Labor Day Weekend 2013


All over hometown folks were out riding their bikes. We saw couples, families of six (6) even riding with their parents. It was great! With summer winding down and folks fearing the severity of winter it makes sense to get out and enjoy what is left of the warm weather. Few clouds following a rather rainy day yesterday and temperatures in the 80s made for a nice day to get some exercise.

We grabbed breakfast and then drove into the city to ride a part of the Chicago Lakefront Trail. But I can tell you for certain that Chicago is fast gaining a reputation for being an equal opportunity violence laboratory. Lots of violence of late on the North end of town. So much for Vilda’s (formerly Gabe) pronouncement that the places to avoid were the South and West sides of the city. I guess the thugs on the North side want to ‘represent‘ too.

When you wake up to a notice that the North Branch Trail has been the scene of an attempted rape, you know that things have gone from bad to worse. I wonder sometimes whether the ChainLink crowd ever rethinks its commitment to urban living? I know that I would. I shiver every time that I read about violence in the city because it means that someone I know personally could be the victim.

Continuing we rode from the UIC parking lot down to the Caribou Coffee on Halsted and used their facilities. While heading over to this location I noticed that my bike was riding a bit roughly.

Bike Repairs

Idler setup on Easy Racers Ti-Rush

Idler setup on Easy Racers Ti-Rush

I had some frame repairs done this past week and when the frame was re-cloaked in its finery some of the pieces were not quite right. The chain line on the bike was rumbling as I rode along Halsted. At Caribou Coffee I took a peek and realized that the idler had swung forward and the keeper was rubbing on the chain.

Instinctively I straightened out the idler and things worked a bit better but there was a grinding sound that was there which wasn’t before the frame repair. Suddenly it dawned on me that the mechanic had put the idler on ‘backwards‘! Yikes!

The mounting adapter at the top of the idler has a slot into which the frame tab fits. When the idler is positioned on the non-driveside of the tab the slot keeps the idler from swinging forward. Evidently the mechanic had either never noticed this or had never actually seen one of these idlers ‘up close and personal’. I guess that $25 tip I gave him was a bit premature?

At any rate it is a mistake that anyone can make and is the reason that on airplane repair crews there are many people checking one another’s work. Bike shops, not so much… The moral of this story is that you had better learn to do your own work well enough to know when your mechanic has flubbed his.

Divvy Stupidity

So as we were riding down to 31st Street and up the hill above the playground Connie spotted a Tour Easy parked beside a docked boat. Wow! We got a picture or two and then rode back down the hill to the beach level so that we could ride around the marina area to get closer to the boat.

The bike was definitely an Easy Racers product but there was no one in sight who could be chatted up. So we left and headed further south to 47th Street. I was getting hungry by now (you do this frequently when you are a vegan) so we decided to head back north to the Loop Native Foods Cafe. At 31st Street a lady on a Divvy bike was frantically searching for a docking station.

A gentleman told her about on at street level along 31st Street. She was heading over to avoid the late fees. Just then I looked over to the left and saw a cop car with a Divvy rider standing beside it on the ramp leading to connector that takes you either to Route 57 or the Dan Ryan. He was a youngish fellow in his late 30s or early 40s. How the heck did he make that mistake?

I know that the Active Transportation Alliance is busily counting their cash haul from the recent Four Star Bike Tour. But hey guys since you are the biggest cheerleaders for Divvy it seems to me that someone in your organization ought to be trying to figure out how to get some training for these users. Sure you are busy getting laws clarified to keep your constituents from paying the tickets that they richly deserve, but how about the average schlub who is renting a bike and hasn’t got a clue?

Don’t you feel the least bit concerned about their welfare? Should you not have videos, handouts and a website complete with all sorts of information that will help these folks keep from getting their asses handed to them by a car while riding up a ramp to which no one on a bicycle ever has access (under normal circumstances).

You spend most of your time as an organization trying to find ways to make John Kass look stupid. But from my saddle it is you who appears not to know their craft very well. Get off your asses and get some training materials ready and make certain that the next time you feel the need to pat yourselves on the back for a needless bit of legislation clue your buddies in the CDOT that learning materials are needed and you are ready and able to provide them.

If Divvy grows at the rate you are constantly crowing about these problems of inept users and near tragic results are going to increase in number. And no amount of glad-handing with the nose ring and tattoo tribe is going to wash away the stink. If you give Divvy users a chance one or more of them is going to make the news in a body bag and that will send the kind of negative feedback through the populous that we can ill afford.

A Suggestion

Why not get one of your smart-aleck Four Star Bike Tour Ride Marshals to make a video and have the URL Shortened link be on something that the customer sees. This then could be viewed by anyone with a SmartPhone capable of streaming video. And since you and the Church of Urban Cycling have great experience making videos of your somewhat pointless Critical Mass Rides you set up a short and sweet introduction for Divvy riders and then if so inclined invite them to a Mass Ride.

Course that might backfire since you folks on the Critical Mass Ride Circuit have as little regard for traffic laws did the mixed-gender tandem couple serving as Ride Marshals in the recent Four Star Bike Tour. But you could try and find enough time to train the Mass-ers on road etiquette that even I would be impressed. Of course the tandem couple were old enough that I suspect they know the Rules of the Road but simply choose to ignore the unimportant ones (i.e. anything that would be made legal by the implementation of the Idaho Stop Law here in Illinois).

I wonder if I could start driving in a manner that reflected laws from other states that I wish were here? I know that some cyclists might find that offensive and want me to be ticketed and fined or merely drawn and quartered. But why should they care? Can’t we all just pick and choose which laws we like and follow those whenever it suits us?

Have a great rest of the weekend and stay safe!

Cyclometer Information

Distance: 15.2 miles
Time: 2h 9m 16s