06.06.11 – Chicago!

After Jarrett saved me from biking through a severe thunderstorm in Hammond, IN, we drove up to his apartment in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. We drove along Lake Shore Drive with the lake on one side and downtown Chicago on the other. Never before have I seen such intense fog in an urban setting. Hannah and I had previously experienced 100% humidity and fog in rural West Virginia but to see a major metropolitan area immersed in thick fog was very cool. Nearby Navy Pier there’s a lighthouse about 200 yards out into the lake. The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see the road that led to it, which was a visual that most people only see on those inspirational posters about courage, success or whatever. Enough about fog though, after a hot shower we hit up the Goose Island Restaurant and I had an amazing pulled pork sandwich with some great Goose Island brew.

The following day was Memorial Day and the weather was AMAZING! The skies did a complete 180 from the previous day and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Jarrett and I met his roommates at the beach it was really interesting to swim in a fresh water body that looked and felt more like an ocean (waves and water to the horizon). Jarrett then showed me around some of the neighborhoods north of downtown like Wicker Park, River North, and Bucktown. I liked these areas because of their close proximity to downtown Chicago without the skyscrapers and traffic. Each neighborhood seemed to have its own culture but also shared similarities that connected them all. You know what else connected them? Bike lanes!

Chicago has so many bike lanes, paths, racks, shops, you name it. I’ve seen this in Baltimore and Washington DC but Chicago was the first place that it seemed really integrated into daily life. Drivers were very tolerant of cyclists and vice versa. Later that evening I had my first deep dish pizza and holy cow was it amazing! The guys and I hit up a couple bars that night and it was cool to see the night life that Chicago has to offer. Most of people in the bars seemed to be like minded and I didn’t feel out of place at all.

The following day I spent most of my time doing laundry and blogging. When Adrian and Emily got off of work, I went to their apartment in the downtown area to spend a few days with them. Adrian and Emily are a couple I met at RIT and I forgot they were in Chicago until a day or so before I got there. Despite the late request, they were happy to have me crash on their awesome air mattress and helped me navigate the downtown area. On Wednesday I went to a few of the museums in the area since it was a free admission day. I highly recommend the Museum of Science and Industry if you’re at all interested in technology, history, nature, science or anything really else. It’s got everything from a vintage car exhibit to how tornadoes are formed to how cow poop fuels our world!

Later in the week, Remy came to town! Remy is another friend from RIT and she was moving into Chicago that weekend for a 10 week internship. I stayed with her and her roommates, Jaden and Heidi for the weekend. We visited the bean sculpture in Millennium Park, the FREE Lincoln Park Zoo and Michigan Avenue with all the fancy pricey window-shopping stores. Did you know Garmin has a storefront? Me neither. It was really nice to travel around Chicago with someone else who had not previously been there. It was kind of like having a travel buddy again! Enjoy the summer in Chicago, Remy! Perhaps we’ll cross paths in California!

On the final day in Chicago I met with Brian Jordan and Chris Shipman, two Advanced Development engineers at SRAM. For the non-cyclists, SRAM is a major bicycle component manufacturer that makes bicycle components and accessories that rival the more well-known Shimano and Campagnolo components. A request to buy Brian lunch and pick his brain about working in the industry turned into he and Chris giving me a tour of the facility, buying me lunch and spending two hours talking about everything from bike touring and SRAM engineering to how many towns are named Chillicothe and Chicago weather. Both Brian and Chris have worked at SRAM for over ten years, which really speaks to how great the industry and SRAM in particular treats its employees. It was great to see how a major player in the cycling industry operates. It was a very encouraging experience for someone like me who’s interested in joining the business. After the meeting I bike 30 miles north to Adam Bonder’s apartment in North Chicago.

Adam is going to school to become a doctor and while I was there, took the biggest exam of his career. I’m glad to say he nailed it and look forward to future episode of Bonding With Dr. Bonder on the Health Channel! Unfortunately, the test took up most of the day that I was there but that night we celebrated something monumental for us both. Having completed Chicago, I have successfully finished 1 of the 4 legs of my ride. Similarly, with this exam, Adam completed a major leg of his journey toward doctorhood. I wish you the absolute best of luck Adam. I have no doubt that you’ll find an area of medicine that loves you as much as you love it.

If you’ve read this far, I really recommend checking out the pictures from Chicago. The story continues there and in the words of Porky Pig…

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