As usual, I'm nowhere-near as sore as I'd think I'd be from the LATE Ride. This year, far from resting up ahead of time, I made it out to see KOKO and Don't Spit the Water at The Playground before heading downtown.
I'm no LATE Ride veteran or anything -- this was the 17th ride and only my 3rd time out -- but I'm pretty sure of the simple key to my enjoyment of the ride: start out in front and stay in front. Stuck in the middle of a pack of 10,000 people, bicycle traffic is what stalls you, not car traffic, and there's more chances for accidents. And there's a difference in the reactions of car drivers and pedestrians -- when you're in the midst of the pack it's obvious to onlookers that some sort of organized event is in progress. Riding up at the front of the wave, there's just a general sense of puzzlement from bystanders -- 60 or 70 bicyclists riding by is unusual. My friends and I are, of course, the epitome of maturity and we decided that correct answer whenever a drunk asked where we were all going was, "your girlfriend's house!"
This year, a new sponsor of the ride was McDonald's -- part, I suppose, of their new "Hey, Mickey D's isn't just for lard asses, you could, you know, skateboard, or something" campaign. So Ronald McDonald started the ride just a few bike-lengths ahead of us and we were riding pretty much the same pace as him most of the ride. When we were on the home stretch, right at the Lake Path and Grand, Ronald headed north along lower Lake Shore and Shaun turned left towards Navy Pier.
"What are you doing?" I yelled, "Follow Ronald -- he knows where he's going."
When we got turned around and back on track, Ronald McDonald was about 50 yards ahead of us.
"I know this is 'not a race,'" I said, "but if we finish this behind a man wearing clown shoes, I am going to be pissed."
So we hauled ass for the last mile and were able to get in to the breakfast line (for our sample-size Fruit & Walnut Salad) before the clown. Who winked at me as he rode in. Creep-town!