"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


Waiting for the footfalls

Patty gets back from a ten-day trip to Alaska, Canada, and Portland tonight. However, she's forgotten to give me any flight information whatsoever, in spite of my asking for it several times, and I have absolutely no idea what time she gets in.

She sent me an email about 5pm Chicago time on an unrelated subject, which meant she wasn't on the plane yet then, and I still have yet to hear from her. I believe it's four hours to Chicago non-stop, so at the very earliest she could be conceivably landing just about now.

I have no desire to search the flight-tables however, to educate myself for some sort of guess. The current feeling gives me just a little taste of what it was like to await a loved one way back when there was no electronic communication of any kind.

You were lucky if you even knew that she was headed home, then sentenced to spend the days and nights in growing anticipation, reading and passing the angst-ridden hours as candles grew shorter and the wind howled outside against clouded window panes. And when you were finally absorbed in a task menial enough to completely rid your mind of her odyssey and whereabouts, the door creaked open subtly enough for the sound to be taken for granted...until familiar footfalls broke through your consciousness, and your heart tightened in your chest...



My professional status has been officially revoked.

I can’t daydrink like I used to, and have no desire to do so, regardless. I left the company-event at Wrigley Field yesterday at the top of the 7th to make a purposefully-scheduled 4PM vet appointment, specifically so I wouldn’t get sucked into, “what the hell, ‘hey Old Style here!'” and “what the hell, as long as the corporate card is going down!” or “what the hell, it’s last call!”

As I walked out after seven beers (including pre-game at Red Ivy) at 3:15 saying goodbye on my way out to Waveland Ave, it felt like getting off the Titanic at Cobh, Ireland with full knowledge of the iceberg laying in wait somewhere out there. All of the passengers did too, in this case. There was a time I, myself, would’ve knowingly stayed aboard and stared down the impending disaster along with them. The party was all that mattered; that and staving off the eventual collision: the more you drank the further away the frozen leviathan seemed to be, until the fun came to a sudden, crashing, panicked end.

Leaving early is sign of getting older and wiser for sure. Gone are the days of post-game marathons at the dearly-missed Wrigleyville Tap or the Blarney Stone, over pool sessions ringed in smoke, easy shots missed from fingers slick with pizza grease, and laughter intertwined with the clinking of dozens of glass bottles going into the trash at the start of a new round.

I don’t know if it means I’m weaker as well, but I just can’t handle going to bed drunk at 9PM on a school night, anymore. I want to feel normal, fresh; to be good-tired and not achingly dehydrated with the motivation to do nothing but lie on the couch and watch South Park episodes on Netflix. And the sleep I get, even hitting the sack early enough, is so poor that the morning alarm is unbearable.

The last real bout of daydrinking in my life was New Year’s Day, 2006. After an absolutely epic party in Lakeview with a friend in from out of town, we spent most of the late morning/afternoon at Morrison Road House in Skokie abating the wicked champagne hangover with Bears-game specials. As the sun set on that dreary and ice-cold Day One, we returned to Lakeview to Fil’s place where we drank into the evening before a flip-cup chick brawl sent us pacifists over to nearby Toon’s Bar to await the iceberg collision at last call. Thankfully, that never happened, since New Year’s Day was a Sunday that year, and the office gave us an extra day to recuperate.

Once back on the ground in Edgewater yesterday afternoon, I felt ok getting to and during the vet appointment – a little sweaty and lethargic – but the subtropical weather had returned that day. Doing anything with Jack always peps me up, however, especially in a situation like the examination table, soothing him and making him as comfortable as possible.

Getting home, however, I felt much worse. I did indeed take some couch/South Park time, and needed several glasses of water before I could get up again to take Jack out and then cook dinner. But luckily I started my recovery early enough so that, after finishing supper by 9:30, I was in decent enough shape to head to bed with reasonable confidence of quality sleep. I read a few pages before the comforting nod-offs started, and then there was only blackness until breaking the surface again a full half-hour before the alarm was to go off.

Then sunlight was peeking in through the curtains, and Jack was looking at me with anticipation. I felt superb.

I’m ready for this new stage of my life. It’s not like I’ve gotten here overnight. The bike racing has often necessitated some turbulent choices in my life; as Newt says, the dualities are always dueling. But this is the first time I’ve made the choice completely of my own accord. My new life with Patty, renewed ambition and purpose, and thinking of the future – of just to the next morning, and of the next ten years – makes it a very easy choice to make.


Hump day

Why is this woman single?

Yep, helmet visor. Also, dudes on charity rides who are confident enough to talk to chicks already have a girlfriend. The single guys either aren't or ride a recumbent. Most likely both.


Obama Un-mosqued

President Obama could have turned this entire Ground-Zero-Mosque issue right back into his critics faces with a smart, snappy reply, foregoing any emotion, gravitas, or grandstanding on First Amendment rights. With one quick and cutting retort, depantsed all of the frothing fanatics who still think he's a Muslim Manchurian Candidate biding his time and setting up the dominoes before springing Sharia law on all of us.

And given the vast middle ground of all of us the strong leadership we deserve.

"What do they want me to do? Say they can't build it? Maybe these Tea Party assholes, with their expert and infinite knowledge of the United States Constitution, could show me where in that great document I have the power to intervene in legally-established private property rights; especially when based on symbolic, emotional, and religious issues?

"Now, I'm sorry, but I've got far more pressing issues to deal with. Issues, such as getting this country motivated to work again, instead of commenting on Peggy Noonan columns all day long about how I'm a foreign-born, communist-Muslim, in all-caps, with really bad spelling and grammar..."

But, no, he equivocated. Again. Compromising his authority, by backtracking on his statements; statements that made it seem as though he was trying to find some sort of authority on this issue where none existed at all. Lowering his position by waiting too long to address and relieve the building tension.

Which ironically brings me to say that the developers of the ground zero mosque should have known better, and exercised a bit more common sense. They should have known that their chosen location would've brought heat down on them, and placed the very leaders who they count on to further their interests in the position of defending them.

This is where a true leader would've flippantly uttered the words above, pshawing and shooing reporters away, disarming his enemies and showing them what hypocrites they really are. Obama has stepped right into the snare, however, and will be fighting to get out all the way until Election Day.

Prediction: Hillary Clinton will run for and win the Democratic nomination for President in 2012. And the first words out of her mouth as she begins her acceptance speech will be:

"I told you so."


Friday Vitriol

Today, Friday the 13th, the executions will commence immediately:

  • A Domino's order will not get you a pizza, but rather a .38 slug to the forehead when you open the door
  • All Chicago trolleys to Navy Pier will actually be carbon monoxide gas chambers
  • All organic packaged food items from chain grocery stores will be laced with cyanide
  • The brakes of all hybrid and electric cars will be sabotaged
  • The nutrition pamphlets at fast food restaurants will be brushed with anthrax


Thursday Hate: the right (of) way

Fuck you, Edens!

If one more conscientious and gracious driver smugly waves me through a stop sign at which I so very obviously do not have the right of way, I am going to start carrying a megaphone and a huge, cartoonish arrow.

This goes for pedestrians, too. Which is ironic because they get the shittiest end of the deal, as said driver will nearly kill a pedestrian while turning through a crosswalk not 30 seconds after acquiescing to a cyclist. You'd think they'd be the most militant players in this drama, as the most vulnerable.

These people are enablers. They are the reason so many asshole-douchebag bikers are conditioned to blow through stop signs. Every time they slow down to yield the right of way, a driver will wave them, or a pedestrian will stop right in his tracks...so why stop at all? They're the only people in the world anyways, right?

Today, in the span of three miles between Kedzie/Granville and home in Edgewater, I had to unclip and almost-petulantly stomp my foot down on the blacktop, jerking my head at both the stop sign and to gesture the driver continue on, no less than five times.

And when I left with Jack on our return-home walk, I was nearly plowed into, right in front of a stop sign, by a so-conditioned cyclist. The look of panic on his face as he shuddered and stuttered his handlebars, while not even thinking of braking to yield, enraged me.

Someday soon, one will near-miss us close enough that I reach out and jerk him right off his goddamn bike.

"Doesn't anyone give a shit about the rules anymore?!"

Determining the right of way isn't hard. Bikers: ride like a vehicle. Drivers: bikers are vehicles. Pedestrians: stand up for your goddamn rights. Hey, if you're not killed, you'll get a helluva'n insurance settlement out of it.


Hump Day: happiness calling

Today, it was made officially official; I signed the offer letter for my new job.

I don't normally mix work and writing but I'm so excited I just have to give a little bit away.

September 1st I go to work for a group that I have been more and more connected to since I began volunteering for them in 2006. I feel like Superman right now, and I've been able to think of nothing else.

I will be working to get us - Chicago - out of our cars and onto our bikes, our trains, (yes our taxes and fares pay for them), and our sidewalks, paths, and parks. To make Chicago a better, friendlier, more enjoyable and happier place to live.

To give a much-needed push to the boulder that stands on the precipice of the tipping point in turning back a cancerous car-culture with a powerful and resounding, "No!"

And I get to develop lots of cool ways to do it, like top-down consulting and recruitment, grass-roots organizing, and web and mobile platforms to bring it all together. All the while riding, walking, and transiting to network with the people who will make it a reality.

I wasn't sure if I'd ever get here, but I think I've found my calling...is there a phone booth around here?



Before my most recent post, I last left you with a slight rant on Elston Avenue bike commuting. Thankfully, that post, written on Thursday July 1st, covered the last time I was to commute home down that harrowing stretch of Third World, Mad Max-inspired road, replete to the last with cabs darting into the bike lane and left-turning SUVs jerking back and forth in the intersection like a meth-addict trying to act normal as it strangles the cat.

For that night upon arriving in Independence Park, I gathered some things, and left for Edgewater to help Patty move her things down the street and spend my first night at our new apartment.

Patty's move was a quick and easy one, for she was only 2 blocks east on the same street. We had the help of several friends plus a late 90s Mazda, and we were eating pizza and drinking ice-cold Old Styles by 8:30.

I had purged all of my own furniture - every last bit of it, not even a folding chair remained - to the alley and to friends, so I had only boxes, and of course, the bikes. The next night, Friday, Patty and I took the Damen bus (it's northern turn-around is just a few blocks from us) to Irving, where we met some of my now-former neighbors for some heavy German food and refreshing summer Kolsch at Resi's Bierstube. The next two days were to be completely bike-free, and BBQ free, July 4th though it was.

But we got it all done, in hot-as-balls weather, sun beating down on us. We crammed it all in, and even though we'd gotten rid of half of what we owned, for the life of me I thought we'd never find a place for it all.

We did just in time for my parents to see it, less than a week later. I've come quite a long way since my mom used to arrive at my college apartment with a look of horror on her face and started scrubbing the place from floor to ceiling. We were even able to sit and drink coffee and watch the finish of Stage 8 on my laptop.

After an evening in which the waitress at my favorite local joint, The Edgewater Lounge, berated my stepfather for tipping 15% - and I then complained to the manager - we were off to Michigan for my cousin Paul's wedding.

A beautiful outdoor affair, amidst simple white trimming on the grass overlooking the bluff - I saw the sun set over Lake Michigan for the first time in my life.

We toured the S.S. Keewatin, a steam ship that ferried Canadian National Railroad passengers, in two and half days, from the western side of Superior to the eastern shore of Huron.

The following weekend my sister Maggie arrived from North Carolina to volunteer and have free evening access to the Pitchfork Music Festival. It worked out quite well for us. Me especially. I'd been worrying about a bit of contraband in my bag making it past the security checkpoint, but volunteers just walked right in through their own entrance. We were set. Security told us they needed wristband jockeys for the beer tents and people to watch the fences for jumpers.

I was told to assist at the vendor check-in, where four hipsters had made a break for it the night before, three successfully. Living dangerously, they scoped out their chances and took a running start from the sidewalk. Security had since set up a fence behind the table and forced a chokepoint, which I was to menace accordingly, with my arms folded, so everyone showed ID. The hardest part of the job was deciding what free food I wanted from the Chicago Diner booth, and listening to Real Estate.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion absolutely killed it, as did Wolf Parade, Panda Bear was sadly out of place, and LCD Soundsystem had us dancing our asses off, working up a final sweat in the residual heat left over from the since-departed sun.

Hard to believe I was finally able to race competitively after all that time off the bike last week, and by competitively I mean not get dropped. I certainly didn't sniff so much as a top 20, but I did race three times in Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Whitefish Bay to finish up Superweek. The first and the last races were in support of my teammate Mike Seguin who pulled off a huge 2nd place overall in the series.

All of the races were brutally hot, and Friday really got the best of me. It was a 30 mile criterium, so I didn't have the benefit of Matthew Stevenson handing up bottles of ice-water to us. In fact, I'm so used to packing just one bottle for a 45 minute race, that it didn't dawn on me that I'd need three for a 75 minute effort in 95 degree heat.

Needless to say, that last sip of water with 15 laps to go tasted like hot chicken broth. I finished at least.

And here I sit. My self-imposed facebook exile continues. I was encouraged and disheartened at the same time to read this article today (thanks Leah). It confirms that Facebook is the new AOL of the 2010's...entirely self-contained internet. Except it's not for those who are too scared to go out on the world wide web, it's for those who are too lazy.

I will probably have to go back on at some point, at least to get pictures back, or for some professional networking. But right now, I feel like an addict who's been set free. I've been without a television for a year now, so I suppose this is the next logical step. At least I'm writing for myself again. I don't know if this was even interesting to you, but it feels good to unload the brain again.