Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sweet Home Chicago

All is clear in Chicago on the biking front, a.k.a. the congested street.

First, after walking out of Union Station I saw my bicycle patiently waiting for me--with both wheels and all brakepads present and ready to ride--with ice puddled in the grove of the seat. My parents (along with my older brother's help) got me an amazing present that I suggested to them, but didn't think they would actually get me--a bike rack garment bag! I have been lusting after this functional bag for over two years and was eager to strap it onto my bike for the ride home. [Oh yeah, I stopped at the office, thinking I would do some work, but actually just caught up with messages and such--luckily, my boss was there. My presence only reinforced his impression that I am a grinder--I wonder how long it will take for him to recognize my slacker tendencies?]

Today I had a nice ride into work and was just about to lock up my bike, when I heard someone calling my name. It was my friend Hui Hwa, who has been in New Zealand for over a month. I brought her up into my office to give her truffles and catch up a bit--an absolutely delightful beginning to a Monday following a holiday weekend. She is super-cool and nice. Additionally, she is also recently single and was happy to hear that I am too. (Mike really didn't impress any of my friends). I foresee some fun nights ahead when we are both free to shamelessly flirt with boys we meet.

Later in the day I was truly sick of working and looked on the Performance website to learn where the Chicago store was. To my surprise the InvisiLite jacket I desire was even cheaper than in the catalog--only $55! I called the Chicago store to see if they had a blue one in my size in stock. Yup, but for only $44! This decided my evening for me--I was going to leave work earlier than planned to buy the jacket.

I logged some more time and was just getting ready to leave when my phone started ringing. I stared at it for a while, deciding whether to risk picking it up. I gave in and it was my friend Ethan! We are both on the CBF membership and marketing committee and both received CBF volunteer of the year awards. He wanted to see if I could meet him for drinks and exchange Christmas gifts (truffles, of course). I suggested dinner instead.

So I merrily biked up to Halsted and Diversy to the Performance store and bought the jacket and a balaklava and then pedaled back to Wicker Park. During this ride I saw many bicyclists--including a man biking alongside a boy of about ten years old! It was only 23 degrees and dark out on a busy street, so I was impressed and surprised to see a child riding. On the way home I started hearing a rhythmic metallic clinking eminating from somewhere on my bike. I kicked both of the fenders and peaked at the garment bag, but couldn't place the noise. At an intersection near my house I realized that one of my fenders stays was loose and bouncing against my rear gears. oops--I guess I should do something about that.

Ethan and I arranged to meet at Filter. While waiting I saw a kid/man who looked familiar. I asked him if he rode a fixie and lived in Hyde Park this summer. Affirmative. We met twice, once when we both stopped to help a woman fix her bicycle and then later that night at the Late Ride. Weird. I have no idea how old/young this guy is. I think he may have worked as a messenger last summer and seems to act like an adult, but he is really short and looks to be younger than 15.

Filter was nice. We exchanged gifts and talked about our new jobs, CBF, bikey stuff, the New Year's party, and just general life. His present to me was an Illinois First CD by our mutual friend, John Greenfield. Eventually we moved onto his favorite bar, the Beachwood. I now smell like a chainsmoker's ashtray and my throat is raw. Smoking is so gross--I don't know how people can do that.

Ethan works in Forest Park and has a 8-9 mile commute each way. During the bitter cold of last week he biked there every day. Damn. He used to be a messenger though, so I guess he has been through worse. It's weird--his girlfriend doesn't bike at all, and he is really involved with it. I've never met her, but I think I want to get her on a bike more than he does. I offered to let them bikesit my hybrid when I get a road bike and he seems to think that may be a good plan.

Wow--what a babbling bunch of nothing. But it certainly is a delight to be a part of the Chicago bikey family.


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