As previously mentioned on this blog, the bike bags attract attention wherever we go. Our arrival in Chicago has been no exception. It was a great relief to see the bags both appear on the over-sized luggage carousel shortly after we passed through customs. No sooner had I picked them off the belt did I find myself surrounded by a crowd of Korean air stewards, (most of whom were barely taller than the bike bags), all very interested to know was was in the bags. They were most impressed when I told them we were cycling to Washington, one said “That’s why you’re so thin!”
The airport transit monorail and the subway train ride to central Chicago attracted similar comments. When we arrived Downtown we had to find a 29 bus stop to take us towards Bonnie’s. As Mike checked out the stops I waited on the pavement/sidewalk and before too long a man handing out ‘do you believe in Jesus?’ leaflets was beside me asking me about the bags. He was so impressed that he offered me two free Starbucks drinks vouchers that he normally gives to homeless people. I wasn’t entirely sure how to interpret this offer, but as we’re a bit off Starbucks due to their dodgy UK tax arrangements, I politely declined. Traveling on the bendy-bus with two bike bags was a novel experience, too. Mike was asked whether he had a harp in his bag!
However, the most surreal moment of the day came shortly after we disembarked from the bus. As we waited for the crossing to change the street was suddenly filled by the sound of a police car tannoy booming out and a female America police officer’s voice: “Gentlemen with the bags — what’s in the large bags?”. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be concerned I might be about to be tazered, but opted for the former. So in my best British accent, as loud as I could replied “Bicycles’, with an accompanied mime of a cyclist – just to make clear we we’re not pulling along any terrorist devices. Fortunately the police tannoy responded with a chuckle and the response “I thought so.” I resisted retorting with “Why did you ask, then?’ as I thought spending our first night in a Downtown Chicago police cell probably wouldn’t be appreciated by Michael.