Monday, September 8

A quiet weekend of small journeys

Rarely do I allow a weekend to pass without a day trip or an overnighter. This was a weekend for doing some of those "must-do" things that pile up when the call of the outdoors is defeating. We suffer here in most winters. So I respond eagerly to those calls! Thus, my avoidance has caught up with me. So rather than a long ride or a weekend getaway, I rode up north, along the lake shore and enjoyed the mid-seventies temps and the captivating scenes from the lake. There's been some road patching done on Lake Shore Drive but it's still an obstacle course in spots. I don't mind that too much because I know this road. I love living in a place where I know the nooks and crannies of the streets, intersections and neighborhood. I value the familiarity of being able to visualize what's around the bend before getting there. On Lake Shore Drive, I know which lane has a huge crater in the road, I know where the most popular exit ramp is and when to move to the best lane to avoid the inevitable backups there.

"How do you ride in downtown Chicago?" I've been hearing that a lot lately. "It's dangerous," people tell me. But Chicago is my backyard. If you're smart, you learn your environment. Survival depends on it! Knowing how to get through the often crazy streets is no different, to me, than knowing how to deal with any of the challenges that any environment throws at you. When I was in Vermont recently, I recall thinking how those early morning fogs would made me reconsider my preference for early morning starts and how streets not on the Chicago grid pattern would really force me to hone my map skills or render me totally dependent on the GPS. And, night riding, forget it. There is no blackness more absolute than those country back roads--and I do enjoy an occasional night ride. I suspect, however, I'd learn to adapt to my environment if I lived in Vermont; I'd learn that shedding the outsider's perspective and just getting out there and living like a native Vermonter would accelerate the adaptation process. It's all a matter of perspective. My house in the suburbs puts me within 10 minutes of country roads and when there, I feel the new sensory challenge that it demands and the excitement of not knowing what's around the corner fills me with wonder.This morning, I was out for a walk around 5:15am and the traffic on Lake Shore Drive already was brisk, ample and robust. The sky was dark and in the horizon I could see evidence of the sun preparing its glorious rise. I took my gym rope on the walk and a little camera too. I took the rope because I want to reconnect with jumping rope, something I used to be very good at, including hand crossing the rope, fancy foot work and double-jumps in one turn of the rope--those were the days. My supposed bone condition probably prohibits this shake up to my skeleton, but I wanted to feel a little flight--get my feet off the ground for a change. It went well but I tired long before I could do any damage, I'm sure. I took the camera because I always have one on me, just in case I want to capture a memory. The long walk did me well. Tomorrow, if my body must pay a price, I'll be ready.It's the beginning of a new week and my mind is already thinking of where I'll ride to the coming weekend. The days are getting shorter and the mornings are darker and cooler. Fall hovers. No doubt about it, every day brings me closer to the inevitable: winter storage. This year, I will ride as long as the ground is clear and i can bundle against the cold. I will ride without regard to a calendar date. With still-to-be-purchased winter gear, I don't plan to go to that inaccessible motorcycle winter camp quickly or quietly.

Hope your week changes you in some interesting way. Get your feet off the ground some, if you can.

Ride smart.


D. Brent Miller said...

Ride to Cincinnati. You have friends there and places to see. Join us for a spirited breakfast ride on Sunday morning!


Kano said...

Beautiful pictures! Yep, get in all the riding you can before winter sets-in. -I know what you mean by the comfort of familiarity when it comes to riding. I commute to work at night and there are 3 bone jarring potholes along my route that I skillfully miss now that I've hit them about a dozen times. I'm sure that other more unfamiliar riders get plenty of wake up calls!

Sojourner rides said...

Brent, You've encouraged me enough! Ready or not, I'm coming. I will PM you shortly! Thanks.

Sojourner rides said...

Thanks, Kano.

A night commute--that must yield an interesting perspective on riding. That old adage that "familiarity breeds contempt" doesn't work for two wheelers--that's for sure.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

I like the picture of the fog shrouding the rest area. When I was a kid, I used to love riding my Kawasaki in the fog. I had 21-year-old eyes then. I don't mind it during the daylight now, though it is not my favorite. I wouldn't attempt it at night.

I'm going to ride this weekend at some point. I felt pretty good today and I want t get the bike out. Maybe I'll find some company.

Your ride reports are always interesting and cerebral. I might try to write something serious soon.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Sojourner rides said...

Hey buddy Jack,

Good to hear that you'll be getting out this weekend! So you've been riding for a long, long time? Consistently? Or, have there been breaks in there?

I know what you mean about the eyes...mine seem to be changing and turning against me. Still, my night vision remains surprisingly strong--it's the bleary-eyed blindness I'm getting from staring at a computer screen all day that will be my ruin!

Looking forward to your ride report!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

Trying to be more like you today, I wrote a piece about a friend's ride. It can be very refreshing to put yourself in another rider's place from time to time.

This is the individual I mentioned to you before, my first friend in the Adirondacks. I tried to write a simple, straightforward story about a man and a motorcycle.

I don't know if I succeeded.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Earl Thomas said...

I never had the privelage of riding "in" Chicago only through as I rode from Washington State to New York. I remember having a blast though riding the toll roads, racing from toll booth to toll booth. I'm a little odd in that respect.

I don't put the bike away in the winter. Occasionally I'll steal away into the back roads on the occasional good day, just to satisfy my cravings. I've been caught in the snow on more than one occasion doing this though, like I said, I am a little odd.


Sojourner rides said...

Jack, as I told you privately--You succeeded! Big time!

Sojourner rides said...

Earl,you don't seem odd at all to me. You march to a different drum beat and there's nothing wrong with that. One day, you'll have to come to Chicago and ride, take LSD early in the morning (doesn't matter the direction) as the sun is rising...then stay for one of the tons of fun summer festivals.

I'm going to try to ride as long as I can be for the snow makes it dang near impossible.

LSD=Lake Shore Drive (not the drug, ha)

Giest said...

I'm with you 100%! I refuse to go quietly to that winter camp. I'll be dragged kicking and screaming the whole way.