Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Around the World in 40 Miles

A bit behind in the ol’ blogging I know, but what can I do? Writing these things takes nearly as long as riding them.

Here’s about a ‘training’ ride from Thursday May 17. Stay tuned for a full report on the 3rd brevet, this past Saturday… well Saturday-Sunday to be more precise...


I met up with Lauren at the Buckingham Fountain, 8pm. The idea was to do a shorter ride not straying too far from public trans. I used the opportunity to bust out the fixie, a 2001 Bianchi Pisa acquired during my stint at On The Route Bicycles.

I don’t ride this machine much anymore. At 35, riding a brakeless track bike is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t proposition. Ride it and you’re clinging to your fading youth; hang it up and you’re too old to cope.

Really, it’s just that they’re poor for commuting. They’re dirty—no chain guard or fenders. Everything you carry is on your back. Pushing a higher gear breeds speed and sweat. The high tire pressure means frequent flats. The knee problems I was warned about never materialized, but I ride like Orrin Hatch (ultra-conservative.)

We hopped on the Lakefront Trail, north bound, stopping for a quick break to adjust Lauren’s new cyclometer. (Do these things ever work right?) We sipped my “girlie style” coffee (w/cream and sugar) while I chivalrously adjusted the mounting of the transmitter, slicing my thumb in the process. A mere flesh wound I assure you.

Taking the trail to its northern terminus, we exited at thee most paradoxical place to ride a bike in the city: Sheridan Rd. and Ardmore Av. This is the site of the infamous 2002 $250 sidewalk riding fine 1-year ordinance, sponsored by Alderman Mary Ann Smith to placate the residents of the Sheridan Road Condo Canyon— some of which came out to taunt bewildered cyclists being ticketed. It looks like she’s back at it.

Of course, it should be noted that her original proposal was an immediate seizure and forfeiture of the offender’s bike. A little known provision of an obscure legal document made this impossible.

Sidewalk riding is a serious problem here and desperately needs to be corrected. Unfortunately for everyone, the real reasons for the uncivil behavior – mainly the rational fear of being crushed to death negotiating Sheridan Rd.—were never addressed. Instead, the wrong-way bike lane on Ardmore was merely re-striped and a lame pavement marking scheme painted over the “street end,” preserving motor-vehicle access for Chinese food delivery drivers and the like. It is still entirely possible for the citizen motorist to drive up and onto the trail and, idiotically enough, for cyclists to ride up onto the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, law-abiding cyclists thought the Sheridan corridor are directed to ride a complex jumble of streets to the west—regardless of their actual destination.

I should know, I ordered and supervised the installation of maybe 100 different signs in the area, all the time dealing with the honks, swerving and death-threats while riding on Sheridan siting them. (I couldn’t damn well ride on the sidewalk now, could I?)

Yeah them problem is serious, but apparently not serious enough to remove a few on-street parking spaces on Ardmore or even ticket the vehicles parked in the bike lanes.

We continued up the “bike route,” which of course was missing key signs, and tried to find an example of the Caribbean & African culture in Rogers Park, taking a spin down Rogers Av. Touhy Av. on over to California Av., then a stop for Indian pastries on Devon Av., which would be the perfect dense combination of fat and sugar for brevet #3 on Saturday.

Lauren’s team came in 3rd in the 2007 University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt. Here she is proudly showing off her team wife beater. Congratulations F.I.S.T.

Back on California we made a brief stop at the Paseo Boricua and at my house in East Garfield Park to pet my Dog. Then Fulton St. to the Loop, back on the LFT and south to Hyde Park to drop Lauren off. The Green Line had ceased running, so I rode. Bronzeville, Pilsen, Taylor St.

This is what I love most about Chicago. You can travel around the world in 40 miles.


1 comment:

lauren said...

actually, that's my team shirt from two years ago. i never did make one this year, but i want to! it will include this ambigram (um, look that up on wikipedia) of our team name:
that was designed for an item, of course.

also, we much prefer the terms "negative spousal interaction apparel" and "domestic justice shirt" to wife beater.