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 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