I’m baaaack! On the road again

I’m baaack! On the road again.

I know it’s the wrong song, but it my head I sound like Aerosmith singing “Back in the Saddle”.

60 degrees in early March in Chicago, weekend — I’m riding! Get that bike out of the basement; dust off my helmet and the riding glasses; and let’s see whether all this riding on rollers is going to pay off.

First of all, no amount of indoor training can truly prepare you for the road. No matter how fit and strong you think you are, the road is hard. When you’re going 20+ miles per hour and spinning at 80+ RPM in your largest chainring, it is likely not the months of off-season training paying off, it’s the wind in your back. Unfortunately, you only realize this when you turn around and that wind hits you in the face.

Second, it still is early March in Chicago. Going out in shorts and a short sleeved jersey with just a t-shirt underneath may not have been the best idea. When the sun is behind clouds and that wind is in your face, it is bloody cold.

And lastly, I missed my kung-fu movies and definitely did not miss suburban drivers and unchained dogs.

But nothing can take away the joy of actually being outside, on the road, watching the empty brown fields and bare trees fly by. And, all joking aside, the off-season training really does pay off. Even on this first ride of the year, you feel stronger and better prepared than you would have been otherwise. You can actually enjoy the ride as opposed to struggling through it and cursing all those rich winter-time foods.

So here’s to a great start of another riding season.



March – First Day of Spring

What a weird weather! Where did all this snow come from? And where has it all gone?

After a week of wonderfully warm weather, when every pore of my body was itching to ride, and which instead I spent running around at work, I woke up on Saturday to two inches of snow — this winter’s last hoorah. Life is not fair.

Sunday. Sunday morning clearly couldn’t decide what to do next. Dump more snow? Send some rain? Just stay gloomy? Or, maybe, just maybe, let the sun come out and warm things up. I could hardly believe my luck when the sun came out and immediately started melting all that white stuff. By 1 PM I was out on the road.

To loosely translated the great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, “the cold and the sun — a beautiful day”. It was cold enough to still have to wear some Under Armour and long pants, yet warm enough to unzip my jacket and enjoy the ride. But, holly Batman!, what a wind.

Lessons learned and reconfirmed.

If it is very windy, it is better to start riding against the wind, at least for me. Then you will enjoy the return part of the ride so much better. But if you do that, push yourself to ride “there”, to your turning point, longer. Don’t think that if you’re going for a 2-hour ride, you’ll ride 1 hour there and 1 hour back. It took me 38 minutes to get “there” and only 20 minutes to get back.

And if you happen to start off riding with the wind, don’t get carried away. Keep in mind that the return trip is going to be so much harder.

When there’s an event at Sears Arena, stay the hell away from the area. The normally deserted streets around the arena turn into a zoo filled with cars waiting to turn into the parking lot, hapless area residents who are used to cutting through there and are cut in the mayhem of event goers and blocked streets, and police cruisers calmly watching over it all. A lone bicycle trying to navigate it all causes much confusion and uncertainty for drivers and parking lot attendants.

If you’re like me and practice the stop-and-go policy (stopping or slowing down at a red light, making sure it’s safe to proceed and crossing on red), it may be better to stop completely and wait for the light to turn green, if there’s a police cruiser sitting at the same light. I’m not sure what he would have done were I to cross on red, but I decided that it wasn’t worth finding out.

It seems that Hoffman Estates has installed some awfully sensitive sensors on traffic lights at some obscure streets. On these little streets with little traffic, when in a car, I end up waiting quite a bit for the light to turn green. On a bicycle, however, the lights were turning green almost as soon as I’d cross the white line. Not sure what was going on, but I appreciated not having to stop for too long.

And lastly, a note to self, get some new tape for the handlebar. You look bad with loose tape flapping in the wind.

Lotusphere Comes To You dates are announced

IBM has posted dates for LCTY events.  More information is here.

Chicago happens to be the first city on schedule for North America.  The Chicago event is on March 11th.

Lotusphere 2010 had a great deal of interesting information on LotusLive, Project Vulcan and overall future plans for the Lotus product line up.  If you didn’t make it to Orlando this year, spending a day at a local LCTY event is going to be well worth your time.  And did I mention? There will be food.

GRANITE in the suburbs?

If you are a Lotus professional in or around Chicago, did you ever you feel that you wanted to come to one of the GRANITE meetings but didn’t want to make the trip downtown?  Roy Rumaner is looking to start a suburban chapter of GRANITE.  He has a discussion going on LinkedIn.

So, if you’re interested, join the discussion and show your support for the idea.  And if you’re not already on LinkedIn, this is a good opportunity to join and connect with other professionals around our town.

Free Gyros in Chicago on September 1st

If you like eating gyros and you live in Chicago, you’re in luck.  Tomorrow, September 1st, 2009, Kronos Foods is offering a free gyro at one of 44 participating restaurants.  To take advantage of the offer just visit the Kronos’ website and print out a coupon.  Bon appetit!

Know Any Good Web Developers?

The Taproot Foundation in Chicago is looking for good web developers who want to do it pro bono. Talented web developers are hard to find and are in demand. Taproot has some projects staffing right now and would love to meet web developers who may be interested in becoming pro bono consultants with the Taproot Foundation.

I’ve been involved with Taproot for about 1 year now and about to start my 3rd project as a web developer. Working with Taproot has been a rather rewarding, albeit at times frustrating, experience. I’m not going to attempt to advocate volunteering, it’s just a good thing to do. But for a web developer being a pro bono consultant offers a singular experience: as an IT professional, never again will you feel as appreciated as when you deliver the final site to your pro bono client. In addition, you will have an opportunity to hone your existing skills or learn something new. And, of course, you will get to meet all kinds of new people with different backgrounds from different companies around Chicago.

So, if you think being a pro bono consultant is for you, please visit the Taproot website and Create a Profile. 

If you apply by Monday morning 5/11, Taproot may be able to have you come to the next Orientation which is on Wednesday, May 13th at 6pm in downtown Chicago.

If you want to know more about Taproot, just drop me an email or leave a comment to this post.

Why do they advertise ERs on billboards?

This falls into the category of things that baffle me…  Driving along I-355 in Chicago I noticed a large billboard advertising some local hospital.  The gist of the ad was that there is no waiting in their ER.  Now, this was maybe 3 hours ago but I already forgot the name of the hospital.  And what value does that billboard provide?  If I’m heading to a hospital’s ER, it is because I’m either hurt real bad or I’m in the back of an ambulance.  In either case, I’m heading to the closest damn hospital.

What is the biggest difference between an ambulance and a taxi? You can’t tell the ambulance where to take you.  It’s going to the hospital it services.

And if I’m heading to a hospital any other way, I’m going to the closest hospital I know and not to the hospital I have to Google the directions to, hoping to remember the name of that one place that promised no waiting in their ER.

So, dear hospital, the one that advertises on I-355 whatever your name may be, please save your money and try to direct your advertising budget towards things that really matter to your patients, things like making sure that saving lives does not cost an arm and a leg in the end.