Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bike Commute, the Next Week

Monday, 9 Aug 10 IN TO WORK - Saw lightning from my window, but it was only in the clouds, the ground was dry and I couldn't hear any thunder, I decided to go for it. It started raining before I got to Seymour. It rained very hard the whole way. By the time I got to the trail the lightning was very bright and frequent, after Butterfield I decided it was too dangerous (being under trees and power lines) to stay on the trail so I moved to Hawley. I tried to ride on the street, but it wasn't paved yet and the street was filled with water. I moved to the sidewalk, but that wasn't draining right either. I moved back to the street at about the self storage store (right before Culvers). That was better and there was no traffic. The back gates were closed (have to find out when they open) so I had to ride to Rte 43 and finish there.

I counted the following:
3 stop signs in Cambridge Country
10 stop signs along the road and I estimate
3 in Abbott Park.

My count may be off because I spent some of the time on Hawley and never made it into AP.

I counted:
9 lights and
3 RR crossings.

HOME - Not anything remarkable. Times were very much estimates

Tuesday, 10 Aug 10
IN TO WORK - Went for speed today. I rode in on Hawley to the Trail. Then at Butterfield I went back to Hawley. I rode up St. Mary's. I caught all the lights.

HOME - Went down Waukegan Rd to Atkinson, then to Oak Spring Rd (it had a roadside bike trail that goes right past the beach at Minear Lake). I took side streets down to Hawley just before Milwaukee, then Hawley to Milwaukee and back to the trail. I synced with a slightly older couple who were riding my way. The guy had a road bike, but the woman had a mountain bike. I had a hard time keeping up with them and she didn't look like she was putting in anywhere near the effort I was. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I didn't have my computer with me. Took the Carmel parking lot to McAllister to Brice to Countryside (it's under construction, but I rode through the gravel/dirt) to Prospect. I was pedaling hard the whole way and still I could only get it down to 50 min. I had studied the maps and this is the shortest/fastest way short of riding the whole way on the big streets. Must find a better way to get home to the daughter.

Wednesday, 11 Aug 10
IN TO WORK - Got caught by a train near Seymour, then again almost on Atkinson (the train cleared the road before I got there off the hill). I took Hawley - Trail - Butterfield - Hawley - St.Mary's - Atkinson - Waukegan. Not all the lights were in my favor so I didn't repeat my time. The driveway in to the condos also links to the Abbott driveway so I don't have to ride the last few hundred feet on the street.

HOME - Tried a new route that I got off the map, but one of the streets turned out to be gravel then a two track and then it was completely overgrown. The route is supposed to be 9.3 miles and they estimate 48 minutes. Even though I blew off almost all the stop signs I had a 7mph wind out of the WSW and it took me 56 minutes. I get more tired as the week goes on. I don't know if I can keep it up, but I certainly can't rely on being able to make it home in time for Sophia. I'm going to have to drive half way and ride the rest.

Thursday, 12 Aug 10
IN TO WORK - I didn't feel very strong and didn't think I was going very fast. I got a late start because I slept late because I went to bed late. I basically took the same route as yesterday, but I didn't get caught by a train. There is a display speedometer on Hawley and it showed I was going 14mph. Made good time though.

HOME - I thought I'd be tired and didn't think I had to hurry so I took it easy. It seemed easier than yesterday. I didn't get stopped by anything unusual and took the same route as yesterday (with less effort) and got home 4 min earlier.

Friday the 13th
Wanted to try driving part way in, but I had too much to do today and wanted to get the daughter as early as possible so I drove all the way.

I worked from home Monday and Tuesday so no ride. I did drive the route to look for a place to park. The trail is about a third of the way (3 miles), but it's right near Carmel HS and so no parking. Half way is right near Libertyville HS and no parking there either. I might have to re-think the idea of driving part way.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

ARGH, Curse you weatherman!!!

It didn't thunderstorm like they said it would, in fact it only got moderately damp.  It was completely dry on the way in and sunny on the way home.  It wasn't even partially cloudy.
I could've ridden my bike in today.  Now I have meeting on top of meeting in different buildings on Thursday.  If today's promised rain shows up tomorrow it's looking like this has gone from a five day bike commute week to a one day.


Bike Thwarted

I did not ride in to work today because the report is for thunderstorms, heavy thunderstorms and severe thunderstorms all day. I'm not worried about me, per se, I'm worried about my computer, so I played it safe.

After coming home from our soirée in Michigan I was raring to ride. I had been anxious to ride into work the whole time I was gone.

In the packing (or maybe it was the unpacking) for the trip I had found a pair of identical black, canvas briefcases and I made a pair of panniers out of them.

When I say I had "made" them into panniers, what I mean is I stuck some cardboard in them, and hooked them to my rack by the handles, drink bottle d-rings and bungee cords. The system was completely untested on Monday morning last week, and I shied away from testing it on the commute. Instead I fretted over the configuration and drove a week's worth of work clothes in by car.

I did ride in on Tuesday last week and I decided that I needed to see or experience something new on each commute. I didn’t want for it to become too routine and for me to become jaded. In addition to having the new panniers (which worked very well) I saw a pair of foxes on the trip home.

I rode in again on Wednesday. On the way in it was rather quiet, but on the way home it turned out to be a very eventful return commute. There is a big display on the campus of work that shows you how fast you're going (to discourage exceeding the campus speed limit of 20mph). I had gone past it before at 17mph. For fun I tried to go past it above the speed limit, and succeeded at 21mph. Ironically, about five minutes after I had left campus (on a city street) I saw someone get a ticket for speeding. I went past them and made it too the light, and my turn far ahead of the speeder. I felt triumphant.

It had been raining all the previous weekend very heavily. There were still flood warnings for the Fox River, so I checked out the Des Plaines River trail to see if it were dry. The lowest part that I need to travel is where it passes under the bridge at Hawley, so I rode the hundred meters or so to see if it were clear and it was. I tested a new route (on which I got lost a bit) going through Carmel High School's parking lot and around to McKinley.

On Thursday I rode in again. I thought I was getting into a good pattern and rhythm. I tried a slightly different route in to work, taking Atwood to Hawley, and riding on street down Hawley. I saw tire tracks on the bike trail under power lines, saw Cthulhu looking clouds that looked like they opened its eyes, Along the River trail I heard frogs, and saw sparks on the power line on Atkinson. I tried going around the work campus the opposite way I had before. I didn't think it was really any faster.

Again the way home proved even more eventful. The chain slipped off rear gears going into 7th almost at Carmel. I had to lay the bike down and struggled with it for quite a bit. Eventually I fixed it and went gentle the rest of the way home. I took the Carmel parking lot again, fumbled a bit with figuring out how to get home. There is construction and they tore up several blocks of street in that neighborhood. I tried several different routes to get past the construction before finally finding my way.

I didn’t ride in on Friday, in fact I didn't even go in to work, I worked from home. My youngest daughter had to be home alone so I stayed home.

I had to work Saturday, but since my wife wasn't feeling well and we had a big family party to go to as soon as I was done at work, I drove in. But, knowing that I had only bike commuted three days I was determined to do more this week. I brought all my work clothes and other supplies on Saturday.

Yesterday I was ready to finally ride in for five out of five days. I left early enough to see stars. Along the River trail the part under the bridge was dry but almost to the canoe launch I ran into a BIG Mud puddle. I saw that the trail itself was flooded. The water had come up from the right side so I decided to try to go around on the grassy left side. Now, remember this was about 5:00 in the morning so it was still quite dark. It turned out that the ground was saturated all along that side too. I ended up to the reflectors on the wheels and barely made it through.

On the way home I went for speed, didn't do River trail in case it was still flooded. I actually did NOT make any wrong turns along any of my route. Still it took me 55 minutes to get home.

It doesn't look like this week will be a full week of riding though. We looked at our calendars and I'm going to have to bring my daughter to work on Friday. She's not really riding yet and could never make the nearly 10 mile route anyway, so I'll have to drive.

Now today, as I said before I was thwarted by threatening weather. How does that song go, "I've seen fire and I've seen rain?" Well, I didn't see the rain coming in, but I sure hope it's a duesey, or I'll feel terrible for not riding.  I did see the lightning though.