Chicago Critical Mass Feb 2007, and a paen to Chicago weather

CCM 02/07 Confrontation

I had to bail out early to attend a concert. Left at the above junction, where, as the picture attests, an angry cager was confronting some cyclists. Further pictures here.

The wind was vicious after the concert so I elected to take the bus home. The first bus had both spots on the bike rack taken up, presumably also by other massers. Thankfully that was not the case for the next, though I realised that I had to put the clamp over the rear wheel rather than the front wheel as instructed, because my front rack would get in the way.

Also commuted to the symphony on Thursday, and it was a pleasant ride except for the suspiciously icy parts. The stretch just south of 31st St beach was especially bad, and although from the tracks I could see that some had just cycled over the icy patches, I was paranoid and elected to push my bike through them. I did feel my feet slip at some points so I don’t think it was entirely unjustified. On the way back, there seem to be many more dark patches on the path than before, many of which I couldn’t tell if they were ice or water. I pushed the bike along a good part of the path near Buckingham fountain, and was gingerly slow all the way back despite the wind being behind my back. Until I went down the hill at 47th St. From then on there were practically no wet patches, and I flew all the way back to 55th St, enjoying the much-missed feeling of pure spinning for the fun of it.

Went to the opera on Saturday but it was sleeting so elected to leave my bike in the basement. Great fun walking in the sleet while waterproofed from head to toe. Couldn’t be bothered to take off my waterproof pants to look more presentable at the opera (I had worn my dress pants underneath them). After the opera there was at least an inch of ice over all the pavements, and the intersection at Madison/Wacker had deep puddles at all the crossings. This resulted in my being entertained by women in inappropriate footwear squealing as they splashed their bare ankles and fancy shoes through the dirty water. Walking to State was semi-treacherous. Learnt to avoid the metal gratings, which offered zero grip. Ice was OK to walk on since it still had some crunch in it, but near the intersection there would be some dangerously trampled parts amidst moderately deep puddles. Still greatly enjoyed the variety in terrain this provided.

Walk back home from Hyde Park Blvd was even nicer. If anything it was less treacherous than my walk there to take the bus, for earlier there had been only a thin layer of ice, enough to disguise the patches of black ice that had yet to melt and hence to cause me to unwittingly step and slip on them, but by the time I got back the layer of ice was about two inches deep. It made me slightly nervous but mostly there was good crunch and I did not feel in danger of slipping as long as I did not try to run. Even saw bicycle tracks in the ice; was surprised that anyone would elect to cycle on the pavements when they were covered in ice and the roads weren’t (being as usual salted better than the pavements). Enjoyed the walk immensely, and was spirited enough to dig around with my waterproof leather shoes outside Cobb to see how deep the ice really was. It had looked and felt like it was an inch, but to my surprise it was more that — I never got to fresh pavement because after scraping off the crunchy top layer, I found that the bottom inch was solid ice. My favourite stretch of the walk was going through the Classics arch; the crunch of my footsteps I had grown used to suddenly transformed into the cosy hollow sound of heels striking sandstone. It was a magical change of atmosphere, aided by the warm yellow light in the arch.

I will miss this weather.

1 Response to “Chicago Critical Mass Feb 2007, and a paen to Chicago weather”



  1. 1 Inappropriate Footwear, the Comic Value in « One Less Car Trackback on June 2, 2007 at 11:09 pm

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