Thursday, June 18, 2009

Slow Starts

Clincher appears to be reaching the age where it is difficult at best to organize a good game of mushball among the peer group out here on the fringes of suburbia. It was fun playing in a downtown league last summer, but most everybody was about half my age. Still, it seemed that every team we faced had one obligatory old guy on it as well, and I was determined all through last winter -- and on into this spring -- to get the word out for some local ball playing.

Alas, as we so often hear, "when one door closes, another opens." There must be a good reason that such expressions become Old Sayings. Because in the absence of regular softball action, I find more time to spend in the saddles of my bicycles.

So, recently and finally, I rode my first loop of the season on the Illinois Prairie Path: about 25 miles eastbound to Villa Park on the Main Stem, and back along the Great Western. There are many miles of ex-railway to the Prairie Path. Much of it is the old electric Chicago, Aurora & Elgin line.

The Great Western presents a subtle uphill grade most of the way, and a 10 mph headwind offers a quality workout. I chose the 1972 Schwinn Varsity, and its forty pounds of rubber and electroforged steel, for my season opener. I have a genuine fondness for the old Varsity that I picked up about five or six years ago for fifty bucks at a little bike shop in Glen Ellyn. I also have what should be a 1969 Varsity that I acquired from a friend and fellow Metro rail commuter as he retired and moved to Austin, Texas (hello, and thanks again, Leroy!). The brakes still need a little work, but the gears and derailleur are in great shape and it's another solid ride with many miles in its future.

If softball can't keep my aging frame in shape this summer, then the venerable Chicago-made frames of these classic Schwinns will have to do the job....