Sunday, August 31, 2008

August 2008 Recap

The sky's staying darker later into the morning. It's getting darker earlier at night. The din of Cicadas fills the evening air. After sunset, they give way to the sound of delighted crickets and the occasional blips of straggling fireflies. Folks, August is OVER.

Once again, I miss my target of 600 miles for the month, and my numbers for August look frighteningly similar to July's.

Commuting/Errand Miles: 474 (July was 467)
Recreational Miles: 62 (July was 72)
Total Miles: 536 (July was 539)
2008 Miles: 3,536

I rode the bus 14 one-way trips in August, and did not drive to work (or to the bus stop) at all.
I had 8 bike-only commute days.

A look at the past:
Week 1: DefCon in Las Vegas (not a lot of riding that week)

Week 2: Hybridzilla Gets Stolen :(

Week 3: Getting back into the swing of things

Week 4: The Twelve coming together nicely. I really, really can't thank you guys enough for helping me replace the essentials for my somewhat long-ish commuting adventures.

Coming up in September:

  • Talk Like A Pirate Day and the second anniversary of getting into bike commuting (Sept 19th). Yes, I plan on flying the Jolly Roger again this year.
  • My initial road-to-5,000 miles has September marked as a 400 mile month. I have some catching up to do, so I am going to push for another 500-600 mile month.
  • I've been staying below 200 pounds reliably for the last 2 months. I still can't get below 190. I don't like setting weight goals, but I want to get below 190 before the end of Sept.
  • Although I've written Hybridzilla off as a total loss, I hope to God she turns up somewhere. The Twelve works really well right now, but you know how you feel when something gets stolen.

Unintentional Recreation Ride

'Twas a beautiful morning. I decided I'd ride to church again today. Now that 127th St. is open again, it's a little more than 7 miles each way. That's about half an hour at my usual (brisk, but not remotely fast) commuting pace, and 40-45 minutes at a pace that keeps sweating and panting to a minimum. I was somewhere between the two, taking advantage of the relatively cool morning and lack of wind.

When I arrived, no one was around. I called my parents, and apparently, I'd missed the memo. No official church service today (due to issues with the school we're meeting in). With that, I decided to get some recreation miles in. The school is just down the road from an entrance to Indian Creek Trail. I took Indian Creek south until I got to the Nazarene College campus, then took roadways to the southern terminus to Mill Creek Trail, which is just a mile from my old apartment.

I rode the trail north, and saw the new bridge they put in at College Blvd. This is nice for everyone. College is an increasingly busy arterial roadway, and Mill Creek Trail was an at-grade crossing, and a dangerous one at that. Both trail users and motorists had to be really careful. Also, there was a busy railroad crossing that would jam up traffic on College. Now, College goes right over all of that stuff.

Further up the path, I saw these landmarks, signifying the last stretch of the trail that was put in place in June of 2000.

At the northern end of the trail (some 17 miles north of the point I'd entered) on Nelson Island, I took this shot across part of the Kaw River. I haven't been here since March 17, 2007 when I rode the same stretch of trail with Tim on Hybridzilla.

I had to pick up some stuff at the grocery store on the way home.

Great day for a ride. Total of 46.5 miles. I was kind of hoping for a full 50, but had to get back home.

Random Tunage:
While on the Mill Creek Trail part of my ride, I rocked out to some 8- and 16-bit video game theme songs.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mmmm... Audits

No, not an IRS Tax Audit... at least, I hope not!

Quarter end is always a fun time in the business world, and as part of my job duties, I get to help with the periodic industry-standard audit reporting. I've actually got two different audits somewhat in the works right now (SOX and SAS-70 for those who care) and it's got me swamped. I'm actually trying to wrap up as much SAS-70 stuff as I can before I get thrown into SOX reporting after the Labor Day weekend.

I got out pretty late today, and tomorrow's looking like more of the same. I'm writing this on the bus!

Sure, there's a stiff headwind, and a heat index of 100, and a thunderstorm watch (which, by the way, is causing some breath-taking thunderheads that I wish I could catch on time-lapse camera). Then there's the traffic that you start to see after 5:00PM. Those are the real reasons I'm on the bus and not on my bike right now. I'd probably beat the thunderstorm on the way home if I took the bike, but it's hard to tell. Regardless, I commute by bike primarily because it's fun, not just on principle alone. The current situation would easily take the fun out of it.

No homeward photos this evening, unless you're really interested in the backs of other peoples' heads.

Oh hai, August!

That's more like the August I know! 75°F and 85% humidity. I think this is the first time it's felt like an August morning this August.

(O hai. Sorry for the lolcats reference)

Leaving at 5:30 or so in the morning, it's now completely dark. More or less a month ago, the sun would already be inching up to the horizon by this time.

The moon is just a splinter, and with patchy overcast skies, there was absolutely no light out except for man-made illumination.

The sun had begun coming up by the time I got downtown. I'm digging the clock tower's radiance. This is the first time I've noticed it lit up. I need to get some night photos of it.

Random Tunage:
Information Society - What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)
Madonna - The Power Of Goodbye

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


This week seems to be a mile-fest. Since The Twelve seems to be holding up quite well, I've been enjoying the nice weather and almost finding excuses to run errands on the bike. I skipped lunch today and knew I wouldn't make it home on an empty tank. First stop after work: Sammich! These Guys at Jimmy John's make a sandwich almost as quick as I can order it, and they know what I want and how I like it. (Vito with peppers, no sauces)

Karen and I saw a fire truck and ambulance near Southwest and Rainbow. They ended up here in Rosedale. No idea what happened, but there was a train stopped at the intersection just out of frame to the right, and the white car next to the ambulance is just kind of there... not parked. Not damaged.

Approaching Antioch, a landscaping truck was obviously burning engine oil. It smoked us as it drove by. In this picture, it's idling at the stop light.

I saw these odd items, just as shown, where Turkey Creek Trail meets the ramp connecting Merriam Drive to Shawnee Mission Parkway. It's a water bottle and a damagedTV/VCR Remote.

After spending some time at home cooling off and recovering a bit from the humidity, I decided to ride to BikeSource, as I had some business to conduct with c'Dude (he's a part-time bike wrench at BikeSource). As Quivira's the only logical way to cross I-435 on my way there, I opted to take Quivira, but I took the pedestrian bridge to get over the viaduct.

Not sure what's up with emergency vehicles today. There was also some kind of a crash on the northbound side of the viaduct, but I didn't get pictures of that.

c'Dude hooked me up with his old CatEye halogen light (the white one on the opposite side of my bike computer), which is an order of magnitude brighter on the road than my NiteRider's current configuration, and more focused as well. This will save me from having to worry about buying a better headlight (or a new 15W bulb) as the days get shorter. And they ARE getting shorter.

All The Twelve really needs to be complete is a decent new rear wheel, and that's something easy to come up with on my own in due time. The one that's on there is functioning well enough, obviously. I already have 300 miles on this bike in the last two weeks. The rim is permanently trashed, though, with a nasty flat-spot and flange. When I buy my new wheel, this one is definitely hanging around as my backup unless it falls to pieces.

If you just started out a little bit at a time...

Karen and I were greeted at Rainbow and Southwest by a motorist. She said "If I were in better shape, I'd be riding too!". I bit my tongue, but you can imagine what was running through my head.

No signs of Lorin this morning. I locked up to the Metro sign while I drank coffee, just to keep "Security" happy.

While JR and I were talking, we saw this guy ride up on his de-stickered Next bike and lock up to a trash can. I suppose that works. There are a lot of commuters out. About this time last year, they were starting to fade. It could be the gas prices, but my money's on the mild temperatures we've had this month.

Random Tunage:
Orchid - Starlight
VNV Nation - Arena

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Focus is getting jealous...

I haven't started it in about a week now. Usually, I drive to church but I even rode there. It's been a while. That's about 30 pounds worth of groceries, work clothes, and gadgets in the panniers.

Then there's lunch time. This is The Smokers' Alley around the corner from my office. There are a few places near me that require me to hike through the smoke cloud. Here, there are close to 20 lit cigarettes going all at once. Gag me. This is right next to the structures sticking out of the ground that might be mistaken for bike racks if they were moved away from the building a bit.

I got out a little late today, didn't see Karen, so kept on truckin' home. I say truckin' but I wasn't, really. I was actually taking it pretty easy. I had to get the groceries that you saw in the first photo, so I took this ultra-steep part of Turkey Creek trail again. It's still as steep as ever.

I also slogged through some of Dave's stomping grounds. 71st St, Pflumm, Lackman, Blackfish... Oh joy. Hillfest.

A smidge under 35 miles today. I'm tuckered out.


Had a somewhat crazy morning. This long exposure at an odd angle captures the essence of the commute pretty well.

We've got a lot of stuff going on at KC-Bike World Headquarters this week -- Not the least of which is the landlord sending out the exterminator in an attempt to thwart the Brown Recluse Spider infestation that we're dealing with. For those not in the know, Brown Recluses are pretty much the only spider around this region that you need to really worry about. Sure, spiders are creepy crawly but most of them are actually pretty good guys. Brown recluse bites are poisonous, and occasionally result in a festering wound that won't heal, sometimes leading to gangrene, requiring amputation or deep tissue surgery. Sounds like a blast, right?

Some of you may have seen one or two recluses. Well, we've been trapping these little suckers BY THE DOZEN. From babies that could stand on the head of a straight pin to grand-poppas that can span an inch-and-a-half, I've got insect glue traps LOADED with them. Other tenants have the same problem, so I'm glad the landlord is doing something about it.

Well, that means I had to do some last minute cleaning-up stuff this morning to prepare for the Bug Man. I got out late, was rushed on the road, and didn't get breakfast before I rolled out. Bad combo.

Random Tunage:
DJ Encore - I See Right Through To You (Tandu Dub)
Flobots - Handlebars

Monday, August 25, 2008

Commute, fender repair, Monday Night ride

I finally feel back in the swing of things. Today brought with it about 50 miles. The afternoon was ridiculously mild for August, but it doesn't surprise me given the chilly morning we had.

Barely any wind, hardly a car on the road this afternoon. Southwest Blvd was practically barren for the time of day.

Mail Call! The spring clip holds all the mail nicely so I don't need to open the bags up and shuffle stuff around to make room for it.

When I started using the Twelve again, I noticed that my rear SKS Fender had started cracking. This was almost certainly from user error. If you recall, I had an incident where the rear fender got mangled, back on May 14th. I'm pretty sure that's why it was cracking now.

I tried to epoxy the fender back together a few days ago but it kept getting worse. Today, the crack had worn all the way through, my rear fender was two separate pieces of plastic. It's time to get serious. My original plan was to use fiberglass and resin, but as I thought about it, I figured that denim and epoxy would probably be fine. This epoxy is pliable, but needs something to really bond to the plastic with. The denim provides this.

Denim soaked in epoxy...

A layer of epoxy-impregnated denim inside and out. It set nice and hard, and seems to be holding up.

On my way to the Monday Night Ride, I saw two guys with huge messenger bags. Both were on Bianchi Axises ...axes? ...axii? well, whatever. Definitely commuting. One offered to let me carry his payload. I told him I had just dropped off a similar payload at home, and declined his generous offer. At Goddard and 87th, they grew tired of waiting for a chance to turn left and pushed onward. Shortly thereafter, I made my left turn. I saw them a while later behind me as they turned from a different side street.

The Monday Night ride was a blast, as usual. Here's Tim sporting the C'Dude team Jersey.

Mark found a new shortcut. Its hard to see, but this is a narrow sidewalk between two fences.

When we got back, there was a sweet Torker cargo trike there with an older Schwinn World Tourer. They weren't with our group, they'd just ridden to get something to eat.

Now, at about 10:00 PM, it's just perfect outside at 72°F. If only it would stay like this all night. Somehow, I know it won't.

Cyclist down?

I'm pretty sure these medics were treating a cyclist, as the "victim" had a helmet on. No sign of a car or police so I don't know if it was a bike-vs-car crash or what. Haven't found anything on the news sites yet.

Helicopters were making the rounds above, and at first I thought it was probably due to backup on I-35, but they appeared to be circling the site of this incident as I rode past. Anyone know what happened? I'm sure if there were two news choppers on the scene it would have at least been mentioned on the morning news.

Oh yeah: kinda chilly this morning. I never did quite warm into it. The bonus was that I didn't sweat at all on my way to work.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The new setup (pics)

I promised these a while ago but never got around to getting decent photos.

Here we go.

The new SunLite rack rocks. Highly adjustable.

It even has a spring clip, which I've found to be handy for things like getting the mail. I think these clips were originally designed to hold the center panel of saddlebag panniers.

The Trek Sideloader I got to replace my hold Headland CMT wedge pack. This thing holds a lot of stuff!

In the main pocket, 3 spare CO2 cartridges (upper left), Park MTB3 (background) and Genuine Innovations UltraFlate 2 (foreground). I have some park tire levers in the other flap, and some Zogics CitraWipes on the underside.

The back pocket holds my spare tube and patches. The rear loop provides a great mounting point for the Trek tail light.

I mounted the Planet Bike SuperFlash on the rack. It's REALLY bright and might even rival the DiNotte 140R.

I rode to church and back today since it was so nice. Took a little detour on the way home, picking up more than 18 miles for the day. Wish I could have ridden more.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

KC Airshow

I didn't have the time in my weekend for the full Kansas City Air Expo but as I've said before, flight fascinates me. When I was riding to Research Med yesterday, the USAF Thunderbirds were overhead, practicing for their full show today. Riding through the streets, there was one occasion where I heard a low bellow and then suddenly a high-pitched afterburner wail -- a very distinct sound. My pulse quickened. My heart skipped a beat. I was still in the heart of the city, though, and didn't see that fly-by. Moments later, a cluster of four fighters in triangle formation entered a steep climb. I had to resist the urge to stop and gawk.

Needless to say, I was all but hell-bent on at least catching the Thunderbirds' performance this afternoon. The general rule of an airshow is that the airfield will be packed by noon, and the roads, particularly bridges and high areas, will be too clogged with people trying to see the airborne events. Sounds like a perfect job for a bike to me.

My suspicions were correct. Too many people and parked cars on this stretch of Woodswether Road for even the most determined motorist to traverse.

I kept moving up Woodswether towards the Broadway Bridge (in the background of the above photo) and found myself a nice spot among other cyclists. Navigating up here through the backed-up traffic was a pain in the butt, but worth it. I got more than one jealous look as I proceeded up the hill through gridlock.

Even the river below us was teeming with boats.

Take-off. I have no clue how these four pilots left the ground in formation but they did.

Initial Climb


This was insane. I have no clue how high they were from the ground, but it wasn't very far. They weren't staggered, either, so the planes were mere feet from touching.

I snagged a photo of one landing over I-70.

All in all, a great day, even if it was more like August (hot and humid) than it's been for a while.

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