Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I'm still biking and bussing all over town. As of noon today, I punched out of the office for the rest of the decade. I head back to work on January 4th, so I've got a much-needed 10-day weekend. I've been a little scarce because I've been slammed at work, and on the home front I've been busy building Christmas presents and working on my not-so-bikey hobbies. In the coming days, I'll show you the things I made. They're all geeky, and not terribly impressive. We're going small this Christmas.

On the way home from the bus stop this afternoon, all my clothes froze. It was 28*F and raining with a headwind gusting to 20 MPH. I had a shell of ice on my shoes and helmet, and frozen beads of rain stuck to my jacket, gloves and pants. Fortunately, the ground was warm enough to keep the pavement from freezing. I got the old "You aren't actually going to ride your bike in this, are you?" as I left the office. I responded with my typical "You aren't actually going to DRIVE in this, are you?" remark. Honestly, today is as bad as it gets, save for had the pavement been frozen. And it really isn't that bad if you're used to outdoor winter sports.

Anyhow, we're hunkered down, enduring a record-breaking Christmas snow storm, drinking hot cocoa by the fire with our kitties. It's been a rough year, but a good one in many ways.

Merry Christmas, all, and keep the shiny side up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The strangest display of human powered transportation you'll see this week

Pizza delivery by skateboard, at about 11:30 AM, right down the middle of Main Street.


It's officially dark when I get to the office, and getting dark by the time I get home in the evening.

I spotted Gray again this morning a little after 5:30, hammering away. I continue to see bicycles on suburban buses downtown, cyclists here and there, and bikes locked up to things. Two winters ago, it was rare to see another bike anywhere once it got below freezing.

There's also a pretty hardcore BMW Motorcycle rider in my building, who pulled in about the same time I did. His is the only motorcycle I see in the designated parking area next to the bike rack at work this time of year. I'm not certain, but I'd bet it's a lot harder to stay warm on a motorcycle than a bicycle, given the higher speeds and relative lethargy. Kudos to that guy, too!

Random Tunage:
Nine Inch Nails - Only
Orgy - Fiction (Dreams In Digital)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mmmmm Tank 7.

More details on KC Beer Blog. I SO, SO love Gomers in Lenexa. I don't even need to ride on a real street to get there. It's all parking lots between home and Gomers. The Baxter is the perfect machine for beer runs.

Nippy Nine

9°F this morning. I can't express enough how much I love having a log of winter riding clothes.

Some time ago, it was 8°F and I had my clothing pretty much nailed. I did have a note to myself that my legs got a bit chilly with just long johns and cargo pants. I just added a layer to my legs and otherwise kept the same setup. It was a perfect, relaxing ride this morning. No sweating. No chills. Moderate effort, a reasonable pace, a warm core with a little breathe to the clothing to let just the right amount of cool air in and warm, humid air out.

This is one of those mornings where I can mark a "1 - Perfect" in my clothing log. This is one for the memory banks and should do great for the range of 5-10°F. The coldest I've ever ridden in and been able to say I had the "perfect" setup was at 19°F until this morning. I've got a lot of "2 - Good!" entries for much colder temperatures, but there's always something wrong. Feet too hot, ears too cold, eyelashes frozen together or stuff like that; where things were REALLY close, but could use a bit of improvement.

I always know I've got the perfect setup when I can actually feel a little bit of the biting cold come in -- not in one place, but diffused. If some air gets in through a zipper of a fairly loose jacket but passes through a few thin layers and distributes itself evenly, that's a good thing. All the good wicking wool and technical synthetic layers in the world won't help at all if there's not a little air flow to carry the moisture off. Soaked fabric can cause hypothermia, but I can say that wool shines here, and even soaking wet retains a lot more insulation than other fabrics.

Similarly, you don't want to allow the layers to get too cold. A cold core will start reducing circulation to the limbs. That's when frostbite or worse happens. So it's a fine balancing act, finding your groove in the cold.

At any rate, I hope those of you who are still out there in the are staying safe and comfortable, whether it's riding, skiing, snowboarding or jogging and whether you're getting around for work and errands or just getting some miles in.

Random Tunage:
Mittelstandskinder Ohne Strom - Live Tropical Fish
Chicane - Saltwater

Monday, December 14, 2009


Well, it started out that way: mid-40s upon departure. The forecast (which I'd dutifully checked last night like a good commuter) said that it would drop down to 18°F by the time I'd be getting out of work. I loaded a pannier up with extra warms for the ride home. I took the Baxter this morning and rode to the bus stop in my work clothes, leaving a bit early so that I could savor the relatively warm weather, and avoid sweating on the way to the bus. The Swobo Baxter BEGS to be ridden and enjoyed; It's hard to ride it without a goofy grin on your face. It certainly doesn't lend itself well to speed, but makes up for it with the fun factor.

At around 8:00 this morning, I was hunkered down over my computer monitor, chipping away at the epic pile of Monday workload. Prodigy - Breathe was setting the pace for my day, being pipelined into my skull through a hefty set of noise-cancelling DJ cans, like a rush of heroin coursing through an addicts veins directly to the deepest reaches of the brain. Tunage gets me through the day. It muffles out the din of gossiping peers, the shuffle and clatter of clumsy co-workers who insist on smacking and dragging their hands on my cubicle wall as they make their way to the coffee machine, the shitter or the copy room. Then I saw the blip. A tiny distraction on my screen. cDude alerted me to the fact that it was, in fact, 19°F already. In just two hours or so, temps had plunged nearly 25 degrees. It looked like this:

I'd dragged enough warmth downtown with me to sustain a 15°F commute home, again, including my work clothes as a functional part of the getup. After all, it's only a few miles when I bridge the trans-urban gap with mass transit. My mind went into graph extrapolation mode, and I had fears of getting out of the office to single digit temperatures. A few miles wouldn't kill me, but it would suck. Plus, I had to hit the post office on the way home.

Fortunately, the final temperature for the end of the work day was spot on. The graph above leveled out and stayed at 18°F most of the day. As I write this, though, the mercury is dropping further, and single-digits are likely for the morning.

At any rate, this is a reminder for you to make sure you look at the whole day's forecast. This time of year, it's not unheard of to have a colder evening commute than your morning commute was. This event was a close call that even has me thinking about leaving one extra layer of warm clothing at the office, just in case evening weather turns out to be more brutal than originally predicted. I already keep a full change of biz-casual at the office (just in case) as well as a towel (Ford Prefect would be proud!) but maybe a set of sweats and a pair of wooly socks left in the filing cabinet drawer or something would be wise.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tricks Of The Trade: Warmness

Elizabeth and I have been cranking out some tips for winter commuting over at

Toes Froze?

Cold Hands?

Snow Biking: Is that even safe?!

Protection from the elements

On keeping a cold-weather clothing log

I tend to put most of my helpful hints over there these days. My guess is you'll start seeing a lot more cold-weather tips.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Swobo Baxter: Day Two

Bike + Bus today.

I could get used to these pizza-cutters. They stop really well, but it's not overbearing.

I had a little different route today, with plenty of loose snow that hadn't been messed with.

In loose snow, these Vittorias work quite well. Very well.

I really want to put a set of these tires on my Trek 1200. I checked (by putting the Baxter's front wheel on my road bike to see how the tire fits) and the 32mm's will fit just fine.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Swobo Baxter: Day One

See more photos of the build and more info on

I'd actually considered riding the Baxter all the way downtown this morning. At 3 degrees, it'd be the third coldest bike-only commute I've done, but I am dealing with these temperatures quite well. I have records of clothing that works in most conditions we get here in KC, so I nailed my clothing spot-on.

The only thing really stopping me was the fact that I hadn't ridden the bike in earnest. I just assembled it, adjusted fitment, and took a bunch of pictures. In hindsight, I'm very, very glad I didn't ride all the way to work on it this morning.

The 32mm Vittoria Randonneur tires surpassed my expectations of traction on the snow and slush, but the bike still got squirrely on me. It gives you a very upright seating position and coupled with the already raised center-of-gravity due to my backpack (versus panniers) it felt like any moment I was rolling on snow could mean a wipeout.

The bike itself feels a bit like a fast cruiser bike. The 8-speed alfine is very widely geared. First is good for climbing, but it's nowhere near as low as the lowest gears on my road bike or mountain bike (both with triple cranks). The highest gear (97 gear inches) is plenty higher than my mountain bike (84 gear inches), but doesn't hold a candle to my road bike's massive 52x12 top gear (114 gear inches). The Baxter should do about 29 MPH at 100 RPM cadence in its top gear, but given the wind resistance of sitting bolt upright, that seems terribly generous unless you have a great tailwind or a long downhill journey.

This evening, I rode the bike all the way home, and let's just say I won't be doing that again. While it rolls more efficiently than my wife's Townie, the experience was roughly similar. So far, this bike's strengths seem many (and I'll save my thoughts for my final review) but comfort for longer distances is not among them. Perhaps a rack and panniers would have made the experience a bit more pleasurable, but this evening had me thinking twice about my decision. All the extra weight in my backpack (layers I didn't need on the much warmer homeward commute) could have been a major culprit here. And the Baxter is sufficiently equipped with eyelets for a rear rack and a set of fenders.

I'll probably continue using the Baxter for bike/bus commuting, though. It is an absolute blast to ride, but I can't do the upright thing for 15 miles in one sitting.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Test Mule Zero

It's from Swobo, and it (for some reason or another) came in a box labeled "Novak." But it's not a Novak. It was also delivered by a hamfisted UPS guy who (as you can see) left it wrong-side up. Somewhere along the line, the box got clobbered, too. Totally lame.

I've never actually built a bike up before. I've taken them apart plenty, and fixed quite a few of them. I've just never taken delivery of a box and turned its contents into a ridable steed. It was pretty easy, though.

More pics tomorrow. I think you'll like it.

That's more like it.

40 MPH winds, -10°F wind chill. Ice, snow and slush everywhere.

Okay, I could have done without the wind, but it was a great morning for a ride.

I answer the question "Is that even safe?!" (as was asked by several cow-orkers) on

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Yeah. About those games.

"The Games" as I so irreverently christened them last evening, ended up being a 100% chance of rain at 33°F. FML.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Bad news, good news.

The bad news: Remember that I said The Goat needed quite a bit of work? Well, I got it working and have been riding it daily, but never really fixed all the things that need fixing. Friday, things got pretty bad, making the bike a complete pain to ride. It's about time for a major overhaul including a new rear rim/spokes (heck, new wheel?) two new tires, a full set of brake pads, a chain, cassette, and saddle. The chain, cassette and brakes have been replaced several times since I got this bike, but the other stuff has been the same since I bought it more than 3 years ago.

I think I've got it kludged well enough to last me a week or so.

The good news: The Goat doesn't need to last much longer, then I can fix it up over the next 2 months. On behalf of I'm reviewing a pair of slick bikes that should appeal to the urban commuter. The first one will show up this week sometime. I'll test it for about six weeks, send it back, and take on another foster bike for about a month. That should get me through until mid-February or so. Since they're factory demo units, I won't be keeping either of these bikes, and I won't be getting paid to write a review. I'm okay with that, though. I love bike stuff.

Also, my cold-weather ways are probably nothing new for you guys, but check out the post (and the great comments) on my latest article at Bike Commuters for a dose of cold-weather riding tips: You know it's winter when...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


One of several strip malls adjacent to my apartment has been mostly abandoned for the past two years. Eventually, there were no tenants left, however I'm guessing the last of them were forced to leave due to pending re-development. Over the course of the last week, I've watched as the area is reduced to a pile of rubble. You have probably noticed by now that I kind of have this thing about demolition scenes. As of last night, not a single wall stands. Here's hoping there's something interesting and useful being built, not just mid-rise offices or some warehouse.

This morning, I saw the city venting the fire hydrant pipes. jwz would call it a series of tubes.

Random Tunage:
Plumb - Cut
Cher & Peter Cetera - After All

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

30-degree swing

... or close to it. Yesterday, it was 20-something in the morning, 50-something in the afternoon. Mother Nature keeps pushing that "One Last Beautiful Afternoon For Riding" and today looks to be more of the same, but it was warmer this morning.

Last night: a quick stop by Electronics Supply Co. after work. Riding in shorts at the end of November in KC is not normal.

Also, I recently re-shot the front panel of my Sun Ultra 5 because I somehow lost the high resolution version. I think I like this one as a wallpaper better than the last one (highest resolution available).

Click for big.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Last night, I had to apply some patches for OpenBSD, which some of you may know is my favorite operating system. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it's software like Windows or Ubuntu, or Mac OS X. Except more secure and not very easy for people who aren't nerds to use.

My least favorite part of patching any system is the part where you have to reboot, and the computer is not in front of you, but 15 miles away or even further. If something didn't go right, I'd have to mess with a bunch of stuff to fix it.

Today: Patching a pinch flat.

Also, taking advantage of this awesome sunny weather to recharge my radio. I haven't yet had to use the crank to charge it up. I know from past experience that cranking for power sucks, but on just solar power alone, it lasts many hours at a reasonable volume with mixed flashlight use. It finally died on me this week. I usually leave it in the window to charge.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Consumer Zombies

Bus stop at the Maul.

While I love frobs and gizmos just as much as the next geek, the whole Black Friday Blitz thing is not my style at all. I'm going to attempt to get excited make things for Christmas. I can bake. I have hand tools. I am deft with the soldering iron. I'll figure something out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I am convinced that bananas are probably the ultimate on-the-go breakfast for bicycle commuters. This morning, I placed the nutrient-rich peel at the base of some bushes at the bus stop and was promptly read the littering riot act by a fellow rider. I picked the peel up and placed it 'where it belongs:' in a plastic trash bag on the bus where it'll still bio-degrade, but its benefits will be trapped in a plastic barrier, isolated in a landfill somewhere. Go Green(tm)! Don't litter.

This passive-aggressive moment has been fueled by Chiquita Bananas and The Roasterie coffee.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FlashBak safety light

I've been using this since about the beginning of November. It can clip to a jersey, backpack, pannier or whatever.

Here's a video. Yeah. It's kind of bright.

Check out my full review on

Another November WTF

I took this a week ago, and didn't run into it until tonight.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First Snow!

Camera phone. I know.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ripple Glass

RippleGlass bins are showing up all over the greater Kansas City area. Since the city itself doesn't have an easy-to-use glass recycling protocol, some local companies rallied together to make it a lot more convenient to recycle glass. While I have my reservations about the whole "green" thing, the benefits of easy glass recycling are many, and reach beyond saving the Earth. Namely: I'm hoping it helps reduce the amount of broken glass we cyclists must subject our tires to.

I was also happy to see my company's logo on them. This one showed up in the far corner of the parking lot northwest of the 11th and Wyandotte intersection, right near my office. This is cool, because even suburban commuters can throw a bag of bottles into their vehicles and easily drop them off on their way to work instead of how things used to work: Make a dedicated glass drop-off trip to some part of town you probably wouldn't otherwise visit.

Pretty nifty, if you ask me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I had to snag something from CCCKC for a friend on my way home. Hey, I got some extra room on the road today. It was a whopping 2.5 pounds. I know, because I had to ship it. Heck, I'd almost be willing to lug this thing around all year long. I didn't even notice it, and had to look back a few times to make sure it was still back there.

I'm pretty sure the UPS guy who passed me was thinking "Jeez, FedEx is really cutting back!"

I could have done without this, though. I was okay, but this kind of glare makes it hard to see cyclists on the road.

I'm still awestruck that we're in the middle of November and we continue to have this kind of weather.

Random Tunage:
808 State - Olympic
Orbital - The Moebius

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Repeat Weekend

Another spring-like November morning.

The wind out of the south was a fight, adding almost 20 minutes to my trip to church this morning. Well, and I was hauling a pannier full of canned goods and other stuff for a local food drive.

Of course, after jettisoning the ballast and getting a lot of help from the great tailwind:

I averaged about 19 MPH on the way home, and saw a brand new Nissan GT-R (R35) near Johnson County Air Center. That's a slick machine. About $90,000 worth.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tattoo. Kind of.

This is what happens when you have full panniers and take both hands off the bike at a stop. It falls over and rolls forward. When you lean into it to catch it, you get gouged.

It looks a lot less intense (and not nearly as cool) now that it's all cleaned off.

Random Tunage:
Junkie XL - Mushroom
Jerry Ropero - The Storm (Inpetto Remix)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Thought / rant: punctuality

Of all the ways to be inconsiderate to others, I find tardiness to be the most selfish. Unabashedly demanding your peers wait patiently on your behalf expresses the utmost of disrespect for their time, and a narcissistic exaltation of whatever it is that happens to hold you up. Isolated incidents are easy to forgive, but when this kind of behavior occurs repeatedly, I can't help but feel personally slighted.

To all of you constant late-runners out there: Pack the night before. Go to bed a bit earlier if you struggle with the snooze button. Keep some breakfast bars on hand and skip the Starbuck's and McDonald's. Put off your TV-, Internet-, or whatever-addiction for a few hours.

You might expect this rant to be related to my personal life or my office environment; It's not. Most of the people in my personal and professional life are both prompt and meticulous. This one has to do with transit, as one of "the regulars" has taken to showing up to the bus stop several minutes late -- almost daily -- while expecting the bus driver to stall. This morning, it was to the point of asking a friend that was already on the bus to see if the driver could hang out a few minutes longer than usual.
I find this action particularly repulsive because one person's brazen conceit directly affected the punctuality of dozens of others. Many transit devotees have transfers to catch downtown, or expect to be in their offices at a specific time.

Fortunately, the bus eventually left without the person on board, but it was still 5 minutes later than usual. Yes, I could have spoken up and rattled the bus driver's cage. Instead, I'm going to be curmudgeonly passive-aggressive about it. I can only hope that one of the late-runner's friends has a chat about punctuality and manners sometime soon. I'm growing quite weary of untenable tardiness.

Turning this around, I did meet another occasional bike commuter on the bus this morning. John works for a local bank, and has a nice road bike that he's planning on riding all the way home this evening. John, if you see this, contact me. I have the perfect route to get you back home, using some roads that for some reason or another aren't on Google Maps yet.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

November, huh?

Last night was chilly, as I was walking around my friend Don's neighborhood with his youngest kids while they went door-to-door trick-or-treating. It felt like a typical late October night, and there was a great harvest moon to match... not quite full, but close. Imagine my surprise this morning: I had to go outside to grab something, and the temperature had probably climbed 10 degrees overnight. I had to be at church around 10:00 this morning, and I couldn't bring myself to drive. I saddled up a little after 9:00 and took a modest pace for the 11-mile jaunt to church, thinking of a post on repurposed by Joey Haney. I haven't ridden to church in quite a while.

After church, I had to go to my parents' place in Stilwell, which is about 12 miles from church. Most of the ride to church and to my parents place was into wind about 10-15 MPH. My aunt and uncle were in town from Seattle, so we had a nice family meal with my sister and grandmother as well. Then it was time to come home. I pulled over next to Johnson County Executive Airport's VOR Ground Station (a type of directional radio broadcast that helps pilots navigate) to snap this one:

It figures that just as I put my camera away, a plane would take off almost right over the top of my bike. I missed that shot. I saw a total of five cyclists on the road today. I dropped one roadie northbound on Metcalf, got left in the dust behind two others on 159th, and saw two more cyclists going the other direction. It was about 73 degrees when I got home, and I had a great tailwind for most of the return trip. I couldn't even believe it. What a gorgeous day for some errands by bike!

Distance: 43.5mi
Rolling Time: 3h04m
Avg. Speed: 14.2 mph
Top Speed: 33.4 mph

Random Tunage:
The Postal Service - Brand New Colony
Way Out West - Call Me

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One Year, Four Months and Two Days

That's the last time I had to drive to the office for my usual work shift. I don't suppose it's a bad run of things. I just wish the circumstances this morning (me forgetting to set my alarm) were a bit more noble. One morning on I-35 per year is more than enough to remind me why I don't like driving on a daily basis.

Bonus: I did find a parking spot not too far from the office that "only" costs $5 per day.

Insult to injury: I saw a bike commuter I've never seen before wheel into my office building as I walked in from the parking lot.

Random Tunage:
David May - Superstar
Tangerine Dream - Machine Language

Monday, October 26, 2009


I figure I can finally post this since "Octobber" is almost over and I finally have next month's bus pass in hand. It has been pestering me all month.

Sorry for the "quality", I'm sending this from my phone.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fender Poncho

It's been raining for the better part of a day, now. The roads are
soaked, and the rain was still coming down pretty good this morning.
Normally, I don't worry about getting wet, but temperatures in the 50s
are enough to make me consider using the poncho. I haven't worn it in
several months, so I was half expecting it to be a bit musty.
Fortunately, I remembered to properly dry it out before packing it
away, so it was just like new. I've used it less than 10 times since I
bought it. It's a step up from the $2 emergency ponchos. I think it
set me back about $6. The sides snap shut and it doesn't really have
sleeves, but it has a hood and the material is thick enough to not
tear at the first sign of snagging on things. It's about the cheapest
looking thing I've ever seen. I threw on a short-sleeve biz-casual
shirt and some shorts under the poncho, then rolled out the door.
There's no avoiding wet legs with just a poncho, and this sleeveless
one won't do much for anything beyond my elbows.

Of course, the poncho won't help at all without fenders to keep the
wheels from throwing grime and water straight up from below you, so I
was doubly glad to have those, too. I probably looked like more of a
dork than usual this morning, but at least I was dry. I was able to
wipe my legs down with a towel (Ford Prefect would be proud!), throw
on some work pants and head straight up to the office. Poncho good.
Maybe not as good as a full-on (and expensive) Gore-Tex rain suit, but
it's the next best thing for shorter rides in the rain.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

That new bus smell.

Bus #225. The latest and greatest arrow in Johnson County Transit's quiver. Less than 5,000 miles and has that wonderful new-bus smell (which is actually glue fumes, VOCs and the remnants of solvent evaporating from the paint)

Now, when can we get some real all-day transit service, weekend coverage and new routes? Bus #225 is going to sit dormant all day while people work. No one really needs to travel between 8a and 4p anyway, right?

Yeah, I'll take some mocha with my whipped cream

We had a taste of what early fall is all about for the first part of this week. Lows in the 50s, highs in the 70s, all broken up by an early morning thunderstorm.

We have the windows open, and the crack of distant thunder stirred me a bit, but not enough to open my eyes. Just enough to realize that our two cats had managed to crowd me to the very edge of the bed and out from under the covers. The fan was blowing humid, chilly air onto me so I writhed around a bit to get back under the blankets, nudging the cats a bit, never really opening my eyes. A bright flash illuminated the room, leaving a blue-on-red capillary afterimage. Seconds later, a roll of thunder filled the room and prompted me to glance at the clock. It was just a bit after 5:00 AM. One of the cats decided to watch the storm pass by moving to the window. Goofy cat. I dozed for a while longer. There really is nothing quite like a cool breeze and a thunderstorm.

The storm was brief, and had mostly passed by the time I left. There was one good lightning bolt - cloud-to-cloud - that reared its head right after I left. The wet roadway was no match for my fenders, and I remained dry.

Lorin and I had agreed to grab coffee before work, and when I got mine, it came with a little more flair than usual. I'm pretty sure there was more whipped cream and chocolate shavings than there was actual mocha.

Also, Keith, one of the cyclists for the Downtown KC Improvement District came over and talked to Lorin and I for a bit. The city doesn't allow them to ride on wet roads (for insurance purposes) so he was on foot today. His Gary Fisher FastCity got stolen a few months ago, so he's been rockin' the Dr. Dew. He's thinking of trying to organize a ride out to St. Louis (or somewhere else that's a pretty good distance) then catching Amtrak back to KC. That sounds like fun to me!

Random Tunage:
Digital Witchcraft - Pocket Universe
The Spoons - Nova Heart (Redanka Dub Mix)

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Even though temperatures were in the 40s yesterday, I kept the jacket off, left the gloves on, and made sure my ears were covered. My hands, ears, and toes always seem to be the most sensitive to cold. For some reason, though, I really don't care how cold my arms get. They acted like radiators for my back, which was burning up the whole ride home, since I was using my backpack yesterday instead of the panniers. All of this is from yesterday.

Blurry but fun on the Turkey Creek Trail. Lots of joggers out, too.

Near my apartment complex:

A different kind of fall, no I didn't eat it. This was on Main Street southbound from River Market. I hit River Market Cyclery around lunch time to get the mounting tab for my Take-A-Look mirror.

This is corrugated plastic that's actually been zip-tied into place. Also, a lot of the deadly storm drains have spraypaint markings leading up to them. Most of this stuff looks very, very unofficial, so I'm guessing it's vigilante activism. This storm drain is not much different than the one I ruined my rear wheel on just 3 days after getting The Twelve. No, I didn't fall, but these drainage grates are a serious hazard.

Random Tunage:
Chemical Brothers - It Doesn't Matter
Paul Van Dyk ft. David Byrne - Fall With Me

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blog woes: Japanese Spam Of Love

For some reason, one of my posts attracts a TON of spam in Japanese -- at least one attempted post per day. I ran a few of them through Google Translate just for giggles. Every single one that I bothered to translate mentions love. Bizarre.

Thank goodness for comment moderation.

New Gear.

My helmet went missing a few Fridays ago. I think I might have left it on the bus in an over-worked haze following several weeks without a proper day off due to massive amounts of weekend work that had to get done at the office. It never turned up. My old Bell Solar had several scuffs and bash marks on it from low-speed mountain biking impacts. Nothing that would be likely to keep it from doing its job, but it was probably due to be replaced anyway.

I've been using my wife's Bell Sweep R (a sweet helmet in its own right) for the time being, but decided it was time to get another one. I liked my old Bell Solar so much that I picked up another one just like it aside for color. Since my Take-A-Look mirror also went missing, I bought a replacement for that as well, but the LBS was fresh out of helmet mounting tabs. I will have to make one up myself, or find another shop in town that has them in stock.

Obviously, I replaced my saddle as well. I have to give props to my buddies at Bike America in Olathe. I didn't need a fancy, new-tech saddle (of which they had plenty), so I got a heck of a bargain on an OEM take-off Bontrager Race. When customers upgrade their bike before leaving the shop, but don't want to take the OEM part with them, the techs toss the part into the OEM Take-Off pile. If you know to ask the techs, they'll let you rummage the pile. I'm betting a lot of shops have a similar system, as there's no need to throw away new parts.

I scored the saddle, helmet and mirror for under $50 total. How cool is that?

Similarly, if you're into dumpster-diving, you can often find USED take-off parts from upgrades in the rubbish bin out back. Bike shops don't resell this stuff in the store, even if there's some life left in it. I'm betting the wrenches probably set aside the really good and like-new parts for themselves, but I'm not sure. Just something to keep in mind between Christmas and spring, when people are getting ready for the new season.

Soon, The Twelve will need new brakes, chain, and cassette but it's almost time to switch over to my mountain bike for winter, and The Goat needs some things as well. The coming two weeks will tell how I prioritize that stuff.

Random Tunage:
Goo Goo Dolls - Can't Let It Go
Peter Bailey - Electrified

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sausage [Links]

Stuff I've found interesting lately.

jwz and his buddy netik had a run-in with a car in SF. Dude. You don't mess with jwz.

CommuteByBike teases us with a new Fisher that I'm drooling over. Winter commuter, anyone?!

KC has the nation's scariest haunted house. I think I'm going haunted housing this weekend.

Pedal Powered OLPC. Sweet!

Jalopnik covers some of the bizarre snow vehicles found in Antarctica. I can't believe there's not a Pugsley in there. Oh, and did you see Chris' Big Dumb Pug?!

Fritz at shows us another commuter challenge, wherein a couple of cyclists (one wearing a helmet cam) beat a chartered helicopter across town. I can't help but wonder why none of these challenges ever put people on motorcycles. Oh, wait. They'd win. Oh well. It' good publicity for bicycles.

Dave is apparently back in the saddle after his circumstances became quite favorable for bike commuting. He picked a hell of a time to get back on board, but hey... Welcome back!

Drew Carey is donating up to $1M to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. $1 for every follower he gets via Twitter through the end of the year. This initially started as a $25,000 bid on Drew Olanoff's @Drew twitter handle and has quickly exploded. Cancer is everywhere, and I believe that LAF is a worthy cause on its own, not just because its founder is a world-renowned cyclist.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rest in peace, poor saddle...

It was the OEM saddle for many of Trek's road bikes in 2006. Honestly, I really liked it and will probably end up with another Bontrager saddle on pay day. I lost count of the exact mileage on The Twelve, but if I had to guess: about 10,000 miles.

The Transition

Usually, come mid-September through perhaps the end of October, there's this funky transition period with nippy 40° mornings and blissful 65-70° afternoons. This necessitates lugging extra clothes around. I don't like to ride in long pants if it's much warmer than 60° and I simply can't ride in shorts below 50°.

There was about a week of that stuff. We went straight to cold, really.

Also, until the time change happens at the end of this month, even the mornings I wake up and leave late are still completely dark. Blinkies fore and aft are required gear right now, and the dark mornings make for horrible attempts at snapshottery. Anything I could post here would surely be called out as banal and blurred, not surreal and abstract.

Even though the cold usually chases the cyclists away, I've been seeing plenty of them in bike racks around town. This is in stark contrast to years past, when cool mornings mean empty bike racks all over town. This also includes a previously unseen, but far-from-new mountain bike that started showing up at my office building. It looks like something that's been hanging upside down in a basement or garage for quite a while. Old, but not in bad shape. Plenty of miles, but doesn't show signs of regular (ab)use. I see plenty of cyclists on the road, too. Full business-dress suit types downtown (some of them actually riding their bikes, not pushing them) and winter-clad fellows closer to home and downtown alike.

Then there's the inexorable rain at 30- and 40-something degrees that, combined with autumn's typically strong winds, can chill me to the bone in nothing flat if I'm not careful about my choice in clothing.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'll take a 20-degree blizzard over a 40-degree rainstorm any day.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Baz Snapshottery

Eric S. Raymond defines baz as a metasyntactic variable, or placeholder names. That is to say, it's right up there with "foo", "foobar" (not FUBAR) and other nonsensical words used by geeks to represent that which is otherwise difficult to categorize. These are some recent snapshots I've taken around town but have not shared here.


The spoke shadows bend and warp due to the way my phone's camera works. Instead of gathering data from all of the pixels at once, cheaper digital imagers grab one pixel or one line at a time. This happens pretty quickly, but when there's something in motion, you can see the psychedelic effect.

It's more pronounced in this one, where I tried photographing the Crown Center fountain park from a moving bus just as we passed a No Parking sign.

Waiting for a train to pass.

This is a pedestrian tunnel that goes under Santa Fe Drive near eighty-something-ish street in Overland Park. I had no real need to use it, but I wanted to go through anyway. It's near a school, so I guess it may have been intended to be used as a safe way to cross the street. It reeked of urine.

Seen at the entry to my grandmother's assisted living community. Break out the stereotypes now. She broke her wrist in a slip-and-fall a few weeks ago, and I was there to visit her. She seems to be doing a bit better now.

7-Eleven has gone completely off the deep-end with Domo-kun stuff. Here, a pile of more than 1,000 8-ounce coffee cups sit, all decorated like the beloved Japanese stop-motion character.

Last weekend, a few friends and I went to the Crossroads for First Friday. It's kind of a fusion of art, dining, bicycles (likely something to do with Critical Mass happening the same night), music and urban culture. From my point of view as a nerdy, fat, un-cultured, white, suburban thirty-year-old male, it appears to be a rather prosaic monthly hipster festival, replete with personal art galleries, fashion shows, street displays and sidewalk bands. In my own ignorance, I might go as far as to call it a very pretentious block party. The crowd emitted a distinct vibe that the whole First Friday thing is far more culturally emblematic than I can comprehend, though. I'm willing to concede.

We set up a projector with Tetris on an SNES and let people play it while talking about Cowtown Computer Congress. It was an interesting time and I met many people who are much cooler than I am.

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