Friday, January 19, 2007

Chicago's Winter Bike to Work Day

I joined fellow Evanston Bike Club members Barry, Dave, Dave and Paul for a ride to Daley Plaza for Chicago Bike Federation's Winter Bike to Work Day. It was in the low 20s at 6:00 am when we met at a Dunkin Donuts at Howard and Western. We biked south on Western and worked our way over to Damen. We continued south and linked up with a group of about five bicyclists known as the Kibitzers at a Starbucks at Damen and Lincoln. Then as a pack we biked downtown.

The traffic was light and I really enjoyed the ride down Lincoln. At that speed one can get a good look at the area. From time to time Barry and Dave remarked how busy this area can be when bicycling home though. I know I could shave about seven miles off my ride if I took a more direct route instead of the Lakefront Trail. But I doubt I'd save a proportional amount of time. All the traffic lights would probably slow me down.

One drawback of this particular ride was the occasional traffic light that cut off riders in the back of the pack. Waiting for them to catch up and the slower pace prevented me from warming up. I was dressed a little too light and found myself getting a bit cold. But the company made up for that bit of discomfort.

At a cross street we saw a cab driver getting into heated argument with the driver of an SUV stopped in traffic. As I biked by, the cabbie was pounding on the hood of the SUV. Those in our group caught at the light said the cabbie then pounded on the driver's window but he eventually got back in his cab. It was a sour reminder of my little dust up the night before.

We arrived at Daley Plaza a little after 7:00 am. Waiting for us was a tent with muffins, Eli's cheesecake, coffee and other refreshments. Performance handed out swag bags containing catalogs, a Cliff Bar, Power Gel and a coupon for a half price tune up (which I fully intend to use). There were about 15 other bicylists when we arrived. I couldn't stay long because I still had about five miles of biking ahead of me and an 8:30 am appointment. When I left there must have been about 30 bicyclists. A pretty good turn out.

Biking west on Madison was a major trial. Stiff westerly winds were really making my hands and feet cold. On top of that the slower than usual pace and the muffin break never gave my body a chance to stoke up my internal furnace. I was happier than normal to arrive at work.

Distance Traveled: 23.1 miles
Distance to date: 1702.5 miles
Price of gas: $2.38

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