Pay close enough attention the next time you see a bicyclist on the street and you might catch a glimpse of the Cubs' present and future flying by you. Ace starting pitcher Jake Arrieta bills himself on Twitter as a "Hippy-ish bike rider," and with good reason.
"I got into biking at a really young age," the 28-year-old right-hander said. "My family and I live in Austin, [Texas], which is a pretty big outdoor-based community. I just like to try and carry over those things I do in the offseason during the season."
It's a hobby that has helped him become intimately familiar with Chicago’s neighborhoods in a fairly short time. Arrieta said he eschews the relative safety of trail riding in favor of going through the neighborhood because it helps him get a feel for the city's pulse.
"I like to get out there, meet people and just see what the city has to offer," he said. "There’s so many great areas. You've got Old Town, you’ve got Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Wrigleyville. It's just nice to venture out a little bit, get to know the city."
It’s a passion he brings with him on the road during the season. While most Cubs players make sure to pack a suitcase full of clothes, Arrieta must have something else.
"I've got a Dahon folding bike that I take with me on the road," he said.
But this is no ordinary bicycle. No, for someone as passionate about cycling as Arrieta, only the best will do.
"It's got a bionics kit on it, which is an electrical pack that you can use it as a standard bike or if you go on inclines or if you just want to casually cruise around town," he said. "It's a nice feature to have just to not really have to break a sweat on a hot day."
So where are the best places to go for a ride on the road?
"Boston is pretty high on my list because I'm a really big fan of the entire area, the Cambridge area, riding up and down Boylston and Newbury," he said. "Great weather there especially during the season. Obviously anytime we’re on the West Coast, those are always nice places to bike as well."
Arrieta said he hasn't yet tried the city's Divvy bikes, though he is a fan of the idea. He says he's encouraged by the fact they are everywhere and giving more people a chance to experience the city on two wheels.
"It's really nice to have that in the community and seeing a lot of people take advantage of it," he said.
If you are going to follow his lead and bike through the city, Arrieta said the key to staying safe is paying attention to your environment.
"It's mainly knowing the biking laws and being aware of your surroundings," he said. "Not riding with your headphones in. Obviously you have to share the streets with the cars and a lot of bikers tend not to realize that."
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
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