A Calm Storm

The blog of Sholeh Samadani Munion

Hazarding the morning commute

I went to work this morning on my bike. I work in the Loop. Those of you who have had the blessing of driving/biking in this part of town know that it can get crazy, especially at rush hour.

I could have taken the bus, but I am trying to take advantage of the fleeting warm weather, so I hopped on my bike (after fixing the chain, which had come off and tangled in the gears). There are 4.32 miles of city streets to attain my destination.


I don’t look like a touristy biker. I have my jeans rolled up, bike gloves on, and a messenger bag slung ’round my shoulder. I look tough (honestly!), and I’m perfectly willing to slam a hand down on the hood of your car if your bumper is trying to get fresh with my bike. I’ve done this at least 3 times this summer. I figure the car can take it, and my body can’t. Simple self-preservation.


For the most part, Chicago drivers respect bikers, mostly because they don’t have a choice. We’re everywhere, and you don’t want to invoke the wrath of the biker gods. 😀 But you’ve got those few who seem hell-bent on taking city streets at 45 miles an hour with no concern for those of us who do not have a V8 engine and metal surrounding us.

I had a bus honk vociferously at me, and at least 3 taxis protest my presence on the road. Well, I’m trying my best to stay out of the way, haha. I find it especially amusing when pedestrians get a look of terror on their faces as I zoom past. I’ve never come close to hitting a person on foot, and I’m not planning on starting now.

The best part of the day so far was going about 15 mph over the river on the bridge. On my right was the south loop with the morning fog/smog burning off, to my left the skyscrapers towering gold and silver glory. Phenomenal.
Also, please see my recent article in One Magazine. That is all.


8 thoughts on “Hazarding the morning commute

  1. oh the memories! before the accident, I used to bike downtown regularly for work. I used to work at a restaurant. sometimes I would get done with work at 1AM on a saturday. oh the traffic. the drunken sots, the cabbies, the tourists….7 miles of hell, that could be sometimes. you, my friend, are a brave brave woman. hitting the hoods? what about road rage? promise me you’ll be careful. and you didn’t mention it, but I assume you wear a proper helmet….

  2. Well, I figure if they hit me, I’m dead anyways, so I’m not really worried. Besides, it always seems to be the really nice, posh folks on their cell phones that just don’t pay attention, so I’m not THAT worried.

    I need a new helmet, actually. That is on my list of things to do this winter…acquire a comfy, stylish helmet. 😀

  3. sholeh, just don’t hit another cyclist – that’s the only time I’ve ever had an accident in Savannah on my bike. I’m a tame biker – I admire your toughness, but i ain’t got it yet. I was calmly rolling along on the sidewalk next to a busy, narrowing street approaching an intersection because i didn’t want to fight for space with cars and there were no pedestrians on the sidewalk. I had no where to be anytime soon so I was going relatively slow, and started angling towards a driveway shortcut. i had checked out the car traffic, saw no one, saw no need to hand signal because I was on the sidewalk, and suddenly was slammed off my bike, flat on the pavement, bike spinning out to the side, knees and hands bleeding – by a speeding cyclist attempting to pass me on the sidewalk with about two inches of space between us. He barely even stopped to look at me, panicked, asking if I was alright, but not helping me gather my bike and spilled belongings out of the driveway. It was shocking!
    You, however, I salute, in your biker toughness and braveness, navigatin’ chi-town in cyclist style, eyeing the fog and describing it for us who have not your chutzpah (nor geographic location in my case.)

  4. Looks like you’ve struck a nerve, Sholeh! I commuted to class by bike for 6 years (2 for grad school) in Knoxville, during all seasons. People used to tell me I was going to die on a bike since I would wake up 5 minutes before class and try to make it on time.

    Tennessee drivers have _zero_ respect for cyclists, so I often found myself on the sidewalk. I can zip through peds pretty quick as long as they maintain their trajectories. The only time I ever glanced someone was when they saw me coming and jumped into my path in an attempt to get away.

    Kudos to you for slamming the hoods. I got hit by a driver in the rain once. She pushed me out into an intersection, bending my rims, and then sped off. It was raining too hard to get her plates.

    What do you parents think about all this? 😛

  5. Haha well, they read this, but they don’t comment, so I’m guessing it makes them nervous, like all children make their parents. However, both of them used to bike a lot too, so I’m pretty sure they understand where I’m coming from. 🙂

    When winter comes, the bike goes to the basement. I’m not that brave!

  6. dude, those pictures of your hands are totally badass.

    just be careful about wearing the biker gloves TOO much, or you may end up with hands like mine (see most recent lj pic… i forgot to draw attention to my hands but they are almost as bad as my feet)

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