Wednesday, March 14
Now that my gal-pal is home—and the weather has warmed, riding occupies my thoughts. The hard-shell luggage, an excellent investment, doesn’t add any noticeable drag on the bike. The most striking new thing is the new windscreen! My old windscreen did a decent job with wind but I was sailing along at 60 mph (riding high on LSD, where the posted speed limit is far less but no one can do that safely) without a worry. LSD, by the way, is Lake Shore Drive. I barely noticed the head wind as the little screen cut through amazingly well.
Early Sunday morning was cold, high 30s but the day kept its promise and warmed to 59F, enough for me to gear up and take to the road. I had no destination in mind. I just wanted to ride but I was also reminded of Saturday, just one day prior, I felt like I needed to re-acquaint myself with my bike. That Saturday ride home from the dealer felt forced. The shifting seemed stiff, or perhaps I was just tentative and overly conscious of my every move. That old familiar, automatic feeling on the bike seemed to be in hibernation still. I thought it best not to venture too far but I ached to test my skills. And LSD was calling out to me.
I decided to visit my Alma Mater—University of Chicago—in Hyde Park. Since I matriculated, the campus has added new buildings. I see it whenever I drive through the area but I wanted to see the place from the seat of my motorcycle. The university campus is old, with gargoyles hanging off buildings, lush ivy snaking its way up and around gray stone walls and framing heavy dark wooden doors that boost your IQ just by walking through them. The buildings, based on the English Gothic style of Oxford University, form seven quadrangles. Amidst the old, like Harper College, is the new, like the Graduate School of Business, the new athletic building and the new University of Chicago Press,
a modern, architecturally sophisticated structure that sits off to itself on 60th street.
I arrive and immediately notice that the campus is quiet. Most are undoubtedly in Regenstein Library—the center of campus life.
A few people are sitting on the grass, noses in books, some are walking—while reading (a requirement at the university) and a few are plugged into iPods walking slightly stooped by overstuffed book bags. I passed by the Laboratory Schools, which are really three schools (elementary, middle, and high school) on 59th Street, one of the main campus drags. The Lab schools are where so much of modern education theories and experiments originated, such as movable desks—that’s right, that idea began at the University of Chicago and the rest they say, “Is history.”
My next stop: Rockefeller Chapel built in 1928 in the American gothic style. It’s a magnificent monument and the place from which everyone who manages to finish school will graduate. According to mythology, when the Rockefeller family donated money for the founding of the university, the chapel was to hold all convocations. True or not, all graduations are held in Rockefeller Chapel even on blazing hot days when the cooler, beautiful Midway Plaisance goes unused. Thus, Chapel convocations mean limited graduation tickets, cramped quarters, lack of air conditioning and four to six separate commencement exercises in June to accommodate the many graduates and their families.
There’s the Robie House, completed in 1910 by architectural savant, Frank Lloyd Wright. The Robie House, which I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy a few receptions in, shows Wright’s signature Prairie style of sensuous fine and simple lines, low ceilings, wood beams, wood floors and modern touches—a man as much a genius as Picasso.
I took LSD, aka Rt. 41, northbound and enjoyed occasional glances of Lake Michigan on my right. The traffic sailed by and I was forced (happily) to ride faster than the posted 45 mph speed limit. The gears started feeling more familiar and I eased the bike through its six gears, relaxed, focused and unfettered. Possessing wings would not have made me feel freer. I was flying high on LSD.
Only one photo taken from another source: (Library photo source: http://maps.uchicago.edu/north/rlibrary_pic.html)
More pics here