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Monday, May 29, 2006


Almost everything! what you don't see is the gallon and a half of detergent (the round top is peeking out) and the grocery bag with three cartons of punch and drinks. I almost left... and then remembered the brewskis.

I did lean a little to the left all the time 'cause it was heavier on the right, and took turns WIDELY, and had my usual luck with traffic (which is to say it was light!)

Returned from the Horsey Hundred. Since I was riding a commuter bike (though some people inquired as to its function in some bemusement), several times I was asked whether C-U was "bicycle-friendly." I had to say that the people were, but the infrastructure certainly was not, especially as these folks generallky had tales to tell of places where bicycles **were** actually, consciously included in planning and (oh, my!!!) funding.
I found the types of questions fascinating (compulsive analyzer speaking here). More than one soul really wanted to know what exact function the bike has - as in, what special thing could it do, since we must have a separate product for everything we do. I'm glad to say that there were slightly more people who stopped, looked, considered and imagined... and appreciated its elegance. (Even more people were bemusedly entertained, especially with the blender; I had several pictures taken.)
Ah, pictures. Going to put one of 'em on my screen saver to motivate me to have a lighter load to haul, and I don't mean anything on the bicycle... many miles does not preclude many pounds. (Not because of vanity, but because I'll be FASTER, of course!)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's been an interesting week.

Rode the Sangamon River Ride on Sunday. Well-attended, if not well publicized (of course I brought good weather, and though the winds were peppy they were behind you for the last part of the official ride and they'd shifted to North for the ride back to Champaign.
It's still a "ride not put on by riders," with lemonade instead of Gatorade and the first rest stop for the sixteen mile route happening at... yea, the 16 mile point, hey, you've only got a couple miles to go. Maybe it's just me, butif 16 miles is a reasonably long way for you, then I would think there ought to be a rest stop along the way, not right before the lunch stop. They mainly market to the longer distance folks, though.
The scenery is awesome and I saw those sag vehicles appropriately and the rest stops were well stocked this year (though I wasn't that close to the end), and the riders are nifty keeno-cool. And since I rode out to the PCC meeting that night, I got in 101 miles, and was reminded why I LOVE the red bike. It's just comfy!

Monday was memorable. The precious fleabag had made a pretty major turn for the worse over the weekend... and Mon mornign he'd not rebounded. Final vet appt. 11:30. Then Mon. night ride... our group merges with the medium group (we went a shorter route) and then we see that ominous visage in the distance of a clump of riders, stopped, and a car, stopped...we get closer...rider down, and out. Wheels had touched, rear rider crashed. Our ride leader is a doc, and the next person to stop was an ER nurse on her way home... they'd done a "wheel touch" crash (first car had stopped to help). Broken helmet pieces on the road... broken bones, lots of booboos but looks like it is THINGS THAT WILL HEAL. Miss Jones could stand, however, an extended period of not seeing living things curled up and lying still so prithee please, be careful, it's just a selfish wish of mine.

Friday, May 19, 2006

HOw I rode home tonight:
URL for this route is:
(Yea, I figured it out!)

Bikejournal rank 39? (391 maybe) with that little stretch. I was ready to be finished coming back into the wind (which wasn't too bad, but it was a headwind). I'm curious to see what Sunday will feel like, which should be 80+ miles but I'm going to take the light blue bike.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Well, something about the Weather Channel guys saying that the storm north of Peoria was teh "Storm of the Day"... and its wall clouds and rotation... so when we saw lightning at 6:55 (as well as lovely blackness and the 20 mph we'd just done a little tour through) we decided that well, next year would be a good year to actually get organized and do it right. So, I'm going to tap the brains of people who can and will (ya, you betcha! I have learned from Pastor BRidges...) help make it happen.
WHo's Pastor BRidges? I'll have to write about that in the Resource Room blog...

OK... there will (weatehr permitting) be a "Ride of Silence" in Champaign. W We are actually pretty lucky around here. The automobile culture is, for the most part, not hostile to bicyclists. Yes, there is a contingent who complain or who will shout at us and direct off the roads, but I rarely feel actually endangered.
However, what I can't know is how much of this is culture and how much of this is coincidence. I do know that when riders are struck and killed, drivers tend not to be faulted. The elderly driver who killed Jan Briese from the Joliet club had all charges dropped; while I do not know the details of his defense, I know a little bit about human nature and power. I suspect that many people, including judges, think that a cyclist on the road who is struck by a car or harrassed was, by definition, “asking for it.” After all, shouldn't they know that cars are bigger than they are?
The same was once acceptable thinking regarding women who 'asked for' harrassment or assault, or the people of color who “asked for” discrimination and brutality. Didn't they know that those things happened? That people were like that?
Yes, potential victims should validly be expected to evaluate a situation even when one has "rights" - but one of the things this silly country is ***supposed*** to be about is being a place where some people don't automatically get more rights than other people, simply because they *can* overpower them. Might isn't supposed to make right... yet the little guy is asking for it if s/he doesn't humbly be sure to never inconvenience the powerful ones?

The Ride of Silence is one way that cyclists can work towards graduating towards being recognized as valid users of the roads, even if smaller and more vulnerable than automobiles.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Went to "champaignmovingforward." Also present were John Prince, Gary Guardia and Bob Morris from the bike club -I am pretty positive we were the biggest cohesive group and per Gary & John's suggestion, we stuck together. This turned out to be a good idea.
Groups were formed and each table assigned one facet to report; we were the "bike" group
Interestingly, EVERY table, not just us, wanted to make sure stuff about bicycles was included. Unlike big.small.all, nobody voiced fears of what cycling improvements would do that they didn't like. In fact, it was another table that said they wanted to be sure it was understood that there were different kinds of cycling needs - wander on the bike path vs. get to your destination. (So, since we had all clumped together, it was obvious that it wasn't "just that bike group" that was concerned with cycling issues.)
The facilitators were hoping to gather more people; one person wanted to know how many people were connected to the U, sounding as if she expected it to be a high number... and it was VERY low.
THe facilitators also noted from the beginning that while cycling had increased a tenth of a percent over 10 years, the cycling infrastructure was not very good, as seen by the paths. THere was, alas, a hidden assumption that what paths as existed were good things... I'm afraid that didn't get corrected.
There were a few fringe types, but really not too many. Mostly people who pretty much knew what they were talking about and had good ideas.
And of course... when we boiled things down to the Big's that BOuby one. Cyclists should be intended users of the road. Seems some people think that since cyclists have been using Green Street's painted shoulder lane, that they should be taken away, lest they be considered "encouragement" for cyclists (yet not meeting official standards). Yes,somehow, misperceived legal liability is more important than actual, genuine, moral liability. In my humble opinion, if you make the roads less safe, somebody's going to get hurt because you did that. Cause and effect is liability to me.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

LIttle morning joys (not the same category as "the drafting story"):

It's a soft, grey morning with the smell of damp spring soil that so many weekend gardeners have turned. Poppies, peonies, irises and promises of infinite color are peering from foliage and dark earth.
I'm only barely noticing that as I pedal down Race Street and anticipate my turn at four-way stop one and think "oh, fiddle," 'cause there's a cyclist behind me as I'm slowing. You know, cyclists in student-ville, who love to blast by you and hop a curb or two... and I'm planning on accelerating into the *left* lane and who knows *where* he'll be...
... what's this? as I press forward, he's STOPPING at the stop sign! Cars and bikes are doing a genuine synchronized dance of getting where we're going... there's a communication between us's what happens when you follow sane rules... and he's easing into that same left lane.
I'm still a few lengths ahead as I stop and make my left turn, catch him stopping and signaling in the mirror, and I'm smiling, and then with just a few quick steady strokes he's moved around me and I'm really awake now (hey, people don't pass me that often, even on this bike ;-)) He's riding an old Trek, but riding with grace and power and not as if he's the only one who matters! My ego's been activated though... and I can tell he's not used to being kept up with. I wish my speedometer worked! He even coasts over that bumpy spot ... and oh, joy, he's not going to make the traffic light (and no, he isn't going to run it) so I can even coast in and not be gasping when I get there.
Often traffic is like a giant elevator. You manage to check each other out but you avoid eye contact. Not this morning; we've already shared an instant of intimacy and he turns and smiles. “Good morning!” I nod and smile and the light turns green, and I let him take the lead 'cause he is stronger and it's fun to watch. We meet again at the next traffic light, He hops over to the bike path, which is rather odd 'cause this week they've torn up that bike path a hundred yards from here... aha, he turns right and he's gone, probably into a campus building for a final exam.

It's nice to know we've got friends out there!

Friday, May 05, 2006

CafePress sticker of the day: "Legged and Dangerous"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And here's the Confident COmmuter's route all the way across town:

Green St. Route To Parkland, self-talk included…
W. on Washington to four-way at Vine
Straight through to Race ;
R. on Race
L. on Green (in front of hotel)
Wave at the Parkland students at the bus stop as you go by, knowing you’ll beat the bus!
Careful around the parked cars & side streets.
Stop light at Lincoln; the right lane goes straight or right and there’s no turn on red. Most cars use it for a right turn, so place yourself accordingly.

Cruise to Wright Street. There’s a bike path but it only goes to Green Street and generally has pedestrians and/or slow riders on it.

Wright/Green intersection has “walk only” part of cycle before the Green light turns Green. There’s a 17 second countdown that triggers the yellow at the “0” second. If you go right away you can usually make it through the next intersection (same cycle) on the same green (and no problem if there’s traffic enough to extend the time).

Drive through campus; most people are not going all the way through. Watch for debris, wallets and money around the bars. Charge up to Neil; lots of right turners here.

Watch at Randolph – it’s one way and the *other* side of the street has a left turn arrow, so don’t anticipate your green; it might not be there!

Careful going by the school; that’s got a LONG walk light so you’ll probably make it.

Watch for rough pavement along the right until Prospect. North and Southbound each have their own Greens; it’s North, South, and then east-west (which aren’t separated), and the green is not very long east-west. However, you *do* get another 5+ seconds *after* the countdown numbers go to zero.

FUN little upgrades!!! Work up a lather between here and Mattis.
OR: Find a chance to turn left so’s you can take John Street and have a traffic light through Mattis and go all the way through COUNTRY FAIR, and skip the next paragraph:
Mattis… caution! when traffic’s clear to the left, turn right and scoot over to the left turn lane to get on Round Barn. Make sure you’re not confusing a driver also coming off of Green (who may also be turning left at Round Barn, or not). Watch out for southbound (from the right) cars who may be turning left on green and wanting that same lefthand turn lane.

Turn Left on Round Barn (it’s the first street possible)

Charge! past the goat to Country Fair.


Country Fair goes through to Springfield; Go straight (usually if I coast slowly, the queue can get around me before I hit the other side, which is kinda narrow). This is a "take the lane" situation sometimes. Dodge the debris on the right, and get around the dumpster. Cars are generally NICE, honest. Busses will be turning around that bend (near the TV station); I make sure it's really obvious what *I'm* doing.
After that 100 yards things get nicer. The crosswalks have a long cycle - unless the walk thingy doesn't go on at all. The blinking "don't walk" goes for at least 15 times, and then it's solid for another 15 full seconds, for both lights. (I usually make the first one but not the second.)
Get over those RailRoad tracks (it's pretty perpendicular), and CHARGE towards the stop light. At the intersection, I generally grab the left side of the "right or straight" lane, because there is no straight, except for me because I go straight across and, unless it's recently snowed or there's traffic there, I take the sidewalk for that block and a half to the college. I'm turning right at the college anyway. If I time it right I get to the driveway right before the right turn in between the light cycles, and turn right.
If I'm feeling brazen I take my lane and take the left; otherwise I go forward and don't take a left until later, and wind around the parking lots. It's pretty much the same all around. I end up in the C parking lot at the bike rack which of course would be a whole lot nicer if it were sheltered.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I've finally put my "lowstress" route from Urbana to Parkland on the appropriate wiki at ..

Tuesday's Pedaling for Pleasure (that's pronounced Play-sure) had a low turnout on a delightful evening. We wandered out to Bondville and back - a grand total of 13.5 miles, which is actually long for this time of year but the two new-to-us riders weren't new to riding.
A prizeworthy tire trauma was induced by a nail that entered and exited as a needle would... our ride leader did not try to repair it, and plans to frame it. (A *large* nail.)
Might even get to do the Wednesday evening ride, given taht the showers seem to have already blown through. Last two weeks had four participants; went about 13 miles, at about 12 mph. FUN :=)

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