Critical mass? Not my cup of obnoxious, hipster tea.

I will never understand the logic of convincing people "bikes are fun" by pissing everyone else not on a bike off. Maybe that's my lack of cyclist attitude and more of my commuter showing, but taking up a lane of traffic riding five-across while people are trying to get to wrigley just seems dumb to me. How is there not a political agenda when you're purposely slowing everyone else down just to prove how awesome it is to bike and how sweet your ride is. Yes, biking is great. Bikers, sometimes not so much.

Current beer-scale: 7.0 & falling


Short week! Only three days! Today's my Friday!

I have literally nothing to complain about (which could make some people wonder why say anything at all I guess), other than the Penguins getting a win last night and having to wait until Saturday for another game. So instead of writing, let's do a picto-blog from BTD. Better late than never.

Here's an opening shot of the south-bound ride just as we were getting on. I think this was at about 5:15 that morning. We were later than the in-laws would have liked but plenty early for me.

A shot the other way. Pretty empty.

Here's my pelaton passing Soldier Field. The best part of the ride was sprinting to get ahead then trying to get decent shots of everyone as they passed. Then you got to sprint to catch up again until the next picture. I realized early on that I sucked at timing how to take these pictures as people were moving, which is why this rapidly lost its novelty during the ride.

A panoramic from the way back. We were still early enough that down and back on the south-branch was pretty empty the entire time. The crowds picked back up by buckingham as we started the north-bound loop.

Eventually, I was just taking shots from the bike as I got separated from the group for a while. This one by Oak Street beach actually turned out okay. The rest of the ride was so incredibly bumpy though, that this didn't really happen again until the ride was over. Huge potholes, and in one asinine case, someone going the wrong direction in the north-bound lanes, made for some slightly less tranquil riding.

Our meeting point at the end of the ride. It was only about 8:30 by the time we were done, so the fountain was as good a place as any to meet up. Until someone wiped out on the gravel, when they tried to turn too sharply and forgot they were wearing clip-in shoes (not me). No pictures of that though.

Turns out 35 miles was about all the Frankenbike could handle. He/she/it performed admirably though, and the chain only came off once after bouncing off an absolutely horrendous pothole at the bottom of the downhill after crossing the river. Sitting at the fountain, I could imagine it sitting there, almost like a dog with its tongue hanging out. There are times when I have very fond feelings for Frankenbike, like when I'm zooming down belmont and manage to snake between a bus and someone trying to turn onto clark through cubs traffic (just like yesterday). BTD was one of those times, even though by the end of the ride I felt like it could fall apart out from under me like a cartoon, parts falling off left and right.

Riding with a camera was fun too, and I'm starting to think I should just carry one with me at all times. Earlier in the week, on my way back to Lincoln Park for our late softball game, I was cruising down lincoln while the "Public Enemies" Dillinger movie with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale was setting up. Each side of the street was lined with old fords and edsels, and all the stores by the Biograph had 30's-style awnings up. Pretty cool to see up close and not something I would have seen if I wasn't out riding. My ride might not always be the most interesting, but it has it's moments.

Current beer-scale: 2.2


42 degrees? Seriously? 42 fucking degrees? How does the temperature go down 45 degrees in May overnight? That shouldn't even be possible! I don't care about being the only one on a bike anymore! Give me beach weather!

Not that I didn't know this was coming, after making the mistake last night of checking the forecast to see what we were in for this week. I don't know if that made this morning easier or harder, but won't make softball any fun tonite.

What the hell happened? It was so nice for Sunday and Monday. Bike the drive had absolutely perfect weather (more on that once I get off my lazy ass and put some pictures together). And it's not like I expect perfection all the time either. "Passable" is fine, as long as it's in the 60's and not so windy. But this 45 degree crap has got to go. Fond memories of warmer days aren't quite enough to heat the office.

Current beer-scale: 3.0


Currently I'm at an 8.4 on the beer-scale. What is the beer-scale you ask? The beer-scale is a rating, self-evaluated, gauging exactly how badly you want a beer at any given moment. It's on a scale of 1-10, although scores of 0 or 11 are both possible but not pleasant places to be. A score of 0 basically means that while you might want a beer, you're already so drunk your brain has decided it's safer to stop motor function than risk having another beer and you've passed out. A score of 11 places you well past "wanting" a beer, seeing as how you've already had 3 eye-openers just to get dressed that morning. Neither are good scores.

An 8.4, while relatively high on the scale, thankfully doesn't really effect my schedule for the rest of the day. And since I only have about 5 hours until I go home, I can see that dipping maybe as low as the high-6 range if things quiet down at the office. Definitely a manageable score.
Gah. Two cold, crappy rides in a row. Crowds, contructions, or wind, take your pick. Rain, I can handle. Even cold, with enough layers, is passable. But wind or construction that pops up out of nowhere, there's no getting around it. Still better than driving though. As long as the wind stays away for BTD, I can deal with everything else (including getting up at 4:00 AM to meet the in-laws).


So close, and yet so far. A 13-14 defeat last night, but I'll take that over getting crushed any time. To just stay competitive was a step in the right direction for the entire team. I never play as well as I would like to, but that goes out the window when everyone else does. Plays from third to first, short to first, center to first, all looked good last night for most of the game.

On top of which, this is by far the most positive team I've ever been on. Ever. Emails get sent all week, either patting everyone on the back or drumming up excitement for the next game. I suppose that this is all a symptom of the horrible "everyone gets a trophy" mentality but what the hell, we're all adults. Personally I love it; my circle of friends post-college are mostly from grad school and not the most sports-centric (no one ever really understood when I would stay in the car to catch the end of a Notre Dame game on the radio while everyone else was raring to go apple-picking). So to have a chance to do some sports-related bonding with coworkers close to my age is something I'm really enjoying. Hell, after my last job, I'm excited just to have coworkers my age, let alone enough of them to get a team together. The winning and losing easily becomes secondary.

So now begins the longest part of the week. While I do have bike the drive to break up the countdown to the next game, I find myself looking forward to playing more and more each week. This is also my last full week of Tuesday-Saturday, thank god. After Memorial Day I come in Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then get Friday and Saturday off before I switch to a Sunday-Thursday schedule. Not the easiest to deal with, but the Sunday start makes every week feel like a short one, and then I only have two days to work after softball. Which is awesome, b/c after sprinting home on the bike again last night after a stop at Sedgwicks, the idea of working 4 more days while I'm this tired is not really appealing to me.


Time to get back on the saddle. After taking a day off my bike commute last Saturday so the wife could pick me up early to go to a wedding, it was a pleasure to hop back on this morning and pedal in. Not that I was itching to go back in to work, especially with an extra day off at home with the wife and dog. But it felt like a lot longer than 3 days since I had taken a ride.

Our weekly softball spanking is tonite, and it looks like we'll be going 3-for-3 rain-wise as well. Outstanding.


Happy Bike to Work Day everybody!

No, that's alright. I wasn't really turning left there anyway. I just like to ride with my arm out like that b/c I can pretend I'm a fucking plane. I'm not signaling. So just peel away from that stop-sign bmw guy, and go ahead and roll through your's lady on her cell. What's the harm in seeing how close you can actually get to running someone over.

Go fuck yourselves traffic.



Do you not see the two cars in front of us? It's not like I can magically pass through them or anything. Maybe if the guy in front actually knew what a right turn only lane was, this could have been avoided. Don't blame me just b/c I'm on a bike, soccer mom.
Wow. That was both a great and lousy night. Pitching an entire game and getting shelled was not really enjoyable, and neither was getting home so late and trying to wake up this morning. But playing in the rain again added a little something, and that meant riding home at the end of the night was great. Beers during and after the game helped too, especially after choking down the rage I felt coming on as we blew another 2-out inning and let in 5 more runs.

Actually, I'm quite proud of myself for that one, b/c my younger self probably would've been screaming and cursing at both myself and my teammates. The best thing was I wasn't the only one feeling that way, as I found out when we rehashed the entire game at Sedgwick's afterwards. It's only natural to get frustrated when things aren't going your way like that, and even though it takes a team effort to screw up that much, everyone felt like it was their own mistake that was the key to the inning. Thankfully, we all realized we're supposed to be playing for fun, and freaking out over softball is definitely not.

The only real down side to a night like that is not wanting to skip going out afterwards and getting home too late to really do anything except shower and go to bed. Riding home at night is just scary enough to be exhilarating, and it's hard to relax enough to sleep after getting home in one piece. As long as the hockey game doesn't go triple overtime tonite, it's not the end of the world. I can always sleep tomorrow.


Ok I have to admit, I'm starting to like how this cool weather is sticking around. 52 F this morning and still, not a single lycra-clad speed freak to be seen. Granted, I saw a few yesterday morning walking the dog by the lake, but as long as they're not running us over I could not care less. And if temps in the 50's keep them off my route and sticking to the lakefront path, let it stay May for a while longer.

Biking on an empty route makes me remember why I started bike commuting in the first place. Originally, it was just a way to avoid Cubs el traffic on my summer-hours weeks. Even on my future mother-in-law's old worldsport, that first week was so much fun. Surviving the first ride through the neighborhood, figuring out better routes, overcoming the onset of butt-pain, all of it still infinitely more enjoyable than cramming on to an el car. Reading or coffee time is a small price to pay for actually enjoying the commute. And even though my route's gotten a lot shorter and my ride has slightly up graded, that first week was still one of the best.

Eventually, when I've cobbled together a winterized bike, I'll really bike year-round. March-November's alright, but that's still 3 months a year where I could be out there instead of jealously eyeing bikers as they glide by my car. Sure, I love heat and sports radio as much as the next guy, but I have both of those at home. I don't need them on my commute too.


Holy crap that was cold. 47 F when I left this morning and a lot lower biker density on the road on the way in. After being able to ride in shorts with it in the seventies that felt colder than it should have.

Not an unpleasant ride though. I was surprised to be one of the few people on my route, versus having to navigate around packs of fellow commuters like earlier in the week. I also feel bad about how much more I enjoyed this ride and how much of that is tied to being the only bike on the road for most of the time. Maybe a lot of people just had today off, or maybe anything under 50 F is too cold to only wear a spandex body suit so the bike stayed in the garage. These days, I'd rather layer and not drive in just about any weather.

Also on the plus side, my farmers tan was already off to a great start earlier in the week. Between the bike, the dog, and softball in another month I'll look like I spent May out planting corn. Outstanding.


swing away

The rain held off enough last night to get the first softball game of the season in. I choose to call it a game, a casual observer might use other words. Does the score really matter, as long as we had fun?

Of course it does. But if I can make it through the season without scaring my coworkers with the extent of my competitive streak, then I'll consider the season a success. We got beat, but we didn't get creamed like some other teams I've been on. Plus, we got 1/2 price pitchers at the bar when we were done.

What I'm most excited about is the fact that even after showing up an hour early to hit and throw for the first time in about 2 years, I don't feel any real ill effects other than the occasional ache when I move my throwing shoulder the wrong way. I was going to bike in no matter how I felt, but it was a pleasant surprise to wake up and not feel too hobbled. It's not like 16-inch softball is the most exherting sport out there but it can be rough the first time back. I definitely feel old, but not hobbled. That was good enough for me this morning.


speed freaks

Man oh man, I might be in a spot of trouble during Bike the Drive in a few weeks. Yesterday out in the burbs with the in-laws (who have finally talked me & the wife into the entire thing) we were talking about how they wanted the day to shape up and basically, we'll be meeting up with them at the rest points as they try to see just how fast they can do the entire ride. I know, if you feel slow blame the rider not the ride, but somehow I think their much pricier high end road rides give them a slight advantage over my frankenbike and the wife's hybrid. I'm not in it for speed either, but don't really want to spend the rest of the day hearing about how the kids got smoked by the parents.

Whatever. I get passed enough just while I'm commuting to not feel bad about it, and don't think Bike the Drive will be any different. Hopefully the weather will be nice and I can get some good pictures of LSD packed with bikes instead of cars.

We did hit some bike shops out in the burbs, which always makes me feel ridiculous as we drive all over to visit these shops. The shops out there are pretty good though. Overall my experiences with shops in the city that are in the neighborhood have been positive but occasionally I'll come across someone with an attitude that rubs me the wrong way. I commute on the cheapest bike I can manage b/c I crashed twice on my first bike, and didn't see the point to spending a grand on something that I was going to beat the hell out of on a daily basis. I've had frankenbike for over two years now, and have made a lot of "special" modifications myself over time. Currently it's a 7-speed, since when the front derailluer broke I didn't bother replacing it and left the 52 cog gear on the inside. I actually really like it as it is right now and am thinking about leaving it for the summer. Going in to a shop for a part or some advice is always a mixed bag. Sometimes it's a breeze, sometimes someone is asking me why I'm bothering and if they can show me this year's models. No thank you. Maybe I'm just going to the wrong shops, but when you're looking in the neighborhood sometimes your options are limited.

But this hasn't happened yet in my few trips with the in-laws. I ask for a part, if it's there I pay for it, and that's it. Plus, sometimes the in-laws even pay for them so it's a win-win. Now I get to spend my next day off tinkering, which is always fun. If I knew what I was doing, that would be even better.