Neighborhood Toodle in Mid-January 2013


Garmin Edge 605

Garmin Edge 605

It’s been a few weeks since we last rode our bikes. We set out on a toodle that led around the neighborhood hitting a few of the parks and side streets. The idea was to gently get the arthritic knees back into some semblance of form without straining the ACLs. I think we succeeded.

The temperatures were in the mid 40s and despite the three layers of insulating underwear I never did feel overheated or too cold. I did sweat but that was to be expected, but never got sopping wet since the new underwear is fat better at wicking away the moisture.

The real key to getting things “just right” involves being warm enough to sweat and still avoid getting cold and clammy.

Recumbents Are The “Secret Weapon”

I’ve been riding recumbents since about 1992 and in those nearly 22 years I have yet to feel as if anybody on the roadway was going to overrun me or otherwise hit me because they “did not see me”. In fact just the opposite has been true.

Our Ryan Duplex/Fleetwood Tandem

Our Ryan Duplex/Fleetwood Tandem

About 1993 we bought a tandem recumbent. It was made by Richard “Dick” Ryan of Ryan Recumbents as was the Fleetwood model. He later changed the name to Duplex when Cadillac came after him for using their model name.

It was a great bike for gentle touring on a weekend. You could ride for miles and hold a casual conversation and enjoy the scenery together.

We were on the Fox River Trail back in 1993 when a fellow was crossing the bridge at Illinois Street. He was so taken with the curious sight that we represented that he slowed to watch us. Right behind him was a fellow doing the exact same thing. His eyes too were riveted on this strange machine. Wham!

They collided with one another. And that was clearly the first of many instances where people simply did not ignore a recumbent but were rather fixated upon it. Today was no exception. We had folks shouting “cool” from a half block away (on side streets at right angles to our trajectory). The bikes are really fun for kids and today we had a family of four shouting out “cool bikes” while they exercised their dog inside a fenced-in tennis court.

Downtown Chicago at rush hour is no different. People stop and stare and point and drivers gawk not knowing what they are looking at. I keep saying at every opportunity, if you to bring cycling into the African-American community get a fleet of cheap medium-length wheelbase (MWB) bikes as rentals or loaners and turn a bunch of middle-aged black women loose on them. You will have an instant hit and a way of generating income and enthusiasm in a community for which cycling has little appeal past childhood.

At a bit beyond the halfway point we stopped at the local community center where there are fitness machines and an indoor walking/running track to use the bathrooms. Then afterwards we headed back towards home before heading out in the van to pick up some luncheon. It was a great weekend ride and despite being short in length required a full hour.

I had thought initially of riding the Illinois Prairie Path but Connie pointed out how soupy the ground looked. When we got over into our local park it was evident that things were in fact muddy. So we stayed on pavement and enjoyed the ride without all the mess.