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The unparalleled Lindsey Markel is taking the next bold step with her zine YOU ARE AMONG FRIENDS, turning it into an independently published book of a durable (& sharable) quality – & she needs your help.

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I cannot support this endeavor enthusiastically enough. Aimed at women 10-30 (& touching the hearts & minds of those of every age) YAAF addresses sexuality, consumerism, religion & age in ways that too many young women have never heard before. YAAF talks to its audience in an honest & needed way, the way that your big sister or best friend maybe never did but god, how you wish she had.

The sooner girls realize that they were made for more than pleasing others, the sooner we shall find ourselves among a generation of women who are actually pleased with themselves. Help YAAF spread the word.

To help Lindsey reach her goal & to learn more about the upcoming edition of YOU ARE AMONG FRIENDS (featuring guest editorials by Gala Darling, Allison Weiss, Jenny Owen Youngs, Jessalyn Wakefield & yours truly, click here.

Download the original audio podcast (for free) at http://www.youareamongfriends.com.

Thanks.

So, as I plot this bike trip through the south side, it’s good to know that Chicago’s road quality is ranked neatly between Harare, Zimbabwe & Colombo, Srilanka.

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See also this far more official report from WBEZ on the craptastic state of the Windy City’s roads. Ugh.

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I love my neighborhood.

Mother Nature is a cruel, heartless bitch. In the last two weeks the weather in Chicago has had¬†averages of 72, 48, 85, & 54, in that order (how’s it goin, Chicago stereotypes?), which has made getting back into the swing of training strange. Yes, the swing. Yes, I lapsed in training. But I’m getting better.¬†As the temperatures continue to (mostly) improve, it allows me to break out my bike, or my new best friend in the world. I’m a little hesitant to profess my love for riding my bike, mostly because I’m not one of Those Bikers. I have to ask for help when fixing problems, & I only just mastered the art of filling my tires with air. I rock my dad’s old Schwinn, not a Bianchi, & I do not get off on the idea of having my body reduced to a bloody smear on the pavement – something that seems to drive fixed gear fans who, by & large, intimidate the crap out of me.

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For all the elitist, stuck-up bikers out there though, there’s a whole lot of all-embracing bike love happening in out here. I wish I knew Stacey Earley better, because she’s one of the nicest bikers I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet (she moved a friend’s entire apartment via bike!). Cycling Sisters aims to get more women on bikes, & Sewing Pattern (aka Angie Ma) just released a spectacular album completely devoted to the two wheeled wonder. Times are good for bikers – which is good news for me as I prepare for the other Assignment #12: biking from where I grew up to where I live now.

I’m actually going to do this one in reverse, heading south from Chicago to Midlothian, the suburb where I grew up. In theory, this ride will be pretty easy: Midlothian is directly south of my current home in Humbolt Park, and Kedzie Avenue, one of the larger streets in Chicago, extends all 20 miles down to my home town. On the map below, I’ve used the California Clipper as my start point & St. Stephen’s Church as my finish so you can see my travel plan:

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It’s roughly 21 miles, which will be the longest bike ride I’ve ever taken in my life. It’s a little intimidating, but I keep telling myself it’s really not that big a deal; about four years ago, my mom & dad (who are Of A Certain Age) rode their bikes from Madison to Milwaukee in the dead of summer. If they can do that, then I should be able to ride to Nashville & back without breaking a sweat! Right?!

…right?

I love riding my bike down Western Avenue. It’s like staring Death in the face. Then calling Death a wise guy, poking him in the eyes & pedaling away going “WOOOP! woop woop woop woop woop woop!”