Meet Iosif: A Glass of Champagne

On Saturday I mentioned that I met a very interesting person during my commute along the Lakefront Trail. That person is Iosif. Iosif is originally from Siberia, but has lived in Chicago for 12 years. He was at the lakefront on Saturday morning looking for a spot to take a quick dip in Lake Michigan. He regularly swims in the winter. Only for a minute at a time, which makes him feel like “a glass of champagne.” I love that – who doesn’t want to feel like a glass of champagne?! He also informed me that winters in Chicago are worse than Siberia because of the wind.

In a city as big as Chicago, where hundreds of thousands of people go about their lives oblivious to others, I am very lucky to have met Iosif, all because I rode my bike and stopped to take pictures of an ice-covered tree, which he approached me to talk about. After taking his photo, he gave me his email address to send him the digital images and gave his permission for me to post the pictures here. I love technology.

After talking with Iosif, I had a smile on my face all day. Maybe one day I should try out this winter swimming thing, which is undoubtedly way more hardcore than winter cycling!

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25 thoughts on “Meet Iosif: A Glass of Champagne

  1. Anne says:

    Wonderful story! I was looking forward to it when you mentioned it over the weekend, and it’s even better than I hoped.

    He looks pretty unfazed for a half-naked guy in an ice storm. That’s a marvelous portrait photograph.

  2. Tinker says:

    He looks great, considering what he is about to do! There are people who call themselves the Polar Bear Club that swim in the local Springs on January 1. Not sure it compares to Polar Bears all that well, much too warm!

    That would leave me flat as a bottle of warm beer left open on the deck in summer.

  3. philippe says:

    I don’t want to feel like a glass of champagne !

  4. dukiebiddle says:

    So it’s official. Chicago; worse than Siberia. Your office of tourism really needs to print that on their brochures. ;) Makes me feel much better for once convincing an ex-girlfriend (who hated the cold) into moving to Chicago to get her out of my life. Sending her to Siberia would have involved too much paperwork.

  5. Doug says:

    Great pictures! That one of losef has an amazing backdrop.

  6. G.E. says:

    Love the picture of the “ice tree,” and what an interesting story. I have heard there are people who enjoy the freezing temperature plunges into bodies of water, but as for me, I struggle just to avoid chattering teeth when outside in the colder temps. Bravo to anyone brave enough to give this a try!

  7. neighbourtease says:

    I love this story and Iosef is adorable. I love how cycling allows one to slow down and have experiences like this.

  8. Mark Stosberg says:

    Great photos. Thanks for the post.

  9. Pat says:

    Okay, who rode today?

  10. That is remarkable! And I can’t imagine finding a good spot for a “quick dip” with those enormous waves everywhere. Very impressive indeed and he must be in spectacular shape.

  11. Trisha says:

    Dying laughing at dukie’s comment. Very impressed by Iosef’s hardy constitution! I believe I feel more like a glass of champagne after drinking a glass of champagne but to each their own!

  12. dukiebiddle says:

    @Trisha – In my defense she was already considering moving to Chicago, but was terrified of the cold. I just did everything in my power to convince her that she NEEDED TO LEAVE… er, I mean, follow her dream. “Chicago is AWESOME. You love it there! Cold? Peshaw! Can I help you pack? Do you need money for a bus ticket?”

  13. Lorenza says:


    you mean mean man!! {giggles too}… but there are just as bad ex-boyfriends out there lol!

  14. You are getting really good with that camera. The photo of Iosif is fantastic (and it even has Oma peek-a-booing!).

  15. dukiebiddle says:

    @Lorenza – I’ll have you know she carved out a very happy life for herself in Chicago with a marriage and career and all of that. She still sends me emails from time to time. So you see, I’m not a mean man. I’m an awesome man. And we hadn’t dated in years. I had to get rid of her because I wasn’t over her and either she was going to have to move 800 miles away or I was, and I liked my city too much. I was kidding about Siberia. Sort of.

    Man, I hope she doesn’t read this blog.

  16. Matt says:

    Dottie, you should definitely try it.

    I’ve not swum in a frozen Lake Michigan, but I went on a picnic in Gothenburg once, and 4 women took all their clothes off, asked me what I was waiting for and jumped in the lake. I followed suit in my birthday suit and ran off the little jetty, jumping into the 4 degree C lake. Just as I was about to hit the water I thought “this is going to be cold” and it was, but it was also amazingly invigorating. I quickly got out, put my clothes back on and was amazed at how warm the 8 degree air temperature felt. I felt so very, very relaxed. Then my Swedish friend told me that she was proud of me, and that her American friends wouldn’t take all their clothes off. “Australians are not as prudish as Americans,” she said.

    So yes I think you should jump in the lake, Swedish style, and defend your American honour.

  17. Cherilyn says:

    I grew up outside Chicago, and now I live in Montana. That should tell you something. Cold, snowy and sunny I can handle, but as much as I love the city of Chicago, the weather . . . notsomuch.

  18. sara says:

    It is so much about the ‘people that you meet.’ Love this guy. Great snap. Love hearing people’s stories.

  19. Ira says:

    I wonder if there’s any connection to this image?

  20. Christa says:

    Love to meet random people in the city too – learn their story.

    Winter swimming? Noway! Definitely more intense than winter cycling.

  21. What a fascinating person to meet!

  22. Dottie says:

    @Pat – Not I! Did you ride? I actually saw several cyclists during the 5-mile walk I took at lunch. I avoid f fresh snow.

  23. Dottie says:

    @Ira – Ha, that is awesome!

  24. kristin says:

    another benefit of cycling! i love that when i bike to work all the other cyclists pause to say “good morning!” try finding that on the freeway!

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