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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.

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?