up on my speed whenever I sensed him catching back on, and blasting up the overpasses to make him struggle -- but I didn't want to ride any longer than that. I think he might have been disappointed when I turned around, but he didn't say anything and I rode home feeling good.

Saturday, October 16, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 32.5 miles

Ah! The weather got real nice today and I was in good shape with my work, so I went for a ride. I realized I hadn't really ridden to Promontory Point all summer -- I just passed it once on the way to Wolf Lake -- so that's where I headed. There were quite a few people out near Navy Pier -- lots of tourists on rental bikes -- but overall I was able to ride unobstructed. To add to my enjoyment, there was a strong wind out of the south, which meant a strong tailwind coming home.

The end-of-year rides are hard because I feel like I'm saying goodbye to my favorite spots for up to six months. But they're even harder this year because we may have moved from Chicago by the time the spring season rolls around. I'll want to take some final farewell rides at that time, but it may be too cold and I may be too busy! So I stopped at Promontory Point for a while and got a good look at the view of the park house, and the lake, and the Loop before buzzing back home.

Friday, October 31, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 3 minutes
Distance: 15.8 miles

All right! I'd been eyeing the forecast all week since it was promising a sunny, 70 degree day today, and I was not disappointed. I went out with a jersey and arm warmers, and was able to take off the arm warmers after 10 minutes ... really nice. It seemed like lots of other cyclists were taking advantage of this gift, too; I chatted with two guys at stoplights on the sculpture park path.

The ride wasn't perfect -- swarms of bugs were everywhere along the north shore channel, and waiting for a long stoplight by the water treatment plant at Howard was smelly and buggy -- then the next stoplight was worse when a bunch of left-turners clogged the intersection after the light turned and I had to pick my way through the cars while someone yelled "come on, a**hole" to someone else behind me. But the other cyclists followed my law-abiding lead at the intersections, so not everyone was being rude.

Anyway, it felt good to ride, my bike was solid and my legs were springy, and if that's the last time I'll get to feel my bare arms in the wind for six months, I'll take it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: 31.6 miles

Well all right! After my last ride I was saying I might not see 70 degrees again for six months, but today it got up to 74! And I had already planned a slow day to follow the election results, so I was right there with a bike ride at the prime riding time. I went north on Green Bay Road to Lake Cook, then back on the Green Bay Trail.

I had a few fast spots and enjoyed the warm breeze and autumn leaves, but I ended up daydreaming about President Obama for most of the ride. Coming back through the sculpture park, I stopped at a stoplight next to a middle-aged guy on a mountain bike. He smiled and said, "Well, we might not get a day like this for a while," and I replied, "I thought last weekend was it, but this is a bonus." He said, "I think it's the winds of change." I laughed, "Yeah, it's a good omen!" He said, "I sure hope so." Nothing like a good political discussion spoken completely in code!

Well, I'm going to have a shower, do a little more work, and then start channel surfing while the votes come in.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 30 minutes
Distance: NA miles

I didn't have any New Year's resolutions in mind before today, when I thought of one: exercising twice a week. This shouldn't be hard in the sense that I love exercising ... fitting it into my schedule is the challenging part. But I'll give it a try, eh?

I started today on the trainer and the "Overcoming" film I bought last month ... actually, the Jens Voigt bonus track, since I watched the rest last night. It was a surprising film. After hearing all about Bjarne Riis's genius for management and teambuilding, I didn't expect to see everyone on the team, Bjarne most of all, stressed out all the time. We had blaming, gossiping and lack of focus ... nothing like I'd seen in the Lance Armstrong documentaries. Hmm! I wonder what's more accurate, this film or the popular perception of the team?

© 2002 Arlo Leach, all rights reserved.