Errands and Shopping28 Jul 2008 03:47 pm

Farmer’s Market again this morning.

I plan to meet my wife there after her yoga class when she will call me. I hook up the Burley trailer to my bike: I’m getting much faster at this. The trick is unthreading the knob on the retaining clamp so the jaw is wide enough for me to first hook under the horizontal bar and then maneuver on the retaining clamp on the diagonal bar.

I head across the alley to consult pro-bono with my neighbor on his website. Hey, this is what I do even if I’m not doing it at the other place.

My cell rings and I excuse myself for the Saturday produce run. Not quite like the old Bat signal going off and my roaring out of the cave. Instead, I roll up the garage door by pressing a button, pull my bike and trailer, lean the bike against a neighbor’s garbage can, and close the garage door. Somehow, this is just not heroic.

I get over it and get on my way. My wife has already snagged the garage door opener from the old car and takes it with her on her bike. The gal travels in style, I tell you.

The sun is getting hotter and I get to a crowded Market. The cider is already sold out on a nice day like today. Last week one farmer noted the lack of foot traffic due to the rain. Once the trailer is well loaded and we’re sick of thinking about what else to buy, we head off together. Actually, pulling the trailer is not so bad. I notice the load, for sure, and I run for the few little “hills” like I learned to do riding a bike in Pittsburgh.

Cars have been giving me the wide swath, too. I’m thinking they assume I have a sweet little offspring in that trailer, ready to grow up and ride a bike like its Daddy. Awwww, that’s so cute, even if it’s not true. I like the courteous drivers, though.

Mission accomplished until later in the afternoon when a block party in the old Chicago neighborhood calls. We decide to ride our bikes but my wife wants to go later, so I head out on my own. Here’s the consideration riding your bike to a potluck: do you carry something the whole way or buy it closer to the party? This time, as a few other times so far this summer, I opt for buying it closer to the party. Especially beer or watermelons, of which I buy neither this time.

Despite temps in the 90’s, there’s a cool breeze from the lake even in as far as California Avenue. Traffic is really light on the street and the breeze seems behind me mostly. I get to the North Center neighborhood in about 45 minutes.

As I was approaching the home stretch on Lincoln Avenue passing under the Brown Line el and feeling pretty good about my time and riding there, a thought occurred to me. Don’t get complacent, George, almost every near-accident you’ve had has occurred within blocks of your house or destination. I get alert in just enough time. At Wilson, a guy in a Chevy Blazer just starts to make a left turn west in front of me.

His window is open. I yell with great profanity and tell him to stop. He does. No hard feelings, just learn to drive. Sheesh.

The party’s fun and my wife rides down about an hour or so later. She also decides to leave earlier and heads off to catch a Metra train at Ravenswood because she wants more time at home. I consider doing the same later and keep an eye on the time as conversation winds down and we start to clean up and devolve into watching the Monty Python Bavarian Restaurant skit on YouTube on Kevin’s laptop.

After goodbyes and teasing about how geeky my well-lighted helmet is, I head off half-heartedly for the 9:48 PM Metra but I know it will be tight. I decide to try at Damen and Lawrence and start to head east. In the streetlighted distance I can just make out the locomotive starting to pull northbournd out of the station. I turn around and ride my bike north on Damen.

The police are very busy tonight: a dark unmarked Crown Vic is aimed into first side street north of Lawrence. A couple younger guys are leaning with their hands down on the hood. Seems about three big plainclothes cops are milling around, obviously calling the topics in this friendly dialog. Off in the distance, I see blinking blue lights by Amundson High. This is not the CPD security camera blue lights on poles by the school, it’s a regular squad car that has pulled over a Murano that’s illuminated in the squad car’s spotlight. I pass another squad car up by Bowmanville at the cemetery and the office just looks at me from his open window as he passes. Constantly observing.

The ride is nice and fast and cool and uneventful, except for a cabbie who has to blare his horn behind me as he passes on Ridge. Get a life. Those LEDs on my butt are not spelling, “Honk if you hate cyclists.”

I don’t let him disturb my peaceful night ride home.

At home, I tell my wife I missed the Metra train. No loss, she reports: the conductor would not let her on because it was…Venetian Night.

She rants and I agree: Metra hates bikes and looks for any reason to keep them off the train.

She said the conductor was polite. OK, that’s good. We just cannot depend on Metra to let us on with a bike. That’s hardly a reliable mode.

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