Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Through the Ghetto and Over the Suburbs to Grandmother’s House I Go...

Given my performance on the last brevet, I thought I best spend some time in the saddle on Sunday. About 8:30 AM I left the house and made my way to North Avenue.

Besides the old-world stretch between Ashland and Western Aves., North is a dismal street to bike, 4 or more lanes, mostly curbs vs. shoulders and FAST traffic. However, it met several criteria:

1) It is a straight shot to my first destination and a good way to across the suburbs before Sunday joy(less)riding began.

2) The route features no turns to miss or ponder.

3) The fast traffic would put a fire under me to keep up the speed.

The fist stretch was rather uneventful. Some thugs in a late model sedan passed a little to close. M plates. As I progressed, bemused and bewildered suburbanites, clutching highly branded food and beverage items peered at me from their supersized SUVs.

It was about 10 AM and 25 miles west before traffic became obnoxious to the point where I took the lane. Given some of the reaction I got, don’t think many bicyclists in St. Charles do this. But safety first, or as I always say: “Fuck Off, Asshole.”

I hit the Fox River and its namesake trail at mile 33. It must have been the annual elderly folks, unsupervised-darting-children and inattentive-persons-who-walk-five-
abreast walk for the cure, because the trail was overrun. I got back on the road, southbound.

I was sipping coffee from my thermos near the windmill in Batavia when Taryn called. She was looking to go for a bike ride, but none of her other friends we awake yet. Capitol idea, Taryn, but perhaps another time.

I rode on to Aurora, immediately turning around at Noon, as not to be late to Grandma’s house. I rode about a whole quarter-mile on the Aurora branch of the Illinois Prairie Path before I got frustrated with the surface and the intersections. I bailed and cut across a bunch of McMansion subdivisions, until I came across Liberty rd. the recommended route on my trusty CBF map.

Ordinarily, I would suffer the trails—the bad pavement, the crummy intersections, the winding indirectness, the idiotic bollards— for the single benefit of not constantly looking over my shoulder for cars. But the starts and stops and blind corners are no good for a ‘training’ mission such as mine.

Liberty becomes Jefferson and passes through downtown Naperville, which is quick to tell you it’s as old as Chicago. If you want to see some rich-ass white folks, go to downtown Naperville.

I cruised the main drag in Downers Grove, 68 miles into the ride. Both the florist and chocolateer were closed, so I arrived at grandma’s empty handed. We ate turkey and swiss on rye and Waldorf salad, a serving of which, I realize as I type this, is sitting in my pannier now. Sorry Grandma.

After a pleasant afternoon shooting the breeze, I began the journey home. The wind had been in my face until I left Aurora, from the South to Southwest, but was now hard out of the west. I made my way over 294 to the 7 mile Salt Creek trail, a joyful jaunt, but the southern terminus of which dumps you out onto 31st St. at the Brookfield Zoo.

I stair-stepped my way back into the city 26th, Central, Roosevelt, Kedzie. I wasn’t too keen on ridding through the West Side dressed spandex, a reflective vest and other safety gear and on bike lit like a tree. Things were hopping, but I had minimal troubles.

When I arrived home I hadn’t yet tripped 100 miles, so I decided to make a celebratory beer run to Wicker Park, which put me at 102.5 in 7 hours of riding. I felt strong and ready for 50 more, which is good because the next brevet is 90 more.

(Great Lakes Brewing Co's Burning River Pale Ale, was the beer but I fell asleep before I could enjoy one.)



Rebecca said...

I would have loved to see a picture of you and your grandmother.

Anonymous said...

TC- the salt creek trail provides an awesome route back to the city. You take the trail from Western Springs (Wolf and Ogden basically) halfway through the trail to Cermak to Westchester BLVD. Take that North to the Prarie Path or St. Charles- then take a scenic jaunt through Oak Park- then North or whatever back into the City.

I love Westchester BLVD.