Laughing. Home from work and still the sun shines well above the horizon in the clear blue Chicago sky.
A quick kiss to wifey, and then I gobble a thin slice of carrot cake for fuel and out the door I go in my black spandex shorts and bright bright yellow long sleeve top. The pump puts out a satisfying ka-thunk with each stroke as I inflate the thick 29 inch tires. No more light light pressure for snow and mud, today 50 pounds per inch for the dry packed limestone. It takes forever to pump these tires I think to myself ka-thunk ka-thunking along.
Laughing. I pop on my helmet and head off to the park. Note to self… Whoa…. don’t squeeze these hydraulic disc brakes with the same pressure used for the side pull caliper brakes on the road bike. Well, not unless you planned to eject over the handlebars!
Smiling. The park is full of people. Where were you on those cold cold mornings so recently I wonder. The sun is waning, but still warms my heart. I see the red wing black birds perched about, and hear song birds share the day’s glory. My cold cold rides are solitary affairs, just me and maybe one or two more on the 10 mile loop, but today there is no solitude. I schuss past strollers and walkers and weave in and out past dogs and bicycles, more a slalom skier that a cyclist. Weaving, moving quickly, but still safely, a smile and any who catch my eye, and a quick good day, or looking strong as I pass. Up one of the little inclines that pass for hills in most of Chicago I come out of my seat and power up the incline adding speed the entire time.
Laughing. Well I couldn’t do that last time. Last time this little incline felt like Mt. Everest. I whirl about and near the water the black nymphs rise up in the fading sun, perhaps my bright yellow jersey has convinced them I am a giant flower. Well they will soon find I don’t smell like any flower they have previously known. I power up one more incline, passing a long string of people huffing and puffing up when I realize I am a bit tired.
Smiling. The sun has dropped, no longer a warm golden bowl it is now a giant orange melon hovering just over the prairie. The air takes on a cool bite. It always amazes me how the prairie is about 10 degrees cooler than the pavement, but even so I cruise along, my breath coming harder in and out through my mouth.
Laughing. I don’t know how fast I am going, it certainly feels faster than last week. Back on the pavement my thick fat tires sound like a Jeep Cherokee on the highway as we whirr along. One turn, then another and I am passing by little children riding their bikes on the sidewalk with training wheels while mom or dad follow protectively. Are we raising a generation of whusses too dependent upon their parents for everything? Who cares I think to myself.
I turn into the driveway and up the bump, clip out one pedal and lift my leg over as I stand on one pedal leaning into the bike as I coast into the garage and step down. Wifey awaits. Laughing.