Early risers were in evidence as we entered the parking lot in downtown Oak Park for the beginning of the Wright Ride 2014. A group in yellow t-shirts entered from the east as a group and began the signing in process. We decided this year to use the ‘same day registration‘ approach. So Connie stood in line while I watched the bikes and took pictures.
Then it was off to the local Starbucks for a quick pitstop before beginning the ride. We bought some trail mix to help pay for using their washrooms and then headed back to the starting tent and then onto the 30-mile course.
The weather was overcast and it looked as if rain might come. But the real culprit were the ‘low temperatures‘ that prevailed. We brought jackets in the event that the weather turned nasty and decided to ride in the cool wind until the jackets were needed.
Early Ride Experiences
We’ve been riding since its third iteration in 2007. It is a great ride. It travels in a generally southwest direction out of Oak Park into Riverside and then over to Western Springs where Connie’s father pastored Western Springs Baptist Church of 25 years or more. He was the second pastor (following Billy Graham).
Today the ride start took us east towards the City of Chicago and did some nice looping through the fancier sections of the town. Then it was north along East Street over the Eisenhower Expressway to reach Roosevelt Road.
We Missed A Crucial Turn
I kind of thought that the ride might have been largely revamped since the early portions had been improved. In fact as we were leaving the start the ride director came over and admired our bikes and then asked us to give feedback on the routing. When we left his presence I thought to myself that they had probably done some new things with the route and that was indeed the case for the first few miles.
Just crossing Roosevelt Road we missed the turn onto 13th Street. For those interested here is the correct cue sheet.
You can find the entire route online at RideWithGPS. Enjoy!
So when we gathered our bearings and headed along 40th Street into Riverside, IL we decided to turn back towards Oak Park and the route start. By this time the coolness of the weather was convincing me that we were either going to get rain or that it would be prudent to ‘wind things up‘. So we did.
It was a great ride and I encourage those of you who have not done it to try riding the route above or better yet join us for the ride next season!
At the Water Stop in Riverside a fellow Easy Racers recumbenteer rode up on his Tour Easy and said ‘hello‘. Later on the way back we came across another Easy Racers rider who was powering an Easy Racers C-Rush (Gold Rush carbon version). This particular bike is the handiwork of one Fast Freddie Markham. He worked at Easy Racers alongside Gardner Martin (the creator of the Easy Racers bikes) for years.
He looked like a very strong ride and waved ‘hello‘ and kept moving!
But the highlight of the trip was two young fellows walking along the street and shouting ‘Your Bike Is Simply Amazing!‘. I keep thinking that cycling has a great number of folks who when seeing an Easy Racers recumbent bicycle always ask at least two thing:
- Are they as comfortable to ride as they look?
- What is that ‘windshield‘ on the front?
That was the question asked by a couple of the workers at the Water Stop. Of course they are called ‘fairings‘ and they are sold as a separate item from Zzipper. If you decide to buy one ask for Carl Abbe the owner when you call.
I don’t suppose that Steven Vance is likely to want to pursue this but here goes. The ‘Curbee‘ is a great idea. It’s introduction to the Great Unwashed of the ChainLink was a disaster because it lacked ‘context‘.
- ChainLink : What It Could Be… (BeezodogsPlace)
- A Teachable Moment: Bike Design Arrogance (BeezodogsPlace)
So I am offering ‘context‘ on Steve’s behalf. At several of the intersections where the Wright Ride 2014 30-Mile Route crossed there appeared these signs (seen at right). I happened to notice them and realized that there must be a sensor of some sort placed on the ground or one ‘focused at the ground‘ right where the sign says!
What this looks like in actual uses shown at right. Then it got me to thinking about the ‘Curbee‘. This is precisely the sort of location for one of those pieces of ‘road furniture‘.
In fact having the ‘furniture‘ serve as a sensor itself would make all the difference to riders waiting for lights.
There is a point in the ride where you are crossing a street to the north of the elevated train tracks at Harlem.
Lots of bikers who pause there eventually assume that the light is ‘broken‘ and cross on red. This light is adjacent to the Starbucks.
It would be helpful to both get the light fixed and to have road furniture that does not require a cyclist to dismount and walk over to a street lamp (especially true if you are riding a Long Wheel Base recumbent like ours). If merely touching the furniture gave an audible response and set a countdown timer to doing a countdown (in the same fashion as crosswalk signals) it would be helpful.
This particular intersection has a ‘blind corner‘. I watched in horror as a mother, father and two young kids on bicycles (dressed in full roadie kits) blew this stop light. The mother was actually showing the kids how to do it!
Today a couple of roadie gals got impatient and ran the light but had to inch their bikes far enough forward to be in the roadway just so that they could see around the metal columns and concrete supports of the elevated train overpass. Oak Park really needs to attend this intersection’s issues! If the OPCC is really interested in flexing their ‘activism muscles‘ it really should start there!
Distance: 20.5 miles
Time: 2h 32m 47s
Speed: 8.0 mph