ALL BY MYSELF.
For real! Dan is all "You need SAG, what if something had happened, call me next time and I'll support you" etc etc. Maybe he's right, but I just figured I have a cell phone and can call a taxi if I can't move my legs anymore. Or catch a bus, get on the train. Or really, appeal to any passing cyclist. One great thing about cycling is this genuine care among total strangers - countless times I've stopped to stretch a leg or whatever and had passing cyclists ask me if I was okay. So I just took it for granted that if I got in trouble, I could just wait for the next bicycle to come by. Failing that, I could figure it out. I am pretty resourceful.
But! I didn't get in any trouble. At all. (!!!!!!!!) Not a single leg cramp, thank you sweet baby jesus, though one of my hip adductors (aka groin muscle) got a little whiny at one point but I stopped and stretched it and no worries. I made a point to stop every 45 minutes to do my leg stretches, eat something, and drink plain water (I filled my CamelBak with electrolyte drink), and I think even though it slowed me down, it was worth it for the difference it made in how my body felt.
So okay, I went from my house (at 7am) to the lake front trail (1.5 miles), then north to Hollywood Circle, which is the northern end of the line:
That's only about another 1.5 miles, so I just went around the circle and headed south.
And I just went to the end. Well, almost the end - it just stops for a while at about South 72nd Street, so that's where I turned around - about 17.5 miles straight from one end to the other. (So it goes from about 5800 North to 7200 South. Which is slightly mindboggling to me, since I'd dread a drive that long - and that was only the first 2/3rds!)
Like I said, I did stop along the way. And whenever I thought of it, I took a picture. Here are some, let me share the scenery:
But then I headed south and who knew? There's a bird sanctuary and a native prairie and some huge gorgeous old building and stuff i never knew about. And, of course, terrific views of the city. There's really nothing like coming toward the city from the south, along the lake.
And then there was this sand trap, which I had to get off and walk my bike over. It's right near the Museum of Science and Industry.
I had a moment where I thought "This is crazy. I've never even driven this far south on Lake Shore Drive." Then I saw the sign that said "Lake Shore Drive Ends" and it was all like Whoa, we are not in Kansas any more, Toto. I mean I guess I knew LSD ends, I just never thought of going past the end. Much less on a bike.
This is where I turned around:
WTF is a "Walk Bike Zone"? Seriously? Well screw them, I didn't want to walk my bike.
So I turned north and did the whole length of the trail again. Here's Museum Campus in the distance...
And look, here's Buckingham Fountain. Turned off. Not exactly picturesque. But then, it was quite windy today (a fact my legs will wearily attest to) so I suppose they can't have the fountain on when it's that windalicious.
When I got to the north end circle again, I looped back south, got off on Foster, stopped at a CVS and bought a bag of the saltiest chips they had and 2 liters of water. I got all set and, with about 40 miles under my belt, headed west. I had to pass within a block of home and MAN did I ever want to just pull on in to my building and call it a day. I think 40 miles is a sensible mileage, perfectly respectable and exhausting enough, and I was quite ready to go home.
But what would be the point, when I'll just have to do 65 miles next week? And then 70 and 80 and 100? Better just to get it over with, so I heaved a sigh and kept pedaling myself to the North Shore Channel (3 miles). It's this path that follows the river up there, all the way north to Evanston until after about 6.5 miles you hit the Arboretum.
There's this sculpture park along most of the way, and here is by far the least interesting sculpture there:
But it's where I stopped to refuel for a moment, so that's the picture I took. Really, you should visit it if you're in the area. A bunch of fun stuff to look at on a nice path.
After that, I was too freaking tired to remember to take pictures. I just wanted it to be over. And eventually, I made it to the Arboretum, turned around and came back down the trail, over again (straight into the by now fierce wind) toward home, and got all choked up with happy tears when I saw my own neighborhood Crafty Beaver store. Because I made it. I really, really made it.
And I didn't want to kick my bike or need to ice my hoo-ha because the new seat may not be heaven, but it is entire celestial bodies away from the old seat. It doesn't hurt! It is not torture! It is mere discomfort! I can LIVE with that!.
Then I dragged my weary legs up 3 flights, called for pizza to be delivered, and went straight into a glorious hot shower. That's the best thing about doing a course that starts and ends at my own front door: no hour-long drive home. Immediate shower and pyjamas and pizza and nap. Bliss.
So that was my 60 miles. I really did it. I am just kinda stunned I did it. By myself. Sixty freaking miles. And when I'm not stunned, I'm just absurdly proud of it. Look what I did, look look look, didja see????
I'd throw a party, but I'm too damn tired to do much besides fall asleep on the couch now. Which I am long overdue on that, so let me get to it.