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Old 11-18-2008, 04:16 AM   #481
OU812
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ibafran
Anybody here old enough to remember the green lenses on the flourescent lights?

Is it just me, or is the pavement down there polished so smooth that there seems to be very little grip in the dust?

I have a few Lower Wacker Drive stories. Anybody think that its worth a thread?
I remember, kinda. It was the 60's and 70's right?
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:22 PM   #482
Merle O'Broham
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:31 PM   #483
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:37 PM   #484
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I was just going back to grab the name of the heated grips you installed and noticed the change to your pic. I thought there was an issue with my screen at first.

Speaking of grips. Where they pretty easy to install? Still working fine for ya?
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:54 PM   #485
Merle O'Broham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Odd1out
I was just going back to grab the name of the heated grips you installed and noticed the change to your pic. I thought there was an issue with my screen at first.

Speaking of grips. Where they pretty easy to install? Still working fine for ya?
Dual Star Grips. IIRC, 29 bucks? I won't ride in the cold ever ever again without them. Ever. Or ever. Installation was uneventful except for digging up the wires from under the Strom's plastic. Stromboni did the wire connecting for me (electrical trauma from youth, you understand). The grips pulled right over the throttle tube. If you have some basic electrical knowledge and where you're tapping in is exposed, figure maybe an hour? Jake, chime in?
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:28 PM   #486
ibafran
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merle O'Broham
I'd like to hear the stories. I think a lot of younger Chicago residents don't realize just how seedy and disgusting some areas of the city were years ago. South State Street, West Lake, Rush Street (!) really Division, etc. I miss the old "S" curve!
Only because you asked and the for'm can blame somebody if this doesnt fly.

If anyone doesn't think roaming around a pretty good sized city isn't adventurous, its because they aint doing it right. More than several riders have refused to ride the city with me due to their limitations and preconceptions. So on to a bit about Lower Wacker Drive. (I am sure there will be errors. Persons who know better are encouraged to bring them to light.)

At one time Lower Wacker Drive (LWD) ran along the Chicago River only a few feet above the water level. Over time the river flow was reversed and big steel bridges were built yada yada so that barge traffic would be free flowing. These big bridges needed to have the street raised to that level. So Upper Wacker Drive was built. Any building along the river and at Upper Wacker Drive changed their main street doors to the upper level. And they used the lower level doors for deliveries and service entrances.

There were places along LWD where glimpses of the river could be seen between the buildings. A couple of nice stretches at the curves also gave views of buildings on the other side of the river. At night, lights from the far buildings would twinkle off the river and and flicker between the supporting concrete columns of the Upper Wacker Drive. If it was daytime, some sections had good light. With a setting sun, some sections were blindingly lit. The rest of it was basicly a tunnel. A dark tunnel. Fluerescent lights hung from the ceiling on either side of the two lanes of traffic. Two lanes southbound and two lanes northbound with ramps in the middle. There is anothes two lanes outside the main thru lanes for some limited parking and access to the building truck docks. Slow trucks and other vehicles could get in/out of these access lanes only at specific places. Those places were not controlled by lights.

LWD is narrow. Its got these ramps in the middle with abrupt jogs having zero merge distances. And the main traffic flow jogs with the ramps. Think of them as blind chicanes with merging traffic. There are a few places where traffic can make a legal u-turn. The median between the flowing traffic will take 1.5 cages if both drivers use all the space available. The u-turn is effectively blind. There is no helpful mirror or anything useful to see if any traffic is coming. A cager looks at the headlights reflecting off the concrete columns and pulls out when there isnt any. Or at least, not very much light. Its probably the biggest crap shoot any cager will ever face.

There are zero soft spots on LWD. Supporting columns are 6-8 feet across and not very far apart as befiting early Chi-town building designs. These columns limit sight lines so severely that it must be seen to be believed. Along side the lanes are 12 inch high concrete islands with narrow cuts for water drainage. When the traffic goes bad, the oprtions are so few and the risk so high that it could be weeks before you unpucker when you think about it all.

Meanwhile, back in the day, most of it was bathed in green fluerescent light that gave it an eerie presense. The Emerald City scences in the Wizard of Oz comes close to the way it looked down there.

Traffic signals looked ok. There was cross traffic in various places. A biker could easily come around a curve and find the traffic stopped for a light. I don't remember what the speed limit was/is. It didn't matter. Anybody down there used it like a cross-loop expressway. There was no place for a police car to hide. No way for the police to catch anybody. It was a free-for-all till somebody piled it up....
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:30 PM   #487
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merle O'Broham
I'd like to hear the stories. I think a lot of younger Chicago residents don't realize just how seedy and disgusting some areas of the city were years ago. South State Street, West Lake, Rush Street (!) really Division, etc. I miss the old "S" curve!
Crap!!! post flushed!!!

2nd attempt.

Dang! It took! Mod can flush this post while I continue.
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Old 11-18-2008, 07:34 PM   #488
ibafran
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Lots of stories came out of LWD. Cagers and bikers alike. Stories of arriving at one of the ramps with two vehicles side by side sashaying through the jogs like a pair of ice dancers. And they get to a jog with a bus or garbage truck merging right on top of them because it has no choice.

A string of cages all move to the right lane for no apparent reason. Thus, a noob or no-mind dives to the left for a pass only to fire into the brakes and lock everything up trying not to hit the cage coming blindly out of the u-turn cut.

Upper Wacker Drive leaks water onto a cold LWD where it freezes into a nice ice sheet. Any kind of slide immediately puts one into the well scarred concrete pillars, curbs, and walls. Any oil leak or antifreeze leak has the same effect. A large flat piece of cardboard, wet or dry, is just as life threatening.

On the north end of LWD is an open grate bridge crossing the river with a traffic light on each end. A biker better be ready to swerve, change lanes, and brake hard all at once on that bridge for the reliable wacko traffic on and near the bridge and its intersections.

Back in the day, there were a couple of places where a driving error wouldn't mean an automatic tag of the concrete. There were holes where you could slip through and drown in the river. If no on saw you go into the river and take the time to report it, you would be just another missing person. I don't think that a vehicle can make the water anymore due to mere driver error.

Back in the day when I seemed to be immortal, I had several loops of the city routed for time and distance suitable to the occasion. Occasionally I would be dating some girl who took a liking to the bike. When she was truely comfortable with the bike and me, I would take her for a ride of the Emerald City. Usually, this occured on a saturday nite. If possible, I would take her along Lake Shore Drive visiting the Buckingham Fountain and the Planetarium, and a few harbors with fancy boats. Finally, we would ride LWD. Many girls had never seen LWD and were awed that such a place existed in their home town. I was always tickled that they had a nice time and were so pleased by a unique experience. None of them ever gave a thought as to how dangerous the place was. As a biker, I was always very careful riding there. Even the motorcycle messengers didn't ride LWD very often prefering the wide open spaces clogged with cagers on the surface streets.

The green hued lights are gone . And the street has been re-built. Its still plenty dangerous. But the charm is nowhere to be found. There are a few songs about Chicago and some of its special places. Lower Wacker Drive is one of its best kept secrets. If you ride there, bring your A game. You won't last long without it. And you might not last long with it. Just to let you know how it really is, consider two things. 1) The loud pipes riders dont visit it much even though there is plenty of walls to bounce the sound off. 2) The Iron Butt Assoc. ran their big rally through Chicago (Their Home Town.) with bonus'es at Buckingham Fountain and at the Bean. LWD is right there and didnt rate a bonus point. I am betting that they thought it too dangerous to let just anybody ride a bike down there.
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Old 11-18-2008, 09:10 PM   #489
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Here's am 'S turn' story:

Lake Shore Drive had a pair of 15mph S turns at the Chicago River bridge. The cage closest to the apex would be doing about 3 mph. The cage furthest from the apex would be doing about 15mph. Four lanes in each direction with a three foot high(?) concrete divider. The divider is wider at the bottom and tapers to a few inches at the top. I had never seen a cage get over it. But a few had got hung on top. The lanes were as narrow as possible because only cars were allowed on the Drive. There were buses but not running overnite. Anyone wanting to take a high speed run at the S turns would do it when traffic was as light as possible. Watching rush hour traffic move through these turns was always amazing. The traffic was always really tight. But cages rarely touched each other.

Normally, a rider will pre-ride the turns looking for police and traction problems. Then have a go at it full tilt bogie if it looked ok.

My budd and I were using a 1969 BMW R69S with a hack. The hack had some sort of steel pipe running around the outside of it as a kind of bumper. Its a long story about how we got this hack loaned to us for a year. Let's no go there. Anyway we decided to have a go at the northbound S turns. Our plan was to miss the greenlight before the turn so that we would have an empty straight and clear road. We noted the big steel expansion plate just after the apex of the second turn where the steel grate bridge started. The bridge grate is filled with concrete but the traction is still a little dicey at full chat. The turns run a right followed by a left. There is sufficient straight between the turns that a hurried weight shift is not needed.

We caught the red light as planned so that we were to be first off the line. We watched following traffic hoping that no cage would be joining us at the first turn. Only one cage joined uas at the line. When the light turned green, we nailed it. The hack was slow from the line and any decent cage could stay with us. Naturally, our cage stayed with us. Winding it out in the first 2 gears my budd the pilot had us up near 50 mpg. The dang cage stayed right with us despite two big signs saying "Speed Limit 15MPH" There was nothing for it but that I better climb out on the hack pipe and hang out as far as possible. We wont have a chance if I don't. And we won't have a chance if the cager doesn't wake up and slow down. I figured that the sight of me hanging off the hack would wake the cager up and make the cager slow down. It didn't work. The cager must have been too amazed at the sight of me to consider what was about to happen.

By this time we had a lead on the cager. I wondered if it was enough to clear the cage's front bumper? It was time for my pilot to make his turn-in. I expected to get clipped. Serrendipitously and simultaneously, the cager fired into the brakes as we turned in across the cagers bow. My pilot left me some headroom on the curb. And he cut the prettiest drift across all four lanes right out to the concrete divider where he left a nice black stripe from the footpeg rubber tip for about 6 feet.

I checked the following traffic as iIclimbed back through the hack to weight the bike's left passenger peg. The cage had slid to a complete halt with its nose a few inches from the concrete divider. Knowing that we had the street to ourselves, I clinbed across the bike seat and squated with both feet on the passenger peg leaving my right arm over the seat and hand grasping the frame tube.

My pilot had slid as far of the seat to the left as possible having got the outfit set up on the far right of the street for the left S. He turned in and everything felt really good till we crossed the steel expansion plate. The whole thing got really squirrelly and danced onto the bridge section. I could see my pilot fighting with the bars as the front wheel seemed to be skipping along the pavement. I thought that we were going to run out of street before he could get it calmed down. He ran the rig right down the curb line without touching it. Being monkey for a man with that kind of talent and stout heartedness is a privlege.

We stopped after a few more miles of fun for a bite to eat and coffee due to the chill temps. We didnt speak much. After a while, I said 'nice driving'. He followed with something like, 'Way to hang out there'. We decided to go run the Glenco Ravines at a reduced pace.

The Lake Shore Drive S turns were not a pretty place to fall down. I really don't miss them. I still like the turns at Oak Street Beach. There are a couple of nice curves on South Lake Shore Drive. But the best ones down there have traffic lights in the middle of them. And they are blind at any real speed. Too many bikers get hurt real bad there.
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Old 11-19-2008, 06:01 AM   #490
Bikaholic51
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Ahh the LSD S Turns.

What a pain those S turns were. IF memory serves me correctly that was the start of Rt 66. There was a sign on the south bound lanes Just NOrth of the S cruves that read Beginning. Route 66.

In 74 my buddy and I just coming back from Morris Ill in his 64 chevy hit the S turns and the steering went out. I mean you could take the steering wheel and spin it like a top. It was mid day so we pushed the car to the side. Took the plates and hitched home on the north side. Scarey part was that 10 minutes earlier we were cruising about 80 miles an hour on Rt 55.

Supposed to be in the 40's sunday. Lets go riding.
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Old 11-19-2008, 11:06 AM   #491
StromBoni
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merle O'Broham
Dual Star Grips. IIRC, 29 bucks? I won't ride in the cold ever ever again without them. Ever. Or ever. Installation was uneventful except for digging up the wires from under the Strom's plastic. Stromboni did the wire connecting for me (electrical trauma from youth, you understand). The grips pulled right over the throttle tube. If you have some basic electrical knowledge and where you're tapping in is exposed, figure maybe an hour? Jake, chime in?
Yeah, on a bike where all the plastic comes off in 2 minutes, like a DR or an XR, you can plan on about 1 hour start to finish, the first time. After the first time it should be only about 30 - 40 minutes.

On that Strom or something else with lots of plastic and bits of stuff to get in the way, I would add on at least another 30 minutes or hour.
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Old 11-19-2008, 11:08 AM   #492
StromBoni
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Odd1out
I was just going back to grab the name of the heated grips you installed and noticed the change to your pic. I thought there was an issue with my screen at first.

Speaking of grips. Where they pretty easy to install? Still working fine for ya?
If you want some help, just yell. There are a number of realtively skilled people in the Chicago area who are willing to help. A couple of them have helped me from time to time.

I have a pretty tight schedule, but if the timing is right, I am always willing.
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Old 11-19-2008, 11:43 AM   #493
RedFrogTango
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ibafran
Only because you asked and the for'm can blame somebody if this doesnt fly.

If anyone doesn't think roaming around a pretty good sized city isn't adventurous, its because they aint doing it right. More than several riders have refused to ride the city with me due to their limitations and preconceptions. So on to a bit about Lower Wacker Drive. (I am sure there will be errors. Persons who know better are encouraged to bring them to light.)

At one time Lower Wacker Drive (LWD) ran along the Chicago River only a few feet above the water level. Over time the river flow was reversed and big steel bridges were built yada yada so that barge traffic would be free flowing. These big bridges needed to have the street raised to that level. So Upper Wacker Drive was built. Any building along the river and at Upper Wacker Drive changed their main street doors to the upper level. And they used the lower level doors for deliveries and service entrances.

There were places along LWD where glimpses of the river could be seen between the buildings. A couple of nice stretches at the curves also gave views of buildings on the other side of the river. At night, lights from the far buildings would twinkle off the river and and flicker between the supporting concrete columns of the Upper Wacker Drive. If it was daytime, some sections had good light. With a setting sun, some sections were blindingly lit. The rest of it was basicly a tunnel. A dark tunnel. Fluerescent lights hung from the ceiling on either side of the two lanes of traffic. Two lanes southbound and two lanes northbound with ramps in the middle. There is anothes two lanes outside the main thru lanes for some limited parking and access to the building truck docks. Slow trucks and other vehicles could get in/out of these access lanes only at specific places. Those places were not controlled by lights.

LWD is narrow. Its got these ramps in the middle with abrupt jogs having zero merge distances. And the main traffic flow jogs with the ramps. Think of them as blind chicanes with merging traffic. There are a few places where traffic can make a legal u-turn. The median between the flowing traffic will take 1.5 cages if both drivers use all the space available. The u-turn is effectively blind. There is no helpful mirror or anything useful to see if any traffic is coming. A cager looks at the headlights reflecting off the concrete columns and pulls out when there isnt any. Or at least, not very much light. Its probably the biggest crap shoot any cager will ever face.

There are zero soft spots on LWD. Supporting columns are 6-8 feet across and not very far apart as befiting early Chi-town building designs. These columns limit sight lines so severely that it must be seen to be believed. Along side the lanes are 12 inch high concrete islands with narrow cuts for water drainage. When the traffic goes bad, the oprtions are so few and the risk so high that it could be weeks before you unpucker when you think about it all.

Meanwhile, back in the day, most of it was bathed in green fluerescent light that gave it an eerie presense. The Emerald City scences in the Wizard of Oz comes close to the way it looked down there.

Traffic signals looked ok. There was cross traffic in various places. A biker could easily come around a curve and find the traffic stopped for a light. I don't remember what the speed limit was/is. It didn't matter. Anybody down there used it like a cross-loop expressway. There was no place for a police car to hide. No way for the police to catch anybody. It was a free-for-all till somebody piled it up....
Nicely done. Here are a few my own observations.

The speed limit is 30 mph. But traffic moves at any and every speed between 10 and 60. Out of towners are at the slow end, usually with their headlights turned off. Those that use it during the rush hours to get to and from the Ike tend to be in the middle. I won't tell you where I fall in that range.

Trucks are everywhere and can often be found double-parked in the left-hand lane. That forces everybody to merge into the remaining lane, which can be dicey when you don't realize the truck is moving until you are right on top of it. Trucks will also pull out in front of you from behind concrete posts that are within inches of the edge of the lane.

Trucks and big busses tend to cut the curves and the corners of the jogs, thus squeezing the traffic in the other lane into a space not big enough for a cage (which is what happened to me last week).

Prior to the re-construction a few years ago, there were at least 2 places where 2 lanes suddenly squeezed into about 1.5 lanes. They have fixed this, but it is still tight.

Signage is for crap. So you had better know where your lane is going to dump you.
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Old 11-19-2008, 04:05 PM   #494
ghostrider.y2k
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StromBoni
If you want some help, just yell. There are a number of realtively skilled people in the Chicago area who are willing to help. A couple of them have helped me from time to time.

I have a pretty tight schedule, but if the timing is right, I am always willing.

I got no problem helping with it,also i got semi heated garage and tools to do it.I instal heated grips on my kawasaki last year.Send me PM if you need help,y2k.
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Old 11-19-2008, 05:20 PM   #495
OU812
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Ibafran, I will ride in town anywhere....when I get my bike back.
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