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.

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