Long, frustrating day yesterday, finalizing a syllabus with the help (or was it hindrance?) of the Harvard Business Publishing website. About 4.30p, I don helmet and gloves and wheel the Strida LT out the door, down the hall, into the elevator, and out to the loading dock.
“Where’s the other wheel?” asks the plumbing contractor. I slap the left handlebar and quickly snap everything together. “That’s really cool! How much they run?” “About six-hundred.”
Down the block, left on Lower Wabash, left on Lower Kinzie, right on Lower Michigan, across the river, and right briefly on the sidewalk of Lower Wacker.* I carry the Strida down several steps and onto one of those paths the city, in its infinite wisdom, has designated both a bike path and a pedestrian path - in other words, it might as well be a pedestrian path. But this particular path is on the south bank of the Chicago River and it’s a beautiful, 80-degree day (about 26 degrees celsius, if my math’s correct), so I can put up with tourists walking seven-abreast and obstructing all else.
[* All these streets are “Lower” because they are below the named streets. It’s like a city under a city.]
After a half-mile, pedestrian-paced crawl, the “real” lakefront bike path opens up before me. I head south, past boats and geese on my left and Lake Shore Drive commuters on my right. Lance-in-the-pants lycra jockeys go whizzing by me. I maintain a stately pace, my inner Sir Mix-a-Lot enjoying the high proportion of women walkers and runners who got back. (Being fully in touch with my inner Sir Mix-a-Lot, I married a woman who’s got back. But I digress.)
Human perversity (or is it brain damage?) is on display for all to see: A pedestrian path right on the water is invaded by cyclists; the bike path is similarly invaded by pedestrians. These paths are no more than 30 feet from one another. Down the hill, approaching the Shedd Aquarium, a little boy smiles and points, “Look at that guy!” I’m just starting to smile in response when I notice a Toyota Prius coming right at me, taking up both (northbound, southbound) bike lanes. This must be the Parks Dept’s idea of a joke: an official automobile running the bikes off the bike path, but it’s okay because, after all, it’s a Prius and just so environmentally sound - unlike, say, a bike.
Around the Shedd and up a small hill, I approach a small cluster of 12-ish boys on Mongoose bikes. “Wanna trade?” one asks. About to respond, my inner Sir Mix-a-Lot starts repeating “little in the middle but she’s got much back” - louder and louder. The source of this diversion is a sista on foot in Under Armour compression shorts. Damn! (“Red beans and rice didn’t miss her!”)
Maintaining my balance, I make it safely to Soldier Field and begin my return, catching aforesaid sista from the other side. On the way back, I discover that there is fellow feeling between riders of folders and recumbents here in the City of Big Shoulders. In addition to receiving a friendly wave from a guy on a Dahon (riding on the pedestrian path ), two recumbent riders (on the bike path ) are similarly enthused by my presence.
Box score: 6 miles, 2 enthusiastic children, 3 riders-in-solidarity, 3 head-scratch-worthy episodes, 1 sista-I-can’t-resist-her, blood glucose of 98 upon my return.