hazy summer morning

I wish this section of trail was longer…

A nice, sun-kissed morning ride. This will be the 3rd day this week that I’ve been able to ride in. When it’s gets to be late summer the narrow trail all but disappears under the drooping tall weeds. Pretty. but you end up all scraped up afterwards. This stuff is sharp.

 

I’ll have to remember to take this shot again in February…

halfway.

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On days that I choose a direct route to work, this railroad bridge represents the halfway point in the journey. Looking North (towards home) it’s all pavement – a good stretch of bike path with a short bit of road to get me home. Head South of here and it’s a mix of dirt access roads (courtesy of the Union Pacific) and abandoned rail lines. Quite fitting then that this shot features my Fargo, which does double-duty by switching between these worlds without complaint.

Let’s not dwell on the network of power lines dangling overhead. I really don’t want to think too hard about what if any side effects they may offer. Keep pedaling…..

Happy Monday

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A sticky hot morning called for a cool, shady ride through the woods. I never actually count miles when I stray off-road, but I still got in around 90 minutes of saddle time. More than I would have been able to endure if I had stayed on the road I suspect…

One of the odd finds in Chipilly Woods is a large grassy clearing towards the southwest corner that contains this…

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it’s a large, low monument that recognizes the history of “The Dandy First”, a National Guard regiment from the area that (according to the plaque) was the highest decorated unit in the First World War, as well as suffering the highest casualty rate in all the U.S. forces. I can’t speak to why it’s placed in the middle of Chipilly Woods. Perhaps the woods were named after the battle of Chipilly Ridge (see the inscription below), but why here? I’ll do a bit of digging on that one…

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Oh yeah, that large rock that serves as the base? It’s the cornerstone from an Armory that serves Chicago (and The Dandy First) from 1890-1966. Who knew?

Chipilly Woods

I took advantage of an unbroken streak of nice late-summer weather to take the Fargo over to Chipilly Woods, a local “hidden gem”. Though close by, I don’t really consider Chipilly rideable for much of the year. It’s part of the flood zone for one of the many tributaries that dot the landscape here, and as such is usually wet and pretty mosquito-ridden for the bulk of the Spring and Summer. That, plus it’s relatively small size keeps it from being a “hidden gem” in my book (of course, I will admit that I come from a land with some pretty sweet singletrack, so I’m spoiled).

Anyway, with a good stretch of dry weather I gave Chipilly another shot, and it turned out to be a nice workout for the Fargo. After dropping the tire pressure by 10 psi rear and 15 front I gained just enough grip to keep me upright, and the Fargo was able to do some pretty good trail carving (at least as good as I can expect from a big 29er…). The Revelate frame bag turned out to be a nice surprise. I was expecting the long profile to create a lot of sliding gear once I got into the quick twisties, but for the most part everything stayed in place, and the lower center of gravity kept me locked in place. Way better than a backpack.

On that note this was really the first time I’ve run water bottles in the fork mounts offroad, and the Lezyne cages worked great. I barely noticed the additional weight and I returned home with as many bottles as I started with.

If I can find a half day of free time (ha!) I’m dying to go down and explore Palos, or maybe head up to Wisconsin, but I guess in the meantime Chipilly will suffice. At least here I can work the trail into my commute, so it’s an easy way to grab some dirt before work. Next time I’ll be going back with loaded panniers, so we’ll see how that goes…

 

 

circa 1982

Let me introduce you to the most important thing in my life in the fall of 1982. My Supergoose.

See, up until then my source of mobility was my old refurbished funky green metallic Schwinn Stingray. Now, don’t get me wrong – that was a bike that rocked without equal in 1976. A deep metalflake green rattlecan paintjob (with a matching banana seat!), hi-rise sissy bar, ape bars, stubby rear fender and a drag slick out back. Even though it was a rescue from the town dump, it oozed attitude and could hold a wheelie for 50 yards. Don’t even get me started with skids. But by 1980 it was showing it’s age. The stance was all wrong, the color was getting long in the tooth, and several years spent with baskets for newspaper delivering had taken it’s toll. Did I mention that  beck then you stored your bikes in the metal shed out back? Rust city. Every spring you tried to fight it back with a can of Noxon and an old toothbrush, but it was a losing battle.

So enter 1982. Big year. First year of high school. New crowd. BMX! I started hanging with 4 or 5 guys who were pretty deep into BMX. In truth, it was pretty hard NOT to be into BMX in ’82. It was everywhere. That was the summer of E.T. BMX was rad baby. I had to dump the old Schwinn for something real. Thing was, that old paper route was a losing proposition, and funds were limited at best. Luckily, some of the guys I was hanging out with by then were already upgrading their serious toys, and I reaped the benefits. I scraped up enough for a shiny new Supergoose frame, fork and crank (Chrome-moly!), and through weeks of bartering landed some hand-me-down components to finish it off. Tuff Wheels, stainless bars, gold headset and more. Built it up in a killer yellow and black scheme (chosen once the yellow wheels became available). Built it up myself. Man, I loved that bike. For a good year it was the style king of the sump in my neighborhood (no, we didn’t have a local track – we used to hop the fences of the local sumps where we would build jumps and berms to mess around on).

Years later I sold the ‘goose to a neighborhood kid once I got tired of it and was scraping together $$$ for my first car (another story). By then that sweet shiny finish had fallen victim to the rust monster that dwelled in our shed, and I had lost count of how many aluminum seat posts I had bent by then. Thing is, until I  dug up this shot I had almost forgotten about that bike. These days it’s the old schwinn I miss most. Not sure if I even have a picture of that one kicking around…

needed correction..

Aside

just realized that when I look back on the last 2 posts I COULD lead folks to the (understandable) conclusion that I’m sitting on a wealth of interesting bikes, and I’m simply selling off several that have fallen by the wayside. Not the case – if the Redline sells it will leave me with exactly ONE bike (horrors!). ’nuff said. I’m taking this Fargo/all-in-one seriously.   🙂

sold, sold, sold

Aside

the great eBay experiment has been a success. Both bikes sold for the prices we were looking for. The basement has never looked so open. Seriously though, I’m happy to see a pair of bikes that hadn’t seen much riding time lately go to folks that will make better use of them. Nothing depresses me more than dusting off a saddle and filling cracking tires.

But all this leads me to another sale. See, since I got a great price for the Cannondale I’m now most of the way to a new Salsa Fargo, the all-in-one bike that will end up serving most every need I have (except hardcore road duty). That means that it’s time to put the Redline up for sale. The Redline has served primarily as my short distance commuter/foul weather trainer. Great bike, and it served my needs perfectly in NY, but the rubber is just too skinny, and the bike too top-heavy for Chicago winters. The last nail in the coffin was that Redline decided against fitting this frame with rack mounts, making baby-pulling difficult at best. Time to go to someone who will make full use of her. You can check out her eBay posting here at

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120601697124&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT#ht_500wt_1154

Now I just hope I can find a Fargo in medium before this year’s stock is gone…