Monday, December 11, 2006

The Windy City

I'm in Chicago again for my yearly conference, and while I spent some time this morning on the recumbent in the hotel health club, I don't think I'll be getting many street miles in during my visit. It's a little cold, a little wet, and a little crowded for my tastes.

However, I did ride in Chicago once. Maybe in 1999 or 2000, I took part in the Boulevard Tour. This year's was held in September, but my foggy memory puts it in the spring - maybe May. Regardless, we started at the U of C campus at the site of the 1930 something World's Fair and rode up through Chinatown, the Loop, the Puerto Rican district (there was a big neon PR flag installed over the street in the business district), and then back south on a path slightly west of downtown. I think it was around 45 miles.

I hadn't been in a big city ride before, and I just loved the idea of thousands of riders taking over the LaSalle banking district - even on a Sunday. The tall buildings, which are a little intimidating and are difficult to see from a car, were resplendently visible, and the normally busy streets offered lanes for the taking. There was a tandem bike pulling a trailer that contained a drummer, a guitarist, his amp, and a generator. The two riders were working hard to keep the music traveling. (The duo sounded horrible, but I still loved it!) The route was barely marked, and the SAG stops were undersized and backed up - what a great day!

I wish I had photos to share, but I had a camera accident at the beginning of the ride. My Kodak camera was bumped while in the pannier, causing the lens mechanism to attempt to engage. I had things packed tight, so the plastic gears stripped instead. It was fixed about $250 later. (One would never think of fixing a digital camera today. The price of repairs is too close to the price of a new one - with better features!)

I was riding with a co-worker who pushed very hard through most of the ride, but bonked about 5 miles from the end. He was cursing himself and getting generally upset, while I was happy just to be finishing. We rode in the Wabash River Century later that year, and he did the same thing on that route - stopping every five minutes of the last stretch to restate how much of an idiot he was for not pacing himself or for not being strong enough. I didn't ride with him after that.

While I'm out sightseeing/shopping this afternoon, I'll look for messengers or commuters. And I'll be a little jealous.


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