We lived in the Chicago area for 40 years before retiring to Tucson in 2011. Kirk's last church (United Methodist Pastor) was in Wilmette, 2 suburbs north of Chicago on the lakefront of Lake Michigan. With one son and his family in Tucson, the other son and his family in Eugene, OR, and our daughter and her family having moved 6 months ago from the Chicago area to Southern California, there is little draw for either of us to continue to return to Chicago to visit.
And so, I wanted to return one more time to seek closure on some very rich roots and years.
Who could possibly have known my Birthday 300k in Tucson and my trip to Chicago, which would include a 200k with Jeff leaving out of Ridgeland Center, WI would be in the same week!
At 70, I wondered how recovered I'd be to ride one of Jeff's favorite 200k's, The Fennimore Frolic just 7 days after the 300k. Able to ride I was, but I set no performance record. We finished in just under 11 hours. I'm definitely slower on my ICE trike, Hiello, but seem to have accommodated to the long, steady mountain grades of the Southwest. The 7-9% with pops of 12-14% northwest of Madison, WI were quite a bit more challenging on my trike. Jeff was a most gracious host and hung back with me while the other 9 riders scampered ahead.
But time aside, it was a beautiful fall ride: dense, dense fog for the first couple of hours hanging over the hilltops and reducing our visibility on the ground to about 20'. Starting temp was 37, a temp that Tucsonans would never venture out into to begin their ride, unless, of course, it was El Tour de Tucson. By midpoint of the ride we turned out of the 20 mph steady head wind, the fog had lifted, and the temperature had warmed by 10-15 degrees. We could now see our surround of Fall foliage under our wheels and gracing the trees while rolling glacial hills were nameable far in the distance.
Back in Wilmette after the 200k I began a delightful whirlwind of visiting friends of many years and favorite routes. Hiello was road worthy on crowded Lakefront multi-use paths full of segways, bike shares, and distracted tourists and road worthy on the streets of downtown Chicago in rush hour. Some were in town to run the Chicago Marathon, others to cheer on their favorite runners, and still others just here to soak in one of the most livable large cities in the country before the sky turns gray and the wind slices through to your core beginning exactly the day after Halloween. The gray and cold will chill the bone and soul till sometime in April, and that's why we retired to Tucson.