"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Conrads in Chicago, Part 1: Charm City to the Windy City

Now that I've finally detoxed from the weekend and gotten back to my regularly scheduled homebodyness, I can finally give a wrap up from my cousins' visit from Baltimore. This morning I was pedaling Jack home from Maggie's at 5:30 after a brief but efficient 5 hours sleep when I first realized I felt pretty good. I think he did too. Jack really enjoys it down there in Lincoln Park, save for the constant El traffic outside her apartment.

As Matthew, Andrew, and Philip were arriving at Midway on Southwest last Friday, I was riding home from Northbrook to meet them at my apartment in Old Irving. Their first text came as I waited for the train through the Morton Grove station to pass, about 20 minutes from home. They'd landed safely.

Upon arriving home, I had another text that they were waiting for the train, and a warning:

"I hope you have LOTS of toilet paper."

They seemed to be having one of those magical El rides where everything syncs up, with no waiting. After less than 15 minutes, drinking a glass of Gatorade, I saw this picture pop up on Facebook:

That was just south of the Roosevelt Station. They were really moving.

I put a leash on the boy and grabbed a plastic bag and headed out to Athletic Field, just west of the Addison Blue Line to await they're arrival. I wasn't there long. Like three Sasquatch carrying overnight bags for a vacation from the woods, they came lumbering up Central Park.

Game time.

We dropped the bags off in the apartment and immediately left for Comisky Park. The Orioles were in town, and we'd been planning this weekend since my visit out to Baltimore in late April.

The rain held off and the game started on time; we arrived just after the 3rd inning started. We managed to get three rounds in, starting with four 20 oz Leinenkugel's that I spent $28 on. That always makes me feel like an asshole, but these days, that's relatively cheap. By comparison, at Camden Yards, a 24 oz Molsen Ice costs you $10.

If you can get over the vertigo from the angle of Comisky's upperdeck, they're really not bad seats at all; you get a very good view of all the action.

Philip and Andrew:

After the game we decided to keep it a relatively tame evening, as I had a 7am departure for the XXX Saturday ride the next morning. The Blue line was down between Clark/Lake and Western, so we opted to see a little extra of the city, via the Red Line to Irving, where we rode the 80 bus to a divy little Italian place at Kedzie most people don't even know is still open, Manzo's.

Two or three years ago I'd taken my dad to this place, and we were pleasantly surprised. Very cheap, and the food was better than you'd expect at that price. Very retro, with lots of berber and tinsel, but obviously not on purpose, it wasn't full. In fact, there only two other tables in there. Not caring how the place stayed in business, we loved the calamari, tolerated the steak, and were happy to pay less than $30 for a bottle of Mondavi. I figured we'd save Resi's for the next night, and take advantage of the best part of Manzo's, the ridiculously cheap bar.

I'm taking $5 top shelf cocktails here, people. We walked in, dialed Willy Nelson, Led Zepplin, and the Beatles on the jukebox, and enjoyed a few martinis and some calamari, while watching the Cubs lose to L.A.

These guys are some of the funniest people I know. Matthew, the oldest, is generally pretty quiet until he drops some heavy observation on you - about sex, alcohol, politics, philosophy, or some mix of them. Andrew's sense of humor is to generally make you look at him funny, mispronouncing common words or telling you long, rambling stories about how he twisted his elbow cleaning the toilet. And Philip spends most of his time making fun of things you say, and trying to knock your hat off. They all make fun of each other, and are probably the three closest siblings I know, in my family and out. Andrew and Matthew own a condo together, and all three of them play on several softball teams together.

I can't think of a better picture to sum up their relationship than this one I found on Matthew's facebook page:

At Manzo's:

We said goodbye to our gracious bartender, and shuffled outside. Our luck with the CTA was continuing, as almost immediately another 80 bus rolled right up taking us home.

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