Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hangin' with the Sis in Chicago - Part 2 - Friday June 24th

mass_panorama[Click on the photo to see a few other June 2005 Chicago Critical Mass photos.]

Where's Jojo? See if you can find her in the above photo!

So on Friday I was out and about on jojo's Bianchi road bike. When I first hopped on the Bianchi in the morning, my instinct was to try to brake by applying backpressure - and this was after only about 10 miles on her fixie the previous night!

Rode downtown to see Jojo's office and got to briefly meet a few of her coworkers Friday morning. She set me up w/a copy of her Shedd Aquarium membership, in hopes that I'd be able to get in for free. Rode around down by the Lakefront for a while.=, but decided to wait on the aquarium until Saturday.) Wired Magazine was hosting a technology show at Navy Pier, so I checked that out. I don't know what it is w/me and technology - I used to love technology, craved video games, read Popular Science religiously, etc. Nowadays, I couldn't give a shit about 99% of tech, especially all the gadgets companies being hawking ... palm pilots, Blackberrys, MP3 players, cell phones w/the latest "must have" features, headsets and accessories, robots for the home, nanotechnology, AI, etc. I mean, I had to buy a wristwatch so I could pace myself at Grandma's marathon because I didn't have one. Anyway, I really couldn't give a damn about most technology - in fact I think most of it is at best unnecessary, at worst a really bad idea. But the expo was free so I checked it out and I suppose it was an OK way to blow a few hours.

Rejoined w/sis at Daley plaza for Critial Mass (after heading back to her place for a pair of socks - riding the Bianchi's SPD pedals wearing only Adidas soccer sandals was taking it's toll on the soles of my feet so I was looking for a little cushioning.)

Chicago Mass is totally off the hook! I knew the ride attracts tons of riders, but I was a little unprepared for the mass of the mass - unofficial tally put the head count at 1450, plus or minus a hundred people!!! Compare this Mpls Crit Mass where anything over 100 is a great ride, and you get the idea.


  • 2, maybe 3 antique penny farthing tall bikes
  • 1 Rat Patrol penny farthing, fashioned from a circular clothing rack
  • 1 fixed gear tall bike
  • 2 bike trailer sound systems
  • At least one tandem
  • Crazy amounts of riders stretching for blocks and blocks
  • Few altercations with cars or police
  • Multiple uncorked fire hydrants gushing water into the street along the way

Ride started at the Daley plaza, with riders making multiple loops around the
block before starting the ride. AFter looping around, there's no way to know whether you'll be at the front or the rear when the Mass actually departs. It's definitely a party atmosphere. The cry of the day seems to be "Happy Friday" - probably a good way to keep it
fun and come of as non-adversarial.

Besides the number of riders, Chicago Mass is a little different than Mpls in other ways too. Mpls Mass usually ends near where it begins at Loring Park (or at a bar in uptown or downtown.) Chicago Mass is a point-to-point ride, and various people/groups prepare route proposals in advance. Proposed routes are presented at the plaza and voted upon by the Mass - which ever route recieves the loudest applause/cheering is the chosen one. So you never know where the ride is going to end, and it's your responsibility to be able to find your way home afterward.

On this ride case, we rode roughly south and a little east, through a bunch of neighborhoods, through Chinatown, and eventually to some beach about 13 miles south of home. So we had a long ride back along the lakeshore. It was a beautiful night, and jojo was busy chatting up this boy Paul. She told me later that I was a "good wingman" - giving her enough room to work the conversation, but not to much that it was obvious she was chatting this boy up. That's what I'm all about - helping my sister hook up :-)

At dinner that night, I was introduced to the concept of a "BYOB" restaurant. Apparently liquor licenses are tough to come by, so many restaurants allow you to bring your own beer/wine. Interesting concept, and cost effective. Wish it were that way here!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon 2005

In the end, Lifetime Tri went fine, although the heat and humidity were brutal. We registered for the "Friends and Family" division, since Brian and CB are 29, while I'm 31. So Friends and Family allowed us to race together, starting within 6 seconds of each other. So we had our own micro competition, while the both of our respective age groups started well ahead of us.

This made the race a little different, in that all of our age-group competition was well ahead of us. This makes it tough to gauge how you're doing relative to your age group. Given a chance to do it again, I might opt to skip the Friends and Family and just register as age groupers. Actually, now that I think about it, the three of us will all be in the 30-34 age bracket next year anyway, so it's a moot point.

With no wetsuit, my swim suffered and was a few minutes slower. The swim itself was OK, although there was a point about 5 minutes in where I started to feel tired and started to freak out. But I got through that. I tend to do A LOT of breaststroke, alternating between breaststroke and freestyle when one group of muscles gets tired. There was another guy doing the same thing, and we were neck-and-neck for most of the swim.

One weird thing I experience whenever I open water swim - after I've been in the water I while, I feel this urgent need to burp, but I usually can't. I gets worse and worse, and usually I'm not able to get burps out until after I exit the water (usually a few miles into the bike course) after which I feel immediately better. Well today, I was thankfully able to get the burps outduring the swim, which helped immensely.

The bike was good. With the heat, it felt good to be cruising, and it's great fun to ride Minnehaha Parkway without having to stop for any of the (numerous) stop signs and traffic lights. Rode 21mph average (at least that's what my computer says - their "official" results say 20.5mph but I believe my computer since it's proven itself accurate in the past.) Had beads of sweat on my shoulders the whole ride, so I know I was working hard. Almost went down in the roundabout - I was passing another rider on the left, but started getting forced inside, and my wheel went squirrelly when it hit the ridge between the pavement and the concrete gutter.

I was hoping to catch Brian on the bike, but it was not to be. He was up ahead of me somewhere, and I had no idea how far. My only hope was to catch him on the run, and it took me 3+ miles just to do that. I caught CB on the bike at around mile 22 - CB had a great ride considering he just started biking last year.

The heat on the run was brutal, and it took almost 3 miles for me to get my legs. But even then I just couldn't muster any speed - averaged 8:34 minutes/mile on the run - I should be running sub-7 minute miles for a race like this.

My overall time put me around the top 25% of my age group, which is good enough.

So all in all it was fine - and I'm glad it's over. I'm starting to think putting together a relay would be the way to go ... CB could swim, Brian could bike, I could run. Although I'd like to bike, this would allow me to skip the swim, probably a good compromise. And I think our relay could actually kick some butt.