Saturday, March 31, 2007

224 miles for March! woot!

Yesterday, I was planning today's miles to wrap up my goal of 200 for March. I decided on riding around for a few miles on-road. Perhaps after dropping my wife off, ride to Daily Dose, hang out there for a few hours and ride back before my wife got off work. There were some mega storms so my usual paths would be far too muddy, as they all run next to various streamways.

Well around 10:00 last night, my buddy Tim e-mails me, wondering if I'm going to ride today. I told him to call me around 7:00AM to discuss plans. As it turns out, he had a route in mind that would take us from JCCC out to Olathe Lake and back for a total of over 20 miles.

It was a great time, and I still got to kick it at the Dose for a little bit before it was time to take my wife home. Click the image to go to my gallery of photos from today. There's only six or so.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Grimy Lunch

Yep, it's still grimy outside! I took a spin to Minsky's Pizza in city market for lunch and kept the speed really low since I was riding in my work clothes.

I'm going straight home after work, which will add another 3 miles to my day, bringing my monthly total to about 197 miles. All I need to do is put 3-4 miles on tomorrow and I'll have my 200 miles in for March! You'd better believe I'll ride more than 4 miles, though! I'll try to get some more photos tomorrow while I'm riding.

I'm not expecting anything exciting to happen on my way home, so this is probably all you'll hear from me today.

Grimy commute

This is the first time I've ridden wet roads in shorts since I was 17. I'm happy to report that bike shorts DO dry faster than jeans. I'm sad to report that my calves and shins are caked in a thin layer of dried, gritty road grime. Now I know how my bike chain feels after I ride in this stuff!

I took it kind of easy on the way to the bus to keep the road grime to a minimum. It's days like this when I think a front fender would be a really good idea. A few things stop me, though. One is price, the other is the fact that I have no clue how I'll put it on the bus with fenders, as there's a spring-loaded arm that snaps over the front wheel. That arm would bend, deform or otherwise ruin my fender.

Despite the wet roads, I already have seen two other bicycle commuters downtown today, and it's not even 7:00AM. Yesterday, I saw the bike/bus commuter who uses the Revive recumbent again. Still no sign of the bike commuter who shared my route back in the Fall. I haven't seen his bike since September or so. My guess is he's a two-season and/or fair-weather bike commuter. Either that, or he switched jobs.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Evil death wind!

The ride home was really windy. The first leg was straight into the headwind, in rush-hour traffic on Strang Line Road, which is the road I was on when I got in the accident a few weeks ago. I was strong and as fast as I could be going into the wind like I was. Yesterday's riding had me a little tired this morning, but I felt pretty good on my way home.

The skies were bulging with storms, but it stayed dry and windy for the whole return trip. The middle of my route provided a diabolical crosswind on the 127th street viaduct, but the last leg was with the wind, and I was scooting right along!

Right now, as I type this, there's rain, thunder and lightning outside. There's a flash flood warning in my county, and from the look of the radar, stuff just keeps building southwest of us. I'm in for a messy commute tomorrow morning.

My wife is at Olathe Medical Center for a sleep study tonight. She had good news on her lung function test, and the effects of her lung disease are fading. They're checking her out for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders tonight. Normally, she'd just be getting home about now, but I'm going to go to bed soon so I can try to weasel in 7 hours or so of sleep, which is about twice my usual nightly average.

Tis the season... get lip from co-workers for coming into the office in shorts.

I'm not a moron. I know I'm fugly. It's way too warm to be wearing jeans on the bike in the morning, though. Two separate people mentioned my attire (a black t-shirt and black loose-in-the-legs mountain bike shorts that look like swim trunks) this morning. I threatened to start coming in wearing a racing lycra get-up if they didn't back off. I'm so bad!

A mocha and a little bowl of Malt-O-Meal is fueling my morning, post-commute. I had a nice ride this morning, although my legs are a bit tired from all the riding yesterday. I beat the 6:15 bus to the bus stop but I left at 5:50. I wasn't blazingly fast, I just left early. The bus usually gets to my usual bus stop at about 6:07 or so. I could see it coming up the road south of the viaduct that I take. I could have just pulled over onto the sidewalk, waited, and flagged it down. There'd be no point in that, though. I like riding my bike!

I forgot to mention yesterday that I had another mechanical nuisance while riding the trail. My Outlook is a cheapish bike, a notch above the $150 bikes on the bottom rack at your favorite discount warehouse (Target, K-Mart, Wal*Mart, etc) not to mention that it's 9 years old (with under 1000 miles on it). Original retail price was somewhere in the $200-$250 range, placing it below "entry level" at most bike shops, which don't often sell a single new adult bike model under $300 or $350. That said, it's not exactly built like a tank. You can view the specs and components here and clearly see that it probably wasn't built for the daily (ab)use of a 200+ pound guy using it for commuter duty. I upgraded the brakes (Jagwire), Pedals (Shimano PD-M505), Bottom bracket (had my bike shop put stronger bearings in), Wheels (including a Freehub rear) and cassette (SRAM 8-Speed 11/30). For the most part, it's finally a sturdy ride.

So, back to last night's mechanical problem... I started to get another bizarre noise every pedal rotation. I look down and about 3 links of my chain are hopping up and off the chainring. I shift to the granny ring and it goes away. I shift to the big ring and it also goes away. Back to the middle ring and it starts acting wierd again. I figured I had a bent or broken tooth, so I pulled over.

One of the screws had come out of the cheapo plastic bash guard, and jammed in between my middle and outer chainrings. I tried to screw it back into place, but it wouldn't stay. I removed the faulty screw, and all was well again. I checked the other screws to make sure they were still snug.

This morning, another one started coming loose. I am going to super-glue them into their holes tonight. If it continues to happen, I'll probably have to remove the bash guard, which I only keep on because it also keeps my pant legs out of the chain.

So, that was my morning commute!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What a flippin' wonderful day for a ride

Photo: I'm sneaking up on a herd of deer that are blocking my path.

I left home at about 6:00, figuring I'd ride to the 127th street trailhead of Indian Creek Trail, and ride it as far as I could by 7:00, turn around, and ride home, hopefully getting home around 8:00 which is about the time the sun is down around here.

I ended up winding through Warren T's stomping grounds. I think I got lost right around 7:00. I recall the trail is supposed to go a few miles into Missouri but shortly after crossing Nall (2 miles from the MO state line) I ran into a soccer park, where the trail made a big loop and turned me right back around. It was almost time to turn back anyways, so I just went with the flow, flipped my GPS over to the "Tracks" screen so I could follow my breadcrumbs back home.

Some guy on a mountain bike dropped me on the trail. Rule one of dropping someone is to make sure if you are going to cop an attitude, ride next to someone, give them 'the look' and then try to power off into the distance, make sure you can actually stay ahead. I didn't go into attack mode. I was already 16 miles deep in a 26-mile journey. I just kept my pace (about 14 mph). This guy stopped gaining ground on me about 200 yards ahead. Another 1/4 mile and he was losing ground on me and really sucking wind but we were on a flat stretch! I eventually caught up with him, and casually sauntered by with the industry standard "on your left". How delightfully childish of him.

Then... THEN!! These bugs -- I don't know what they were, baby mosquitoes perhaps -- they were EVERYWHERE by the time 7:30 rolled around. I had to squint my eyes, breathe only through my nose, and frequently blow what one might call "snot rockets" except there was more insect mass than mucous. I foraged onward with my head facing slightly down. My arms became engulfed in these critters and they sounded like light rain on my helmet as I breezed through clouds of swarming, gnat-like organisms.

I finished my ride out back on 127th street, just as I'd come to the trailhead. Back over the viaduct that is the middle leg of my morning commute. Back up Ridgeview. Back home.

Aside from the bizarre creatures I encountered (including the 200 pound variety that attempts to prove his superiority in vain) it was a very pleasant ride. Oh yes, and the trail detour through corporate woods, while paved, might as well be made of boulders. What a disaster!

Woke up late - drove in

Well, it finally caught up to me. I've been averaging less than four hours of sleep per night over the last week. I went to bed as early as possible last night (about midnight) and it still wasn't enough. My sleep deficit chose this morning to cash in. My alarm went off, and I hit snooze a few times. Eventually I managed to sit up, shut it all the way off, then passed out again right after that. The next time my eyes opened, it was 7:17am, precisely two minutes after the last bus leaves for downtown.

Anyhow, I'm probably still going to ride once I get home.

For those of you who are wondering how on earth MIDNIGHT is the earliest possible bed time I can muster up, my wife usually gets home at about 10:30pm. By the time we've made something light to eat, spent a little splinter of time together, and I've gotten ready for sleep, it's about midnight. She stays up until 4:00 or 5:00am before coming to bed, and I try to wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 to leave for work.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I have beaten last month's miles!

This evening, I was feeling really tired at work. I worked over lunch and got in at 7:00, so I didn't feel too bad about leaving a little before 4:00. I decided to rush to the bus, so I went to my bike in my work clothes, only to be greeted by torrential downpour. Speaking of which, I need to re-wipe my drivetrain off again tonight. So where was I again?

Oh yah, So I hopped on the first possible bus back to JCCC, which got me to the college a lot earlier than normal. I went up and said hi to some old colleagues that I used to work with until about a year and a half ago. I got some grub for the wife and I, changed out of my work clothes into my shorts and t-shirt, topped off my water bottle, and started my journey homeward, GPS mounted and recording my route and stats.

I decided to ride PAST Daily Dose, but I didn't have the time nor the desire to stop for a drink. I had to get home before 8:00 and it was already nearing 7:30. Supper provided plenty of fuel for the ride home, so an extra punch of carbs wasn't in the plan this evening. I kept riding the route I'd ride as if I were going home from Daily Dose. After all, I was there, pretty much at Daily Dose, and I was, in fact, going home from that location.

All in all I packed on a little more than 10 miles from the time I left work to the time I got home. The only rainy part was the half mile or so from my office to the bus stop. I'm officially at 154.4 miles for the month, 3.9 more than last month, and I plan on riding plenty more this week. Friday will probably be the weak day for me, but I might see if my dad wants to hit Indian Creek trail on Saturday to help me wrap up my miles for the month. I'll have about a 3-hour window to ride in, weather permitting. Sneaking 25-30 more miles in on the last day of the month sounds perfectly viable to me. We'll just have to see if myself and maybe my dad are up to the task.

Doing the math, if I ride the same circuit I did today for tomorrow and Thursday's commutes and put in an embarrassing 6 miles on Friday, 200 miles is amazingly a reasonable goal. I know it sounds like I'm obsessing over this silly 200 mile thing, but I'm very goal-oriented, almost to a fault. I was focusing on my commute-to-driving ratio before this, and I can't change that number drastically over a short period of time. There are only so many work days in a month. I can, however, control how many miles I put on, within reason.

If I can go 200 miles with only 19 days in the saddle, I may need to shoot for 300 miles in April :)

On Starbucks and coffee

I never thought I'd say this, but I guess I've come to actually respect Starbucks just a little.

I mean, yes, it's a gigantic corporate chain. Yes, they use quick push-button machines that make the same mix every time, requiring less skill to operate than more traditional ways of making espresso-mixed drinks. No, their stuff isn't the BEST I've ever had. All of these are very good reasons to stay away from the place, especially if there's an independent coffee shop nearby that makes consistantly tastier drinks.

But, I'll give them this... Their employees are usually friendly, the place is always clean, they use Fair Trade certified products, and their drinks are (because of methods mentioned above) consistently the same, every time, unless the operator (whom I still kinda refuse to call a 'barista') isn't paying attention. And you know what? Their mocha is a wee bit on the bland side, but every time, it almost hits the spot. Starbucks' Sumatra is a very tasty brewed coffee. They're not all bad, but some blends of their brewed coffee are flat-out rancid. I feel the same way about some of the local roasters, though, so I can't complain too much.

In the end, I don't know why I had as much hostility against Starbucks as I did. I can tell you that I really, really miss working at JCCC and getting the most mind-bogglingly-tasty quad-shot venti Mocha in the western hemisphere when Sandy was on the clock. I can also tell you that I'd still rather kick it at The Daily Dose, or Broadway Cafe than Starbucks any time.

Oh yeah. This is a blog about bicycle commuting, too.
I woke up later than I wanted to. My alarm went off at 5:30 and I didn't snap out of my coma until close to 6:00. I was up way too late playing a rematch of Monopoly with my wife, who finally got her revenge against me.

I was weak as hell this morning, pulling off about 12 MPH average. I didn't put on that many miles yesterday, so it must have been the lack of sleep. As you can imagine, I went to Starbucks on my way to work this morning, where I was able to ponder my almost daily routine.

One last thing. Not that any of you noticed, but I had been getting pretty lazy about tagging and categorizing my blog posts lately. I went through and labeled all of my old posts. Last night's post was my 150th post! This darned blog is getting to be quite the bizarre autobiography.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The monday night flat tire

What the heck is going on?! I ended up with a goat-head thorn slow leak from some point in my trip today. I didn't notice it until I was unloading the bike when I got home and the rear tire didn't have as much spring as usual as I set it down.

This is really grating on me. Day in and day out for the last 6 months, I've had one flat with these tires until last Monday. 2 flats in two weeks. Grr!

I used my new Park Tool pre-glued patch kit that I got last week. It looks like it'll hold well. It's worth mentioning that this was a brand new tube. Instead of swapping it out like I would if I was on the road when I noticed it, I just patched it and put it all back together.

The grime on the wet roads was also going to take its toll on my drivetrain, so I took the opportunity to wipe everything down and re-lube the chain. I should be ready to face whatever tomorrow throws at me.

Wakey wakey!

So, I took two naps Sunday, one right after I got home around 4:00am until 8:00am when it was time to leave for church (I run any or all of video, slides, sound, and lights on any given Sunday morning). After that, I went to lunch with my parental units, then went home and took another nap for a while. I got to bed around 1:00am this morning, was awake off and on, and finally got out of bed at 5:30.

I tossed on my new bike shorts, loaded up the bike, and hit the road at about 5:50, landing me at the bus stop just in time to see the 6:00 bus heading on down the road. So then I stood around the bus stop for about 10 minutes waiting for it to show up. It's tradition for someone to bring goodies in on Monday for our staff meeting, so I'm bringing bagels to work for pretty much my entire floor. To facilitate this, I moved the rear rack off my mountain bike onto the Outlook, and loaded up the duffel sack I usually take with me for groceries, packed with bagels (in bags!), cream cheese, and plastic knives galore. The duffel is strapped down sideways to my rear rack. It's quite a sight, and must look a little odd, as I left it strapped securely to my bike as I loaded it onto the front of the bus.

Weather permitting, I plan on hitting the monday night recovery ride yet again. I doubt I'll be able to get 200 miles in this month, which was my semi-official goal for myself going into March before the wreck. But, I'm less than 30 miles away from beating February's miles, which I still thought wouldn't be possible. If I just pull off another 5-day commute week, I'll match last month's 150 miles. If I do the ride tonight, and ride a little more this week, I stand a good chance of getting close to 180 miles. Heck, maybe even 200 if I really push it.

I know 200 miles in a month is small potatoes to some people, but I'm trying to set realistic goals for myself.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Another fun weekend

I needed a haircut badly. I decided to burn some calories on my bike in this wonderful weather (72 Degrees, mostly sunny but very windy). I also needed to hose off my Outlook in the worst way. I rode it to the coin-op carwash and used the no-pressure setting to get it cleaned up, then off to get my mop chopped.

After I got my hair cut, I decided to swing by Dick's Sporting Goods to see if their cycling apparel section has gotten any better since spring is back. Lo and behold I find a lone pair of Cannondale mountain bike shorts with a padded liner in my size (Ginormous). I picked them up. I'm still not big on the "road cyclist" look, but I don't have any decent shorts for riding in, and with the weather warming up, it's about time I stop wearing jeans.

So, 5 miles of errands. Not bad. As I ride past Renner (a mile from home) though, something calls me northbound. I think it was the wind, as it was coming out of the southwest. Regardless, I veered north because I really wasn't ready to stop pedaling in one mile. So I rode, and rode, and rode some more. I got a new top speed record for the Outlook, too: 41.0 MPH! I kept going, up to 95th street, then west, into the blistering wind once again. Down a long hill, up another long hill, all the way to the new Falcon Ridge area, where I stopped at a convenience store on Woodland for a water refill.

Riding south on Woodland was such a pain in the butt. The wind was even stronger out of the south than from the west, and Woodland is basically stretches of 6-8% uphill separated by 2-3% downhill runs. With the wind, though, it was like riding a 3-mile solid stretch of 3-15% uphill.

My 5 mile errand run turned into almost 19 miles of pain and suffering, but it hurts so good!

More fun this weekend: I go in tonight at 11pm till 4am for server maintenance again. This is the 3rd weekend of this crap in a row, but at least I'm being compensated well for my job. Such is the life of an IT geek. Then, I get to go to church in the morning to run video and sound. I'm gonna be such a zombie on Monday.

Also, I'd like to welcome Sirrus Rider to the blogosphere, who's fighting the good fight, bicycle commuting and blogging out of Houston. Bicycle Commute Houston. It's cool to see the differences and similarities that my commute has to others across the USA (which is arguably one of the most cyclist-hostile of all developed, civilized nations).

18.6 miles instead of 5.
Got my hair cut
New bike shorts (woot!)
New lard speed record (41.0 MPH)
Long work week, lots of stuff to do
A new friend in the blogosphere.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mac Luv

Over lunch, I took some pictures and ended up liking how this one came out. I actually turned it into a MacBook-resolution (1200x800) wallpaper that you can download here:

MacBook Wallpaper

Well, I made it!

My first five-day bike commute week, probably ever, but at least for 2007.

As I suspected, the roads were moist and my wheels were flinging water on me most of the way. I made it in 11 minutes again, too, leaving shortly after 6 and making it in plenty of time for the 6:15 bus.

I have weekend server maintenance tomorrow from 11pm until 4am Sunday but I'm going to try to VPN it if my boss lets me. If not, I probably won't count it as a "drive" day because it's not my usual shift. Matter of fact, one of my neighbors might be working too, so I may see if he'd like to car pool. It's kind of odd, I live almost 30 miles away from work, but about 7% of the people that work on my floor live within a few miles of me. Their schedules are radically different, however, and aren't usually conducive to car pooling.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fun evening!

I started by grabbing some Greek for my wife and I, then headed off to Daily Dose for some coffee, a game of scrabble with Bible Study friends, a nice dry martini and a cinnamon roll.

Total, about 8 miles tonight. Sprinkles kicked back up again, but no serious rain tonight either. Lightning is in the air, but the radar looks pretty much clear to the west. Hopefully I'll just have to deal with moist pavement in the morning.

No pics tonight, my camera's batteries are dead. Which reminds me, so are the batteries in one of my rear blinkies. Off to charge some cells, then off to bed! This could be my first 5-day bike commute week of the year. Hopefully, it's one of many to come.

Lime safety vest plus backpack. Impossible? NO!

The lime vest, or the backpack? It was, quite literally, an either-or deal for me.

Since I have as many as three blinking lights on the back of my bike at any given time, and loads of reflective material, I usually choose the backpack. It's got enough room for my laptop and all my work clothes. Otherwise, I have to plan strategically and take extra clothes to work ahead of time.

Well, this morning, the air was foggy and the rain was starting to come down. I wanted the versatility of a backpack even though I have a pair of "just in case" dress pants at work, next to the dress shoes I leave in my drawer, but I knew I needed the vest without question.

With two little velcro straps, I attached the shoulders of the vest to the carry strap on the "against the back" part of my backpack. I could have strapped it to the shoulder straps too, but this was a little more secure.

I'm happy to report that it worked flawlessly!

I made it to the bus stop this morning in about 11 minutes, which is basically a new record for me. I just about bonked because I was really hammering on it, even on the hills. The rain was gentle and nice. It had started sprinkling just as I left home, and was a gentle trickle by the time I got to the bus. I don't really like the rain, but this morning it wasn't bad at all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I made a mistake today...

I rode a Trek 1200 and X0 today while waiting for Kevin at Bike America to re-assemble my Outlook. This just cemented my desire for a decent road or cyclocross bike. I'm so stupid. And hooked.

Anyhow, I need to put my new chain on my Outlook, because my original one is already toast. Most of the noise was from my chain, but they tossed some new bearings into my BB as well. I'll give it another shakedown run tonight after I swap chains. The Sorrento wasn't too bad this morning, I think all the miles I've been putting on are helping me a bit. Today I kind of wimped out on mileage, with too many things to do and no good way to transport two bikes around town. Tomorrow should be a bit better.

Old vs. New

Not that it makes me any less ugly, but here are the results from last night's dental work.

Anyhow, this morning, the sky is overcast with breaks of clear. It sounds like it's going to continue raining, but it was a really great morning for a ride. Almost 60 degrees, no fog or mist, just great riding weather. I'm kind of hoping the clear parts of the sky take over, because I had enough mud and rain yesterday to last me the week (even though it wasn't that much)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New teeth, MUP for travel, and mechanical failure...

So, a wreck on I-35 northbound set my bus back about half an hour. Actually, it set my bus back about an hour, but it delayed a bus that normally passes through before I'm off work long enough that I ended up waiting half an hour to catch that one. I was late (by minutes) to my dentist appointment but I had my wife call and let them know ahead of time.

I have teeth now. Not real ones. My two front teeth look almost the same as my original teeth, but they're thick and dull-shaped, and I still can't use them for biting off chunks of food like most normal people would. They look good, but they're still very sensitive to cold.

I decided to try something I've never done before. I hopped on the Indian Creek trail, which I've only ridden a few sections of, and used it for transportation, not recreation. I used it to get me from 135st street in Olathe, up to JCCC so I could show off my teeth for my wife. No more than a mile after I've been on the trail (about 3 miles away from the dentist), I notice some grinding going on. It's not gear or chain grinding, either. It's only when the crank is under a load, not when it's spinning slower than the bike is going.

I backed off a bit, but the noise kept getting worse and worse. I could feel it through my cleats, too. I limped the bike to JCCC (about 6 miles total after I noticed the damage) and took it to my bike shop. They think it's a bottom bracket. I think they're right. We'll see what they find tomorrow, I got my bike there just before closing time.

So, tomorrow I am back on the Sorrento. Did I mention I like spares? A spare bike is a great thing to have! I just hope they have my Outlook fixed up tomorrow. It's been spoiling me lately.

Muh teef!

Well, today's the day I got in to get work started on my teeth. I woke up pretty late, but still rode my bike and caught the 7:15 bus. On my south to east to north bike ride, I was mysteriously riding into the wind the entire time. Don't know how that happened, but it wasn't fun. Not much else this morning. My bus is almost downtown, so I've gotta keep it quick!

Group ride madness

Well, I went to the group ride tonight. A lot of people showed up, maybe 30 or so? Anyhow, I ended up getting a flat about a mile away from the end of the trip. Thanks to the LocalCycling/Trek Store jersey-wearing folks (whose names I still don't know) for stopping and lending me a hand.

Fortunately, I had everything with me that I needed to get back on the road. The guys just made it go faster, and made sure I knew my way back to the shop. Their help was really appreciated. We found a construction staple in my tire, cleared it, and I replaced the inner tube with my spare. When I got back to the shop, I patched my old inner tube, rolled it back up, and tossed it in my seat bag. I love having spares. I'll need to buy a new patch kit soon, though. I'm down to one patch left, and the glue's lid is cracked, so the glue might be hard to get out of the tube next time I need it.

10.4 miles total tonight. Not a bad trip.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lunch errands

I had to deposit a check at my bank, then swung by the library to renew one of my books, and grabbed some of their wonderful pizza for lunch. The first pic was kind of crooked but I like how it turned out.

I've never seen the other bikes at the library before. Between all the housing less than a mile away at Quality Hill, and all the lofts that are going in around here, I'd put money on these bikes belonging to people that live pretty close. If I lived downtown, I'd probably never use my car unless I had to go to the suburbs. My bike has proven time and time again that it's as fast, if not faster than a car when it comes to navigating downtown.

Picking up speed

Photo: tooling up 11th street between coffee and work this morning. Sorry for the blurry shot, when it's dark, the exposure time is going to be long, and you can't keep a camera still on a moving bike.

Inset: GPS screenshot of my average speed to the bus.

It was a definite change of pace this morning. First off, it was almost 60 degrees and a bit muggy when I took off for work. I left at 6:00 sharp and made it to the bus with a considerably higher average speed than I had on Friday. I took the 6:15 bus, which I haven't ridden since back in early December, and that's only because it was very, very icy and I left a lot earlier than I needed to. This morning, I just left after I took my shower, and didn't really care which bus I got to.

It's supposed to be really rainy this week. This is my challenge to myself. I'm not going to let rain do me in. Enough being a pansy. I may take a few shortcuts (such as getting off the bus a mile from where my wife works, then riding home with her, for example) but I'm going to try to keep it up.

Depending on weather, etc, I still may hit the recovery ride tonight. I'm hurting for miles this month. Saturday helped get me back into the swing of things, but I could really use another 15-25 mile day this week to somewhat offset nearly two weeks out of the saddle.

Finally... I go in to get work started on my broken teeth tomorrow. I don't hate going to the dentist, per se, however, I have a feeling that this is going to HURT. :( On the bright side, the dentist's office is just a few miles from my place, so I plan on riding my bike there. If they drug me up, I'll just camp out for a while until I am good to go.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Streamway Park ride

I finally got a good solid block of miles in with my friend Tim. Oddly enough, I met Tim through a car club about 4 years ago. I've posted his picture before, and he's the one that got me into going to the Monday night recovery rides at the Trek store. We decided to go for a spin on the northern 3/4 of the Mill Creek Streamway Park.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Streamway Park, it's a long strip of land containing (among other things) a paved multi-use path that's probably about 15 miles from one end to the other. For the most part, it follows Mill Creek. The southern-most end is near my apartment but it's closed a mile or two up the way. The northern-most end of the trail is on an island out in the Kansas River. Along the way, there are a few other access points -- parking lots with picnic areas where one can start walking or riding either direction. It ties in with a few other smaller paths and trails along the way, as well, including some horse trails and Shawnee Mission Park.

We got on at the 95th street access point, and went north. I'd only ridden about a mile past the point where we got on, and that was with my dad back in November, shortly after I got my Sorrento. From our entrance point to the end of the trail was almost precisely 10 miles. The photo was taken at the very end of the path, out on the island.

About halfway between the entrance we used and the end of the path, there's a stretch, I'd say about a mile and a half worth, of relentless hills. Well, 3/4 mile uphill and 3/4 mile downhill, give or take. Either way, once I got to the apex of the course (both times, going out and coming back) I just about wished I was dead. I didn't bonk. I didn't even have to dismount and stop, but I did have to spin in "True Granny(tm)" mode for a good part of it. Bottom gear, small chainring, 2 miles per hour.

The wind was out of the south the whole time. As Streamway spends a lot of time winding through very mildly-hilled prarie land, the wind gets a chance to really get up to speed. By the time I got back to our starting point, I'd had just about enough of the wind.

All in all, it was a really fun ride that let me pack on some more miles this month, as well as getting my butt used to being back in the saddle. Total distance was 20.3 miles.

More information: Mill Creek Streamway Park

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mmmm Thai Food!

My wife is going to kill me, because Thai -- especially Thai from Lulu's -- gives me a severe case of the ol' halitosis. But it's sooooooooo tasty.

It's still darn near freezing outside, too. I can handle it, but I'd rather ride in nice 60-70 degree weather.


Photo: Satellites don't lie (often). 11.2 MPH average this morning. Yuck.

No near fall-overs. About 14 minutes to get to the bus, and I almost missed my 6:30. The bus driver started driving off while I was riding up to it. I rode along side the bus for about 100 feet, trying to flag down the driver. Had he failed to stop, I would have just short-cut through the parking lot to the stoplight and got on there.

I'm digging the clipless pedals and my new kicks. One thing that's cheesing me off is the fact that it was right at freezing this morning (I knew it would be) but I couldn't find my balaclava last night or this morning. No clue where it went. I did something (kind of) bad and wore a thin stocking cap under my helmet to keep my ears warm, but my face suffered a bit. Why couldn't I have been riding earlier this week when it was 50-60 in the morning!?

Anyhow, it's official. I'm back on the bike. My Commute ratio has fallen from 2.8 or so, down to 1.55. Today will bring it up to 1.6. I'm going to stop worrying about the ratio for the time being, it'll just get me down. My spreadsheet will continue to track it, but I will sit here silently and watch while I try to get back back up to my goal of 3.0. My current goal will be to stay diligent through spring rain and storms to try to maintain no less than 4 bike days per week on a weekly basis (no riding 5 days one week, 3 the next.) The reason I post these goals and make my cycling log spreadsheet open to the public is so that I can be held accountable for it.

I don't care if you guys actually do hold me accountable, or even if you view my cycling log to check up on me. The fact that at any time someone COULD look at it is probably enough motivation to keep me on the straight and narrow.

It's good to be back! Now to get my legs used to moving again...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

That was refreshing!

Photo: me kicking back with a nice room-temperature bottle of water after doing a shakedown run. Cold water still hurts my broken teeth.

As you can see, my hybrid acquired knobbies. Bike America STILL hasn't gotten my cassette in yet. Ready to try my new pedals, I just swapped the wheels off my Sorrento. I am planning on riding to the bus tomorrow.

New gear:
Shimano MT20 shoes. They're tasteful enough to not make me look out of place in a grocery store or coffee shop, plus the cleats are really, really recessed.

Bell Solar Helmet. Really feels like it wraps around my head. I tried several different helmets today at two different bike shops. I walked to river market cyclery over lunch (2-3 mile round trip) and tried on a bunch there, and swung by Bike America after I got home. I settled for this helmet because it looks like it will last quite a while and it's comfortable yet really snug (not tight) on my head once I got it all adjusted. The color doesn't match either of my bikes, but I'm not going for a fashion statement, and my other helmet didn't match anything either.

I'm still getting used to the whole clipless thing. I made sure I had lots of practice (and got my tension dialed in) before I even thought about going outside.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The doctor gave me the all clear. My paycheck's already been direct deposited as well, so it looks like tomorrow I go helmet n' shoe shopping.

They're Baaaaaaaaaaaack!

... Two- and Three-Season commuters, that is. With temps in the seventies here yesterday, I wasn't the least bit surprised to see a few cyclists out and about. The trend isn't just in KC, though. Bike commute blogs (such as A Midnight Rider in Mass.) are starting to come back to life with commuting stories as well.

I'm getting anxious about my doctor's appointment today. I'm kind of afraid that I already know how long the doc will tell me to stay off the bike, and it's probably somewhere in the mid-to-late part of April. I'm hoping it's a lot sooner than that. This nice weather is making me want to cry, literally.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My pedals came off!

... and my new Shimano PD-M505's went on! Too bad I have no shoes to mount the cleats on, no helmet to wear while riding, and no rear wheel on this bike!

This could be a pretty big week for me. Wednesday, I have my follow-up appointment with the Ear/Nose/Throat doc. He's going to go over my CT Scan imagery and probably examine my sinuses. I fully intend on asking when I can get back in the saddle.

The bike shop manager apologized for the delay on my cassette today, and said it will be ready to go by Thursday. Thursday is also pay day, which means if the doc gives me the all clear to ride, I'll probably pick up my cycling shoes and a new helmet at the same time as I pick up my rear wheel and brand spankin' new cassette. I already have a brand new chain to go with it, so the Outlook should be STYLIN' by Friday. Here's hoping my ol' noggin is up to the task. Only the doctor knows.

In other news, I was greeted with this wonderful sight Sunday afternoon when I finally awoke from my working-overnight coma. I must have run over something malevolent on my 4:00AM trip home from work after the daylight saving time thing. I had to spend about 30 minutes in the rain yesterday putting the crummy baby spare on my car so that I could at least get to the bus stop today. It will work for a while. There's a road bike on craigslist right now that would cost me about the same amount of money I'll spend replacing this damned tire. Arrgh.

Finally, it was so nice out when I got off work today. It had to be close to 70 degrees. I snapped this picture of the towers atop Bartle Hall while I was walking to my bus.

Yet another reson I'd like to work at the Googleplex

Full story via NYTimes

Google’s Buses Help Its Workers Beat the Rush

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The perks of working at Google are the envy of Silicon Valley. Unlimited amounts of free chef-prepared food at all times of day. A climbing wall, a volleyball court and two lap pools. On-site car washes, oil changes and haircuts, not to mention free doctor checkups.


But the biggest perk may come with the morning commute.

The company now ferries about 1,200 employees to and from Google daily — nearly one-fourth of its local work force — aboard 32 shuttle buses equipped with comfortable leather seats and wireless Internet access. Bicycles are allowed on exterior racks, and dogs on forward seats, or on their owners’ laps if the buses run full.

Lucky bastids. I actually had an interview with them not long ago, but they were seeking someone with more programming experience than I have. Oh well. Maybe one of these days.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Ratio back down below 2.0

I have been avoiding updating my Commute Log spreadsheet, because I knew what would happen.

This week, I fell down below 2.0: that is, I've ridden my bike less than twice as many days as I've driven my car. 31 bike commute work days and 16 work days in the car. The earliest I see myself commuting again is MAYBE Monday March 19th. That will mark two weeks from my accident. It also depends a lot on what my Ear/Nose/Throat doctor says on the 14th after he checks my sinuses out. If I get back on the bike again on the 19th, I'll be working my commute:drive ratio from less than 1.5. Gone are my dreams of getting above 3.0 by the end of March. I'll be lucky to get there by the end of May. My target miles for March (I was hoping for 170-200) are also shot.

I just might (if my Diamondback Outlook is fixed and I find a helmet) do the Recovery Ride on Monday the 12th. In a group ride setting, I'm very unlikely to get hit or fall over, and I really am aching to get back on the bike.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Time for a new brain bucket

So, my last helmet was old and just a little tight on me. Now it's not only old and a little undersized, it's broken as well. I had been considering a new helmet for a while prior to my accident, but now I'm thinking more seriously about it.

Originally, I was thinking about a budget helmet like the Bell Influx or Giro Havoc, but now I'm really considering something with full-face protection.

A friend of mine pointed out the MET Parachute which appears to offer some chin and face protection without being big, heavy, and stuffy. Other, more traditional extreme-sport full-face helmets like the Specialized Deviant and Pro-tec ACE Fullface appear to be heavy, hot, and really uncomfortable, while sacrificing peripheral vision.

Right now, I'm confused. My wife wants me to get a really good helmet and she's hinted that something with full-face coverage would make her a lot more comfortable with my cycling habit. If mama ain't happy, I ain't happy.

All cyclists look like dweebs, with or without helmets, to most drivers. Is there a reason (besides fashion) that full-face helmets aren't more common? Has anyone used a good full-face helmet? Any product suggestions that are under $150? I could really use some help.

127th Street Widening - Meeting Tonight

I swear I'm not becoming one of those anti-car, bicycle activist zealots.

But this is really important. As you probably know, I ride my bike over the new 127th street bridge almost daily (or at least I did before I busted my face, and I will again once I heal up). Also, I usually take 127th home from the Daily Dose or JCCC, in which I have to navigate the stretch of road in question. 127th between Mur-Len and Pflumm is only one lane in each direction. The eastern half of this stretch of road is particularly treacherous because it's hilly and curvy which makes it hard to see far ahead. The road also has rough shoulders that are not suitable for walking or cycling on, and until right before you get to the Indian Creek MUP, there's no sidewalk either. At night, to top it off, it's poorly lit. This is a serious problem area. East of Pflumm (Overland Park city limits), 127th is very wide, well-lit, and friendly to cycle on, as well as having wide sidewalks on either side.

The first phase, between Mur-Len and Black Bob, isn't quite as scary to ride on, but it's less than ideal. With 127th street being one mile north and south of two busy roads, it's far enough out of the way to keep hurried highway-bound motorists away while still bridging a huge gap between western Olathe and Overland Park. The potential is so great, but the bottlenecks on 127th make it unattractive.

If you're in the area, I encourage you to show up tonight and voice your opinion. Eric from KCBike.Info said that there's a good chance that people who live near the stretch of road will likely show up to rally against the city widening the road near their homes. In that respect, no one likes construction noise, but growing pains are to be expected in suburbia; It comes with the turf. I'm all for keeping the speed limit at or below 35 MPH to reduce traffic noise, danger to pedestrians, children, and cyclists as well. I think this plan could really work well, but only if they have good input.

I plan on attending.

Public Meeting:
Thursday, November 7, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Indian Creek Library, 12990 Black Bob Road, Olathe, KS

Story on KCBike.Info - with maps and information on the project, its meetings, timeline and goals.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

MO Bike Federation - Urgent! Advocates needed for Rt. 150

MO Bike Fed - Route 150 Advocacy. Mo Bike Fed needs your help, especially if you live or ride on the MO side of state line. I have family and friends that live along the Route 150 corridor, and this project interests me quite a bit. Make it count. We're encouraged to write something on our own, but they provide a default message that gets the point across. This was my submission:

To whom it may concern,

As a bicycle commuter that uses a mix of bicycles on public roads as well as mass transit while living in KS and working in MO, the current plans for Route 150 interest me a great deal. I was recently run off the road in a "bike friendly" city and can tell you that no amount of "share the road" signs would have saved me from breaking my face and teeth on the pavement yesterday. If the road doesn't directly accommodate non-motorized transportation, cyclists will be at risk.

This may be as simple as a combination of traffic calming, bicycle lanes, very wide outer lanes and lower speed limits. With the area in question growing as fast as it is, and with fuel prices remaining lofty, non-motorized transportation is here to stay. It's practical, healthy, and it should also be enjoyable.

While sidewalks and a sidepath are a good start, I urge the committee to explore options that facilitate vehicular cycling along Route 150 as a feasible, enjoyable and safe option.

If signs do go up conveying the fact that bicycles have the right to use the whole lane, then I would expect proper traffic enforcement to be provided, because signs like that are usually ignored by hurried motorists unless the consequences are visible and grave. I have the scar tissue to prove it.

-via KCBike.Info

Monday, March 05, 2007


I just thought this picture was relevant and tastelessly funny.

Oh yah, I made a new smily face too. Like it?

I'll probably drive to the bus stop in the morning. I thought I'd probably take the day off tomorrow, too, but I have too much stuff to do this week.

Run off the road this morning - I broke my face!

Photo: Yes, I realize I look a little dee duh dee in the picture. Stuff is swollen and I'm not feeling too great.

I was riding my bike to the bus stop as usual this morning, when a GMC pickup changed lanes into me and forced me off the road and into the curb. I lost control and flew off my bike, landing on my face.


  • Two facial fractures, one causing massive bleeding in my sinuses

  • big ol' scrape and goose egg on my chin

  • 2 chipped teeth

  • 2 broken-off teeth (stumps)

  • goose egg right above my right eye (helmet slipped upwards a bit)

  • No concussion, and the bike is just fine. I was RIGHT AT the bus stop when this happened. I didn't get the plate numbers and only one person stopped and asked if I needed an ambulance. I rode back home and had the wife take me to the E.R. since she was home.

    I'm probably gonna be off the bike for a while.

    Sunday, March 04, 2007

    Weekend Recap

    Photo: The warcycle, armed to the teeth with high-tech gear for discovering and hijacking defenseless wireless networks along my route. Notice the two long-range, high-gain antennae. The "guts" of this rig (a Garmin eTrex yellow and an HP Jornada 720 computer with high-power 200mW 802.11B/G adapter) are in the handlebar bag. If this is all greek to you, I'm sure you can appreciate the 24-ounce can of ultra-caffeinated JOLT Cola sitting in the seat-tube bottle cage.

    Friday, I rode to the 2600 meeting from the nearest bus stop. 2600 is an informal gathering of people that are typically very, very nerdy. The meetings themselves have evolved out of the telephone and computer hacking culture, but these days, it's mostly a chance to hang out and talk to fellow nerds.

    I ended up car pooling around town with my friends afterwards, and came and got my bike when we were all done. I was surprised to find that someone had strapped a $10 mall gift card to my bike. I'm not sure if it was just someone who appreciates environmentally conscious transportation, or what.

    Saturday, I would have liked to have partaken in CommuterDude's ride, but my Outlook still isn't fixed. There was another dusting of snow Saturday morning, too. I drove kind of backwards of CommuterDude's map and found them on Renner. I waved, but I doubt any of them know me, and I didn't get a chance to see if Tim was in the pack. He would have been the only one who could have recognized me. All of four were riding, brave souls they be...

    I'm not sure when my Outlook will be ready, but I probably won't be able to pick up my wheel until at least Tuesday even if they get it fixed tomorrow. I'm still tentatively planning on making the Monday night recovery ride tomorrow, but I'll be on the mountain bike this time.

    Friday, March 02, 2007

    I did ride...

    And I was quicker than I've been in a while, despite being on the Sorrento. I was really hammering on it for a good part of the trip. It was a smidge below freezing this morning and I woke up a lot later than I wanted to, leaving me less than half an hour to get ready and get TO the bus stop in time for the last bus, which could be one reason I was riding so hard today.

    I tricked out the sorrento a bit, pics forthcoming this evening. I figured I'd do it up nerdy since it was going to make an appearance at 2600. It took me till almost 2:00AM to find all the pieces that I needed to make it work. That's probably why I slept so late. Oops.

    The Outlook's in the shop...

    Well, the Outlook's actually inverted in my kitchen, missing the rear wheel. I took the rear wheel in for a new cassette this evening but they have to special order the part. The Outlook is out of commission probably until Sunday or Monday at the earliest. I am PLANNING on riding my Sorrento tomorrow DESPITE the fact that it doesn't sound like my wife has any intention of meeting me anywhere or helping me get home. I'm kind of hoping she changes her mind, because otherwise I'm in for a heck of a ride - Not because it's 8 miles, but because I'll be riding a bike to 2 different locations to meet people who will be traveling via car. Then I'll get home really late.

    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    Gah. Driving.

    Menacing skies, really high winds and the chance of a wintry mix were enough reasons to drive today. My Sorrento wasn't ready to run this morning as I'd taken it apart to give it a much needed cleaning, and I didn't feel like braving any kind of snow on my slicks. I might have been able to swap wheelsets, but that would not help me with the wind.

    Anyhow, I drove to the bus stop and just missed my 6:30 bus, so now I'm waiting for the next one to come along. With the 2600 meeting tomorrow, I'll probably be forced to drive downtown unless my wife can commit to meeting my group for supper after the meeting so she can take me home. We'll see how that pans out.

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