Community.

My job entails enforcing community standards at a local college, and past jobs have almost always focused on building a sense of community among college students.  This is a lens through which I view the world, and the concept of community plays a part in my life daily.  In fact, when searching for our first home, we decided to buy in the building where we currently live because of the community atmosphere that we witnessed during an open house (someone locked her keys in her car, while it was running, on the biggest snow day of the year, and others in the building helped her get back into her car).

While the word “community” isn’t necessarily used when referring to cycling teams, I see teams as the perfect example of smaller communities within the cycling community. (I’ve been told that a local rider often refers to this as a “fraternity”.)  It makes me happy to see team members hanging out at the team tent, cheering on and supporting other team members.  It makes me even happier to see family members included in that team community.  

My new commuting partner often says “Hi” when passing another cyclist on the road.  My husband will almost always ask a rider on the side of the road if he/she needs anything.  These simple acts let other cyclists know that they are recognized as fellow community members and it reminds us that we’re not alone out there on the road.

When racing, it can be easy to forget that you’re a part of the greater community of cyclists.  During a race, it’s you (and maybe your teammates) against all the other racers in the field.  But beyond race results, beyond upgrade points, even beyond the battle of you against yourself, it’s really all about the community.  For many racers, the time spent at the coffee shop after the ride is just as important as the intervals.  Group rides are about more than just hammering away at the miles, they’re also about the camaraderie, shared experience, and the group spirit one feels in a finely executed pace line.

Teams will soon begin the process of regrouping for the 2009 season: ordering kits, setting training plans, and looking forward to training camps.  This is the time during which new riders will start seeking out new teams, looking for their place in the racing community.  How will you welcome them to your community?

Commuting.

On nice days, I take my bike to work on the train and then ride it home.  On days like today, when it’s raining, I drive to and from work.  On the way to work, I take the Edens to 41; however, in the evening, traffic backs up and moves really slowly.  To save myself at least fifteen minutes of commuting time on the way home, I drive the route that I ride, taking Sheridan and St. John’s most of the way.  

Today, while driving home, I realized how different the route looks from a car versus a bike.  When biking, I know almost every curve and hill.  I know where to slow down, the spots where I’m likely to run into traffic, and I notice most of the street signs along the way.  When driving, I’m too focused on the car in front of me to really notice the street signs or how much time I’ve spent on any particular stretch of road.  For instance, Westleigh Rd from Lake Forest College doesn’t seem that long on my bike because I know it so well.  But, in my car, I realize I’ve been on Westleigh for what feels like a long time before rounding the bend at the old Barat College campus.  I sometimes find myself worried that I made a wrong turn somewhere because I wasn’t paying as close attention as I probably should have.

If I’m not paying close attention, and I know how dangerous that can be for cyclists, what about all of those other drivers out there who may be paying even less attention and have absolutely no regard for cyclists on the road?  That’s a scary thought!  I really need to start paying better attention behind the wheel, and I can only hope that others are doing the same.

Chicago Police Cracking Down on Cyclists.

The city is cracking down on enforcement of cyclists abiding by traffic laws.  As a fairly regular bike commuter, I completely understand the need to teach cyclists (and recreational riders fall into that category) the rules of the road and the importance of abiding by them.  I’ve seen quite a few cyclists (both recreational and the kitted up racer dude) blow lights and stop signs without any regard for the cars that are already stopped and awaiting their turn.  Illegal (and completely RUDE) behavior such as this leads to increased driver frustration with cyclists who think they’re above the law.
I also wish that the police would teach drivers about the rights of cyclists.  There have been way too many drivers attacking cyclists with their cars.

2008 Superweek – ENH Grand Prix

I took so many pictures yesterday that I’m uploading them by category. The first two categories are up!
Cat 4/5
Cat 4

And, now the third and fourth races are up!
Masters 30+ and 40+

Slowly, but surely, I’m making progress…
Womens Cat 3

And, last, but definitely not least…
Mens Cat 3

See you all next week at the Chicago Criterium!