In the Dark

Between extremely cold temps and an actual cold that I’ve managed to acquire, I’m not sure I’ll have more new commutes to share this week (though I’ve got my fingers crossed for Thursday and Friday).

But! I do have some photos from my rides home last week, and I thought I’d use those to share some thoughts on cycling at night.

Hillsboro/Acklen at night.

Hillsboro/Acklen at night.

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Amtrak and More Snow

Amtrak

Amtrak

Yesterday I had to go to Milwaukee for work, so I took the Amtrak train.  These trains are pretty fast and comfortable.  I usually listen to my iPod and stare out the window, although I could use this time more productively to work or read a book.  Compared to driving the highway, with the accompanying awful traffic, construction, and hazardous weather, the train is infinitely superior. 

The weather is still extreme here in Chicago.  There was a blizzard advisory last night and now a winter weather warning, or something. 

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Chicago Bike Police

Chicago Bike Police

Chicago Bike Police

I took this picture of Chicago Bike Police pulling over a car last weekend. This happened downtown on the busiest part of Michigan Avenue. Interesting how they did it, placing one bike directly in front of the car to prevent it from driving off and placing two bikes behind the car. The driver of the BMW was not pleased to see me taking his picture, which of course made me happy. Take him down a few notches, Chicago Bike Police!!

The bike police seem to have an office at the oddly name (money talks) McDonald’s Cycling Center downtown, where I park my bike during the work week. The officers have always been very polite – one night during a thunderstorm they asked if I was going to ride home in it and, after I said yes, wished me a safe ride and reminded me to be extra careful.

Despite their status as cyclists most likely to ride the wrong way on a one-way street or on the sidewalk, I’m a fan! In a city where both direct contact with citizens and maneuverability are important for the police, the bike cops seem a better investment than the mayor’s recent contract to replace almost the entire fleet of squad cars with Chevy Tahoes by 2011 – that’s 2,000 SUVs and a lot of gas!

Biking to Brunch

Today I had plans to meet a friend for brunch at 10. If it’s anywhere near 40, I said to myself, it’s the bike. The verdict from trusty iGoogle:

Today's weather

Hmm. I had my built-in excuse handy — no need to bike three miles in below-freezing temperatures. Instead, despite being late, I somehow found myself doing this:

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Almost Famous (but not really)

Here’s a short article from Crain’s Chicago Business magazine, “Fair-weather bikers gone, but stalwarts plod on.”

Yours truly is quoted. Does this mean I’m a stalwart? Who plods on? Cool! If you commute by bicycle, you too could be a plodding stalwart.

The article also quotes the founder of The Chainlink, a fabulous website for Chicago cyclists. Anyone who rides a bike or is thinking of riding a bike in Chicago should check it out.

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One Foot of Snow!

Neither snow, nor sleet...

Neither snow, nor sleet…

Since yesterday, it has snowed 12 inches in north Chicago and it’s still snowing. What’s a cyclist to do? Well, first, be grateful that’s it’s a Saturday and the commute to work is not an issue. Second, have fun with it! This morning I had to babysit my nephew and if I was late, my sister would have been late to work, so I caved and took the el. Later that afternoon, my husband stopped by – on his bike – after a trip to Sears to buy new boots, which were strapped to his rear rack. He then cycled the 2.5 miles home (6 miles total).

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Biking Is Better, part 2

I woke up all prepared to finish my commute diary and talk about riding in the dark, but now I think it’s my turn to write about why biking is better.

Let me begin by saying I am an extremely lazy person. I would much rather be doing just about anything other than physical exertion for its own sake. Running makes me want to die, treadmills are the devil’s tool (all that walking and you’re not even going anywhere!) and don’t even talk to me about spinning or boot camps. Other than the occasional hike when the weather is right, and my weekly Iyengar yoga, exercise felt like a chore to me.

So the idea that I could exercise while also accomplishing something necessary to my life, getting to work or running errands, really appealed to me. That was what made me dust off the old Schwinn and bring it up to Nashville. The surprise came when I got on and realized that riding my bike was actually fun.

pedaling away

pedaling away

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Biking Is Better

Waiting for the train

Waiting for the train

Since the forecast called for up to eight inches of snow and my cold is getting worse, I did not cycle today. The el ride was not too bad, but I missed my bike. It takes a lot to keep me off my bike, but I never force myself to ride if I feel it would be unsafe or really unpleasant. That’s one of my secrets to not burning out.

My other secret to riding my bike consistently is equally simple: cycling is almost always more desirable than the alternatives. Not only more desirable in all of the “biking will save the world” ways – no pollution, no dependence on foreign oil, no dangerous hazard to others, no isolation from my neighbors and surroundings, no obesity – but also more desirable in ways that most Americans would be interested in – Faster, Cheaper, More Comfortable.

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