Bike the Drive 2015

Bike the Drive is the one ride I look forward to all year.  It is so much fun to actually ride 30 miles on Lake Shore Drive without worrying about sharing the road with cars.  It is a relaxing ride, and my husband and I can go at a comfortable pace.   This is our 3rd Bike the Drive, and we started the event a little bit after 6 am (event started at 5:30 am).  Because we had pre-registered, we had our stickers/wristbands/breakfast tickets ready to go and didn’t have to deal with waiting in line.  I brought along my little speaker so that we could enjoy some music.  We saw some interesting people who brought along their small dogs either on their handlebar basket or trailer.  We managed to bike the entire distance with some breaks and ate breakfast at Grant Park.  It rained during portions of the ride, but it wasn’t so bad.  I had on my windbreaker and light wool socks so I wasn’t totally soaked riding through the rain.   I did feel a bit sore after it was all over, but then again, I haven’t been bike commuting as much as I used to.   Looking forward to the next Bike the Drive, and hopefully they can extend the finish time to even later – past 10:15 am.


Here are some pictures from the morning.

Our bikes
Our bikes


Southbound on LSD approaching the S-Curve
Southbound on LSD approaching the S-Curve
Maybe one day we can bike the Chicago Skyway.
Maybe one day we can bike the Chicago Skyway.


Museum of Science and Industry rest stop.
Museum of Science and Industry rest stop.


Bio break.
Bio break.
Rainy approach to Soldier Field
Rainy approach to Soldier Field


Unlimited pancakes and sausage, and some sort of orange drink for post-ride fuel.


We were actually going the same speed as the 147 bus on our way back.

147 Bus Inner Drive


We even saw a guy riding off the Belmont exit on a penny-farthing bike.

Guy riding a penny-farthing bike near Belmont Harbor.

Planning to commute to a new job

Starting a new job is exciting and there is a lot of learning that goes on in the first few weeks, including how to commute by bike.  The distance to my new job is significantly shorter (still 20 + miles if I bike to and from work).  At my previous job, I didn’t start biking until 6 months in.   That was because I didn’t consider bike commuting to be an option and didn’t have a bike.  These are no longer barriers and it will be fun to plan my first bike commute.  Right now, things are extremely busy so I am not able to bike commute until I am comfortable in my role.  However,  I have been observant and taken steps to plan for my new commute so that it will be less stressful.  The following are a few things I’ve considered before I start biking to work.


Finding other bike commuters
Since I’m new and my organization is larger, it will take some time for me to find the other bicycle commuters that I have heard about.  Therefore, I need to go with my gut feeling.   If a conversation ever flows to the topic of biking, then I will bring it up.   I already know my boss is OK with me biking, and it seems that people have a favorable attitude towards it.   This has lessened my worries about how I would be perceived biking to work.


Planning the route
While driving to work, I take notice of the traffic patterns in the early morning.  When bicycle commuting, I will probably be on the road an hour before the morning rush really hits.  I had some time before my job started and actually test biked one of the routes I would typically take.  Thankfully, I can avoid the busy roads and take a more scenic route.  Previously, I had to bike commute on a stretch of road that was 35 mph where car drivers would speed and didn’t know how to share the road.  One advantage I have is that I am already familiar with the area.


Finding a place for bike parking
I still need to find a discreet location to park my bike.  An out of the way pole or fence may be an option.  As long as it doesn’t get in anyone’s way, or violate company policy, then it’s fine.


Bringing items to work
Everyday I bring items from home that I can stash in my drawers at my office. I used to have a cubicle and had to make good use of the space I had. Now I am spoiled since my storage space has doubled.  Things that I’ll bring before my first commute include:

1) Extra clothes.  My dress code is now business formal, so I’ll probably bring an outfit before my first commute.  I will also test folding and rolling up my clothes to see how wrinkled they get.
2) Food, snacks = salt and sweets
3) Bicycle pump and new inner tubes. Yes, I have these in case my tire goes flat and I need to repair it.   I have had instances where I’ve rode to work but didn’t know I got a flat on the morning commute and then couldn’t ride home.
4) Hygiene prep products- baby wipes, shampoo, hairdryer, towel, cosmetics etc.


Being physically ready
My physical stamina has  decreased significantly after this harsh Chicago winter.   I have only been biking on the weekends and this contributes to my stamina, even though it’s only short trips or a fun ride.   I will have to deal with the increased fatigue (sore butt + legs) until my body becomes used to the process of bike commuting again.  If things become unmanageable, I can always hop on the train or bus to give myself a break.


With these things in mind, I know that I will be setting myself up for a successful first commute.  It also helps to see that more people are bike commuting and it isn’t as strange as when I started a few years ago.  I do look forward to the day when I turn into the parking lot on my bike instead of my car.