Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Man vs Mooseman - Bike Training in Chicago

It may sound a bit strange to suggest that a naturalized New Englander should travel to Chicago to do cycle training a week before a Triathlon, but that is what I have done. I hadn't been to the City in more than 20 years, other than to connect flights going elsewhere, when a friend of mine (art historian and teacher Luc Travers) invited me to attend his informal lecture/presentation at the Art Institute. Well, I'll admit I had perhaps only been to the Art Institute once in my life before that, and it had been such a busy trip that I had no memories of it. I may not even have any photos from that visit, and if I had, they are tucked away waiting to be filed in old attic boxes.

Still, I jumped at the chance to go to Chicago, and when I replied that I'd be attending the lecture on Facebook, another Objectivist friend (Cloud) invited me to ride with him the day before near Crystal Lake. Upon further investigation, I found a nice place downtown to rent a road bike, and Cloud was happy to send information to me about getting to Crystal Lake by train.

While this was quite a trip involving the EL, airport shuttles, CTA buses, and a Metra Train, I managed to get out to meet Cloud, for what became a 50-mile flat ride through some nice farming areas, not to mention the Crystal Lake itself. It was bright sunshine all afternoon, and blisteringly hot standing still, but the breeze and the head-wind made the cycling perfect. While I've found I am in no kind of shape to do long breezy rides (in excess of 45 miles) these days, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Cloud was very patient with me, allowing me to draft him most of the way back from our foray out westward, heading back into a steady eastern breeze.

Well, I was too slow to make my train back to town at 6PM. Cloud's wife Bonnie even tried to help me make the train at 6PM by picking me up on the way back in their cargo van, but just as well, we weren't able to make the earlier train. I was rewarded (!) with a nice dinner and apple crisp, along with good company  and hopefully friendships that can endure. There was an 8PM coming later on. I was back to my Midway Airport area hotel by 10:30PM, a little worn out, but none the worse for wear.

Cloud also set me up with another rider for Sunday afternoon, along the shore of Lake Michigan. A 2006 Chicago bike map shows a reasonable number of recommended Chicago streets for bikers, as well as a sexy looking lake-shore bike route that was bound to be worth at least a brief run. Jason took me south along the lake shore path for at least 10 miles, this time into the breeze first, so we could sail back north easily in time to return my rental bike. I was much too street-soiled to expect to eat downtown after the ride, so I returned to the airport area, where I treated myself to a stuffed pizza-and-beer supper. We train so we can eat.

I'd have loved to have my wife or my sons join me on the trip, but they wouldn't have liked the bike rides as much as I did. I'm sure they'd have been able to amuse themselves adequately while I cycled, especially at the lake shore. BTW, the art lecture was excellent and very enjoyable; quite a contrast from the brisk pace of the cycle runs. I wonder what art works can elicit the visceral sensations of a 50-miler? Maybe I'd better just have two scrap books for this trip after all.


Unknown said...

Thanks for coming out Dale...that was two loooonnnnngggg days for you. You're good to go!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the invitation. It was well worth the time and what effort I could muster!