Monday, August 01, 2005


Paul and I traveled to Milwaukee to attend the wedding of Steph, one of my oldest friends. We biked down to the Amtrak station, boxed our bikes and then rode the train. The corn in IL and WI is incredibly stunted and dry. Very sad. The cabbage patches looked very nice, though.
Anyway, after a few hassles at the station we put our pedals back on our bikes and rode to the neighborhood of the church for lunch before the ceremony. At the church we changed into nicer clothes and the wedding began.

A major problem with church weddings is all of the talk about God......the priest just can’t shut up about God and Jesus. He also said that Jesus is the third partner in this marriage. I didn’t even know that Steph was into three-somes. As I sat there listening to the drivel, I was amazed at how many hours of my life were wasted attending church. I am also pretty sure that word will get back to my parents that I did not receive communion, too.

We biked about 15 miles out to Brookfield for the reception. It was farther than I thought it was, and we left the ceremony much later than I expected, so we didn’t have nearly as much time to clean/pretty up as I hoped. Also the woman at the desk couldn’t find my reservation even after I carefully spelled my name. She started to look really nervous and fidgety and I know that they overbooked the hotel that weekend (a common practice). She started to deliver the bad news to me that my reservation wasn’t in the computer and that there were no rooms–I asked her how she was spelling my name and she replied with a phonetical spelling that had half of the letters wrong. I spelled it again and then she found the reservation immediately. Grrrrrrr......I don’t understand why people can’t listen to the answers of the questions they ask. This interaction wasted precious showering time.

We ended up having about 30 minutes to shower and get ready. When I hopped out of the shower I learned something interesting: Paul is even worse at ironing than I am–which I didn’t think was possible.

Besides the church bullshit, I am not a fan of typical weddings. What a bunch of fluff. So much money, time, effort, stress......goes into each wedding. Plus, if you didn’t know better, you would think that Steph and Steve are the first people ever to fall in love and get married. Seriously, people falling in love is pretty common, as is getting married. Yet the whole day is framed as if this is some sort of miracle that we are all blessed to witness. I’ve seen them together for years, and I can’t imagine that being married will really change anything about their lives. (Except Steph will have a huge hassle changing her name). The whole wedding fuss just seems like a waste.

Still, I am very happy for Steph and Steve: I foresee pregnant friends in the next year of my life. The reception was fun and no one was very stressed about anything. I guess that is the one good thing about weddings–it does bring friends back together from across the country.

The next day was a very late start–I’m blaming it on the wine. We rode down to Kenosha to ride the last commuter train into Chicago. The weather forecasted a 10-15mph headwind–which of course was what happened. We maintained a pretty good clip–the slowest we rode on long stretches was 15mph, but more often 17-18. I didn’t feel great and it seemed to take more effort to maintain the speeds that we were riding. Our timing was sort of tight and we really, really needed to make that train. We finished eating breakfast sometime after 1:00pm and had 50+ miles to go before the train left at 6:45.

Besides about 10 miles of this trip (which I rode from Racine to Kenosha in February) it was a completely unknown route to us. I was concerned about getting lost, so we stopped pretty often to check the map to make sure we didn’t miss any turns. Of course, we still did miss some turns, but we improvised instead of backtracking. Too many times our brief stops to look at the map lasted longer as we sat in the shade and cooled off a bit. Almost the entirety of the ride was under the blazing sun. Stupidly I wore a dark tanktop and skirt, instead of bringing a light, loose sundress to wear–so I felt the heat more than usual.

BTW: I am one serious sweater when it comes to bike riding. Soon after stopping each time I was completely slick with sweat and had drops puddling and running down my calves. Totally gross. Plus, I sweat out a lot of salt–I think much more than other people–and develop interesting salt stains on my clothes & helmet straps. I am often covered in white salt powder at the end of long rides. Another absolutely disgusting discovery I made is that when I hit 24-25mph, my helmet is forced against my forehead, and my sweat is squeezed from the saturated cushions. So many times that we went down hills, I was treated to a warm salty spray in my eyes. Let there be no doubt that I am a gross creature. If I was Paul I would want nothing to do with me during & after long rides, but he doesn’t heed my warnings and only remarks jokingly that I feel ‘slimy’ and taste ‘salty’. At least I don’t stink, too.

We dorked around a lot in Racine–we first took a meandering ride along the waterfront and then tried to find ice cream. We wandered around the downtown area a lot before finding an open ice cream parlor. Once there we also lingered too long. By the time we got back on our bikes it was 5:45. Yikes! I think this final leg was about 10 miles along a highway, and directly south into the wind. The road was under construction and detoured a lot. Sometimes we took the detours, and other times we just rode through the closed off construction site. The worst parts were when there was only one narrow lane of traffic each direction and lots of orange cones, barriers and posts. The options were either take the lane and royally piss off the cars behind us, or hug the shoulder and let them squeeze past. Luckily these areas didn’t last very long–and we never got honked at.

I did the first pull for several miles, and then Paul took the lead for the remainder and led us into Kenosha. One problem that caused us to miss several of our earlier turns was that the county highways often aren’t labeled as such in cities or townships, but instead are only signed with their local street names. Very annoying. Plus a lot of intersections are completely lacking in signage, which is even less useful. I didn’t exactly know where the station was in Kenosha, but was instead just depending on highway signs to alert me that I was in the right area. Just as I thought we may have overshot the station, I caught site of a metra train parked on the elevated track. Woo Hoo. We were a little north of the station, and rode through some gravel train lots to get to the proper boarding area. We got to the station around 5:25 and actually had to wait for the train to arrive. Thank goodness.

I’ve never ridden this train before–but it was very full in Kenosha and became almost completely full as we picked up more people. This full run from Kenosha to Chicago only happens three times on Sunday–it certainly looks like there is enough demand to support more of these runs. I know that I would love that to happen, especially now that bikes are allowed on board. Not only is it much cheaper than Amtrak, but it is much less of a hassle to transport bikes.

We stopped at the Hbar for dinner and basically crashed after we were done eating. Even though it was only 50 miles, the sun, the wind and the pace really made it more challenging than other longer rides–the hills didn’t help either, I suppose. Overall, a good ride. I think I need to do a century this month though. In August the most biking I did in one day was only 80 miles, and that just isn’t acceptable


At 5:43 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

I'm planning to take my bike on an Amtrak trip, and the amtrak web site says there are bike racks to use that don't require boxing up bikes. The people answering their phones say there's no such racks, that I have to box. Did you get that answer too?

At 1:29 PM, Blogger jojo said...

There are different rules for different trains. Some have 'roll-on service' with bike racks, others require boxing, and still others let you toss your bike up with the carry-on luggage.

I'd call the actual train station, instead of the generic Amtrak number, and see what they say about bikes on the particular train you plan to take.


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