Flossmoor attorney Jay Readey sometimes commutes to Chicago on two wheels. He said he has felt a sense of freedom while riding a bike since he was a kid.
How long have you been riding a bike?
I learned to ride at 7. At 12, I discovered a 26-mile trail near where I grew up in Ohio. I would take all day to do it. At 14, I did my first 100-mile ride.
What makes biking cool?
As a kid, I felt this incredible sense of freedom on a bike. I learned to love seeing the world from a bicycle. Now, I also ride to save gas. I’m an outdoorsy person, so biking also fits with my love of the forest. In 2016, I was involved in the launch of a Mountain Bike park in Chicago, called Big Marsh.
Do you ride alone, or with others?
The summer of age 12, I had a group of friends who I took trips all day with. Later, I rode a couple miles each way, to and from high school, until I got a car my senior year. For those first three years, I rode rain or shine, snow or warm. For longer rides, I started going with groups of people. Eventually, I was just happy doing them by myself.
Do you have a favorite bike to ride?
If I had to give up all but one bike, I don’t think I could. I have a tandem I used to take my son to school on; up until third grade. Once upon a time, that was my favorite bike, because of the experience of riding with him. I have eight or nine bikes total, one lives downtown. I store it there, because I bike to and from work.
Do you have a most memorable biking experience?
I had one life on a bike growing up in Ohio, and then another life after that. I still ride 1,000 miles a year. Through college, I had years when I rode 7,000 miles. One memorable ride as a teen was the Race Across America. I rode 553 miles in 36 hours, 15 minutes. The whole trick was to see if you could stay up all night, riding with lights attached to your bike, and then stay up again the second night to finish the race. It was the middle of the night, hot, really intense and probably my most memorable experience.
In this life, I’ve figured out how to ride back and forth to downtown. When it’s warm, on Fridays after work, I think of it as my Friday Afternoon Free Ride. I’m always riding super-fast and feeling free. My week is over, and I’m just enjoying the ride from Chicago’s south side to the suburbs.
Is the ride from the city to the suburbs dangerous?
People will always ask, “What’s your route?” I don’t take Halsted, because it gets too busy. I ride down King Drive, because there’s extra space for cars to park. It’s all about picking the right route. I had a bike messenger route once, so I’ve got a pretty good street sense on a bike.
What advice would you give anyone just getting started in biking?
One, you’ve got to learn to fix a flat tire. That’s the most demeaning thing: to get a flat and be stuck. Learn to fix the flat, and then keep the tools with you. Two, just get out there and ride. The more you do, the easier it becomes. And, the better you get, the smoother you ride.