This coming Saturday was to be the first running of the Tour of Evanston, on its third scheduled date. It is time to officially consider the possibility that the tour is cursed as I cancel the third attempt to tour the city my family calls home.
A little over a year ago, I decided to get myself in shape. I had purchased an extra large cycling jersey just prior to this and knew some bad stuff was up when I could not zip it close.
I had over the course of four plus decades gone from stout to husky to portly to very much out of shape completely. This despite regular bike commuting, the occasional recreational ride and lots of bike tours and research for those tours. With the help of Colnago Mike, (the Padrone of Chicago bike racing, Michael Abene), in August of 2013, I started training. This was a type of riding I hadn’t done in some three decades back to when I was racing as a junior. On my way to our very first ride, my chain somehow got jammed up and yanked through my rear derailleur destroying both and we ended up walking up California talking about bike advocacy instead of doing the ‘goons ride.
A few days later, we made it up to Highland Park. At the half-way point, we stopped at a coffee house and Michael came out with a muffin and offered me some. I was barely holding it together and the thought of putting any food in my mouth almost made me hurl right then and there. I was…huff…pufff……way, way out of shape.
Over the course of a couple of months, Mike and I made many trips up through the north shore suburbs and up and down the Des Plaines River Trail. We were doing many more miles compared to what I had been doing and I was dropping weight and getting fit. I had also rediscovered my love of going fast, riding hard and challenging myself on the bike. Then came the brilliant idea that I should try to race cyclo-cross. My first race was in October of 2013, almost thirty years after my last race as a junior. I achieved my main goal of not getting a DFL. I entered my second race and later that month, took off in the Masters heat of my second race since the 80s. I was feeling way better on this race and was actually passing people….lots of them. Too bad I hadn’t learned much about proper tire pressure and cornering in wet grass. On the second lap, I slid out on a corner and ended up breaking my clavicle.
The main result of this was that I made life miserable for my wife for 8 weeks, who suddenly had the solo duty of lifting our 75 pound (then) 10-year old special needs son Jackson all the time. Less importantly, I was also unable to bike, so the first scheduled tour of Evanston in November of 2013 was cancelled. This was only my third cancelled ride in over 7 years of doing the tours, but was followed right away by my fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh cancelled rides as I canned the remaining fall and winter rides to recover, do penance and get back in riding condition.
I managed to bounce back pretty well, and get back to training and biking. Eventually I was able to resume Jackson-lifting duties and my brief second-life in bike racing was quickly scrapped. The rest of the fall and winter were spent on the trainer and rollers and when spring came back, so did the training rides, bike commuting and the tours. The Tour of Evanston was rescheduled for May 17, 2014, but just before it ran, our son Jackson got very sick and had to be hospitalized. He ended up staying in the Intensive Care Unit at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago for three weeks, and in the process, the second attempted run of the Tour of Evanston had to be cancelled. Jackson meanwhile got better, but never quite back to his baseline before the hospitalization. The important thing was that he was well enough to be home with us and we were all together again instead of trading nights on the couch under the vent in whatever room we were in on the 16th floor at Children’s. We got used to new treatments, new therapies, new equipment and resumed living our life interrupted.
Riding returned. Training resumed. The tours started up again and the third attempt to do the Tour of Evanston was rescheduled for this Saturday, September 27, 2014. This past Tuesday, Chaney got called by Jackson’s school because he was having trouble breathing and she ended up going to get him and take him home. I stayed home with him the next day and then took him to the doctor who advised us with a course of treatment and instructions to call if his condition worsened, which it did so we soon found ourselves back on the 16th floor of Lurie Children’s Hospital for a new stay in PICU. We are back to trading nights and days at the hospital and I am back to cancelling the Tour of Evanston. All of our energy is going into maintaining some normalcy for our daughter, and getting our son well. The Tour of Evanston, once again, is not to be.
I would normally say that I’m not superstitious, but I do always carry my tool kit plus at least two tubes, a patch kit, two cartridges AND a pump in my jersey and/or saddle bag, though I’ve never needed all of them. On the same thought wave, I have to wonder if this tour isn’t…cursed.