Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The past few days have finally started feeling like fall, for real. Cooler temperatures, rapidly shortening days, and now begins the hanging-up of bicycles. The various group rides are thinning out or calling it a year. I've been seeing fewer and fewer of the regular cyclists I occasionally spot on my usual routes.
Consider picking up some decent lights and perhaps a brightly-colored, reflective-trimmed vest or windbreaker. This is one of the best seasons for riding! So many people miss out on it.
Hyper - Cascade
Aphex Twin - Pulsewidth
Friday, October 14, 2011
This post is mostly about car stuff. Feel free to ignore it.
When bicyclists think of having to replace a tube, they most likely think of the inner tube of a tire. Old school electronics junkies might think of an electron tube.
A while ago, my car's temperature gauge pegged the "hot" mark. I popped the hood and the cool, night air was instantly filled with fog. I grabbed a flashlight to determine the source of the coolant leak, only to find that every square inch under the hood was soaked in the sticky, steaming liquid.
The next afternoon, I surveyed the damage by daylight. I couldn't see anything obvious until I filled the coolant system back up a bit and started the car. Then, the source of the leak became obvious: An oddball part made of cheap fiberglass had cracked on a seam. I couldn't find this part in any of my service manuals, and two local parts stores had no clue, either.
I finally called the dealership. The conversation went like this:
Me: "I have a 2000 [Ford Focus] ZX3 with a nasty coolant leak. I found the leak, but I can't find the part in the service manual."
Ford: "Is it the tube that sits on top of the radiator?"
Me: "It is."
Ford: "We have them in stock. Let me look up the price. [Long pause] $32.70"
Me: "Well, that's not too bad, I suppose. Do you mind if I ask what that part is called?"
Ford: "It's 'The Tube.'"
Me: "The Tube?"
Ford: "Yep. We always keep a few around."
The Tube. Seriously. It's kind of a pointless part for what it needs to do. A small "Y" splitter would have made much more sense. It's held in with a pair of plastic rivets and three hose clamps. A trained monkey could swap it out in 10 minutes or less. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but it's almost like this thing was designed to break somewhere after 100,000 miles and prompt a $250 trip to the shop.
I have been blowing it off for the past few weeks, since there's not that much rush to fix it. This morning, I finally got around to paying the stealership a visit. For giggles, I simply asked for "The Tube for a 2000 ZX3" to see if they'd actually know what I was asking for. "That sits on top of the radiator?" the parts guy queried. "The same."
Thursday, October 13, 2011
The breeze picked up even more this afternoon, gusting close to 30, northwest. Perfect headwind for the early ride home. Noteworthy moment of the ride: Two helmetless 20-somethings on cartoonishly tiny BMX bikes with saddles all the way down, salmoning very slowly against traffic on Santa Fe Trail Drive. I wanted to get a picture, but even with the headwind, I was going too fast (as in, 9 miles per hour, if that) to get my phone out of my pocket in time. Plus, derping with my phone while trying to hold a straight line is probably just as dumb as riding against traffic without a helmet. c'Dude rocked a 200k permanent today. I can only imagine how the north-bound half of that trip went. I had half an hour of wind torture. He probably had more than 5 hours of it. Egad.
Margot Meets The Music Maker - Torch (Extrawelt Remix Redux)
Way Out West - Sequoia
4:30 AM. Check weather. Catch up on some stuff in Google Reader.
5:00 AM. Blearily and with reluctance attach my pannier to the rack, throw on the reflect-o-vest. Shove off.
The stillness at this hour always surprises me. My usual commutes are close to rush hour, but even Dark Side Rides, which usually run to midnight or later, are riddled with the hustle and bustle of people making their way around town. At 5, though, the stillness of everything is freakish. Lights are on in some homes, but no one is outside. I was passed by two cars in the half hour I was on the road. Riding along Interstate 35, I'd only see a car or two per minute. I approached the steady pulsating of a FRED on the tail end of a train comprised of empty flatbed cars. Making my way to the idling locomotive up front, I could hear the gentle hiss of air leaking from a few of the brake line couplings. Turning west, I hear critters scurring away from my LED light in the roadside brush.
Any other time of the day, there's just too much going on to appreciate the truly subtle things.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
On this particular stretch of road, I had a nearly perfect crosswind. About a mile before this, it was the dreaded cross-headwind, which offers the worst of both worlds. I was going to stop a bit closer to the old train depot to capture the full flag of wind, but the big cumulonimbus cloud in the background made me change my mind.
Touane - Bassic
General Fuzz - Smiling Perspective
Monday, October 10, 2011
"A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough." -- Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
I always pack a towel, if only for its most prosaic use. This morning, it did not let me down.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Good showing for October: C'dude, Schnake, Wildcat Al, Randy, myself and two new faces to the DSR: Richard (who was on the last bike camping trip) and Steven.
Highlights: Cheers from people hanging out at Black Hoof Park. A 15 second horn honk on 83rd just east of DeSoto. The same Sheriff's patrol car checking us out about 5 times on the route. A bunch of us almost running over a tree. Coyotes howling in the distance. The Louisburg School District school bus full of party-goers pulling up to Meiners in DeSoto (bringing more cheers). A bunch of us almost running over a possum. A serious pucker moment while bombing downhill on washboard gravel with my skinny tires trying (but failing) to find solid ground at 25 MPH. That awesome descent from Clare to 119th with the sudden stop at the bottom.
I've also been staying on top of my war-biking, and this extended trip through parts previously unknown paid off handsomely, netting almost 900 points and finally pushing me past 50,000 on WiGLE. I haven't talked about war-biking much lately, but now I usually rely on my Android phone and WiGLE's intuitive network-finding application, which means I'm war-biking any time I ride.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
At work, a lot of people have taken to walking. A while ago, the HR department started a monthly drawing. Entry is simple. Each participant gets one point for every half-mile they walk. Fill up a card with 20 points (10 miles walked) and you get your name into the drawing. Fill up multiple cards, get multiple entries.
Monday, I asked HR if I could count my bicycling. I somewhat arbitrarily suggested a 4:1 ratio to keep it neat, and they went for it. So now, I'm racking up one card for every 40 miles ridden. I'll fill up my second card for the week tomorrow.
Not that I really need any more incentive to ride, or anything. If word spreads, maybe some others will finally start riding to work. I've been working here for almost 18 months now, and I've never once seen another bike locked up to the bike rack they built when I started.
Oh, and a moth.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
First: Go read this. Go now! I'll wait.
What are you still doing here? READ IT!
Next: Bring your bike, your reflective gear, your das blinkenlights and your helmet to the Wendy's parking lot at Woodland and K-10 Highway. We roll at 9:00 PM sharp, so get there early enough to prepare. If any of you eastern/central Johnson County folks want to ride to the start with me, I'm departing from 87th and Monrovia (Lenexa PD / City Hall) at 8:15 PM.
We'll be celebrating the fall of one of the most infamous bicycle bans in the country by riding through the very stretch of road that's been off limits to us human-powered two-wheelers for the better part of a decade. The route itself is about 30 miles with a mile and a half of relatively tame gravel. With a rest stop somewhere along the way, expect to get back to Wendy's at around midnight, but it might be earlier, depending on the general pace of the group. Bring enough lights and batteries for 3 hours of riding.
This is a no-drop social ride with re-groups as frequently as they're needed to keep us all together. Some of us at the front and back of the pack will be in communication via two-way radio to facilitate this.
See you there!
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