Thursday, May 05, 2005

Worst. Commute. Ever.

First, I need to set the proper mental image for you. When picturing me in your head, picture the character on the Simpsons generally known as Comic Book Guy. I know I don't really look like that. I don't have a beard and my complexion is less yellow, otherwise, it's close enough.

Weather permitting, I commute to work on my bike. Since this is Chicago, the weather does not permit often and I spent much of the fall and winter doing little more than eating. Hence, today I tipped the scale at 20 pounds more than the last time I rode to work. Still, I was excited to start the new season. Plus, I am planning to do a 50 mile ride ("half century") next Sunday, so I need to get warmed up.

I had much anticipation as I packed my pannier last night. Even though I tried to exercise through the winter, I generally failed. I knew it would be a bit hard, so I promised to take it easy. No hammering the flats, as they say. The whole ride is 20 miles of city streets and bike path. It generally takes about an hour and a half. Then, I go home the same way.

So here is the mental conversation I had along the way:

7:23 AM This is great. The air is crisp, the sun is shining. I'm off. Aren't I just great for the environment? Plus, I get to burn all these calories. The bike feels great. I need to tip the guys at the shop who did the tune up.

It's a bit cool. I sure am glad I layered up this morning. Aren't I smart to have on a base layer, cycling shirt, fleece vest and wind breaker. Plus, I love these loose-fit tights and my gloves.

Mile 4: Gee, the bike feels a little heavy. Hey, that is B's house, maybe I should stop in and get a ride to the office. Why are there so many buses on Church street and are they supposed to leave no space near the curb?

Mile 5: I can really feel my heart and lungs. This is a good workout. But Evanston sure needs to pave these side streets. Water, I need to drink. Why is my water bottle banging my knee?

Mile 6: Where the hell am I? Western Avenue was never this long before. Damned buses. I think my heart hurts. Downshift. My other bottle seems too far to reach this year.

Mile 7: 14 MPH, that can't be right. Sure is warm this morning.

Mile 8: Turn off of Western to Pratt. Finally, a bike lane! Ridge road is at the top of a hill. Suddenly that makes sense to me. Stand up, get up this hill. Red light at Clark. Who is this guy behind me? I'll call him Clark. Pull off the stupid gloves and push up my sleeves before the light turns. There goes Clark.

Mile 9: I'm burning up. What was I thinking when I got dressed? More water and Powerbar drink. Hydrate. My heart sure is pounding.

Mile 10: Corner of Devon and Bosworth. Half way there. Crap, it is 8:15. I could stop for some tandoori breakfast somewhere around here. Can't feel my legs but it looks like they are moving. Sure. I can see that. Left, right, left, right, left, right. Look up you idiot!

Right turn on Winthrop. Who decided there should be speed bumps on city streets? I thought Daley was Mr. Bicycle Mayor. How many Catholic schools are there around here?

Left on Granville. There it is! Oh, the Glory of Lake Michigan. The rejuvenating vision. I am renewed, I feel great.

Mile 11.5: Top of the Lake Shore Trail. There is Clark. I think I can catch him. Stand up. You have new strength! The Lake, the sun, this is great. My God, what the hell is wrong with me? Why am I doing this? Public transportation is environmentally friendly too. Maybe I should just buy a Prius. Bye Clark. Have a good day.

Oh, I'd rather be sailing.

Mile 13: Who is that guy? He can't pass me! He is on an old Raleigh with fat tires and high handlebars. He is wearing jeans and a Cubs windbreaker. Oh God, no. What is that? Under his saddle? Get a little closer. It can't be. It is, under his saddle he has strapped a stuffed turtle. A turtle is in front of me. That bastard is taunting me. I'll catch him.



My legs are still going. How is that happening?

Mile 14: Water. Power bar fluid. Did my back ever hurt like this before?

Mile 15: Willie Wonka, Willie Wonka. Oompa Loompa Doopa Dee Doo. Oh, Belmont Harbor looks nice. I'd rather be sailing. I'd rather be a license plate holder that says "I'd rather be sailing."

Wait, I have Gu. Willie Wonka's crack cocaine. Eat Gu, feel better. Oow, my mouth is filled with frosting and I can't breath. Swallow. Water.

Legs? Yes, I still have them. I can't feel my heart. That can't be good.

Mile 16: I'm still behind the turtle. I think it is trying to talk to me. At least there are not too many people on the trail. My shoes are sooo blue. Damnit, look up!

Mile 17: North Avenue or so. The city looms ahead. It is beautiful, or so they tell me. I am still looking at my blue shoes. I should buy lighter shoes, that would help. I have no heart.

I think the turtle is slowing up. He is, I will pass him. Ha, take that! I'll make soup of you and garnish it with sherry. What ever happened to Binyons?

Mile 18: I can see Navy Pier. I am getting close. Hang in there. The turtle is pulling off the trail with me to head to Lake Shore Drive to cross the river. No, he turned right on Illinois. Headed up river. Who was that guy?

Mile 19: Is this a bridge or a man-made mountain? Almost there. Crap, it is almost 9:00. I'm very important. People will wonder if I am not at my important desk soon.

Turn right at the yacht club. Some fast boats there. I'd rather be a yacht club. Whup, whup, whup. Swift boats. Whup, whup, whup. I once saw a snail crawl on the edge of a razor.

What's that noise?

Right on Columbus. My heart is dark. Whup, whup.

There it is. I see the garage.

Slight right. Hands down, leaning right. I missed the curb. Going down. Hands scraping. Snap, snap, my feet are free. Traffic?

Laying there. Whup, whup, whup.

This is the end.

Saigon. Sh*t, still in Saigon. This is the end. Get up, walk the damn bike into the garage.

I survived. Had to work too late to ride home. Can't say I am totally complaining about that. I'll ride home tomorrow. Weather permitting.


Tony Hilvers said...

This is soooo funny I wet my pants.

The only thing worse would be if you had to call Kim and have her give you a ride home.

Tony from IPC

becketmakes5 said...

Oh larry. this is not good. you're riding how far NEXT WEEK??? by the way, i think comic book guy is a little harsh - maybe more like Hugh Neutron, Jimmy Neutron's dad. oh yeah. you don't have cable.

Anonymous said...

This was quite good. Did you have a geeky recorder going along the way? How else could you have remembered so much? You put my own "observational" musings to shame! This is way more entertaining the those customs posts of yours. ;)