Opening Day

Play Ball! This time of year always brings back wonderful memories of eschewing all responsibilities and heading to the friendly confines on the near north side to watch my beloved Cubbies begin another season. We’d head straight to the right field bleachers, grab a pop and a dog (mustard only please) and hold our collective breath hoping that this year would finally be the “wait till next year” season.

It’s hard to believe that I still bleed blue after leaving Chicago for Florida so many years ago. In fact I still proudly hold on to my Chicago accent pronouncing roof, root, and root beer the way it should be pronounced, where the double o sounds like took, not toot.

I still confuse Floridians when I call soft drinks pop, add unnecessary prepositions to the end of sentences (Where do you live at?), speak highly of italian beef sandwiches, giardiniera, the differences between hot beef and sweet beef, and what it means to baptize it. I still call the living room the front room, tend to call grocery stores “the Jewel”, and when ordering a hot dog, I always tell them to “drag it troo da garden”. I’m still passionate about “Da Bears”, hate the Sox and abhor anything to do with “cheese heads”….BTW it’s the bottom of the 5th and the Cubs are up 1-0 over the Nationals.

Now in all fairness, I have acclimated very well to living in the sunshine state. For example, I never use an umbrella because the rain, no matter how heavy, will be over in five minutes. I can tell the difference between a fire ant bite and mosquito bites. I dread lovebug season. I’ve driven through Yeehaw Junction, and not only can I pronounce Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Withlacoochee, Thonotosassa, Econlockahatchee, Caloosahatchee and Micanopy correctly, I know where they are.

I recognize that we have four seasons…Hurricane season, Love bug season, Tourist season, and Summer. I’m on a first name basis with the Hurricanes, and anything under a Category 3 just isn’t worth waking up for…unless it’s for a hurricane party. I know what a snowbird is and when they’ll leave. I consider a six-foot alligator as being pretty average. Flip-flops are everyday wear and I have drawer full of bathing suits, and one sweatshirt.

I am well aware that a good parking space has nothing to do with proximity, but everything to do with shade. Anything under 70 degrees is chilly. I don’t own a winter coat. And I’ve worn shorts and had the A/C on during Christmas and New Years day.

I remain a Chicagoan at heart, but Florida can grow on you, particularly if you are a cyclist. No matter how hard I hang onto my Chicago roots (which, by the way, rhymes with puts not toots) there is one damming piece of Floridian I can’t hide…

…the dreaded funky tan line!

Swing for the fences Cubbies…let’s make this, “the year”!

Route: Coconut-40
Ride Time: 2:11:57
Stopped Time: 51:40
Distance: 39.32 miles
Average: 17.88 mph
Fastest Speed: 31.06 mph
Ascent: 244 feet
Descent: 236 feet
Calories: 2305


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