Tuesday, August 03, 2010

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.

No comments: