Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Bike Ride That Almost Wasn't

My parents came in on Sunday for what I hope will be an annual tradition of celebrating MoFaB-Day. Rather than buying material gifts for Mother's Day, Father's Day and their birthdays, we had them come in for a nice dinner out in Chicago. Experiences over objects is my motto for gifts when possible!

Before our dinner at Mercat a la Plaxna, we wanted to go for a bike ride. We had been planning this day for months in large part because my schedule is very difficult with only 4 days off a month (and not necessarily weekend days). So matter how many challenging twists fate threw in the way of our bike ride we did not give up. The result, however, was less a bike ride and more a comedy of errors!

Errors by Number:

#1: Cloudy day w/ the constant threat of rain. We can handle that.
#2: My parents forgot their helmets. This made me very nervous. I've seen too many bad accidents in bikers without helmets on.
#3: My Dad's bike turned out to be broken. My Dad is very athletic, goes on long, challenging bike rides frequently, and knows a ton about bikes so it was pretty unusual for one to be in less than perfect shape.

At this point, we joked that maybe after 3 strikes this bike ride wasn't meant to be, but we wanted to be active and darn it, we were going to be active! Luckily there is a bike rental shop just 2 blocks from our apartment so we headed there.

Then, it just got funny. The only bikes at the shop were cruisers. You know, the kind with really wide, soft seats, the type of bike on whom you picture a nice old lady with white wavy hair with fresh cut flowers in the basket. That kind of bike. And since my Dad's bike was broken, he ended up with the cruiser! Even more funny is that my Dad was wearing a biking outfit from RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI, which stands for (the Des Moines) Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an annual bike riding extravaganza - a 7 day ride across the state. 2010 was the 39th year of this ride that is the "oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world". So, here's my Dad in his RAGBRAI gear on a goofy Schwinn cruiser:

Even better is when he started off-roading, going down stairs and such. My Mom and I were cracking up the whole ride.

It seems like that would be enough excitement, but it continued:

#4: We lost Adam! How four adults can't keep track of each other on a bike path is beyond me, but we immediately lost my husband once we arrived at the lakefront path and we never found him again. We rode north, we rode south. We couldn't find him. Meanwhile, he couldn't find us so started looking around for us, worried that someone fell off a bike. We never did find each other!

This would have been another reasonable place to throw in the towel but we are nothing if not persistent! So we continued riding. We ended up having a perfectly nice ride but even my route choices were ill-fated.

#5: We were waylaid by not 1, not 2 but FIVE wedding parties. Folks like to get their pictures taken near the Planetarium with the Chicago skyline in the background. I often see bridal parties during the summer months, but usually just a couple. Our bike ride was start and stop as we waited for pictures to be taken of the bridal parties- one group had 10 bridesmaids!! It was fun to see the brides but it did slow us down.

#6: I tried to take my folks out to Northerly Island, one of my favorite places in the city. For those not familiar, Northerly Island is a 91 acre peninsula just east of Soldier Field and just south of the Museum Campus (Field/Shedd/Planetarium) that used to house Meigs field. Since Daly single-handedly closed Meigs field in the wake of 9/11, the peninsula has been turned into a nature sanctuary with a bike/running path. From my apartment, a trip around the Island and back is 5.8 miles- a perfect mid-week run. The views of the skyline, Soldier Field, and the harbor are INCREDIBLE!!! And very few people know about the place so I usually have it to myself. Except Sunday! The boy scouts apparently rented out the whole island so I couldn't take my folks there! Harumph!

View of the city from Northerly Island

My parents and I still had a great time- and I bet if all those goofy things hadn't happened, the ride wouldn't have warranted a blog post!


  1. Too funny - just picturing the cruiser bike going down stairs. Sounds like it turned out to be a fun day, even with all the mishaps.

  2. the pic of your dad on the cruiser is hilarious! The Northerly Island loop sound really nice!