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Archive for the ‘Central Illinois’ Category

The co-op should have some whitewall 27″-ers on order if they haven’t arrived already. When they’re there, I’ll be able to finish C’s road bike. Without the tires it weighs in at about 25 pounds.

I spent most of this week with a co-worker in Springfield. I’m only just getting involved with this client but he goes out there all the time and usually stays in the Hilton. This week there was a conference of some sort (I was asked if I was there for the library conference; a quick Google search suggests it was the Sixth Statewide Library Practitioners Conference), so the Hilton was booked. A quick search of hotels.com turned up the Ramada on 6th Street Rd. My coworker said, “oh that’s right there on 6th Street” and booked our rooms. You see where this is going: sure enough, 6th Street Road is not the same as 6th Street. 6th Street Road is a few miles outside of town, on a street where I wouldn’t run or ride a bike unless I absolutely had to, and that goes for most of the streets near it, too.

This meant that I didn’t get to run outside the whole week (though I did go to the gym with my coworker, who goes every day — damn, treadmills are bor-ring), and I was actually kind of glad that I didn’t bring my bike, because I wouldn’t have ridden it. But our next trip out there is a week from Monday, and I’ve already booked the rooms at the Hilton so we’ll be right there in the middle of downtown. I’m definitely bringing my bike then. It’ll be nice to run or ride around a downtown area bigger than three blocks on a side, even if Springfield is not at all made for bicycles.

To illustrate how much Springfield is not made for bicycles, take a look at this street in Google StreetView. This is what the streets look like in Springfield: wide, lots of three-lane one-way streets, no bike lanes, no space for bikes at all, and very little traffic (usually). There seems to be a fair bit of traffic around rush hour, but you don’t sit.

I keep looking around trying to figure out why the town doesn’t look right and then realizing that there are no bike racks and almost no bikes. It’s the weirdest thing. I saw a total of three bikes locked up and two bikes being ridden in four days. But there’s a bike map (.pdf), and I’ve done some poking around in StreetView looking at the streets I haven’t seen in person and they look all right. I’m looking forward to riding around.

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It was a gorgeous 55 degrees on my ride home from work yesterday, so I went for a run as I had previously promised myself I would. I battled the urge to drive this morning, losing and then winning it. I’m glad I rode instead; it wasn’t too cold (as I knew, but the cold always seems worse when you’re warm, even if when you get out in it you barely notice it) and I wasn’t too stiff. And with lunch in the fridge (leftover fajitas from Dos Reales — num), I didn’t have a real reason to drive.

I was pleasantly surprised during my run to find that 1. I was able to vary the foot on which I started a breath enough that I didn’t get a stitch until the very end, and 2. cycling through the winter has kept my lungs enough in shape that it was a fairly comfortable run. (So my car breaking down in November turned out to be a very good thing.) I went easy for the first run in several months, only going about 3 miles, which took me about 45 minutes including my brief walk to warm up in the beginning (I probably didn’t need to walk that long, given that I’d just ridden my bike home 20 minutes before, but better safe than sorry). This is about normal for me. At 30 pounds overweight, I was astounded last September (ish) to find that if I ran slowly, I could just keep running until I got a stitch — probably about 20-30 minutes. And I could run a whole 5 miles (with walking breaks to get rid of said stitch(es)). It would take me an hour and 15 minutes, but I could do it.

I couldn’t do that in high school when I was in pretty good shape from playing soccer every year. I guess I just pushed myself too hard.

This weekend I go up for my little cousin’s birthday party on Saturday evening. She will be 3, I think, maybe 4. Sunday morning, Dad and I will probably visit the church at which I will be married in May — he’s thinking he might want to get back to a religious tradition and I think the UU church will be good for him. I’m going to try and get him to ride there with me; it’s only 6.2 miles in a car, so with the usual detours through residential areas that make a bike ride in Naperville not be a terrifying experience, it should be about 7 miles or so. Shouldn’t take longer than an hour each way, I think. We’ll see if 30°F is too cold for him 🙂

If he doesn’t want to ride, maybe I’ll go for another run. 🙂

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First snowy commute

Well, that was interesting. We got an inch or two of snow total, but it was still pretty much all on the road when I headed home at 7:30.

Well, I left my desk then. When I got to my bike in the stairwell where they let me keep it, I discovered that I needed to rewrap the lights because they were getting loose enough to get caught in the moving parts. That, plus bungee-cording my lock to the rack and getting bundled up, took about 20 minutes (for some reason, I’m slow at these things).

With the snow I was going all of 5 miles an hour most of the way. I’m kind of proud, though, that I didn’t fall over, because there were a couple of times I nearly did. I stopped at Walgreens to see if their rechargeable AAs were still on sale (they were) and found that their lights are already half off and it’s not even Christmas yet. So I got a string of 25 plug-in LEDs that I’m going to try and convert to DC power and attach batteries to. And a Reese’s peanut butter Christmas tree, because, well they’re good, what more reason do you need?

I was amazed to find that it was quarter to nine by the time I got to Neil and Hessel (just north of Kirby, about four blocks from home. I work just south of Mattis and Kirby). I didn’t think I took that long in the store or on the road.

And now: pepperoni pizza from Domino’s.

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Yay snow!

Once again Chicago is getting dumped on after I move away. Didn’t happen often enough when I lived there. But we get snow too! And for all I dislike the cold, I do love snow — at least for the first few months of winter.

Someday, though, we’ll get enough that I can ride my bike without worrying too much about falling off. Course, if we have that much snow, chances are I’ll be staying inside with a cup of hot tea, my softest blanket, my kitty, and a computer (for work if it’s a weekday, my gaming rig if it’s not).

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In response to the question “What’s it like outside where you live?” on Reddit:

Moved here from 3 hours north, the western suburbs of Chicago, a few years ago. I am so sick of flat, featureless (unless you count the cookie-cutter houses) land and I really hope that when he graduates, he gets a job in California.

Course, I don’t really mind the flatness when I go for a bike ride, which is at least twice a day as I have no car but have to get to work.

It is currently 36 degrees F at 1 pm, and grey. This morning we had freezing rain, which stopped before I left home thank God, and there was plenty of salt on the roads so there was no ice for the bike to slip on.

It’s flat; the grass is olive green with white trim from the unusually-timed snowfall after Thanksgiving; the sky and the retention pond outside my window are grey; the wind cuts like a frozen sword and I’m asking for windproof cycling gear (especially pants and gloves) for Christmas because I can’t afford to buy it myself. But I love the cold when I’m wrapped up in a soft blanket in front of the computer with the cat asleep in my lap, last week he stared out the window at the falling snow and meowed plaintively at me for explanation, Saturday night I rode my Christmas-light-wrapped road bicycle with ten or fifteen others in the Parade of Lights around downtown Champaign, and few things in life are better than coming in from a bike ride in the cold and sitting down with a big mug of hot chocolate or mocha.

And when spring finally comes the whole town and countryside will be covered in green, and the whole world will sing to me as I ride under the gloriously open sky through the silent corn and soy fields outside town.

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