Sunday, May 24, 2015

Biking the Drive!

Crowds were getting sparse
as we headed south, close
to the end of the event.
Bike the Drive is pretty much a weather crapshoot every year. We’re about one-for-three: fog, rain, wind -- well, it’s early spring in Chicago and you pays you $45 and you takes your chances. Today it was drizzly, cool and overcast.

But still, it’s beyond cool to ride a bicycle on one of the most iconic roads on the immediate planet, Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive. Once a year, the Active Transportation Alliance, in cooperation with the City of Chicago, closes this major highway to automobiles for a morning and opens it to bicycles only. Thousands of cyclists take advantage: it’s a hoot and a half.
Nothin' but bikes.
How cool is this?

Mary was called away to a niece graduation in Ohio, so it was Steven and me. We left at about 7 a.m. The plan was to have lunch at Eataly, a two-story Italian market/mall on the near-north side, so we parked across the street and rode our bikes to the Bike the Drive start point at Jackson & LSD.

It drizzled on and off most of the morning; just enough to keep the numbers down a bit, but not enough to make the ride a drag. There was a south wind, so I suggested we start off going north, turn around at the north end point at Bryn Mawr Ave., head all the way back south to the Museum of Science and Industry at 57th Street, then head back to downtown. That way we’d have the wind at our backs for the final leg.

What a treat. A four-lane highway populated only by bicycles -- from $5,000 carbon-fiber racers to olde-fashioned penny farthings. Polite “on your lefts” instead of horn honking. Five-year-olds wobbling along on cartoon-themed beginner bikes with the training wheels freshly removed. Grey-haired geezers wobbling along on recumbents.Differently abled cyclists scooting along on hand-powered cycles. It really is a community that lasts for just a few hours.
Shortly thereafter, Steven and I were at the day’s first customers at Osteria di Eataly, lunching on squid-ink pasta and agnolotti, and shopping for exotic pastas. A wonderful morning.

I made a video!

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Waterfall Glen run and ride

My son is training for a couple of runs in May. They're essentially half-marathons with obstacles thrown in, from huge mud puddles to throwing spears at hay bales. A couple of weekends ago, he said he wanted to run in Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve; I asked to tag along, since I'm in training to not be obese at some point in my life

Steven doesn't get up early, so I rode over to the Colonial Cafe for breakfast. Josie brought me my Diet Cokes and standard breakfast order. Juanita, who was my Colonial server for many years and had my standard order memorized -- she didn't even bother bringing me a menu -- retired Dec. 31. Josie's not quite there yet but coming along nicely.

We arrived at Waterfall Glen at about 10:30 a.m. We figured that I'd probably do the 10-mile loop twice while he was doing it once. It worked out perfectly; I'd brought my camera to try a little nature photography, which added just enough stopping to even out the timing.

I'm really proud of Steven and his determination and perseverance. Plus he's looking really pro out there.

It was just about the perfect early spring day. The trees were still bare, but wildflowers were just beginning to poke up through the leaf litter of last year.

Sawmill Creek runs through the preserve on its way to the Des Plaines River. 

Along the way it forms this little waterfall that the preserve is NOT named after. The forest preserve is named after Seymour "Bud" Waterfall, an early president of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District. Really, no kidding.

It's a great trail, with lots of curves and some fairly intense hills. The scenery includes forest, prairie and wetlands, and you get a few glimpses of Argonne National Laboratory, where I work.

I used my Trek Crossrip for this ride. The limestone's in pretty good shape for the most part; there are some soft patches on the hills that made me glad for the wider 32mm tires on the Crossrip. The Gatorskin tires are holding up nicely so far.

After some post-run stretches, we headed out for lunch. A great day.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday sojourn / DuPage River Trail

A pleasant ride this morning.

First to Colonial for my standard breakfast. After the retirement of my longtime steady waitress Juanita, I'm breaking in a new server, Josie. She's already bringing me two glasses of Diet Coke as soon as I sit down. Juanita would do that AND put in my standard order without even asking (Egg Beaters very dry; wheat toast, no butter; bacon, fruit). Josie hasn't quite gotten there yet, but I have complete confidence in her.

I brought my new Nikon camera along for the ride today. It's a much more sophisticated camera than my old film Olympus. I feel like a bonobo trying to land a 747.

But the Nikon has a pretty forgiving idiot mode, so I got a few good snapshots (I won't call them photos) out of the thing. Here's the DuPage River that the trail is named for. This is looking east from the bridge at Knoch Knolls park.

Flowers are starting to bloom along the trail side.

Some gentlemen were playing cricket in the DuPage River Sports complex. I watched for a while, mystified. Looked like fun, though.

Some trees are blossoming, others are sprouting leaves. It's a deciduous riot up there.

Grilled up some slider hamburgers for the family when I got home. Spent an hour or two putting a second coat of stain on Mary's vertical herb garden while listening to the Cubs lose. All in all a good way to spend a Sunday.

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Muffaletta run to Plainfield

A 30-mile ride today, from home to Plainfield and back. Mary drove out to Moe Joe’s restaurant to meet me for some Cajun food. Now, we’ve been to ’Nawlins a few times, so we know Cajun from a hole in the ground. This was some good Cajun food, y’all. Plus they have Abita Turbodog on tap!

Turbodog on tap!
The muffaletta had just the right amount of olive dressing to set off the deep pile of lunchmeat nestled in the foccacia bun. The hush puppies had jalapenos in the mix (although Mary thought they were overcooked). Mary’s oyster po’boy had healthy pile of deep-fried oysters on a (we’re guessing) Toscano roll which was almost -- but not quite -- as good as our favorite place in the Big Easy. Very nicely done. Portions were generous: we both took half our sandwiches home.
By the way: the gumbo is the best I’ve had this side of the French Quarter. Maybe better. Damn, it was good gumbo. I’m going back for a full bowl, which will be a meal for about a week.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bicycle commuting

Here's a very short video of my first successful ride home from work this year. (An earlier attempt resulted in a flat, which led to a broken derailleur arm and a call to the SAG wagon)(Mary). Note that it's not a continuous video of the entire one-hour ride, and it's at 8X speed, so the whole thing takes about a minute.

At the time, it was still too cold to ride in the morning, so I asked Steven to drop me off at work with the bike, so I could ride home in the relative warmth of the afternoon.

I hate this hill.
Since this video, I've managed the full commute, inbound and outbound. Now of course Mother Nature's turned on me like a snake, so it may be another week before I can do it again. But once the weather stabilizes a bit, I'm hoping to bike-commute at least one day every week.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Welcome spring 2015!

Finally. I mean, jeebus, that was a long winter.

Now that the weather's broken, I've been getting out here and there, racking up some rides and coughing the cabin fever out of my dusty lungs. 

I tried to meet up with a Chainlink group for a run to Two Brothers Brewery in Aurora on March 14, but the Illinois Prairie Path was a sea of mud. Unrideable, especially on my road bike with its skinny 25mm tires. I bailed out of the brewery part but I got a nice 20-mile ride from my house to the Prairie Path and back.

My road bike is many things, but a mudder it is not.
The next day I set out to have lunch in Plainfield, about 10 miles from where I live in Naperville. A glorious early spring day -- sunny with a moderate breeze from the southwest. My goal was the Tap House Inn on Rt. 126. Well, it turned out that particular Sunday was the Plainfield St. Patrick's Day Parade, and the place was swamped -- as was every other food establishment in town. I ended up getting a seat at the Tap House patio and munched chicken wings and watched green-decked Plainfielders head for the parade route.
Gets a little bit rural 'twixt Naperville and Plainfield.

Today was my first round-trip commute to work (I've ridden home after being dropped off when the morning was too cold to ride). A relatively pleasant a.m. ride: 40F, no wind. Started out just before sunrise and got to work in 57 minutes, about average.

The ride home was warmer but head-windy. I powered the last mile to make the round trip in just under two hours (1:58:23).

My commuting route takes me through this little stretch of
Greene Valley Forest Preserve. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

A squeaky clean ride to work

Figured it was too cool (55 degrees) to work up much of a sweat, so I showered before I left home.

This was my very first ride to work this year -- where did the damn summer go? -- and I was slightly surprised that I remembered all the turns in the forest preserve. The chug up the hill on 83rd street, which used to intimidate me so much, was just slow and tedious.

The view on 79th Street just before 7 a.m., with golden sunlight filtering through the trees.

Rode the 12.5 miles in 57 minutes, two minutes off my personal best, and I wasn’t even trying that hard. I had, however, worked up quite a sweat, so I needed another shower. Behind my desk at 8:10 a.m.

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