Commuting and Errands10 Aug 2008 12:26 pm

My transportation needs have changed from mostly routine to mostly discretionary.

Almost headed into Chicago this morning with neighbors to try for same-day $20.00 theater tickets only to find out that they got sold out fast at 11 AM. Mission cancelled after the confirming phone call, I head back to the house and reschedule a haircut from 6 PM to 4 PM.

The temperature and humidity climb all day, making me debate whether to ride my bike into the Clybourn corridor of the city or take the train. There’s no compelling time advantage of the train given midday timetables, so I bike. Out of deference to my friend and former neighbor who cuts my hair, I take a shirt change. When she tells me to “smock up” she asks if I rode my bike and I tell her “yes” and that I brought a shirt change.

“That’s good, you’ll feel better,” she says.

“So will you,” I respond and she laughs.

Afterward, I decide to prep myself for the hot ride home with a smoothie and make some job calls. That done, I ride home in the afternoon heat with a favorable tailwind and make great time, many times exceeding 20 MPH on straightaways like Elston Avenue and upper Lincoln Avenue. I forgot how jammed up city streets can be at high rush hour because I often rode home after peak in the early evening.

Some tanned middle-aged guys are riding up Kedzie by Thillens Stadium. They are in sleeveless T-shirts without helmets and are on knobby-tired mountain bikes. I pass them but not long afterwards, one of them, tanned #1 man on mountain bike, charges by me at a good clip and goes through the changing red light at Pratt Blvd where I stop. Shit. Is this testosterone at work again? This happens a lot on the bike, even to my wife. I just like to ride as fast as possible but I think some guy cyclists see this as a challenge. Add two more wheels and an engine and you get, ta-da! Road rage! Comforting thought, that.

Tanned #2 man on mountain bike and another different commuter cyclist get caught along with me at the long light at Touhy Avenue. The sun is still high and hot in the Western sky. Both westbound lanes of Touhy are bumper-to-bumper. Eastbound is not much better and gridlock threatens. I find myself engaged by this parade of cars. Tanned #2 man on mountain bike turns with a smile and comments on how long the traffic light is. “I’m glad we’re not driving,” I respond.

I’m also glad to take a shower when I get home.

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