This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

It's just nice to get out!

      We've all been couped up  letting our frustrations out by taking rides alone and wondering when it might be safe to venture beyond our homes.  The day emerged, at least in part, a few weeks ago when the world realized that "outside" was a least more safe than "inside.'  State and National Park campgrounds were opened a couple of weeks ago and I finally took advantage of it by making a three day trip to the lake shore.  The ramble down the Kal-Haven trail is always a fairly easy trip and the shade it provided made the trip pleasant despite the boiling heat.  Reaching South Haven in the early afternoon I was faced with another challenge beyond the Covid 19 pandemic.  
     The rising water level in the Great Lakes has been in the news for the past couple of years, I got to see the threat in real time at the bike entrance to town.  The Black River has not been flowing into the lake and is flooding the low levels of town creating a detour from the trail.  After reaching my campsite and setting up, I returned to town for lunch and provisions, I went down to the trail to see if this reputed flood was real or just an over reaction.  
      It is real enough.  There is water standing ankle deep through the streets at the lower levels of town.  It ain't goin' nowhere.  Just sitting
for months creating a local aquarium in the middle of town.  I don't know what  the local authorities plan to do about it, but calling The Netherlands for advice might be the best they can do.
      At the campground, there seemed to be a sensitive awareness to the pandemic.  People stayed separate to their campsites for the most part except for a few groups like the one above who huddled all together under a shelter with, of all things, a fire going in the middle.  The fact they were ignorant enough to squeeze together under the circumstances is irrelevant.  They were likely to get sick from CO poisoning or smoke from enclosing the fire pit.  People's kids!

      Back in town on Thursday I found the beaches busy, with cars lined up at all points.
On the beaches people seemed to be well spaced and conscious of their distancing.   It looked nothing like the horror show we see on the evening news from other parts of the country.
The beach itself is becoming more scarce.  The threat of beach erosion is now a reality.  I took this photo from the street in the residential area south of town.  The beach has nearly disappeared
compared to this photo taken three years ago.  Now the water has grown to the dunes and covered the miles of beach below the the dunes.
      The south beach near the pier has shrunken to half it's size and the town has built artificial dikes in anticipation of more water or violent storms.  Something is developing and I feel it is not the greatest.  In town (on a week day) traffic was sparse and the workers and customers wore masks both on the street and inside.  I avoided a couple restaurants and bars I would normally visit even though they have open air and outdoor seating.  
      The night went well except that the group next to me ( in photo above) stayed up half the night yammering about their RV's.  Fortunately they were driven in by a  severe thunderstorm and I was able to sleep.  In the morning things had cooled off considerably
and I enjoyed a pleasant ride back over the somewhat sloggy trail.  It was pretty uneventful
except for the standing water on the trail the last 10 miles.  It had already been a slow roll with the softened trail but I ignored the urge to bail out to the pavement just because I didn't want to deal with traffic.  I got caught in a torrential downpour about a mile from the trail head and shelter.  It's amazing how fast I can climb a grade on an 80 pound bike when properly motivated, I impressed myself.
I didn't need a shower when I reached home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Finally on the road

It's good to get out of the county for a change.    It's been too long since I loaded up for real ride.  It's something I usually do in April or May,   Now the parks are open and we have learned that "outside"is a little less scary than inside.  
I loaded up the Hunq for a couple days at the shore.  The ride was sweaty, but, beside worrying about my ability after months of riding around in and put of. town,  thingswere normal.  The Kal-Haven trail was an easy ride after all the dry heat we've had and I really appreciated the shade.  Fifty miles on asphalt would have been miserable. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020


      You know the time when you feel like you are pretty well "biked up?"  Then something you see or read makes you realize that N+1 is a mathematical LAW!  I visited that place recently.  The run on bicycles made me realize procrastinating was going to cost me a lot more than "investing" in my future dreams.  I'm trying to make this sound like a rational decision, bear with me.  I used a Dahon Expresso folder for several years on train trips to visit my parents. After my father's passed,   I didn't use it so I sold it to a college student who could use it in her dorm.   Time goes on and I realized that there is a lot of travel I might enjoy in the future which would make a folder useful.  While the 16" wheels on the Brompton had turned me to the full sized wheels of the Dahon, I admired the compact design of the Bromptons and began to take a look at them again.
      This is how bike shopping goes in the age of the Plague;  I was going through the internet and only found three Brompton dealers within hours of driving.  So, just looking at one in stock  was out the window.  Educating myself on their custom order widget to get what I assumed I would want, I found myself reaching 2K.  That didn't sound good, but they have a basic model, the B75, which could be ordered from Brompton with delivery provided by a dealer.   At less than a thousand $ I felt better and arranged delivery at JC Lind Bicycles in Chicago.   
      The order went through the Brompton website, I got an e-mail confirming the order and my credit card was charged.  Within a few hours, I received another e-mail informing me that the custom order widget was being shut down and the bike I had "designed" would not be available.   They were just too busy to keep up.  That made me nervous, but I had ordered the stock Model T of Bromptons and they said it would be delivered within a week.  I waited.  Five days later I got a text from the shop that it had arrived!  Whew!  That part was over.  Jon at JC Lind said they were so busy it would be a week before they could get it prepped. OK, I made plans to visit downtown Chicago in the time of the Plague, racial strife and national chaos.  The shit I will do for a bike!  
      By the time I went to pick it up, they told me the B75 was no longer available and everybody in the world was waiting for Brompton to get caught up.  I got lucky.  For all we know, I got the last one.  I may not have seen a Brompton for a year at much higher price.  That's what it's like to buy a  bike  these days.
      JC Lind is a really great place to buy a bike.  They walked me through the folding/unfolding procedure and I bought a couple of accessories from them.  I enjoyed a beautiful afternoon wandering around The Loop, 
stopping, folding, unfolding and trying out the bike.    The streets were busy with bikes and pedestrians.  Old Town was bustling, open-air restaurants and bars were doing reasonable business.  People were wearing masks everywhere inside and mostly out.
       The cycling infrastructure is developing throughout the downtown area.The "superhighway" for bikes on Dearborn St. is busy and people were using Divvy bikes all over.  The Brompton was a pleasure.  That's it, just a pleasure to ride, and take  into a shop or cafe.  It's a really brilliant design and at the end of the afternoon it fit quite nicely in the trunk of my car for the ride home.
      I created an auto tour of the cycling infrastructure by being a complete idiot.  While riding my bike I had used Google Maps to lead me around town.  While driving I forgot to change to the automobile setting so Google led me to the best bike routes out of town.  I realized it when I reached the golf course south of the university.  Duh, I felt stupid but I got to see the South Side in the time of crisis and it was enlightening.  Nothing we see or hear about on the news was evident, people were going about their business and traffic was just the normal pain in the ass you expect from Chicago.  Some businesses, liquor stores mostly, were boarded up, but that was about the only indication that something wrong may have happened recently.
      The B75 has a Sturmey Archer 3 speed and and some of the components are dumbed down to keep the price low.  So, what I bought was the frame, basic running gear dressed up with some rather generic components.    I refer to it as the "Model T" of Brompton world because, like the Model T, it's simple, basic and you can order it in any color you want, as long as it's blue.
At home I upgraded the grips with a pair of  Ergon, the pedals with MKS folding pedals, the seat to a Brooks C17 and added a mirror.  The only upgrade I am thinking of now is adding fenders.  I don't expect to have more than $1300 tied up in it when I'm done.
      Around town, the bike is a commuter's dream.  The three speed hub provides just enough range for 5-10 mile rides and Ergon grips make the straight handlebars much more enjoyable.   At the grocery store, I used it as a shopping cart, went through the "shop and scan" self service checkout and picked up $75 worth of stuff, a couple people admired the idea.

I ran a few errands, stopped for lunch at Panera Bread, took it inside with me, later stopped in a bar (which had appropriate social distance laid out) and nobody took notice.  
I was self-conscious at first, but there it is, barely noticeable, next to my barstool.  This is a different concept in city living.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Almost somewhere!

The new stretch of pathway adjacent to one of our busiest streets is nearly complete.   Since I saw the asphalt laid a couple of weeks ago, the curb cuts have been finished,
the crossings striped and dedicated crossing lights installed.  That part went beautifully and was done in really impressive time.    The only glitch to the whole project is the end.  The trail should connect two other trails helping to provide safe accommodations in a kinda east west meander through a heavily trafficked area.  
Unfortunately it ends in front of this stretch of private property before it reaches the corner and intersects with the other trail.  

So, to get to or from this little bit of asphalt we have to negotiate about 50 yards of lawn before or after jumping the curb in the parking lot for Latitude 42 brewpub.   Surely there is a solution to this, the trail is too long, too expensive and paved with too many good intentions to be left as the ultimate road to nowhere.