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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Should cross the 1000 mile marker for the month on the ride home tonight. Yippee! Might try for jUly, Too, but without GITAP that will be a challenge.

Saw five cyclists before I was across LIncoln, before 7:00 in the morning - and the usual four or five more for the rest of the trip in. Still have construction on that half mile of Green East of Prospect (but so far, no cars have come up behind me when it's just one skinny lane).

Rode the Xtracycle HARD yesterday. Except for hills and acceleration, she could keep up. She was calling herself Angelique for a while; we'll see if the name sticks. I think I"d better give the Trek a real once over; it should be a lot easier to ride than Angelique and it isn't. Gotta check those straps and zippers and other friction sources!

Also saw a group of three and a single rider on my way to meeting another nine people at the Wednesday Show & Go. Of course, there were no doubt the usual 15-25 Fast & FUrious Wednesday Long Riders. That's a *lot* of people out for recreational riding on any given day...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dear 665 1170 (some kind of truck or SUV):

It was almost pleasant charging up the Kirby overpass at 5:30 p.m., instead of the anticipated nervous-making aggravation. Granted, I had a tailwind (those hailstorms were breathing down my neck) and was prob'ly going over 20 mph, but you hung back and waited 'til I was over the top and there was honestly, really, enough room to pass. Somehow the three drivers behind you weren't obnoxious either.
(DLVY, on the other hand - really, there are two lanes going the same direction on State STreet! You can use the left one, I"ll take the right, okay? DOn'tcha know vanity plates are a bad idea if you're going to drive in ways that attract attention?)
Note to self: Staley between Bradley and Springfield has (big) gravel shoulder, and is too busy for comfort. After Springfield it's got a fat shoulder (but it's still busy, with trucks leaving whatever that place is). Even with big black clouds, might be worth goin' one more mile to rising...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Wish I had a picture of this from a more innocuous angle. I'm sure to the walker or driver's perspective, this is a very nice looking sidewalk, wide enough for cycles and a reasonably safe, smooth surface. Up *to* that point, it *was* - so the rider doesn't even think "okay, surface change, possible hazards."

From this angle, though, you can imagine - and some have experienced - that a bicycle can be sent out of control, instantly, at considerable expense and damage to cycle and/or its driver.

Yo! At least mark the thing! And don't wonder why I'd rather ride in the road.

"Saturday Saunter" maps. Of course, you can get bike maps from IDOT, too. We're number 5.

Meadowbrook to Philo. Note that you could cut right across the yellow road directly into Philo - that road is BUSY so we usually go the extra mile and come in the back way. The other yellow road for the loop back is not quite as busy.
Graveling up the roads is unpredictable; you just never know. It's good to have the map so you can see the options ;-)

Map *to* Tolono : This gets you to the Freedom Station. You could also go to the grocery store You can also turn on Old Church instead of the road one more mile North.

Many options for the trip back; you can just turn around or:
Go out to Duncan and then swing back (24 miles)
Loop to Sadorus (alas, the Sadorus Pub is closed) - 32 miles. Those yellow roads tend to be smooth, fast... and happily not overly traveled by motorized vehicles. Memorize these routes for blissful rides!
More coming soon...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

GITAP THREE; kinships

One of the neat things about cycling with a big group is that there are going to be people who "Get" things - usually a shared joy, sometimes a shared frustration - that most people don't - and non-cyclists, hardly ever. Those moments of harmony are like a really good chord where every note is in tune, and they resonate throughout and dissipate inner toxins.
I think equally valuable is that acceptance - no, I don't exactly understand why you ride without a seat, but since it works for you, share the joy of being able to be strong and have fun. Behaviors like:
- running when I didn't ride... not because I was exercising discipline, just because it was what the ol' bod' wanted, which is a neat thing in itself.
- singing
- not having to conversationalize ... just riding...
- Velosophie - humanities meets cycling (Google it... there's even a photo gallery. I tend to be wearing rugby shirts :-))
- The whole Xtracycle thing - riding teh bike you want to ride, explaining (making testimonials, witnessing) why it's the right bike, not having to explain sometimes...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Grand Illinois Trails...

We spent most of the GITAP ride on roads, but some of it was on trails and bike paths. Just a statistical reality: the people who had accidents had them on the paths. There was a runner-rider collision when the rider called out "on your left" - and the runners went right and left, respectively. Crash. Injuries.
Another incident (pictures will follow) - the path was a sidewalk, with a crack down the middle, parallel to the pathway direction. There was a 3/4" difference in height from one panel to the other: enough to quickly and efficiently dump a bike wheel. The bike went ninety degrees and right into the nice little "Jersey wall" kind of thing, which was adorned with protruding metal oak leaves (to discourage skateboarders, I believe). A precise encounter with the protrusion and the wheel stopped the bike cold and propelled the rider and bike neatly over the wall into the grass. No injuries to rider (amazing... without the oak leaf probably a lot of wall-induced road rash) but the wheel was totalled.
There were a few other road rash issues - none as serious as these - which could have happened on road or path (getting bottle with right hand and braking hard with left, clipout issues...) but the two biggies were on the paths and wouldn't have happened on the road.
Gary Cziko's analogy of paths being rather like parking lots is a good one... more hazards, more conflicts, a necessary thing sometimes but to be avoided when there are better alternatives - and when they're being designed, it should be with the idea to make them as little like parking lots as possible.


Thursday GITAP was a "day off" - with the option for a 100 mile ride. I had done the rest stop the day before I was aching for real miles, and Gary (who I carpooled up with and was game to do it too, so off we went.
Just before I'd left for this trip, I'd gotten a copy of the spanking new Rockford, IL "bicycling map" and the back had lovely graphics explaining how and when to get out into the lane. I'd contemplated the wording - "Force the driver to use the left lane to pass you" or something like that, and wondering about rephrasing it a little less agressively for our map.
Coming back, it was early afternoon and we were on a two-lane road with fast traffic. It was when Gary put into words that drivers were being jerks and squeezing by us tightly at high speeds that I realized this was exactly what those words were talking about. I envisioned the road in thirds and moved my wheel out to the "1/3" line on the right.
I still kinda thought this would just mean they passed every bit as closely, just that same 3 feet further out that I'd moved. WRONG.
Instantly, drivers responded differently. They slowed down a goodly distance back and crossed that midline and went well into the left lane to pass, leaving us much more room. Basically, since there was obviously no way to fit all of us in the same lane, they stopped trying to act like two cars and a bike could fit comfortably, and waited for 2-vehicles-only situations. This included twice where the auto had to wait those eternal seconds because of too much approaching traffic. They did, without hostile behavior.
We paused at a store for Gatorade. Got back out on the road. I automatically went back to townie riding, on that right fringe... and suddenly the drivers were dangerous again. The instant I remembered to move back out, they gained competence.
Somehow, I don't think it was coincidence and that only the bad drivers went by when I was hugging the line.
It *is* counterintuitive. Yes, I would prefer to do it with some kind of tag on the bike that makes it look like I'm doing some kind of big time charity thing so that I'm "special." (Being on "Team Weird from Behind" means people tend to think I'm special anyway :-)) I suspect it also works about 10 times as well when there are two riders.
I still might change the wording. I dont' think we were "Forcing" anything; it was more of an automatic response... which is far better :-) I wish I had an emotion meter to see which made the drivers *feel* more inconvenienced, but the bottom line is that more often there was more room, and it didn't seem to incur road rage.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Commemorative pic of attempt at SERIOUS FACE after taking the wheel in after the hokeyspoke attacked my spoke and helmet accessory. More later.

This is the day the Transportation comments are due.

Note to self: Next year (I think they do this every year) put this up two weeks earlier.

Ours are at and there is a nice handful of us signing it. My karma must be in good standing because this came around on the guitar of life at a time when I actually had time to fiddle with it. (Metaphor mangling finished...)

Haven't seen DFX 645. Received the Rockford "Bicycling Map" in the mail yesterday. Spiffy!!! Glossy, informative, professional looking. I'm inspired. These Fridays off (starting next week when I get back from GITAP have an agenda, now. Have camera, will record. (Will also have to get up OILY m-th... ah, well!)

Today's agenda: find smoothie recipes for the bike blender for GITAP. Those last strawberry ones were a little tart - what you get if you don't have a recipe, I s'pose!

Found blog: Minus Car Project - and it's still going, even though it was a last summer thing! I"m telling you, there is something about these bicycle things that lead to persistence and a plethora of other elusive virtues.

For 2006: 2700 miles on the bikes, 1100 on the car - car mileage to increase in upcoming week (it's the refreshment vehicle). Obviously, blogging will be unlikely. We'll see! Will I regret taking Sir Xtra??

The SPoke Story (or, forgot to blog it!)

Last Thursday, rode home Via Bondville + 2 miles, which meant the rain caught me, which didn't matter 'cause it was really warm and I was already sweating. Had to relearn, however, the If It Is Making Noise, CHECK IT OUT lesson. Yea, the hokeyspoke was clicking a little off and on... I was having a good time trying to get home by 7, trying to keep most miles under 4 minutes (I will get the computer fixed, one of these days), but cruising speedily down the hill between Philo and Race on Curtis, CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! and the thing is loose and wild in my wheel, trying to take out every spoke, and I put on some heavy brakes and FISHTAIL, and (amazing!) recover (thank you Yoga Institute for my improved sense of balance!) ... stop and start walking the thing to that little safe gravel on the side, glancing back over the hill for cars, glancing back... here comes one...
"Would you like a ride?" It's an Urbana police officer in a pickup truck. Silly me, I maintain my fierce, wet, sloppy, gritty independence and say "I've only a mile to go and I just need to get this spoke out of the way." Shot down a chance to exemplify a "normal" [gainfully employed homeowner] person who happens to ride a bike. Will *try* not to let it happen again...
Trade wheels with Trekkie. Put spokeless wheel in back. Ride to Champaign Cycle Friday. Receive pigsnout and ears helmet decoration while spoke is being fixed. Feel loved :-) Life is good :-)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dear white sedan, DFX 645:
For I believe the second time, this morning you passed me on Green Street honking aggressively and pointing emphatically at the bike path to our right.
I understand that you would like me to be on that bikepath instead of on Green STreet, where you are forced to use the (clear) left lane to pass me. (Perhaps you would simply like me to cease to exist. Thankfully, others disagree.)
I also understand that some cyclists in our town ride recklessly, disregarding safe practices and laws. They upset (and frighten) those of us who strive to ride harmoniously with the rest of automotive and pedestrian (and other) traffic. However, I don't count myself among them and I'm hoping I can convince you that just because I am on the road does not mean I'm one of them.
Do you understand that I am proceeding further west, and that the path ends where you turn right on Wright Street?
If I were to use the bicycle path, I would be getting in a right-most lane... to the *right* of a right-turn-only lane... and then proceeding straight. Any guide towards road use directs drivers (and I am a driver of a vehicle, both legally and practically) not to do this, for what I hope are obvious reasons. (When I am turning right at that intersection, I often do use the bike path - though not when it is torn up by construction or has vehicles parked on it, as is often the case.)
Places where paths and roads meet are by far the most common accident sites between bicycles and cars. "I just didn't see you!" is the common - and usually accurate - plea as we are "appearing from nowhere" as you turn right, proceeding faster than pedestrians. The "right hook" where a car turning right strikes a vehicle going straight is the m ost common of these accidents.
Thank you for passing me with ample room. While I appreciate your right to express your opinion about my whereabouts, kindly consider that while you're honking and gesticulating, you might miss something else happening on the road.
Well-designed bicycle routes can be a benefit to everyone. Sadly, the paths in CHampaign do not fit this category.

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