This was originally written on 7/31, but Blogger was on the fritz and wouldn't let me post it. Here it is, a few days late.
Oh. Hey. It's July 31st. Here's my weaksauce:
Miles Ridden this Month: 539.5
Bike-Only Commutes: 12
Bike-Bus Commutes: 9
Thursday, July 31, 2008
This was originally written on 7/31, but Blogger was on the fritz and wouldn't let me post it. Here it is, a few days late.
This was originally written on 7/31, but Blogger was on the fritz and wouldn't let me post it. Here it is, a few days late.
So, how's everyone doing? I've been keeping up on your blogs (for those who've commented here and have a blogger profile that links to such) so it sounds like everyone's doing quite well. Congrats to Jason for damn near doubling the amount of miles I got this month, all the while driving your car ZERO times in July. Crazy guy. That's an awesome achievement.
I've had a pretty exciting day.
I went ahead and took the bus to work, like I have been for a while. 5.5 miles every day. Blah. But you know what? I feasted upon beans, rice, pasta, and cheaptastic food for the last week. I spent a mere pittance on survival. And today was pay day. I got the plane ticket for the convention I am going to. My wife and I still need to survive till next payday, and the budget will be kind of tight, but we're in the clear for the most part.
This afternoon, the bug bit me. I had to ride all the way home. The temperatures were in the 80s, which seems pretty cool given some recent hot days. The wind wasn't bad. The air was calling to me to ride. I caught up with Karen by the brewery. She got back from RAGBRAI and has been riding solo the past few days while I take the bus. My cameraphone takes some pretty trippy motion pics:
I got home and the legs were still itching for some miles. I couldn't hold back. No, I had to do the Brookside Ride. I got there plenty early and tested out the PDA I'm planning on using at the convention. It works fine.
It was kind of funny, a stretch of road buried in Mission Hills was torn up for resurfacing. A lot of the riders took it pretty slow, Some of us (like me, with 32mm tires) just kept rolling right along. For me, that meant something in the neighborhood of 12-15 MPH -- I'm NOT fast. All the people who didn't bother slowing down went very wide around the slower folks, who were pretty much sticking near the right gutter. When we got to the first re-group, one lady began scolding every last one of those (me, too) who passed her without an "on your left!" Sorry, I don't think warning is needed when you're passing with a 10-foot berth and at a speed differential of 5 MPH.
I laughed. One of the roadies took it pretty personally, and it almost came to fisticuffs. Eff-Bombs a-plenty, finger pointing and beating of chests. I kept laughing. I almost apologized to the lady after getting scolded, but as I was riding over to her, all hell broke loose and I really didn't feel like getting in her crosshairs. "If you can't follow the ettiquite, don't come on this ride!"
I'll tell you what. If proper ettiquite for the ride is all about picking fights and calling people names, perhaps I *wont* go on that ride. Way to lead by example, curmudgeonly lady. My new troll, "Weston" is going to comment on this, as it's a great example of how I belittle people who are not me. Watch the comments. If you haven't seen his work, it's second to...well, okay. It's snarky, full of misinformation and easy to dismiss, but still good for a chuckle.
I somehow got tangled up between two group rides. On Thursday, the Brookside ride and the Blue Moose ride both cruise a lot of the same roads. The Blue Moose crowd is usually made of riders much faster than I -- or most of the Brooksiders for that matter. I ended up following some Blue Moose stragglers (the slow ones that I could keep up with) back to their start point. That's fine with me, because Prairie Village is closer to home than Brookside. I chatted with JCBC's president (who leads that ride) for a while, then went along my merry way.
Somewhere just past 85th street on Santa Fe Drive, a 1990's Blue Ford Explorer decided to ride my ass while laying on the horn. I chortled merrily without looking back, and pointed to the desolate left lane, where no one was driving. The klaxon remained engaged. After about a whole minute of constant horn, the motorist pulled alongside me, driving between the lanes. Horn is still wailing. I finally paid him a courtesy glance to see what in the world could be so important as to warrant nearly two minutes of honking. The man, was pointing to something. me? No. Well, kind of. I kept my line and began formulating this very part of my blog post in my mind, JUST for Weston.
Oh yes, much loathing of another person who is conveniently NOT me was happening again. It's an epidemic, I swear. Then, I started to get crowded between the SUV and the curb. This had gone from an entertaining but annoying motorist to a dangerous and malevolent one. Once stopped, I was called all sorts of names and understood the word "sidewalk" through a very thick accent that I can't place. "Do you have a driver's licence? Did you read the state handbook? I am supposed to use the road." I said calmly, pretty much at the same time as he continues to scream obscenities at me, now honking intermittently. The light turned green. I laughed. He kept ranting.
Eventually, a few people behind us honked, and he took off, cutting over as if to get in my way. I wasn't going anywhere until he'd gotten past me. Big surprise: he went straight for the liquor store, and I was already on the phone with 911. One Overland Park Police station basically shares a parking lot with that strip mall. I was informed to come to the station since talking to an officer directly would be easier. Before I rode there, I got a good snapshot of his vehicle. I wish I would have thought to stop and show that it was parked at the liquor store.
Anyhow, one police report filed. He'll get a visit from someone tomorrow. If he's stupid enough to admit he harassed me, he'll get cited for road rage. Either way, he'll be briefed first-hand on Kansas laws by an officer, and that's all I really want. It WOULD be epic if this guy said "Yes, that moron was on the road, I kept honking..." to the officer. I'll keep an eye on the case number. :)
No harm done at all, and I was ready to hop up on the curb if I had to. I just don't feel like being victimized anymore. One broken face is enough. Rather than flex my vocal cords or retaliate, I'll just keep letting the boys in blue do their jobs.
I wrapped up today with a little more than 50 miles. And I feel a lot better. I'll probably ride to and from work tomorrow, since it's the first friday of the month. That means it's 2600 time at "The Maul" - We gotta get our geek on!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Well, I've been feeding myself with bizarre meals made from staples we have laying around the house. No, not those staples. Potatoes. Beans. Peanut Butter. You know.
Oddly, I'm not really having much of a problem clearing out a lot of the "bland" stuff we have in the cupboards that my wife doesn't seem to really like. I had all the stuff needed to make a great loaf of home-made bread. We have a bread machine, so this pretty much amounts to knowing how to use a measuring cup and how to press "go". It's been a fascinating exercise of frugality this past week.
Yesterday, I rode down to my parents place (about 20 miles away) to help my dad bust out some concrete stairs and part of the sidewalk from the driveway which has been cracking for a while. I had my first experience using a real (albeit relatively puny) jackhammer and then got to move a few thousand pounds of broken concrete rubble in a wheelbarrow. The ride down was pretty fun. I left at about 7:30AM, and on a Saturday most of the arterial roads are still barren. I took 87th street across to Metcalf, and Metcalf straight down into Stilwell. I had a fun time drafting a semi tractor upwards of 40 MPH for a while, then I finally tuckered out. My average speed was about par for commuting. I had two bottles of water, old shoes and a change of clothes with me.
I hurt pretty bad this morning. That wheelbarrow really worked my back over. Not injured, just sore muscles. The jackhammer did a number on my shoulders and upper arms, too. Ow.
After church today, I needed lunch and I really felt like I deserved a treat. Not an indulgence, but a treat. Something not much more than $5. Hey, that's about the price of the lunch specials at the new budget chinese place down the street...
While there, I was checking up on my RSS feeds via my phone, and I stumbled across this post by Warren-T. I HAD to find this "Hoof Park" place. I had a fair idea of where it was. Only 5 miles or so from the place I was eating. Okay, so maybe an indulgance was in order. The bike/bus multi-mode stuff is grating on me. I needed a genuine recreation ride. Yesterday's trip to the parents' place was a longer ride, but it was in the name of saving gasoline.
All I have for photos is my LG Chocolate's built-in camera phone, so bear with me.
The "bathrooms" at Hoof Park. Nice bathrooms for a park, but just a notch up from a Port-A-Potty
A series of cute wooden bridges greet you to the multi-use path.
The dam is off in the distance. It's inaccessible by car. You have to walk or ride there.
This is without a doubt the coolest dam I've ever seen. I think the fountain in the center is actually gravity fed, but it might be pumped. The center of the dam has a lower cut-out profile to handle rain. If the lake still gets too high, the full width of the dam goes into effect. The information sign said that this dam can usher water out at more than 64,000 gallons every second.
The spiralling canal coming off of the fountain goes out to feed the rest of the spillway when things are all nice and calm like they were today.
The fountain drains to this waterfall. The rest of the spillway is no less ornate, as you can see. This is quite the masterpiece, in my opinion. I can't wait to bring the wife out here when she feels up to it.
Fishies! No fishing in this lake for another year or so, though.
This just looks like some kind of sci-fi scene.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I've been doing the bike/bus thing the past few days. I'm going to continue to do the bike/bus thing for at least the next week. Also, I loaned my camera out to my camera-less best friend who's going on a road trip. I figure road trip pictures including a few national parks are best captured on a real camera (however POS P&S it is). A camera-phone just won't do a road trip any justice at all. Plus, my route isn't changing, nor is the scenery along it.
It's worth mentioning that this site was set up so that I could chronicle my bizarre bike-related hijinks, practice frequent narrative-form writing, and maybe inspire others to try a bicycle by virtue of showing that an average, overweight suburban nerd can do it. Being part of a niche bicycle community both in Kansas City and online has been quite rewarding. I've engaged cycling and bike commuting spokespeople both local (Deb Ridgway, Brent Hugh, Mark Thomas and Eric Rogers to barely scratch the surface) and across the country (such as Paul Dorn, the BikeCommuters.com bloggers and my fellow staff writers for CommuteByBike.com). I've also seen a lot of other niche segments of bike culture that I was completely unaware of just three years ago. I thought only a few people had ever crossed the US on bike. I didn't know there was a fixie crowd. I hadn't even heard of randonneuring. I couldn't tell you how a Madone differed from a Cross-check. They all looked like "ten-speeds" to me.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
A great album, to be sure, but it pretty much sums up my rather mundane day from the saddle.
I departed to 65% Relative Humidity and ambient temperatures in the high 70s before the sun even thought of coming up. It rained on me just a little bit, but it wasn't enough to cool me off. I didn't see a single bicycle commuter this morning, and the bike parking at the office -- usually loaded to capacity -- was barren all day.
This evening, moderate headwind and sticky heat met me. Only but a few cyclists were out and about, among them was Cory. Oddly, Cory was on a geared road bike today. I've never seen him riding anything other than a flip-flip IRO Rob Roy (in singlespeed mode). Even on the singlespeed, ESPECIALLY on the singlespeed, He's a lot faster than I am. A brief, friendly wave between us and he was quickly a speck on the horizon.
Personally, I didn't mind the weather too much. It's when the heat index floats up into that 105+ range and/or the headwind is at 15MPH or more that I really find it difficult to stay motivated. Today definitely felt like summer, but it was a great day for a bike commute.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sorry, me (and my ego, apparently) were busy over the geekend... err I mean weekend. LOL!
Let's see... there was some lock picking with my friends Friday Night...
Saw the shortest train ever (any shorter and it couldn't be called a train) on my way to KC PHP User's Group. ThatGuy from DDRKC.com showed up on bike, too, despite a heat index approaching 100 Degrees.
The geekend wore on, with some fun laptop repair on Sunday.
This morning, I had to spend about 4 hours in the outpatient surgery department of a local hospital. Needless to say, I didn't go to work today. Hence the lack of commuting love and relative radio silence for a Monday.
I did, however, make it to the Monday night ride. On 87th street, some a-hole in a BMW 5-Series honked at me to get out of the way. I know it was a cager honk and not a friendly one because he kept doing it, despite the fact that I was moving at the same speed of traffic (at the time, about 20 MPH, stop and go through 87th street's stygian interchange of doom. Hell-bent on keeping up with traffic just to spite the hurried BMW pilot, I made a point to sprint when traffic opened up. 37 MPH on flat land. I'd pay for it about a minute later when my EIA flared up. Or maybe I'm just out of shape. Couldn't be...
Holy crap. This road HAS to be pronounced "Foul Mouth"
Even with the setting sun, the heat index floated near 100°F at 6:30 when we left. It was up as high as 105°F a few hours prior. We took a break.
I caught this shot of someone filling a bottle. It looks like it would have to be my arm in there, but it wasn't.
Approaching the end of our ride we ran across two recumbent riders, one of whom had taken his tadpole and turned it into a velomobile with the help of some old coroplast politician yard signs.
Caught a glimpse of a great sunset on my way back home. Storms are moving in. We'll see what tomorrow's commute looks like.
Friday, July 18, 2008
In April, Trek Bicycle Stores of KC, Omaha and St. Louis picked winners for the 2008 Go By Bike Challenge. Here, applicants signed up to win one of two bikes in each of the three cities. Two champions from the KC Metro area stepped up to the plate. I know a lot of people entered.
Now, we're at it again with two brand new opportunities!
For Kansas City Area residents only:
KCMO and Localcycling.com have partnered choose2bike.com with several bike shops in the area and are offering a similar challenge. The catch? You only have until July 25th, 2008 to check out the rules and get registered! Four bikes are up for grabs to KC Area residents (this includes Johnson County, the Northland, even Belton). I know for certain there's a Gary Fisher and a Breezer in the mix, as well as the basic essentials for commuting: A lock, helmet, lights and personal assistance choosing routes around town.
Anywhere in the US (possibly Continental US only?)
Hot on the heels of that news, I also see that Trek, via 1 World 2 Wheels, is launching a different (NATION WIDE!) variation of it's Go By Bike Challenge where they're giving away a mind-blowing FORTY SIX Brand new Trek 7.2FX bikes, one a day between July 17th and August 31st. Check out the rules.
As far as I know, even those who are currently using their bikes for transportation are allowed in both contests. I would hope that established bike commuters would leave the odds to those who really need it. If you're just starting, though, and riding a bike that's in a state of disrepair or would just like to pledge miles and/or apply for either of these contests, I can't see why anyone would shun you.
Likewise, If you're on the fence about bike commuting, these are great opportunities to get right into bike commuting without the significant initial investment. I know with the price of fuel right now, two months of daily commuting in my Explorer would consume enough fuel to have purchased one of those Trek FX bikes. Take advantage of these two opportunities while you can. Hopefully, I'll see you on the road in KC soon on your shiny, new bike!
I saw this breath-taking view of the Moon and Venus last night.
Testing out digital zoom and manual exposure. This is the only shot I took that I was happy with.
Got caught up by a train this morning. This happens EVERY TIME I leave late. I love how you can see all three of the stop lights on carter through the ghostly gap between the engine and the last car of the train.
This kinetic sculpture is bolted to the parking garage next to the historic TWA Building
Oops. I'm such a troublemaker.
New tires roll great. I was happy to ditch the crappy rear tire I was limping around on. Chain doesn't like 1st gear now and the low adjustment screw is all the way out. I may try using a cassette spacer to see if that helps.
Ian Van Dahl - Will I (Lange Remix)
Hybrid - True To Form
Thursday, July 17, 2008
My hooptie rollin', brakes are draggin'
Spokes keep breakin' and tires are saggin'
Ninety-Eight Outlook, bike keeps rollin'
Wheels outta round from goin' pot-holin'
I couldn't resist. I love me beater commuter but she nickles and dimes me a lot. My parts still aren't in, and I'm really chomping at the bit to get this thing tuned up.
Yesterday, I went and had lunch at YJ's with an old co-worker from the startup I worked at back in 2006. He's working at a local marketing company now, and seems to be doing pretty well.
YJ's is a delightful, quaint, and eclectic snack bar in the Crossroads district. It's cramped inside, but full of character. The menu was hand-written on a sheet of freezer wrap.
When I worked downtown back in 2000 and 2001, I was just a few blocks away from YJ's. We'd often walk over here from the office to get "Evil Coffee". They stamp all of their coffee cups with random rubber stamps. Our favorite was the coveted Jolly Roger stamped cup. Yesterday, my cup was stamped with a full-blown skeleton. Hell yes. Evil Coffee.
Not much to say about the homeward commute other than my sun-exposed thermometer read 102-104 the whole way home. Heat radiating off the road seemed to cook me from below more than the unrelenting sun. I had some more wheel problems, and spent a good chunk of time re-tensioning and truing my rear wheel when I got home.
I took this last night, but my co-worker Doug gave these cool yellow schrader caps to me before the midnight ride. A little bit of bling for my hooptie.
It was a bus day for me this morning. I rode the 2.5 miles or so this morning in my work clothes and got some interesting looks from the bus riders. I've mentioned it before, but there's actually a "chase" bus that follows the main one. Almost a dozen people boarded that one today when the main bus was filled to maximum capacity. This route is far beyond standing room at this point. Something's gotta give.
Timmy T - One More Try
Tri Bowl Nuts - Trapped
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
This is a tragic update of the Larry and Sierra Gaunt saga. Monday, jury selection began for the trial of William Johnson in the deaths of the Grandfather-Granddaughter cycling duo as they trained for last year's MS-150 fund raiser.
The trial went quite a bit quicker than I'd expected, and the decision went to jury early today as the prosecutor rested its case. After five hours of deliberation, William Johnson was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
This whole case sickens me. The way the law treats gross criminal negligence of motorists sickens me.
It's one thing to give the motorist nothing but a slap on the wrist when the cyclist was riding erratically, breaking laws, after dark without any lights or reflectors. This was in broad daylight on a wide, open road. Simply living with the knowledge that you killed two people should not count as a just punishment.
Folks, there are concealed-carry laws in both Kansas and Missouri. Perhaps it's time to start riding in flocks and packing some heat. I have zero faith in our officials and legal system to protect us as cyclists in this city.
Photo: Left turn at Quivira and 79th
I still got to bed a bit later than I'd wished, but all in all, I felt a bit better this morning. I really hope my goodies from Performance Bike get here sooner rather than later. My chain's slipping in higher gears and I'm really tired (pun intended) of the crappy low-pressure Kenda ATB I have on the rear wheel.
I didn't intentionally take this. I accidentally hit the shutter a few times while riding with my camera in hand and resting on the handlebars. This was one of the stray photos that were taken without my knowledge. I like it.
Sunrise as I coast down 67th Street
Cranes working downtown.
The Killers - Smile Like You Mean It
Orbital - One Perfect Sunrise
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I wanted to get home as early as possible. I've said it before, but the one shining gem in Johnson County Transit's anemic schedule is the very first southbound Antioch Bus. Sure. There was a headwind. My new, high-pressure Forte Slick City ST's aren't in yet. The heat and humidity gave us a heat index closing in on 95 degrees. Really, I just wanted to get home quickly.
A while later, I had to run some errands. I love twilight and long exposure times. Here are some photos.
No, I'm not talking about Bruce Schneier's oddly humorous fascination with squids that seems to manifest itself every Friday...
Among the new bikes that I'm seeing on the road are the motorized variety. No, not two-stroke mountain bike conversions. I'm talking motorcycles. With these new motorcycles and scooters come "squids", that is, newbies without any motorcycle handling skills whatsoever. Technically a portmanteau of "squirrely kids", squids kill their engines when taking off from a stop light. They rev their engines to redline while stopped for no reason. The do wheelies on public roads. They can't ride a straight line. They're dangerous. I saw plenty of them this morning, and had to swerve to avoid one that killed the engine right in front of me.
Aside from being in sheer awe that I've found some of my two-wheeled cousins are actually dumber than the wrong way bike ninjas, this morning was relatively calm. I still haven't gotten caught up on my lost sleep from Sunday-Into-Monday.
How about something more pleasant? I was greeted with a striking sunrise this morning.
Also, I've been getting out on the road later than usual, by about five minutes. I keep running into trains on my way to work this week, causing my five-minute delayed departure to become a ten-minute delayed arrival. I need to get my indolent posterior out the door on time tomorrow. I suppose that also means I need to actually go to bed at a reasonable hour this evening.
Ian Van Dahl - Castles In The Sky
Laurent Wolf - Happy TV
Monday, July 14, 2008
I get a lot of "what if" questions. If you think fielding the occasional radio program or television interview is a bit of work, you haven't seen what it's like being the so-called "expert" of all thinks bike and transit among more than a hundred co-workers.
There are the occasional "how do [you/I]..." questions, but by far, the vast majority of my co-workers quandaries are of the "what if..." variety. I'm assuming this is mostly so that they can come up with vivid hypothetical scenarios for which to stump me or at the very least tell them that there are, in fact, situations where I'd opt to use an automobile. Most of these questions are due to weather. "What if it rains?" "What if there's a tornado?" "What if it's below freezing outside?" "What if it's 105°F in the shade?"
Honestly though, I rarely find myself asking those questions. One that keeps popping up again and again is at the intersection of 79th Street and Switzer. It's here that I make my rogue journey through forbidden territory. "No Thru Traffic", displayed in bold-face white and red font. This business park joins Switzer and Nieman quite nicely, though. It's a perfect shortcut. "What if I kept going straight through?" I've asked. In fact, Karen has on occasion completely spaced off the turn onto 79th and kept going straight through. Never once have I actually gone through there until this evening. Now I'm kicking myself.
Switzer turns into Marshall, which is part of the route I used to ride when I lived in Olathe. I'd turn off of Marshall onto Nieman back then, but had I kept on going, I'd end up on Switzer. Marshall also has ramps to 87th Street, just a few blocks from my home. This might actually get me home quicker in the evening than taking the two business parks. I'll have to time it.
In my June Recap, I mentioned that some folks from BBC Radio were going to come out for a chat with me. They're covering a few different things while they're here in the States. As Will mentioned, it's kind of expensive to send a crew out here just for one episode of one radio show.
They talked to me today about bicycle commuting in Kansas City. Why Kansas City? Well, because Portland is just too easy and if that's the case, you might as well shoot for the opposite end of the spectrum. KC has top honors among the 50 largest cities as the absolute WORST city for cycling. How about that for a challenge?
And what a challenge it was. You see, yesterday they ran around the deserted Sunday streets of Kansas City with KCBC. Sunday afternoon and Monday at rush hour, however, are two completely different animals.
This is Will Grant, host of One Planet, a BBC radio show about "...environmental, development and agriculture stories, dealing with the impact of humankind on the natural world."
Guess what happened to Will's reporter buddy (I believe his name is Richard) on the way to the Transit Hub I met him at? Yep. Richard got a flat. It's also entirely possible that I've got these two characters' names reversed, and Richard's name could be something else such as Robert. I hate having a photographic memory without any brain film.
Will sets up the levels for recording as Richard glances around at all the interesting transit hub denizens. No, really. There are actually people nearby who are stranger than I am, and that's frightening.
Richard explains the horrid journey that they had on their bicycles just getting to the transit hub, some five miles north of the hotel they're staying at. This includes the awkward bus racks that the KCATA operator didn't know how to use and the woes of getting a flat tire not more than a mile after setting off on their ride.
After getting Richard's bike situated (in four minutes, forty-five seconds!) we rode down the street a ways to Union Station.
There, the recording gear came out again.
Karen was waiting for us, and they interviewed us both in kind of an impromptu panel discussion about the good and bad of bike commuting in Kansas City. What does the city need to do? What do businesses need to do? All that wonderful stuff.
We chatted a while off the record and off topic for a while before parting ways. I gave the BBC chaps the directions they needed to return the loaner bikes.
The rest of the commute home was interesting as well. Not to bother with too many details, I had to take a pretty major detour and found out what Antioch is like when you have to ride it in rush hour. (Spoiler: It's not fun. Captain obvious strikes again.)
I didn't make it to the Monday Recovery Ride, either. Too much going on this evening to even consider it.
Fluke - Kitten Moon
Lisa Loeb - I Do
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