Ice to see you

I turned 30 yesterday, so I was inside hungover watching it snow. Watching w/tears in my eyes, as I naively thought we were through with all this crap. Oh well. My control only extends to which bike I ride, and in how many layers. If I'm cold or miserable, I can always stop.

Current beer-scale: 4.1


Thanks for biking by, guy.

I wasn't going to go out. I was more than happy to sit at home on my day off in my underwear and watch battlestar. But I couldn't wait--I had to get outside. So off I went.

All just because someone else rode by. That's all it took. That's why it's fun to ride.

Current beer-scale: 3.6


I smell like an old tennis ball today.

Or maybe an old rope chew toy.

Yes, I flatted again last night. As I finally made it home after carrying the bike the last 6 or 7 blocks, I threw my helmet in the dog's toybin and forgot about it until this morning. Never a good idea to leave anything in there for more than a few seconds. My head smells like a mixture of grass, dog drool, and old tennis ball. Not that I care, it's the end of my week anyway.

You smell, daddy.

So I rolled in w/a patched tube this morning, with every little bump or noise making me worry about another flat or being flat already. But I made it in, and can make it back however tonite. To shower. Quickly.

Current beer-scale: 7.8


"The bike path is that way!"

And yet, there I was on the street.

If you're going to yell something at a bike commuter on the road, you should be mandated to slow down listen to their reply. It's the considerate thing. Don't deprive me of my chance to give a witty retort by speeding away like a douche. Stay slow and take it like a man.

This all happened today while I made an extended trip home via REI to check out a new warm weather helmet. My old one is pretty funky, having reached the 3+years mark and been out in all sorts of conditions.

I don't really use this space to badmouth anything other than rude drivers and bikers, but when it comes to REI I don't know why I bother. I've only been to two locations a handful of times, but I've never actually found what I was originally there looking for. I was hoping this would be different, as it was the first visit to the Lincoln Park store but no luck. True, I have a huge head. To get a winter helmet with room for a head-layer underneath, I had to go super-huge with this XL Macon. I couldn't even find a helmet large enough to try on. If you've got a huge head, don't bother with REI.

Oh well. It's not like it's suddenly spring out or anything, and I can leave a hat on during the commute for a while longer.

Current beer-scale: 6.6


Yah, Friday maintenance!

Woo hoo, time for more maintenance. Always fun.

Over the winter, my in-laws had some extra slime they didn't need while they were on trainers all season. I happily took it home, not realizing presta valves aren't the easiest tires to slime. There are plenty of DIY resources out there if you want to figure out how to slime a presta-valve tube. I eventually tried cutting the end of the cap off so you could remove everything, and hoping I could screw it back on after putting the slime in. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I came up with a new way today though.

After putting new tubes on the new bike I played around with the tube I flatted on Wednesday morning. I tried feeling for a puncture but couldn't figure anything out, so I went to take the presta adapter off and throw the tube out. When I took the adapter off though, the rest of the valve top came with it, leaving the wider tube with a wide open top.

This top, it occured to me, would probably be considerably easier to get slime into. Then all I'd have to do is screw the valve piece back on and hopefully I'd have a recycled tube. It kind of worked. Let's just say the open top wasn't quite the perfect fit for either the slime nozzle or the regular plastic tube that you put over the tube valve. But it worked eventually, and slime was bubbling out of the holes in the tube (dammit, how the fuck does something like that happen? these tubes suck).
With a patch kit over that area, fingers crossed this turns into an emergency tube I can keep around for the next time I need a crap tube on the crap bike. And let's hope that since it's finally spring, that isn't for a nice long time.
Current beer-scale: 3.1


Yeah, free-standing (floating?) ice can make for a cool spring day. A t-shirt and arm sleeves might not always cut it in that kind of weather. But after a rough day, feeling "a little chilly" wasn't going to stop me from a longer commute home to blow off some steam. Not a bad ride, even after nearly getting flattened after returning to the Belmont exit. For some reason, I would say it's a bad idea to move from the the left-turn only lane through the middle lane to the right-turn only lane while getting off lakeshore, cop or not.

The cop part does make it more likely that you'll get less negative reactions when you do though.

Current beer-scale: 7.3


One more day. One more day.

Always, always, always take a test ride before breaking a bike out for a commute after a long winter. You could have done the most elaborate tuning up imaginable but it's all worthless if you just head out one morning for a commute w/o testing it first. Exhibit A: leaving this morning without a test ride last night, and not having tightened the bolts on the rear wheel enough. With the rear axle even slightly loose, the drive side gets pulled forward, and the wheel ends up diagonal in the drops. Oops. Pull everything forward to get things straight again, and the wheel is too close to the front cog and the chain falls right off. Oops. Let's just say next spring I'll take a test ride.

Even so, pretty enough day out, and tomorrow's hopefully more of the same. Yah spring!

Current beer-scale: 5.6


finally 5 for 5

Holy christ that was cold!

I realized last night that it had been weeks since I made it all five days of a work week on the bike so no matter the conditions, I was finishing out today. Man I wish I hadn't had that thought. A week's worth of presenting and biking caught up in a big rush of biking into a headwind that made me wish that if I wasn't home already, I was still back at work. Woof.

But I made it, five days worth, and now can drink and hope it warms up by Sunday. Hooray.

Current beer-scale: 8.1, and about to go down.


Thanks for softening me up, temperatures over 50 degrees. It made getting on the bike in 18 degree-weather that much colder. And in all honesty it wasn't that bad today. The effort it took to pull on those extra layers was something I will not miss when it's finally spring though.

For whatever reason I decided to try something a little different this morning, and take Belmont to Clark and straight down. There was a lot less road grit, but that's only b/c there's a lot more cars blowing it off to the curb. But it was fine, other than a tight squeeze by a bus as a light was turning green.

I should have known better than to try and follow my right of way in that situation, especially after last night. The wife and I were taking the dog out just as it was starting to rain, but it was still pretty warm and no one wanted to stay inside. Keeping to some side streets with four-way stops instead of lights, we started walking south. After a few blocks we were all almost run over by some chick texting instead of looking to see if anyone was in the intersection. She was close enough for me to kick her VW bug as hard as I could after pulling the dog out of the way. Scary.

It was a close enough call that my legs were shaking for a number of blocks after. I was mad enough that I tried to hand the leash to the wife so I could run after the car that was stopped in a line of traffic waiting for a light to change on Southport. She was at least level-headed enough to not take it. I don't know what I would have done if she actually had taken the leash, but it wouldn't have been pretty. That was an encounter I'm going to have a hard time shaking off anytime soon.

So I was hyper-cautious this morning, but the killer is I had the right of way to try and get through an intersection blocked by a bus and some moron who couldn't figure out how to go around a bus, and still thought the bus got way too close for comfort as it started into the intersection as soon as I had space to do the same. What the hell. I can't wait to hop back on this evening and see what else can happen. Oh boy.

Current beer-scale: 7.1


Ever have one of those days where you just can't turn your brain off? I had one of those last night. It feels like I had barely managed to doze-off just as I woke up thinking about this next week at work and what I have going on. That was at 4 AM, and the only good thing about springing forward last night was that it meant I had one less hour to lay there awake trying to get back to sleep before I had to get up. I tried thinking about the ocean. Sex. Bike rides. The dog beach. Nothing worked.

So I got up. And sitting in the back bedroom getting ready, with only the room reflecting back at me in the dark outside the windows, I felt about as far away from spring and rested and ready to start a day as possible. That's spring forward for you. 3 hours later and I'm just barely starting to feel human again after a damp ride in and two coffees.

I guess I should just be glad I made it in this ride. Beyond being surprised again at how smooth Frankenbike can ride if the stars align and a tube fits, is inflated properly, and the roads are relatively clear, when I picked the bike up to carry it into my office the rear wheel fell out of the drops. Whoops. Guess I hadn't put it back on as tight as I thought I had.

What the hell, I made it in.

Now I can't wait to turn around and head home.

Current beer-scale: 6.4



Finally. Finally, a great day for a ride. Arm sleeves in the bag, exactly where the jacket's going to be on the way back if we do indeed hit hi-50's this afternoon. Fantastic. Just fantastic. Just like every other Thursday, I can't wait for 4:30 and the start of my weekend, only more so today.

Of course, I flatted. Dammit. I have no idea, other than there seems to be a hard spot in the tube and I don't really give a shit b/c it means I'm walking home today.

Current beer-scale: 8.8


Cows aren't cuddly.

Actually, they kind of are. That sure doesn't stop them from being delicious though.
The wife found a restaurant with "panoramic" sea-side views in Del Mar to try our last night in San Diego. Knowing nothing of Del Mar even after staying there four days, we were thinking little shack, some booths, drunk locals after a day out surfing, good times. Actually, it turned out to be pretty nice, but thankfully not too nice that we couldn't eat there. Hence my delicious steak.

One of the specials that night was a kind of ray, which the waiter described as "buttery." I like seafood, but having spent that morning at Sea World and having spent time feeding the bat rays there, wasn't really in the mood to eat something I had positively interacted with earlier that day. Which made me feel like a bit of a hypocrite, to be honest. I've fed cows quite a bit, and besides the dead-eyed stare they can give you at times, really enjoyed the experiences. I don't recall ever eating steak directly after one of those experiences, but kind of have my doubts that I would feel the same way about the steak that I did about being offered ray.

Who would want to eat this?

Still, memories of that steak made biking just a little worse this morning. Thoughts of the warm open-air restaurant at sunset, the sound of the surf in the background, served to twist the knife that was temps in the 20's and snow that much more. It's Chicago. What did I expect?

Current beer-scale: 2.1 (a case of Longboard took care of that for a while, but I could drink)