Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 59

IN -

Speaking of "on fire" (reference to my thighs yesterday afternoon), apparently there was a fire on the Minnesota Canadian border and the winds did an unusual up and over move. A bunch of the smoke from the forest fire was dumped in the Chicago area, over 400 miles away. You could see it yesterday afternoon and many people said they could smell it.

This morning the cold air, humidity and the smoke all combined into the thickest fog I have seen yet on my morning rides. There were places where it obscured my vision a bit, and I couldn't see any stars. It wasn't anything like thick London fog or anything, but very noticeable and striking.

Otherwise my ride was fairly uneventful and surprisingly quick considering I wasn't really pushing.


When I got home I recorded myself so that I wouldn't forget anything. I was hoping to be able to embedded the audio here, but as I was finishing my daughter walked up shouting. I really don't have any time for post production so I'll just have to type out what I wanted to say.

It's funny that riding is a bit like dreaming. Everything seems so vivid and memorable while I'm riding, but as soon as I stop I seem to start forgetting things, the more time passes after the ride the less I remember. I wonder why that is.

I wanted to try to focus on the ride and work on my memory so I tried to remember ten unique or rare things on my ride home. These would be things that only happened on this ride or happened rarely so that it is noticeable when they do.

Here's my list of 10 Twos:

1. Bike Pack - There were about 15 bike riders gaggled together on the street in the subdivision near work. I don't know if they were an organized group. They went the other way.

2. Train crossing - A Metra train crossed St. Mary's road just before I got there. It didn't slow me down, but I tried to use it to pass some cars (which I didn't manage to do) and it led me to the next one.

3. Mail man - There was a mail truck at the head of the line waiting on the train. When all the cars went he moved forward just a little an pulled over to deliver the mail. I nearly ran into him. I'll have to watch out for those guys more closely.

4. Trail cracks - I noticed yesterday for the first time that part of the bike trail just after St. Mary's is so dry that it has big cracks in it.

5. Burnt steak - I smelled a steak behind some office blocks. I thought it smelled great, but then it smelled like they burnt it.

6. Loud crack - Just after I smelled the steak, in my revelry some one dropped something metal and heavy. It startled me.

7. Black cat - Up ahead of me on the left side of the trail I saw a black object. It had two small points on top. I thought it might be a cat, and as I approached it moved off to left and I was sure, but it didn't cross my path.

8. Wet lumber - Between Milwaukee and Butterfield I smelled a very familiar odor. It smelled like wet lumber or maybe some fresh wood chopped for mulch. It smelled like my Dad's basement, over by the work bench.

9. Cold wind - I was going to say tail wind, but I didn't really feel it as a tail wind, it certainly was cool though (and it's almost a Lovecraft story title ("Cool Air")). It was five degrees warmer in the afternoon than the morning, but with the wind I think it was actually cooler.

Drat, I could only remember nine things without listening to my recording.

The tenth was School bus - I had to stop for a school bus in Mundelein. The bus was just after a stop sign and it really didn't seem fair for me, moving as slowly as I do, to have to stop twice, but there were cars all around. I managed it by stopping long at the stop sign and moving forward slowly enough that the bus started moving before I got there.

There was an additional thing that I didn't want to mention in the twos because it deserved a specific note.

As I was coming to the three way intersection on Countryside Road near Fremont School and the museum a brown SUV suddenly appeared to my right. This intersection is a yield for me, a stop from the other way and no control on the street she was on. I was somewhat slowing down and watching for cars, but I was still going pretty fast. She appeared so suddenly that I had to slam on the brakes and come to a complete stop, which is rare there.

I squeezed both brakes all the way to the grips and didn't slow down enough. I've had brakes so tight that squeezing them that hard would have stopped me like hitting a curb, but mine didn't even slow me down enough.

I ended up putting my left foot down on the street to come to a complete stop. I had slowed down enough for that, which is very scary because in order to put either foot down I have to actually get off the seat (I call it a seat, I know it's a saddle technically, but isn't it far enough removed from horseback riding days that we can call it what it is instead of the archaic thing it was meant to replace?). Getting off the seat means I am really no longer riding the bike.

There are really three problems here, I was over-riding my brakes (going too fast for my brakes), my brakes need tightening, and the dust from the trail has made my brakes not grip well enough.

The last one is better after a rain, so I may have to wash Blackie. I will have to tighten the brakes and just watch my speed.

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