Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Love Blooming

So I've just returned from an "easy" ride north to the town of Algonquin and back... and as my 'lobster-mitted' hands will attest, it is still plenty brisk here in Chicagoland. At least the sun is out. That's a major consolation from one of last weekend's rides.

Today, the bike was fighting me a bit. I think that most avid cyclists and racers probably have a point in the early-season that is similar. Their feeling on the bike is awkward and unnatural. The melding of human and machine that will often happen after the adequate miles have been traversed seems nowhere to be found in these early days.

This ride was all payback for the last ride, I could feel it in just about ever pedal-stroke. If this bike (I usually refer to her as "Shirley") could express her feelings in words, or otherwise drop me a little note, it might go something like this:

My Dearest JACKASS,

Yeah, keep smirking...
I hope you like how my brakes were scrapey and my shifting half-hearted today. Do you remember this time last weekend, when you decided to take me out when it was raining and in the low-40s? Do you recall how you suffered so, shivering in the cold and wet and how your rain-soaked gloves and numb-stump hands only added to your misery? Well, HOW DO YOU THINK *I* FELT!?!? Your "race-day-only" bike? What's worse, you didn't even bother to squirt a little Tri-Flow or Pro-Link on my chain before heading out the door! Even though my bearings are sealed, rain and muck still affects me! Did you even bother to give me  a cursory cleaning after your little death march? Uumm NO!! The subsequent ride, you only gave me a little spritz of lube then rolled up to Barrington and got your chill on INSIDE that coffee place while I sat patiently outside waiting for you. Then today, you go up north and expect some sort of magical spring awakening... Oh, I DON'T THINK SO!!!...
I'm glad that my lack of snap and smoothness only added to the suffering you went through today, induced mostly by your half-ass physical condition. We all thought this year would be different... You neglected us on the indoor training grind in exchange for a few outings on those cross-country skis you purchased. Well a lot of good those did you! Don't even THINK about wrenching on me right now!!! Go carouse with your skis... maybe they need some wax or something!.. As far as I'm concerned right now, you can just talk to the hand(lebar)!!!

I made certain to stop a few times to snap some photos of her and try and get her good side ... and perhaps, if I'm lucky, get ON her good side. Right now though, I'm pretty much in the doghouse.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Commuting With The Colonel

With a stretch recent temps in the mid 30s and into the 40s in the days ahead, I got up the gumption to try a dress rehearsal on the “partial commute” to work. I attached the panniers, and filled them with clothes and stuff I would take to work on a “real” partial bike commute day.

Still life with bike and chainlink fence... 
As planned, I threw my 1990 Miyata 600 GT bike into the car and drove partway (yes, I promise to write more about this bike soon). After attempting to head west on the crushed gravel and limestone Great Western Trail, it became apparent that the recent thaw had left the surface conditions damp, slushy, and slow at best. So, I jumped off the path a bit, headed south to catch Keslinger Rd. and then take that west.

What I quickly found was that sometimes, suburban sprawl leaves barely a hodge-podge of viably safe cycling options. On more than one occasion, when the shoulder narrowed to a matter of inches, I had to cross the road to seek out the safety of little paved foot paths. I really started to dread the thought of being in the way of hectic-minded commuting during-the-week motorists, and started to reconsider my Keslinger Rd. plan. 

Hmm…  Perhaps since North Ave (IL Rt. 64) out of St. Charles has some pretty generous shoulder on it, I might try THAT until the trail conditions thaw out completely and dry up. We’ll see. I’m also contemplating leaving my car further west, perhaps closer to Rt. 47 (for those of you local yokels who know the lay of the land!). For now, near the intersection of 47 and 64 at Lily Lake might be ideal, and then add mileage as I gain fitness? Sounds like a plan! So that, on balance, was today’s big WIN… actually getting out and doing this.

The FAIL for the day (ok, WAIL, actually, because it was so “finger-lickin’ good!”) was my total and utter capitulation to temptation on the way home by hitting the KFC drive-thru! Yes, I gave in to the sweet siren-song inside my head...

Complete with KFC 'spork'!
YES, K-F-C!!!! 

No guilt.


I put in the 60 miles in the cold and wind on a loaded touring bike. Not like I’ll make a habit of visiting Colonel Sanders or anything. I did notice that one of the new pair of glasses I just acquired looks amazingly like the kind the colonel likes to rock on that genteel Southun’ mug a his!

Oh, one final note: Is it just me, or have the pieces of chicken, biscuits, and portions of mashed potatoes gotten smaller over time? And, in case anyone's wondering... I LITERALLY *licked* my fingers in a grotesque orgy of gluttonous Henry VIII-defiance and aplomb.