Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Commissioner "Blackie" Whiskers

Here Kitty Kittie!




She is noticeably bigger than when we first got her.

"Who has the longest tummy? Yes, you are the longest kitty ever!"


Camoflage? Hide 'n Seek? For the same reason that she can shed all over these pants....she blends in too well.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Stage 3

Was odd. A lot of people weren't happy with the weather, but I was fine with it. The weather was warm (47F) and rainy and I was dressed perfectly in a tank top and armwarmers. By the time it was over I was soaked through and there were interesting mud lines on my shoulders and the small of my back -- all exposed skin was filthy.

This was a tour of the park/boulevard system and I was looking forward to another ride of riding in a big pack. This worked for about the first half, as we rode in a huge clump. I thought it was fun and the pace was easy to keep. I had my eye on a person who I beleived was a good gauge for my speed.

Then there came a short stint of successive curb hops. The main way was half-blocked by an angry motorist (collision?). A few of us detoured a few yards away to another entrance at this pinch-point.

Sadly, I lost the pack. It was super-frustrating. For many blocks I thought I could catch them but it was really hard to close the distance. None of the other people who were also separated from the main pack seemed to even want to catch it. I pedalled past Paul and Todd, expecting them to jump at the chance to draft off me, but neither of them took the bait.

I decided to try to catch it alone, but then the traffic closed behind the groups like the red sea and they put even more distance between us. Damnit! After several more bad intersections (I am the worst intersection crosser -- Ever!) they were hardly visible up ahead. Two other riders caught up to me and we continued to tail the group, but then we took a wrong turn and then detoured off course for several blocks. We couldn't figure out where to go, and in our hesitancy, Paul, Todd and a few other riders caught up and joined us.

Eventually we got back on course......to see the leaders and the large pack behind them already doubling back from a loop in one of the parks. Fuck. It was so tempting to just join them, but instead we stayed on the course and looped through the park. (actually, I suspect that one rider did skip the park).

After we were back on the road we saw the perma-slow riders of the races going in the opposite direction. I really didn't know where we were and what the rest of the course held, but I thought that we were behind even them. At some point, Paul mentioned that we were in the home stretch. I was really surprised, because it didn't seem like we had hardly ridden at all. I felt energized and great. I chirped back, "well what are we waiting for?" expecting that he would jump ahead with me, but that was the last time I saw him until the finish.

I think our group dropped several people in these last few miles. I didn't know where to turn so I had to stay with the group. At the final turn into the park, I wasn't sure what to do and slowed down. A guy in an orange sweater pulled completely ahead and took the turn fast and I could only follow. This was the best part of the race for me. Me and some guy on a Bianchi Pista had to figure out who was going to suck the least between the two of us.

I knew that I had a lot of energy and after the disappointment of losing the pack and getting lost, I damn well didn't want to get beat in the kick. He probably felt the same way. The loop through the park was probably a half mile (?). I rode off to the side of his rear wheel for most of this and hoped to pass him closer to the end. He spooked when I pulled alongside him. In response to my challenge he really bore down and was panting to keep his lead. Slowly, but steadily the Julep creeped ahead -- he started grunting/screaming (weightlifter style) on the exhale with the effort to try to regain his lead, but it was not to be. I think he was behind my rear wheel when we hit the finish. Good stuff.

Paul finished several minutes behind me. He said he hadn't been feeling well during the whole race and had even considered just bailing when he lost the main group at the pinch-point. I would like for there to be another race this series where both he and I feel 'on' and ride well.

So anyway....even though getting lost and dropped at a curb-jumping pinch-point, the race was really fun. I felt that I rode strong when I wasn't lost. I wish I would have stayed with the pack to see how I would have placed, but ...oh well....such is life. It was still damn fun and damn good exercise. Plus I like meeting new people -- getting the nods of recognition from messengers downtown is more fun than it should be.
All illusions of doing well in the whole series have been dashed by this race, and I'm fine with that. I think when the series ends, I'll have to find some people to go on fast rides like this, because they are so fun. Plus, I'm sure they are serving the original purpose I signed up for them -- training for the Frozen Snot.
Unfortunately, at least one of the next two races will likely be scavenger-styled. Certain to highlight my weaknesses: geography, intersection-savvy, organization and paying attention to my surroundings. Anything better than DFL would be a lofty goal.
Stage 4 is February 12.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

CCM Arrests at the Memorial















Friday was the January Critical Mass Ride, traditionally the Polka Ride to go see the Polkaholics (punk/polka band). En route was going to be the installation of the Ghost Bike to memorialize the site where Isai Medina died earlier this year. About 400 riders were in attendance and all was well.

When we reached the installation site, we clogged Northbound Western Avenue and filled the sidewalk, too. I was riding in the rear of the mass and just as I got there several squad cars approached. The police did Not look happy. I went to speak with the nearest officer and told him that this was a memorial for a bicyclist who was killed and wouldn't last long. He didn't make eye contact and said that we would have to "install the memorial inside the paddy wagon if we were still there when it arrived."

Shortly there were lots, Lots of police officers and their cars, marked and unmarked. They completely closed down the street to Northbound traffic and milled about uneasily. Quickly we saw several people being lead away by the police. The officers who had been standing around were telling us we had to leave. The news reporters who came to cover this Special Interest story found themselves in the middle of a much hotter story. Soon the bigger News Channel vans arrived, too.

I saw a little girl with a small pink bike crying and being lead away by her father as the cameras rolled. Payton directed people to go to the Police Station on Wood and Augusta and lead a group there. Paul and I waited around for a while. Then he went to stop at his house while I went directly to the Police Station.

I got the names of people who were arrested and tried to gather as much information as possible before I went inside. No one knew much, but everyone was pretty riled up. I kept my hair in pigtail braids but at least made sure my helmet blinkie light wasn't on before I went inside to speak with the officers.

Inside I saw the small girl and her father, whose mother and wife was one of the people arrested. The girl had a blue sucker to distract her and there was sticky blueness spilling past her lips and onto her face. I introduced myself to the man and offered my attorney services, which he agreed to accept. He didn't know anything because he said the officers weren't talking to him.

After getting absolutely nowhere with the first officer I spoke with, I was able to speak with the Desk Sargent. She explained that the investigation was ongoing and therefore she didn't know what the charges were. She suggested that I come back in an hour. I bitched a little and demanded to know what they were arrested for. Again, she said she didn't know and wouldn't know until the end of the investigation. I called her bullshit and reminded her that the police station was unauthorized to hold them if they had not been arrested. I told her that I wanted to see my clients and forbade her officers from questioning them until I had spoken with them. She left the desk to find out more information. Seconds later, at 8:10pm I heard the following quote from a male voice in the back of the station:

"I'm making something up. I don't care what. I want these people to go to jail."

The Desk Sargent came back and told me that they were arrested for Mob Action. She demanded to see my ID, which I produced and she scrutinized for far too long. I went back outside to inform the group, after telling the husband of the arrested woman.

Less than five minutes later the Watch Commander came outside to speak with us. He said that he was just alerted to the situation and that shortly the arrestees would be released with traffic citations. He estimated that it would take less than fifteen minutes for the paperwork to be processed. He was very nice and civil. He told me to invite anyone to come inside the station where it was warm.

While we were waiting for their release, the original news reporter showed up. She offered us all of the video footage that she her cameraman had of the memorial/arrest. Payton and I answered several of her questions about the ride (which she called the Happy Friday ride....it was so adorable that we couldn't correct her). She was pretty upset about the police behavior and the arrests. We explained that the ride is a way to feel safe bicycling and, for some people, a protest against the way we are often endangered on the road.

I told her the too often the police don't take our rights on the road seriously and allow dangerous situations to occur. I told her that the police had the choice to temporarily direct traffic around the Memorial, as they would do in an accident, but instead choose to arrest people, which ended up blocking traffic for much longer. I also questioned whether this many police resources were used when Isai was killed. The driver of the vehicle who lost control of the vehicle that jumped onto the sidewalk to strike and kill Isai has not been charged with anything. I think she understood.

I returned to the station to see the mom released from the custody of the police and into the hugs and kisses of her daughter and husband. Very sweet. The crowd cheered when she emerged outside and cheered when each person was released.

At this point the crowd was feeling good and making plans to contest the tickets and were even speaking of vague police brutality charges that I consider to be meritless (sorry, handcuffs put on by the police are meant to be tighter than the furry ones your lover uses). There were some interesting points addressed though, namely that the citations were issued 1) for blocking Western Avenue and 2) for failure to cease and desist. All of the arrested people were on the sidewalk installing the memorial when they were arrested, and several feet from Western Avenue. The cease and desist charge however will probably be valid, depending on whether/how they were warned to leave. I was tired from the situation and Paul and I left at this point to see the Polkaholics.

I was, and still am, annoyed at the attitude of many of the Critical Mass riders. They truly don't believe that the group was doing anything unlawful and don't really seem to understand that there are myriads of reasons why we could each get citations for many different violations. I want to smack them for not understanding that we are engaging in civil disobedience, which necessarily carries the risk of arrest. Overwhelmingly the Chicago Police are quite good about accepting us and basically leaving us alone, therefore reducing the risk, and swelling our numbers. However, it is only by their grace that there are not more citations issued. I hate it when people seem surprised that when they don't follow the orders specifically directed at them, that they end up in handcuffs. The police don't bluff. They can't because they need to maintain their authority at all times.

I am also disheartened by the people who seemed so excited when I showed up and then even more excited when the Commander came out to inform us that their release would be soon. This quick decision and newfound courtesy was credited to my discussion with the police, which is probably true. Instead of being glad that there was an attorney around to encourage the police to settle the situation quickly and reasonably, the situation makes me sad and angry. I would much prefer that the police act reasonably all the time, not just when individuals are represented. Instead of rejoicing in the flex of legal muscles like the rest of the group I was saddened by the demonstration of influence. Attorneys are expensive, and most people don't have them immediately available, nor could they easily afford our services. For the most part, our services truly benefit those who already have power and resources, at the expense of those who don't. So sure, I was around to help a handful of people have a much more pleasant night, and possibly avoid more serious charges. But in the bigger picture, it sucks that the police can, and will, fuck with you if they think you are powerless.

Moreover, I am disgusted with the police -- there were so many of them there from several different precints. Did they have the right to give people citations? Yes. Were they right to try to move the group on sooner rather than later? Yes. Did they need to arrest people? No. Knowing the purpose of the situation were there other ways they could have dealt with the situation? Yes. As mentioned earlier, they could have used about 1/40th of the personnel and simply directed all Northbound traffic, except buses, around this stretch of street. It would have been a simple solution that didn't involve disturbing a memorial, didn't require arrests or paperwork and wouldn't have taken police away from real crimes. The aggressive, hard-line tactic that they choose was a waste of resources and ended up blocking traffic for much longer than had they just left us alone. I'm not denying that they had the authority to behave this way, but instead disagree with their judgment.

Here is one of the press links:

NBC5

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stage 2; Inge rocks LSD

As mentioned earlier, I messed up the second stage of the Tour. There are several factors that played into this, but for the most part it was because I wasn’t ‘on’ and I wasn’t excited about the race. After the second checkpoint, I just wanted to take a shower and wash my hair. Quite the competitive spirit.

I do have a question for women who race involving birth control. I’m on generic Ortho Tricyclene, in my third phase of the pill cycle. I wonder if this has anything to do with the race. Twice in the previous week, I rode fast and hard, both with a group and by myself and it felt great. On Sunday, my body just didn’t have the strength/energy to push the pedals as fast as I know I can. Instead, I was panting, which I rarely do, even though I wasn’t going very fast. Have other women noticed any similar correlation between their riding and their birth control cycles?

Anyway, the most important, amazing part of the Tour was Inge’s (Ing a) performance. I met her the week before on the brewery ride. She is new to the bike community and seems to be a sweet, quiet art school girl. I noticed her sitting alone before the race and learned that she didn’t know anyone else at the race. awwwwww......of course I introduced her to some friends. She rode an old Schwinn road bike of probably about the same vintage as the Julep.

At the end of the race people were discussing the different routes they took and how they stacked up against each other. Inge quietly mentioned that she took Lake Shore Drive. LSD is a bike-prohibited, on/off-ramp HIGHWAY. We thought she meant the Lake Shore Bike Path, but NO. This quiet, small young woman rode on the fucking highway during the alleycat!!!!!!!! As far as we know, no one else, including the super-macho, aggressive messenger boys dared this feat.

Inge calmly explained that after looking on the map she realized that LSD was the most direct route and heard someone else talking about it (probably joking). So on the way down to Hyde Park she rode the highway for a while before feeling bad and deciding that she ‘didn’t belong there’ and exited. Then while waiting for the start of the third checkpoint, she again was considering routes and decided to take LSD back – which she did.

That rocks so much I am beside myself with admiration. Hell, I think I have a crush on this girl – the messenger boys must be completely in love with her.

Doored.

On Saturday night a group of us rode out to Cicero to eat at a Czech restaurant. Before we were really even out of downtown, I got doored.

The situation was that our group of about a dozen riders was slowing down for a red light. About half of the group had already passed a cab that was waiting at the light. When I rode past the door opened and even though I swerved mostly out of the way, the door hit my handlebars. I kept the bike upright, though and immediately commenced cursing at the man when I had a foot firmly on the ground. He choose to ignore me so my diatribe of cursing mixed with citation of Illinois statutes increased in speed and intensity. Fucker.

Then Paul jumped onto the sidewalk to continue yelling at the guy. The well-dressed older man wasn’t listening at all, so I asked Paul to stop. Then Jan commenced a conversation with the man, demanding that he apologize to me. The man denied purposefully trying to harm me and Jan continued, saying that we never said he did it purposefully, but that he didn’t acknowledge or apologize for it. The man then agreed that he should have apologize, but still he didn’t.

At this point I realized that he was headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and that there were other old well-dressed people watching the incident, so I yelled my concluding remark: "Pray Well!" Others in our group noticed the church then, too and began yelling more funny comments at him, like "God loves people who hit bicyclists."

Overall it was a pretty funny situation, especially considering that he was probably questioned by his fellow church-goers at why he was escorted to church by a bunch of bikers cursing at him. Tehehe.

I do feel a little bad about immediately launching in with yelling and cursing – because it isn’t the most reasonable way to communicate with people since it completely puts them on the defensive, and confirms the stereotype of bikers as rude and uncouth. But still, he was in the wrong and there was no reason for him to not notice the stream of bikers flowing around the car. He was totally on notice that he should pay attention.

I hate the idea that inattention is an excuse for harming someone, and that only purposefully illegal or violent actions are problematic.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Moral (Bicycle) Dilemna

A friend posed this question to me over the weekend:

How long after a bicycle is 'abandoned,' locked to a rack, before is it fair game to strip it of parts?

The facts of the particular situation are as follows:

The beater bike is locked to a rack with an $80 lock.
It has a flat tire.
It has been there, seemingly unmoved, for eight months.

My friend wants the rear rack, and has confessed to already taking one of its skewers when she found hers stolen after work one day. So yea or nay -- should she snag the rack?

Beyond this specific bicycle........what do others consider to be the rules or etiquette involved with scavenging parts off of bikes? How long is reasonable to assume that the bike is truly abandoned?

Oh yeah, I sucked royal ass at Stage Two on Sunday. For me, this type of race should be called a 'scaredycat' instead of an alleycat. I did TWO u-turns in the first stage, including the oh-so-public display as I missed the checkpoint, thinking it was two blocks south in front of the sizeable crowd. Very smooth. Good thing the Julep is so recognizeable......... Humility is good for character...right?

Friday, January 20, 2006

CCM Halloween


















Halloween Critical Mass, 2005

I was supposed to be a Charlie's Angel, but it was too cold...so I didn't wear the ridiculous dress, and bundled up instead. I took the Bianchi because I wanted to use Paniers.

Our computer consultant happened to be taking pictures at the Mass, noticed me, snapped this and asked what all the bikes were about. He finally sent the picture to me.

I Want This Job! Too bad I'm not a student.....

SUMMER INTERNSHIP - BIKE LANE ENFORCEMENT

Please Publicize this Notice!E-mail it to qualified people; post it on appropriate mailing lists. This internship is a great opportunity to help improve bicycling conditions in Chicago!

CDOT has partnered with the Department ofRevenue to develop an enhanced parking enforcement program in which astudent intern will work as a Bike Lane Parking Enforcement Aide.

This intern will patrol Chicago's bike lanes on bicycle, issuing warnings andtickets to motorists violating the bike lane parking restriction. Parking or driving in a bike lane endangers cyclists because it forcesthem to merge unexpectedly into motorized traffic. Therefore, the goalof this initiative is to promote the safety of bicyclists in Chicago bydiscouraging motorists from parking or idling their vehicles in bikelanes.

SALARY: $8.00 - $12.00/hour.

TASKS:
* Patrol an assigned route, identifying vehicles parked illegally, andissuing parking violation warnings and/or citations (tickets).
* Educate motorists on the importance of complying with parking restrictions.
* Monitor locations to target for enforcement.
* Collect and report violation and enforcement statistics.
* Maintain records of citations issued.
* Create written reports on enforcement activity.

QUALIFICATIONS:
* City of Chicago resident
* Comfortable, able, and willing to bicycle on-street throughout Chicagofor long periods of time, and occasionally in inclement weather.
* Enrolled in a college or university during time of internship (or for the coming fall semester).
* Enthusiasm and initiative to improve bicycling conditions in Chicago.
* Ability to interact tactfully and authoritatively with the public,occasionally in situations where relations may be strained.
* Ability to exercise good judgment, make sound decisions, and workeffectively without close supervision.
* Ability to follow detailed procedures.
* Ability to use a computer with proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel.

HOURS & TERM: Full-time employment for Summer 2006 (May to August);possible part-time employment in Fall 2006.

INTERESTED? E-mail a resume with a cover letter to Ben Gomberg( bgomberg@cityofchicago.org) by February 14, 2006. We thank allapplicants. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Moving On Up

In two ways. First, another attorney quit our firm, so I got to transfer to a bigger, better office. This one is in a completely different section from the crazy boss, so I can now hide somewhat from his Eye of Mordor. Most importantly, though, is this office doesn’t have a sink/supply closet connected to it. Previously people passed through my office to wash out their coffee cups and dishes, the extra water cooler jugs are stored there along with other random things. At times there was a parade of people disturbing me (and my goofing off). So my new office is an improvement.

Moving showed how much I use my office as a closet/bathroom. Here is what I found:

Tights/nylons = six pair
Shoes = seven pair
Skirts = five
Suits = three
Pants = one
Shorts = one
Yoga pants = one
Socks = one pair
Bra = one
Sweaters = three
Shirts = four
Swimsuit = one
Winter Scarves = two
Rain jacket = one

Then there is my whole toiletries drawer including: face soap, deodorant, hairbrush, curlers, jewelry, toothpaste/brush, tampons, toenail clippers, fingernail clippers, nail file, tweezers, hair pins, vitamins and lotion.

My boss instructed two of the male support staff to help me, "jojo you shouldn’t have to do that alone! AJ, Owen what’s wrong with you? Help her out!" Grrrr.....this is after Ted moved by himself. It is somewhat of a running joke between AJ and me about how the boss is protective of me. AJ shakes his head and mutters that of all the young attorneys at the firm, I’m the toughest one, even though I’m the only girl.

Anyway, these guys were incredulous over the amount of clothes and shoes that were everywhere. They were amused & embarrassed at my tight and tampon collection. "Girl, this here is a desk – Not a dresser, not a bathroom. What you need all this stuff for?" Comparisons to Imelda Marcos were inevitable.

My next move up was at West Town Bikes. I had bought a used seat post for the Julep, because her current one was too short and I (unsafely) have been riding around with only about .5" of post in the frame, with the seat still a little too low. The longer post I bought wasn’t perfect, though because the fastener was fused to the nut. Alex ended up using a bremel tool to cut the fastener off and I installed the new seat post. Now I can crank the seat up to the proper height and not have it be dangerous. It feels great to have proper leg extension.

West Town was full of messengers working on their bikes. One of them saw the Julep and exclaimed, "hey I drafted off of you in the Tour – I remember riding behind those streamers!" That was pretty cool, because it seems that the races are a good place to meet messengers. Maybe someday one who I know will come into my office and we’ll recognize each other.

I’ve been doing a bit of work gradually on the Julep, and right now I think she is as perfect as I’ve known her. There are a few minor, mostly cosmetic things I should do, but functionally, I’ve done all of the parts replacement and maintenance that I had planned to do. She was resurrected in April or May, and only now is she complete. To top it off, I pumped her 60psi tires back up to 120psi, because I haven't re-filled them since before Thanksgiving. I even poked around on the tires and dug out three pieces of glass and two stones that had becom embedded. Yippee -- the Julep is now even more Hot to Trot.

Moving on up is fun!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Tour

Paul says that I am "race crazy" and he might be right. I had a dream the other night that I was sucking royal ass at one of the alleycat races. I was pedaling in super-slow motion, missing turns, getting passed by a lot of women and my sandals kept falling off–forcing me to dismount and walk back to go get them. Everything else is very possible, but why would I ever wear sandals with clipless pedals in a race? I woke up very frustrated, but glad that it was just a dream.

This morning I saw one of the guys who I beat at the race even despite his efforts to keep me out of the pace line. I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently he works as a bike messenger. Tehehe – he rides all day long and he got beat by a girl who sits on her ass in front of a computer all day.

I am a horrible person.

Next stage this Sunday: Time Trial straight through downtown, twice. – my intersection cowardice will certainly raise its chickenish head and cause my ass to be handed to me on a yellow plate.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Three Floyds Brewery Tour da ABC 7

Friday night was pretty mellow. CBF had its open house party for its new offices. I had negotiated the lease for this building and recently volunteered by helping to build its new storage lofts, so I was excited for this event. It was fun, but mostly uneventful.

Towards the end I spoke with Super-Racing-Susan and she gave me some tips on alleycat racing. Very cool. When we left she asked to see what bike I was riding now. I presented her with the Julep, and she exclaimed, "Of course no one will want to let you pass them riding that!" She said that it was emasculating enough for men to get passed by any woman, much less a woman on an old bike with "fucking streamers on it." My wounded ego flared on behalf of my beloved Julep, ready to argue her many merits, before Susan added, "that fucking rocks!" OK, All forgiven. She also told me to just hold my ground and not let anyone 'nose' me out, explaining that if their bike's front wheel contacts my bike, more often they are the one who will go down. This was foreshadowing for the following morning.

After the Open House I went to Chris's place for dinner and drinks, but kept it early because I had to wake up early the next day. I had agreed to represent Bike Winter on a short segment about biking in the winter on Channel 7 news. I had to be at the studio at 6:00AM on Saturday. Blech. I set and woke up to my alarm clock for the first time in several years and made it there on time. Unfortunately, I don't think any of my friends taped/Tivoed it, so I probably won't get to see it. This is at least the third time I have been on TV (commercial; Bike the Drive promotional clip) and I have yet to see it myself. Dammnit. Anyway, it was pretty fun, went by really quickly and I don't think I made too much of a fool out of myself.

This was just the beginning of the day, however. A group of us went for a ride out to the Three Floyds Brewery in Munster, Indiana, later in the day. Round-trip the ride was 65 miles. Paul and I left earlier to have breakfast and then met the group in Hyde Park. Lately riding with Paul has pissed me off, because he has been blowing more lights/stop signs than usual and forcing me to either: 1) enter an intersection that I don't feel comfortable about in order to keep up with him, or 2) slowing/stopping for traffic and then sprinting to catch back up. Normally I choose the second option, and I end up doing more of a sprint-stop-sprint type of riding than my preferred continuous pace. Grrrr.....

I was getting really grumpy about this when he dropped back so I could pick the route. About two blocks later, I signalled for us to cut left across Des Plaines to take a left turn on Washington. He apparently wasn't paying attention, because shortly after I started to make the move, I felt a bump from behind, heard him curse and then the sound of a bike falling. Crap.
Before I had time to turn around I heard him angrily yell, "You have to signal!"

I must admit, this comment pissed me off. Several times when something hasn't gone the way he wants, the first comment Paul makes sounds like, "you have to be more............" Obviously, sometimes I am the cause of the problem, but more often Paul has been at fault. I really hate hearing him immediately blame me when something goes wrong.

Anyway, Paul was basically fine -- his elbow was a bit scraped. Later he admitted that he wasn't paying attention when I signaled, wasn't used to riding his Bianchi and didn't reach for the brake levers (normally he rides his fixed gear) and couldn't get his feet out of the toe straps to keep the bike upright. He's good about being reasonable after the fact, but in the heat of the moment, he tends to abdicate responsbility. grrrrr.

We flew down to Hyde Park and had breakfast before waiting for the rest of the group. It was a good-sized crowd that arrived. We numbered 26 people. The weather was great and we had a strong tail wind to push us to the brewery.

Once there, bike parking was somewhat limited, so creativity was needed (picture 8--the Juleps hanging from the fence with another bike locked to her in the rear). I'm at the bar in pigtails with Karen and Paul (picture 16): Brewery . Also notice the picture of T.C. eating a deep-fried bratwurst -- although it is labeled "the Sheboygan," when I lived there, I never heard of such an artery-clogging concoction.

We ate and drank for a long time before the 3:00pm tour -- which lasted forever. Our group made up nearly half of the audience/restaurant patrons and we were pretty rowdy.

We didn't leave until well after 4:00pm, so we knew that riding in the dark would occur. Against all odds, the wind had died down to basically nothing -- unprecedented in my experience. More often than not, I ride against the wind coming and going -- so this was a delightful surprise. At first we stayed mostly together, but soon a small group of us dropped the rest. For some reason Paul wasn't consistently staying with us and kept dropping back. Luckily, we had to stop and figure out another route when a park/path was gated closed, and Paul and Jan caught up with us.

There was one crazy intersection where the railroad gates were down and the lights were flashing. The cars just completely ignored it and whipped around the gates without bothering to slow down. We were flabbergasted. However we joined them when we noticed that there wasn't a train in sight. At least we looked first though!!!!

Around the point where we got on the lakeshore trail, Paul disappeared again. Later I found out that he stopped to help fix a flat tire. My group at this point was Grant, T.C., Josh, Jonathon, myself and a guy on a green fixie. Mr. green fixie and I were leading the group leading into Hyde Park and the pace was pretty quick. For some reason, he decided to bolt ahead and I stepped up the pace to follow him. When I caught up with him he declared that "he had given it his all and was satisfied with just a meandering pace for the remainder of the ride." I still don't quite understand what he was doing. Anyway, the hill at 47th street loomed ahead and I raced up it. Since the Julep is geared so high, I am forced to go up hills relatively fast, or else have a horrible time climbing them.

I dawdled at the bottom for the other riders to catch up -- and all of a sudden the whole group bolted past me. I squealed in pleasure when I realized that Grant and Josh seemed to be racing and jumped ahead to join them. The next several miles were ridden at a damn fast pace. I was getting overheated because I was dressed warmly for a slower group ride. When we hit McCormick Place the pace increased again and a race was on. People yelled to 'catch' the leader and gave a few play-by-play announcements. My sheepskin mits were soaked with sweat and my clothes became sodden as we continued our impromptu race.

Once downtown we evaluated our options and decided to return to the Hbar. Josh announced that we he felt like puking from the fast riding. Grant raced home to meet his wife Anne. At the Hbar, I was completely gross with sweat and questioned why we started racing. T.C. acted confused and denied that he was aware of a race. Will the bullshit never cease? Sorry, but I don't buy his quizical look, because we were damn well racing and he damn well knew it. Plus his drenched clothing betrayed his words. Stupid boy ego. My g-damned jacket was sweaty--through the clothes underneath.

Despite the sweat, the race at the end was damned fun. Plus, this was probably super-good conditioning, since not only was it several miles of hard sprinting, but it was also following over 60 miles of normal/fast riding. My ass muscles definitely felt the effort and were a little sore the next day. Overall -- a very good ride!

Kitten Update: There has been no unauthorized pissing or crapping since her first week -- whew. She is noticeably bigger than when she arrived here -- I can't wait until she can't wiggle herself under the couch anymore. I am putting a lot of effort into playing with her and she is slowly getting over her skittishness. Today she was brave enough to explore the rest of the apartment. It appears that her skittishness is quickly changing into naughtiness as she manically jumps up everywhere in an apparent attempt to knock over as many things as possible.

Job Search: It's official -- I am on the job market. I spent my day off on MLK day working on my resume. So if anyone hears of a job opening with a pay increase/hour decrease for a slacker attorney, please think of me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Frozen Snot -- Mark Your Calendars

The 2006 Frozen Snot Century is scheduled for February 24-26.

Friday morning: Chicagoans leave at 7:00am and ride about 100 miles up to Milwaukee. We’ll cool our heels at a bar and meet our Milwaukee hosts/co-riders before injecting the Milwaukee Critical Mass with some windy city energy. (Or keep drinking if inertia, laziness, coziness and tiredness occur). The drinking and mingling continue until we fall asleep.

Saturday morning we’ll arise early and make the return trek to Chicago with the Milwaukee riders joining us as they begin their journey. I think we’re probably ending up at the Handlebar or the CCM Art Show. Once again, drinking/hanging out until sleepiness occurs. My house will be full of Milwaukee people crashing with us.

Sunday morning. I’ll probably make everyone breakfast and then send the Milwaukee riders back on the road for the second half of their journey, thankful that I can go back to bed.

Any and all brothers who want to join me are, of course, more than welcome to do so. Unlike last year, this year I’m not starting it hung over, dehydrated and exhausted.

If nothing else, it would be interesting to witness the sheer quantity of calories that Frick consumes while exerting energy in the cold.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tour Da Life, et al.

I’m really fucking busy. Here’s the gist of my last week (bike racing at the end!):

NYE: We sold out, raised $1500 for West Town Bikes, I got to cook for several hours. It was fun.

NYD 2006: I lead the Polar Bear Bike n’ Dip. The weather was warm, the water was cold. It was actually mostly pleasant, because we were well prepared and it was well above freezing. A damn refreshing way to shock 2005 out of my system.

I got a bloody nose while changing my tampon. WTF? My body bleeds at both ends......

My roommate got a kitten. She hid, completely terrorized, for a few days. Then she began crapping/pissing on: my bed, my fresh laundry, the spare bed, the couch. I risked her claws, spent several hours with her and now she seems to trust me and quickly transitions from hissing to purring/rubbing. She now uses the litter box, too – except for when John was petting her and she pissed on his lap. So disgusting, so funny.

We did a memorial ride on Saturday for Isai. Sad.

With much trepidation, nervousness and downright fear, I competed in the first stage of the Tour de Chicago this Sunday. This caused a ton of stress for me, because I am terrified of riding ‘messenger style’ and not following the traffic rules. Also, I am consistently fearful of people thinking I am a wuss. I haven’t been riding much more than my commute lately, so I also feel pretty out of shape compared to my summer riding.

Anyway, the first half of the race went well and we had a sweet tailwind. I was in the front part of the second group (the first group being composed mostly of racers/messengers – people who damn well best be able to smoke my ass) and feeling great. We reached the halfway point, and right in front of me, a guy flew into the intersection blindly and got creamed by a car. He completely shattered the windshield of her car. Luckily he was OK (he said his leg hurt a lot, though), and a large group of the middle pack stayed until the fire truck came. Most of the latter riders didn’t stop, though.

When I got back into the race, I was shaken by the sight/sound of the collision and knew that lots of people got ahead while we waited. Also, we now had to ride facing the stiff headwind. The small pack I was in wasn’t riding fast enough, so I offered to move ahead to the next group. Paul said he couldn’t but suggested that I could if I felt up to it. I raced ahead and got sucked into the draft of the next group of riders. Paul had followed my pull, but the others in the group didn’t. I drafted for a while, listening to the riders ahead of me bitch about the wind, and built up energy. Again Paul didn’t think he could go faster to attach to the next group of riders up ahead. I smiled to myself when I heard the lead of the group I was leaving exclaim, "check that out!" as I passed him. The Julep cuts quite a sight with her pretty streamers.

Paul followed my pull again, along with two other guys from the previous group, and we made a group of 7-8 riders. I had a really hard time staying in the pace line, because two guys in particular seemed to force me out. I was annoyed and thinking to myself, "why am I again riding next to a pace line?" At least one of these guys had drafted me to join this group, so I was particularly annoyed that he was making it hard for me to catch my breath.

This smaller group wasn’t as good at clearing intersections (and I think we were more timid after having witnessed the accident). Several times my main weakness was very apparent – I am really cautious about running red lights. Almost every light that we blew put me well behind the pack, and I had to bust my ass to catch back up with the group, only for them to blow by me at the next red. Annoying, but, I’d rather lose the pack than get hit by a car.

The last few miles are what I regret, because I didn’t really push myself. I should have broken away from the group and raced ahead for the group in the distance. But I didn’t, because I was content to just stay the pace with the group I was in. I finally kicked it in only in the last few blocks and passed most of the group (including Paul and the two guys who weren’t letting me in the pace line. Tehehe).

I didn’t realize that at the finish we had to alert the organizer that we arrived, so I got scored a few places lower than I actually finished. Live and learn.

There were 94 entrants (with 94 points being first place) and I got 51. I was third woman overall, but feel I really only lost to the first place finisher, because I had passed the second place woman well before the accident, and nobody passed me after I started riding again after the accident. Therefore, I conclude that she didn’t stop at the crash site, and I would have beaten her absent my stopping.

So, anyway, I’m pretty happy with my showing in the race because I was in the top 50% of a field of mostly men, I didn’t just mooch off of other people’s drafts, no one passed me in the difficult second half, and I am certain that were it not for the accident, I would have done quite a bit better. Plus, I did it on the Julep – whose gearing wasn’t the most appropriate for riding against the wind.

Unfortunately, this stage of the race will probably be the most, flat-out test of speed and endurance in the series. My scavenger skills and red-light running skills are pathetic. So this is probably the best I will finish. Sniff.

It was very fun, though! I haven’t been salty in quite a while.

Today at work, my shoulders and upper arms are completely trashed. It feels like I did some serious weightlifting.

Super Rookie has an entry viewed from the front of the pack.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

R.I.P. Isai Mendina

A cyclist died last night in Chicago. He was Standing On The Sidewalk With His Bike when a car spun out of control, hit another car and jumped the curb to kill him. He was part of the Rat Patrol (freakbike builders: choppers, tall bikes, frankenbikes of all sorts).

Pictures of him at the bottom of this site:
http://www.chicagofreakbike.org/2002_11_01_archives.php

Here is the message we received from "Chopper Carl":
THE GUY THAT GOT HIT WAS ISAI MENDINA. A.K.A CHOPPER ISAI HE IS THE GUY THAT RIDE A CHOPPER WITH THE CAR ALARM ON IT AND ALL THE PRETTY LIGHTS . HE BE ON MOST MASSES WHEN HE DON,T HAVE TO WORK HE ALSO HONG AT NAVEY PEAR. SHOWING OFF THAT CHOPPER

HE WAS MY BEST FREAND.

I LOVE YOU CHOPPER ISAI

CHOP TILL YOU DROP

R.I.P CHOPPER CARL

I only knew Isai by face and have only had the briefest of interactions with him. I do know Chopper Carl, though. I met him first when I was organizing a ‘bike float’ for one of the city’s parades in 2004. Carl was riding his cheap mountain bike, saw us and stopped to chat and join in. The next time I saw him, he was "Chopper Carl"--in the few short weeks between these initial meetings, he had gotten sucked into the bike community, especially the Rat Patrol and was riding his own freak bike.

Chopper Carl isn’t the average bikey person in several different ways: he isn’t well educated, isn’t a yuppie, doesn’t live on the North side and isn’t white. He lives on the West side and moves pianos for his job. He also has enough of a speech impediment, and possible developmental disability, to create distance between other people and himself. I suspect that like many of the other bikey people, he has been a bit of a misfit socially. He is however, super-friendly and super sweet and seems to be thriving and making lots of friends within the community. His confidence has grown while his belly has shrank. Chopper Carl is always greeted enthusiastically when he arrives. If Isai was Chopper Carl’s best friend, then I can’t help but assume that he played a significant part in Carl’s blossoming within the Rat Patrol, and larger bike community.

Western Avenue is an arterial street that people treat like a highway. It is one of the few streets in Chicago that has timed traffic lights, so people are able to hit several green lights in a row without stopping. This gives them the opportunity to go fast and jackrabbit around. Many cyclists refuse to ride on this road. Many, if not most, of the pedestrians who were killed last year died on this street. The street now has claimed yet another victim.

Anyone responsible at all for the transformation that I have witnessed with Chopper Carl is certainly a special person, and will be missed by many.

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