Your typical commute …

This morning’s commute was a mind bender b/c I took the route I used to take every day … ten years ago.   You do “flash back,” which happily was fun.  I entered into it and for stretches, I was that slightly younger self thinking about slightly different things — and happily, being comfortable with the comparison and what I’ve said & done since then.

It was a slightly atypical commute home because I got out of Parkland in a timely manner which means I’m in more of our “five oclock traffic,” tho’ I stopped at the store primarily because then I could weave around the totally ground up road on Country Fair and the one lane traffic with flag people.  Yes, I failed at summoning the courage to simply bound over curbs and grass.   I walked the grassy knolls between the parking lots and Church and the parking lot and University.

Where I cross Neil street is often crowded if I”m out on time.   SOmetimes there are enough cars backed up at the red light at Springfield & Neil to potentially block where I cross at White and Neil.   This is one of those intersections where cars in one lane will want to stop & let me across and I demur on the grounds that there are two lanes, thank you, with traffic… and it really hadn’t backed up to us.

So first one vehicle did that and I waved it through.   The second stopped … I waved it through.  The third came to a full stop three car lengths back of my intersection and since the other lane was clear, I proceeded.

… but what was up with that? Pure coincidence? the automatic mimicking of what the guy in front of you does?  A “this happens at 5:30 every day and we let bicycles across” custom?     Curious. Driving psychology is fascinating.

Then I’m coming in on Main and remembering that when I was tidying up at work and shutting lots of things down and gathering lots of stuff I usually gather– knowing I’m taking all next week off for vacation — I reflected that I hoped I wouldn’t meet my demise in the upcoming week, which I think anybody who’s on a bicycle in traffic should consider (like sailors on the sea). I looked around at the Main and Springfield intersection and wondered how I could meet (and avoid by perceiving)  said demise and saw two very large, very dark men take Big Steps down the sidewalk and then step back into a little cubby like — oh, like they were going to smoke a cigarette or trade some secret — or like some scene from an adventure movie where somebody was about to Have Bad Things Happen To THem.   Clearly, they were My Demise!!!     I chortled … and one of the guys grinned  and waved back at me, as I pulled out and I waved back.   I am sure neither of us were thinking anything the other would guess in our wildest culturally divergent dreams… but smiles and waves are good things. It was quite possibly one of those moments when I strike people as being special ;)   …

And then it was stopping by Common Ground and yes! they have cans of Fat Tire, so I can bring ’em along camping :)   And yes!  My Limefuel battery has arrived (people steal bikes out of drivewayw and  garages around here, but … not stuff delivered to your porch. Another cultural mystery…)   — the “rugged” ones are not in stock but I’ll treat it nicely.

TIme to find stuff :)


I wonder if the Gold & Platinum & DIamond “bike friendly” communities are “friendly” to the point where even when they’re doing construction, they think of bicyclists as important.

Of course, Illinois has an especially bad rep as far as that goes — the poor fellow Boub — who was injured on a construction site that allowed traffic when dangerous enough to injure him — lost his court case because he was deemed “not an intended user” (since it wasn’t a “bike route” or “bike lane”) … which doomed us for *years* of governments being unwilling to do anything for bicycles because “then we would lose a lawsuit!”   THe fact that communities build things like sidewalks and swimming pools and are willing to take the risks because of the benefits to the community took a while to penetrate, but things are better now…

Still, right now my commute is far from friendly just because I”m dodging tractor trailers and backhoes and going over chewed-up grooved surfaces and constricted lanes and I’m fairly certain that people aren’t thinking of/ looking for bicycles.   I’m also glad I didn’t have time to top off the tires — soft ones definitely go over the grooved stuff more nicely, tho’ I can’t go too fast for fear of pinch flats on the bumps and grinds.

Taking a southern route on the morrow, but it’s Summer in this town so there’s construction everywhere…

Squeakless clean!

My back brake on the Trek had developed a squeak that had become a shriek… and it felt horrible and rough.   I toyed with the idea that its was like driving on gravel and while annoying, not *really*unstable — I wans’t going to fall over or not brake or anything.

So I got ready to go for a long Friday ride … wind from the East … and realized I didn’t have my phone.  Okay, the ride will be out to Parkland to hopefully retrieve it.

I got downtown and at Main turned around.   I was spending my attention wondering when I’d have to brake next… and decided that it was the Sound of Something Being Destroyed even if the brake pads looked *fine* and the rim looked *fine.*

I rode the Xtracycle out to Parkland and back; yes, the phone was there… and realized that the Campus bike project prob’ly wouldn’t be too all-fired busy and they’d have stuff like new brake pads.

Welp, James looked at the bike and said, “First, clean your rims. They’re FILTHY!!”  They didn’t look filthy to me — yes, lots of black streaks, but they weren’t “dirt.”  He tells me (without me asking) that rubber comes off the brake pads when things heat up and it builds up… and hands me a Simple Green bottle and a green scourer.

Half an hour later I’m on my way because yes, black stripes **disappeared** and yes, that was the source of the shrieking.

So it’s not squeaky clean — it’s better :)


So black sedan #1 goes by me on Country Fair and I notice the vanity tag that ends in “TWN” and I think, “Twin?”

Well, the very next car followed it ’round the turn; same color sedan and probably same model and its tag ended in “TWN2.”

Figured out vacation dates which will, alas, almost certainly be a bike-free week; it’s up in the mountains and the folding bike isn’t anywhere near ridable, and it’s the only bike that would fit nicely in a rental that would like the rocky roads to not-Dublin we’ll be camping next to.  That prob’ly contributed to getting on the bike after work, even tho’ I’d gotten the “lunch lap” miles in b/c the storms Did Not Get Us, and deciding it was too hot to go more than once around.  Hoping I can take the “must get more miles” motivation  to transfer over to my little math project… but there’s no “NationalSuesProjectChallenge” to post to like there is a NationalBikeChallenge.   We’ll see :)

You can’t take pictures of everything

… at least I can’t.

Still, there were two strikingly different images on my ride home the other day — one was a young adult male in a car, with dark glasses which I could imagine taking on a cold, distant toughness to impress “competing males.”

Not a mile from there was a young adult male walking a puppy.  Each creature was taking in the world with innocent vulnerability.

C’mon, culture, let’s cultivate that stuff :-)

Actually borderline hot today (high in the upper 80’s).   Got in 25.9 miles so I should achieve a 250 mile week or close to it, tho’ tomorrow is forecast rainy.

Go Fourth!

I’ve been taking advantage of the legality of consuming beer in public (because it’s July fourth — a local thing :))  so the thought of posting the picture daunts me … but we went out for the “perimeter ride” and on the way back home, I saw on Anderson … a walker.

A walker, in the road.   Just sitting there.  Not a person, a thing a person leans on to get around.  Just sitting out there.

I wondered.

And then, oh, a few hundred feet ahead, a man… with a cane… walking.   Walking without the walker.  Yes.  I was inspired.

And when I took a picture of the walker on the other side of hte road, the guy from the driveway beside me struck up conversation and no, I couldn’t say “hey, isn’t that flogging inspiring?!?!?”   but instead that well, I’d ridden 40 miles and getting off the bike to take a picture seemed like a good idea and he agreed that the way you keep going is to keep going and that was how *he* approached being in his 90’s (he could have passed for 60).

Came home,  noticed that I’d done 5 fewer miles than the fellow ahead of me in the national bike challenge and took the 5 mile route to my friend’s house, who was doing mad gardening.

A fellow rode by on a bike and said, “what are you doing with those lilies?”  (which were being dug up and plopped into a trash can).   Welp, he ended up dropping his bike at the apartment around the corner and coming back with 3 beers which is legal to drink on fourth of july here in your yard out in public and a copy of “Charles Melvin Price Late a Representative from Illinois — Memorial addresses delivered in Congress.”   Because he is Bill Price.   And utterly nerdly historical conversations ensued.

When he came back to drop off the handtruck that he’d used to tote the lilies, he came with Old Rasputins.   I took mine home — at 9% it’s a drink for at home :)

wet, cool summer

Two summers ago I was hiding inside on those Fridays Off in the summer — temps in the hundreds will do that.

Today’s THursday off before fourth of july and … 74 degrees in the heat of the day. Yes, June broke record for rain for the month and was .o7 inches from wettest month ever in the whole wide record-kept world.

I rode out to St. Joe — past the folks from Varsity Striping on Washington who were painting lines without closing the roads.  Something about painting and then a guy running behind dropping sand or some kind of powder on the stuff. Of course, with the truck there people were going around, anyway but no cones or nuthin’.  (Yes, coupla guys taking care of traffic.)

Out on the prairie there were still some drownign cornfields adn beanfields… and tons of chipping andoiling and “road closed for.”

Coming out of St. Joe I saw a guy heading East on 1700 — don’t know where he was coming from.   He had a pretty big pannier with stuff in it and a safety vest on and I went by and said hello and he didn’t answer… he was pretty much grimacing … the bike was creaking … I *think* he went a little faster after I went by.   I ducked down 2000 to see how it would be for a ride and  the Garmin told me it was nice but required a quarter mile on 150 so I turned around and saw the guy cross… but he was out of sight by the time we were going the same  direction again.  A mile later (1900) and 1700 N (Eastbound that I was riding on) was “closed for oiling.”   I went South and met w/ construction crew person directing me around wet asphalt to where 1900 was graveled up…. so I turned back around.   I guess Mr. Vest went that way and kept going, but I was up for a few more miles so I just went back North to1850 … but 1800 going South was *also* closed for oiling.

I decided to brave 1700 hoping that I was either south of the house with the bad dogs or that the dogs were still in government custody (their third chomping on cyclists — tho’ the third time was “just” on a sandal, not skin — had led to that)… when two guys on bikes came by goin’ the other direciton I figured I was okay.

They were still striping on Washington … and I netted 29 miles (should have been 23).   Tonight — moonlight ride!  Tme to *try* to get my light working…