Saturday, May 30, 2009

critical mass almost reached / training wheels


I'm punning it up today. I'm killing me. But seriously folks....

I went by the start of the Critical Mass ride on Friday. I just so happened to have made other plans (as always seems to happen), right down the street, but I knew a few friends would be there, so I stopped by to say hello and feel the good vibrations. It was a fantastic day for it. Mebbe next month!

Andrew, you're famous! Actually, you are just in a blog that a very small amount of my friends read, sorry!

I did go check out the new modern wing at the Art Institute. It's free on Thursday and Friday evenings starting at 5:30 throughout the summer. Go check it out! The Cy Twombly "Peonys" paintings are pretty great and also, nice job Renzo Piano! It's a pretty great space that really just makes the city seem like a lot more compelling and dramatic place, in this writer's humble opinion.

Saturday morning, I did something I've been trying to get it together to do for several months, which is finally get up at the crack of dawn and go on this XXX Racing training ride. So I did, and on about 4.5 hours sleep, no less! Here is the skinny on it. It was really fun! There was a bit of an intimidating super spandex bike dude vibe, though not overwhelming and I would say I was made to feel somewhere between not unwelcome and welcome by the different people I met (there was also a good mix of gender out there). At any rate, officially, you are made to feel welcome. It was a huge group. About 30 to 40 people at Wicker Park at 7am and then probably that amount again up at Warren Park, which is the second meet up before riding on to Highland Park. They have a great route and riding at 7 to 9am in the morning on a Saturday, you can really get a taste of what an almost car-free world would be like. That world is very, very nice. The ride up to Highland Park is "no drop" so the group (we actually split into 2 groups due to the total amount of riders there, probably 70 to 80) stops for gaps at traffic lights, mechanical difficulties, etc. We cruised at an average speed of around 20 mph on the way up, which is a nice comfy pace, particularly if you were me and you got to draft behind an approximately 6'5", maybe 210 pound rider. Not super difficult, but it's DEFINITELY a workout! The ride was 2 abreast, about 20-ish riders long and we would often go a few miles at a time without having to stop due to the great route and time of day. Got a little rain close to Highland Park, which had me getting a nice road water spray down from the rear tire of the bike in front of me (Oh, so that's why so many people are wearing the tweaker bike shades on this cloudy morning!), but it ended pretty quickly. We went past some beautiful homes, the Ba'hai Temple, the entrance to Ravinia, all sorts of stuff I'd never seen before. I met some nice folks, did a little chatting about the Giro and took in some serious eye-candy with all the fancy bikes around. There was a dad and his perhaps 10 year old daughter on a tandem road bike, NICE!!!

We ended up at a pretty good coffee shop, Fresh Grounds (?) I think. Nice double espresso, long but very friendly bathroom line and some nice chit chat. After about 20 minutes of hanging around, there was an announcement about one offical ride back and then a bunch of other people go out in impromptu groups according to ability, etc. Unfortunately for me, I didn't end up in the official ride back, which I sort of thought I was, but I should have realized that it was only about a dozen or so people. So we got going and then eventually the tempo picked up to a pretty consistent 28-ish mph. I hung with this for about 4 to 5 miles and then I got dropped like a hot potato! Suddenly riding solo down Green Bay Road, I realized I didn't really have any great idea where I was. Fortunately in the post-iPhone world that I'm currently living in, I could have sorted it out, but I noticed a rider or two that had gotten dropped about a half mile before me and figured I'd wait and see what their deal was. They turned out to be a couple of guys who I'd noticed speaking Spanish to each other on the way up from Wicker Park and I they were in the same boat as me, though one of them had been on the ride before and seemed to have a vague idea about how to get back. I just jumped in with them and we rode a more reasonable 20-ish mph pace for a few miles until one of them flatted. I figured we were a team by then, so I stopped with them and we finally got to meet each other officially and chat. They were Christian and Alejandro and they were guys who met at NW doing their masters program together, from Mexico DF and Colombia respectively. Super nice guys and we had a really mellow and fun ride back down into the city. Nice job on the navigation Christian! Once we got down and popped out on Western, I said goodbye and hopped over onto Rockwell and headed south. That is a nice street to stay on if you have to head south near Western Ave. by the way. Goes for miles in a very mellow fashion. I eventually moved over to Francisco and on over to Addison and home. Made it back in just over 3.5 hours from when I left this morning and rode a total of right about 49 miles. I felt pretty great when I got home, but after eating a big brunch I crashed like a college student after an all night study bender. DOH! I guess naps are kind of the norm for this deal.

Thanks to XXX for creating such a fun event that is open to all and also to all the nice folks I met today, especially to my dropped buddies on the ride home. I think I shall try it again soon!

Here are a couple of quickly snapped iPhone pics from the Warren Park stop (guy standing there is giving everyone the skinny on splitting into 2 groups) and from the coffee shop in Highland Park.

Here is the route from mapmyride.

I also just got done talking with Andrew about what an awesome time he had at Critical Mass. Color me jealous!!! I am going next month!!!!

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