I will never get tired of saying that I love biking in Helsinki! Even though it is so much colder than in Chicago (it was a peak of Indian summer in Chicago last weekend, with temperatures rising to 74F), it is so much nice! I can’t stop marveling at the fact that there are safe bike paths everywhere! This time, I bought better and warmer biking gear, and I like it so much that I almost want to take it back to Chicago :). We went on two bike rides, Sunday and Monday, and the weather was perfect for biking!
I was in Helsinki for only one and a half days. On the first (half) of the day, I visited Natasha at her home and met with the whole family – the last time I saw everybody was in March! This time, the situation in the world (and on the war front) was different, so our conversation was much happier, even in view of the European energy crisis.
On the second day, I did some work, mostly interacting with our London-based team, and then Boris and I biked to IKEA – something he had wanted to do for a while. He already made a couple of solo biking tips there, and he wanted to do it with me as well. We declared a late lunch to be our primary purpose, but it is impossible not to browse what’s out there!
On Tuesday, we had a very early flight to Amsterdam. Since Boris has Finnair Gold, we could hang out in the Finnair lounge and have breakfast there (and I forgot to take pictures :)).
Also, I upgraded us to Finnair Plus, so we had these cool seats with lights and elevated leg rests 🙂
Last year, I saw people biking on Lake Shore Drive when I was doing my usual Sunday biking – I didn’t know anything about Bike the Drive! Since I learned about it, I did not miss my chance to participate.
As it was my first time, I didn’t know how things worked, and I thought I could bike as far as I felt comfortable and get off the Drive any moment. Only when I received the “day of the event” package in the email I realize that there were just a couple of opportunities to get on and off the course.
Judging by my usual long rides, I decided to turn back at Oakwood, which was one of the designated turning points, but when I reached it I didn’t see any opportunity to turn around. Most likely, I would be able to go to the most Southern point of the Drive – the Museum of Science and Industry, but then it would take longer than I planned to spend on this event. So I looked to my left, and when I saw a gap in the median, I moved to the left and merged into the stream of bikers going north.
When I reached Millennium Park, I stopped for activities and a pancake breakfast and then continued to the northern end of Lakeshore Drive. I covered a total distance of 32 miles, and I didn’t feel tired at all – and that’s what I am most happy about.
When we were approaching the end of the Drive, one gentleman on my right said – you are always catching up with me, no matter how much I try to get ahead! I told him, sorry, that was not intentional (to be honest, I didn’t even register his presence). I said – I am just consistent. It didn’t feel like I stretched myself; I could do more (and I was not sore the next day).
Another thing that I need to think more about is that I didn’t eat anything before the ride and didn’t drink anything. Initially, I planned to each some fruits before going, but I didn’t feel like I wanted any, and I left the house at 6 AM without food or drink. I thought that I might feel too hungry in the middle of the ride, but I felt great. At 8 AM, when I stopped at Millennium Park, I went to find breakfast. I’d already covered 21 miles by that time and thought I would be very hungry. However, I ate just two pancakes and two breakfast sausages and didn’t want more. I had a great feeling in my body, not needing to process any food and focusing on the ride. There should be at least two of my photos from the ride, but I found just one on the event website. I will try to find more later 🙂
The days are busy but in a good way. I liked a lot how productively we spent time with Boris, especially the last three days when he was here when we went kayaking, to a concert, and to the Art Institute, and found a new gelato place, and did the bike shopping, and went for a long bike ride just before it started raining.
And now, when he left, I am still doing something interesting every day, and my work days are full. Even though I know that I am missing a lot of summer events, I do not feel like I am “missing out.” I feel like I am living this summer to the fullest.
Today I managed to go on an hour-long bike ride in the morning, even though the sun was rising later these days, and then worked with my current customer with no unproductive interruptions and went to the beach for my lunch break. And after work, I had a friend over – we didn’t see each other in person since before the pandemic.
I have something planned for almost every day until the end of the month, and it feels very good 🙂
After looking for my potential new bike online, Boris insisted we should go just to any shop to touch and feel and see how I would like it. First, we went to one of the Evanstone’s shops which had very good reviews on the internet, and after that, we went to the shop where I usually have my bikes checked and tuned. We didn’t go there in the first place because I knew they have a very small inventory, and even if I ordered from them, I wanted to see some bikes in the flesh. That was a very interesting experience :). The prices and the way the service went were so different and so much geared to the respective demographics of Evanston and Rogers Park that it was not even funny. And especially interesting was the conversation with the owner of the Rogers Park shot: he talked at length about the current inventory problems, shipments from China, and unpredictable demand. At some point, he mentioned a bike shop “somewhere in Libertivill” and how they “could sell twenty $1,500 e-bikes, because they have people who make 150K over there, and I can sell maybe one because where here I can find families who make 150K?!” We kept nodding 🙂
In the end, we figured out which model and size I needed, and now we will be waiting for a shipment, which may be a month, maybe three…
I use this new bag for a while now, but Boris didn’t see it in use yet, so I guess he didn’t believe me when I said that now all my shopping needs are satisfied. When I told him that I needed to go to the Devon Market and took my shopping bike bag from the shelf, he was about to go along. I told him there is no need, and he looked at me suspiciously and asked whether I am sure. Last summer, I used his presence here to stock up because I could not bring all I need on the bike at once.
I reassured him that now I could indeed do it alone, and I only called him from downstairs when I returned, and then I asked him to come down and “unload the donkey.”
He had to carry the bag upstairs, and when I parked my bike and also came upstairs, he told me very enthusiastically that now he believes me that I can bring all the groceries home by myself. “Hight Five to Swedes!” he added, meaning that this bad was made in Sweden :).
I still can’t believe that Lena and I did each and single thing we planned for that weekend! Today, it was raining in the morning, and I thought both our biking and swimming were not going to happen. But the rain suddenly stopped at 6-30 AM, and Lena didn’t leave me an option to think about whether it was too late or too wet – she just emerged out of her room and said that she was going to walk to her car to get her helmet :).
We biked to the “Windmill” and returned to a late breakfast, then went swimming, trying to catch the time before the lifeguards would be in. I was skeptical about swimming at 72F and with no sun, but it was perfect -the water was already so warmed up that even the cool temperatures of the previous two days did not affect it.
Boris had a very bad bike accident on Wednesday. He says that’s because the sun was bright and because he was not looking at the road but looking back, making sure I was not left behind. In my opinion, the problem was his state of mind. Before we went, I asked him whether he was sure we should go, and he said – yes, it might become better.
He had very serious reasons to be upset, so all is understandable, but as a result, he ran into the rear of a police car – at full speed! I am not even going to describe his face (it still looks very impressive, and actually worse than right after the accident), but the most amazing thing is that he broke a police car bumper!!!
The police filed a proper report, and the hilarious part of this story was that the officer said: we hope our insurance will cover the damage, but we need to check. Most times, it’s not the bike hitting a car, but the opposite, so we need to check whether they would cover the situations like this!