Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bike the Drive 2011

Chicago is an interesting city. It's teaming with a rich and deep history. Every weekend you can find (literally) hundreds of things to do to keep you entertained. And there's never a shortage of unique people to speak with or stare at. But this weekend is Memorial Day weekend and it seems that's a uniquely interesting time for Chicago. One fun thing was the low flying fighter jets yesterday. The thunderous roar of the jets overhead was great.

Today was another spectacle. Lakeshore Drive was shut down from 5:30 to 9:30 for Bike theDrive. Essentially from 6000 north to 6000 south bicyclists owned the road. A few friends of mine and I hit the ride with the expectation that we'd ride a century. I knew this wasnt happening for myself for a few reasons but mostly because I physically can't finish 100 miles in 4 hours. What made this particularly special for me was it was the second time I'd be riding the drive. The first time was last year for the LifeTime Fitness Tri. I had a stupendous bike last year so I wanted to see if that would happen again. Plus, with Escape from Alcatraz less than a week away and being extra out of shape I was excited to see if I could survive.

My friends and I started off at North Ave (great for me since it's less than a mile away from my house) and headed north. We quickly got separated because of different speeds and expectations but John and I took point and tried to push the pace.

Ultimately it was a nice ride but it had a few shortcomings.

Why was it a nice ride? There's a lot to like about having 4 lanes of one of Chicago's most beautiful roads open to you for biking. In Chicago proper you're not going to find any better place to ride. The lake front path is nice but too windy and congested to make for any decent training. Lakeshore drive is gorgeous and you can really hold a nice pace.

What made it fall short for me was mostly myself. To be sure, there were just too many people out there riding slowly in the fast lane. Is made me more angry than not. I had to keep slowing down to make sure I didn't kill anyone and myself in the process. Understandably, this is a "ride" and not a "race" so getting mad at slow people is just dumb. What's even more dumb, though, is being slow in the fast lane. Ink of how aggravated you get while driving somewhere and in front of you is someone driving at half the posted speed limit. But they're in the passing lane so there's nothing you can do.

Yes. Very annoying! I greatly dislike congested rides for the obvious reason.

Where the problems fell on me are with my expectations I came with. No matter how I look at it, no ride is an acceptable ride unless it meets the standards I had back in the twin cities: mainly clear roads, smooth pavement, diverse geography and easy to get to. I got extremely spoiled up there. Let's face it. And it's going to take me a long time to get over it. Until then, I have to spend the time to realize that I didn't order myself a shit sandwich by moving here but instead got a Chicago style burger: good and special in its own way but not the same flavor that I've grown to know.

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