Monday, July 23, 2007

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

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