10 January 2008

Playing in the rain

[The following is mostly a poor excuse to try out my new mobile phone that has a camera.]

Picked up Avenger the Trusty Hybrid at Rapid Transit CycleShop last night. All fixed up, squeaky clean, and sporting a new pair of fenders. (Thanks, guys and gals!) Took Milwaukee Ave. back downtown with every intention of multimoding back home via Metra or maybe the bus. Except the closer I got downtown, the more I wanted to keep going.

Riding through downtown Chicago and its surroundings is just incredible, especially during the evening. It's like... It's like... What's it like? Sex? Drugs? Rock 'n' roll? It's the best kind of rush, especially for something so mundane it's almost silly. Perhaps I simply don't ride downtown often enough for it to be boring. If that's the case, I hope I never do.

For me, the value of bike lanes is mostly psychological, like using a helmet as a crutch to feel safer about biking in traffic. There's something about having that white line between me and the speeding metal death traps roaring past on one side, and another white line between me and the doors of doom on the other side. Mind you, I never use a bike lane as an excuse to be any less alert, but those two parallel stripes show me and everyone else exactly where I'm supposed to be.

If only motorists and law-enforcement officials would respect them, I know, but the idea of "defensible space" is a powerful one.

Speaking of bike lane respect, I saw this on Milwaukee:

Thank you!

When I got to the South Loop I wove my way eastward to the ped bridge at 18th St., which I think has a stunning view.

I took better pictures with digi; I'll upload them later.

I got to the Lakefront Path between Soldier Field and McCormick Place and found it brisk, windy, and utterly deserted. Normally I'd be delighted by those conditions, but I'd dressed for work and errands, not a winter romp on the lakefront, and my unmentionables were getting pretty cold. I had the bright idea to cross Lake Shore Drive at the ped bridge from the Lakeside Center in order to get to the Metra Station at 23rd/McCormick Place, but the gate to the bridge was closed and locked with a security vehicle parked squarely behind it. Oops.

(Incidentally, you don't realize how huge Lakeside Center is until you're standing underneath that vast canopy alone in the dark. I wish I were better with my camera so that I could have captured this.)

So I went home the usual way. Slowly. The chilly headwind off the lake and the ghostly deserted silence demanded it.

This evening it's raining, a steady, drenching downpour. The streets are flooding, as they always do, perhaps more so than usual because the ground is already so saturated from the snowmelt and the storms earlier this week. But I was so happy with my new fenders that I took an extraneous spin around the U of C campus on my way back to the office from the grocery store. (Long story.) I don't think I would have gotten any less wet without them, but I have noticed a lack of mud and street grime spattered absolutely everywhere. I'm sure the custodians appreciate it. You see, this is what passes for bike parking at my office:

It's probably just the Astro group because we're so shorthanded now. (And to think that last year we hadn't a cubicle to spare.) I've been spoiled.


At 11 January, 2008 05:34, Blogger Georg said...

Hey Jennifer,

Very much liked this description of cycling in cold rainy weather. When I biked 5 times per week to my job in Neuilly/Paris, I finally used a K-way outfit (hope K-way means something to you). If not K-way is a lightweight plastic pant+anorak. The stuff weights about 150 grams or so. And you can put it over your job dress. I even had a pair of biking galoshes, to put over the normal shoes.

With that stuff you can stand under the showers for half an hour and get out bone dry.

By the way, your biking blog gave me the idea for the last article. After your visit I added one more photo.


At 11 January, 2008 11:21, Blogger Fritz said...

I like that car wash sign. Mind if I use it? Either on CBB or Cyclelicious, not sure which yet, and of course with a link back to here.

At 11 January, 2008 12:05, Blogger Jennifer said...

G: I have never heard of a K-way, but it sounds like something I already have. (Except maybe not, because mine is pretty heavy.) And I liked the photo you added to your last entry. That looks like a nice, peaceful valley.

F: Sure! I thought you and the Commute by Bike folks might also get a kick out of our designated bike parking cubicle.


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