Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tilda Ferries To Dixie

The day after our nephew, Nate Reed, married Danielle in Leesburg, VA August 21st, and two days after Grandma Mary turned 89, Kirk, Tilda, and I drove to Baltimore for a meeting. Work done, Kirk went to watch the Orioles lose to Texas 4-6. While he kept score in Camden Yard, Tilda and I rode back to Leesburg following the route offered by David Berning from the DC Randonneurs.

After the first 10 miles or so getting out of Baltimore the route was pastoral, roads excellent, and directions perfect. Thank you David! And thank you Bill Beck, RBA for the DC Randonneurs, who put me in touch with David.

Tilda's rider's muscles strained to rise and fall over the 3,700' of climbing in those 63 miles. Bike Friday designed their Tikit to ride "the last mile", you know from home to the bus stop, or the bus stop to the office, or home to the grocery store to get a loaf of bread. The Tikit was not intended to be a land cruiser with only 8 gears, 16" wheels with no accommodation for standing to power up the hills. But together we did it albeit my slowest 63 miles ever recorded, I do believe.Water Stop

The route's crown jewel was crossing not only the Potomac by ferry but also that invisible, but still palpable line the other side of which was Dixie.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Few Fun Pix

A hand-carved wooden Gas Pump on Rt 12

One of a kind mail box

Bike on the brain

Now this is just lovely.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Tri-State: New Buffalo, MI

Living in Chicago the word, Tri-State implies IL, IN, and WI. Today I redifined Tri-State by riding out my alley, down the Chicago Lake Front Path, through East Side (a most uncreative name for a community still in Chicago but whose front yards sit on the IN border), down the Burnham path, finally onto Ave "O" (another uncreative name), through Hammond, East Chicago (that's in IN), Gary, and finally the Indiana Dunes National Park district. On to Michigan City, IN (where my parents had a 24 hour honeymoon back in 1939), and finally New Buffalo, MI.

My several solo treks from home to New York and further east have required passage around the bottom of Lake Michigan, a frightful arm pit of steel mills, abandoned buildings, 18-wheelers, and all things industrial sized that further dwarf my vulnerable 2 wheels. And yet, I've felt called to navigate the bottom of the Lake once again.

Mark and Jeff rode out with me from home to Grand Ave. in Chicago where they headed west for Lou Mitchell's, an iconic restaurant for at least as far back as Route 66, and I headed south and east hoping, hoping for safe passage into Michigan.

Last week when riding through south-central Illinois, Google Mapping for bicycles routed me on crushed limestone paths. I was not up for trusting Google Mapping again, at least not so soon. I opted for US Rt 12 virtually all the way. Route 12 through Chicago is as close to an Interstate as you can get without having the title of I-12. I was not hopeful; concerned to nervous might be better terms.

Turns out 12 is really not that bad; it just sounds bad, but picturesque it was not, no not in any way.

Notice the totally empty Gary-Chicago Airport Parking Lot!

Pleasantly, though the road surface was good, shoulders ample, traffic light, and weather friendly. What more could a rider want?

Company would be a nice addition.

I happened upon a yellow-jerseyed rider 7 miles west of Michigan City, a vacationer from NJ. We swapped stories till our paths diverged and then I cat and moused a 2nd yellow-jerseyed rider.

Later I would re-fuel at Jimmys and who should be there? Yellow jerseyed rider #2.

Refuled and refreshed by Jimmy's fare, a soy tea latte from David's and a few dark chocolate covered almonds from The Chocolate Cafe I waited for Kirk to arrive by car bringing me a fresh set of clothes so I can change out of my towel.

My ride home was equally pleasant and uneventful save the fog that enshrouded the city, this shot as seen from the Lake Front Path about 3100 south.

Thanks, Rob

Rob Welsh, an accomplished randonneur from the Twin Cities and recent successful Elite PAC Tour rider (crossing the US in 19 days averaging 162 miles per day) kicked open his 2010 training at PAC Tour’s Desert Camp. It was there he met Michelle Williams, a recumbent rider from MS who would be riding PAC’s Northern Transcon from Everett, WA to Williamsburg, VA this July.

Rob and I met at Desert Camp in 2007 and have since cheered each other on toward our respective riding goals and adventures. Rob introduced Michelle and me via email since we were both bent riders and both PAC vets. And so it came to be that Michelle and I emailed regularly sharing our training, our UMCA goals, fears, frustrations, and foibles.

And yet we had never met.

Then it occurred to me I could ride to Pekin, IL and meet her and her fellow PAC Tour riders when they arrived Saturday, July 31 and I could ride with them Sunday, August 1st from Pekin--> Danville. And so, that was the plan.

To Morris

Chicagolad riders know there are infinite ways to ride north/south But east/west is a whole ‘nother story lessen’ you want to add 30-40% more miles to your route to avoid the plethora of perils rendered by the four-wheelers.

Then it occurred to me: I could cycle to Union Station, take the Metra Commuter rail to Aurora, and cycle to Morris, IL. Yes, that would work.

My biggest challenge stood to be getting my bike loaded with its 25 pounds of gear on and off the train. But, I got the job done, through no help from Charlene, the conductor, who had no intention of lifting a finger of assistance. The trick was unlashing the bundle from the rear rack and lifting the bike into the train on haul #1 and the bundle up on haul #2 and then reversing the process.

Jayesh, the Super 8 desk clerk in Morris, made up for Charlene’s lack of hospitality by rearranging my reservation so I could have a 1st floor accommodation, since, of course, the Super 8 doesn’t have an elevator. Thank you, Jayesh!

While my corner of Morris, IL seemed pretty humble, it did have a quaint local coffee shop and a restaurant with “0” minutes of waiting.

Google Maps

I typically obsess over my routes when riding solo, but this time I turned loose of my obsession and trusted Google Maps. Not a good idea. Google Maps took me through the Morris Super 8 neighborhood (in the pouring rain) to the I and M Canal Bike Trail. Yes, it was a soggy crushed limestone path, all 13 miles of it. With 120 miles to ride hauling 25 pounds of gear a soggy limestone path was not welcoming. So, at mile 3 I was off-route already. And so it went for the rest of the day. I’d ride 20 miles and ask the locals for the next 20 miles.

The rain stopped by late morning and I arrived in Pekin at the PAC Host Hotel about 45 minutes ahead of Michelle and the balance of the PAC riders.
One of the 9-person PAC vans that pulls the trailer which carries all of the rider’s standard issues duffle bags and bike repair equipment died, not to be resuscitated upon arriving in Pekin. Susan and Lon are totally unflappable; Susan just drove 150 miles one way to Rochelle and drove a new van off the lot. The new van was ready to roll out along with the riders the following morning.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Danville, Peotone, Ravinia

Riding to Danville was like a family reunion reconnecting with Greg, Greg, Susan, Lon, Rebecca, Christopher, Walt, Veronica, Bob, Jim, Jon, John, Jonathan, Steve, and Cynthia as well as meeting new family "relatives".

Pacelines always make the 136 miles go faster.

Dinner in Danville

Monday PAC would head east to Anderson, IN and I north to Peotone, IL through much corn. Kirk would meet me there and we’d drive the rest of the way home (65 miles) together. Today, August 2nd was our 41st wedding anniversary and we had Ravinia tickets to see Chanticleer. Would never have made it 165 miles in time to make Ravinia.

Rossville honors their servicemen
Bicyle art in Peotone