Friday, April 18, 2008

April 8th: Leaving Home--Day 1

Kirk promised to ride out with me, a truly loving behavior from one who rides maybe 100 miles a season, who had an early morning meeting, and who doesn't have the togs to make winter cycling palatable.

6:30 a.m. greeted us with a temp of 43 and winds out of the east. Kirk rode all the way to Dempster and McCormick Boulevard (3 miles); we did the kiss&ride thing and he U-turned to home and I pressed on for GA, wondering what these next days would bestow upon me.

Dave E. met me at Montrose and the Lake Front Path. Wind off the lake was shivery so at about 12 miles into the ride I was needing to make my first of many clothing adjustments. Dave U-turned at 67th and I gratefully headed west with hope of losing some of the wind's bite by leaving Lake Michigan's edge.

I was now in uncharted territory for me--67th, 103rd, 123rd,145th, 167th and Halsted, Vincennes, Western. My Garmin GPS kicked in big time and for the first of what would be a myriad times, I was oh, so grateful to have both my cue sheet and my Garmin. The neighborhood was pure blight, Chicago's finest were cruising the streets, and 7 year olds were standing alone on an island in the middle of 95th and Vincennes. One little guy saw me riding up to the light and stop. His curiosity got the best of him and he hollered out: "What-iz-it?" meaning my recumbent. I hollered back as the light turned, "It's a bike." I thought about the 22 African-American children/teens shot and killed just this school year on Chicago's south side. Wondered if random bullets might sail my way, and if not, why not, and why those 22?? I thought about all the north suburban 7 year olds whose parents wait at the bus stops with them in the morning and who are there to greet them in the afternoon. Different cultures, north and south.

I discovered beauty in Beverly! My ethnocentrism is showing. I was totally unprepared for anything on the south side to rival the opulence of the North Shore--the estates of Evanston, Lake Forest, and Lake Bluff. But indeed the homes were elegant along Longwood, their rolling expanses of land would not be rivaled again till TN.

I didn't leave the urbania until 60 miles from home, just south of University Park. Glad to see the corn fields; wasn't glad to find an unpaved road, but my new steed was stable and rumbled the rocks just fine.

I arrived in Manteno about an hour before the sideways rain came with 32 mph winds and gusts up to 38. Grace, that's all I can call it, Grace.

Rhonda and Marian joined me for dinner at Applebys in Bourbonais. Haven't been there since I was consulting at Parkside Lodge of Manteno back in the early 90's. Small world.

Successful first day.

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