All this for a bike swap?



The alarm went off before sunrise. After all, if you’re going to drive almost three hours to a bike swap, you need to get an early start.

I glanced out the window and my first thought was that it was foggy outside. No, it was in fact, snowing. Again. Winter in Chicago has been grueling this year: cold snow cold snow cold snow. You get the picture.

By the time I showered, it had let up, so the mini road trip was a go. The side streets looked like they hadn’t been plowed yet, but we would be on expressways almost the entire way, so surely we’d be fine.

I was driving that morning, with three friends along for the ride. The trip from Chicago up to the Madison Bike Swap is pretty much straight north into Wisconsin, then west to Madison. A perfect get-a-huge-cup-of-coffee-and-hit-the-road drive.

Well, usually.

We did grab the coffee, and headed toward I-94, which would take us north. My immediate thought upon entering the on-ramp was, “this was a bad idea.” The expressway wasn’t plowed – or if it had been, it was prior to the snow stopping – and it was icy. By this time, the sun was shining and I was hopeful it would help with road conditions. But it was also bitter cold, so probably unlikely until much later in the day.

Within a few minutes, we saw the first car in the ditch on the side of the road. Then another, then another. Then a semi. Then a delivery truck. I’ve been driving in Chicago for almost 40 years and I had never seen anything like this.

I had enough at this point – probably much longer than I should have gone. To say it is disconcerting to not feel your tires gripping the road under you is an understatement. We were moving slowly as were others who were driving sensibly, so in addition to the road conditions, I was thinking it would take forever to get there. For a bike swap?

We were about 10 minutes from the Wisconsin border and I told the group that we would turn around there and head back. We crossed the border, and it was if we entered another country. The roads were perfect: dry and not a patch of ice in sight.

Yep, we kept going. And I could finally enjoy my coffee.

So, all this for a bike swap? A swap where none of us were selling or planning to buy anything? Seems a bit crazy in retrospect, but it turned into a great day with friends, a fantastic road trip (once we entered Wisconsin), and an opportunity to hang out with other bike loving people. And oh yeah, take pictures. Check out the full photo set here >

By the time we headed home, it was clear sailing all the way.

– Suzanne

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5 Responses to “ All this for a bike swap? ”

  1. Daniel Christianson on February 13, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Weekend drive + Danger = Adventure + Persistence = Memorable journey. How long do you think the folks who turned around are going to remember that weekend? 😉

  2. gswbike on February 10, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Great Post ! My wife and I went to a local bike swap yesterday. I was thinking about your post and pictures along the way. Thankfully the snow here didn’t start until we were home. I share you feelings about this winter. Really ready for spring. Our swap meet was very crowded as usual so no pics from me. I did get a NOS chain and a pair of nice vintage Campagnolo white jockey pulleys with bearing for a song. Saw a lot of nice stuff and the diversity of people always make for great people watching. Did your team have any great finds or make any purchases? Again, thanks for a great post and images.

    • suzanne deveney on February 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      The best people watching! Sounds like you found a couple good deals. I love digging around in the boxes of stuff; never know what you’ll find.

  3. Darryl is Loving the Bike on February 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Glad to hear you made it there safely. Us cyclists sure can be a little insane….on and off the bike, right? Beautiful pictures….thanks for the post.

    • suzanne deveney on February 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      You’re so right, my friend. 🙂

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