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

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