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 your $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.