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.

good things – horses

We made it up the mountain and got in a ride or two..

Lacey and Janet - beautiful palomino, beautiful wife

Lacey and Janet – beautiful palomino, beautiful wife

The mountain is dry, quite a bit different than the green flowery spring.

in the meadow in the big-horn mountains

in the meadow in the big-horn mountains

Later I was riding my mountain bike back from a forty minute ascent up the Redgrade Road when I looked into our valley and thought some of our sorrows come from not filling our lives with enough good things.

an amazing feat of strength – horses

If he rides a Japanese Quarter Horse ( a four wheel ATV ) some now, that’s OK. Read the rest of this entry »

from predator to santa claus ? – cycling

I admit my beard may have a trace of grey, well mostly grey but… Read the rest of this entry »

watch out for bears – horse

My youngest often rides a horse bareback as we explore the mountain trails. Read the rest of this entry »

born to ride – horse

I married into horses… my kids were born to them…. Read the rest of this entry »

bareback on bandit

Sometimes there are images that speak for themselves. In the Big Horn mountains the air is pure, the flowers bright and sweet, and the night sky is home to a billion stars. There my heart is calm and at peace.

some pictures are their own description

My youngest, tomorrow off to visit France, soon off to art school… but forever in Wyoming in my thoughts…

spring on the mountain

magic in the corral

I married into horses. My one experience with them before marriage at 28, was a high school foray on some rented horses where I rented two horses for an hour for my girlfriend and I to ride, and I couldn’t get mine to go. So we switched, and I couldn’t get hers to go. We finally got them going, and I couldn’t get mine to stop, and there was that low hanging branch problem….. So it was with trepidation that I arrived at my wife’s family vacation home in the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming for my real introduction to horses. For twenty-five years since we have spent two – four weeks there for vacation and while I will never be a horseman, I learned which end the feed goes in, and which end might kick you!

There is magic in the corral. I have two or three alfalfa treats in my jeans pocket and one in my hand. With my left hand I have the halter and lead rope near my side, out of sight. I open the gate and slip through the crack where forty or so horses lazily enjoy the Wyoming sun. Rosie that sweet tempered brown mare knows I want her. She pretends she doesn’t see me, but she is watching. The others can sense my intent, and they move off. I am talking low and calmly to Rosie, “Hi Rosie, how are ya girl? Would you like a pellet?” The world is empty but for we two. If I move too fast, she will bolt, but she wants that treat. My hand is out, the halter hidden, she has her head down as I slowly ease towards her. She lowers her head and steps toward me, 800 pounds of muscle and gentle heart. I open my hand and offer the pellet and with gentle tickling lips she mouths the pellet and chews contentedly. Now by her side, I tell her what a fine horse she is, and bring the lead rope over her neck, and holding it, I slip the halter on, buckle it up and head back to the gate, swinging the lead rope end to scatter any horses near us.

My bride and her favorite mare Sunday

What happened to the other horse?

At dusk when the kids were young, we would go down to the empty corral and sit quietly on the fence. A deer or young buck might saunter in and head for the salt block in the center. Or if we were really quiet, wild turkeys might come and pick for seeds in the horse piles, or a badger might amble in. Usually the kids would squeal or bang their feet and the animals would flee, but that’s OK, there’s always magic in the corral tomorrow.


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.