Category Archives: xtracycle

Pictures or it didn’t happen

blockedroutesmallSo Lily says “hey, let me know when things on campus don’t work for bikes.”   Well, of course, except for the known “black eyes” that … well… it’s the U.

So many black eyes, though!

So here’s a typical morning.   This is the “bike route” — duly note that actually, this isn’t a great route.  Yes, we’re maneuvering through a *fountain.*   We’ve already had to do tight 90 degree turns because no, we can’t have curb cuts for the bike path so we have to cut 20 feet over to the sidewalk curb cuts.   (City of Urbana put some in where the city and U border.   Urbana is Gold, the U. bronze per “bike friendliness” and while the metric’s far from perfect, yes, that kind of thing counts.)

So, yes, they just close it off.   It was closed for construction for *a year and a half* just after they put in their “master bike plan” with it as the “bike route.”   Have I mentioned that the University is concerned with What It Looks Like On Paper, not the reality?

I’m sure it’ll be closed for beginning-of-year events, too.

bikelaneparkingOh, and see that line of cars (second one w/ headlights on)?   That’s where the bike lane is.  This is a compromise I’m willing to make — let folks park there moving into dorms — but I’d love to see stats on whether people are allowed to bend parking rules in other places.   I didn’t think so.   The bike facilities are there under duress and as soon as it is inconvenient to *anybody,* the anybody takes priority.

main street bike rackVery nice bike parking on Main Street in Urbana for our post-bike/ped council brew.   (We were mindful of public notice of meetings act and talked about other stuff.)

Here’s a bit of contrast with Champaign, where yes, if I made a left and rode across some grass, I could access a multi-use path behind Springfield to get to the happy hour at El Toro.   Parking at El Toro?  Well, find a table to cable it to.   This is Champaign (and typical).

champaignbikeparkingclothes from bike ride

Finally, somebody left their laundry basket exposed in their truck… clothes all over the road for our Saturday Saunter ride.   THey’ll go into a hot wash and dry… and go on a probably smaller person.   ERm, yea, we were rained on a bit — though we were at Casey’s for the pouring part.   (We also just had to slow our pace a bit for that loooong train to go by…)   Really nice cottons and a fellow who sorts his clothing (grateful the delicates basket wasn’t on top).  Hauling soggy cottons makes a nice workout…

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!

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 🙂 🙂

Did I say “enough already!”?

Snow is in the forecast today, too, tho’ not enough to get me on the bus. Still, my plan is to take teh studded tyres *off* the gazelle.   Fact is, with the nasty gouge in the back one, cardboard boot showing through, I don’t want to ride it anyway.

My latest accessory, thanks to John (I think that was his name!) and Michael at the Bike PRoject… at quarter to five I said “okay, help me start *thinking* about a rear mount for my big light.”   20 minutes later… we shall work on something sweeter than inner tubes for holding it on (the light comes with hefty magnets on the back) but it does need to be removable for battery changes.

And… I thought I’d seen it all, but heading out to Sunday’s concert, I noticed the pre-stop-sign rumble strips on Bradley were GONE — as well as the fourway stop!  It’s just two-way now. Don’t know if that was the plan (make ’em all stop for a while)… oh, but the rumble strips on Staley really do still suck hind teat on a barren possum.

Delighted that the word "steampunk" was used to reference my ride :)

Delighted that the word “steampunk” was used to reference my ride 🙂

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!

The heat is on

…. tho’ it was only “hot.”   Went to  church and then out to the bike shop — on the folding bike, because of this:

I sort of thought about trying to boot it … but instead stuffed it into a bag and hopped on the folding bike.

I’d planned on riding the green Schwinn over there except…. I don’t know where it is.   It’s not in the garage.  Did I loan it out?  (It is *possible* that I was relieved of it — but why just that bike? It wouldn’t have been ridably inflated, as half of the other bikes in there would have been.  It’s not that valuable and it doesn’t reallyh appear thus. )   So if you’ve borrowed a lovely grfeen ladies’ Schwinn Racer, one speed, with handbrakes added on… let me know 😉

I’m asking thunderstorms to brew.

I have a HOME PHONE for the first time since … early 1998.   Must look up things like “do not call.”   Despite  despising and loathing Verizon for its frankly evil practices (market to people who can’t afford much wiht low prices… but oh, the fees if you’re a day late or a dollar short or discontinue, *that’s* where the profit lies…)I went with their wireless twenty-dollar-a-month unlimited deal… 2 year contract. But now I won’t realize that well, actually, the phone hasn’t been charged in three days… I might even let it lapse for a bit here and there (since it’s a no contract phone).


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 😉

Riding the egg… and funeral/cycling attire.

… Oy.   I *must* figure out how to get those Schwinn S6 (or is it S7?) tyres to sit roundly on the rim.   I rode the Racer out to work after the funeral ’cause it will get me back faster to meet about the “what are we going to do about this?” meeting.

I decided that whilst the Racer was a somber black, the retroreflective lips might just not be appropriate for parking in front of a funeral home.   I decided the Gazelle had made sense for Fritz’ funeral, since he was my path to get that bike, but that good ol’ Xtra was the best for this.   I had trouble finding clothes… and I just wasn’t brave enough to wear my heels but I think I am going to wear them around more so that that’s an option. (Right now, me walkin’ in them is still comic.)

Black tights under black sweats under my mostly black skirt worked very well.   Yes, I could have just done the dress if I were ridign the Gazelle — but it is NOT that warm outside. We were singing from rows of chairs (they had to do multiple rooms with closed circuit TV … open casket, but only her face really showing). Many Tuesday Pedaling for Pleasure regulars there.

I got to find that critical B as a second soprano and then go back and belt out a great alto Gospel thing Cindy loved.

But… I’m afraid that yes, between the inspirational words from the pastor, and the thorough explanation of the politics of the Thessalonians, it was all a tragic accident and Cindy knew the risks and had prepared herself for them… by being prepared for death.  Not word one about the responsibility humans have for *not* taking specific actions that endanger others — to think FIRST.

I hear that actually, a lawyer has had success in a case in Illinois with our new 3-foot law that should be useful here… but… so far, I don’t know if Julia Rietz has done that homework.   I would *love* to find out that she is doing the right things behind the scenes.   However, so far the doubt I’ve been trying to give her the benefit of has been shrinking, shrinking.

Laser Fingers and Festive 500 Day Two PICS

bike in snowy driveway

Note that just to the right of the tree… there’s another person on a bike.
… and pics from day 1, too. The dull routes are to be found at and  .   (Today’s isn’t done yet, so…)

I even almost pushed a little today, too… but mindful that sweating a lot when it’s cold means you have to *keep* sweating a lot or get chilled and I’m all about being  comfortable when I’m riding.  It didn’t snow at all last night, and I peeked at the radar and the white stuff was parting around us, so I figgered I’d get out for 10 even if it started snowing almost right away. I was heading south on Race and thinking of going to Philo when three flakes hit my nose as if to say “Um, remember?? It’s going to SNOW.”   So I turned right instead and did the 5-mile loop.   It didn’t actually start snowing for another 7 miles — the weather is kind to me 🙂

salty road before snow

the salted road — you’d think it was Christmas Eve, or something, and the crews wanted to get home.  (Note: my camera isn’t dated right. Obviously it’s not 9:00 at night…)

oncoming snow sky

This is what things looked like out on Race St.  Yup, the slightly darker stuff probably has those real flakes in it. (Yup. it’s comin’ down all seriously out there now – glad I’m not doing this from the front porch!)

snow sculptures

snow sculptures

Snow sculptures on McHenry east of Race (yes, taken before the “out there” on Race photo). Note the bucket for gathering the snow together (there are two bucket-bricks of snow there, too).

wet snowy salty road

same road after… it’s snowing 😉

bike at library

bike from yesterday at the library.

gloves with tiny lights

And my latest acquisition in the “cheap and tawdry stuff from China” collection.   Hey, almost all my other holiday shopping was local — got presents at the Food Coop and Wind, Water and LIght; didn’t even have to resort to Meijer or go out to THE MALL.   (Might do that Monday, tho’, for the siblings). These “laser fingers” are LED lights with a little elastic band to go on your fingers.

… oh, yea, I did get a yahoo shouting at me and flinging open his door … don’t know if it would have been closer had I not impulsively turned right (don’t usually do it that way but a rider does get hunches)… some folks ain’t listenin’ for the spirit…

adventures in travel

Yesterday I drove Green Street in because it’s an early start day …. the 9:00 days make it easier to leave more time for easing my way down the less cleared roads and have lots more traffic to motivate me to do that instead of Green.

I got to experience the “bike lane, cars making right turns” conflict… we’re all merrily approaching the red traffic light, me in my bike lane… the cars slow and are stopping, and one of ’em has that right signal on.   It turns green.   The driver does a major hesitate… I waved him forward.   It wasn’t even close to a right hook ’cause Sir Studly was goin’ about 8 mph (up hill, into the winds on the studs on a 50 pound bike… and I don’t want to arrive at work in a lather).   Would have been a different scenario if I were going 21 mph, though.

Then I worked over to make the left onto Church, fondly recalling when that was my regular route (before the interminable construction that says it’ll be done in December… think May…be)   and there was a queue of drivers turning into the Springer Cultural Center.

I got into the left lane to go around them… but, oops!  That guy in the red van X?2 1978 really didn’t want to be in the queue and proceeds to pull out at me.   I holler “HEY!”   in what may have been the first time I completely “reflexively” hollered; it was that close.  (I’m usually prone to freezing. Guess when it’s this cold I’ve already done that ;))  Close enough to hear; he stopped.   I pulled right past ’em and caught up to him again at the light — no, he didn’t eevn deign to glance my way.  That unpredictable voice escaped and  hollered at the void between us “Not  looking now, either!  Hope you don’t kill anybody else this morning!”   He passed me widely before making his right turn… so I’m hoping he heard.

I’m pretty sure the yahoo who was compelled to pass me in the flogging UNDERPASS under the RR tracks on Stadium east of Neil was no more hostile… like most oppressors, he couldn’t comprehend my existence and the inconvenience of waiting a few seconds.

On the other hand, this morning I approached Bradley from Country Fair with a sinking heart… I was going to *make* the green… but only its tail end, and full double-lane traffic was crouched, ready to pounce, on Westbound Bradley… no doubt many of ’em people as “almost late” as I was for an 8:00 arrival at Parkland.   I planted my self in the middle of the lane… then tried to figure out with my complete lack of ability to do so whether or not the lane was wide enough for a safe passing (it’s skinnier what with the snow…) which it might have been for the little car behind me, but not the bus behind it.   I heard a honk… but directed at said bus that was pulling around … and I attacked that downhill and got Sir STudly prob’ly up to … maybe 15 mph.  The car behind me was… still behind me.   Perhaps cruise control on 12 ’cause teh gap was widening.  One of the kindly protective folks I work with, perhaps?I pedaled strongly into the turn lane and… so did the car, well behind me… and didn’t recognize the driver at all, and she just proceeded on into school, as if she hadn’t done anything remarkable…. and perhaps that’s true, but I’m remarking anyway 🙂