Thursday, August 30, 2012


Pretty much the only thing I like about days where I end up at work later than usual: No traffic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Dear friendly driver on Santa Fe Trail Drive,

I saw you wave. I probably know you but just don't recognize you without your bike and helmet. Hi back at ya.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dark Side Ride: Once in a blue moon

Although "Blue Moon" has several definitions, the one that seems most popular is the coming of a second full moon within the same calendar month. Since we had a full moon on August 2nd, we're going to get in by the skin of our teeth on August 31st. The last time we had this kind of Blue Moon was in December of 2009.

With that, we're celebrating with yet another edition of the Dark Side Ride.

Where: Meet at the Wendy's parking lot just north of K-10 and Woodland Rd in Lenexa.
When: Friday, August 31, 2012. We roll out at 9:00 PM sharp. Be there early enough to roll at 9.
Route: It'll be a surprise! Expect 20-30 miles.

A few things to note:

  1. Usually, our DSR includes a stop by a convenience store for the emptying of bladders as well as the purchasing and consumption of beverages and snacks. I have a feeling this route will not include such accommodations.
  2. We ask everyone to use helmets, reflective/hi-vis gear and to bring along lighting that's good for up to 3.5 hours of darkness.
  3. I have a feeling that Blue Moon might be available after the ride. It would only be appropriate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Maiden Voyage

Round trip: about 6 miles.
Average speed: Slow, but mostly on purpose. I really should throw a cyclometer on Frank.
Fun level: OFF THE CHART.
Lessons learned: That flimsy aluminum U-Channel bracket on my rear drop-out really needs to be replaced with steel U-Channel. Other than that, everything looks good.

Load included a 35 pound pail of cat litter, fresh veggies, a box of cookies, salad dressing and some other stuff.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I actually like my bikes, thanks.

In the past 3 days:

After the monthly KCPUG meeting half a mile from home: "Are you riding because your car is broken? I can give you a ride, man."

(in response to the trailer): "... or you could just drive your car."

Is there some new wave of anti-bicycling advertisement I'm missing?  In other news, my wife thinks my bike trailer looks like something a homeless bum would use. I think the blue bucket of doom just needs a camouflage paint job and/or a few (dozen) bumper stickers on it so it more closely resembles something designed for the zombie apocalypse.

Speaking of Zombie Apocalypse, I spotted this last week. It turns out I know the owner.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Raw materials:
I had these two specific un-used items in my hoarder stash that I knew would go into this project. The wheelchair was very used when I got it (for next to nothing) on craigslist years ago. The hard rubber tires are yellowed and weathered, but the frame was sturdy and the bearings are in good shape. Weighs about 30 pounds. Rated for 300 pounds. I also had a Coleman brand captain's chair with a ripped back. It served us well on a decade of camping and fishing trips. I had originally planned on trying to fix it, but we have enough of these already.

When I started, I didn't have a plan. The wheelchair was a pain to take all the way apart. I left the wheels attached to each side of the frame, but I took the seat back and cushion off, leaving the two halves connected by two bars forming an "X" between them. I got those apart and was left with a whole mess of parts.

It was clear that the two "X" pieces would be used to brace the frame, but in a different configuration. Out comes the cut-off wheel on the Dremel. You can see the cuts I made. I placed the un-altered cross-member in frame for comparison. The piece can swivel by a somewhat tight-fitting piece of tube that fit the inside diameter of the frame and cross-member. Pulling it out was a genuine pain in the butt.

The other cross-member got chopped up even worse. I cut each end's tubular frame piece in half. This was so I could drill through the frame near the handles, and attach bolts through it to give the frame extra stiffness.

It was about this time that I decided to turn the trailer into a "bucket hauler" so the next part was to build a platform for said bucket. This is where the captain's chair came in. I turned a few screws counter-clockwise,  drilled out a dozen or so rivets, and had broken the chair down into a neat stack of useful steel tubes and a pile of canvas, plastic feet and busted rivets.  I had to chop the tubing to length, so again out came the dremel.  I drove six screws through the bottom of the blue tub and into these horizontal tubes.

I held everything together with machine screws and nuts I had laying around, but I ran out of hardware here. I needed to pick up more of the same, but I also had to whip up a hitch for the bike, too. I spent a few bucks on screws, nuts and a clevis pin. I used a piece of the chair tubing with a bend in it to get the tow bar away from the bike, otherwise right turns would be almost impossible.

To allow the bike to lean while turning, I attached the trailer to the bike with two thicknesses of tubing, and cut a pair of slots in the outer one so that the screw driven between them can swivel.

Here it is hooked up to Frank. One of the front wheels is missing on the original wheelchair because it was getting in the way of the tow bar.

Unhooked, the tow bar doesn't touch the ground. Not that it matters too much. With one front wheel, it probably won't stay upright with a load in the bucket.

It pulls like a dream, but I haven't taken it on a grocery run yet.

Weekend project

I decided I really need a trailer, but I don't have any money. I sacrificed an old wheelchair for the frame and wheels, and a broken canvas captain's chair for its tubing to build extra support and the hitch. I'm ankle deep in metal shavings, broken dremel cutoff wheels, and drilled-out rivets.

The hitch arm will angle inward more than this, but you get the general idea.

More build photos to come.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Behaving Badly.

This badly behaving cyclist should be arrested for road rage. Yep.

The comments are worth it.

Tip o'th' hat to Fritz.

The story hits me as mostly a work of fiction, inspired by a few real-life events and an imagination run wild. At least that's what I hope it is.

Monday, August 06, 2012

No Excuses.

No excuses.

I finally got to bed at about 1:30 this morning, when CNN stopped talking about science and began their incessant droning on politics and hot button issues. I wasn't going to use Curiosity as an excuse to not ride. First morning of low-70's? Couldn't resist!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Clever decorations...

I'm not entirely certain what took my wife and I so long to make a visit to one of the area's SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza restaurants. I've always noticed that their restaurants are loaded with ample bicycle rack space, and my local bikey friends tend to frequent it a lot. I should have guessed that there was some kind of bicycle culture in the shops' DNA given the name. I did not expect to see gear clusters hanging from the ceiling, though. Also: darn fine pizza, salad and gelato!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fixing Frank. MOAR HACKS.

My boss gave me an early start to the weekend, so I rode to the library to return a book on Tarantulas I had borrowed, and I sat in the shade and enjoyed the lunch I thought I was going to be eating at work.

What was I doing with a book about taratulas?  Oh, right. Meet dd. You knew I had a thing for spiders, right?

Anyhow, when I got home, I figured it was really time to dig into Frank's rack and get to the bottom of why it fell apart. I'd only barely put the rack back together when it happened. I was meeting some of my fellow nerds at a (very) nearby coffee shop. I knew that one of the assemblies holding the seat stay braces had come apart, and on the other side, the bolt holding the seat stay brace to the seat stay came out. I knew I was missing some hardware, forever lost in the middle of the road somewhere, perhaps many miles ago.

Here, you can see what the seat stay brace attachment is supposed to look like. Two pieces of u-channel aluminum sandwiching two roundish pieces of tube type material around the seat stay brace. It's missing from the other side because those pieces fell off when the rack fell.

I apparently missed one of the half-tube-like pieces when I scurried around the road looking for bits of hardware.

I looked around for anything that could be used to replace the missing piece, and finally settled on an outer plate from a piece of old chain.

It wouldn't quite fit, so I had to bend the plate a little. Pliers were getting me nowhere, so I tried the chain cutter. Success.

The finished bracket:

After finding a few more allen-head screws in my bucket of bike stuff and putting everything back together tightly, it seems to work great. Time will tell, I suppose.

The SuperFlash was just a little scuffed up. The mounting bracket is fine and the light itself still works and snaps securely into the bracket. Good news all the way around.

Three before dawn

It was another dark-and-early morning for me, and I left in a bit of a haze. The short story is that I saw three other cyclists on Santa Fe Trail drive this morning, all which which looked like commuters in some way or another. The long story is... Oh heck, It's been forever since I put anything up here, hasn't it?  I probably need to provide some back-story.

This kind of started with the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride two weeks ago. I was once again called on for communications support on the hiking trail section of the event. I opted to take Frank this time, loaded him down with my Motorola GM300 radio. When I have panniers on the mountain bike, the Superflash does its best on the back of the rack.

Why am I telling you this? Because, all told, there was probably 30 pounds of crap on Frank's rack that night. Well, and I like to show off my nerdy bikeness. So what, though? 30 pounds seems like a lot, but I've loaded more than that before. I'm pretty sure that all that weight caused some screws to loosen up on the rack, though. I had a bit of an incident with the Rack last Satuday, where it became detached from my seat stays, pivoted on the remaining bolts near the rear drop outs, then dragged on the ground behind my bike, snapping my SuperFlash clean off the bike. I got off my bike and rescued the light. I think the light itself is okay, but the mounting bracket might be hosed. I lost the batteries from the light, and didn't bother scouring the roadway for them.

Oh, and I also depleted both my Blackburn Flea and my NiteRider Evolution headlight batteries on the Midnight Ride.

Now I can get on with my story this morning. So it's a bit past five in the morning and I have about half an hour to get to the office. This is when it strikes me that my helmet is drying on a clothes rack in my home office (I'd washed it in the shower a few days before) and that all of my usual lights are out of order or depleted.

I always have my 2xAA Mini Maglite with me, whether it's in my pockets, my panniers or my backpack, and I always keep the piece of cut-up inner tube in the bike's under-seat pouch that lets me rock the flashlight as a headlight in a pinch by strapping it to my handlebars.

So I used that silly trick again this morning. In my box of random bike crap (stored alongside the bikes in the garage) I found my old, hacked-up Blackburn Mars 3.0 tail light. I decided to tempt fate this morning without the helmet. I was running late. I finished off by tossing on the Vest Of Retina Destruction. Side note: one of the three other cyclists I saw this morning was wearing the exact same vest.

And for all the hackery I've done to make sure I had at least some kind of lighting, the fact that I ran across so many other people on bikes before the sun was up this morning was really the only remarkable thing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Suburban camping

My schedule and family life have been crazy lately, but I needed to get out and spend a night under the stars. The mission was to find some wooded area right here in the suburbs, not marked with "no trespassing" or other such verbiage.  Since I was staying close and I knew I'd be off-roading, I opted to load up Frank for this trip. I didn't take many pictures, mostly because I really felt like shutting down all the parts of my brain that had anything to do with electronics.

I started with some fishing on the way out at a spot close to home. I caught bluegill by the dozen, and brought in the biggest red-eared slider I've ever seen (not even close to the size of a snapper, but big for a slider). I threw them all back in.


Then, I was off to find that perfect spot. I've been doing a lot of Google Maps Recon and I had a bunch of ideas for places to go. This seemed like a good place to set up camp for the night, despite being able to hear a deck party going on at a nearby $800,000 home.

Even before the sun was all the way down, it was getting pretty dark in the area I'd chosen. I only had one bottle of water with me, and I'd powered through most of it already. I went to a nearby stream with my water filter, got enough water for the rest of the trip, heated up dinner then called it a night.

It was a really short trip. I don't know if I'll use the same spot ever again but there are many others nearby to try. I needed it, though.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Response from Mike Boehm, Mayor of Lenexa

Mike was quick to respond to my inquiry, but I must say that several experienced cyclists do share Mike's opinion of Santa Fe Trail Drive and prefer to use other roads. I can only hope that making bicycling more visible in a positive way gets more people out on their bikes.

Thank you, Mike, for taking the time to respond. Our city isn't earning high marks from the sustainable transportation advocates, but it remains a pleasure to live, work, play and bike here, thanks also in part to local businesses who remain friendly to bicyclists as both patrons and employees, such as Hen House.


Thanks for writing. I was pleased to see you referenced in the article and read your positive comments. Knowing there was significant truck and car traffic along that route and given the narrow nature of the roadway, without curb/gutter/shoulder treatments, my general feeling was that it would not necessarily be the best option for riders. Your experiences obviously prove that my concerns are unfounded.

Again, thanks for writing


Open Letter to the City of Lenexa

In this article, Mike Hendricks apparently quotes you saying that it is unwise to bicycle on Santa Fe Trail Drive.

I live in the apartment complex behind City Hall, and work on the southern reaches of town along Renner south of College Blvd. I'd be interested to know what route you would propose for getting to and from work. 87th St Pkwy and Renner are both high-speed thoroughfares without wide outer lanes or any other amenities that would make me feel safe using them during rush hour.

I might add that I got this job two years ago, and have found nearly all of the motorists to be courteous along this route. I also encounter many other cyclists on that stretch of road. Truck and bus drivers often log thousands of miles per week, and I have found that they are among the most experienced, careful and attentive users of the road because driving is their livelihood. I see little reason to be afraid of bicycling through the more industrial parts of town.

This was emailed to Lenexa Mayor, Mike Boehm. If I get any response, I'll share it.  Mostly, I was taken by surprise at the mayor's comment about Santa Fe Trail Drive. Certainly, he doesn't intend for cyclists to use the city's high-speed, densely used miniature highways during rush hour.

KC Star on the state of Bicycling in Johnson County

A few weeks ago, Mike Hendricks of the KC Star interviewed me. In the middle of Bike Week, Keith from the KC Star photographed me (and I photographed him).  I didn't know exactly where the article was going, but I gave my all to paint a positive picture of my route. After all, this is the best bicycle commuting route I've ever had, even though it's littered with diagonal rail road crossings.

Enjoy: Happy Trails to you, cyclists

KC Star did caption the below photo to indicate that I had made a hand signal to indicate my intent of taking the lane before cutting across the diagonal rail road tracks. I had also made eye contact with the Dodge driver behind me, and he'd slowed down to let me proceed. This plays out several times per day on my usual commute. Motorists along Santa Fe Trail Drive are usually pretty easy to get along with.

Photo of me from linked article. Copyright KC Star/Joco913

Monday, May 28, 2012

Freedom isn't free.

Freedom isn't free., originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

To all those who have served, and especially to all who made the ultimate sacrifice: Thank you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Rager., originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Whenever my birthday falls on a work day, I almost always schedule it off. If it's close enough to Memorial Day weekend, I have been known to schedule a whole block of time off. Today was no exception. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Things I Cannot Afford Right Now:

A new rear tire (I'm hoping to go back to the Bontrager Race-Lite Hard Case) and Flickr Pro. You can only see the last 200 pictures now, and this Vittoria Randonneur's days are numbered. It served me really well, though.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Errands, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

Shadow Panda

Shadow Panda, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

From the workbound commute this morning, for Fritz's Panda Portrait Wednesday.

Photrographing the photographer

Photrographing the photographer, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

I guess I'm gonna be in the KC Star again. I'm really hoping it's a positive piece for bicycling in this town. There isn't enough of that. Keith got some good shots of me controlling the lane and safely maneuvering the railroad crossings on Santa Fe Trail Drive.


Snapper, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bike Week 2012: Overland Park Deanna Rose Farmstead Event

I seem to post this same photo every year. Again, it was good to see Drew and commuterDude at the booth. I'm not sure how many other events I'll make it to this week, but you can probably count on seeing me at Friday's OP city hall booth.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's Bike Week!

Bike week 2007 was an enlightening experience for me. After 8 months of biking to the bus through winter and a bit of dabbling in longer distances, Bike Week was what really got me to take the plunge. Back then, the full commute route was 23 miles each way. That pretty much hooked me. So, fellow KC area folks, relish Bike Week and sign up for the car-free challenge. Get out and ride. I'll Be at some of the Overland Park events.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

ANSI 107-2004 Class 2

ANSI 107-2004 Class 2, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

I don't always bike to work at 4:30 in the morning, but when I do, I prefer that people can see me.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Daylight Moon

Lenexa, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

Bit of a chilly bike ride to the office (50°F) but it was cool to see a daylight moon over old town Lenexa this morning.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Bikeness is getting contagious

Bikeness is getting contagious, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

This week makes two years at my "new" job, and today makes the third bike I've seen locked up on the re-purposed handrail bicycle rack our maintenance team set up. It's a yellow Univega road bike. The pink bike that I've been seeing a lot of belongs to someone in customer service that shows up a bit later than I do, so it wasn't yet parked when I arrived. I estimated that this "rack" would pretty much max out at 4 bikes if people played nicely together. I Still believe that's true. It's about to be full, just in time for bike week!

Monday, April 02, 2012

#30DaysOfBiking: Mail Call!

#30DaysOfBiking: Mail Call!, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

#30DaysOfBiking: Mail Call!

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