Chicagoland hodgepodge – cycling

After an almost endless winter, on the first good day we took the train downtown for a road trip.

We got down early enough so the traffic was light and the drivers are cycling tolerant but those little bike lanes make city cycling exciting! As the city wakes, the energy is incredible.

past all the crazy down-town riding to the fun

past all the crazy down-town riding to the fun

There are so many things to see – we rode past a rugby team practicing, then along the beach front “Gold Coast” just full of young people and dogs strolling, jogging, riding, fetching – every possible combination.

I saw a woman body builder riding, and secretly coveted her triceps and her small stomach :) We lunched at Super-dog, a wonderful one of a kind hot-dog place Chicagoans so love – there we saw a group of Hispanic kids acting like Hells Angels on their souped up mopeds.

with a sign like this, you know it has to be good

with a sign like this, you know it has to be good

We passed a cancer walk, and a bike race, and a run for charity and if you ride far enough, a temple.

the magnificent temple

the magnificent temple

We saw a model in a diaphronous gown posing in the wind at the waterfront – holding a yoga warrior pose while her gown danced in the wind. When we rode by and the photographer had to stop, she told us “Thanks that pose was killing me”

We passed a sculpture park, where we saw Adam and Eve and Martians – Skokie has a park that is full of modern sculpture making statements even I could comprehend.

Adam, Eve, and me.  Sculpture parks satisfy that need to touch...

Adam, Eve, and me. Sculpture parks satisfy that need to touch…

but the image that stay with me — a little girl, perhaps three or four standing in the woods before her mother playing her tiny violin. Chicago is unusual in all things. I needn’t have ridden 62 miles to discern that, but like the woman cranking her wheelchair bike over the hill – some journeys are worth the effort.


Drafting is a joy of cycling. The front rider breaks the wind and the follower tucked in behind the leader’s wheel uses up to 30% less effort. Alternating two together can ride much faster than alone. A stronger rider can help a weaker rider.

When my oldest was younger we used to head out for twenty or twenty five miles and when she’d tire she’d tuck in behind me and we’d fly along. Cycling is like life, sometimes you pull, sometimes you draft, and sometimes you get a chance make progress while you coast.

Here’s a few of my favorite cycling movies:

Breaking Away: A 1979 film where a young Indiana boy who idolizes the Italian racing team comes of age.

Race Across the Sky: A great film about the people who ride the Leadville 100, a mountain bike race. Love him or hate him, Lance Armstrong rides it just after completing the Tour de France.

Ride the Divide: Think the Tour de France is hard, this 2,711 mile unsupported mountain bike race runs from Banff in Canada to the border of Mexico and full of snow, mountains and bears.

Greg Lemond wins Alpe d’Huez: An epic ride up the 21 switchbacks to the top of the Alpe d’Huez in the 1986 Tour de France is great footage if you can find it.

song birds and hope

The winter has been long here, long and bitterly cold. Today I went for a bike ride through the park nearby, where just a day or two ago the snow rendered it impassable.

The landscape was grim and brown, trampled down under the weight of the heavy winter. But as I rolled along the rutted path I heard singing. It was a red-winged black bird. Not so pretty, some might say a junk bird.

His song cheered me, told me that eventually spring comes. I suppose that’s the lesson of the spring – the song birds always return.

straight and narrow

Instructions are the opposite of expectations. So often the lack of one leads to failure in the other.

When one of my daughters was learning to drive we decided to let her take a stint on the highway in Wyoming. I pulled off, she took the wheel, buckled up and proceeded to drive and start to turn onto the highway into the oncoming traffic, leading me to scream “Straight, straight, straight” at the top of my lungs. It was traumatic at the time though we laugh about it now. But the failure was on me for not ensuring she knew what was expected of her.

Often in life, work and love we have expectations that are unmet because we never clearly state what is wanted. Don’t count on anyone to read your mind, you’ll almost always be disappointed.

of fires and miles

I was thinking about love the other day, not sure why, but my curse seems to be to ponder things I cannot understand.

A friend emailed me about loss and pain, and I was struck how we think that love that burns fiercely and brightly for a short time transcends all, but I realized that

Perhaps love is really measured in the distance we’ve come together – which is what makes it so precious.

and the love that burns long and true is hot enough to change our hearts forever. Which is truer ? I wish you the opportunity to discern the difference.

of cakes and carrots

Almost thirty years ago, we needed a baker to make a wedding cake. We stopped at Arabica on Coventry in Cleveland Heights ( where all the hippies lived ) and asked the baker if he would consider making a carrot cake wedding cake for us. He shrugged his shoulders. Sure I could give it a try. If that cake leaned and wobbled a bit – it sure tasted great.

The other day I was having lunch at Eddie Merlot’s restaurant and the menu called out “world’s greatest carrot cake”.

four layers of delight

four layers of delight

Talk is cheap, but I tried a piece and thought…. this is pretty good, they just might be right.

So for Jan’s 60th birthday party ( like I was going to bake a cake ) I asked and Eddie Merlot’s graciously agreed to make me a cake.

carrot cake, friends and champagne

carrot cake, friends and champagne

So we celebrated with food, carrot cake, and a few bottles of champagne.

May you celebrate many joys….

Queen Bee

I dabble in poetry a bit. I write with dverse, a friendly place – almost a Cheers bar where poets, some aspiring, some accomplished meet and share. Here’s one poem I wrote recently.

Someone commented: I would like to be the Queen bee but am destined to be a drone worker bee…will and hand:)

It might be a joke, for she seems unlikely to fail. I looked her up, she’s young and talented and I hope she dares follow her dream. Some times the cost is high – but if we acquire the skills, commit the time our dreams can happen. I always tell kids, somebody has to win the race, why not you ? Someone needs to be the Queen Bee, why not you ?

My life is in transition, we have a certain number of months to wind down the data-center following a corporate merger. After that, I might have passed the expiration date for jobs in IT. Jan and I are talking about new dreams now. Somebody has to visit Fiji and New Zealand, why not us ? Somebody has to teach English overseas, why not us ? The possibilities are endless. But if we don’t dream it, it will never happen.

I hope you realize that you can dream all your life, and reach those dreams. My dreams started out “If I could make enough money to travel and play club rugby” a lifetime ago.

Here’s to you, the next Queen Bee.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 877 other followers