Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bad, busy Blogger

Let’s see.....since the last post I have been busy.

Thursday I went to listen to Jazz at the Shedd Aquarium with my friend Todd. We walked our bikes along the lakeshore and he showed me his sailboat. There was some sort of running race taking place, so biking would have been really rude, and damn near impossible–so we walked.

At the Shedd, there were children at the Jazz thing, unlike other years, so we explored the aquarium for a while. The wine I had got me a little tipsy when we had to chug it to enter one exhibit. In a horribly funny turn of events, Todd kept getting strong sushi urges–I don’t think that is the expected response from aquariums. Eventually we wandered back to the terrace which was now clear of children to chat and listen to jazz. It is a lovely way to spend a Thursday evening, because there is the view of the lake and the sunset over the skyline. Ahhh....summer.

Afterwards we decided to bike to dinner and took the lakeshore path. I have never biked on the northside path at night, so it was a little weird for me. Todd showed me some of his favorite places along spurs of the path that ran atop breakwaters. Just as he promised, these places were so calm and serene that they didn’t feel like part of Chicago–even though the view of the city loomed above. Plus, the sound of traffic was replaced by the lapping of water. Bliss.

Only one incident (sort of) marred the ride. I FELL OFF OF MY BIKE! Seriously. I am terrified of falling and haven’t fallen in this millenium before Thursday, but down I went. I tried taking a very slow, almost stopped right hand turn while clipped in, started leaning too far to pull out of and hit the ground with my knee, which was scraped and bloodied. If not for the gloves I wore, my hands probably would have suffered the same fate. I was more mortified than hurt or shocked and quickly got up and brushed off Todd’s concern. The darkness luckily hid my blood and the massive amount of chain grease and dirt on my legs.

Weirdly, I think this was good for me, because I learned that Falling Doesn’t Really Hurt. Obviously 20mph would increase the pain, but the skinned knee isn’t a big deal. So instead of being more freaked out about falling, I actually feel less concerned about falling. Although I am still a freakin’ chicken. I haven’t been able to clip in my left foot on the fixed gear yet. Part of this is a mechanical problem, but mainly it is because my attempts are timid and half-hearted.
Anyway, we wiggled through the city until we reached our destination bar and Todd ordered crab-cakes to sate his aquarium induced seafood cravings. At one point he noticed my bloody knee and seemed to think it required attention. I fixed the problem by spinning my skirt, which is longer in the back, around so as to cover the offending knee. I should have been a doctor with my mad skilz. A nice ride home and I put my tired head to bed.

Friday morning was a Bike to Work Week celebration at Daley Plaza, so I dragged my sorry, semi-hungover ass out of bed early. Damn, is there any group of people more vulture-like than cyclists? The line for free food wrapped around the plaza. What a beautiful sight. So many different types of people, bikes, clothing. Raggedy messengers, basket-bike commuters, spandex, suits, uniforms...ahhhh.

As I walked past one booth, a man explained that I had the best bike on the plaza as he admired my fixed gear. Later I giggled at a man from Shimano exclaiming about his great deraileurs and trying to hawk them–until I glanced at my rear hub and following my gaze, he shut up. Tehehe.
The CBF booth was fun and I bought new t-shirts for myself and the brothers. Visit your Sis–get a free t-shirt! What a deal.

While talking with a friend, the man admiring my bike earlier ran up to me with a t-shirt from his bike club. He explained that he used to work at Schwinn when it was still in Chicago, and was so happy to see justice done to my Traveler frame. He was beaming with happiness at my bike and I thought he might start blubbering, so I chatted him up for a while and then bailed when I saw a gracious exit.

Onward to the office and into clothes to wear to court. I was quite excited about this day because the reward of Summer Hours was nearly upon me. I figured I would spend an hour in court, then an hour writing up my memorandum, knock out a little more work, do administrative bullshit and then Get The Fuck Out. I had plans to take a long ride with Anne in the afternoon. Woohoo. My friend Hui Hwa emailed me with a lunch invite and I eagerly jumped. So I bust out early and went to eat lunch on a high balcony overlooking the city. Then I sped to meet with Anne at a nearby coffee shop.

We were so bad–we sat around chatting for hours and didn’t go for a ride, and around 6:00 went back to her house for dinner with Grant and David. Drinks, dinner, chatting and soon it was time to go to the Hbar to meet Frick who was coming into town that night at 11:00. Or so was the plan. He had a few bumps along the way: long delayed lay-over in Denver, arrival in unexpected airport, wrong subway spur.....so he arrived after 1:00 in the morning. Anne and Grant had already bailed, but Todd was still there waiting for him and keeping me from freaking out. {Baby brother lost in Chicago!!!!}

Although the kitchen was closed Todd had the cook whip up a make-shift black bean, avocado quesodilla for Frick and then we meandered back home. We alternated riding the fixie through my neighborhood. Frick isn’t a chicken so he got used to the bike quite quickly.
Saturday Morning: back to the Hbar for breakfast and Frick briefly met the other owners. Then after some more dorking around I put him on my Bianchi and we rode down to the train station. There was some concern that we might be too late, but we made damn fine time on the ride there. As much as it hurts my pride, I know that both of my brothers could smoke me on bikes like nobody’s business. Sniff. Sniff. I took the lights off of my fixie and left her at the train station and took the Bianchi to my office.

I realized on Saturday morning that I didn’t remember seeing my vacation day for Monday on th calendar, and I hadn’t confirmed it. Sure enough, I didn’t officially ask off. So I wrote a kiss-ass letter to my boss explaining the situation and was sort of worried that it wouldn’t be cool. Oh well–I tried my best.

I had two BBQs to attend that night. The first was at Hbar owner Josh’s place. Two babies, one toddler, one 110lb dog. We made jokes about grilling the tender babies, but obviously didn’t act upon it. Several other fixie riders were there and they picked my brain, because they wanted to hear the perspective of a newbie. Nothing too spectacular to report, just a nice fun time. I then rode back to Wicker Park for a party with my law friends.

For the first time since the Den of Awkwardness began, Gabe came to a party that Ted and Emily also attended. Freaky. After initial weirdness, things settled down. I was glad to see them there together. I stayed out way too late, drank too much and got lost getting home. Nice job. For the first time in over a year I set my alarm clock so to make sure I caught my train to Wisconsin the next morning.

I woke up before the alarm (so it is still many years since I have heard an alarm clock), packed and biked to the station. I actually got there before they started boarding–weird. I super locked my Bianchi to the rack and fixie to best protect them both. Once on the train I took a whole damn section for myself (the two sets of seats facing one another) and basically passed out. When Frick picked me up he basically let me know that I looked like crap. We rented a car and took a long route to our Gparents’ house (I am horrible with directions. Why anyone ever listens to my directions is a mystery!).

We certainly had fun there, but the description will wait until Frick sends me the funny pictures we took.

Hearing my mom speak is like hearing a harpy try to make conversation. She only has a few ways to express herself: nagging, insulting or complaining. Grrrr. I should tape record her sometimes so she can hear how much of a harpy-shrew she sounds like. She also needs to stop tanning. She is ridiculously brown, scoffs at sunscreen, uses tanning oil and at the same time talks about how many moles, lumps and other skin weirdness she has had burned or cut off of her lately. Wake Up! I know that given all of the severe burns my pale skin endured as a child that skin cancer is inevitable, but I still try to mitigate new damage.


Back to Chicago! The fun began when we tried to load our bags now laden with cheese, butter, old coins and a breadmaker onto our bikes (that were safely waiting for us!). We had one insufficient bungee cord for the breadmaker that I attached from the rear of the rack to the front. For lateral support, we tied my sweatshirt under the rack and over the breadmaker box. A very heavy panier was put on the side of the rack and random other things were stuffed into the top of the sweatshirt. Poor Frick had to ride this home, while I shouldered his heavy bag on my fixed gear. (It didn't seem safe for him to ride the fixed gear through downtown traffic.). I hate riding with heavy bags, and Frick wasn't too happy with his fully loaded, unbalanced bike, either--so it seemed about fair to me.

We wobbled off, and after about a mile, Frick passed me yelling, "this works, too!" The breadmaker had fallen to the side, but was hanging quite securely. It was actually amazingly stable, even though it looked ready to fall apart. So, in a pinch try the sweatshirt/box panier! Frick says that if this is how a loaded bike feels for touring, then we need to learn to pack better/lighter. He and I mosied onto the Hbar for dinner until he caught the subway out of town. Bye Frickers!

Later that night I walked back to the station to pick up the bike he had ridden. Fun weekend.


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