Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Guess what?

...It's snowing again! Photo: taken out of the break room window where I work.

I just edited it and posted an update/comparison as of about 1:15PM

Missed THREE buses!

I didn't get to bed until a little after 1:00AM, and then my wife heard "burglars" (our cats playing with an empty "fridge pak" 12-can box) and decided the best way to wake me up would be to punch me in the kidney. In her defense, she was half asleep. I crumpled up the box and disposed of it, but It took my heart about 15 minutes to slow back down to anything resembling a normal rate after that. To think... I said I was going to sleep good last night. I really shouldn't make promises I can't keep.

Yesterday's ride had me good and well tuckered out. On top of waking up late, I also had a pretty slow ride in. I'm on the 7:15 bus, which is the absolute last bus out of town in the morning. It's 13 Fahrenheit right now, and I kept warm except for my toes. My thick wool socks are dirty, so the toes are frosty from wearing sport socks again. At least I didn't get cold feet this morning. Pun intended.

Thank goodness my base layer dried well last night. I washed it in the sink, rinsed it in the shower, and hung it up in our utility closet with the furnace and water heater. It's easily the warmest place in our apartment.

I'll be staying inside for lunch today. It looks like tonight I'll be swinging by JCCC for a little bit to hang out with my wife, but I'm going home right after that.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A few more errands...

Why not, right? We needed a new calendar, and it's my night to decide what's for dinner (which means I'm cooking), so I swung by Border's for the calendar and Hy-Vee for some Salmon and side dishes. It didn't add much distance to my trip. I velorouted the Johnson County part of my day. Click here to see it. Remember, there was also the 2.5 mile Lulu's run Downtown and a little bit of riding to and from the bus stops. I didn't map that out. My estimate of 17 miles for today was about right.

Home to bus stop
Bus to work (no cycling)
Work to Lulu's
Lulu's to Work
Work to Bus
Bus to bus stop (no cycling)
Bus stop to bike shop
Bike shop to pet store
Pet store to coffee shop
Coffee shop to Book store
Book store to grocery store
Grocery store to home

Sheesh, that looks like those parts of the Bible where so-and-so begat so-and-so.

I am going to sleep really well tonight! w00t!

On a side note, my base layer reeks something fierce. Washed that stuff in the sink, and I hope it's all dry by morning, or I'm going to have a really cold commute tomorrow. There's no way I'm wearing a pre-moistened base layer when tomorrow's forecast is low double-digit temps and flurries!

Avert thine eyes, fellow cyclists...

Photo: The hideous countenance of THE SNOWFLAKE CYCLIST FROM HELL!!!

I got this shirt from the little start-up I worked for in the first half of '06. This is actually the first time I've worn it. It's representative of the snowflake computer cluster designs that the development team had come up with. Now that I'm cycling in cold weather, I might as well sport it. I'm mid-swig at Daily Dose in the photo. Good, warm coffee. I had to swing by the bike shop and the pet store before I came here. So far, I'm at about 5 and a half miles this evening. If I take my usual route home from the Dose, it'll be a notch over 11 miles for the night, and about 17 miles total today. I'm really starting to miss the smoothness and speed of the Outlook, and I was drooling over some of the cheaper road bikes at the bike shop this evening.

There were simply too many times on my way here where I really needed my wide, knobby tires, so I'm sticking with the Sorrento until warmer climates find Kansas City again.

Chilly lunch

Photo: Riding up Baltimore. Okay, I pulled onto the sidewalk to dig the camera out, I was not actually RIDING when I took it.

Temps finally hit double digits, and I got an insane craving for Lulu's Thai Noodles so I hopped on the bike. It's only about 2.5 miles round trip, but it was a chilly ride, especially barreling down Broadway at a good 30 MPH clip. I took Baltimore back north because construction on Broadway is brutal right now.

Mmm. Noodles. Lulu's comes highly recommended if you live or work downtown.

Missed TWO Buses...

Photo: Parked cold and alone amid a sea of vacant bus-rider cars. I have missed the bus I normally take, as well as the one after it. Visible are my helmet, ski goggles, and ginormous backpack.

It's a crisp 6 degrees Fahrenheit outside, with wind chill in the negative double digits. That's between -15 and -25 Celsius. I dressed pretty much the same as yesterday except using jeans as my outer layer for my legs, and thick wool socks instead of thick cotton sport socks like I normally wear.

Anyhow, I'm posting this from the bus that leaves Olathe at 7:00 AM. Unfortunately, between traffic and having to change into my work clothes, that means I won't be at my desk for another hour.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Holy moly! Arctic headwind!

Tonight was windy, seemingly all the way home into the wind. I'm not so sure how that happened, but the wind was evil, cold, and it carried salt and sandy road debris through the air right into my face. I eventually put my ski goggles on.

I had to swing by the grocery store on the way home, too. This is usually a bit of a challenge, because my commute usually has me pretty encumbered as is. The photo shows my makeshift way of getting spaghetti makings and a gallon of milk home while carrying about 30 pounds of work gear, computer equipment and clothes in my backpack.

Of course, I didn't consult my wife before leaving the store, so now I'm getting sent back out into the arctic blast.

G'night, folks!

Good morning!

Okay, nothing spectacular this morning, per-se, just another successful commute. This makes 12 days so far, out of 21 work days. This definitely isn't the ratio I was shooting for, but it'll get better. We're still in January!

It wasn't quite single digit temperatures this morning, but it was darn cold. I was comfortable the whole ride in, with my thermal base layer, a hoodie, and a windbreaker on top and thermal base layer, flannels, and Dickies work pants on bottom, which are a little thinner than my jeans. I did have to slow down a bit to keep from working up too much of a sweat. It's amazing, as I keep getting to the bus a little faster even when I feel like I'm holding back. I can't wait to get back on my Outlook. I'm kind of planning on building up a Cyclocross bike once my wife and I move. That thing should really get me cooking, and it will probably be my ride for the MS-150 bike tour whenever I finally get fit enough to ride the distance. My initial choice is the Redline Conquest with 105 components. It's a lot like the Trek X0 but more affordable. I'd love to go with the Ti frame Conquest, but I don't think that will happen.

The above photo is my bike parked across from the Town Pavilion and in front of a police van this morning. There were two other police cars nearby, so I'm not sure what the deal was.

Here's a bonus shot of the TransAmerica building (on top of the Town Pavilion)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Good grief, it's cold!

I've been out here and there over the weekend. The evil flu of death and plagues has finally started to loosen its grip on my pulmonary system. With parents back in town and no need to feed the pets, I should be back on my regularly scheduled bike commute this week.

I had a little problem yesterday where I lost my Mars 3.0 blinky when it fell off my bike while riding some rough icy off-road terrain. I finally found it today by following my ice tracks. I was worried I'd need to go buy another one.

Anyhow, forecast calls for about 12 degrees in the morning, so I'll have some moderately heavy gear on. I'm charging my batteries and washing all my clothes for the week so that everything is ready to go. I don't expect any setbacks.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I got published (again)

Photo: Cover of 2600 Magazine, Volume 23, Issue 4. My article is on page 32!

I am many things. I am a systems programmer. I am a system administrator. I am a tinkerer. Another thing I am is a technical writer. I've been an interview subject, adviser and proofreader for a few publications here and there. I also did a brief stint as an editor for a little on-line publication back in the late 90s.

When it comes to my writing though, getting published in print is a satisfying act of validation. This is the fourth article I've gotten printed. For non-geeks, this is kind of dry. 2600 is a magazine geared towards geeks and so-called hackers, so this article probably doesn't even look like English to many of you.

2600 doesn't care what the author does with the article once it's hit news stands, so I pushed it out to my website for all to see, because not everyone wants or can get 2600 magazine.

Here's a link to the article

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I'm out the rest of the week.

I may do some recreational riding, but my commute is done this week. My parents are leaving town today, and I promised them I'd take care of Rowdy (the dog in the photo) for them. He's an old man with hip problems. He's actually a Chow / Golden Retriever mix. He acts like a puppy, has the bark of a Chow, and the loyalty of a Golden. With the weather like it is, though, he can't stand being outside all night, and someone has to feed him.

The problem is, my parents live 20 miles away from me, 50 miles from my job, 15 miles from my wife's job, and there's no bus service to help me bridge the gap. With that, I'll be spending a bit less time in the saddle this week.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Everything I need, right here...

Okay... It would be nice to have my partner in crime (wife) with me, and maybe some friends. Hmm... I got to BWW about 40 minutes ahead of plan. The sidewalks are fun with powdery snow that's been partially ruined by icy footprints. Santa Fe is another road you don't travel by bike after dark unless you have some serious illumination or a death wish.

So, here I sit, with my MacBook, my new bad-ass Logitech Revolution VX mouse (showing its glowy battery meter), a good beer (Killian's irish red), my bike helmet, and inevitably, a pile of thermonuclear wings that are guaranteed to sting soo good from end to end.

Sounds like it's going to be a meager turn-out of just a few car friends of mine. A teenage kid dared me to jump the steps (3 foot drop, about 5 steps, pretty steep) as I pulled up to BWW. I told him it was too steep (plus I had a $1500 laptop with me ut I wouldn't advertise it to the public). He said he wouldn't have done it either. Kids.

So, here I sit. Content and alone for a few more minutes. I'm looking forward to the ride home. After the beer passes through my system, of course.

It's good to be back

Photo: The Death Star II, as dubbed by one of my fellow commuters, nears completion, with cranes busily piecing together the structures surrounding the new Sprint Center arena.

This is the first time since Friday evening that I've been able to ride. I froze my little leggies off this morning, because I thought it was close enough to freezing to get away with just my jeans. BZZT! WRONG! I should have played it safe and tossed the thermal base layer on. Fortunately, my core stayed warm without getting really hot and sweaty. The last thing I need to do is provoke the demons of illness, death, and plagues again.

I'm still on for Wings tonight. I figure a batch of Blazin' wings with some spicy garlic wings to "take the edge off" should help decimate any remaining shard of unwanted parasitic life forms in my body.

Anyhow, it's good to be back on the bike again. Yesterday was a drag without it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Buffalo Wild Wings tomorrow night

Just in case anyone wants to come hang out with some friends of mine. Well, me too...

I'm going to be at Buffalo Wild Wings at Santa-Fe and Mur-Len in Olathe tomorrow night (Tuesday, Jan 23) at about 7:30PM. If you want to meet up, e-mail me and I'll give you my cell # so you can find me. It's likely that me and my crew will be in the bar area since it's open seating and now that there's no smoking in the entire place. My e-mail is focushacks at gmail dot com, and yes, there might be a few Focus drivers present. I'll probably be sporting the Sorrento, though.

I'm feeling a lot better today. I haven't coughed in at least an hour, and my ears and sinuses are totally clear. Hopefully taking today off will give me the boost I need to make it through the rest of the week on my bike.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Driving tomorrow to be on the safe side

So, a bit of a recap of the illness.

Monday at 11:00PM: Stood in line with my wife so she could get the new World of Whorecraft expansion pack. Wore nothing but a hoodie and jeans for warmth. Bad idea.

Tuesday: Woke up with a bit of a sinus headache and runny nose.

Wednesday: Really bad sinus headache, slept in, drove to work

Thursday: Still kind of sick.

Friday: Feeling worse, acquired a cough in the middle of the day, started feeling really bad friday night.

Saturday: Slept almost all day, 101.2 degree fever, lungs feeling raw hating life.

Sunday: Woke up extremely sweaty which is usually a good sign, but still had a low-grade fever. Still some coughing, lungs feeling a little better, really sore ribs.

So, I'm going to play it safe tomorrow. I won't drive in, I'll just drive to the bus stop where my wife works. Besides, I need to make it home in time to watch 24 tomorrow.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Evil Death Bug!

Well, I started to notice a funny taste in my mouth yesterday evening while riding to the bus. It was that "medicine" taste, that's the sure sign that some kind of infection is coming, and it's in for the long haul.

I won't be pedaling at all this weekend. My head cold has tried its damnedest to become full-on bronchitis, and it's almost there. Ugh.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I can't shake this!

I've basically been sick all week. This NEVER happens, I just don't get sick, or if I do, it's only for a day. I'm not really all that sick, but I feel run down, hazy, my sinuses are flowing fountains of mucous, and I've had a mild headache for the past 4 days.

I still rode in, though. It was about 20 degrees when I left, but otherwise there was nothing worth mentioning on my way to work. I have the PHP User Group meeting tomorrow, I think I'm going to ride my bike there. It's at The Daily Dose, so it's not a trip I haven't made quite a few times already. I'll make sure to get plenty of sleep this weekend, and I probably won't use the bike at all on Sunday.

It looks like we have more snow headed in this weekend, so I'll probably be stuck on the Sorrento for a while. I've been wiping it down every night, but it needs a thorough cleaning and lube this weekend.

I probably won't post again today unless I get a great photo or something bizarre happens on my way home. I plan on taking my plain old route home, no JCCC or anything fancy tonight.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Got some coffee, rode in some snow

I've been taking the bus to JCCC where my wife works, pretty much every night she works. It's a bit further from home, but I get to see her for a bit, grab some supper for the both of us, and then I usually go to Daily Dose to chill for a bit.

Also, I have been playing with VeloRoutes (link in sidebar). It rocks, and tracks your elevation, and a bunch of other stuff assuming the data is there. It's based on Google Maps so it has to be awesome. I have mapped out all my routes in case you have been keeping an eye on my Commute Log.

JCCC to Daily Dose is 3.6 miles the way I go. I went to Daily Dose and back to JCCC for a total of 7.2 miles tonight. In the snowy sidewalk, nonetheless. I'm still too chicken to ride on Quivira. Traffic is really fast.

When I go straight home from the Dose, I take 127th street across. The new viaduct isn't in Google Maps yet, for a total of 5.7 miles.

My normal morning commute, and my evening commute when I'm not going to JCCC is about 2.8 miles

When I go straight home from JCCC it's 6.8 miles. There's a shorter route, but it's treacherous and poorly lit.

In short, I love :)

Saw another commuter over lunch.

I didn't have my camera on me. I had to go to the bank, then grabbed some quick grub. I bumped into another bike commuter; He rides downtown from Westport. We talked a little but I had to get back to work. I'm glad the weather is starting to warm back up a bit, I'll probably go hang out at the coffee shop once I get off the bus.

How I stay warm

It's a question I get quite often in some form or another, from co-workers, friends, and others that I meet. It's usually phrased "I'd bet you freeze to death on that thing!" or "Don't you get cold?"

Truth be known, I usually get quite roasty, because I have a tendency to overdress a little. When it's below freezing, I start with a medium-weight thermal base layer. I prefer the less expensive "Champion" brand, but you might see other brands such as Nike or UnderArmor. These are basically "long john" style thermal undergarments, but made of a softer moisture-wicking material with a tighter weave than the "waffle" style of cheaper thermals.

On top of that, I just wear jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, usually with a loose t-shirt underneath, more for looks than for warmth. I'm a bit on the heavy side, and don't feel like riding the bus with only a skin-tight long-sleeve shirt covering my enlarged torso.

I finish the package with a flannel balaclava (ninja mask!) and thin gloves that might as well be work gloves like the Mechanix brand gloves you see at the hardware store. The ones I have now are 180*S brand and feature a valve that lets me breathe hot air into the back of the hand to warm the fingertips, but before this pair of gloves, I used a pair of ryno work gloves. Both pair have neoprene and nylon backs, terrycloth thumbs (for wiping your brow or your nose) and lightly-padded leather palms.

When the temperature gets closer to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, I usually wear a heavier coat, add ski goggles to keep my eyes from freezing over and wear flannel pants between my base layer and the jeans. So far, the coldest temperature I've ridden in was -1F earlier this week, although we had some temperatures close to that back toward the end of 2006.

As far as this morning's ride in, it was a nice morning, about 30F, I made it to my destination swiftly and I'm still riding the snow bike until the roads clear up a bit. I still have a bit of a head cold, but it will pass. It hasn't gotten bad, it's just lingering a bit. Didn't take any photos this morning, I just wanted to get to the bus and I was on a roll.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm caving in...

I'm actually gonna drive tomorrow. Too much going on, and not enough time to do it. I kept thinking I'd use MLK Day as my one forgivable "don't ride" day, but I'm really getting beaten up by this head cold, and the rough terrain earlier tonight has my wrists and perineum screaming for some sweet relief. The last thing I need is to have this cold turn into bronchitis or a sinus infection. I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Oh yah, that pic is from a killer ice storm we had back in 2002. My Focus doesn't really look that bad, but I will have to scrape it off in the morning.


Snowy, icy boulders made for an extremely challenging and bumpy ride home tonight. I went to JCCC, then came along College Boulevard to Strang Line to get to Bike America. The drivers can barely keep from hitting other cars, so I took it off the road and onto the boulder-covered sidewalk all the way there. No wipe-outs. I can't believe how sure-footed these cheapo knobbies are. They're the factory original tires that came on my Diamondback Outlook, and they're made by Ching Shen, a popular manufacturer of budget tires. Keep in mind I was wearing about 30 pounds of gear on my back, in the form of clothes, a laptop, and other stuff I needed for work.

I'm actually pretty sore right now, but it was fun while it lasted. I did try to say "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!" when I was barreling through a slight downhill, but it came out kind of choppy due to the boulders!

Swung by Bike America on my way home

I took a kind of long way home to hang out with Kevin (Manager) and Tyler at Bike America. They're the shop that does all my tune ups and they sold my the Sorrento that's been taking all sorts of brutality from me this weekend. I met Kevin when I took my cheap-ass bike in for a check up. Kevin notified me that I might as well save up for another bike, and he was right. I took a look around, and beat my department store bike to a pulp before turning back to Bike America for an affordable replacement. He Sold me the Sorrento, and not for much more than I originally paid for my first bike, and said it would last a lot longer. Boy was he right!

Tyler's trued up a wheel or two for me, and has always helped me pick out stuff that I need to do some of the other work on my bike. They also know their stuff, and don't mind giving customers pointers or helping you adjust your bike for proper fitment. This place always has great people on staff, Kevin and Tyler are the two that happened to be there tonight. I just swung by before closing time, first, to thank Kevin again for setting me up with the Sorrento that's this far proven to be bomb-proof, next to gloat a bit that I'm still riding to work despite the weather that would keep most level-headed cyclists off the road.

I asked if they'd pose with my salty, gritty, grimy frozen Sorrento for a photo op. They obliged. I can honestly say I'm lucky to have a shop of this caliber within cycling or walking distance. They've hooked me up with a new wheel, a cassette, tires, chain wax, tools, pumps, lights, and pretty much every accessory that keeps me going every day. For those of you in Johnson County, they're on the SW Corner of 119th and Black Bob in Olathe, across from the new Chick-Fil-A.

I didn't get paid for this, but I have to give credit to these guys, they're behind a lot of my cycling passion and bike durability.


Photo: My wife stands in line with dozens of other World of Warcraft fiends awaiting the midnight release of a new expansion pack. I was also in this line for about an hour last night. Temperature was single-digits (fahrenheit).

So on top of braving single digit temps with no more thermal protection than a hoodie sweatshirt offers, I got to bed at around 1:00AM and woke up around 5:30AM with something resembling a head cold.

I didn't have time for breakfast. Matter of fact, I'm posting this on my lunch break and this is the first thing I've eaten since about 7:00PM yesterday. It had dropped below zero degrees by the time I left home, and I was incredibly weak on the ride in. I almost "bonked*" about three times. I still managed to get to the bus stop in about 20 minutes despite taking three "breathers" where I just had to dismount and catch my breath and balance. My legs would not do as I willed. It was a frustrating ride to say the least.

So here I sit, ready to eat my lunch, my ears are ringing, I have a headache, and my nose won't stop running. Truth be told, I really want to curl up in a little ball and forget about life for a few days. I think I'll run to CVS and get some DayQuil or something.

*bonk - Cyclist slang for a condition of complete and total exhaustion, where one loses balance, breath, and in worst case, results in passing out and/or vomiting. Often caused by low blood sugar, dehydration, or not enough oxygen in the blood stream.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

I work in the financial services industry. Today, the stock market is closed, as are almost all banks, so there isn't much to do. My company's holiday schedule pretty much mirrors Wall Street's, so I obviously didn't commute.

I may go out later today, either to play in the snow or to run some errands. We got a little more snow overnight, so it should be a good time. I'd be lying if I said I was looking forward to going to work in the snow tomorrow, though. I don't mind coming home in the snow, but as a general rule, I get horribly sweaty with the extra effort of riding in the snow. I can always take a nice shower when I get home, but I don't have that luxury at work. I'll be darned if I let a little bit of snow stop me.

A funny story from one of my trips to the store on Saturday, though. We had a few inches of snow, roads were icy, and there was more sleet pelting me at this moment. I had a lady say something along the lines of "You poor thing... don't you have a car?" I said "Yes, two of them and an SUV. I don't like to drive unless the weather's bad!"

She looked confused as I rode off.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Snowy Singletrack Saturday

I decided with the weather, it would be a novel idea to go have some singletrack fun after making two MORE grocery trips today, and playing around on my way to the pharmacy - the shortest way is to go through a field, which is fun on a mountain bike.

There are a few acres of abandoned yet practically unusable land kind of between my apartment and one of the entrances to the Mill Creek Streamway MUP/Bike Trail. I've walked around in it a few years ago, and recall there being some wheel ruts but it mostly looked like paths that deer had carved through the brush.

I also did some rock climbing. All in all, I put on about 4 miles today, but less than a mile of that was on pavement, and it was snowy pavement anyways. There was a LOT of climbing involved in the pseudo-wilderness, but it was fun, and the return trip was mostly downhill.

Click the photo for a page with all the pictures I took.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Snocery Shopping

Or at least that's what I'm calling it. They let us out from work early. Too early, in fact, for me to catch the bus. I rode back into Olathe with a co-worker who happens to have a small pickup truck. Then I made a trip to the store in the snow. I didn't need to let any pressure out. The icy surface just below the snow was quite fun to ride on. I love snow!

I changed stuff around a bit...

I added some more links including a link to the spreadsheet I've been using to roughly track my commutes for the year. I also changed the template, and a few other small things. If you're a reader and have a blog, or know of a local club or site I should add, respond with the URL to it and I'll add it to the list over there.

Similarly, if you don't like the new look or think the color scheme could use some work, let me know. :)

Air pressure rocks!

I haven't actually ridden my Sorrento on the road since before Christmas. I have taken it out in the dirt a few times, playing around or taking "the really short way" to nearby places. A very important thing I got after Christmas, though, was the Park Tool floor pump. I usually run knobby tires at a pretty low pressure such as 45-50 PSI. In the dirt and snow, it helps a lot. Last night, while prepping the Sorrento, I maxed the tires out at 65PSI. I also spent about half an hour cleaning and re-lubing the somewhat neglected drivetrain.

The bike was still slower than my Outlook, but it wasn't as sluggish today as it normally is. On the way to the bus this morning, it was doing this mist/snow thing. I could only see that there was precipitation through the beam of my headlight, it was very faint but the road was a little slippery where they had laid tar patches. If this turns into the the ice storm that they were predicting, I'll probably have to let some air out of the tires before I head home if I want to stay rubber-side-down.

I didn't get a chance to post last night. I took the bus to JCCC where my wife's working, and after getting some supper, went to Daily Dose again and found an old high-school classmate who is a youth pastor at a local church. He was meeting with a bunch of twenty-somethings to have a kind of not-so-small-group gathering. I suppose it was about 15 people total. It wasn't a bible study, mostly just a discussion. I guess it meets at Daily Dose every thursday. It was a good time, so I stayed and participated a bit. After work, my wife wanted to grab some groceries on the way home, so I went back to JCCC before she was done with her shift, put the bike on the back of the Explorer, and we went to the store. All in all I put on about 6 miles last night.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Clouds are rollin' in

Photo: a winter storm front looms above downtown KC. Cool winds out of the north are colliding with humid air from the south here in the midwest. Hard to believe they're predicting a mild ice storm overnight, considering the fact that I'm sweating right now wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I'm definitely swapping over to the heavy but sure-footed Diamondback Sorrento tomorrow, just in case.

One of my co-workers asked if I was going to ride my bike tomorrow since they're predicting ice. I'm pretty sure he was hoping that I'd say "Of course not!" but instead, I answered "I won't ride THAT bike tomorrow, my other one will probably do a lot better on the ice." He looked at me like I'd grown another head. I love that. Co workers that think I'm crazy keep me motivated.

It's the oddest phenomenon, though. I am short. I'm visibly out of shape. There's nothing special about me, and my co-workers have this perception that I'm some kind of uber-athlete. Truth is, on my most trying days I might put in 20 miles, and most days, at least while it's cold out, I ride 6 miles, give or take. Almost anyone in my office could put three miles on a bike twice a day if they wanted to. It's all in their heads. Sure, it might take them 30 minutes to cover those 3 miles the first time out, but they could do it.

What's sad is that they probably know it's all in their heads, but as long as I continue to ride regardless of weather, they still don't have a good excuse. I think that's why people start prodding me when the weather gets bad.

What do I have to do...

TO BE SEEN?! I mean really?!

I have my bright school crossing guard vest complete with lots of swanky reflective stuff. I have lots of reflective tape and attention-grabbing lights. I obey traffic laws, I stay in my lane, usually in the right wheel rut, where I see motorcycles ride. Yet today, I almost got pancaked again. This time, it was a guy trying to shave 0.08 seconds off his drive, coming out of the Marriott near my bus stop. He was probably going 25 through the turn to the little access road, and he turned hard, cutting into the oncoming traffic lane for probably 20 yards. Only problem? I WAS IN THE #@$@ING LANE!

At first, I thought to myself "Crikey! That guy's going pretty quick through the parking lot." Then, "He's turning without a signal. Figures." Then, "OH **** OH **** OH ****!!!!!!". I was maybe five yards from my stop sign and already going pretty slow, when the driver passed me. I leaned to the right as much as I could given the momentum I had, and I swear it's the only thing that kept the SUV from hitting my handlebar, or pasting my head with its mirror. Or both.

It's called common ****ing sense, people. The past two days I've been out, I've been damn near pasted. I think I'm going to get one of those giant canned air horns used by boaters and sports fans. It's obvious that people in Johnson county are blind as bats before they have their coffee.

Also, I did try to chase the guy down to get the plate number, but when the driver saw me turn around, he gunned it (right turn on red). I'm pretty sure the guy felt bad, as he was obviously looking back to see that I was still upright, but people like this need to be taken off the road, period.

By the way, how I handle these situations, for those who want to know, is once I have the plate number, I call 911. I tell them what road I was on, and tell them that a motorist almost ran me off the road, and was driving erratically. I give them as much information as I have about the vehicle (plate number, color, make, model, approximate age of vehicle, and description of anyone inside that I could see). I don't mention that I was on a bike, but if they ask if I can still see the vehicle, I tell them that I stopped to use my cell phone. I have done this a few times when I was in my car (minus saying I stoped to use the cell phone), followed the crazy motorist, and have seen cops pull drivers over.

Since the cop probably didn't witness any illegal activity, I doubt it ever ended up with a ticket, but I'm sure the cop let them know someone reported their erratic and reckless behavior. I'd like to think that people I call in when I'm on my bike meet the same fate.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More downtown bike parking on Baltimore

I had to drive today. I woke up half an hour after the last bus left Olathe this morning. I guess between the 20+ miles I rode yesterday and the fact that I stayed up until almost 1:00 this morning, I was just too far gone to hear my alarm go off at 5:30.

Anyhow, yesterday I noticed that they're finally clearing up some of the construction on Baltimore. It looks like FREE CAR PARKING, but more importantly, BIKE RACKS to go with it, just as a few of my regular readers had discussed in a previous post of mine. They sacrificed the outside lanes on Baltimore to create dozens of new parking spots, and at least along the eastern sidewalk, I saw no less than three "camel-hump" style bike racks, each of which is designed to hold three bikes, but could easily accomodate more, with some creativity -- such as parking next to the full rack on either side, and locking to it the way one would lock to a lamp post, for example.

So, it looks like KC's parking plan near the new P&L District is finally starting to come to fruition. Thanks to my readers for pointing out the parking plan to me.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I'm thinkin' Arby's!

... ...Not really. But I did some fun (sub)urban exploration on my way home from the Dose. Actually, I swung by Target first because I needed a new coffee grinder. Then I swung by Arby's (still under construction), then my wife and I decided to get something from Sonic when she got home (right after me).

Total evening ride: 11.2 miles. Plus the 9 this morning and 2 more around lunchtime, I logged a bit over 20 miles today. Not bad.

I can't believe I made 4 freakin' posts today. Egad.


You can't see my bike (it's camouflaged! shhh!) but it's there. This is hands-down my favorite hang out in Johnson County. It added a few miles to my ride home (okay, more than a few) but the coffee is sooo tasty and since they finally put in some rules to make it a little more adult friendly (namely, charging money for water and kicking out the under-21 crowd after 9pm) it's been a great place to relax, think and drink.

A memorial at 12th and Grand?

Photo: An odd but nifty ornament strapped to a traffic signal on the southeast corner of 12th and Grand.

Actually, I just looked it up on the sobering KCBike Crash map, it's apparently a memorial to John Triggs. Odd, because I've used the bus stop right next to this memorial before, but have never seen it.

As some of you know, I officially started a new job yesterday, even though it's just a higher-paying, permanent position doing what I've been doing for the past six months. Well, I went to this particular bus stop, because my wife started her new job today as well. I am going to drop by JCCC to go see her for a while, then I'll probably ride down to Daily Dose to geek out on my Mac some more, and get some soul-soothing coffee since my wife is on the clock until 10 tonight.

Anyhow, seeing that old bike made me kind of sad, I had to take a picture. I'm not one to cry, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't welling up a bit while posting this. John, you will not be forgotten.

Holy crap.

Not really a BAD start to the day, but nothing seems to be going according to plan.

Let's start at the beginning.

4:40 am. My evil cat, Boots, is laying right between my wife and I. I can't keep myself covered up, and he's purring loudly and kneading my wife's arm. Neither of us can sleep. I pick him up and toss him off the bed, reclaim my part of the blanket, which is warm from Boots laying on it, and quickly drift back to sleep.

5:11 am. My evil cat, Boots, is laying right between my wife and I. I can't keep myself covered up, and he's purring loudly and kneading my wife's arm. Neither of us can sleep. I decide "forget this!", grab both the cats, grab my clothes, lock them out of the bedroom so my wife can get some sleep, and get ready to leave.

I pack up my laptop, make sure all my clothes and dress shoes are in my backpack, toss on my hoodie, gloves, and helmet, take the bike out, say hi to my neighbor who's also on his way out, and I'm on the road by 5:40 or so.

I ride about 3 miles, the last mile of which is into a hellacious headwind, to the bus stop and realize I'd forgotten to put something important on. My Backpack. You know, with important stuff like paperwork for the remainder of my orientation today, work clothes, a comb and hair gel so I don't look like one of those troll dolls when I show up.

So... turn around, fight the hellacious headwind out of the north once again on my way home, get my backpack, back onto the bike.

On my way to the bus stop a second time, a soccer mom in a green Town and Country on her cellphone pulls nonchalantly out in front of me. Who the hell is she talking to on the cellphone at 6:20 in the morning anyways? I lock up my rear brake, she skids to a stop in the middle of the road, blocking my path, shrugs her shoulders as if motioning me to go. "GO WHERE?! Get the F out of the road!". I actually shook my fist at her and screamed a few colorful words, not that she could hear them, then motioned her to get out of my way. I wouldn't be so peeved, but I was running a halogen light, and my Blackburn Quadrant LED headlight intentionally aimed to shine right in the eyes of motorists, in a blinking mode (shown in photo). She probably would have pulled out, even if I were driving an 18 wheeler.

I kept moving, climbing the 127th street viaduct for the third time in the last half hour, greeted this time by two police cars zipping by below. Another battle with the hellacious headwind (of DOOM!) on the final stretch to the bus again. An ambulance passed me on the road to the bus stop, and 2 more cops and a fire truck blazed down the highway adjacent the road I was on. Helicopters started gathering above. The wreck near my old commute route (119th) was absolutely spectacular. The kind of wreck where people leave in a bucket after being mopped up off the road, and dental records are used to figure out who it was. okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but it was a bad wreck. Glad I wasn't on 119th this morning.

So there you have it. 9 mile morning ride, 40 minutes to get to the bus, almost killed by an inattentive driver, and saw a really bad wreck. I'd bet the rest of the day will be stellar.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Photo: Parked under an obscure stairwell next to the building my new associate orientation is in.

I'm on lunch at the Central Library downtown. I found out that I get my bus pass today! The company subsidizes all but $15 of monthly bus fare, encouraging associates to take public transportation if possible. This should cut down the amount of money I'm spending on the bus by a good $50 a month or more.

Orientation and training is going well. Even though I've been working for this company for almost six months now, I am finally starting to really learn what's up with this company and its origins. It's a little on the dry side, but it isn't too bad.

I'm going to finish up my sandwich and ride on back to orientation. Then I'll hop on the bus tonight for free :) w00t!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Looks like it'll be commute as usual this week

I was notified that I probably won't be sent down to the data center this week. I'll spend tomorrow in orientation, and the first half of Tuesday as well. Then it's back to my work area, where I have lived among my fellow cube dwellers since July. Since the HR office is only a few blocks from the building I usually work in, I'll still ride my bike.

I did another two trips to the grocery store this evening. Mostly because I had to get a bunch of bulky things like paper towels, laundry detergent and milk.

I'll let you guys know how orientation goes tomorrow. I may or may not be able to post in the morning.

Friday, January 05, 2007

2600 Meeting today - Driving

I have a monthly gathering with friends on the first Friday of every month. Riding my bike would be impractical, as we usually meet at one location, hang out for a while, go somewhere to eat, then go somewhere else. Too much moving around.

Driving to work sucks. S U C K S. I love my car, it's set up just the way I want it. Okay, I could use a better set of tires. It's peppy, it's small, light, and nimble. It has no major mechanical problems since Rooney and I tossed a new clutch in it. Fighting traffic on the highway is such a pain, though! My car belongs on twisty country back-roads. I don't know how people put up with the daily rush hour.

Yesterday was the first time I've put more than 3 or 4 miles on my Outlook's stock saddle in a single sitting. It's not very comfortable. I'm still fat and out of shape. I also had to make a trip to the grocery store on my way home, and a second trip later because I couldn't carry everything in one load. Anyhow, I'm really sore thos morning. I'm not sure if it was the uncomfortable saddle or the extra distance yesterday. I probably would have driven in this morning regardless of the gathering I planned on going to. As for the saddle, I usually use a wider bell saddle that hits my bones a little further back and a little further out, and it's a much more comfortable ride. It also has a channel down the center of the seat to keep my perineum happy. Mr. Perineum was not amused after yesterday's adventures.

I have orientation on Monday and Tuesday next week. I need to figure out if I'll be staying around downtown or not. If I have to go to the data center for part of my orientation on one of those two days, I won't be able to ride my bike.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

More errands - Almost took the car

Photo: The fold-down bicycle racks on "The JO" buses accommodate two bikes. I snapped this pic of my Outlook on the rack this morning. From what I can tell, every Metro and MAX bus has a similar setup.

I had to tie up some loose ends with my current job in preparation to convert from contractor to salary next week. Basically, I had to drop some stuff off at the office near Metcalf and College Blvd. I thought about just taking my car, but last night I prepped for a bit of a longer commute (a little more than 11 miles for the morning jaunt), got up about 4:30 this morning, hit the road by 5, and did it.

I am currently on the bus (I heart bluetooth/MacBook Internet goodness!), which is a route that I don't usually take. It uses only surface streets and takes more than twice as long to arrive downtown. I left early enough that I can still make it to work in plenty of time, though.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ran some errands

I got home a little later than usual, just in time to snap a twilight pic with the moon over my cargo rack.

I had to stop and pick up a paycheck for my wife, head to the bank, etc. Put a few extra miles onto my return trip. Fun stuff!

Anyhow, I'm gonna crash. I might have a long ride tomorrow.

Cool safety site for commuters

How to Not Get Hit - A pretty cool site with lots of tips for not getting pancaked by a motorist. Because, let's face it, sometimes just obeying the law doesn't quite cut it. Some of this stuff is just common sense, but there's a lot of sound advice for those of us who daily take to the streets on our two-wheeled steeds.

I swung by the bike shop on my way home last night, and I'm seriously drooling over cyclocross bikes now. The manager at my usual shop could build a Redline Conquest (aluminum frame) for me for about $1000. 105 components, and a little cheaper stock wheelset than you'd find on a Trek. I'm kind of chomping at the bit. I'm hoping we can get a house soon, then I'll have a place to put (and work on) my bikes and then I can start saving up for a really worthy commuter bike. I'm definitely not one to buy more bike than my abilities need, so I'll stay with my Diamondbacks for the time being. Who knows, maybe by the time I'm ready for a 'cross bike, I'll have enough saved up for the Ti frame version of the Conquest (probably about twice that price).

This morning's ride in was nice. It's still pretty cold out but I didn't notice it until I had to dismount and wait for the bus to show up. I've been dressing a bit thinner than normal and I think I finally found a comfortable clothing solution for that awkward 20-35 degree temperature range that usually forces me to over-dress.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Photo: Looking south down I-35 from the new 127th Street Bridge in Olathe before sunrise


What's that?

I'm counting the number of bike commutes I do this year. My new job will require a few trips to the data center, which is a good distance from my office (15-20 miles) so I'm not really sure how many trips I'll manage to get in this year. There will certainly be a few obstacles to overcome that I haven't accounted for yet.

With that, I hope everyone had a safe New Year weekend. I just stayed home with my wife. We geeked out, and had some fun, drank a bit, and brought the new year in properly.

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