Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Spring! Bicycling!

The last three days, I've gone for short walks at lunchtime. My office is right near a park with bike/walking paths, so there are plenty of places for walking.

On Monday, I was wearing long sleeves and I started out with my leather jacket. It isn't an extremely heavy jacket since I removed the zip-out winter lining, but still...a few minutes into the walk I had to take it off and carry it.

Yesterday I left the jacket in my office and just went out in long sleeves. By the end of the walk, I was pushing the sleeves up to my elbows.

Today I went out in short sleeves and did not want to come back in at the end of my walk.

I don't know how much longer this great weather will last. By the time I left work to go home, it was storming, but still warm. So far the 5-day forecasts are looking like the weekend will be decent (50 degrees, partly sunny). We're planning to do our first bike ride of the season this Sunday - the Spring Forward ride. Since we've been slugs all winter, I expect we will do the shortest route (18 miles). My bike has been sadly neglected in the garage ever since last September. The previous year (2003), we kept riding until the end of October, but for some reason we had a bad cycling season last year. Other parts of life kept getting in the way.

I plan to spend a good part of Saturday getting ready - I need to put the rooftop rack back on the car and make sure the bikes are in decent enough condition. My mechanical skills are limited, but I can at least do some cleanup and drip chain lube in the right spots.

We have a lot going on this year, so we probably won't get as much riding in as I would like. My love for bicycling really kicked in back in 2001, when I rode in an AIDS ride in Montana (7 days, Missoula to Billings, very "hilly"). I badgered Laura into riding with me in the summer of 2003. She finally gave in to make me shut up, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that she liked it. By the end of the summer, we both had new road bikes.

We rode a total of 476 miles in 23 rides that summer and fall, which is why I say 2004 was a "bad cycling season" -- we only rode 16 times for a total of 342 miles. Yes, I do keep track of this!

So far we've planned on riding in three organized "invitational" rides this year:
  • the Spring Forward ride I mentioned above
  • The Silver Springs 60 (April 24). This one starts near where we live.
  • Bike the Drive (May 29) - we did this last year and it was awesome. They shut down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago for the morning and let bicycles take over. Four lanes of road (each way), full of nothing but bikes -- check out the pictures at that link! We're planning on staying downtown overnight so that we don't need to get up before dawn to get there in time. Now that I have a digital camera, hopefully I'll be able to get some good pictures.
Of course, we also plenty of riding on our own, especially on some of the bike paths around where we live. We're fond of the Virgil Gilman trail, which is not as well-known so it is much less crowded on weekends. The Fox River trail is beautiful, but you have to hit it early on weekends before it becomes overrun with other riders, walkers, joggers, and people with small children. It is also very long. I'm also found of the Great Western Trail.

I'm hoping we'll be able to squeeze some good rides in this spring and summer.

Speaking of bicycling, here's a cool article about a programmer who quit his office job to become a bike messenger (via Monkeys in My Pants).

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