Thursday, October 5, 2017

Long Rides

Finish line!
It's been a skinny year for long rides. But I did manage to take part in my favorite ride, the North Shore Century, and a new ride: the Kickstand Classic, an actual timed race.

Taking a break in Lake Bluff.
The NCC was, as usual, very well organized and a joy. I joined a thousand of my bike-riding friends at sunrise near the Northwestern University campus (Go U Northwestern! Sorry!) for a sojourn through the far northern 'burbs: from the merely expensive neighborhoods of Evanston, through the million-dollar homes of Wilmette, the ten-million-dollar homes of Kenilworth and the "Well, I'm sure someone keeps track of these things" homes in Glencoe.

Every 15 miles or so, there was a rest stop with abundant food and hydration options: bananas, Clif bars, bagels, pickles, donuts, mini-Nemo's-sub-sandwiches, grapes, etc. The last 10 miles is always a real test of my endurance, but when I see the Baha'i temple I know I'm getting really close and I'm going to finish.

I completed the Metric Century (67 miles, 108km) in 5 hours, 11 minutes.  Goal for next year: five hours.


Yay my also-ran medal!
The 2017 Kickstand Classic was my first-ever timed race. It was a well-organized event and I was moderately happy with my results but I hope to do better next time ... that's probably the whole point of races, right? I finished the 19.4 mile course in 1:11:45, for an average speed of 16.26 mph. My goal was an average of 15 mph.
Jason and Kristie: notice anything?

I liked being timed for the race, but I had mixed feelings about being ranked. I finished 236 out of 351. Bleh.

Next year's goal: finish in the top half and first in my age group (I finished 2nd). According to this race's spreads shown on the website, I'll have to finish in 1:05 or less to make 175th. I think I can do that, especially if I lose a few pounds by then.

So it’s been a while

I’ve neglected my blog Mr. Pither for a long time. I don’t know why. I’ve been biking pretty steadily - in fact, just as much as ever. So I’m forced to believe that it’s a failure of writing enthusiasm, rather than biking. Get together, you two.


I’ve been biking up a storm this year: almost 400 miles recorded by Cyclemeter. Mary has actually joined me a couple of times, mainly because I bought her a new bike and she’s been guilted into it.

Her old bike, a massive Trek step-through that must have weighed 50 pounds, was donated to Working Bikes in Chicago. Her new bike is a teal Specialized Vita with a triangle frame that yes, she has to throw a leg over, but she has admitted is a lot easier to ride. We bought it from the local bike shop Spokes, which I recommend to anyone who wants a good bicycle, fitted by people who care, and by that I mean the proprietor Basil. Thanks, Basil.

Spokes was also where Mary bought a bike for our niece. It’s her first bike with more than one speed. Yeah, she’s happy.

I took her brother to the local Play It Again Sports and bought him a multi-speed bike. He was a little miffed that he didn’t get a NEW bike like his sister, but that kid is gonna grow like a damn weed and I’m not gonna spend a lot on his bike until he gets into high school.

I’m hoping there's no hard feelings and Jason can join me on a ride along the Little Miami Scenic Trail this weekend while his sister has a dance recital.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

DuPage River extension

A new bridge has opened up several miles of previously inaccessible (to me) bike trail along the south bank of the DuPage River in Bolingbrook. The bridge is seen here from the Bolingbrook Historic Trout Farm (seriously).

The river meanders through DuPage River
Park, just east of Washington Street.

East of the new bridge, the trail winds through the
woods and over some small hills.

A placid scene about halfway 'twixt the park
and Royce Road. 

Near the end of the trail is the thriving metropolis of Barber’s Corners, where I stopped for a coke at Portillo’s. Actually, Barber’s Corners was never an incorporated municipality, just a hamlet at the intersection of Rt. 53 and Boughton Road in what is now Bolingbrook. It was named after an otherwise uninteresting settler named John Barber, according to a plaque at nearby.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Shwarma run

We’ve had a string of unusually mild days in November, so I’ve taken advantage by bringing my trail bike to work for a lunchtime spin. There’s a new restaurant, Damascus Falafel, a couple of miles down the road, which makes a tempting target.

91st Street was recently repaved. Too bad they couldn’t afford a couple of bike lanes along this picturesque roadway. Luckily it’s not too busy.

Lunch is served: chicken shwarma bowl with lots of greens and a modest squirt of garlic sauce. I highly recommend this place.

On the way back, I decided to take the scenic route through Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. First I had to stop and read this signpost version of "War and Peace."

 Waterfall Glen is a wonderful ride pretty much any time of year. Well, I guess I can’t speak to winter. I haven’t tried it in the snow.

Stowing the bike in the car, and back to reality. Sigh.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Rise 'n' ride

A pretty sunrise this morning on my way to work. This is the path through Greene Valley Forest Preserve, just east of Greene Road. This was my first bicycle commute in a couple of weeks, so I wasn't pushing myself very hard -- and managed a 55:59 anyway. It all depends on the lights.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

North Shore Century ride 2015

My son Steven joined me for this year's North Shore Century Ride. I'm a happy dad. I decided to show a little mercy on the kid and keep it to the Metric Century, 62 miles (100 metric kilocentimegaters), this year. I'll keep working on him over the next year or so and talk him into the full 100 miles in 2016.

Anyway, 7:30 a.m. in the lakefront park in Evanston, Illinois, found us registering, picking up our T-shirts, and heading west into the high-value 'burbs on the annual ride.

Gosh, we both look so serious about this. In actuality, we were both having a pretty good time. Later, those of us with less long-distance bicycle experience began to feel a bit of discomfort.

This is Sunrise Park, in Lake Bluff. The most picturesque bit of the entire ride, which is why there is this picture.

At about the 30-mile mark, my shifting started going to hell. I couldn't shift any higher than about fifth gear (out of 9). I compensated with the front chainring, but it was far from ideal, since I've become a complete bike snob. When we got to the second rest stop, I headed over to the Trek tent. I was thinking there was an obvious problem that would easy to spot if they put the bike up on the rack. A length of fishing line caught in the derailleur, for example, which had happened to me before after a ride around Whalon Lake.

John from Highland Park Trek was happy to set my bike Shadowfax up on the stand and take a look. His first thought was that the original lubrication around the shifter had congealed. He sprayed some Gunk into the mechanism and let it work while Steven and I rested. After about 15 minutes, John ran the Shimano 105 through its paces: still not working right.

While I was distracted by some ancient Northwesternite — who had noticed my NU jersey and insisted on telling me the entire history of the Northwestern University Chick Evans scholarship at great length — John found that the shift cable was badly frayed and commenced to replace the entire right-hand cable system on my bike. While I watched, astonished, he restored it to better-than-factory readiness in about five minutes. Seriously, holy cow. I was so stunned all I could offer was a handshake. Now I realize a $20 bill (or two, or three) would have been appropriate. At any rate: thanks, John with the chainring tattoo on your elbow. Reply to me personally and I'll treat you to lunch.

Who needs .GPX files as long as you have a cue sheet, a handlebar clip, and sexy knees? Here we are on the home stretch. Nasty-ass pavement on Sheridan Road. You'd think the roadway along some of the most expensive real estate in the nation would be smooth as the proverbial baby's tuchis, but no. I kept having to swerve out into middle of the street to avoid crevasses and potholes on the roadway's perimeters. For shame, Kenilworth! For shame!

The Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette is always a welcome sight. Yes, it's one of the most beautiful buildings on the immediate planet, but it also means that we're almost to the end of the North Shore Century Ride. Total was 63.5 miles in 4 hours, 21 minutes of ride time (about six hours total, including a long stop where John rebuilt my bike).

I insisted on a post-ride beer at Tommy Nevin's pub in Evanston. I studied for (and somehow actually received!) a master's degree at Northwestern, and my classmates and I spent quite a few evenings decompressing at Nevin's after a day of classes. While we sipped a libation and munched a late lunch, a group of musicians ambled in and began to play Celtic music. Serendipity!

Also, there's video.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sept. 13 German-American fest and lakefront ride

Sister-in-Law Susan was visiting the weekend, so rather than watch the Bears and Cubs LOSE LIKE A BUNCH OF SICK NUNS not that we're emotionally invested in either team WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE we decided to head into Chicago and check out the German-American fest and maybe take a short ride along the lakefront.


The German-American fest was underwhelming in terms of extent and strudel content (none - Mary checked). But the music was thigh-slapping, the thuringer was drowned in good mustard and wimpy sauerkraut and beer was had by me. I bought a T-shirt.
Underexposed sisters and skyline.
After Dave had enough of mingling with his people, we headed east to the lakefront path. Susan had never experienced the LFP. We headed south from Lawrence and soon came to a photogenic bit.
More sisters and Chicago skyline.
Eastbound on Lawrence, heading back to the car.

Rather than head straight home, we detoured to Arlington Heights and ordered some decent Malaysian food — OK the only Malaysian food in the Chicago area — from the Penang restaurant

Got home, downloaded the pix, wrote a blog post, sucked down some prawn mee, got sleeeeeepy. Night, all.

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