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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chicago Critical Mass: August 2011

This is the second Critical Mass I have been to. I hopped on the train bound for Union station in the late afternoon right after work. It was interesting to see bikers getting on at many stops as we continued from station to station. At one point there were eight bikes lashed to the benches on my train car. When I got to Daley Plaza, the plaza was completely packed with people and bikes! The ride got started about 6:30 PM after a short tour around the block once.  This time I decided I would find one of those music bikes and follow the tunes for the whole ride. Having the tunes bike nearby made the ride even more fun than last time. As seems to be the case with every CCM, there were some interesting things that happened. After stopping to change the battery in my camera, I had fallen behind somewhat in the parade of bikes. As I and the throngs of bikes around me reached a large intersection, a lady could be seen running up and down the line of bikes with her arms open in a "stop the madness" fashion while yelling how she had been waiting for five light changes and it wasn't fair. At another point a female cyclist had stopped and was pole dancing on the median of the road. Later, I heard from some of the same cyclists that had been on the train TO Union and were now on the same train back home that there had been some person wearing only tights running around in the street cradling a large fish! Haha! As the light gave way to night, the air cooled a bit and the flashes of all the bike lights was interesting. The ride ended at Buckingham Fountain with all the cyclists making laps around the fountain. That was a great ending to a great CCM ride! I followed the recumbent bike with the disc jockey booth-trailer out of the park and headed for home soon thereafter.
     Today I saw the bike forums for the Chicago area busy with complaints about CCM and arguments about many things purportedly wrong with the ride and/or the riders. It's a shame we can't make the ride a bit more agreeable for the people waiting for us to pass.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Epic Fail biking weekend

Yesterday I woke up at 5:00 AM to get an early start on the ride to Navy Pier and back. I figured it would be around 102 to 104 miles round trip. It took me a bit to get everything together and get rolling. I left at 6:45 AM. I rode South on the FRT from Carpentersville and reached the split in the trail where the IPP diverts East and the FRT continues West in about 40 minutes. I took the IPP path East and settled in for a long ride to Maywood on the trail. I made it a whole five and a half miles before I had a blowout in the back tire. I fortunately was prepared with a patch kit(Scabs) and some tire tools. But I could not find my pump! I forgot it. Crap! Not to worry. I brought a CO2 cartridge for inflating a tire. Having never used one of these CO2 cartridges before, I simply assumed there was an abundance of air to go round. NOT. I used it to try and locate the leak in the tube and next thing you know I have no air left. Ok, so now I just pull the tube completely to inspect for the leak and find it. Yeay! I send a rider on who had volunteered the use of another CO2 tube. I wasnt about to make anyone wait for me while they were chomping at the bit to ride. I was confident someone else would come along that had a pump. So I got the tire patched and put back on the bike. And someone else stopped and let me use their pump. Very kewl. These pics aren't very clear because I accidentally had HDR turned on:

   I discussed my intended ride and we both agreed that at this point I should hobble home with this patched and partially inflated tire rather than push on. At this point I am about 15 miles from home.  I went as slow as necessary to miss the nasty stuff on the trail. I made it about 6 miles back before I was caught in a major deluge of rain. I decided to stop into the bike shop immediately upon getting home. They changed the inner tube and I bought an extra one for next time this happens. And that ended my day of riding in fail.
     Today I decided not to try the attempt at my first century ride again due to obligations coming up. So instead I went for a ride North on the FRT in an attempt to maybe get in 10-20 miles for the day. NOT. I made it a whopping half mile down the trail when I heard that now familiar sound of a tire, the SAME TIRE, losing all its composure. I walked the bike home and decided I will take it back to the bike shop again tomorrow. The weekend of epic fail riding is over. Dang!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bicycle Canoe Trailer

Sometime in the last month while cruising the FRT in the St.Charles area of the trail, I ran into this dude that was portaging his canoe from his home to the river by bike and trailer! Kewl idea! I made some really short videos of his contraption. Not sure why I made them so short other than maybe I had meant to take pictures instead of video. Here they are:

I regret that they are of such poor quality and content. As a result I did a search of the internet and found this interesting page!  Bicycle Canoe Trailer
I have a canoe in the back yard just beggin to hit the water! I will have to make one of these trailers!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Critical Mass: Chicago July 2011

I found that the more bike blog and bike websites I have been reading, the more I heard about an interesting subject called critical mass bike rides. I saw some videos like this and thisThis one also.  So I decided I would give it a try this July. All I have to do is go catch the Metra to Chicago right after work. The Chicago Critical Mass Ride gathers on the third Friday of every month at Daley Plaza at the intersection of Washington and Dearborn streets. It was lass than a mile ride to there from Union Station. I took a few videos while I was at Daley Plaza waiting for the ride to kick off.

The above video shows the plaza was fairly empty when I first arrived. The below video shows only a short time later.

Someone came around and was handing out the July copy of The Derailleur. Also someone was handing out some free reflectors with an LED in the center for increased visibility while on the ride. What an excellent idea! I first got the idea to do this ride in July when I was perusing the chainlink website after registering there. They had a link there to the homepage of the   Chicago Critical Mass.The CCM website has alot of info for newbies to get the feel of what they should as a new participant in the ride and what is expected of them. Great site.
    Here is a few still pictures I took while waiting on the ride to start:

The riders are leaving Daley Plaza

Here is a 15+ minute video of the beginning of the ride: