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Biking for a Full Season

Well, I've started biking seriously this season.  Think of this as a season wrap-up. I started commuting to work in April/May, and have been doing a variety of longer rides for fun and fitness.  Last year, I started thinking about biking, and maybe rode a hundred miles while getting used to the idea.
First, my five mile commute isn't that bad.  I have a company car I can use for the commute, but it makes sense for me to leave it there.  They don't call the town we live in "No Park" without a reason.  There have been maybe two times that I took the company car home for weather reasons.  There are a couple more times that I should have.  It takes an extra ten minutes each way to take the bike.
By now, it's not particularly tiring to do the ride, even in bad weather or a headwind.  Last year, I remember that a 15 mile ride wiped me out.  This year, I can do 50 miles, and still have energy left.  Before this year, I had no direct experience with the runner's endorphin high.  Now, I recognize that it is real, and am hooked on it myself.  I still don't consider myself to be a very fit guy, but this works for me.  I regularly see guys 15-25 years older than me, and obviously less "fit", that can
I'll freely admit, I've had one close call.  I had the folding mirror of an SUV clip my elbow while riding on Madison a few months back.  Nothing happened, I didn't get the plate, and they didn't react or stop.  But I try to avoid that particular section of Madison during afternoon rush these days.  Given that I generally bike with an ANSI reflective yellow vest, and I'm not a small guy, it's very hard for anyone to say that they don't see me.
Two thousand miles of biking is somewhere in the vicinity of 70,000 calories burned.  That's about 21 pounds of fat, or 350 pints of Smithwicks.  It also amounts to about 180 hours on the bike, of which a little less than half would have been spend commuting.  It's also a lovely way to spend a weekend morning.

Any questions?

Trending Car-Free...

As part of a continuing effort to make myself less dependent on cars, I've been commuting to work on my bicycle, running errands, and getting some exercise in.  Last weekend, I took it one step further...

My adventure started when my wife called me to let me know that a girl’s night was planned for our house on an upcoming Friday, and I needed to make myself scarce.  I knew exactly what I was going to do.  I was hooked by the cycling bug early this year, and had worked up to maximum rides of 40-45 miles, and had total mileage for the year of a little over a thousand miles.  I had decent camping gear of moderately compact size, and a decently maintained ’71 Schwinn Suburban.  I was going to take off work a couple hours early, and bicycle from Bellwood to Channahon State Park, returning the next morning to Oak Park.  Each leg would be about fifty miles, mostly on trails paralleling the old I & M canal, which first connected Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico.

For the most part, everything was smooth, even without all the optimal, preplanned setup.  I made the trip with a backpack containing my tent, a change of clothes, a few tools and sundries, and a box of granola bars.  My sleeping bag was wedged in my back basket.  I was familiar with the first half of the streets and trails I would be taking.  I’m not much for speed, so I thought four hours would be a best case scenario, five would be the likely one, and that would still leave me an hour of slack, and I had six hours till dusk.

I used every minute, losing the trail at 135th Street in Romeoville, and trying to find it for half an hour.  Then I almost got on Interstate 80 in Joliet, instead of the I & M trail (don’t ask—unless you want to hear a funny story).  I pulled into the park at 8:30, just at dusk, and was able to set up my tent.  I bicycled to the Casey’s convenience store, and procured myself a tasty dinner of potato chips and Gatorade.

Camping on my own, I woke up with the sun, and took a few pictures with the last of the charge on my cell phone.  Another trip to the convenience store, and a leisurely repacking of my gear had me back on the road at 8:30 a.m.  Midday saw me replacing my cable lock at the bike store in Willow Springs after it had bounced off my bike somewhere along the way, and a late lunch.

I made it back home at 3 p.m., right at 24 hours after I had left.  It was my first time riding 100 miles in a 24 hour period, and my first camping trip without a car.  A lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to doing it again this year.



I've always been a lacksadaisical exerciser, but  bicycling has it's hooks in me.  I've bicycled about 800 miles so far this year, and completed my biggest ride ever today-- about 46 miles-- on my trusty '71 Schwinn Suburban.

Putting Food By...

We had a lot of fun on Friday...

Both fuzzyscribble and I had taken Friday off-- we had been working too much lately, and had been tossing around the idea of going out to one of the U-pick farms about an hour outside of Chicago to spend a day in the sunshine, and pick up some produce to enjoy, and possibly can/experiment with.  She had looked through some stuff on the web, and picked one called Susie's Garden Patch, located between Marengo and Belvidere.

Friday came, and we got our usual slow start.  We left sometime around eleven, and had an uneventful drive.  Susie and her husband were pretty low key, chatting with some locals when we got there.  We asked what there was to pick, and were told basically pumpkins.  She said, "There are tomatoes and peppers as well, but that whole section is kind of a mess."  Well, about two hours later, we were ready to pull out with our haul.  We had twenty pounds of tomatoes (basically seconds), twenty five pounds of peppers (mostly hot), our pumpkins (of course), a half dozen winter squashes, and three eggplants.  Our total?  Forty dollars.

We wandered around town some more, picking up some canning supplies, and looking at this and that.  Picked up some roasts to cook for Fuzzy's mom and a couple of friends today.  Decided to leave town the long way and drive around some more.  We stopped at a vegetable stand and picked up some more random produce, and after we left the stand, saw a sign for an orchard close by.  There, we picked twenty pounds of  Johnagold apples, and bought a bushel of Honeycrisp seconds to make applesauce with.  We also bought two quarts of local honey.

Now, I realize that having a car made this possible, but that was over a hundred pounds of produce for right at a hundred bucks.  It's not necessarily more expensive to buy produce and feed yourself, you just need to work at it.  Luckily for me, this kind of work is fun.

So far this weekend, we've canned pickled hot pepper rings, made homemade barbeque sauce, made jalapeno jelly, and chili-tomato jam.  We still have to make a lot of applesauce, and Fuzzy has an apple chutney recipe that she wants to do.  I still have to get some sauerkraut pickling in my pots.  Time to get to work!


May. 21st, 2011

I've graduated from making sauerkraut, to fermenting my own garlic-dill pickles. And they are good.

Too Good to not Share

Once again, zoethe says what I'm thinking, much more eloquently than I can.

Apr. 24th, 2011

Looking forward to having a small party tomorrow, and potentially meeting a couple of new friends.

Henry Rollins

I'm off to see the inimitable Henry Rollins at a nice, small, three hundred seat theater.  That man is angry enough during normal times-- what will he be like in times like these?

Should be interesting...

The Finger is Not the Moon

 I was up at dog camp for the day with Rerun and E.  Before I came home, I went for a hike with Rerun on some of the trails across the back of the camp.  Nobody had been back on these trails since the last snow-- there were plenty of deer and coyote tracks, but no human boots.   

I like to hike at night.  It's hard to do in Chicagoland, as the parks close at dusk.  I used to do it some on my parents farm, but that was twenty-five years ago.  But what I had forgotten was how bright it actually is-- we had a 3/4 moon tonight, and on snow, that leaves plenty of shadow.

Brown trees in winter
Shadowed on translucent ground
Hiding in plain sight

My poetry sucks.  It's strange how such a commonplace thing as the play of shadow at night is nearly missing from our lives.


 E and I have found a quality meat market, with real butchers.  This could be dangerous-- in two trips we have probably spent $200 between us.  But handmade polish sausage goes very well with homemade sauerkraut.  And their braunschweiger-- well, it's just a full on sensory delight on the tongue.  It's a bit of a distance away, so it's not an everyday, or  even every week thing. But it's close enough to make a special trip to...


Sam Callahan

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October 2012


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