Sunday, May 19, 2013


I did a quick ride yesterday along the Illinois Prairie Path from Diehl Rd, up the Eola Road overpass, toward Aurora. It was about 13 miles in total - a quick ride just to put in a good workout.

The trees and brush along the path are greener now than they were even a couple of weeks ago and areas of the path are secluded by canopies of emerald. Early spring.

The path itself, made of ground stone, was damp but smooth and easy to ride fast.

I saw few other riders but it was early, so traffic was slight. It was blissful alone-ness, built for speed.

By the time I got back from the ride, mind was empty. I went to the basement and put on a record - Boy by U2. Its trippy vibe provided a second kind of bliss post-workout.

It was a soul enhancing way to start a Saturday.

Monday, April 22, 2013

After the Flood

The western suburbs of Chicago don't usually get flooded like say New Orleans flooded but deluged streets made commuting during a day of torrential downpours seem almost apocalyptic. And for some people it was -- basements flooded, furniture saturated beyond saving, drywall soaked, cars drowning under bottomless overpasses.  

Next day, though, rain stopped, we're looking at freezing temps in late April and we're feeling downhearted about not getting back on our bikes.

But a couple days later, temps top out in the high 40s and the sun's shining so we jump on our bikes and head out on the Aurora leg of the IPP just to see what the rain damage is like along the Fox River.

The IPP is finely crushed gravel but the rains have made it either a muddy consistency or put divots in the trail so deep that if you don't keep an eye to the ground you can easily shoulder roll over the bars, so you really have to keep eyeballs peeled.

Nobody else is in sight for the first six or so miles except for an ambling derelict or two (the trail cuts behind some dicey Aurora neighborhoods -- if you've been there, you know and if you live there, you know better), muddy pants, swerving on wobbly legs, weaving from a previous night's bender or early morning flood of beer. No bikers for one or two casually checking out the cool, bright outdoors.

Detouring off a patch of flooded path onto Aurora's Route 25 was treachery, cars hissing by us disregarding our sense of heavy traffic vulnerability. We swayed onto the shoulder of the road, over some banging railroad tracks onto a jumbled (but safer) crumbled sidewalk until we crossed a bridge over the overflowing Fox River to the Fox River Trail, which was only inches from a raging river made high with the previous downpours.

The river ran fast to our right as we headed toward North Aurora, which was probably going to be our turn-around point.

The key is, we knew this when we started. It was cold, damp but sunny. And we both felt time was against us - is against us. We want to start the season -- summer is too short and a jump on riding means a jump on life.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

First of the season

We got on our bikes the first time this year on April 6 starting from Diehl Road in Naperville continuing east on the Aurora Branch of the Illinois Prairie Path (IPP) toward Wheaton.
Temperature topping out in the mid-50s, overcast with the threat of rain the whole ride. But the buzz of finally shaking winter out of our veins made all the craziness that happened during the icy months before this ride seem less insane.

The pre-ride bike prep wasn't easy. I hadn't pumped air in bike tires since I was a kid and the process of doing so now compared to then was -- for the lack of a better phrase -- fucked up.

I had a cheap hand pump but couldn't get it on the tire valves, front or back. Frustrated, I went out and bought a Schwinn Delux Analog Bike Pump from Target. Getting back home to fill the tires with this retro pump, I thought for sure we'd be in business but hooking the pump up to the valves was a wrestling match. I finally force-fed air into the tires after an hour of hand-to-hand combat with the pump.

But the excursion itself - 14.9 miles along a pitted, grooved, thawing crushed gravel trail - was liberating. By the end of this season's inaugural trip, we were sore but hopeful.

We made a vow that we were going to ride the IPP, Great Western, and Fox River trails this spring and summer, with a goal of 500 miles by August.

Any mileage beyond would be bonus.