Melting Into Clark Street A Bad Sign For Cyclists

Melting Into Clark Street A Bad Sign For Cyclists
Ziggy (aka The Notorious Z.I.G. to squirrels) during cooler times in the Blizzard of 2011. / photo credit Scott Rowan

I found myself literally sinking into Clark Street this morning and I realized - whoa, this heat wave is for real!

Having grown up in Richmond, Virginia, street-melting heat isn't anything new to me. However, I haven't experienced heat like that very much in Chicago since moving here in 1999. But today when I stopped a stop light and felt myself tipping over to my left I knew something was different.

I had no idea what was going on at first. Was I suffering from vertigo? Was I roofied and starring unexpectedly in Hangover 3? I had no idea.

Looking down at my left foot, I saw the edges of my shoes disappearing into the tar I was forced to stand on at a stop light. I bounced up and down on the balls of my foot and watched my foot sink deeper into the tar. I laughed, but wondered if my tires would get stuck (they didn't).

None of us want to admit that we're susceptible to the weather. After all if we've taken the non-conformist tactic of riding our bikes to work we pride ourselves on not thinking like the vast majority of other people already. However, given that a Minneapolis newsroom was able to bake cookies on the dashboard of a car yesterday, it seems like we cyclists should pay attention to Mother Nature these days.

If the weather is too hot for me to walk my dog, Ziggy, in the heat then maybe this two-legger should pay attention, too, I realize now.

First thing I'd like to say - pay attention to where you ride. Any rubber or tar flat spots are going to be soft for the next few days so be aware don't let yourself tip over sideways like I nearly did this morning (or get stuck).

But most importantly, take advantage of your own tax dollars at work and stop in one of the cooling centers that Chicago has running right now. Anyone - cyclists riding nearby included - can stop into one of the following six locations and rest in air conditioning before continuing their day. The centers are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Wednesdays they are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The locations for the cooling centers are:

Englewood Center
845 W. 69th Street
Chicago, IL 60621

Garfield Center
10 S. Kedzie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60612

King Center
4314 S. Cottage Grove
Chicago, IL 60653

North Area
4740 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60640

South Chicago
8650 S. Commercial Ave.
Chicago, IL 60617

Trina Davila
4357 W. Armitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60639

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