Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Option 5.

I did option 5. Oh, there weren't 5 options?

I rode my bike a mile through the HAIL! Then put it on the bike rack and drove to the coffee shop until my wife gets off work.

New Toy

I picked up an Omron heart rate monitor (with remote display on the watch) last night. I've seen the same get-up at sporting goods stores for $60 or so, and it was half that price in the pharmacy area of the grocery store.

With spring on the way, I am planning on riding a lot more and figured this would be a worthwhile investment. Plus, it's a gadget and I love gadgets.

This morning's ride was a little chilly. It was low 40's but I decided not to wear any ear cover. That was a bad idea. My core stayed plenty warm, though, through my half-unzipped windbreaker. My peak heart rate was about 170 (my MHR is 192) which I think is pretty high for the level of activity I was doing. I've always known my resting rate was pretty good. Last night after relaxing for about 5 minutes, my RHR stabilized at 51. It's my guess that it drops into the 40's while I'm asleep.

The forecast calls for rain, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do after work yet. I have to ride to JCCC after I get some supper, but from there, depending on weather, I have a few options:

  • Go to Daily Dose for some coffee, then back to JCCC about the same time my wife gets off work (then haul the bike home on the rack)

  • Go to Daily Dose for some coffee, then go home.

  • Ride straight home.

  • Put the bike on the rack and haul it home, then go back and pick up my wife a few hours later.

  • If it's really pouring, I'll probably wimp out and do the last option. I don't really feel like getting soaked, nor do I feel like ruining my MacBook if water gets in my backpack.

    Tuesday, February 27, 2007

    Thank you, drive through!

    I ended up coming almost straight home from JCCC after partaking in some Greek food with my wife. One final task awaited me: The Pharmacy.

    I decided to ride my bike through the drive-through. After all, the prescription was called in and waiting, I had my debit card ready to go, and why park my bike, walk all the way to the back of the store, all the way back around front, and hop back on my bike? Sure, this is the same logic that millions of lazy Americans use anywhere there's a drive-up window. I'll pretend I'm exempt from that because technically I just put six hilly miles on a bicycle just to get to that drive-up window.

    I was kind of hoping for a reaction but I got nothing. Talk about a let-down! I've taken my bike through the bank drive-through as well, where I got some wierd looks but no questions asked. One of these days I'm kind of hoping to get challenged on the basis that most drive-through windows don't accept pedestrians just so that I can counter them with the fact that I'm piloting a street legal, road-going vehicle. Either that or I'd make vrooming and sputtering noises and ask if they like my "hog".

    That's neither here nor there. I suppose I'll just remain content that I'm enjoying all the benefits (with the exception of speed) of driving a vehicle without actually wasting money on gasoline and expensive car parts that are prone to failure. I'd rather cough up $25 for a "transmission overhaul" (cassette replacement) for my bike than cough up $1,000 for a new transmission for my car.

    Have any of you tried this? What have your results been?

    By the way, when I filled out my commute log today, I realized that I've blown past my commute/drive ratio goal of 2.2 for the end of this month. I'm really wanting to hit 3.0 cumulative. If I don't drive to work again until March 8th, I will hit 3.0, but from that point on, one single day of driving will set me back a few days from my goal. Technically, my usual 4-day bike-commute week would be a 4.0 C/D ratio but I'm fighting against 11 days of driving to the bus stop (or to work) so far. It would take 11 weeks of 5-day bike commuting to get me to 4.0.

    A nice slow ride to work

    I left home about 10 minutes before my usual bus leaves. The fastest I've ever made it to the bus stop is 12 minutes. After putting on more than 25 miles yesterday, I didn't see making it to the bus in 10 minutes as a plausible goal. I also had to do some after-hours server maintenance last night, which got me to bed around 1:00 AM.

    So, the next bus I could catch was 25 minutes out. I took it really easy on the way to the bus. It was a nice change of pace. Temps were in the high 20's, and I stayed plenty warm, with my hoodie on under my windbreaker. I'd usually just have a t-shirt and windbreaker for this stuff, but I was thankful for the extra warmth since I wasn't working as hard or getting as hot.

    I'll probably take the bus to JCCC then ride to the Dose tonight before heading home.

    Oh yeah, I also velorouted a potential route between work and home. I might have to drive it to make sure it's safe, but it looks like a winner from the satellite view.

    Monday, February 26, 2007

    That was a fun ride!

    As you know, I rode about a mile to the Trek store (a little further once you count getting coffee and going back there). We wandered around all over the place on the Recovery Ride for about an hour, and it was a good time with more new (to me) faces. Finally, there was another cyclist that wasn't on a road bike, but I'm still the only newbie using platform pedals.

    After the ride, some of the people helped me plan a route to get back to JCCC. I ended up taking Nieman to Marshall through some residential/industrial areas. As it turns out, that whole stretch is basically a low-traffic frontage road for Interstate 35. I took that to Pflumm and crossed under I-35 that way, down to College Blvd and east. It was a really easy-going trip. Nieman's a bit torn up through the industrial areas, but there was a lot of speed to be had, with some really fun curves. It's definitely a great way to get further south from the Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor.

    In true Noah form, I Velorouted my adventure tonight:

    Click here for map

    Getting Coffee. Kind Of. Redux

    I'm suspecting my cassette is going out on the Outlook. I'm experiencing a wierd slipping issue in my top gear out back and it's getting worse gradually. Remember, it's wearing the rolling stock that came on my Sorrento which definitely had quite a bit of (ab)use before I purchased it. The cassette was already kind of rusty and chewed up and as far as I can tell it's part of the Sorrento's original equipment.

    So, my bus got me to within a mile of the bike shop and I swung by to price a cassette real quick. About $25 for the cassette and $10 for installation. I could make a chain whip myself and do it that way, but I'd bet Bike America will do the install for free, especially since I'm looking at buying another Sram powerlink chain and some other assorted goodies. Given the fact that it's warming up in Kansas City, though, I'd bet any shop I go to will have a few days worth of backlog as people are blowing the dust off their bikes, getting them lubed and tuned.

    Fair-weather cycling. What a tragedy. :P

    I'm currently sitting at Scooter's Coffee House drinking a not-quite-great Mocha to get some carbs and caffeine in before the 6:30 ride. Okay, I'm also here for the free WiFi that doesn't burn the batteries out on my cell phone.

    On a "by the way" note, I am starting to see more bike commuters downtown. The guy on the Revive recumbent is back out in full force, and there's a guy I spot every once in a while that locks his bike up near Starbucks who I saw again this morning. The only commuter I know of who braved the entire winter with me was the gentleman that rides the Trek 820 to the Central Library. Whenever I rode past the library, I either saw him riding or saw his bike locked up. I'm not saying no other bike commuters braved downtown over the winter, but I didn't see anyone else regularly.

    Still out of shape

    I verified this morning that I'm still out of shape. I attempted twice to really hammer it, and I'm unable to sustain serious power output for more than maybe a minute at a time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not slow like a 5 year old that's going for a bike stroll, but I'm not fast at all. I really should break down and buy a pair of computers for my bikes.

    The first time I really got on it was less than 1/4 mile into my ride. There's a pretty significant hill just south of where I live, and I always end up spinning slowly in the second or third gear of my middle chainring to get up it at a snail's pace. This time, I picked up the pace in my top gear on the downhill leading to it, kept my cadence up, dropped to the second ring (still top gear) and halfway up the hill my legs just started giving out. Down to 6th. Nope, 5th. How about 3rd? What the blazes?! Okay fine... Second gear, second ring, snail boy!

    I decided to take it easy going up the 127th street viaduct. The grade isn't nearly as steep as the hill that had just schooled me in the ways of taking my time, but it definitely slows me down. As I clear the apex of the ominous structure, I see that there are already cars waiting in my left turn lane and the light is sure to change soon.

    It's downhill, right? I can go really, really fast downhill. Okay, I can go faster than I can on flat land, but not really fast. I decide to hammer it again. I don't know how fast I was going but it was probably around 35 MPH which is quick for me. As the viaduct leveled out, I maintained cadence in the flats. The light turned green, cars were turning. Just as I enter the left turn lane, the light goes yellow and there's no way I'll clear the intersection, so I shut her down.

    Standing there at the stop light, I was dizzy and almost confused. I took a small swig of water to see if that helped. It only made things worse. I was feeling sick to my stomach and even under my warm clothes I could feel the cold sweat coming on. This is how bonk starts.

    I've explained bonk before, but it's been some months since I've experienced it. I've never had a full-on bonk (which results in passing out, vomiting or both) however this is about the closest encounter I've had in the time I've been riding. Bonk is cyclist (and runner?) slang for when your body is completely and totally exhausted to the point where it MAKES you stop.

    The light turned green, I proceeded dizzily and slowly through the intersection, and down the road. Despite my slow pace, the sensation kept growing. I eventually pulled off onto the sidewalk and parked the bike for about a minute so that I could sit down and recover.

    This can only mean one thing: MORE TRAINING!

    If the temperature is satisfactory tonight, I plan on hitting the KC Trek Store Recovery Ride again tonight. The only thing that's going to keep this from happening again in the future is more seat time.

    Sunday, February 25, 2007

    Kansas City's Penultimate Snow Storm

    I don't know how it will affect the roads for Monday's commute, but I guess we're in for yet another "last snowstorm of the season." I have to laugh, because this is, by my count, the fifth last snow storm of the season. We'll see what happens. Pics coming tomorrow, assuming it actually snows. You shouldn't be surprised that I take forecasters' predictions with a bag grain of salt these days.

    Friday, February 23, 2007

    Kicking myself

    When I woke up this morning, there were a few really convincing reasons not to ride my bike to the bus stop. I drove to the bus stop instead of driving downtown, but still...

    First, rain was in the forecast. A look outside verified that it had not in fact rained, but the sky was somewhat ominous.

    Next, my wife really wanted me to go straight to the movie theater after I got off work. This isn't a big deal, it's less than half a mile from the bus stop, but I didn't feel like showing up to the movies in sopping wet clothes.

    Well, it was really nice and clear out today. Not so much as a sprinkle on my way to work. If it rained while I was working, I totally missed it and it must have dried up before I got out. This would have been an awesome day to be on my bike. To top it off, the movie that my wife wanted to check out doesn't actually come out this weekend, so I didn't go to the theater. I went straight home.

    This is lame, and I'm pretty sad that I missed out on a really nice ride.

    Thursday, February 22, 2007


    I was so close, and the traffic wasn't (seemingly) too bad, so I rode my bike to the new Bass Pro Shop that opened up about a mile from my apartment (a little further as the roads go). As I entered the parking lot, I saw a few things that were harbingers of things to come. "The official" Bass Pro sprint car and nascar were there for starters. The parking lot was so packed that they had to park cars across the street. What's really sad is that they had charter buses to get people across the street. I'm not talking like 8 football fields away. Maybe 1/4 mile. Buses for a 1/4 mile walk. Not golf carts pulling tram trailers or anything. Actual charter buses.

    The parking lot revealed about one gun rack for every 5 vehicles or so. That's actually less than I was expecting. Once inside, it was practically one giant mullet towards the hunting and ATV areas. I can say that they have a decent selection of camping gadgets and the like. I'll have to see if the prices there are any better than Dick's Sporting Goods, but it's my guess that half the prices I saw were basically to get people in the door. It apparently worked. Yee-Haw!

    I wasn't remotely tempted to buy anything. Overall, it's a neat store, but for all the fanfare they tried to work up, I was expecting more. After about 15 minutes in there, I came home and started working on more interesting stuff.

    Got in a little early

    Photo: Nothing special, just my bike in the rack this morning right after pulling in. I take the front wheel in with me, so no comments about how the front wheel isn't locked!

    I took my shower last night, and woke up a little before 6:00 this morning. I was on the road by 6:10. Climbing hills SUCKS when you haven't had enough sleep and you skip breakfast. I find myself spinning and huffing to get up the hill on Ridgeview some mornings, and then there's the viaduct. Usually they're not too bad, but this week I haven't slept well and they just seem to bring me to a crawl.

    I got to work at 7:00 sharp without stopping for anything sweet before work. I brought two small cans of pineapple slices with me for lunch (and some soup) but I think one of those cans is going to be my breakfast here in the office.

    Wednesday, February 21, 2007


    Talk about a beautiful night for a ride! With the Bass Pro Shop grand opening going on here in Olathe tonight, I decided to stay very far away from any roads that people would be using to get there. All of my normal commute routes take me within half a mile or so of the new shop, so I took College Blvd across to Ridgeview tonight. For those of you who aren't from around here, that doesn't mean much. I also took a little trail and rode through a residential area just for giggles.

    College Blvd at night is a bit scary, especially for about a mile where it's down to one lane either direction with no shoulders and lots of hills and no street lights. It was a little tense for a while. The additional hills and scenery were a welcome change to my usual grind, and it was deliciously cool out, around 50 degrees. Cool enough that I don't overheat, warm enough that just my t-shirt and backpack provided enough protection. If it stays above 45 (it probably won't) overnight, I won't even bother with a windbreaker.


    So A Midnight Rider kind of poked at my coffee obsession in the comments of one of my recent posts. I got a chuckle out of it, then I had an epiphany. I really am a coffee nerd. Every day, I grind up some coffee beans to take to work (in a good conical burr grinder, not one of those $5 food-processor-wannabe grinders), I measure the grinds as I scoop them into my stainless steel press, add water that's darn near boiling, stir it, wait a few minutes, then press it, inhaling the dark aroma as I pour it into a ceramic chalice. Then, I imbibe the warm, strong, tasty goodness that is a proper cup of coffee. I even recycle my coffee grounds and give them to the lady who takes care of the plants around the office. They make a great soil additive for certain types of plants.

    The other thing I love just as much as coffee is good, old-fashioned water. I'm not terribly picky where it comes from, and I usually drink cold tap water that's been poured into a mass-marketed bottled-water bottle. I found that the 24oz Dasani bottles actually have a perfect little ridge cut out on them to fit just right in most bike bottle cages. They last quite a while, too. So if you've wondered why many pictures of my bikes show a bottle or two of Dasani, I'm not hooked on spending more per gallon of water than most people spend on a gallon of Gasoline, I just like the bottles. This is an old picture, but it shows the shape of the bottle.
    This morning's commute was just a little below freezing and I couldn't find my gloves. A t-shirt under my windbreaker was more than enough warmth, though. I'm ready for spring! As you can imagine from my early-morning post, I didn't get much sleep. No matter, though. Sleep is a weakling's substitute for coffee!

    Hobbies and fun.

    Photo: My desk featuring my new M-Audio Keystation.

    When I got to JCCC tonight...err, it's almost 1:00 AM. So... When I got to JCCC last night, I decided to go pick up a keyboard. I have a great many hobbies, and music is one of them. I like producing, recording, mixing, and listening to music. Although, I usually suck at all of those except for listening.

    Anyhow, I ended up scoring an M-Audio Keystation 49e and it works great with GarageBand on my Mac. I also play a little bit of bass guitar, but I also suck at that. Hopefully I'll eventually get good at something other than listening to music.

    Tuesday, February 20, 2007

    Finally, an extended break in the weather.

    It was a seemingly balmy 35 degrees this morning upon my departure. Although it was near freezing, it felt like spring. The Outlook was such a welcome change of pace this morning. I adjusted it a bit right before last night's group ride, and finished tweaking it when I got home. The group ride was a perfect shakedown run to get my butt used to the narrower, firmer saddle. The saddle angle and brakes needed a little adjustment, and this morning's ride was smooth sailing. The only thing I can't figure out is that I'm having trouble shifting into the granny ring. I'm hoping it's something I can fix with the limit screws, but it doesn't look like it.

    The extended forecast looks pretty much clear until the weekend. It's a shame that I didn't work yesterday, because this would have been a perfect five-day commute week. I put just as many miles on yesterday as I usually put in on a Monday, though. It doesn't count as a commute, but at least my weekly miles won't suffer.

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    Did a fun group ride tonight!

    Photo: My friend Tim, who told me about the Monday night "Recovery Ride", chillaxing and geeking out with his digi-cam after the ride.

    This was, in fact, my first-ever group ride. The last time I rode with more than one person, I was still in middle school so it doesn't count. I've known Tim for about 5 years or so, but our paths hadn't crossed in real life in almost two years. A few e-mails here or there, or some IM's on occasion. He told me about this ride that was usually a pretty easy-paced crowd and I decided to check it out tonight since the weather was so nice.

    Also, it's been what seems like months since I've put any real miles on the Outlook. I miss my trigger shifters, but the Outlook ran so smooth tonight. I'm really glad I went. I was figuring I'd get a few jeers from the crowd for showing up in bluejeans and riding a mountain-biased hybrid in a pack of road bikes, but they were all really nice.

    To top all that off, Mark, who I believe organizes the Monday night rides, also heads up I knew Kansas City was one of their cities covered as I've had a link to their Kansas City page for a while now. I had no idea I'd run into the guy behind the site, though.

    I saw a few people on the ride were using Redline Conquests. I had to refrain from drooling, but I hope to soon be able to build one up. It's kind of my dream commuter bike, capable of handling the less-than-ideal weather and road quality that I encounter, while still being a very capable and nimble road machine.

    Bonus photo: Friday's fun snow adventure waiting for the bus.

    Sunday, February 18, 2007

    Wow! Over 100 posts!

    Sorry about going radio silent on Friday. For those of you that are in Kansas City or pay attention to weather, we got another "last snowstorm of the season" in the afternoon. This comes about a day and a half after the previous "last snowstorm of the season" which was a few weeks after the first "last snowstorm of the season."

    I rode about half a mile in the snow and decided to do a nice sideways snow skid and show off for the people at the bus stop. I ended up laying it down and sliding on my side in the snow. It was certainly fun and didn't hurt, but it wasn't quite what I was going for. Haha!!!

    The bus showed up about 25 minutes late. It should have arrived at about 4:35 PM but didn't show up until after 5:00. We finally pulled into the bus stop back home in Olathe at about 7:00 PM. There was maybe 2-3 inches of snow on the ground, but it seems one snowflake is enough to upset the entire balance of Kansas City traffic.

    My wife had just gotten done running some errands and met me at the bus stop to bring me home. I could have ridden in this stuff, but with how late it was getting, I just wanted some food, sleep and warmth.

    Yesterday, the roads cleared up a bit, and right now it's approaching 50 degrees. It's hard to believe just a day and a half ago I was riding in 3 degree weather. It feels like spring now, and I'm mopping up the mess of dried sludge, mud, sand and salt that my bike has left in my front hallway.

    Tomorrow is the day that we honor and remember George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two of the most influential presidents of the early years of the United States of America. While there is a lot of confusion and controversy over what "Presidents' Day" is supposed to be about (or even what it should officially be called) the result is the same. I work in the Financial industry. Banks and the US Stock Exchange are closed, so my employer also observes it as a federal holiday. I won't be bike commuting tomorrow, but if this weather keeps up, I doubt I'll be able to stay off my bike!

    Friday, February 16, 2007

    Kinda chilly, but not for long!

    This was officially my second coldest bike commute. It was 3 Degrees Fahrenheit this morning when I left. As usual, I stayed plenty warm but I took it slow to keep from sweating too much. I made it to the bus stop in 18 minutes, which is a dead-on 10 MPH average.

    I had to fight with the bike rack on the bus. The release lever wouldn't disengage at first, so I had to he-man it. Once the bike rack dropped, I put my bike in the rack then went to pull the arm that holds the front wheel down and it wouldn't pull out. I went to the other side and after a lot of tugging, got the other arm to pull out. Then, I had to take my bike out of the rack, turn it around the other way, put it in the other bike rack slot, and latch it in.

    As much as this cold doesn't bother me, being encumbered in layers of clothing is getting a bit old, as is riding my sluggish mountain bike. Don't get me wrong, I love the Sorrento. I just don't love commuting on a heavy bike with ginormous, low-pressure knobby tires. In weather like this, the tire pressure drops even further. I keep them pumped up to 65 PSI in my apartment (that's their max pressure) after the bike has acclimated to room temperature. Out in the cold, though, the tire pressure quickly drops to as low as 30 PSI as the air density increases. Pumping up the tires in the cold would be a bad idea, as 50 PSI cold would probably climb to 90+ PSI once it got back to room temperature. This would certainly blow a tire out.

    The forecast for early next week shows temps in the 50's. I'm pretty sure it's time to get the Outlook prepped for daily use again. It's been sitting dormant for more than a month now. It will be nice to get back out on it. While the Sorrento is more comfortable for me to ride, the Outlook is lighter, nimbler, and faster.

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Kind of a crazy night

    Photo: A pic I snapped on my way back to downtown. It's an accurate representation of my state of mind at the time, too.

    I got to JCCC and then realized that I did not have my wallet. There were only a few places it could be, and "locked in my desk at work" was one of the top candidates. I stole the wife's Explorer and headed to the office.

    Fortunately, it was there in my desk. I took the opportunity to swing by Liberty Memorial and shoot some photos. I swear it's not leaning, I just didn't get the camera level.

    Wicked tired this morning

    I'm completely and totally wiped out this morning. I woke up late, got out even later, missed three buses again (fortunately, I didn't miss the last one!) and I just feel weak.

    I got to the bus via bike okay, but I feel completely and totally tapped. Must have been all that...ummm "bicycling" last night. *teehee*

    Not much to say this morning. It's a little colder now than it was yesterday morning, and I have a meeting at the Daily Dose tonight. Looks like it'll be another pedal-pounding Thursday. It kind of depends on if I ride all the way home from the Dose, or if I just go back to JCCC to met my wife and go somewhere to eat.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Good news, but a tedious trip home

    Good news: my belt clip came from Blackburn this week. No questions asked, they sent me a replacement part, so my Mars 3.0 blinky is back in business once again.

    I started my journey this morning with temps in the single digits and some rather harsh wind chills. I was dressed accordingly so it wasn't much of a problem. Over lunch, I ran some errands in my dress slacks, and only a hoodie on over my dress shirt. Temps had climbed to 10 degrees. Whee. I was definitely a bit cold.

    The return trip started with a grocery run, then a trip to JCCC for a while, and then homeward bound with a detour to pick up some more last-minute valentine's day goodies. Temps stayed in the low double digits and the wind chill was ferocious. From maybe an hour and a half of being outside, my face is windburned like I'd just spent the entire day on the slopes.

    Despite all that, after a nice shower, I feel like a million bucks. I'm making a surprise crab leg dinner for my wife (who should be home any minute now) and I'll crack open a bit of the bubbley to go with it. :)

    Now, go make some November babies (if you're married)

    That's what I'm talkin' about!

    The rain finally turned to snow Monday night, but I didn't get to ride on it until last night due to it being my wife's birthday. She had the day off and we both thought it best for me to get home as soon as I could. I drove my car to the bus stop instead of driving all the way downtown. With traffic backed up the way it was, I couldn't have gotten to or from work any faster than my bus did, and I didn't have to drive on the highway or pay for parking. Today, she's stuck at work on Valentine's day and I was happy to be able to hit the snow before it goes slushy.

    It was a brisk 8 degrees F outside this morning and a really nice ride save for my first close encounter of the glare-ice kind. I did not fall over, but I did have to hop out of the saddle and put both feet on the ground when the back just kind of slipped out from under me. This snow was also a bit different than the other stuff I've seen. It's a lot stickier and denser, and clings to my tires the way mud does. This is probably due to the massive amount of standing water it had to absorb after all the rain we got right before the snow.

    Anyhow, I woke up on time, made it to the bus on time, and when I get downtown, I'll probably grab a mediocre cup of some kind of coffee beverage.

    Monday, February 12, 2007


    Yucky, disgusting road grime and weeks worth of sand, salt, and sludge suspended in a thin layer of water. That's what I get to ride through tonight. My wife's birthday is tomorrow and Valentine's Day right after that. I love riding in the snow and I don't mind riding in the heat, either. One thing I hate, though, is rain.

    I think I'm going to go to JCCC, then put my bike on the truck, go shopping for the stuff I need, then come come that way. Yes, it's cheap. I will have ridden a mile in the rain though, and that's plenty messy for me, without having fenders to rescue me from all the crud my knobbies like to kick up onto me.

    A good start

    Photo: Motion shot of my dad rockin' out at the Daily Dose last night. The concert was good and the place was hoppin!

    Strangely, it felt pretty nice this morning despite being 35 Degrees Fahrenheit. I intentionally slept a bit late this morning to recover from my marathon weekend. Supposedly we're getting a wintry mix today, but I managed to hit the road before it started to mist. I brought my breakfast and lunch with me (Malt-o-meal and leftover sloppy joes from last night) so I won't need to go out until I get off work. I'm hoping that the mist and/or rain stops or at least turns to light snow before 4:30.

    My wife's making lasagna and taking it to work today, so I know where I'm going after I get out of here! I want to catch tonight's episode of 24, so I will probably go straight home after I swing by JCCC.

    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    This month's Bicycling Magazine

    I've been picking up Bicycling for the past 5 months or so. It usually has some cool articles and plenty of eye-catching ads for gadgets that can make a geek like me drool. This month's issue, though, has a lot more information that I think really applies to almost every cyclist, myself included. This includes a few quick exercises and some really good tips on maintenance, repairs, and cycling form in general. All in all, I think this is one of the best issues I've read since I started cycling again.

    Even if you don't subscribe or pick it up every month, it's worth finding a copy on the newsstand and flipping through it. Even if you've been riding for years, you might just learn something.

    This is the longest day of my life...

    Okay, sorry for the campy "24" reference but this is going to be a marathon day!

    I had to be at my office at 11:00PM Last night for server maintenance. I woke up at about 7:00PM, did some laundry, went and got some food, got a $20 parking ticket (cop went easy on me, I parked behind someone else in what neither of us knew was a fire lane. The cop knew, though.)

    I left home at about 10:30 and drove downtown. Sorry, no bike riding in the middle of the night! Got there a bit before 11:00, finished up at about 3:30AM, got home and went to bed at 4:00AM.

    Woke up at 7:00, and I'm about to head to church. I'm the A/V guy and today's a packed day at church. There's the normal lighting, sound, and slides deal, but my mom's also playing in a skit afterwards, and there are lots of things to do for that.

    Then, my wife's birthday party is this afternoon. Her birthday is Tuesday, but we're celebrating it with my family today.

    Finally, my dad and some friends of ours from church are playing live music at the Daily Dose from 6:00PM until 8:00PM. I can't miss that!

    So yeah, I'm going to feel like death warmed over tomorrow.

    And this isn't the longest day of my life. I once went more than a week without so much as a nap, back in high school.

    Friday, February 09, 2007

    Snow, close calls, and revenge

    Well, I stepped outside and thought I saw a snowflake fall. I decided to grab the ski goggles just in case it was going to really start coming down, but didn't need them on the way to the bus. The snow was just a light dusting. Maybe it will continue a bit? I kind of like riding in the snow.

    As I was coming up Strang Line Road for the last leg of my commute, I had a car come within inches of me. It took me by surprise, and made my heart skip a beat. The inside lane was wide open, so I don't know if I got buzzed intentionally "to teach me a lesson" or if it was just accidental. If it was accidental, the driver was merely inches from hurting me. It was a green 2004 Ford Mustang V6 and I got the plate numbers.

    I didn't need them, though. Out of nowhere, I saw an Olathe Police cruiser next to me (going the speed limit in the inside lane.) It must have been less than a quarter mile behind me when the incident happened, but there were no other cars between him and the Mustang. I was hoping beyond hope that he saw what happened.

    As he passed me, I saw him veer into the outside lane. I was sure he was going after the reckless Mustang driver. A few seconds later, the emergency lights kick into action. The mustang pulls over. This is all unfolding about a quarter of a mile up the road from me. A little while later, as I pass, I thank the officers who are talking to the driver. They wave to me.

    I'm not sure if the motorist got a ticket or not, but I wouldn't be surprised. Even if the driver didn't get ticketed, I'm sure that being pulled over for failing to give a cyclist some room will change the way that person sees us. Hopefully the officers gave the driver a quick lesson on traffic laws regarding bicycles, too. I'd be happier if the motorist was cited with willful reckless endangerment or something that would cause the loss of driver's license. Then they can ride a bike, wouldn't that be poetic?

    One officer seemed visibly angry and was standing on the sidewalk. Perhaps a fellow cyclist or motorcycle rider? At any rate, justice was served today.

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007


    Not much to say about the big fire downtown other than "Wow. That sucks!"

    I'm bypassing the college tonight, and heading straight home from the bus stop for a well-deserved nap.


    Photo: Another attempt at dark sky photography.

    I got about 3 hours of sleep last night. My wife and my cats kept waking me up. I could barely shower, I kept dozing off while trying to get ready to go, and In the three sentences I've written so far, I've had to correct at least 30 misspelled words because my fingers won't work the way they should.

    Now imagine how bad my legs were. In weeks past, this would be the day I decided to drive. I figured the worst that could happen is I miss a bus, or two. Despite my weakened condition, I made it to the bus in about the same amount of time as usual.

    I'm only doing this because I really want to watch that Bike-to-Drive ratio crawl closer and closer to 3.0.

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    Another bike?! On MY bus?!

    No pictures, because the guy got off a few stops after I boarded. For the first time since I started doing this back in September, I actually had to share the bike rack with another bike. This is fine, as the racks are built to accommodate two bicycles.

    The other bike was a huffy rigid mountain bike that looks like it has seen better days, but a bike's a bike, and it's always neat to see that I'm not the only one doing it out here.

    Blinky drama and guilty pleasures

    While I was riding around getting lunch yesterday, my Blackburn Mars 3.0 blinky actually broke completely off my bike. The mounting bracket was okay, but the clip that holds it to the bracket snapped in half, leaving me without a source of light. You can see the broken piece (clip removed) in the upper left photo. If you keep an eye on my cycling blog, that's why I only rode a mile yesterday night. I wouldn't dare ride the streets at night without something that's blinking, annoying and attention-grabbing on the back of my bike.

    I was Hoping to find another Mars 3.0 at my bike shop since it would be nice to have 2 mounting brackets, but I was not successful. I ended up with a Trek Disco Tech, which doesn't look as cool and is a little lacking in the side lighting department. The upper right and lower left photos show the new light mounted on my bike. I'll try to post a comparison between the two lights later today. The batteries were almost dead in my digital camera.

    I'm going to call Blackburn today to see if they can send me a new clip. They say there's a lifetime warranty on everything. We'll see if Blackburn puts their money where their mouth is. It would still be nice to have more blink. You can never be lit up too much.

    Finally, Guilty pleasures. I have this huge and unhealthy obsession with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (preferably Big Cup) and Red Bull. They're a match made in heaven. Fortunately, this is the first time this year I've partaken in the duo, as I've been trying to cut back on sweets.


    Wow, I haven't said that word in nearly a decade, but that's exactly what mother nature's got in store for us. The skies are clearing from being overcast the last few days, but it doesn't mean we've got warm weather on the way. The best we can hope for is for the sun to heat up the bike paths and pavement enough to finally clear them of ice.

    It was just shy of 20 degrees this morning, so I dressed lighter than I have been the past few days. It looks like all of my morning commutes this week will be below 20.

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Top ten things...

    I posted something similar on BikeForums a while back, but it seems my top ten always evolves. I'm still very new to utility cycling, so I'm certain that it'll take a good year or two before I really find my top ten groove.

    10) The way my knobby tire tread looks like it's standing still or going backwards under Sodium streetlights. It's strangely hypnotic, and I have to tell myself to keep an eye on traffic instead of watching the pretty pattern when I'm riding my mountain bike.

    9) The increased sharpness of all my senses.

    8) Free parking pretty much anywhere!

    7) In winter, being halfway to my destination before I could even have my windows scraped off, and never being cold waiting for my vehicle to warm up.

    6) I can blow off steam on my way home. If I've had a bad day at work, I can just hammer it until I'm about ready to pass out. By the time I'm home, I'm far too tired and lazy to be pissed at much of anything.

    5) The looks, questions, and awe of other people. Co-workers, people working at places I ride to, and drivers on the road always seem to be curious. Some of them assume I've lost my driver's license or I'm too poor to own a car. Others think I'm going to get myself killed, and some actually root for me. Once in a while, people talk to me and ask my why I'm doing it.

    4) My health. I'm getting stronger and healthier. I haven't lost much weight yet, but my waist is shrinking, which can only mean I'm toning up. My heart and lungs are feeling better than they have in 8 years.

    3) There's nothing that wakes me up faster than making that first big climb on my bike.

    2) When I'm riding, all the distractions fade away. I have time to think about things on my way to work. I've actually solved problems and come up with some of my best ideas while I'm just sitting there pedaling away!

    1) The zen of transportation under my own power

    The commute this morning was peaceful and chilly. I got out a little later than I'd like, but at least I got to bed early last night and got a good night's sleep for a change.

    Also, I added a few new Links to my blogroll. A Midnight Rider is a fellow bike commuter that comments frequently, and some other readers of mine post on Commute By Bike. They're definitely worth a read.

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    Caught an error...

    Not that big of a deal, but every morning that I hit Starbucks instead of going straight to work (or if I go to the bank for some reason), I "lose" about seven-tenths of a mile. While that might not seem like a lot, it can add up pretty quickly.

    I need to break down and buy a pair of cycling computers (or two sets of sensors and an interchangeable computer). Anyone have some good ideas? While the Garmin Edge 305 would rock, I am not made of money.

    Saturday, February 03, 2007

    My daily cycling log

    I made some enhancements to my daily cycling log. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the whole year, as there seems to be a problem with Google Spreadsheets only allowing 23 columns and 103 rows. If they don't sort that out in the next 2 months, I'll be forced to start a new log for April. Not that big of a deal, I suppose.

    I put on about 139 miles in January. I do not have a cycling computer, but between Veloroutes and my GPS, I am pretty sure I'm within 5% accurate.

    Features I added:

  • Commute to Drive ratio: Number of days I rode my bike to work divided by number of times I drove (either driving to the bus stop or all the way in, I make no distinction). My goal to push this number above 2.2 by the end of February, and 2.8 by the end of March. I'm at 1.875 right now, which is a lot lower than I want it to be. I won't be satisfied until I hit 3.0. I can actually pull that off by the end of February if I bike commute every weekday for the rest of the month. I don't know that I'm up to the task, though. I'm almost always completely exhausted by Friday.

  • Total Drives: Counts the number of times I drove. Technically, counts times I drove TO work, plus times I drove FROM work, divided by two (this is also how I calculate number of bike commutes). If for some reason, I bike only one way, then it would show "half" a bike commute.

  • Daily bicycle mileage totals: Counts up all commuting, recreational and errand miles for that day. Shows blank on days that I did not use my bike.

  • Month-end mileage total: Counts up all daily totals from month-to-month. With any luck, this number should get bigger and bigger every month through spring and summer!

  • Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Ahhh... finally back home!

    Tonight's commute consisted of getting some Greek food, taking it to my wife, riding down to The Dose, and riding home.

    I got first tracks on a little stretch of sidewalk north of 119th street (woot!) and I saw a pickup that had head-on collided with a stoplight pole at what must have been a good 45 MPH given the carnage I observed. The driver had already been hauled off (didn't look fatal) and police were standing around BSing waiting for a wrecker to drag the pickup away. The roads were clear, so this guy was either asleep, drunk, an idiot, or a combination of the aforementioned conditions. I'm tuckered. I have pictures but I'm too tired and lazy to find my camera cable, import the photos, crop, adjust, upload and link to them right now. It's a miracle I'm even posting this.

    The 2600 meeting is tomorrow, so I'll be driving.

    Slushy commute

    No pics of the morning carnage. It looks like Olathe Public Works decided it would be better to salt and sand the hell out of the roads instead of plowing them. The snowfall lasted only a handful of hours, with a total acumulation around two inches. The snow was powdery and fun to play in last night. This morning, it's a slushy mess. On my way to the bus, I thought I had a cracked lip because I kept tasting something salty. Turns out I flung some salty slush up onto my lip, as I had my balaclava exposing my whole face. Yuck.

    Don't lecture me about fenders. I don't want them, at least on the Sorrento.

    With the outer 3 feet of the road being a perfect disaster of six-inch-deep slush and road grime, I decided the best way to ride was to simply take the whole outside lane for myself. In general, cars respected me but I did have one car buzz me. I believe it was someone who was in the outer lane to begin with and the driver didn't get all the way in the other lane before passing me. Usually, a malicious buzz is preceded with copious amounts of honking, or followed by hard acceleration. Or both.

    By the way, I did catch my normal bus this morning.

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