Sunday, October 1

Taking LSD, Sheridan Road and lessons on lost

Saturday, September 23, 2006:

(Well I'm baaack! It's me, Sojourner Rides. I delayed posting this account so that I could introduce Lucas and let him tell us about his trip plans. As we wait for Lucas to return home and hear more about his trip, here is one from me).

Rainy, cloudy and foggy. I blamed it for 83% of my funk. My riding days are numbered, I know, so I take predictions of bad weather personally. Sunday’s forecast promised brighter skies with no significant moisture. The morning, however, seemed to roll its eyes at the meteorologist’s prediction of clear skies and upper 60s. The weather looked downright rude! My early morning departure—sometime before 7:00 a.m.—looked ominous: dark, cold and yucky. Undeterred, I prepared to leave. Prior to taking off, I had one thing yet to accomplish:

The dang center stand, the bane of my life the past few months!

Good, kind, smart people have given me advice on how to get the bike on its stand. My mechanic, Steve, gave me a detailed lesson. The forum folks gave me more ideas than I could try in a month of Sundays! Still, no luck. It’s not that the bike is too heavy (weightlifting-yes!). It’s the lift and simultaneous up and pull back that seems to stump me. Before it reaches that point where it seemingly hops up, my arm would protest and I would need to stop before completing the process. My arm seemed awkwardly placed. I’d grab at the most logical spot, at the rear grab bar underneath the pillion seat. I’d make certain the front wheel was straight, the bike, in neutral. Except for an irritating strain on my formerly shattered wrist and arm, no “hops up” on the center stand!

But Sunday was going to different. The bike was going up! After three or four tries, however, I began to doubt myself, thinking that I had wasted my money listening to others sing and dance the center stand jig. So, after I stood there feeling madder than a scared puffer fish, I decided to break it down. That’s when I realized the weight of the bike wasn’t the issue. It was my hand position. Where I grabbed was awkward. Why? I couldn’t get enough leverage. The grab bar felt too far away. I decided to try holding onto the bracket that anchors the passenger foot peg. The leverage there felt solid and mighty. After three attempts, however, my hand was getting abused from the bracket’s rather scratchy edges. I decided to use my riding glove—duh? The lift was easy; the bike snapped into place almost effortlessly! Fluke? I tried it again and CA-LUNK! It popped up as if to say, “that’s all you had to do in the first place...was wear your riding glove!” I’m telling you, I mounted the bike and rode with a renewed confidence. To finally accomplish something you’ve tried hard to do over the last few months is HUGE in my book.

Given my center stand accomplishment, I refusd to grumble about the overcast sky, the mist, and the cold. Well...for the most part. Within 30 minutes, it sprinkled for about 5 minutes. The ride north along Sheridan Road was uneventful, just the way I like it. I could relax and enjoy the curvy roads and the few tight twisties that exist. I wore a turtle neck underneath my Firstgear and for the first time since I returned from my long trip, I wore my much-needed fleece lining. I’m still getting acclimated to how cold it feels when moving at 55 mph at 51 degrees. It feels dang near Artic! Saw lots of bicyclists out, all donning their mandatory black spandex thigh length biking shorts and colorful shirts and aerodynamically-styled helmets (I rarely see—no, never see—a serious bicyclist riding helmetless). Those little skinny legs pump all the heat bicyclists need to stay warm.

By the time I reached Lake Bluff, some thirty-plus miles away, the sky had cleared considerably. The air was warmer against my face every time I stopped and flipped my helmet lid to take pictures. Eventually, I retracted the mean things I said about whomever is responsible for weather. I stopped for a light lunch in Waukegan and took my riding pulse on whether I wanted to continue north or turn south back home. Decided to tour Waukegan and return home when done.

This uneventful trip doesn’t begin to capture the beauty of Sheridan Road. At times, one rides parallel to wide tree-lined streets, old train depots, and rail road tracks near Waukegan, or villages like Highland Park or Highwood with their trendy downtowns and quaint gathering spots. Glencoe with its old, well-kept, stately mansions is a reminder that I live in a very different world. But most of us do by, for example, Kenilworth’s standards.

Chew on this: Illinois has the distinction of having both the nation’s richest suburb, Kenilworth, which is situated along Sheridan Road and the poorest suburb, Ford Heights, a southeast suburb. Median income for a household in Kenilworth is $297, 585—that is not a typo. The median income for a household in Ford Height is $17, 500—that is truly not a typo! Can you even comprehend what the differences in those figures mean!

As I had wound my way through Evanston and round Northwestern University, it dawned on me just how good it felt to be out and about. The lake was kicking up a fuss but that did not spoil its majesty. With its strategically placed picture-ready cloud puffs, the sky looked almost fake. I don’t care what anyone says. Chicago’s skyline is unparalleled—and always has been. ‘Nuf said!

What shall make this LSD/Sheridan Road ride memorable is that I lost some valuables! Tucked safely—I thought—in the rear seat (car trunk-equivalent) of my bike were my Suzuki SV 650 owner’s manual, Cruz Tools kit, and a tire plugger repair kit w/CO inflation--no less! Somehow, the bottom fell out. Somewhere along my ride, a screw came loose and my hard-earned stuff were ejected. Never felt or heard a thing. Brand new tools and plugger kit, finger-snap gone! I have an extra owner’s manual. But losing those other items…that hurts. My discovery was only a few blocks from home base. Perhaps it’s best that I learned this late in the ride because the knowledge of my lost made those few blocks home distracting, trying to figure out how and when that bottom opened and where is my stuff now. My luck, I probably lost them in a place like Kenilworth, rather than in some working class neighborhood where my lost is someone’s gain. In the end, it’s all perspective. Somewhere that day a motorcyclist lost his/her life. Me? Thankfully, I lost only some replaceable, material things. Thus, "all's well that ends well."

Sheridan Road pics

Godspeed to Lucas!

Lucas should be making his way home from Tobermory. He will report on his trip--with pictures--upon his return. Sending him "good vibrations" for a safe journey.