Category Archives: adventures

Xtracycle fantasy

So I almost had 2.5 miles on my errand trip… and I was curious about what the construction signs were about on the side street… so I went past my house and turned.   I went by a family going across the street where the man and boy child were in comfortable shoes and carrying day-glo sneakers, while the woman was struggling behind them in heels… and then saw the lady standing by 8 bags of stuff… loading them onto her shoulders… what’s up with that?  There’s a story there, I thought… but she looked like she knew what she was doing.    I went a little further – looked to be ordinary asphalt repair, because the busses do that.  I turned around and … the lady was just a little further up the road, bags off her shoulder now… catching her breath.

I popped up on the sidewalk  and dismounted.

“How far are you going?”   …
“to the corner (bout a quarter mile), where the bus *usually* stops.”

Okay, was she trying to catch it?  Didn’t matter.

“How ’bout putting your bag on the back here…’  (the skateboard thing on the back)

“No, I’ll be okay… these allergies aren’t making it any easier to breathe.”

“You can hold onto it… then let’s walk.  ”

She started lifting the bag… “It’s really heavy.”

We hoisted together.  “You keep it stable and we’ll walk.”  She was still breathing hard… but it got better as we walked … seems that it was a nice day so she had walked to the store &  got on the bus… that rode right past where it usually turned… because of the construction.   It had been re-routed.

“I’ll be fine now.”   She lifted the bag and walked to her front door — which was oh, 100 feet from “where the bus usually stops.”

Yes, I’d imagined years ago exactly that as being “something I could do with an Xtracycle — help somebody with heavy stuff,  without them worrying about me riding away w/ their stuff.”

She’d have made it, eventually, probably,  but it would have sucked.   It’s a good day when you can make somebody’s day not suck *and* it doesn’t even get complicated.

Update:   CUMTD replied “Apologies.  Reroute was posted for the 5 but not the 50. It’s been corrected online. Thanks for tweet and assisting on the street.”

Dude, they gots poet tweeters at Mass Transit!

They’re baaack…

We’ll see if I’ve got it recorded — I stuck the goPro on my helmet for the ride home, and decided to stick to Bradley and yea, verily… got mildly harassed by a man in a jeep convertible. I watched him decide not to go into the left lane to pass — he had the chance — and then lay on the horn… so I waved him around. He hollered something, so I duly informed him that he had a full lane, going the same direction and that, by the way, he was being recorded. (I don’t want to be committing wiretap offenses, after all.)
He shook his head disgustedly as he went by on Country Fair… he was on Bradley so he wasn’t coming out of Parkland, so perhaps a new U student… so much for a video of a totally dull ride.
However, the experience makes the point that okay, once every few years somebody actively dislikes me being “in the lane.” THey honk. THey holler.
They *don’t* run over me and then weep because they “didn’t see me.”
Interestingly, when I was coming ’round the bend on the perimeter road on campus there were four or five young boys riding bikes in one of the parking lots. One hollered out to me, including a “ma’am,” that there was a car RIGHT BEHIND ME, and I might get run over. I said we were both vehicles on the road, and thanked him…

Harley Wave, Urbana Style

So I’m riding down Washington Street and I spot an I’m-pretty-sure-diaper-clad toddler with some kind of scooter/tricicyle, walking it along next to a grandfatherly-looking dude. Yup, it’s a swaddling waddlekinder and as I approach she scrambles on board her scooter (as in, “ME TOO! ME TOO!”) and gazes raptly at me and points with her arm and whole grinning body, “Gaaabaa!!!” Which I believe translates to “You would make a GREAT crib toy!” (I have a fair number of colorful danglings and moving things on my bicycle, myself included…)
… but actually, my *first* impression was that this not-quite-verbal-yet person was giving me the equivalent of a Harley wave — we were both on very awesome human-powered vehicles. It totally made my day (and when I thought of having been able to catch it on screen if I had my helmet cam on, I thought about that going-viral thing “look up!” and decided it was better to just BE THERE 🙂 🙂

happy happy goy goy :)

I’ve been collecting those experiences where a person can make a connection from being on a bicycle, and Friday I got a n ew one.
I crossed Lincoln… a guy on a rusty Triumph preceding me perpendicularly from Lincoln onto Main.
A man on the sidewalk says, “Could I request your assistance?”
“For what?!?” the Triumph man says, clearly not comfortable (I’m a little wondering, too)…. “It will just involve pushing a bucket.” The guy on the Triumph says something, the guy on the sidewalk says something, and it clicks. I had Made a Mental Note one Saturday … this was the house that I had seen people walk to, discernible first by gait and then by garb, to be observant Jews. And it’s Friday night, and he’s wearing what Google tells me is tallit katan. I feel like a Safety Patrol Girl from elementary school as I get my hi-viz self off the bike and say, I can help … and he starts to explain that he can benefit from electricity but not work with it, and this is a holiday, and I say I know, that no, I’m not Jewish but I’d be glad to push the reset button (not bucket) so the lights will work…

Happy Hallowe’en ;)

halloween bike

Yes, we’re closed.

Your bike shop owner might be a curmudgeon if…

Have I mentioned that entropy is my middle name? I reckon most people didn’t even see the hand dangling there…

Sweet signals

Comin’ back from church, on Wright, and there’s a big ol’ bus stopped and four-way-flashing in the right lane.  I give it a very wide berth – and stay out there, ’cause I’m going to turn left, but I realize that the nice driver hanging back behind me doesn’t know that, since I’m turning left into that wide path thingy that cuts through to Main. A simple left-hand-pointing and we can both move along efficiently, me to the left and him around me on the right.   WIthout the signal I’d have been ranked among the “those bike riders, you never know what they’re going to do!” group…
Toyed w/ getting a ride to Perrysville and decided to man up instead. Yes, I’ve gotten behind on the math project but the problem isn’t not enough time, it’s not enough focus.   GTiving myself more time will just reinforce the entropic forces.   Rather, I’m going to try to engineer ye olde mic and recorder, and Figure Out How To Convey Fractions en route.

My plan for the ‘help with fractions” presentation is to address people who are totally, hopelessly confused – the people who know what half is, usually.   THen they get a math problem that says “divide by a half,” and wonder whether or not that’s anything like “half of” something.   My thinking is that I can spend twenty minutes on “half of this” being the same as “divided by 2,” and then what dividing *by* is all about (and the stupid fact that well, of course, we don’t really do it that often — if we do, we turn it into multiplication before we’ve even thought about the math), and then 20 minutes with Sue’s Special Fraction Addition Method.

But hey, that’s for that other blog!

Popcorn storms

Yesterday should have been sweltering, but tho’ the a.m. ride was at 78 degrees already, there was an intensity to the energy such that I charged into the headwind and had a sub-35 minute commute. (It helped that I was wearing jersey and shorts so I knew I could go hard.)

Then, just for me, a minuscule cloudburst rained where we were going to do our bike ride.  Not here, 2 miles away… but it slammed the temperature down into the downright pleasant range for that little pocket so my campus laps went 5:25, 5:26, 6:soemthing (the recovery lap) and 4:57.   It’s a mile and a half so that means getting the Xtracycle truckin 🙂 … and then it was just four of us on teh Tuesday ride, and instead of 15 miles at 13-14 mph that sometimes happens if it’s “oh, just the experienced cruisers” we went 20 miles at 15-16 with several 18+ intervals. That new front tire sure is fast!

This a.m., 82, and just that kind of oppressive where’s-the-air fog (and there was fog). Oh, and I did not manage to drink any tea before I left… but I think it will take more than caffeine to clear the air.   Still, we could get popcorn tonight!

Tour de Champaign

So!  Between 2:45 and 3 I just sat down and RESTED.  Then, hot shower. Change of clothes… then Out to the criterium.

Previous years, watching the guys and gals race around made my legs want to go out and ride — this time, watching them just made my legs throb in sympathy 🙂 My job was to ride the course — another perfect Xtracycle job.   THe bananas from Danville were a HUGE hit for the workers — I’m going to suggest it… (or if they do it on the same day again, I’ll bring more if theyv’e got the leftovers).

Last eyar I didn’t volunteer — but brought the blender.  SHoulda had it there this time, tho’ I ‘m not sure I’d have been the best blender in the world after 80 miles.

Oh, yea, another thing.    Whenever I was riding into the wind, the brakes were SINGING at me. Not sure what’s up with that rear disk brake rotor, but noise means friction.  (Thinking that somehow the bags blew something that moved something that caused things to shift.

Last little tour was out to a Post Rapture Partie , then home…

And,, chapter 3… Clif Bar’s silly 2 mile challenge…

Longer commute

So that 2 mile challenge thing wants you to take short trips to places less than 2 miles — but they *do* count some rides longer.   Not mine, though.

Danville had its first (“hopefully annual”) “Community Bicycle Day. THey’d asked Ed Barsotti if somebody would come down and “talk about bicycling safety.”

I put together a script to fill 15 minutes — more, if I told stories. I made some handouts but since I didn’t know the setup… as it turned out, I could have even pulled off a powerpoint – there was a nice shelter with power, and computers.

I had  decided that casually cruising to Danville on my bike would make a clear statement about the genuine feasibility of bike riding.  I decided it really needed to be the Xtracycle so they could see the thing I rode in on. That meant it was more of an athletic endeavor, but it’s all about perception, isn’t it? No spandex = no work 😛

I got up early enough to try to remember everything I forgot… and banked on the event starting at 9, but my part at 10:15, as my margin for error.   I *did* get out the door at 6:05.

Oh. The weather. Friday night there was a huge mass of storms eking its way mostly north and slo0wwly East.   Thus places were getting a *lot* of storms for a *long* time. If those storms got here in the morning… I hoped they wouldn’t get here at oh, 7:30…

At 5:00 the storms had faded and the forecast  changed from 70% thunderstorms to 50%.   I put stuff in plastic, and took off.  Had a route in my GPS. Tried to call it up – and the whole unit just shut down. Oh, dear.    I had my paper map and hey, the stories I could tell! I got it going again. I knew I should stick to just north of I-74 from Cottonwood Road a mile east of 150 out past Ogden… and somewhere around St. Joseph I tried again and the ride loaded. ( is the actual day’s ride.)

About then I realized that I had left without any water or sunscreen… and there was a headwind… but hey, if I *could* manage a little better than 12 mph, I’d probably get there on time. The wind was significant — SSE, but crosswinds   rather grab the Xtracycle bags like unto a sail.

The sun came out. How hot would that rain gear be, used for sun protection? No problem –  the sky to the south greyed and greyed darker.   It was an interesting grey – not exactly threatening, but not “just overcast” either.  I didn’t know whether to be worried or not, so I didnt’. Hey, there was no lightning, and the weather is kind to me.  Out of respect for our relationship,   I got motivated to  pedal harder, and debated whether I should sprint in to Ogden and get Gatorade…

The clouds made me really want to get there, and I got to Kickapoo …  rode by concessions because I really might make it — but I also still might hit gravel or storms to slow me down.   It sprinkled enough for me to put my jacket on, but stopped.

I had a half mile or so of very fast riding when a large black mutt dog and his friend came out after me.   I t was running *hard* so I almost really went all out for little spurts … and because it didn’t quite seem to be running for fun and love, I screamed primally at the creature (okay, that was *almost* fun — especially in hindsight —  but I’m afraid it sounded more like screaming than commanding… ) After a half mile or so of run, run, run it just stopped cold and turned around and went back.  (It was in Vermillion County else I’d have let Champaign County know.)  I can tell you zackly where it is on the GPS recount of my speed 😉

I got to Danville and managed to only have to ride a block on 150 — and hi-viz vests work, ’cause I saw a mess of ’em in a parking lot.  There were about 15 people; half a dozen cops on cop bikes, a couple of families, and a couple of bike rider types.

The mayor talked ( a good sign! 🙂 🙂 ) and the cop talked — and went through teh whole ABC check, which was the first 20% of my safety speech.   No problem — there was all kinds of other stuff … tho’ he covered another 10% of it before we took off.

We went through the town, the mayor joking about needing oxygen and more rest stops. 2 miles later we were at the park, where there were all kinds of food and displays.  THen they showed… the C-U Share the Road VIdeo.   Oops, the next 60% of what I had to say.

Welp, I went through ABC again on my bike,  gave a plug for LIB (but forgot about license plates — GET YOUR 🙂 )  then I just used my bicycle as the discussion theme — what gear, why — and talked about how much learning to ride is like learning to drive, but we don’t remember how complicated learning to drive is because everybody does it, and talked at length about lane position.

Nobody had a single quesiton — though a couple people came up after and talked about the bike.

I guess I’ll ask Ed about feedback… wondering if this is yet another “well, she wasn’t what we expected” (trying to say somethign else nicely) situation…

Then it was time to ride back.  Danville has a local bike route map now and that came in handy to find my way… their “worst” road was very reasonable on a low-traffic weekend.  Um, yea, the wind had shifted a little — from SSE to SSW.   Yea, I was going back West. It wasn’t quite as much W as it had been East at least.

Then came this warm blast behind me… was God breaking wind?   I didn’t care, it was going my way.   I took the Xtracycle up to 17-18 for a couple of miles… would I get home by 2:30???

Whoosh! Just as suddenly, the cooler SSW breeze returned.  (You can see where it happened – West of Newtown — on teh GPS recount.)  I realized I was pretty tired and wondered what bonking would be like out there…  I paused for some of the munchies and water and bananas that I’d tossed on board…  and made myself put enough into the system to get me the rest of the day, ’cause stopping felt lousy… and I really wanted a bit of caffeine. If I had been *sure* that the chocolate Gu I’ve stashed somewhere was in my bag, I’d have stopped and dug it out.  I’ll have to check 😉

I *did* get in at 2:45, with 77 miles on the GPS. Went inside and quaffed Gatorade with a mess of tea, and duly noted the heart rate and breathing were taking longer than they should to ramp down… but I still had time to fit in a shower and between that and the tea, things balanced out.

So, chapter two, next post 😉

opportunistic chivalry

First, weather,   when this morning’s forecast didn’t have snow in it any more, and it would seem that as I requested, we’re done with the stuff…   I was thinking about my elevated social status riding in when… it started snowing.   Little cold wet kisses, they were.   WHen I called it “pretend snow” because it was only the odd flurry, it got dense enough to show up on the ground a little, but it’s “pretend precip” until the little wet dots run together.

I had barely enough time to come in the back loop, which requires a left turn into the parking lot, and of course all the other people arriving barely on time were getting in, too. Looked like an eternal procession — until that driver at the stop sign sixty yards away where two tributaries of traffic were feeding in (hence, the congestion pocket)  simply paused an extra few seconds, creating a Big Old Gap.  I was absolutely positively sure that it was done on purpose, for my benefit, and pondered how if we set up our culture for low-risk opportunities to have a little personal contact with other humans, we might like each other better. (When the ride’s endorphins wore off, I realized that of course the driver could have been on the cellphone and just not reacting but… naw, of course not…)