Yes, I do have eyes, or Finding myself starting to think more seriously about Carbondale
Chicago area riders on the GITAP:
Many thanks to Larry Varney!
*Did anyone go to the L.A.T.E. Ride? Or Veggie Bike and Dine? Or Pitchfork? Did I miss anything spectacularly awesome? I spent the past few days downstate (really, really downstate) because I promised some very important people I'd see them before I went dashing off to some other exotic midwestern location, and I come home and find out that Indiana's shitting into my tap water, so I'm looking for some good news.
*On the Saluki down to Carbondale there were three folks traveling with bikes--and none of them were together (I think; they seemed reluctant to talk to me). In any case, was very encouraging to see. I may yet get myself and Avenger down to Giant City. I don't think I've been there since last summer, with Aunt Mil, may she rest in peace. Anyway, the bikes were all stacked together in a corner by the door with no seats, much like on Metra, and I didn't notice anybody harassing them. The people who's bikes they were, I mean.
*Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy. Never again will you have to mix your own beer and lemonade with disastrous results.
Something just occurred to me. While we were driving around Carbondale I noted the profusion of bike racks and learned of the existence of bike lanes in a few places near the SIUC campus. According to my grandparents, these are needed (and the trains between Chicago and Carbondale allow bikes on board) "because of all the college students."
Carbondale is a college town and therefore represents something of an anomaly compared to the rest of southern Illinois. No one knows this better than (1) Carbondale residents who originally came from somewhere else and are currently affiliated in some way with the university and (2) everyone else in Carbondale and the surrounding areas. (My folks are in Herrin.) Let's suppose for a moment that my grandparents represent typical individuals in category 2 above. (There are specific problems with this assumption; I won't get into them now.) This means that it is probably fairly safe to assume that among non-university-affiliated southern Illinoisans, bicycling is perceived to be a mode of transportation primarily for college students.
[Are there any Carbondale cyclists who can confirm or deny this conclusion? I'm a grumpy Chicagoan with family ties, so my perceptions of anything in very downstate Illinois are probably biased six ways from Sunday.]
Anyway, contrast this to the prevailing view in Chicago, where cyclists may be crazy rude fanatical evangelical countercultural environmentalist anti-automobile broke-ass scofflaw hippie health nuts, but at least we're not all automatically lumped into the "college student" category.