Roll Over America (ROAM) 2011 Toodle

Roll Over America Tour

Velomobile

Some years ago I came across a video of velomobiles touring parts of Europe. I recorded the video and created a CD of my own for viewing at a later date. I watched that video any number of times and sent copies to friends who like myself were simply awed at the sight of so many beautiful works of art masquerading as bikes. But the best was yet to come.

Some how or another that same group decided to visit the USA. And thus was born the Roll Over America Tour of 2011. I envy the riders and their experience and lust after their bikes. Really great eye candy.

The Tour Reaches Evanston

The tour had made its way to Evanston on yesterday evening and would be visiting the Chicago Loop by way of the Lakefront Trail before heading south into Indiana and Michigan. Roger Pardon a fellow Elmhurst Bicycle Club member was joining the group today as it completed its Chicago leg of its journey. I wrote and asked if he knew where they would be meeting.

The Best Western Inn was the site of this mornings departure. When I arrived there was a Mercedes Benz van parked around the corner. It bore a decal showing that it was a support vehicle for the tour. Inside the window of the hotel I spotted t-shirts from the event worn by members of the tour. I waited patiently for a half hour before the van owners came out and were able to answer a few questions about the mornings proceedings.

They went back in to attend the daily Rider Meeting and I meanwhile found the cache of velomobiles on the third level of the adjacent parking lot. It was like entering a movie set for the Raiders of the Lost Ark. All of this “found treasure” brightly colored and sitting alone and unattended.

My eyes drank in all of the beauty. I could not stop photographing what was for me a really beautiful and amazing site. I guess it makes you appreciate how truly bizarre a standard recumbent must look to the uninitiated.

Departures

One by one riders came down with their gear and stowed it in the support van and then went and grabbed their velomobile and took off in groups of riders used to setting a similar pace. The pace was pretty high owing to the aerodynamic qualities of these bikes. I literally had to speed up the street to try and catch a movie clip of the first six bikes to set out onto the Lakefront Trail but before I could exit my van they passed me and I missed the shot!

So I drove to my planned parking spot in Chicago at La Rabida Children’s Hospital and dressed up my Tour Easy in its customary fairing and headed north to the rendevouz spot at the Buckingham Fountain.

When I arrived the bikes were gathered in a herding group in the brilliant sunlight. They looked even better in this setting. Before long the ride leader asked everyone to line up their bikes next to the fountain for a formal portrait. It was a breathtaking view.

Luncheon

Their pizzas arrived (Chicago-style) and I left to ride northward to kill some time before heading south again to stow the bike and pick up Connie after work. The hot weather was drawing water out of me in buckets. I fought to stay hydrated but my mouth was like cotton by the time I returned to the van.

I packed up the bike and headed over to the local Starbuck’s just off the University of Chicago campus where I downed an iced chai tea, ice and all. Aah!

Distance: 27.8 miles
Time: 2h 49m 04s