pulling the trigger, again

We've been squeezing every last drop of life out of the Rav since the move, limiting our driving as much as possible. The good news is we live in a very walk-friendly neighborhood. The bad news is even that wasn't helping the car last any longer. Corrosion on one of the wheels meant we had to add air to one tire every time we went out, and by the time we got to the gas station down the street the entire car was pulsing and shaking. Replacing the coolant pump and ruptured starter hose had to be done when it broke down in June, but there doesn't seem to be much life left in the old girl.

So after copious amounts of internet research, we had a list of cars (hopefully) within our budget to test drive. Toyota's Yaris and Matrix, a Jeep Patriot, Dodge Caliber, Ford Focus, and possibly a Nissan Juke. That's a full day and then some.

We started at Toyota out of some misguided sense of brand loyalty. I say misguided b/c as soon as we mentioned what we wanted to test drive and trade in, the salesman took us for sure things and started rolling back any end of year price cuts. Apparently everyone in Illinois wants a Yaris or Matrix, and we were astronomically lucky to see one of each on the lot that day. Which might have been the case, but who knows. It felt more like a line to feed customers. Actually test driving was a blast though--they had a separate track to go on with obstacles. The wife and I traded off; I took the easy lap with the Yaris, and the obstacles with the Matrix.

The Yaris had more room than I expected but ultimately we liked the Matrix better. The Yaris is a cheaper, less-stylish Mini Cooper. Which would be cool, but I'd rather have a Mini. We talked price on the Matrix, and I was dumb-founded at how little they were willing to give on price. I expected some negotiations with the model year ending and economy in the crapper but nothing was happening. I guess they felt like they would sell it one way or the other. But they didn't sell it to us, and we left there pissed at wasting our time. That, and at the idea of only getting $200 for our trade-in.

The Ford dealership was a little better. We tested a Focus sedan, nothing fancy. No track to test on either but the local streets gave us a better feel anyway. At that point we weren't interested enough to talk price, and still being pissed about Toyota jerking us around, we took off.

Having already been out for over 3 hours we decided to skip the Nissan and hopefully kill two birds with one stone at the local Jeep/Dodge. As luck would have it, they had tons of Patriots & Calibers, and the salesman by the door when we first hit the lot seemed alright.

Both models are actually built on the same chasis and drive very similarly. The Patriot was way too much car for us though. It felt smooth and had good pick-up, but the thing was just way too massive. The Caliber was a little closer to what we were looking for, with a lot of the same features but at a few thousand less.

Add on getting over two grand more for our trade-in, and by the end of the day we went from this:

to this.

The funniest thing is the Rav doesn't look half-bad in that picture. But that doesn't show you just how much dirt, sand, & fur we vacuumed out of there that morning, or the smell from the dog barfing in the car Friday afternoon, or the 130K miles we had on it, and the sad rumbling and clanking noises the engine made. It's only been a day but the Caliber is fantastic: we drove it home that night after showing the in-laws and driving them to dinner in it. So far so good. Rave reviews all around. We'll see how it goes Monday night when we have to drive back to hand over the title to the Rav. But that's one car trip I'm looking forward to.

Current beer-scale: 3.3


Not terrible, I guess

Today was the first day I went to work but not on a bike since the move. Every other day I haven't biked, I haven't gone to work. 908 miles-worth since June 1st, not too shabby.

At the old address(es) that would have meant walking, but I think I would have had to get up just a little too early for that. Which unfortunately meant the train.

Amazingly, it wasn't too bad, besides the guy who kept farting. Audibly. Seriously, I could hear it over my music. That's only b/c I could take my phone out to turn it up after someone sat down next to me but that doesn't make it any less gross.

Rather than switch trains I stayed on the brown line to walk a few blocks and not get to the office too early. When I was finally at my stop and could breathe again things got better. A quick stop at starbucks:And then the walk.
Like I said, not terrible. By now I only have two hours before a lunch date, then eventually it's off to the burbs for some car shopping. Now that just might be terrible.

Current beer-scale: 7.7


triathalon time

Ah, so that's why there seem to be more spandex out there than usual hunched over aero-bars. That makes sense.

It's worth it, it's still too nice out to start wishing it was fall.

Current beer-scale: 4.9


Ah Sunday

The wife and I have been saying we're going to take a ride for weeks now. Weekends have been pretty busy since we've moved and we kept putting it off for whatever reason. We could have gone car shopping today, but instead after taking the dog on her long morning walk we hit the road on our bikes. It was a fabulous idea. We just went in what we had on, I didn't even bother to clip in. I did bring my bag, but I bring my bag everywhere and I've learned that lesson already. Easy or not, I wasn't going without at least an extra tube and the usual tools.

I worry a bit sometimes riding in the road with other people, that gets magnified ten-fold with the wife. But other than some other cyclists who didn't realize they had to share the road/path things went fine.
Smooth sailing, especially w/everyone else at the beach for the A&W show.

I don't know if it was the zen approach or just being on a bike without having to go to work but that was one of the more enjoyable rides I've had in a while. Even though I couldn't get the camera to focus for the life of me.Which was too bad, b/c there is some weird shit up there. We'll definitely do it again soon though b/c we had a blast. I shouldn't be surprised we had fun--bikes are fun. Commuting is fine, but it doesn't hold a candle to being able to relax outside on a gorgeous day with the wife.

Ultimately we packed it in a little earlier than expected and headed home. Eventually we'll head up to the Botanic Gardens. Then we'll see just how enjoyable the ride really is.

Current beer-scale: 3.1


hooray for work beer(s)!

Air & water show or not, tonite's going to be worth it. The third night in a row of staying late, but this one has an open bar as the light at the end of the tunnel. Too bad it's just beer & wine, I'll have to save the whiskey for back home.

Speaking of the A&W show, the crowds yesterday were already getting ridiculous. That might have just been heading in at 10 AM vs 7:15, but it was enough to convince me to try something different this morning. Besides, it would be worse today with the jets already roaring by overhead.It's about a mile & 1/2 shorter down Lincoln but takes just as long. Oh boy will that be fun this winter. "Streets ahead" it's not. It felt a lot busier than Wilson to the path does, but that might be leaving later in the morning again. We'll see when the weather changes.

In the meantime I just have to make it 9 more hours, then hopefully I'll be on my way home for quiet weekend and LOTS of drinking.

Current beer-scale: 8.5


gearing up

There are a few late nights sprawling out in front of me this week so I'm trying to be a little more zen while I bike as an attempt to relax. I'm swamped at work right now, updating handbooks and writing articles and doing whatever else I do before the school year starts and the idea of adding a few hours to my schedule this W-F is not helping.

Usually if I had to stay late I could go in late after a trip to the beach, but our car is basically dead and the idea of negotiating a sea of 'end-of-model-year sales at dealerships on top of all the furniture shopping we're already doing makes my stomach want to jump out of my body. But I'm way too frantically trying to get everything done by next Monday anyway to stick to an 8-hour workday. Joy.

So I try to squeeze as much enjoyment out of each bike commute as possible. It seems to be working, as I got passed on the right this morning by two Freds and it barely registered. I just have to make it until 8 PM Friday, then I'm all set. Plus, I bought more whiskey last weekend. Cars and furniture might be a pain, but I'd shop for whiskey all day if I could.

I know I've done this before having already spent more than a year at the new job, I just have no idea how it got done last time. The downside to having a program to call your own is managing that program, on your own.

Current beer-scale: 9.4


What a strange morning. A dog out with a jogger lunged at me on the path. When I was about to head out of the underpass at Chicago a woman with a heavy accent came down the stairs and said "smells like homeless," or maybe she said "hummus." I don't know.

This week will not end.

Current beer-scale: 8.8


words to live by

Never spend an afternoon reading a zombie book before trying to beat the rain home. I was creep-ed out the entire way home last night.

Current beer-scale: 8.7



Faced with a choice between the bus or the bike, the bike is going to win. And it did today, when I had to drop off some grant proposals at Chicago & Ashland. I was debating the bus or the bike, and once the bike won it was going in the middle of the day vs. going at the end.

Going at the end of the day had obvious positives: I could leave earlier, take a new route home, both things I enjoy doing. But I'm already leaving early today after last night, and the new route home was basically Chicago's hipster silk route--Milwaukee to Chicago up to Lincoln Square. No thank you. So instead of eating lunch I hit the road.All in all it went well. Locking up on a tree is never my favorite but pickings were pretty slim.
When I was unemployed, there were a few interviews that I couldn't figure out how best to get to and ended up walking a ways. One such interview had me walking down lake all the way past the dan ryan. Going over the dan ryan today made me glad I rode instead of walked, but also made it feel like I was pretty far away.There was also a river crossing with a grated bridge. I toughed it out on the way out, but after sliding all over the place the first time said screw that on the way in. I walked, b/c why the hell not.Good times. Now to just make it through the next few hours, then enjoy a trip to Soldier Field for Bears' family night and a few Labatts. Thank god we have football this year.

Current beer-scale: 8.2


"night" ride

An evening training meant a twilight ride home tonite, but I found myself actually wishing it was a little darker even. That feeling pretty much evaporated by the time I turned onto Wilson, but on the path it felt too light.

I wasn't about to stop and take pictures in the middle of the ride so the view from the steps to the underpass will have to do. But it was a strange inverse to be riding around 8 PM; the streets downtown felt strangely easy to navigate, and the path was a crush of humanity. Volleyball games fuck everything up.
But it was a good way to end a long day, despite the chances for Friday to be even longer. I have to make a run to Chicago & Ashland in the middle of the day, and I think I might be breaking out the bike to get it done. Hopefully it's worth the effort.

Current beer-scale: 2.1

Thanks Freddy

I knew I should have put the GPS on this morning. I managed to glom on to someone setting a great pace at Irving, and rode them all the way down to the Chicago underpass. I felt bad at points, but I think the guy knew I was there and he just couldn't shake me. I'll have to remember that the next time I find myself wishing someone would get off my wheel.

But it was a good start to the day, and thank god b/c it's a late night tonite before I can head home. Ah the rush of a new school year is about to start. Where's my beer?

Current beer-scale: 7.9



Hello dog days.

But when the calendar turned over to August, the wife and I officially had nothing to do with the rat trap we had to sublet for two months when we closed in June. Hurray!

Anyway, it's still hot as balls, work is insane, but the wife and I had awesome steaks at Ditkas the other night and we're two weeks away from the start of preseason football. Not too shabby these days.

Current beer-scale: 3.3