Rain, rain

I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow. I know it’s going to rain tonight, because the wind is blowing and the trees are thrashing around and the neighbors’ back porch windchimes are more urgently creepy, but I hope it’s over by morning. Chris says that he heard on the forecast there’d be morning showers but I keep checking my little weather widgets from two different sources and right now both of them still show little suns in the Friday box. Okay, so one little sun has wispy clouds around it, but hey, I’ll take wisps; wisps don’t get me wet. I can ride my bike through those. I want to ride my bike to work again.

I want to ride my bike because last week in New York I ate all of 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth. I ate stuff from seven different places on that street, not even counting the deli where I got an apple and a Diet Coke or the muffins they had in the morning at the hotel. I ate some tacos and some paella and a cupcake and some tater tots and a falafel sandwich and a barbeque sandwich and THIS THING, which is so astounding I can’t believe it even existed in the world before I ate it. And now I’m back and I want to ride my bike. I also want to ride my bike because gas costs $3.59 a gallon here, which makes riding my bike seem very clever indeed. I already took the five dollars I was planning not to spend on gas tomorrow and I put it towards a fabulously expensive Whole Foods salad bar salad, one topped with grilled veggies and tempeh chunks and caviar and shiny nickels and gift cards. And it’s waiting in the work fridge and all I have to do is point my bike in the general direction of that fridge and ride. As long as it’s not raining then.

Update: No rain. I made it here to work. HOORAY.

Friday morning bike to work: an inventory

Total distance, one way: 11.3 miles.

Distance traveled while using the wrong gear: approximately six miles.

Animal sightings: One deer; one chipmunk; countless squirrels; six dogs. Including one with a cone around its head.

Number of times I probably could have made it across the big scary street with many swift and vroomy cars zorching by, but totally chickened out instead: 4.

How difficult pedalling up the Oakton Bridge was this time, on a scale of one to ten: 6.

How much I’d like to sleep right now, on a scale of one to ten: Uh huh.

How much I deserve some coffee cake right now, on a scale of one to MRMFF NUM NUM NUM: Six point MRMFFF.

How much coffee three yeah what ha!111!11@ ok thankyou happy fridady

View from Earth

We did the bike route on Sunday. We set out a little before noon and got to my office at around 1:00 pm. We stopped for water and I got on my computer to look at the map again, just to confirm that yes, we’d been at that turn, that crossing, that bridge—all the stuff I’d hovered above while playing with the Google maps satellite view, spying on Magical Bikeland for months. It really is beautiful on the trail, with winding creeks, patches of prairie, and deer staring creepily as you ride by. It felt good to be down among the trees. When we went fast it was maybe just a tiny tad like the speeder bike chase scene in Return of the Jedi (except without the Ewoks, and thank God for that).

The best part is the bridge. There’s a foot/bike bridge that goes over Oakton, one of the few places on the trail where you don’t have to dash across the road in terror. But the trade-off is that, of course, the bridge is an arc and to cross it you have to pedal uphill, though you can’t even call it a hill, just a wimpy little bunny slope. Still, when I tried this trail a couple years ago, the bunny stomped my ass. I mean I saw how easy it looked and I began to ride up the incline and it kept, you know, inclining, just as it was inclined to do, and my legs lurched on the pedals and the bike got stubborn and finally I just stopped and stumbled off the bike and walked it over. And I wasn’t surprised, because I was always finding new and exciting ways to discover my physical shortcomings, and I figured pedaling uphill was just an awesome new vista of inadequacy.

But then on Sunday we were just riding along and suddenly there was the bridge. So I downshifted and then pedalled fervently and with much grunting, and then, eventually, my ass was over that hump. And then on the way back I did it again. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised this time, since I’ve been doing weight training since the fall, but I am pleased. It was still a wobbly ride over the bridge, but Chris pointed out that the riders we passed there were wobbly, too. Maybe the only folks who can glide over that thing easily are the ones who ride around dressed like Olympic luge competitors.

But anyway, we did it. I think the total distance—round-trip, and with additional wandering around in search of lunch—was close to 25 miles.  Making the return trip in such a short time was pretty rough, but I think I can do it as a commute on Friday, which is what I’m planning on doing, weather permitting.

I like being on the map.

I've been meaning to get back to you about these things

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The New York and Boston thing: Oh jeez, so much fun, though what I saw of New York this trip was pretty much limited to Williamsburg and Midtown, and what I saw of Boston was limited to the Great Scott and the neighborhood thereabouts. But I did get to drive around the block once in Brooklyn, because Jami had double-parked her car to get coffee and while I was waiting a cop drove up. Don’t Wait Until the Cop Comes Up to Yell at You is an important driving rule around there, I believe, as well as Hasidic Dudes in Minivans Always Have Right of Way. But then I let Jami have the car again and she drove it up to Boston, where she and Janice and I read to a couple dozen people. And I didn’t throw up. (For a minute there I thought I would. Don’t ask why.) And then the three of us held a competitive read-off where we read snippets of the most lurid parts of our books. Obviously I lost, since I’m Not the New Me is not so much about the sex and drugs than it is about awkward makeouts and binging on white bread. But I did my best against Ms. Nerve.com Stories and Ms. Tales of Clubs and Cocaine, and I had a blast trying, at least.

The bike thing: Chris bought himself a bike a couple weeks ago, which means that we can ride together, which means that I can worry less about falling off my bike and breaking something and lying in a ditch all wounded and covered with ants for days and days. So on our first day out we headed up the North Shore Channel Trail, which goes through Lincolnwood and Skokie. We went as far as Dempster, which in my mind is so far north that it’s nothing but tundra and fur traders (but no, it’s Skokie), and then we got lunch and turned around. When we looked at the map later we realized the round trip was nearly twelve miles. Twelve miles, and we were not even remotely dead. Last night we went out again, but we could only do about seven miles before it got dark. This Sunday we’re going to try the work route.

This Thing thing: Oh, ho ho, I say, because the other night I had a big Argentinian steak after the wedding of some friends of ours, and that ponderous Steak Feeling is with me still, and it sits, like a giant cat, on the metaphorical keyboard of my good intentions. No, I tell it, you can’t has cheezburger. That’s just how it is at the moment.

Reading thing: Friday night I’ll be reading with Jami (again!) and Alpana Singh at the Book Cellar. You know that means there will be wine, right?