By Tim Hogan
My Specialized Rockhopper was stolen in 1998, and a cyclist friend of mine suggested I take a trip to Johnny Sprockets and invest in an entry road bike or a hybrid. Having spent the previous two years going over the bars in the Kettles and Palos Hills, I thought maybe a change would be good. I bought a Jamis Aurora with drops—which I hadn’t ridden a drop-bar bike since my 1986 Schwinn Traveller. (Thanks to 80’s movies like Quicksliver, Breaking Away and American Fliers, as well as a trip to the Little 500, I regularly donned my Campagnolo cycling cap and sped through the mean streets of Palatine like a zit-faced Kevin Bacon). I rode the crap out of that Jamis, including my first distance ride from Elgin to Lake Geneva with a group of fellow cycling buddies. Sadly, after some 11 years of service, the Jamis was stolen while locked to a fence outside of a bar in Wicker Park. I replaced it with a temporary $100 single speed I bought off Craigslist, which was in turn stolen from a neighbor’s garage whom I had loaned it to. Not to be dissuaded, I found an inexpensive Swobo commuter and a good lock. Along with a Burley trailer, this is the rig I typically use to pull one or more of my three my kids to school.
I began regularly commuting to and from work in 1999 and continue commuting by bike to this day. In addition to the health benefits and having more energy throughout the day, riding to work allows me to sort through things on my way in and decompress on my home. It’s also become an unexpected way to meet people, usually at stop lights along the Elston express. On one trip heading into work I noticed a guy riding an orange Voodoo frame and I decided to ask him about it. We rode together for a few miles and realized we had a lot in common—including having recently finished the miserable North Shore Century in the rain the week before. Turned out he has two kids eerily close in age to two of mine, and lived less than a block away. His name was Matt Katzfey and he suggested I come out for a Spidermonkey ride, which I did that very next weekend. (Ironically this would be the last I saw of Katzfey for almost 6 months). The timing was perfect, since the indie group I had been riding with for the past few years was starting to train pretty seriously for the Wisconsin Triple Crown and I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to training for those rides, but I still wanted to join regular rides.
In addition to my day job as a creative director, I serve on the board of an organization called EPIC—an organization dedicated to pairing creative professionals with nonprofits that need their help most. So when I saw that Spidermonkey assembled a team and raised money for the MS Ride, I knew this would be a good fit, and decided to join. Being my first exposure to an organized cycling club, I had no idea what to expect, but I liked the combination of competitive and recreational male and female cyclists that don’t take themselves too seriously. In 2012, I participated in the Easter Ride, plenty of WNR and weekend club rides, the Tour de Farms and the North Shore Century. I was able to raise almost $1,800 in the fight against MS (look out Decker!), and consider it to be the highlight of my summer. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people on the team, and have continued coming out as much as work and family allow—It’s been a great opportunity for me to improve at my own pace, which as of recently includes ass-kicking sessions at VisionQuest. Who knows, maybe my 40’s will be the decade I start racing.