Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dump Trucks, Gravel, Pot Holes and Humps

Well, I'm pulling a couple more night shifts at work, so today was going to be a great day for a nice long ride.  After talking with some friends, and doing some more reading at various places on the Web, like, I decided that the rides I've been making are getting long enough that I should start bringing more water and some sort of fuel.  I set up the bike last night with a handlebar bag to put some snacks in and swapped the water bottle cages between the Fuji and the Schwinn, as the Schwinn has a bigger cage that will allow me to use my 24 oz. bottle rather than my 16 oz.  And I had picked up a couple of Odwalla bars the other day specifically for this day.

This morning I had the brilliant idea to break the Sweet and Salty Peanut Odwalla bars up into pieces and put them in a baggy, then keep that baggy in the handlebar bag on the bike.  I also tossed a couple FRS chews in as well, thinking that when I got thirsty for something a bit sweeter and tangier than water, I could have one of these chews and then just chase it with a drink of water, rather than going so far as to carry two bottles at this point.  I loaded up the Fuji and headed out.

My plan today was to take a shot at running the North Branch trail completely.  I had more
water, and snacks to keep me going.  I wasn't going to pay much mind to my pace, but instead just try to zone out and keep on riding.  Today was going to be a big day.  Someone had run the trail yesterday and said that, except for one spot, the water had receded and the trail was dry, so I figured that I was good to go.

About 6 or 8 miles into the trail, I came onto some signage saying that the path was closed for construction.  I didn't know if the trail truly was under construction, or if during the floods, they had just used this sign to block the path.  So I made the decision to go around the signs and keep going.  It wasn't too much longer that I actually came upon the construction equipment.  At this point I probably could have gotten around all the workers and equipment on the trail, but that just seemed a bit rude and like some sort of poor cyclist form.  So I said good morning to the guys working on the trail, thanked them and headed back toward home. 

But on my way back, I decided that, rather than just come home and call it a day, I'd explore the neighborhoods awhile.  And that is when I found something just a bit irritating.  On this side of town, the main streets are pretty chaotic for riding a bike.  Bigger streets like Montrose, Lawrence, Nagle, Harlem, etc. are two lanes with cars parked along the sides, so there really is no good shoulder to ride on.  Where there is a shoulder, it is often full of cracks and pot holes.  But if you get off the main roads and onto the nice, smooth, quiet side streets, the city has filled every one of them with speed "humps."  So, no matter where you try to ride it is rough going.

Ehem... excuse me, Mr. bicycle-friendly Mayor Daley?  I'm not impressed.  If nothing else, why not just put a break in the middle of the humps, like they do in the alleys to allow rain water to drain?  Then a cyclist could just cruise through the middle of the humps.  You can't put them on the sides of the humps, because all too often there are cars parked in the way.  These streets don't see so much traffic that a cyclist can't ride in the middle of the street here and there.

But I digress.

I rode for quite a while, sticking to side streets where I could, battling traffic and pot holes when I had to.  Man, nothing will motivate you to get the pedals cranking then riding down Cumberland Avenue with cars whizzing by at 50 mph.  Then I rode into Mt. Olive cemetery for a bit, which is certainly a nice quiet place to ride.  Except that I couldn't find a way out and basically just circled the joint until I ended up back where I came in.  Looks like they are dealing with a few issues from the heavy rains too.  I think some of the dearly departed got their first bath in a long time...  I saw this cool old "graveyard Jeep" and decided I needed a photo:

It is a bit hard to see, but the Jeep has cool boom on it for moving dead people stuff around. When I went by it was holding a large cement slab in front of the Jeep.  It looked like the cover they put over a grave once the coffin is lowered in.  Creepy.

Oh, back to the Odwalla bars.  Did you know that if you break them up into pieces, put them into a baggy on the handlebars of a road bike and then take them out for ride, they will jiggle themselves back into a solid mass again?  That's right!  They are self healing!!  Bad idea on my part.  Next time I'll just leave them in their wrappers, but open them up so that I can grab them out of the bag, take a bit and drop them back in.

So, all in all, this was not the bike run I was hoping to make today, but anytime on the bike is a good time.  My lungs and legs ache in that good way.  Oh, and I broke the 200 mile mark on the Fuji today.  And to think; when I bought the bike my goal was to put 100 miles on it before the end of season.

Consumer alert:  Remember those Swagman bike racks I purchased and wasn't complete crazy about?  (I wrote about them here.)  I've decided to exchange them for fork mount units, however the fine person at is not being very customer friendly.  Apparently their 100% Satisfaction guarantee means that you have to pay shipping in both directions plus a 20% restocking fee.  We are debating the issue via e-mail currently.  Stay tuned.
  • 23.91 miles
  • 1'47"
  • 13.1 mph avg.
  • 23.9 mph max.

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