Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Biking But Not Blogging

Work and various family obligations prevented me from biking as much as I'd have liked in the last month. A half dozen projects around the house (repairing freezer, car window motor, busted dryer belt, cracked paint, wet basement) and a busy work schedule prevented me from blogging. Plus I just haven't been that inspired.

It was still dark at around 5:30 am when I had breakfast before my morning ride. Kind of depressing to think the winter and night biking approaches.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Goofus on EPO

Another Lucas Brunelle alley cat race video. This time they terrorize the good people of London.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Righteous Indignation

This morning I had another encounter with Alberto's Guy. He sped past me on the Green Bay Trail in a different Alberto's get up. He slowed after a while and I caught up to him in Wilmette. He came to a dead stop at a stop sign on Poplar and I zipped by him. I didn't bother greeting him this time because I doubted I'd get a friendly one in return. I continued south on Poplar to Lincoln in Evanston where Alberto's Guy probably turned at Isabella. Part of my pannier detached from my rack and I had to stop to reattach it.

Upon continuing along Lincoln I saw Alberto's Guy up ahead turning from Ashland. Further on the light was red at Ridge and he stopped again. Figuring "what the hell" I said "good morning" as I slowed and crossed Ridge. Nothing yet again. However about a quarter block later I thought I heard him yell something. After turning onto Sherman, Alberto's Guy passed me again but this time berated me for ignoring the red light and such behavior leading to hatred from motorists. So that's his beef; my casual disregard for the rules of the road. A red light at Foster provided a chance for us to discuss the matter further. I sputtered something in the neighborhood of admiring his stance but not willing to change mine all the while snaking through the red again. He shouted some other stuff at me while we biked on but the only things I could make out were "no justification!" and "stupid!" Thankfully another red light at Church Street blocked his path. Having no problem ignoring this one too, I was finally free of his proselytizing.

At first Alberto's Guy got me feeling guilty, thinking my lawlessness was contributing to mass bicyclist hatred. But then I thought, "does everyone hate jay walking pedestrian's too?" The only one I'm putting in danger is myself. And I don't make a habit of putting myself in danger in the first place since I'm not the type to thread myself through busy intersections. I actually do wait out reds if there is cross traffic. But once it clears, I'm gone. Illegal? Yup. Am I rationalizing? Possibly. But frankly who cares? Further, in my experience, Alberto's Guy is also in the minority. Not that it justifies running reds and stop signs. But it seemed he was militant on the issue strictly for my benefit. And If I remember correctly, he blew right through the four way stop intersection at Lincoln and Ashland after our paths diverged.

Biking on Clark in Chicago, Biking Mike once again caught up to me. It is very strange for me to encounter the same bicyclists so frequently. But I welcomed a friendly face. But Mike is much more casual with traffic laws than I am. So I can only imagine the dust up between him and Alberto's Guy. We came up to another bicyclist on a mountain bike wearing a jersey from a local bike racing team. The three of us biked together to Sheridan Road and I asked the guy if he'd raced in Evanston the past weekend. He said he hadn't but wished he had. Once on the Lakefront Trail I learned he was a Category 2 racer. I was feeling pretty good about myself being able to keep up with him. But around Diversey a roadie passed us and he shot off in pursuit. Biking Mike wryly remarked that it was nice of him to have taken it slow for our benefit.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3423.4 miles
Price of gas: $3.46

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pace Line

Ideal biking conditions for my commute home. The City of Chicago keeps tearing up parts of Roosevelt Road leaving sharp indentations in the pavement. They will likely be filled within the week but they are a bit of a surprise sometimes.

While crossing Grand Avenue I saw a bicyclist in racing attire from one of the local teams at the ENH Grand Prix over the past weekend. Once in normal bike traffic I came abreast and asked if he was participated. He said he was new to the team so he hadn't. I wasn't going to bother him further so I just slipped back and followed him for a while expecting he'd cruise off. Well he must have been taking a light day because I was in danger of running up his back wheel. After Oak Street Beach I cruised past him and some other roadies and went on my way.

The other roadies fell in behind me and I lead them in a pretty rapid pace line until around Addison. My GPS bike mount must have cracked because after a major bump the thing popped loose and dangled from my handlebars. I slowed to put it back in and one of the roadies offered to let me draft for a while. I gladly fell in behind two gentleman and one trailing me all the way up to Foster. After the crossing, the lead guy fell back and the number two man took the lead and sped off like a shot. He wasn't burdened with a pack or bags like the rest of us but I don't think I could have hanged with him anyway. Speed demon was waiting at the turnaround and I limply waved as I continued on my way to the city streets.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3399.1 miles
Price of gas: $3.46

Bike Races

Pleasant Monday morning ride. I biked down Sherman Avenue in Evanston which was along the same route as scores of ENH Grand Prix bike racers from the day before. I learned of the day's races from the Evanston Bike Club web group. I've never seen bike races in person so I couldn't resist taking my wife and kids and hoping on the Metra to watch them for a few hours. We got into town around 1:00 pm and as we walked east on Church Street blocks ahead we saw a pack of bicyclists whizzing by in a blur. It was quite exciting once we got track side to see the lead car and the pack approaching at nearly 30 mph. About every minute or so they sped past with a loud humming of gears and rush of wind. I don't think the spectacle excited my wife or young sons nearly as much as it did for me. A guy told us the racers were Category 3 (whatever that means) forty years and older. So my wife immediately responded that I should be out there. I don't know how far they raced but there was no way I could even sustain a lap with them.

The race ended about ten minutes later but shortly thereafter another started with younger riders biking forty five .9 mile laps. At first the group was a big mob but soon a few lagged behind and eventually dropped out. A couple racers were quite chunky and I wondered to myself what they were doing out there in the first place; on the other hand I was at the sidelines merely watching - more power to them. Our train back home was going to leave before the end of the second race so we had to miss a likely exciting finish. But I learned there will be more races in Glencoe next month; so we'll all likely make a day of it then.

My ride was pleasant but humbling when I compared my performance to the racers. I could barely break 20 mph. Granted I had a pretty heavy bag and wasn't atop a racing bike but I wasn't going for 30 to 45 miles either. Oh well. Maybe if I wore an $80 jersey, $60 shorts and had a peloton to draft in I'd go faster.

Biking through Lincoln Park, I decided to take a detour to check out the clock tower and structure near the Chicago Park District's lakefront public golf course. The Chicago Tribune just started a contest where you have to identify a Chicago landmark based on a photograph and some cryptic clues. This one showed a curved masonry wall and a shingled roof and said it was from a late 1930's field house in a location inspired by Daniel Burnham's 1909 plan for Chicago. I see this building everytime I bike by but I've never been to it up close. When I got there I determined this was not the right place. I figured the location had to be along the lakefront but I was out of ideas for now.

South of North Street Beach I caught up to a nicely tricked out roadie. I was reluctant to pass him because I didn't want him to zoom by me later and make me feel like a goof. But as we approached the Oak Street curve I got a bit tired of hugging his back wheel. Just before the surface gets all potted and chunky I glided by and deftly manuevered all the bumps and holes. Since I committed to going out in front I pedalled very hard determined not to be passed. Apparently my tactic worked because at Ohio Street Beach my roadie friend wasn't on my tail. I managed to make the light at Grand Avenue and kept to a liesurely pace for the rest of my trip.

Distance Traveled: 24.6 miles
Distance to date: 3374.8 miles
Price of gas: $3.51

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bushwacker USA - Top Notch!

The good people at Bushwacker USA bike bags sent me a free replacement set of cords and hardware that attaches my pannier to the bike rack. They finally wore out after a number of years of hard service and I was using some small bungee cord instead. Terrific service in my opinion. Call them at 800-344-1256 and order a bike bag today!

Sunny and light winds. The usual routine except while biking in traffic up Clark Street I was passed by a big dude all tricked out in red Alberto's biking gear and Trek to match. Except for the beefy build, he was straight out of a bike catalog. I followed him for a few blocks until he was stopped at a red and I pulled up beside him. I said hello and was about to compliment him on his set up. But I got absolutely nothing in response. I looked over at him and he just looked straight ahead and totally ignored me. Oh kaaay. Unless he thought I was going to hit on him, I found his attitude very peculiar. Traffic let up so I pedaled ahead never to see him again.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3350.2 miles
Price of gas: $3.51

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More Biking With Mike

I puttered around this morning and started about 10 minutes later than I like. It wasn't until I got to the Green Bay Trail that I realized I left my two water bottles in the refrigerator back home. That didn't totally throw me off since I could get a drink along the Lakefront Trail. But I obviously prefer the convenience of having hydration at my finger tips. So in an effort to avoid getting too thirsty, I eased my pace a bit.

I was trucking along just fine through the North Shore and into Chicago when who sidles up beside me but Mike from the day before. Oh great! I thought. I'm gonna have to go fast now. But I handled it ok. We stopped at a fountain at the start of the Lakefront Trail so I could get a drink. After that we made pretty good time all the way downtown. Mike lead most of the way enabling me to draft behind him. I learned he parks at the Millennium Park bike station and walks up to the vicinity of the Hancock Building where he is an architect. Mike turned off south of Wacker and I was left to fend for myself.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3325.9 miles
Price of gas: $3.51

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Biking With Mike

Standard sunny day although a bit hotter than usual. Lakefront Trail was a bit crowded due to terrific weather. Between Ohio and Oak Streets I started a bit of a biking partnership with another commuter I later learned was named Mike. He was on a a road bike or hybrid with straight handlebars and packed his gear in a messenger bag. At first I passed him and said hello thinking that was the last I'd see of him. But as I continued on in my ride I noticed him behind me. So I guess he was going to keep up and enjoy biking in my slipstream.

I can see why my biking on people's tails is annoying. In my case when I pass people I like them to stay passed. When they catch up or stay with me and eventually pass me it means I'm not as big a bad ass as I thought I was. But it can also be a chance to spread the load. In this case, Mike eventually passed me after I began to get really tired. I said hello again and we talked a bit. He said he was headed up to Evanston and this provided further opportunity to engage him in conversation. Conversation also forces people to slow down to a pace I can manage when I'm close to exhaustion. It turns out we take almost the same route and we rode together for the rest of the ride.

Mike said he's been riding to and from work for three weeks. Even though I've been at it longer, he seemed to be in better shape. He was also a bit more aggressive when it came to biking through traffic; he was much more inclined to take chances on red lights than I was. I find a lot of people are more aggressive than I am when it comes to red lights. Biking in traffic is risky enough without pushing my luck too much. Plus if I got in an accident while running a red light I'd feel like a total ass.

Mike waved off on Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Shortly thereafter I stopped at a Shell gas station to buy a bottle of Pepsi as I was out of water. As I drank my soda it started to sprinkle a bit. I knew rain was in the forecast but I thought I could beat it home. About five minutes later it started to pour.

For the rest of my ride I hopscotched from shelter to shelter to avoid getting soaked. Normally I'd resign myself to getting drenched but I had time on my hands and it didn't look like it would rain constantly. My first stop was under an overhang at an apartment building at Chicago and Clark. I waited about five minutes and sped off after the rain let up. I made it to Sherman where another three apartment buildings provided shelter along my way. I got pretty wet when I headed out again until taking refuge at Ryan Field. I made two more stops at the Wilmette and Kenilworth train stations (where it really came down) until I finally made it home.

Distance Traveled: 24.5 miles
Distance to date: 3301.6 miles
Price of gas: $3.51

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Usual

My ride into work this morning was uneventful. Ideal weather but my body was a bit abused over the weekend with a head cold, yellow jacket sting on my right wrist and some soreness from a lacrosse match. A slow leak in my rear tire also caused me some worry throughout the ride.

For some reason the streets and the trails seemed less populated this morning. Maybe a lot of people decided to take the day off. But it was nice to be back on my usual route and its familiarity (knowing all the potholes and other road hazards, traffic patterns, short cuts, etc). I don't think I'll be taking the North Branch Trail route anytime soon despite the scenery. It took a bit longer and Elston Avenue is too boring.

The only bad part about my ride was no hot water showers in the locker room. But to put it in perspective, a cold shower is better than no shower.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3277.1 miles
Price of gas: $3.54

Friday, July 13, 2007

North Branch Trail

Based on my ride with Howard earlier this week, I decided to try his route up Elston and the North Branch Trail. I left work a little early assuming the route might take a little longer than my usual ride.

The trip had an inauspicious beginning. As I headed north on Damen through the Medical District I negotiated around a bus stopped at Ogden. As I crossed the wide street I heard some tooting behind me as I made for the bike lane. More tooting followed and when I stopped at the red at Congress, a guy in his green Jaguar honked some more at me as he pulled along side in a right turn lane. This little encounter made me the most pissed off I've ever been on my rides; I had done absolutely nothing wrong but this jack ass in his pricey car was apparently upset because he had to wait a second or two as I headed for my lane. So I pulled infront of his car and flipped him the bird accompanied by a loud verbal equivalent. He was with someone I assumed to be his spouse but now he wouldn't even look me in the eye. He gave some sort of impotent wave no doubt hoping I wasn't some sort of psycho. Still pissed, I stormed off in a crunch of chain popping and gear grinding. Despite getting the last word and the satisfaction of putting an a-hole in his place, the encounter really put me in a sour mood.

The rest of my ride north on Damen was pleasant. Damen has a dedicated bike lane and took me through Ukranian Village, Wicker Park, and Bucktown; neighborhoods with generally bike friendly populations. After the dicey intersection at Fullerton, I turned northwest on Elston.

Elston Avenue is like a bike highway; bike lane, smooth surface, and not too many intersections. But since it primarily goes through industrial areas, it isn't very scenic. I don't imagine motorists enjoy it too much either. Vehicular traffic was backed up almost the entire seven mile stretch. At one point I noticed I kept passing the same black mega pickup truck hauling a trailer. He'd pass me once traffic got moving but soon he'd get bogged down and I'd glide past him again. Eventually I saw the guy get really aggressive far ahead. He cut into the bike and parking lane and passed a bunch of cars on the right. I hammered the pedals to catch up and annoy but I guess his recklessness paid off. I couldn't catch him anymore.

I finally made it to the North Branch Bike Trail but I was a bit disapointed. It goes through some very beautiful areas of the Cook County Forest Preserve but I found the surface a bit rough for my liking and the path winds all over the place. However I realize the path isn't meant for speed and efficiency. It is for people who want a relaxing ride or hike through some terrific country. If I wasn't trying to compare the speed of this commuting route, I would have slowed down and really taken in the scenery. The path goes through arches of trees and skirts the North Branch of the Chicago River. Sometimes the river gives off a stale washing detergent smell though.

After a while the placid forest began to grow tiresome. The rough asphalt was jarring and I was looking forward to getting off it. The constant bumping caused my bike to start rattling again and I suspected I had a loose spoke. When I reached Willow Road I opted off the trail and took a more direct route home. It was nice to get on some smooth streets again. When I arrived home I saw the ride took about fifteen minutes longer but covered the exact same mileage as my usual ride. I doubt I'll take that route again though. Elston was too boring.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3252.8 miles
Price of gas: $3.54

Update: The Cook County Forest Preserve is planning to resurface the North Branch Trail per this announcement. I might take another crack at it this fall.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blah, Blah, Blah

Low 60s, mostly sunny, moderate cross winds. Biked from home blah, blah, blah.

Biked through traffic, blah, blah, blah.

Biked the Lakefront Trail, blah, blah, blah.

Got into work, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Boss saw me walking from the parking lot and learned for the first time that I bike into work, blah, blah, blah.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3228.5 miles
Price of gas: $3.45

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blue Wednesday

Terrific weather again this afternoon but I was feeling a little low. Personal and financial issues got me down today and I wasn't in as great a mood as I normally am when I hit the road. So I just toddled along Roosevelt slower than my normal pace. Luckily it was a nice day.

After a few miles I managed to emerge from my funk. Maybe the increased blood flow pushed mood enhancers through my body. I wasn't exactly euphoric but I wasn't quite as gloomy anymore. The wind at my back also may have helped.

No biking buddies today. Everyone was either too slow or too fast. A guy was tailing me pretty close through pedestrian and slow bike traffic in Lincoln Park but he seemed to fade away after we passed Irving Park Road. Around Bryn Mawr I passed a guy on one of those tiny fold up bikes. I said hello but he seemed to ignore me. I once read some folding bike sales info stating that because of different gearing, folding bikes go just as fast as regular wheeled bikes. This guy I passed was moving pretty good but I think it would take a greater effort to match a regular bike's speed.

In Evanston I decided to try an alternate route that took me on Lincoln and Ashland. Lincoln is bike heaven; wide, scenic and smooth. Ashland is the pits; uneven and cracked concrete making for a bone and bike shaking ride. I might try an alternate route from Lincoln though as the route also avoids a moderate hill.

As I approached Isabella, a guy on a road bike zoomed across my path on what appeared to be a training ride. He was sporting a Northwestern bike jersey. I couldn't tell if he was young enough for their team or was an alumni. Either way he was very fast and pedaled way, way up ahead. After we both turned north on Poplar, I saw he slowed a bit. I eventually caught up to him in Wilmette. He didn't seem to manuever through traffic as well as me so maybe it was a new route for him. He was probably doing interval training. I was on his tail well into Kenilworth. He wasn't very friendly and I suspect my presence might have annoyed him. He detoured around Sears School whereas I cut through on a direct route to the Green Bay Trail. I was alone about a mile into Winnetka until, as I expected, he zoomed by me at a high rate of speed. He made quite a bit of distance between us until I saw he slowed again. By this time I made my exit at Tower and headed home to sulk.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3204.2 miles
Price of gas: $3.45

Monday, July 09, 2007

Biking With Howard

This morning as I sped down a ramp onto the Green Bay Trail from Tower Road I thought I saw another bicyclist in my peripheral vision. I didn't think much of it until about a half mile later the trail was blocked by a tree limb. As I negotiated the obstacle the bicyclist caught up to me and we remarked about the tree. I continued on at a slower pace expecting him to catch up but he hung back. So I continued on my way thinking he had other plans. I was waiting to cross Lake Avenue in Wilmette when there he was again. I continued on and realized he was following me at a polite distance. Finally after a few blocks I slowed, greeted him, and asked where he was headed. He replied he was headed to Chicago and figured he'd just follow me. I guess with my bag he assumed I was headed into the city.

He introduced himself as Howard and he was from Buffalo Grove. His usual route into work was via the North Branch Trail and Elston Avenue eventally biking to Belmont. A friend of his suggested a route but I guess he found it easier to tail someone actgually going there. So we biked together for a good portion of my ride in.

His friend's route had some benefits and some drawbacks compared to mine. His Evanston leg suggested taking Isabella to Ashland to Lincoln to Sherman whereas I take Isabella to Ridge to Central to Sherman. My route takes me through my old neighborhood but also on some busy streets and up a moderate hill. His route is flatter and goes by some quieter and smoother streets. I think I'll try his friends route.

The next deviation from my route was turning from Clark in Chicago on to Jarvis and working south on Greenveiw and Glenwood to Granville. There is less motor traffic but there were too many streets where we faced cross traffic. Clark Street is busier but it is easier to cruise without stopping. His route probably took him south on Winthrop but I've pledged to never bike that street unless absolutely neccessary.

Once on the Lakefront Trail Howard and I yakked some more. Howard's usual bike ride is about 35 miles. He doesn't do it every day though. He also has to shower and change at a health club about two blocks from work. He is planning to move into the city so I guess he won't have any long relaxing bike rides into work anymore.

I expected him to exit at Belmont but he said he made such good time this morning he was going to extend his ride. So he continued south with me. Around Diversey a regular guy (regular clothes, shoes, helmet-less, squeaky bike) breezed by us. I was fine at our relaxed pace but Howard jokingly said, "Are we going to stand for that?" So we set off in pursuit and I quickly caught up to the young man. I was content to settle into his slipstream because I was a bit winded from the short chase. Howard came abreast and said something to the effect of being careful what he wished for. I guess he was a bit winded too. South of Fullerton a serious bicyclist eased by our group of three. I guess my adrenaline level was still pretty high so I chased after him hoping to catch a draft. It was a foolish attempt. I gained on him but was in no condition to hang. We were approaching North Avenue and he chose to bike by the beach house where I bike closer to Lake Shore Drive. Good thing too as I was about to black out.

I maintained a decent pace but after a while I slowed and looked to see if Howard was still back there. Only the younger bicyclist was there and he glided past. Oh well. I caught up to the young man again and we stuck together until around the Ohio Street Beach. While stopped at the light at Grand Avenue neither Howard or the young man were to be seen and it was back to the usual grind.

Distance Traveled: 24.4 miles
Distance to date: 3179.9 miles
Price of gas: $3.45

Friday, July 06, 2007

Minor Mechanical Problems

Great weather for biking except it was a bit hot for my liking. The breeze was generally at my back so I made pretty good time.

Just north of Fullerton I noticed my bike was making more than the usual amount of noise. It turns out an elastic cord on my Bushwacker garment bag pannier snapped again. The cord secures the bag to the side of my rack and snapped a while back. The first time it broke I jerry rigged it back into place but when it busted again I lost a critical piece of hardware. So now I have to figure out how I'm going to secure the bag to my rack. Perhaps some mini-bungee will do the trick. In the meantime, my bag occasionally flopped against my bike.

Around Belmont I came upon a guy wearing a Campagnolo cap riding a fixed gear Bianchi. He had a very good pace but was slowed considerably by the crowds on the path. I was right behind him for a while and we came upon a lady biking in the middle of the lane listening to her iPod. I rang my bell in an unsuccessful attempt to get her attention. Apparently the guy on the Bianchi thought I was ringing at him because he shouted at me, "We'll get there!" I shouted back that I was ringing at the girl and not him. Not sure if he heard me though. Either way our encounter seemed to energize him because he really picked up the pace. Like a mindless dog chasing a car, I sped up in pursuit. For the most part I stuck to him pretty well. However he had an advantage at intersections since he was much better at accelerating. At one point I came up beside him and complemented him on this fact.

There were quite a few cars at the intersections forcing us to slow down. The guy braked his fixed gear bike quite well. But the slowing and speeding up wore me out and I could barely keep up with him. Mercifully he turned off at the underpass leading to Berwyn and interrupted the Pavlovian cycle.

I noticed my bike was really making a lot of noise now. I figured it was my flopping pannier. It wasn't until I was in Evanston that it drove me crazy enough to stop and try to minimize the clatter. I found my front bottle cage was cracked and was the source of the rattling that had been bothering me for weeks. Thinking it would be a quick fix, I dug out my Topeak Alien multi-tool to remove the cage and swap it with the one on the seat tube and end the racket once and for all. Unfortunately one of the braze on bolts holding the seat tube cage wouldn't come out. It seemed the female end was spinning with the bolt. But for almost half an hour I stubbornly attempted to get it out.

During this time I noticed plenty of bicyclists riding by and paying me no mind. I was in no need of assistance but I found it a breach of bike etiquette. But I also thought of all the times I didn't offer help either. If I see a guy at the side of the road and he looks like he knows what he's doing I leave him alone. So maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing.

I guess I was there long enough that either it was a statistical certainty someone would offer an assist or I began to look like I needed it. A young man named Zephyr (phonetic) stopped and asked if I could use some help. I said I was fine but explained the problem. I managed to get the bolt out a little bit by wedging the cage against the lip of the nut side of the braze on. But I still had a ways to go. Zephyr, a member of the Northwestern Bicycling Team, suggested the bolt may be stripped or I could dremel the cage away in order to get a better grip on it. But his best suggestion was to just leave it alone. I was kind of getting tired so I took his advice and got back on the road. Who knows how long I'd have kept at it if he hadn't stopped by? On the plus side, my bike was now considerably quieter.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3155.5 miles
Price of gas: $3.45

Crack Up

Another terrific morning to bike to work. Sunny, clear and the wind was mostly at my back. Not too many people on the streets or the Lakefront Trail. Probably becasue of the 4th of July breaking up the week. I did come across another commuter on Clark Street though; a rare occurrence. We biked together until Devon where I continued south to Granville and he headed east, presumably to Winthrop. Never saw him again. I was lucky that I didn't have to stop at the red light at Ardmore and Sheridan; another rare occurrence.

The rest of the ride was the usual until I was back in traffic. I had a ringside seat for a head on collision while waiting out the light at Canal and Roosevelt. A black Charger(?) in cross traffic tried to squeeze out a left turn and smashed into an oncoming greenish Mustang(?) that just got the green. The Mustang honked but I guess Charger figured he'd stop and let him through. Big mistake that resulted in an ugly scene. Both drivers leaned from their cars and started pointing and yelling at each other. Feeling a bit giddy at being neither, I pointed at both of them. The traffic aide manning the intersection told the Charger driver he didn't have the signal. This didn't stop him from arguing but I could tell it greatly tempered his zeal. The other driver, now firmly atop the moral high ground, obnoxiously suggested they get their cars out of the chaotic intersection. Traffic was stopped in all directions and I initially couldn't do anything except enjoy the show.

Having recently gone through the hassles of a driver backing into my wife's car, I empathized with both of them. However I had less sympathy for the Charger driver. I'm very familiar with his type; the a-hole that pushes the limit in order to avoid waiting in traffic. They assume the rest of us will display normal caution so they can zoom about with abandon... Hmmm. That sounds like me sometimes. Off my soap box. Eventually I slunk through the intersection and continued on, albeit at a slightly slower and more cautious pace.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3131.2 miles
Price of gas: $3.45

Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday Evening Ride Home

Since I'm taking the next three days off from work, I decided to bike back home tonight. I don't usually bike a round trip in one day but since I can sleep in tomorrow I thought I'd take advantage of the weather.

During the day I took my car out to charge the battery. I find if I let it sit more than four days the battery dies. So I drove to a nearby White Castle for a pair of double cheeseburgers, fries and a coke. I don't normally eat such food for lunch but it really seemed to power my ride home. The last time I had a burger for lunch and biked home, it had a similar effect. I was supercharged.

But I had to idle the engines between Roosevelt and Monroe again. The Taste of Chicago crowds spilled over on the Lakeshore Path. Just as I crested a hill north of the Field Museum, there was an ambulance, a fire truck, a bunch of bikes, and bicyclists standing around on the path. I guess there must have been a major crack up. I slowed but couldn't determine exactly what happened. I biked with more than more my normal vigilance. Good thing too. Lots of people on the path oblivious to bicyclists. I'm not knocking them though. I'd probably be oblivious too if I didn't make it down here that much. After Monroe the pedestrians eased up a bit.

The winds were at my back this time. That and my slider enhanced diet enabled me to speed up to almost 25 mph. In less crowded parts of the path, I was zooming by people like they were stuck in cement. I even coasted by a really tricked out roadie on a training ride.

My wife and sons met me on the Green Bay Trail at Tower. We walked the rest of the way home. It was a nice way to cool down.

Distance Traveled: 24.0 miles
Distance to date: 3106.9 miles
Price of gas: $3.45

Summer Monday

Initially ideal biking conditions this morning. Then the stiff headwinds from the south kicked in. Nothing I wasn't use to but annoying nonetheless.

It was the usual biking routine until around Belmont where I caught up to Troy, a gentleman I've frequently encountered on my morning commutes. He was taking it easy this morning as he had done some pretty strenuous biking over the weekend. So it was a good opportunity to slow down and enjoy the ride instead of making it into a death race. Our kids know each other from preschool and swim classes so we talked about lessons, camps, and 4th of July plans until he broke off at North Avenue.

The winds really kicked in right after that. Since I sped up a little bit, my wind resistance also increased a little I suppose. It was kind of an ass kicker until Grand Avenue where the buildings broke up the breeze. As soon as I headed west on Roosevelt, it was a completely different story. Biking was almost effortless. The lights were in my favor and now the wind was at my back. Except for a motorist behind me who was quick on her horn, the rest of the ride was commuting bliss.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3082.9 miles
Price of gas: $3.51

Friday, June 29, 2007


Beautiful weather and good company today. (I meant to bike home on Wednesday but the threat of storms scared me off. There was a little bit of rain on my drive home but it dissipated after a while. I saw bicyclists while driving up Lakeshore Drive and thought I should have toughed it out . Oh well.) Grant Park was getting pretty crowded with The Taste Of Chicago. It made biking from Roosevelt to Monroe a bit trickier but I always welcome a diversion.

A beefy guy on a Cannondale passed me during this stretch. He struck me as Lakefront Trail novice because he didn't seem to negotiate the crowds as well as most bicyclists I see along here. I ended up passing him at the light at Wacker Drive. I've gotten to know that most cross traffic there turns left as opposed to continuing west to Navy Pier. It wasn't until after Oak Street Beach that he passed me again. I tried to keep up but could only keep him in sight as he widened his lead. At some points he'd slow down and fool me into thinking I could catch him again. But then he'd pick up the pace and I'd get a bit demoralized. He finally turned off at Belmont leaving me to bike in peace.

Around Wilson or Lawrence a taller guy on a squeaky road bike huffed past me and I fell into his slipstream. His large stature provided a really good draft. At some point he slowed a bit and came abreast, said hello and offered to let him take a break. He accepted quite eagerly and I took the lead. The difference was dramatic. I was really chugging to maintain the same pace. Not too long after he took over again. Prematurely, in my opinion. We continued for a short while at a really good pace but then he waved off. I took the lead again but he didn't keep up. I even slowed a bit but he too far back. While waiting at the long light at Sheridan and Ardmore, he caught up and I asked where he'd gone. I can't remember exactly what he said but he appeared a bit dejected. I said I really appreciated being able to draft off him for so long and was disappointed I couldn't return the favor. I said it was like a having a 20 mph tail wind. This appeared to buck him up a little; good thing too. He rode like a machine. He didn't know I was behind him I guess. He said he bikes from downtown to Farwell. I broke off and headed to Broadway and he headed north on Kenmore.

Biking north at an easy pace on Chicago in Evanston, I was passed by a guy wearing a RAGBRAI XXXIV jersey. I stuck with him and at a red light I said hello and asked about the shirt. It was from the annual ride across Iowa (I knew I had seen that acronym somewhere). I know a good number of people who have done the ride. The gentleman said his name was Matt or Mark or something like that (I have an awful memory for names) and was biking to the Northbrook Velodrome. We biked together a bit longer until I turned west at Clark. Then I raced to see if I could keep pace with him where our paths would cross at Sheridan and Isabella. I think my route might be a little less direct than his route on Sheridan. I was delayed by a red light at Sherman and Noyes but otherwise made good time in my opinion. But I didn't see him either way up ahead or down back on Sheridan when I got to Isabella. So either he was waaay up ahead or waaay far behind. I didn't ponder the issue and headed home.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3058.6 miles
Price of gas: $3.51

Monday, June 25, 2007

Biking With Gary

Met another commuter named Gary this morning. He is a frequent commuter who was headed in from Northwest Evanston. Our paths crossed at Granville and Clark. He told me he tries to bike in almost everyday to a school in Lincoln Park. He bikes down McCormick; a route I've often contemplated.

It is always nice to share the ride. Even though we slowed to talk, I still manage to get a good workout. We discussed the usual bike commuting topics, bikes, bike security, route selection, etc. He was riding one of those interesting road bikes where the seat is mounted on a carbon cantelever of sorts. Gary said it absorbs road impacts for a smoother ride. Speaking of road impact, I hit a few bumps that were so jarring I thought I'd bent my front rim. I definitely need to put more air in my tires. I was lucky I didn't get two pinch flats this morning.

My left wrist is still not 100% recovered from the injury last March. It doesn't hurt but it is still weaker than normal and does not have the same range of motion as my right wrist. But considering I never had a professional check it out, it is doing pretty good.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3034.3 miles
Price of gas: $3.59

Thursday, June 21, 2007

3000 Miles

Despite ideal weather, I was unable to bike again until my commute home Friday afternoon. Rain was predicted in the area but I was determined to risk it. Luckily I only encountered a few sprinkles during my ride.

There were slight winds in my face but nothing to hinder my progress. My bike has developed a few annoying rattles but I think they are from my front fender. I'm sure if I ever get around to investigating them they'll be easy to fix.

Not many speedy cyclists on the Lakefront Trail but around Oak Street Beach I spotted a young lady with a pretty good pace. It took until Fullerton to catch up to her but not until after the Theater On The Lake was it safe to overtake her. I said hi as I passed and she greeted me back. I figured that would be the last I'd see of her and I'd extend my lead. Apparently she wasn't going to take my breezing by her lightly and stayed right on my tail. No matter how fast I went she was still right there behind me. At this point I wasn't concerned about her in my slipstream but of the awful notion of her passing me since I erroneously assumed she wouldn't even be able to keep up in the first place.

I resigned myself to not shaking her and got into the spirit of our mutual effort. The bike path was crowded in spots and I was mindful to ring my bell and signal for turns and slowing in traffic (I especially didn't want to repeat the near crack up I had the previous Monday). So we whizzed up the Lakefront Trail until she came abreast south of Montrose where she said she was turning off. She also said something like I was one of the most conscientious bikers she'd ever seen. If I wasn't so flushed with exertion I would have blushed. I thanked her for the compliment and introduced myself. She said her name was Beth.

The rest of the ride was the usual.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3010.0 miles
Price of gas: $3.59

Monday, June 18, 2007

More Taking It Easy

I took my time again this morning because I knew I was going to have a busy and tiring day. Ideal biking conditions. Sunny and cool with minimal winds.

I'm begining to enjoy taking a more relaxed ride to work. My usual practice is to beat myself to death riding as fast as possible and ending up just getting stressed out in the process. On the other hand, it is a really, really good exercise and keeps my belly in check. But I'll have to remind myself to slow it down and enjoy the ride every once in a while.

I encountered another commuter at Sheridan and Ardmore. We said hello and after getting the kinks out along the Lakefront Trail ended up leading him for most of the ride. I nearly caused a collision weaving in and out of slower bicyclists and roller bladers through the more congested areas of Lincoln Park. In that case I heard the screech of brakes behind me when I balked at passing a skater due to oncoming traffic. Oh well, another lesson learned.

South of Belmont Harbor, a pretty well outfitted roadie glided by us and my collegue decided to give chase. Despite my intention of a taking it easy, I joined the pursuit but enjoyed drafting for a change. We kept pace with him but never ran him down. Not that we couldn't probably. But I wasn't going to push it. The roadie turned off at North Avenue and I followed my unknown commuting colleague until he turned off at Michigan.

South of Oak Street it seemed a bit of a head wind kicked in and I had to exert myself yet some more. The remainder of the ride was delightfully uneventful.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2985.7 miles
Price of gas: $3.72

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Relaxing Friday

This morning, while eating my Cheerios, Paul Conrad from Channel 9 News was making fun of guys in bike shorts at the Chicago Bike to Work Rally at Daley Plaza downtown. My bike was parked at work so I would not have the pleasure of being ridiculed on TV. But I left work early and made it to the rally around lunch time. No free fruit and drinks left from the morning but still lots of tents promoting biking to work. I didn't stay long.

I biked home at a more leisurely pace. No one was home waiting for me so I wasn't in a hurry. Lots of people enjoying the beaches and the terrific weather. North of Diversey I came upon a guy wearing a coolie had on a three wheeled recumbent toting a two drawer filing cabinet. The driver of this outfit was named Peter. He said the bike was his primary mode of transportation and the day before he biked from around Sox park to a destination way up on the north side that escapes me right now. Unlike a lot of other recumbents I've seen, this one would be tough to miss in traffic.

I continued to enjoy the easy pace all the way to my brother's house in Rogers Park. My brother wasn't home but he said I should stop by anyway to check out his silkworm project. My brother's place has a few mulberry trees and he hatched the idea to take advantage of the tree's bounty to feed silkworms (a few years ago he made a bunch of inedible mulberry pies and jams). His roommate let me in and led me to the attic where the silkworms were kept. Picture about 20 shallow boxes of various sizes crammed with pinky sized white caterpillars slowly wriggling around. The sound of their collective munching was like a soft rain. Some had already climbed out of the boxes and spun cocoons. My brother wanted his roommate to feed them while he was at work but he would have none of it (he wasn't keen on the whole goofy plan and had no intention of contributing to it). But I didn't have a problem pitching in. Fresh mulberry leaves were in a box and just waiting to be spread among the boxes. So I got busy and served the silkworms lunch. They must have been hungry because they dug in immediately. The attic was getting kind of hot, so I got back on the bike and headed home.

Distance Traveled: 24.9 miles
Distance to date: 2961.4 miles
Price of gas: $3.72

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bike Commuting; Like MySpace on Two Wheels

Another picture perfect day. My bike hums along and my muscles aren't too bad either. On Poplar in Wilmette, I glided by another rider and we exchanged pleasantries only to meet up again at the start of the Lakeshore Trail. Randy, my new friend, said he followed me for a little while but I turned out of sight along the way. He takes the Sheriden route into Chicago. I explained my preference for Clark Street due to the smoother surface and slower vehicular traffic even though it makes for a slightly longer ride. We rode together for a good portion of the trip kibbitzing when possible. Randy had a very quick pace and at times I found it a challenge to keep up. At Michigan he broke off to head into work where he is a futures trader.

At Roosevelt Road and Jefferson, I was nearly hit again by a lady motorist turning left from oncoming traffic. Again I screamed and she eventually stopped. And again I was cheered by two young men nearby apparently impressed by my lungs. This time I was probably obscured due to glare from the morning sun. I've always been wary of this when I bike Roosevelt in the morning but I guess I let my guard down a bit this morning.

I arrived at work feeling pretty fresh. These rides have done wonders in flushing the lactic acids from my muscles.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2936.5 miles
Price of gas: $3.72 (Gas prices dropping. Time to get back in the car!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ideal Day To Ride

Another fantastic day to bike home. After the months of grimey snow and ice, I still haven't gotten use to riding in such ideal weather. Which is why I still pack my jacket, pants, and booties. My body is still a little creaky from my weekend's lacrosse misadventure so I contemplated staying off the bike. But once I got going I was back to my old self.

My experiment with White Lightning wax lubricant is over. I ran out and decided to go back to regular chain lube. The wet conditions and extra effort to lubricate my chain just wasn't worth any dirt shedding advantages. Plus other areas I normally would have coated in oil were getting neglected. I bought a bottle of ProLink at Performance and liberally oiled my chain, crank, and pedals. Voila! The creaking from my crank is now gone. All this time I thought it was a faulty chain ring.

The Lakefront Trail was quite populated today with fellow bicyclists, runners, and walkers. It makes riding a bit of a challenge but I'm sure I'm not an entirely welcome presence either. I do my best to be vigilant and courteous. South of Oak Street I sensed a rider drafting. It is always kind of an ego boost when someone else is relying on me for a pull.

I was trying to catch up to a shirtless roadie I saw way up ahead. I didn't catch up until around North Avenue Beach. He was a rather big guy and I thought it would be no problem keeping up with him. Naturally I was wrong. I volunteered to take the lead around Belmont but that didn't last as long as I was following him. As the ride continued I found myself straining more and more to keep up. As the bike path got less congested, the gentleman on my tail volunteered to take the lead. He rode a fixed gear bike and wasn't comfortable leading while among crowds. At the interesection of either Wilson or Lawrence we slowed for pedestrian and motor traffic and I just couldn't recover the pace. So I let up and just tried to keep from fainting. At the turn around the roadie was relaxing so I got a chance to thank him for leading. At the red light at Ardmore I caught up to the other rider.

His name is Sean and we happened to ride together last fall. He accompanied me along my route and I asked him about fixed gear riding and he generously offered to let me try his bike on a quiet side street. I found the fixed gear bike really light but quite a challenge after decades of conventional riding. The geometry of his bike was a little tighter compared to my touring bike. But I was only on it for a few minutes. Not really enough time to appreciate the advantages of fixed gearing. We continued on until Sean broke off at Howared and Clark.

At Greenleaf and Chicago, I had a close call with a lady motorist turning left into me from oncoming trafffic. I hollered at her and she stopped in time. I managed to smile and wave in order to show I harbored no ill will. Two guys outside the Nissan dealership cheered my assertiveness and I responded with beer commercial-esque thumbs up.

Some of my rear wheel's spokes have started whining again. Unfortunately they affect the side of the wheel that if tightened will take it even more out of true. Nonetheless, at Foster and Sherman, I took out my multitool and tightened three spokes. Fortunately the wheel wasn't noticeably altered and now it is much quieter.

After getting home I realized my body was nicely warmed up with absolutely no evidence of muscle aches. I should go for a nice ride before I hit the lacrosse field this weekend.

Distance Traveled: 25.1 miles
Distance to date: 2912.2 miles
Price of gas: $3.72

Monday, June 11, 2007

Summer Bike To Work Day

Yesterday I wore myself out playing in a men's lacrosse league. My division consists of guys who just want to hack around without all the checking and competition. It was more like a pickup game than anything really organized. Nonetheless it was quite grueling. 80 minutes of running around with little idea of what I was doing. I hyperextended my elbow a bit and worried the majority of all my non injured parts would also be extremely achey the following day. In my attempts to delay old age, I seem to actually be hastening the process. But luckily I felt ok this morning and avoided a shameful train ride to work.

I meant to take it easy this morning but as usual I sensed bicyclists on my tail (most likely imaginary) and hammered the pedals to avoid getting passed. Luckily for me the Chicago Bike Federation put up a tent along the Lakefront Trail at North Avenue in honor of Bike To Work Day. This enabled me to get a breather and still maintain my ego. I figured the CBF was going to do something like that this week but I completely forgot about it. I saw a few other fellow bike commuters I know from my rides and got some free stuff from REI (some beefy tire levers and a water bottle). I'd hoped Performance was going to be on hand for discount tune up coupons but I guess they took a pass on this event.

After continuing on my ride, a fixie glided by me north of Oak Street. Incensed I picked up my pace and kept with him until Ohio Street. As we headed to Grand Avenue he slowed considerably. I guess he had to slow down for the hill or a turn or something. I've never ridden a fixed gear bike so I don't know how they handle potential hazards.

Approaching Monroe I noticed from my shadow that I had someone on my tail. Oh great. I hoped he'd turn off at Monroe but he continued to follow. I looked back and signaled my turns in a way to let him know I didn't mind him being back there. At around Adams he came abreast and efusively offered to pull me for a while. Not sure what model of road bike he rode but it might have been a Bianchi judging from the creamy green paint job. I told him I was getting off at Roosevelt but I was more than happy to take him up on his offer. Obviously soon there after we parted.

The ride was actually quite good for me. It seemed to clear out all the kinks in my muscles and bones I developed the day before.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2887.1miles
Price of gas: $3.79

Friday, June 08, 2007

Hate and Discontent

East bound Roosevelt was jammed. For motorists anyway. I get a bit of a thrill zooming by cars continuously backed up for blocks. I'm not smug about it though. I know all too well that right up the road is payback as the congestion clears.

There seemed to be a bit of bad blood on the road this afternoon. At State and Roosevelt, a City of Chicago Traffic Aide prevented a woman from turning left despite a left turn signal. As an unbiased observer I was puzzled as to the Traffic Aide's motives and sympathized with the motorist. The young woman at the wheel went bat shit with rage.

Later as I approached North Avenue on the Lakefront Trail, I saw a bicyclist getting into it with a man holding a clip board. I slowed a bit in order to eavesdrop on the confilict. The guy with the clipboard responded to an unheard remark that the bicyclist was not a cop. The bicyclist retorted with something to the effect of his blocking the way. Since fisticuffs did not seem imminent I biked on.

Great day but more slight headwinds. Again my pannier was like a parachute and seeimingly slowing me down. Around Wilson, a roadie passed me and I said hi and got nothing in response. The guy was tricked out in road racing gear but didn't strike me as an expert as his cadence was knee achingly slow. I'm no biking genius either but I've learned from others that I'll last longer, both in the short and long term, if I gear down (up?) and quicken my pedaling. I leached off his slipstream all the way to the end of the Lakefront Trail. He picked up his pace toward the end but he wasn't going to shake me that easily. At the light I didn't bother to engage him again. Once we got the green, he headed north and I continued west to Broadway and on home.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2862.8 miles
Price of gas: $3.79

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Making Yet Another Friend

This morning I expected a nice tailwind as payback for the winds I faced yesterday. Instead the winds shifted and I biked into the wind yet again. It didn't make for a miserable ride but it diminishes my sense of speed and makes me feel feeble. I was enjoying the humming of my gears. Despite my earlier complaints, the bike performs quite well.

At the Lakefront Trail I slowly caught up to a gentleman I later learned is named Drew and rides in from Evanston. He kept a very good pace and I was able to draft off him for a good while. We talked about our various commutes. He has to park his bike on the street and doesn't have a place to shower at work. Poor guy. He also said his bike had been stolen. After Oak Street the wind was really strong and I just couldn't keep up. He and a few others passed me by on that stretch. At Grand Avenue Drew peeled off.

Because of traffic I was able to catch up to two faster bicyclists. I drafted all the way to Roosevelt Road until I turned off the Lakefront Trail. At Roosevelt and Clark I waited out the light while a young lady glided through. There was very little cross traffic but I was just tired. I figured I'd catch up to her. That wasn't the case though. She was pretty quick but also had traffic lights on her side.

I wasn't bothered by being humbled by at least four other bicyclists this morning. I was really glad to be back on my bike after too many days behind the wheel.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2838.5 miles
Price of gas: $3.79

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bicycle Back Up

Last week I got the bike fixed and rode it home from Turin. On the ride my shifting was much smoother with the new cables and chain but it still jumped the cogs on occaision. I also heard some twanging coming from the spokes from my rear wheel symptomatic of a wheel badly in need of adjusting. So instead of having a smooth riding machine I now had a bike with different problems.

Work tasks in areas beyod biking distance kept me from riding until this afternoon. The weather was a bit chillier than I expected , approximately 50, and strong winds from the north, i.e. headwinds. The ride home was very pleasant though. My bike didn't seem to act up once I loaded it down. I guess the rear wheel is happier with a full pannier.

Since I'm still waiting for the middle chain ring to arrive at the bike shop, I've been riding on my largest chain ring. I'm not too keen on this because I can't find a gearing combination I like. One is too easy and the next gear up is a touch too difficult for the cadence I prefer. Oh well.

On the Green Bay Trail I had a nice surprise with my wife and sons meeting me about a mile from home. They were on foot so I dismounted and had a pleasant walk home with the family.

Distance Traveled: 23.7 miles
Distance to date: 2814.2 miles
Price of gas: $3.79

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bike Getting Repaired

I took my ride to Turin in Evanston yesterday after work. The mechanic (I believe his name is Jason) just put a little oil in my rear hub and that seemed to fix the problem. I initially asked him to repack the hubs but he said the wheels were so old that I should just consider getting new ones. The rims are really, really worn (I think not replacing my brake pads in a timely manner are primarily to blame). Jason did suggest I replace my cables and chain. I also asked for a new middle chain ring (he'd have to order that). Normally I'm the type to shop online for my parts and install them myself. But being able to leave the bike in the capable hands of a pro was more than worth the time and effort I'd expend looking for a bargain and doing it myself. My bike should have a new chain and cables later today and I'll bring it back next week to have the chain ring replaced.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bicycle Down

This morning, as I lubed my chain, I noticed a sickening grinding sound coming from my rear hub. I knew I should have at least repacked my hubs over the winter however I'm not sure that would have prevented the current problem. Either way, I wasn't about to bike a block until I got it looked at. I had to take the train to work and will try to get the bike to a shop by tomorrow. Crud. I guess I can get all the other matters ailing my ride taken care of then.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


On my bike ride home I decided to find a Geocache I heard about on NBC news. Geocaching is a moderately nerdy pastime in which you find a container with a GPS using coordinates posted on Geocaching.com. I use to seek Geocaches a lot before I had kids. Back in 2001 there weren't many of them around and most were in forest preserves and in generally interesting and out of the way places. Now most areas are lousy with them. So much so that it is hard to determine if most are even worth looking for. But this one was located off the Lakefront Path south of Montrose and since it was on TV I thought I'd bag it. It wasn't too difficult to find.

Off the Lakefront Trail I joined some bicyclists for a short while up Broadway. They were headed to Wilmette. I broke off at Devon and they continued north on Sheridan. I suppose Sheridan can be quicker than my route but the vehicular traffic gets a little fast and there are a lot of pot holes. Other than that my ride was uneventful.

I have to go to Miami next week so I wont be able to bike until at least Wednesday.

Distance Traveled: 24.5 miles
Distance to date: 2790.5 miles
Price of gas: $3.67

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Biking Into Headwinds

The morning news reported strong southerly winds for my trip into work today. With the stiff winds in my face on Friday, I felt I was owed a nice tailwind today. I just can't buy a break. But high winds are a hell of a lot better than sub freezing temperatures. I'm finding the strong winds don't bother me as much as they use to. I spent the weekend de-wallpapering, scraping, sanding, patching, priming and painting my boys' bedroom. So I was looking forward to going back to work and getting some rest.

This moring my bike developed an annoying click on almost every pedal rotation. Even a fresh dose of lube failed to remedy it. I think it is my ailing chain ring. My shifting is also for crap but otherwise my drive train hums quite nicely.

Biking through south Evanston were a lot of bike commuters headed in the opposite direction into town. I guess the warming weather has prompted more people to bike to work.

On Granville, a few blocks west of Broadway, I spied a yellow jerseyed bicyclist with a side pannier likely headed to the Lakefront Trail. I turned down Broadway hoping to head him off. Heavy traffic on Broadway prevented me from crossing over at Ardmore. I had to wait until the light turned red to ease across. As I biked west I saw a pack of bicyclists, including yellow jersey, crossing Sheridan. I hammered the pedals hoping to make the light. The light flips back to red pretty quickly and I ended up having to wait it out.

The headwinds weren't as bad as they were on Friday but were still a bit of a pain. Most bicyclists on the path seemed to be bothered by them more than I was though. I think my biking through winter really made a difference in my conditioning. Either the really fast bicyclists weren't out yet or I'm cruising much quicker than I was last fall.

As I biked by Belmont Harbor I think I spotted the yellow jerseyed guy again. Either his pannier was on the other side of his bike (and he obviously wasn't the same guy) or I remembered him differently. Both were equally likely. As I gained on him, a guy on a mountain bike entered the path from around Belmont and passed him. Yellow jersey wasn't about to allow that and he pedaled quicker to catch up. He seemed to share my aversion to being one-upped. Eventually he retook the lead but was moving much quicker now, much to my chagrin.

In the meantime, I encountered another pack of bicyclists south of Fullerton that had to be dealt with. From there until Oak Street, I glided by them, in and out of the line, and greeted all who would seem receptive. Most greeted me back.

South of Oak Street the wind seemed to let up and I poured it on. I was really moving now and cruised by yellow jersey like he was a street lamp. From his distinctive pannier he might have been the same guy who rejected my drafting last year (much to his credit; no one likes a parasite). I said hi as I passed though. I was able to make the light at Grand Avenue and zoomed by a bunch of other people on seemingly lighter bike/pack set ups. What an ego stroking morning. It's too bad all of my life can't be so nice.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2766.0 miles
Price of gas: $3.55

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friends In Need

I was determined ride home today despite the 25 mph northerly winds. The weather was still mild otherwise so I figured if I paced myself it really wouldn't be a problem. I wish I could ditch my pannier though. In windy conditions the forward edges bow out and it has all the aerodynamics of a parachute.

I got a taste of what awaited me biking east on Roosevelt Road. The gusts from my left kept blowing me toward the curb. Automobile traffic was grid locked from Racine to Canal. It provided somewhat of a wind barrier though.

Heading north was initially a great challenge. From Roosevelt to Monroe I had a maximum speed of 11 mph. But as my ride progressed I guess I got a bit more efficient. By the time I got to North Avenue I was biking at around 16 mph. About that time I caught up to a roadie on a new bike. I passed him and was able to check out his carbon bodied ride. About a half mile later he passed me and I asked if he minded my drafting. He said he didn't mind and I leached off him for a while. When he asked if we go straight at Fullerton I realized he was from out of town. So I pulled along side and we chatted a bit. He was in from the Detroit area for some fitness expo at McCormick place and trying out his new bike. As we talked a bunch of bicyclists passed us and I suggested we catch up. So he took the lead again and really poured it on. Around Belmont Harbor we caught up and I took the lead and offered to cut the wind for a while. Another bicyclist took me up on the offer but after a while my roadie friend was gone. I never even got to thank him.

I was cooking pretty good considering we were still riding into a gale. Around Wilson there were only two of us until we caught up to a guy on a road bike. He joined us and he and I switched off the lead when we weren't talking. He was from Rogers park and was biking from around Midway. Now there's a ride. He said he took Archer Avenue much of the way from the Lakefront. Sounded helacious. Fortunately there was a long red light at the end of the bike path for a well needed breather.

When the light turned green I headed off on my own home. The winds didn't really bother me once I got away from the lake. They were still annoying and slowing me down though.

When I got home my wife was a bit peeved I was so late. The breeze probably added about 30 minutes to my commute.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2721.7 miles
Price of gas: $3.47

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Unlucky Day

The morning started well enough; low 60s and misty. But it turned out to be a morning of multiple mishaps. The streets were a little wet from a passing shower. Not a problem until collecting water hid the real depth of a pothole on Isabella. I was crossing over the sanitary canal and heard a car on my tail. In an effort to avoid getting rear ended I kept to the right and risked the uneven pavement. As soon as I conked through the pothole I heard my front tire hissing. I limped over to a bench near a tee off on the golf course and got busy repairing the pinch flat. About 10 minutes later I was back on the road.

Soon thereafter as I passed Evanston Hospital on Ridge Avenue, an approaching car turned left and cut me off. I swerved but managed to give the car a nice punitive rap on the trunk lid. I looked back and gave him or her a quick "What's your problem?!" type of gesture. When I turned forward again I saw I was heading into the curb. I managed a controlled crash into a young tree and did a header into some soft loamy mulch. I felt the visor of my helmet crinkle in the light impact. I was too pissed at the time to think how hilarious the whole event must have looked. I'm not sure if the driver saw my spill. I hope not; he'd probably crash too from laughing so hard.

A block after turning on Granville from Clark I heard a sharp crunch behind me. It looked like a car struck the rear of another in the intersection. Hells bells.

After cresting the hump at the intersection of Clark and Roosevelt, about 30 minutes later, a messenger on a Cannondale R400 zoomed by me. I said hi as he passed but got nothin'. I imagine bike messengers look down on us civillians. I caught up to him in traffic and at lights but figuring he didn't wish to be bothered, I kept my own counsel. He cruised on ahead but seemed to disappear from sight just short of the intersection of Halsted and Roosevelt. Then I saw him down in the middle of traffic. I slowed and asked if he was ok but he was occupied with getting his bike out of the way of approaching cars. By now the light was red and I saw he was fine. At the green we continued on and at the next red I broke the ice by remarking that such spills must be part of the job. He was a bit bubblier now and explained some woman slowed in the middle of the road and he wiped out in avoiding her. I suppose after zipping by me like big stuff his ego might have been a bit bruised. If so, I knew exactly how he felt.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2697.4 miles
Price of gas: $3.43

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Like A Man Possessed

I biked like I was on fire this afternoon. I don't think there was a tailwind but then again maybe there was. Either way I was burning up the Lakefront Trail. Maybe it was the big cheese burger and fries I had for lunch at Leona's on Taylor Street. I usually eat bird food during the day (for budget reasons mainly) and perhaps my body isn't use to all that protein and carbohydrates in my system. I was averaging around 20 mph (fully loaded mind you) and zipping by guys training on racing bikes.

On Clark Street I think I managed to piss off some hillbilly driving a pickup truck. I passed him a number of times because he kept getting caught up in traffic. Finally at Howard he zoomed by me and passed two cars on the right using the parking lane just to make a statement. The guy must have been the most reckless driver I've seen in a while.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2473.1 miles
Price of gas: $3.43

Monday, May 07, 2007

I'm back

Despite biking pretty regularly I have not been very inspired to write. With the improvement in the weather I’ve found myself preferring to go out in the yard with my kids or go on long walks with my family rather than pecking out my usual blather at the computer. But from memory I’ve hit the road with the following results:

April 20, 2007: Biked home from work. Apparently I made it safely. I vaguely remember tailing a chilly guy for a good while.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2529.8 miles
Price of gas: $3.16

April 21, 2007: Biked to Sears School in Kenilworth via the Green Bay Trail with my sons; #1 son on his 2nd hand Huffy sans training wheels and #2 son still hanging out in the Co-Pilot carrier.

Distance Traveled: 5.4 miles
Distance to date: 2535.2 miles
Price of gas: $3.16

April 22, 2007: Biked to the Chicago Botanical Gardens with my wife and sons via the North Branch Trail.

Distance Traveled: 9.7 miles
Distance to date: 2544.9 miles
Price of gas: $3.16

April 23, 2007: With southerly winds at over 20 mph this morning I decided to take the train to work. I would have biked home in headwinds of this magnitude. Having a very busy work day ahead of me I opted to bail on the bike ride in since I didn’t want to be dragging all morning.

Distance Traveled: 0.0 miles
Distance to date: 2544.9 miles
Price of gas: $3.16

April 30, 2007: A work week primarily away from the office kept me off my bike. Hauled the bike back to work and had a nice bike ride home.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2569.2 miles
Price of gas: $3.23

May 1, 2007: Came upon a couple on their Co-Motion tandem. I might have seen them on the Lakefront Trail before. They kept a killer pace and we switched taking the lead a couple of times. They were great to draft off of until I guess the cross streets and slight inclines wore them down. At about Fullerton they faded. Lots of fast bicyclists this morning.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2593.5 miles
Price of gas: $3.23

May 4, 2007: Light breezes and sunny. I spied a road bicyclist ahead of me just north of Ohio Street Beach. It took me until Diversey to finally catch up to the young lady as she biked quite quickly. I said hi as I passed but either she wasn’t feeling very friendly or I didn’t hear her reply.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2617.8 miles
Price of gas: $3.43

May 6, 2007: Biked with sons to Hill Road along the North Branch Trail.

Distance Traveled: 6.7 miles
Distance to date: 2624.5 miles
Price of gas: $3.43

May 7, 2007: Clear and in the 50s with 8 mph winds right in my face. The winds were beginning to really bother me until around Belmont Harbor when I guess I just started to get use to them. My wrist is finally starting to get back to normal. It is still a little stiff but I no longer find myself babying it much.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2648.8 miles
Price of gas: $3.43

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tail Wind

Today's ride was a sheer joy. A bit chilly but nothing I wasn't already use to. The morning news reported northerly winds of 13 mph. Not as strong as yesterday but I welcomed the added push.

Sunrise was now before or nearly at the start of my ride. So I put my Jetlite headlamp and heavy battery in storage. I noticed my middle chain ring is now missing a tooth and another is worn wafer thin. This condition caused my chain to misalign and was the source of my clunky shifting. Manually putting the chain back on track is a short term solution to the problem. This and additional lube has remedied my drive train issues for now.

Heading east on Ardmore I saw a bicyclist way up ahead of me in motion as opposed to waiting for the long light at Sheridan. I hammered the pedals in an unsuccessful attempt to make the light. When I finally crossed I saw some road bikers making the turn around and heading south. I passed two older gentlemen and asked them how their ride up had been. One guy croaked that it was brutal. Up ahead I caught up to two younger and well outfitted bicyclists. I was reluctant to pass them because I didn't want to show them up in any way. But they were practically crawling and I had work to do. I said hello as I passed and anticipated them blowing by me down the road. But they never showed. Either they were too worn out from the ride north or they turned off somewhere nearby.

I was really moving this morning. In some stretches I got up to 25 mph. Around Belmont I caught sight of the bicyclist that I believed preceded me through Sheridan. Feeling pretty fresh I picked up the pace to reel him in. It took me until after the Oak Street curve to finally catch up. I said hello as I eased abreast and received an enthusiastic greeting in return. We then discussed how much we enjoyed the following winds compared to the day before. I found that Hugh is the president of his company and he tries to bike to work about as much as me. We shared the ride all the way to Roosevelt and Indiana where he headed south.

Continuing west with the sunshine at my back I almost felt like Curly on his horse in the opening scenes of Oklahoma!

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2505.5 miles
Price of gas: $3.16

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Head Wind

I hadn't read the weather report before I set out this afternoon so I was taken by surprise when I walked outside and felt the 20 mph winds from the north. So I knew it was going to be a tough ride home today. But unlike a few weeks ago when I tried to hammer through it, I resolved to pace myself and get home without giving myself a stroke.

While biking east I was continually whipped from side to side but at least I kept a respectable speed. Once I headed north on the Lakeshore Trail I could only bike about 11 mph at a sustained rate. I passed casual bicyclists that were really struggling.

Just south of the river a commuter on a road bike got on the path in front of me and we both maneuvered through the tricky area between Wacker Drive and Navy Pier. Once we got north of Ohio Street Beach I eased by him and grunted a greeting. I trudged through the wind and picked up a bit more speed but the going was tough. At North Avenue Beach the same commuter passed me and I suggested we team up to get us through this gale. He agreed and I got a bit of a breather in his slipstream. Just south of Fullerton he pulled over so I could take my turn. I really labored through the wind to do my part. I found I was able to get up to 16 mph. My objective was to make it to Belmont and let him take the lead again. By this time the winds seemed to be tempered by the buildings and the biking wasn't so bad anymore. I eased up at Belmont but my partner wasn't there. Odd.

Up ahead I saw a mountain biker with a pretty good pace and figured I could leach off of him. The ride is pretty bumpy along this way and trying to catch up with him started to wear me out. I never did catch him and he eventually turned off just north of Montrose. So I had to finish this trip on my own.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2481.2 miles
Price of gas: $3.11

Angela Jaynes Gage

Angela is a City of Chicago Traffic Aide and mother of two who was killed on Monday morning when a 17 year old unlicensed and uninsured driver ran a red light and struck her at the intersection of Archer and Ashland Avenue. Reading about her death really saddened me because in the last six months I've really come to appreciate how valuable Chicago's Traffic Aides are and how they are probably under appreciated. In a previous post I noted how chaotic traffic is during the hours when they aren't on duty. I think most people (including myself) frequently take them for granted and even get irritated on the occasions they hold us up at an intersection or a turn. But what really burns me up is the punk who carelessly took her life was only cited for disobeying a red light, failure to reduce speed and not having insurance or a driver's license. WHAT THE FUCK!?

Monday, April 16, 2007


Over the weekend I was able to fix my damaged GPS with a glob of epoxy and cotton flox (powdered cotton fibers to give the goo some structure). It isn't showroom new but at least it'll mount on my bike again and wont let the rain in. I also had to put on new brake pads. I found it odd that they had worn down so much since late January. Maybe the salt and cold did something to the rubber to make the pads quickly degrade. But I did put about 700 hard miles on the bike since they were last replaced.

This morning was partly sunny but around 30°. So I donned all my winter riding gear once again. The ride was the usual routine. Just a few bicyclists, runners and walkers on the Lakefront Trail.

Riding along the bike path I contemplated Chicago hosting the Olympics in 2016. The path would probably be a crowded mess but it would be quite exciting. A Chicago Olympics reminded me of The Devil In The White City, a book I read a few years ago about a murderer during the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893. The book also describes how Daniel Burnham designed the fair grounds despite massive challenges. It's a good read.

My wrist isn't bothering me as much anymore. Just last week it was really sore though. Hmmm.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2456.9 miles
Price of gas: $3.11

Friday, April 13, 2007

More Train Racing

Another light biking week. It was a cool afternoon with negligible winds. A light crowd was on the Lakefront Trail.

My drive train is really beginning to act up. Whenever I down shift my chain starts to skip in my rear derailleur and my front derailleur is all but useless. The cold and wet city driving has really taken a toll on my bike. It is getting to the point that I might as well just convert my bike to a fixed gear. I don't think my knees would tolerate the small drive sprockets I see fixed gear bikes sporting though. I usually bike on the third gear and have a quick cadence.

Clark Street had more than the usual turning cars and other related hazards. It seemed I had to bob and weave all over the place to avoid getting smooshed.

Just as I turned from Isabella to Poplar in Wilmette I was passed by my nemesis, the Metra #355 from Chicago. I was just going to let it go but when I got to the Wilmette station it had just pulled away. So I thought I might be able to at least catch it in Kenilworth. With all the signals still blocking cross traffic I was able to scream northbound. But just as I came in view of the Kenilworth station I saw it pull away. Since the train was still within my grasp I decided to continue chasing to the next stop at Indian Hill. But the route takes me about a block away from the tracks so I had more mileage to cover this time. As I hammered slightly uphill to the next station I just barely missed catching it. The distance between stops now increases so I knew my last chance was to catch the train at the Winnetka station. But I was getting really tired now and my form was getting ragged. When I saw the train's taillights through the trees at the station I figured I still had a chance. A southbound local blocked my view until I passed under Oak Street. I saw I was too late. The train was moving now and I know that once it gets rolling it accelerates much quicker than a fatigued middle aged guy on a bike. So I eased up and decided the enjoy the rest of my ride.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2432.6 miles
Price of gas: $3.11

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Another Crack Up

This morning it was in the mid 20s but clear. The winds were in my face this time so I didn't move at quite as brisk a pace as yesterday.

On the Green Bay Trail in Wilmette I spied a guy on a mountain bike a few blocks ahead. I figured him to be the same person I passed along this way a week or two ago. But he surprised me then by being right on my tail about a mile afterward on Isabella. But then I saw he was gone as I passed Ryan Field. He wore a Northwestern warm up suit so I figured him to be a coach or something. On this morning's ride he had a very quick pace and I came nowhere near catching him. Sure enough he turned off Isabella at Ashland and slowed as if he was heading into the arena.

As I approached Sheridan from Ardmore I saw a commuter on a road bike starting along the Lakefront Trail. His pace didn't seem to fast so I thought I'd try to catch up in case he was someone I knew. But just as I headed south the moderate winds slowed me some. The guy seemed to handle the wind much better than me and I realized there was no way I was going to catch up. So I just did my best to keep him in sight. The effort really wore me out. He increased the distance between us and it wasn't until he headed south from Ohio Street Beach that I eventually lost him.

I took it easy from then on in. But I had a major mishap just as I got into work. They have security barriers at our parking that require drivers to enter a code number to make it drop. The guards at the gate usually just wave me through because they recognize me and then I bike around the barrier. But today I waited as a car went through and for some reason I followed it over the barrier. Just as my wheel got to the barrier it started up and I ended up tumbling over it bike and all. I must have looked like a jockey and horse muffing a jump at a steeple chase. Other than coming down on my gimp wrist I didn't think I or my bike suffered any damage. The security guard came up and asked if I was ok. I said I was fine but my ego was a bit bruised. When I got to the bike rack I saw that my GPS now had a hole in it where part of it was broken off. The thing certainly has suffered a lot of abuse. Hopefully I can fix it somehow.

When I get to my work area my colleagues sometimes ask how my ride went. I didn't tell them about another crack up because they will think I'm a total klutz. But I especially didn't want them knowing the details of this one because some of them are the type that would get the security video and put it on YouTube.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2408.3 miles
Price of gas: $3.07

Monday, April 09, 2007

Another Freaking Cold Ride

I couldn't bike home last week but I did haul my ride home for the weekend. I had hoped to adjust the rear dérailleur and generally clean up the bike but all I did was swap my Panaracer Urban Max "snow" tires for some 700 x 28 summer tires I bought at Performance last week.

While at Performance I was considering buying another bottle of White Lightning wax chain lube but the guy at the counter talked me out of it. He said I should just go back to a regular lube such as Prolink. But after looking at my drive chain over the weekend I saw that there were only a few waxy lumps on one of my smaller cogs. Overall there is not a lot of gunk, my chain runs smooth, and the whole drive chain is considerably less grimey. However there is a bit of rust in places that the wax just doesn't protect. I still have about a months worth of lube left so I'll just see how it goes before I decide to stick with it or go back to traditional lube.

With a tail wind this afternoon and the narrower tires I really zipped home. I had a bit bumpier ride and my GPS was jarred from its housing three times. I learned my lesson from the last time my GPS went flying and now use the unit's lanyard to attach it to my handlebars.

It was pretty cold out so not many bicyclists out but more than there were about a month ago. When I arrived home I was greeted with the news that my three year old son finally pooped in the toilet instead of his toddler diaper. Great success!

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2384.0 miles
Price of gas: $3.07 (Holy crap!)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

More Winter Riding

After yesterday's beating I planned on taking it easy on today's ride. However with the sun coming up I was pretty energized. I started a little later this morning and as a result it was almost daylight when I headed out. Being able to look around was a nice change. My legs were still a little fatigued from biking into the wind yesterday. But the breeze was primarily at my back so I enjoyed a bit of a push. The temperature was in the high 20s but it wasn't anything I hadn't experienced before.

The Lakefront Trail was pretty much devoid of bike traffic this morning. The water was pretty choppy and sent waves crashing on the Lakefront Trail just south of Fullerton. At the Oak Street curve the water was washing all the way up to the Lakeshore Drive wall.

Biking along the future DuSable Park reminded me of the recent proposal by developers hoping to build the nearby spire/sky scraper. The developers hope to add a ramp off of lower Lakeshore Drive that would cut into the existing bike path which would kind of suck. But they also have plans for pedestrian bridges to the east that I guess would reroute bike traffic. A writer at the Chicago Tribune doubts the project will ever get off the ground so it might be a moot point.

At the intersection of Roosevelt and Paulina I had two near misses. A car turning left from oncoming traffic headed right toward me. I swerved away only to be nearly crunched by a car turning from the right. I felt like a character in a video game. I had the right of way in both cases so I think the drivers just didn't see me in the glare of the morning sun. The driver of the second vehicle was a lady that works on my floor in my building. When I got to work she got off the parking garage elevator just as I walked into the lobby. She didn't see me though; that would have been really awkward.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2359.7 miles
Price of gas: $2.81

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

30°, Gusting Winds; Typical Chicago Biking Weather

Luckily I still carry my winter biking clothes; although I forgot to pack my long johns. My wrist still bothers me from my crack up over a month ago. I recently bought a Futuro neoprene wrist support that works pretty well though.

Holy crap did this ride kick my ass! 22 mph westerly winds bitch slapped me almost the entire trip. By the time I finally got off the Lakefront Trail I was ready for a nap. This was the most grueling bike commute yet. But I didn't realize this until I got home. After I showered and changed I was just so dog tired. All I wanted to do was eat and go to sleep. My thighs felt like lead. Boo hoo. Beats driving though.

I detoured through downtown Winnetka to drop off my electric and water payment.

Distance Traveled: 25.3 miles
Distance to date: 2335.4 miles
Price of gas: $2.81

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Beating A Software Pirate

Ride this morning was great. Avoided the rain and didn't get killed.

I recently purchased an older version of Garmin street map software on eBay (since I use my GPS for biking this is tangentially relevant). But when I received it in the mail I saw that it was clearly a copy and not a used version of the original. It was a very, very good copy and worked as advertised but I didn't appreciate the seller getting one over on me. So I sent him a pointed email clearly stating he was a software pirate and demanding my money back. He promptly responded and offered a refund in addition to return shipping. I was still peeved and didn't want him to sell the bogus software to anyone else. I said I'd throw it in the garbage instead but still insisted I get my money. The guy wasn't game and at this point I realized he still didn't admit to anything illegal.

Then I really analyzed his racket. I saw he was no longer offering Garmin software but was still selling other types of inexpensive software and had been doing so for months. One can look at the items a person has purchased in the recent past by looking at the feedback left for the transaction. I noticed that for some transactions the buyer's identity was kept private which ultimately hid what was actually sold. This was obviously some way of covering his tracks.

I reported this guy's operation to eBay but I didn't have much hope they would do anything. EBay is very forgiving with their sellers since that is where they get their money. So I contacted the publishers of all the other software he currently had for sale. I told them the titles he was offering and of my strong suspicion's that they were pirated. I also provided them with the crook's name and address.

I checked the guy's auctions for a few days but was disappointed he was still in operation. When I checked again this morning I saw that all his auctions were pulled and ALL his feedback was now private. I would prefer that his account be cancelled but at least I've cut off his immediate source of funding. I'll keep an eye on him.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2310.1 miles
Price of gas: $2.81

Monday, April 02, 2007

Train Racing

It has been more than a week since I've been able to bike to or from work. Today was a terrific day to bike home; mid 60s, dry and minimal wind.

Just north of Ohio Street a commuter on a road bike glided past me. I did my best to keep up with him but he was soon passed by another roadie out for a training ride. So he began to hammer the pedals to keep up with the roadie. There was no way I was going to try and catch these guys because they now were both on a mission. But I kept them in sight. Eventually the training roadie must have turned off; he wasn't so fast that he was going to completely disappear. Along Belmont Harbor a guy on a mountain bike appeared and I tried to keep up with him. He had a killer pace and passed the road commuter and again the chase was on between the two. They blazed very far ahead. I began to feel really old and in sorry shape. I consoled myself with the fact that I was definitely hauling the biggest load since my pannier still had my winter gear in addition to all the other junk I usually pack to and from work. At Montrose the mountain biker turned around. I guess he was only into short sprints. Eventually I caught up to the commuter who was stopped at the turn around at Hollywood. So I declared myself the winner. Big stuff!

In Wilmette I was able to glide through cross traffic waiting out a northbound Metra train stopping at the station. The train's horn let out a haunting wail. Growing up here people were killed every few years along these tracks and that horn still gives me the shivers. While biking along the Green Bay Trail the train caught up to me but had to stop again in Kenilworth. I passed it at the station and started to hammer the pedals so I could beat it to Indian Hill. My legs were still pretty fatigued from trying to keep up with the commuter on the Lakefront Trail so I figured I could slow down once the train passed me again. Much to my surprise I beat the train to Indian Hill. So now I had to race it to Winnetka. I pressed on but was also aided by a slight downhill. Amazingly I beat the train to Winnetka and raced it to my finish line at Hubbard Woods. I was only going about 19 to 20 mph but the wind in my ears made me think the train was right behind me. I looked back and saw the train's headlight through the trees along the tracks. I couldn't tell how far back it was so I kept up my pace. I finally made it to the trail's off ramp at Tower road and raced up to the bridge so I could watch the train pass under me. It took a while for the train to pass so I assumed it must have been delayed at a station in order for me to have beaten it.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 2285.8 miles
Price of gas: $2.81