Cold-Weather Cycling Has Its Moments

Our friend Larry does a Thanksgiving Day ride every year from Harms Woods to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Lunch was soup and a 7-layer bar. It’s chilly, but dry and mostly not windy. Not much traffic on the (paved) trail or road crossings.

Source: Larry’s Gobble Gobble Ride | Ride | Strava

The Midwest, the joke goes, has 2 seasons: winter, and construction. For Midwest cyclists, there are 2 seasons: winter, and cycling around construction. Some do extend their seasons into late fall and even into the bitter winter by investing in cold-weather gear, lights, beefy gloves, and even “bar mitts” that fit over their handlebars to keep their hands warm.

We belong to a loose association of cyclists that get together using the MEETUP app or by posting notices in local Facebook groups about rides. Sometimes we meet other cyclists at rides hosted by bike shops, sometimes we sign up for an “invitational” ride out in the hinterlands or on quiet local roads and trails. My husband David is a much more avid cyclist – he’s an intermediate to advanced road cyclist, I’m a recreational-speed “casual” that prefers paved paths, quiet country roads, or neighborhood streets. Occasionally, I manage to go for a longer distance, but that’s mostly during the summer.

After we returned from our Hawaii vacation, it was like going from summer to late fall/early winter. I haven’t been riding much anyway, and I didn’t ride as much as I’d have liked in Hawaii, but at least it was decent weather and I did get out there and to some extent, was forced to be a road rider on the recent charity ride. I didn’t go as far as I’d committed, but 38 miles is a decent day’s effort. And I am pleased that I was able to get over a lot of my on-road fears, especially at crossings – though I wasn’t able to get over the steepest hills well at all. That’s for next season.

Since our return, David was talking about the next ride opportunity; Larry Gross’ annual Thanksgiving Day ride. He’s been on this ride before, sometimes when it’s REALLY cold. Somewhat unenthusiastically, I decided to go, too. I wanted to see Larry, and was familiar with the trail we’d be riding.

We didn’t leave the house until almost 1015am, after a leisurely morning drinking coffee, eating cereal, reading the Internets, and searching for all my cold-weather gear. The report was that although it was only about 42 degrees, it would remain dry and relatively windless.

My lack of enthusiasm was greatest in the last 20 minutes or so of warm, sleepy almost-snoozing, but then I slowly started finding bits and pieces of my anti-freeze riding stuff until I had assembled everything. Tights, bike shorts, under layer, over layer, jacket, long-fingered gloves, and a fleece headband to cover my ears; this outfit could almost double as cross-country skiing attire with the exception of the padded shorts.

We drove out to Harms Woods, and found the parking lot where Larry and a few other people waited for us. We compared bikes, chatted, and set off. There was one other woman, a younger one named Chris on an older ladies’ Schwinn that she said was the best kind of bike; “free to me.”

Never judge a rider by her bike, she could definitely keep up and was quick off the mark. I stayed with Larry, who was fighting a head cold and is not a speedy guy at the best of times. David, of course, was farther ahead, and the others were quite fast indeed and decided to go on and skip lunch at the halfway point, the Chicago Botanic Garden. At lunch, another cyclist joined us for the company, remarking that he wasn’t the only lonely rider out there. Actually, there were lots of other cyclists out, and at one road crossing, we were greeted by a southbound group with a friendly “gobble gobble!”

Let’s face it, I’m 59 years old and not likely to get much faster, but also in the cold air, I wasn’t really trying to make PRs in my Strava log for the ride. It was just a grey, chilly day that was good for getting outside, breathing, and listing to one’s body. I wasn’t trying for a PR, but was pleasantly surprised to get one, along with a lot of other 2nd place “bling” logged by Strava,

It’s quite a meditative state, cycling; I watch for cars at crossing and I’m alert for obstacles and hazards on the trail, but my mind goes into a pleasant state where I think about things while simultaneously operating the bike, shifting, pedaling, and avoiding pedestrians.

For more than a year, I’ve been trying to become a better cyclist, but struggling with my own fears and trepidations. My progress has been ridiculously slow. I still get anxious, but am better about just getting a move on rather than whinge. One of the hurdles was crossing busy streets; the recent ride in Honolulu forced me to just get on with it and not hang back waiting to start. I’m hesitating less, thank God; once I get going I tend to remain in motion, but once stopped, I do tend to want to remain at rest too long.

Damn entropy.

One mental habit I need to drop is overthinking how far I’ve gone, how far yet to go. Meanwhile, the cold woods on either side of the trail keep their secrets; who cares how far before lunch, we’re out here in the woods! Watch for coyotes and listen for squirrels! Crunch the brown leaves under the wheels and play a game of “goose poop obstacle course!”

It was a good ride, for all the chilliness in the air. We made good time on the way back, said farewell to Larry and Chris in the parking lot (we’d lost another rider during lunch, who couldn’t stay). On the way home, I enjoyed the pleasant feeling of relaxed fatigue that seems to spread through my muscles; it’s that feeling that you’ve worked hard and earned the rest.

With extended family that night for Thanksgiving dinner, I was teased by a cousin. “You ride right by our house all the time, and never stop by!” They live near the Botanical Garden, and we turn around there on trail rides. Another cousin asked how far we rode. “Only 17 miles.”

From her reaction, you would have thought it was a cross-country tour.

Anyway, sometimes riding in the cold isn’t all that. Yesterday, David and I got all suited up to go out and ride again, as the temperature was to to be about the same. We were to start from East Dundee and ride up the Fox River Trail as far north as we wanted. After noodling around, we got to the start point, stepped out of the car, and immediately thought better of it. The wind was sharper, it was slightly colder, and it was damp. There had been sprinkles of rain on the way over, and it felt like more was on the way.

Suddenly, lunch seemed like the best decision, and we ended up at a place called Pita Pita for some delicious Mediterranean food. No bike ride that day. That was a moment when we looked the wind and the weather in the eye, and blinked.

Today, David took off at about 9am to meet up with the regular Saturday Fox River ride. They ride south to Aurora for lunch at Two Brothers’ Brewery. I opted to stay in bed and drink coffee, but as it’s supposed to be warmer, may go for a ride around here. I do have a yearly goal to meet and I’m just a few miles short of it; I;m just not that crazy. Also, I’d be on my slower upright bike “Geoffrey,” as my flat-bar hybrid “Veda” is now installed on the indoor trainer. Sure, I may ride a bit later when the temp gets up a bit.

And tomorrow, it’s supposed to be almost 50 degrees…

Trying To Order Reelight

Well, this is frustrating – I cannot seem to order these bike lights, no matter what browser or credit card I use.

I’ve been in contact with them and they see my attempts on their logs, but I can’t seem to get it to work on their site no matter how carefully I check the information.

Reelight Bike Lights

One of the latest and most innovative safety equipment for cyclists if the patented battery-free bike lights from Reelight. With Reelight cyclist always have light on their bicycles – day and night. The light is based on the electrodynamic induction principle and generates its own energy via two magnets mounted on the spokes with the light itself on the wheel hub. Power is induced when the magnets pass the light.The new magnet lights give safety and freedom to cyclists. Safety, because the lights are fi

Source: Archive – Reelight

9 Things Cyclists Wish Anti-Bicycle Politicians Understood

This article on The Chainlink hits all the points. THIS is what anti-bike civic planners need to read.

Most of All, Cyclists Want a Safe Place to Ride
Rest assured we don’t like cars barreling down on us any more than drivers want cyclists slowing them down. All we ask for is a situation where motorists and cyclists can peacefully coexist, and arrive at our respective destinations without getting in each other’s way.

Bike Paths Don’t Cut It for Practical Transportation
Imagine if your roads went like two miles and then just abruptly ended at some random grassy field. It would be hard to get to where you’re going, right? The problem with most bike paths is that they were designed for recreation and don’t generally connect to anything. I’m guessing they stop at wherever the budget or grant money happened to run out. So if you want us to stay off the roads and stick to the bike paths, give us bike paths that actually get us to places.

Cyclists Don’t Want to Be Subject to Laws Written by People with No Experience, Knowledge or Understanding of Bikes
If it seems like cyclists are resistant to some laws and some forms of bike infrastructure, it’s usually because they don’t actually make sense for cyclists. And you wouldn’t understand why if you don’t ride a bike. It’d be like me getting elected to office and proposing a bunch of…I don’t know…hunting and fishing laws when I’ve never hunted and I’ve fished like maybe twice. So please, do us all a favor and before you start dreaming up a bunch of laws, or cracking down on old, out-of-date laws, get on a damn bike and ride around a little bit. This video is a great example of how powerful it can be to experience what it’s actually like to ride a bicycle in traffic. If you’re not willing to do that, at the very least consult some avid cyclists before you start spewing out misguided legislation.

Source: 9 Things Cyclists Wish Anti-Bicycle Politicians Understood

Donald Drumpf Throws Tantrum, Film At Eleven

First of all, just because of the best damn Chrome extension since ever, I’m using Chrome.

Second of all, Drumpf threw another tantrum. Again?

Donald Drumpf

But because of that extension, I am pleased to quote:

Donald Drumpf is throwing a tantrum and threatening to run as a third-party candidate for president because the Republican Party and Marco Rubio are being mean to him.

I’m more and more convinced that he’s tapped Christie as his most likely VP choice and exit strategy. He shakes things up, gets bored or mad, and quits after being nominated (or God help us, elected) and Christie is in the White House while the GOP heaves a yuuuuge sigh of relief.

I had a lot of fun (too much fun, really) yesterday playing on Twitter with #DefineDrumpf and #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain. You’ll see a big tweet post later in the week with it all.

If You’re Young, Here’s Why Old Bernie Sanders Looks Good

Young voters, please read this article in @HuffingtonPost: you won’t remember the shit that went down in the 90’s, but Bernie Sanders is free of all that baggage.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/bernie-sanders-will-be-sworn-in-as-americas-45th-president_b_8909356.html

President Sanders? President Bernie? It seems unlikely, but is it really? The Goodman article makes the case that Bernie Sanders’ support is broad and far-reaching, his fundraising is good, and he’s gotten a lot more individual donors than even Obama’s record-breaking totals. That means that Bernie’s appeal is unexpectedly big, and the political media don’t cover the unexpected very well. So if he does well in his first 2 or 3 primaries, Hilary Clinton is not the inevitabilty of 2016, but more like the Inevitability of 2008. Which is kind of a sad thing because I think she would be a good leader, but her political baggage is always going to be there, standing at her elbow. Bill Clinton’s presence both helps and hinders her, and as much as I liked him and prospered during his presidency, I really don’t want a repeat of those 8 years of bullshit, craptastic “investigations” from the Right. I just want the country to get on with pressing matters, like global warming, repairing our crumbling infrastructure, and making our technology and manufacturing the best in the world again, instead of a hollow lie built by Chinese slave labor.

The Hufffpost piece by H.A. Goodman covers a lot of the essential background on the current crop of Presidential candidates and serves as a good primer for those of us whose memories of recent events aren’t as clear as they should be. It’s also worth printing out to give those of our acquaintance who just plain can’t be bothered to pay attention to politics until there’s a rah-rah-sis-boom-bahfest to get them out to vote for their team’s tribal totem-bearer. For those deliberately uninformed types, I suggest you roll up your printout and whack them gently about the noggin and suggest that they need to smarten up and vote right.

Or left, as the case may be.

Gore’s loss in 2000 is also correlated directly to America’s fatigue with the Lewinsky scandal, even though Starr’s investigation was politically motivated and Gingrich also had an extramarital affair during the investigation. For Democrats, a Hillary Clinton presidency filled with future scandal could easily lead to a Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio ticket in 2020.

Source: On January 20, 2017 Bernie Sanders Will Be Sworn In as America’s 45th President | H. A. Goodman

FATIGUE with the LEWINSKY SCANDAL. If you’re younger than about 25 years old, but will be old enough to vote in November 2016, you probably won’t remember HOW EXHAUSTING the political witchhunts were. And the Lewinsky scandal was just one little part of it, but the investigation, impeachment hearings, and breathlessly reported developments were never-ending.

I’d just like to unpack this one paragraph from the article, because it reminded me of what it was like to live through the 90’s, when President (William) Clinton was in office and the GOP Right Wing were constantly investigating every little conspiracy theory they could dig up out of the muck on Clinton. They hated him, and no rumor was too unsubstantiated for them to follow to ridiculous lengths in their desire to find something, anything, on Clinton that they could use to bring him down.

The 90’s were good to me personally, in the main; in the middle of the decade I finally met the love of my life, and moved to the Chicago suburbs to get married and get on with my suburban life. Some of my favorite television shows and movies (the ones that are part of my inner life, that I always return to for context and emotional reference) were on the air in the 90’s, and one of them led directly to my meeting my husband David.

And yes, the Clinton scandal-hunters even touched that show, and one of its spinoffs. One of the recurring stars of “Highlander: The Series,” Elizabeth Gracen, who later went on to be the star of her own (brief) spinoff had to be careful about appearing at fan conventions in the US because she was under subpoena by Kenneth Starr, who was leading the investigations of Clinton. Gracen denied it at first, but she had an affair with Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas back in the early 80’s. That was potientially a bombshell, but it it was a minor blip on the “Investigate and Impeach Bill Clinton For Something, Anything” narrative that the GOP Congress pushed at the time.

Gracen actually had to pass on appearing in person at the last big HL convention I attended, which was “Celebration” in April 1998 in Anaheim (which was a shame, because she deserved one last hurrah with people who enjoyed her character). She settled for appearing via satellite link as she was filming her show in Europe (which was a great way to avoid the investigation). An old post at alt.tv.highlander gives a good impression of what great fun that was, and how friends from all over the WORLD met each other (sometimes for the first time, sometimes as a reunion) to bond over a (stupid) television show. I was sorry and angry that she had to miss it.

Anyway, Elizabeth Gracen had to miss out on all of that; in fact, not long after her spinoff show was cancelled, she ended up declaring bankruptcy, which was probably related to her former association with Bill Clinton, and the anti-Clinton backlash that still festered in the US as the Bush administration began. You have no idea how tiresome and boring it all was, and maybe that’s the point: make politics so boring that people no longer pay attention to it. Until their votes are needed to elect assclowns, that is. Just add water, stir and shake well, and you have Instant Angry Pitchforks!

If Hilary Clinton is the nominee, she will probably be elected with a hard-right GOP Congress mostly in place (given the political realities of demographics, gerrymandering, and turnout), which means that we will all get to enjoy ALL THAT NONSENSE again. And you will get to experience it as an adult for the first time, but for me it will be like that long-awaited sequel of a beloved movie that turns out to kind of suck.

At least, if Hilary Clinton becomes President Hilary Clinton, Peter Segal will be able to reuse a throwaway joke from one of the earliest episodes of WBEZ’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” radio quiz show. I’ve never forgotten that joke, because it was both funny and true. It may have been on an episode from November 1998 that featured the impeachment proceedings as part of the “Not My Job” segment, and I wish I could have found a clip but maybe someday… the gist of it was as one of the end-of-show “player predictions” for the next week’s news; either Peter Segal or Adam Felber quipped “And next week, Kenneth Starr will investigate ME for making THIS JOKE.”

Why do I remember a joke that is nearly 20 years old? Because it was funny, and it was true; we can all expect incessant Congressional hearings, investigations, RWNJ rumors, and endless roiling of HRC’s handling of Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. And many, many people will find themselves under subpeona who might shed “light” on her email server scandal, the suspiciously masculine cut of her pantsuits, and her subversively anti-family cookie recipes if necessary.

Out of self defense, we will have to laugh. Thank God John Oliver will be there for us, along with the WW!DTM! panelists. I only wish Jon Stewart will issue occasional biting commentary from his farm/animal refuge.

For what it’s worth, I really do not give a damn that Clinton (Bill) messed around on Clinton (Hillary). It’s none of my business as long as it didn’t prevent him from doing his job or open him up to blackmail by a foreign power. The Right’s obsession with morality, when they themselves have always been the least moral people in government, is one of their (many) failings. I don’t understand why people forget this, as it keeps happening and will go on happening as long as people are silly enough to vote these clowns into office.

Please, potential voters younger than me, you will need to know (since you probably don’t remember) that George W. Bush was more or less appointed by the Supreme Court in 2000, as the election in Florida was so messed up that the recounts had to be set aside by their fiat. Along with the infamous “chads” on their poorly designed ballots, Florida had screwed up on purging (mostly Democratic-leaning brown and black) voters, which a certain GOP governor didn’t start but certainly finished, and they also messed with polling times and places that affected black churchgoers the most. Ultimately, that meant that Al Gore was probably our elected President, but the election was ruined by Florida’s electoral incompetence, and who was governor of Florida then? No one other than Brother Jeb! who was aided and abetted by Katherine Harris, who was discarded after she was no longer hot, useful, and marketable.

President Obama has been something of a disappointment to me personally – I had great hope for him but his Hawaiian-style compulsion to seek “kokua,” or cooperation on matters of mutual interest meant that the GOP opposition could stop everything he wanted to get done except for the ACA in his first 2 years. I thought that a community organizer would, you know, encourage people to ORGANIZE to better themselves and their communities and Lord knows, he’s tried. Unfortunately, the Tea Party’s stranglehold on the alleged hearts and minds of a small but passionate subset of Cryptofascist-Americans means that the GOP is being led around by the trunk (or some fleshly appendage located farther South on the Republican Elephant in the room). Unless and until “low-information” voters get whacked with the facts by concerned friends and relatives, the Tea Party will continue to embarrass the nation in the eyes of the world (not that they care about the opinions of people who are NOT Cryptofascist-Americans).

So: Bernie Sanders. He has no Clinton I-era baggage, he won’t have any Clinton-II era baggage. He will Get Things Done, or Shake Things Up when he’s inevitably blocked by what I expect will be a GOP Congress full of foam-at-the-mouth religious nutjobs, thanks again to the stupid gerrymandering of Congressional districts. Please try to remember also to organize, organize, organize at the local level to get those state legislature ninnyhammers out of office. I know it’s not sexy or hip (currently) but please try to make it so.

Politically, he’s to the left of just about everybody in the Senate, and is rated about the middle of the pack in terms of “leadership” by GovTrack, meaning he’s co-sponsored a middling number of bills. Note that he bills he chooses to sponsor and the committee memberships he holds means that he’s doing a lot of thinking about issues that affect a lot of us “ordinary Americans.”

Committee Membership

Bernard “Bernie” Sanders sits on the following committees:

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Budget
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Member, Subcommittee on Energy
Member, Subcommittee on National Parks
Member, Subcommittee on Water and Power
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Member, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
Member, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife
Member, Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security
Member, Subcommittee on Children and Families
Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Bills Sponsored
Issue Areas

Sanders sponsors bills primarily in these issue areas:

Armed Forces and National Security (27%) Health (18%) Labor and Employment (11%) Energy (10%) Education (9%) Government Operations and Politics (9%) Taxation (8%) Finance and Financial Sector (7%)
Recent Bills

Some of Sanders’s most recently sponsored bills include…

S. 2399: Climate Protection and Justice Act of 2015
S. 2391: American Clean Energy Investment Act of 2015
S. 2398: Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act
S. 2242: Save Oak Flat Act
S. 2237: Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015
S. 2142: Workplace Democracy Act
S. 2054: Justice is Not For Sale Act of 2015

That’s like a progressives’ wish list, right there. I wish all of those bills would get enacted but it’s doubtful that they will. Thanks, GOP. About 97% of his contributions in this cycle come from individual donors, which speaks to his appeal to ordinary people, and not corporate interests that want to buy the election while evading taxes by offshoring themselves.

Sanders expresses himself clearly on the issues, and is refreshingly free of the political doublespeak that turns so many of us off:

So young people, take a good look at the old guy. He’s probably your best bet for the future, he’s someone we could trust to work for the common good, and he’s free of political and corporate baggage.

Although, if he’s elected, you can probably count on his being impeached for being a democratic (small-d) socialist (small-s), but that’s just Bernie being Bernie. The GOP would make complete fools of themselves denouncing him, and then how will they look if his policies benefit the country and the world? Pretty stupid, actually, and that’s something I’d love to see.

If It Isn’t On Strava, It Didn’t Happen

I messed up getting one of my 2 rides Saturday into Strava, it was only partial because I forgot to turn my Garmin computer-tracking thingy on. Then this ride doesn’t show up in the widget on the right column, because later that day I decided to jump on my fitness bike that’s now up on the trainer, and apparently it doesn’t get captured or something to WordPress.

It’s on Strava, it did happen. I rode for an entire hour, pretty hard. It went quickly because I had music going and ended up snagging some songs for iTunes to go in a “cycling” playlist. Thank God for KUNC’s all-music stream. Feel free to donate to them, too.

specialized hybrid bicycle on training stand

Our Constitution Is Our Shield…

Our Constitution is our shield against bible based discrimination toward our gay friends & neighbors

Never thought I’d pull a quote from a Libertarian site, but this is, after all, reasonable:

The biggest sign in support of gay marriage—around five feet tall—was held by Lorence Wenke, a former Republican Michigan state representative. Wenke’s sign, shaped like a giant shield, read, “Our Constitution is our shield against Bible based discrimination toward our gay friends & neighbors.”

Source: Impromptu Celebration Outside SCOTUS After Gay-Marriage Ruling

Good news on Illiana, but more work to be done | Active Transportation Alliance

Finally, some good news coming from our state capital for people who bike, walk and ride transit.On Tuesday Gov. Rauner announced the Illiana Tollway will not move forward and removed the project from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) current multi-year plan. The state determined “project costs exceed currently available resources.”The proposed highway would have linked Interstate 55 with I-57 and I-65 in Will County, serving only 8,000 vehicles per day at a cost of over $1 billion.

Source: Good news on Illiana, but more work to be done | Active Transportation Alliance