Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Biking With Mike

Standard sunny day although a bit hotter than usual. Lakefront Trail was a bit crowded due to terrific weather. Between Ohio and Oak Streets I started a bit of a biking partnership with another commuter I later learned was named Mike. He was on a a road bike or hybrid with straight handlebars and packed his gear in a messenger bag. At first I passed him and said hello thinking that was the last I'd see of him. But as I continued on in my ride I noticed him behind me. So I guess he was going to keep up and enjoy biking in my slipstream.

I can see why my biking on people's tails is annoying. In my case when I pass people I like them to stay passed. When they catch up or stay with me and eventually pass me it means I'm not as big a bad ass as I thought I was. But it can also be a chance to spread the load. In this case, Mike eventually passed me after I began to get really tired. I said hello again and we talked a bit. He said he was headed up to Evanston and this provided further opportunity to engage him in conversation. Conversation also forces people to slow down to a pace I can manage when I'm close to exhaustion. It turns out we take almost the same route and we rode together for the rest of the ride.

Mike said he's been riding to and from work for three weeks. Even though I've been at it longer, he seemed to be in better shape. He was also a bit more aggressive when it came to biking through traffic; he was much more inclined to take chances on red lights than I was. I find a lot of people are more aggressive than I am when it comes to red lights. Biking in traffic is risky enough without pushing my luck too much. Plus if I got in an accident while running a red light I'd feel like a total ass.

Mike waved off on Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Shortly thereafter I stopped at a Shell gas station to buy a bottle of Pepsi as I was out of water. As I drank my soda it started to sprinkle a bit. I knew rain was in the forecast but I thought I could beat it home. About five minutes later it started to pour.

For the rest of my ride I hopscotched from shelter to shelter to avoid getting soaked. Normally I'd resign myself to getting drenched but I had time on my hands and it didn't look like it would rain constantly. My first stop was under an overhang at an apartment building at Chicago and Clark. I waited about five minutes and sped off after the rain let up. I made it to Sherman where another three apartment buildings provided shelter along my way. I got pretty wet when I headed out again until taking refuge at Ryan Field. I made two more stops at the Wilmette and Kenilworth train stations (where it really came down) until I finally made it home.

Distance Traveled: 24.5 miles
Distance to date: 3301.6 miles
Price of gas: $3.51

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