Tuesday, September 25, 2012

North Shore Century 2012

I wish I’d felt better that Sunday morning. Yeah, I drank a half-bottle of shitty Beaujolais Nouveau Saturday night, but I think it was the 1.25-lb slab of salmon that I’d grilled for dinner that did me in. Mary was out of town, putting in some sweat equity at the family business, the Straits of Malacca restaurant, so I had for dinner something Mary wouldn’t like: fish that actually tastes like fish.

When the alarm went off at 4:30 a.m., I felt a touch nauseated, figured I was dehydrated from the wine, slammed some water. A large Diet Coke at the 24-hour McDonalds and the big mistake: a sausage biscuit. Normally I can handle a glob of grease like that but for some reason, Sunday, it was the kiss of metric death.

I arrived at Dawes Park in Evanston at 6:15, navigating my way through several hundred of my bicycling compatriots to meet some Chainlinkers. Was great to meet some of the folks I’ve corresponded with on the message board. I’d said I was going to do the 62-mile route; a Chainlinker named David said he would join me.

My biking buddy David.

Note: David rode his bike from his home in Oak Park to the start point in Evanston. Then he planned to ride the 62 mile route, then ride on back to the home town of Ernest Hemingway. Crazy noble bicycle hero.

For the most part, the
pavement markings were
excellent. I missed a few.
We set out about 6:45, heading north into Evanston, into Wilmette with its million-dollar mansions, then into the back streets of Glencoe and Kenilworth, with their 10-million-dollar mansions. Deer nibbled picturesquely on one estate lawn, barely bothered by the bicyclists gliding by. This was my first time riding with a friend on one these organized rides, and it was great. He was good company.

At the first refreshment stop, at the 18-mile mark, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make the whole 62 miles. I was horrendously nauseated and a bit shaky, but there were too many people around to make a good puking an option. (Yes, I am an introvert.) I allowed to David that I would prefer to to the 50-mile route -- frankly I was considering turning around and heading back along the way we came. David expressed sympathy and didn’t press me. He took the 62-mile spur and I took the 50-mile route.

The bike path along Sheridan Road. A delight.

I found out later that he’d hit a pothole or something and crashed, knocking himself out but (not surprisingly) managing to bike back home to Oak Park. I feel bad that I wasn’t there to assist for his hour of need. On the other hand, I don’t know what I would have been able to do except call 911. And then puke.

I hope David (a) recovers from his accident, and (b) doesn’t consider me a lightweight and will ride with me again.

Somewhere along the way after the first rest stop, I started to feel better. In fact, I started to feel hungry. Not having eaten a bite at the rest stop, I nibbled the Clif bar I had stashed in my trunk bag.

A glimpse of Lake Michigan somewhere in Wilmette.
At the second rest stop, at Sunset Woods Park in Highland Park, I finally felt OK. I had a pretty good vegetarian sub sandwich sampler, courtesy of Captain Nemo’s (which I’d never heard of before but will forever more patronize when I get a chance).

A swig of Gatorade and I was on my way for the downhill run. Lots of twists and turns on this ride; I spent a lot of time consulting my cue sheet. But just before noon, I found myself back at Dawes Park, in Evanston.

Cyclemeter (the iPhone app I use to track my bicycle miles) had been giving me fits during the ride, telling me that GPS coverage had dropped out for various points for so many minutes. David had been having the same problem; I tried shutting off “Location Services” for everything but Cyclemeter, and that seemed to work. Too late, though, since the GPS had dropped out for more than a half-hour, and probably more. 

The Baha'i Temple in Evanston.
“The doors will be open to all sects —
no differentiation; and by God’s help
this temple will prove to be to the body
of human society what the soul is to the
body of man.”
I arrived in Dawes Park after doing the half-century route. The official route is about 50 miles; given the detours I took after missing a marker here and there, I’m figuring I did at least 52.

A long ride home back to Naperville, listening to a relatively boring game ‘twixt the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams (might as well have been listening to a Scrabble match). Next year, I am so doing the full 100 miles again.

- 30 -

Friday, September 7, 2012

How Greene Was My Valley

Trying to get back into a regular bicycle-commuting habit. Here's the path through Greene Valley Forest Preserve in Woodridge at about 7 a.m. yesterday. The route not all this picturesque, of course, but this little 1.25-mile stretch is my favorite part. The rest is lightly used suburban arterials and backstreets.

My travel time for each 12.5-mile leg is a frustratingly consistent 55 minutes each way; doesn't seem to matter how many lights I catch or which way the wind is blowing. I'm aiming for a sub-50-minute ride.