Friday, January 05, 2007

Making Enemies

Got out around 5:15 pm and biked in pretty mild conditions for January. It was in the 40s with low winds. Roosevelt Road is pretty wide from Damen all the way to Michigan Avenue and is a designated bike route. But for some reason the bike lane markings between Ashland and Michigan Avenue have been ground off dating back to July when I first started along this route. I figured it was a temporary situation but nothing has changed in all that time. I called the City of Chicago's 311 line to report this and see if they had any information on the situation. An operator was friendly, took down the information but that was about it. Having the markings hasn't really made much of a difference but it would be a definite help between Des Plaines and Canal where it can get really busy.

The Lakefront Trail was a bit busier than usual due to the milder conditions. As I biked north from Ohio Street Beach I noticed another bicyclist enter the trail from the Chicago Avenue underpass. His pace seemed a little slower than mine so I figured I'd gain on him eventually. But after about five minutes this turned out to be more of a challenge than I thought. Unable to be content with an enjoyable evening ride, I dialed it up so I could catch up with him. It wasn't until after slowed for cross traffic at the North Avenue Beach parking lot that I finally came upon him. He was dressed in street clothes and a winter coat with a messenger bag. I guess in the bike community he would be derisively described as a "Fred." But he was far from Fred-like. This guy had a killer pace (for me anyway). He noticed I was on his tail but didn't say anything. Normally I'd at least grunt something. I didn't bother to try and pass him since I didn't know if I could even keep up. I stayed with him for quite a while. I made sure to stay off his rear wheel and to the side since I thought I might be annoying him. That being the case, why I didn't just back off I don't know. I guess I'm just stubborn and didn't want this total stranger to think I couldn't hack it. Total goof that I am, I even avoided coughing out the pound or two of phlegm collecting in my throat so he wouldn't think I was about to collapse. Just north of Belmont Harbor, the gentleman slowed a bit. I figured he was turning off and I'd compliment him on his nearly killing me. Instead he said something to the effect of "This isn't the Tour de France!" as I passed. So now I felt like a total jack ass. I was still zooming along and if he hadn't turned I would have apologized for crowding him.

The rest of the ride on the Lakefront Trail was uneventful. A guy training on a road bike past me around Wilson Avenue and then screamed past in the other direction near Bryn Mawr.

Luckily for me I hit a long light at the end of the trail at Ardmore and Sheriden and got a breather. As I waited out another long red light at Granville and Broadway, who do I see but the anti-Fred pedaling up Broadway at a less than slow pace. I guess he hadn't turned after all. I smiled but he didn't even look in my direction. I chuckled to myself knowing he got the last laugh. I figure he probably sees me as just one of the zillion spandexed posers out there.

On the Green Bay Trail at the border of Winnetka and Kenilworth, chipped up Christmas trees lain along the bike path's border provided a festive pine scent. It was nice distraction from a good ride soured by my own actions.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 1535.4 miles
Price of gas: $2.46


Da' Square Wheelman, said...

What's a Fred exactly?

SueJ said...

Welp, on the other hand, he *could* have responded to you totally differently... could have been a mutual challenge thing.
Guess your judgement error was when your instincts said "back off a little he's annoyed" and you didn't back off... but it could also be that he's got some unrelated bug up his bonnet and is kicking *himself* for his behavior. Ya just don't know. You didn't just call him a Fred (non-geared-out cyclist of varying degrees); but it would seem he *did* simply dump you in "Lance Wannabee poseur" category. His bad, not yours.