Since the beginning of last month, Christy Cichra's cell phone has been ringing 24-7 with callers asking about her boozy Olympic-style Team Tubing Club. "When I created this, I got 30 calls from friends who said, What are you thinking, girl?'" she laughs. "And more people just found me through other friends, and they asked if they could join. It's just spawned craziness."
Club members have been bringing their tubes, sleds, and saucers every Sunday afternoon to a rotating schedule of bars located next to steep hills. Then they call their "meeting" to order with lunch and a few rounds of beer. As soon as their buzzes kick in, they grab their tubing devices including a Little Tykes rocking dog someone bought at a thrift store and hit the slopes.
The favored club is the Parkview on the West Side, where a quarter-mile incline can be found behind the bar. It also abuts the West Shoreway, where traffic whizzes by on the Westinghouse curve. "That hill in back of the Parkview is a killer," says Cichra. "Everyone who didn't think it was that steep kept falling down when they tried to get back up. The snow wasn't that deep. But I swear to God, my friends were going down 30 miles an hour on that darn plastic dog, and they almost went into the Shoreway. As long as the hill looks scary enough, we'll do it."
Once the snow melts, Cichra and crew are prepared to take their tubes to rivers, streams, and creeks, with a huge blowout planned this summer at Mohican State Park. "I plan on having someone barbecuing at the other end of the river," she says. "After we come back, we'll have a great meal and go camping."
And carry on with the beer guzzling, of course. But Cichra warns novices about their first drunken slides down steep embankments. "Once you shove off, there's no turning back," she says. "And you really don't get a chance to have a second thought." Team Tubing Club starts at 2 p.m. at the Parkview Nite Club, 1261 West 58th Street. Admission is free, but bring your own tube. Call 216-288-3325 for more information.
Sundays, 2 p.m., 2006