Thursday, July 05, 2007

Notes from the North Branch

I went for a bike ride Tuesday on the North Branch Trail for the first time this year.

I finally saw our region's famous 17-year cicadas (Brood XIII), and just in time. They won't be around much longer. Unmanly as it sounds, I am not fond of bugs. Frankly, I feel the same way about bugs as Republicans do about minorities -- I'll allow that they serve a purpose, but I would rather they did not live near me. In the media build-up to the day the cicadas were supposed to crawl out of the ground, I feared the worst. But the cicadas never came to Lincoln Square. A handful of sightings were reported, but nothing approaching the predicted carpet of insects. Even in the forest preserves along the North Branch Trail the cicadas were not overwhelming. Only a few groves had the telltale buzzing drone (or is it a droning buzz?) of the males hoping to get lucky in their brief time above ground. Though I am not enamored with these characters, I consider the arrival of the periodical cicadas as a way to mark the passage of one's life, like Halley's Comet but more frequent. It's hard to imagine myself being 54 years old the next time the cicadas come.

Aside from the cicadas, little has changed since I rode the trail last year. I even saw the same characters, including "grim-faced man," a recumbent rider whose stony expression shows no hint of the joy of cycling.

In Biking Illinois, I chose to start Ride 20 (Going to the Garden) from Linne Woods because it's easy to find from I-94 and I-294, but I often second-guess myself. There isn't anything "wrong" with the south end of the trail that I excluded, and I wonder if I should have squeezed in the whole thing (as it was, I reached my word limit for the shortened route). Come to think of it, the North Branch Trail wasn't one of my better write-ups. Maybe my familiarity with the route led to an uninspired description. Oh well, there probably isn't a writer alive who looks back on his or her work as perfect; there's always room for improvement. As long as cyclists don't get lost, I guess my book does its job.

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