I got on 1-55 and then 94 without any major issues and headed to meet up with Carol at the Torrence Road exit. I'm really surprised at how at-ease I've become on the bike-- especially on the interstates. And now I have ridden on all of the major interstates in Chicago-- kind of cool really.
Carol and I stayed on 94 to get past Gary and then hopped off to take 12 through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It was a BEAUTIFUL ride. The trees were ablaze with changing leaves and the curves were gentle and plentiful. It was a bit chilly, but MJ had loaned me her heated gear in honor of my birthday so I was toasty warm.
We crossed over into Michigan, and in New Buffalo we had lunch at Pierre Anne Creperie. Lunch was delicious-- I had a ham and gruyere crepe and then shared a nutella crepe with Carol for desert. Both were fantastic.
Then we hopped back on the bikes and headed back into the city and split up where we had met. I headed back towards the garage, making a pit stop at my house and then taking Lake Shore Drive all the way back to the garage. Buckingham Fountain was still on and the lake was simply shimmering in the sunlight.
I had 2 major realizations on the road today. The first is that this is the first "Birthday Ride" I've taken where I was not the passenger. I've had many people over the years take me out on the back of a bike for my birthday, but this is the first time I've been the one driving. It was awesome.
The second realization was a bit more profound. I had a moment on the road where I was completely content. I have a very busy life and every moment is filled with things I'd rather be doing, things I should be doing, or things I'm worried about getting done. But today was different. There was no where else I would have rather been than on the back of babybike. All other cares and worries were locked tightly away and left in the garage. In that moment, I found joy.
I get it now. I understand why people talk about riding as therapy. I understand why the first thought on a warm day is, "Can i ride?" and why the first thought on a cold day is, "Can i make myself warm enough to ride?" I understand the "freedom" that so many speak of and the peace others have found.
After pulling into the garage and having a deliciously hot shower and finally feeling my toes again, I got to have dinner out with my chosen family here in Chicago. There was much laughter, blue cupcakes (don't ask), and wonderful fellowship.
I couldn't have asked for a more perfect birthday.
Miles ridden today: 167
Hoping to hit 2000 before REALLY gets too cold to ride!