Saturday, July 11, 2015

606 Trail in Chicago

This is the best new extremely short trail in the Chicago area. All 2.7 miles and 30 minutes of it. I can prove it, here's the video.

Winner of the Tour d'Sexy.
Mary and I hit the new 606 trail this morning. This is a real marvel of urban bicycle / running / baby-jogger-stroller planning and is a MUST for anyone living in the six-county area.

We exited the Kennedy at Armitage, fumbled around a bit on the back streets, and found a place to park near the 606's east end. It's an old elevated train right-of-way running through the mid-north side of the city, basically yuppie central. Bicycles have a nice two-lane divided highway down the middle. Runners have a rubberized strip on either side to minimize the impact on their plantar fascias, or fibular cerebellums, or whatever. Dog owners have a three-mile linear excretion zone.

There are little pull-offs with benches or picnic tables. Beautiful (and we hope dog-proof) gardens.

My goodness, what a great people-watching opportunity. My favorite today: the guy in the FULL Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling outfit, and his kid wearing the Superman cape.

All too soon, we returned to our starting point. Mary was ready to continue our ride, so I suggested we head to the lake front path, about two miles east. About 1.5 miles east on Armitage, we hit Lincoln Park Zoo. Surprised that we could just wander on in — admission is free! — we locked up the bikes (two cable locks and a U-lock) and wandered on in.

OK, I'd eaten all the Kahlua pork and
macaroni salad by this point.
We checked out the flamingos (pink, how cliché) then saw a zebra and white-lipped deer, both of which appeared to be suicidal, and perhaps only delaying their exit until they could obtain heavy weaponry, starting with grenade launchers, and take a few hundred humans with them. Mary and I both agreed that zoos were depressing, and decided to leave post haste.

A short ride up Clark Street brought us to the little storefront "Aloha Eats," one
of our favorite places in the city. They serve up delicacies we've only had in the islands, starting with spam masubi: a soap-bar-sized slab of sticky rice topped with a slice of fried spam (yes, actual spam, wonderful spam) and wrapped in a sheet of seaweed. It's a carby rice, salt/umami-savory/fishy combination that's unlike anything else. Yum.

Personally, I'd like to live in Chicago.  But that's just me.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Little Miami Trail Video

Lil Miami Deer
Here's the video from the Little Miami Scenic Trail earlier this month. Took me a while to get the video downloaded and spliced.

Check out the little spike buck (deer) at 1:15 -- I could have reached out and touched the thing.

No video of the signpost crash, sorry. I'm never rolling when I do something stupid.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Kidnapped!

So my wife kidnapped me on my birthday and forced me to attend a Cubs game and eat barbecue ribs and drink cheap wine. 
You see how angry I am at being kidnapped.
I have the best life companion anyone could ever hope for. She had to plan this stuff months in advance.
How did she know it was my birthday!?
Here's how it went down:

She says we're going to a great barbecue place in Chicago. She (not intentionally) drives right by Wrigley Field. I'm inwardly groaning because I know there's a game at 3:05 — I can hear the organ playing.


We pull up in front of the Majestic Hotel a few blocks away. I'm really confused because I'm looking for a BBQ joint.


"Oh, by the way we're staying here tonight," she said.


A little bit hopeful, I asked, "Are we going to the Cubs game, too?"  She just smiled at me. Duh.


At 2:30 p.m., we're at a chilly, misty Wrigley Field, gobbling down foot-long hot dogs and waiting for the game to begin.



Kris Bryant gets a hit.


Starlin Castro celebrates a homer.

The home team lost 5-4, but it was a fun game with two close plays at the plate. My Cubs are a scrappy team this year and a blast to watch in person. Mary got us great seats, of course. 


After the game, barbecue ribs and a nightcap at a funky bar nearby.


I love that girl. And I suspect she loves me.



 dsj 150613


Monday, June 8, 2015

OK, OK, helmets = good. Lesson learned


I've never gotten a scratch riding a motorcycle, but the damned bicycle is going to kill me. Got tangled up on a sharp turn on the Little Miami Scenic Trail on Sunday and ran into a 4X4 sign post.

Came up and over a roadway and there was a right-angle bend at the bottom; I turned too sharply and the front wheel contacted my shoe — the dreaded "toe overlap" finally got me — and before I could even say a really bad word WHAM I hit the signpost and tumbled into the grass.


Took the brunt of the impact on my left hand. A deep gash on the base of my index finger and assorted lacerations on the other fingers. Also sore on my knee and jaw.



Note dented helmet; I'll never make fun of the "magic hat" again. Thank you, Mary, for insisting that I wear the thing. The bike is fine, except for some scratches on the shift lever.

Video was taken, although the camera wasn't rolling when I wiped out, darn it. I'll post a YouTube link in a day or three.



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!




dsj 150524

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.


dsj 150419