Monday, April 30, 2007

April Recap

My goodness, how time flies when you're on a bike!

I rode all the way home from downtown tonight, with about a 12 mile detour for the Recovery ride, netting me 37 miles or so for the day.

Total miles ridden for April: 362. In my Focus, that's about 15 gallons when you consider sitting in rush-hour stop-and-go. As we approach $3 per gallon, my bike's miles would have cost me $45 in the Focus.

Now for the real fun. I only used my car to get to work once in April, and I had to cough up $3.75 for parking that day, too! A 50 mile round trip sets me back about $6 in fuel every day I drive all the way to work. That day, I wasted about $10.

The other 18 work days this month, I used my bike and the bus. The bus costs me $15 per month. 18 days of driving the bare minimum in my Focus would have been 900 miles, $115 in gas and almost $70 in parking fees.

Do you see why I do this?!

Now, on to the recreational stuff. With a bare minimum of 6 miles per day, 18 round trips would be 108 miles. In one way or another, in the form of recreational miles and running errands, I voluntarily snuck in an additional 250+ miles this month that I didn't really have to ride.

So, what does May hold? I want to bike commute an average of more than 4 days per week, and I want to make Bike To Work week a 5-day commute week, with or without the help of the bus. That's it. I don't know that I can beat 350 miles. Maybe I can. I'm just in it for fun (and money savings)

No Trek yet, so I rode from downtown again

Kevin got slammed at the bike shop today, didn't have time to pester the financing company. It's kind of a shame, too, because today's the last nice day for a while. When I say nice, I mean it's not raining. 85 degrees is a little excessive, when I was just getting used to riding in the high 40's a few days ago.

Since there was no compelling reason to go all the way down to JCCC or Olathe after work, I just took the boulevard to the Trek store from downtown. It wasn't as nerve-racking as it was last time I tried it, but I was fighting a stiff headwind most of the way. By all my estimates, I could squeak 350 miles out of April :)

I'm supposed to swing by the bike shop tomorrow to see where the financing sits. Anyhow, time to go ride with my peeps!

Should be a good day...for a Monday

Well, I'm officially giddy. I am supposed to call Bike America to see if my financing went through. This morning it was already a muggy 59 degrees. I didn't hammer on it, but I got to the first bus quickly and early.

The forecast is calling for mid 80's today. Yeesh. I'd bet the monday night Trek store ride is packed tonight!

I'll update this post as soon as I know wht my plan is for this evening. If I get my road bike today, I'll have it with me at the recovery ride.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Escort SOLD! Road bike, coming soon

I sold my Escort to a long-time friend and occasional commenter to this blog, whose current main mode of transportation is an inefficient-yet-handy GMC pickup. I isolated the source of the noise I was hearing from the engine and it was just a loose bolt holding a pulley. As it turns out, the clutch really was the only major thing wrong and I'm already prepared to help fix that up.

Today, while I was picking up my spare spokes, I checked the bike shop to see if the used Trek 1000 was still around. I didn't bother asking, but it wasn't visible. Since the Orange Trek 1000 was a wash, I went ahead and put a down payment on the closeout Trek 1200 today, instead. Effectively, I've put it on layaway. They also told me about interest-free financing for up to 2 years. After that, you get hit with uber-heavy interest rates. I basically put 40% down on the bike once you count taxes. Depending on our whole moving plan, I could have my 1200 paid off in a month or maybe two. If the financing goes through, I'll have my bike on Monday and be paying on it for a couple of months. If financing doesn't go through, I'll still be paying on it for a couple of months, and I'll get it when I've paid it in full.

Just to make sure it's the bike for me, they went ahead and fitted the bike to me, had me give it the initial shakedown run, and all that good stuff. Everything is so precise that it almost feels twitchy, but in a good way. It's also darn quick, very light, and a very different kind of fun than I'm used to having on a bike. I didn't get to put much more than a mile on it today testing it out. I'll be thankful for the triple crank once I find some hills. The gearing is really, really tall.

Saturday ride results

Sometimes, you ride just to take a nice saturday morning stroll. You don't plan on getting wet, sweaty, or dirty. In fact, you might try to avoid getting messy altogether.

If, along your journey, you find that cleanliness is futile, there's only one proper course of action. Get as disgustingly dirty as possible. When crossing flooded areas, no speed should be considered too fast. Every muddy patch should be in your crosshairs, and every possibility to fling mud everywhere should be gleefully embraced.

That just described my ride today. I was a peloton of one, but it was fun, and probably a lot messier than anyone I know would have cared for. I put on about 26 miles today. My trip included a 2-mile on-road detour to Bike America on Nall to pick up a pair of new spokes. One, I'm keeping with me. The other installed flawlessly this afternoon.

My bike, however, is a complete disaster. I was actually quite thankful for the knobby rear tire. Enough so that I think I regret doing all the swapping stuff around and all that. My Diamondback Sorrento would have been a much more appropriate tool for this job, despite the lack of all the little upgrades I put on my Outlook.

My total for April is now 323 miles! There will be no riding to church tomorrow. I need some rest...

My wife and I finished off the day fishing.

It never fails...

Or maybe I should say it always fails.

I was checking and airing up my tires in preparation for this morning's ride, when I noticed something wasn't quite right. It ended up being a broken spoke.

I've never broken a spoke before. They're cheap enough and easily replaced. But, since I noticed it right as I was preparing to leave for my ride this morning, I had a bit of a dilemma. My options were:

1. Ride with the bad spoke, and tighten the ones around it to keep the wheel true
2. Ride the mountain bike, without a computer to track my miles, without clipless pedals, and with evil knobby tires
3. Steal the wheel off the mountain bike, swap my slick tire onto it.
4. Put the mountain bike's rear wheel, knobby tire and all, onto my hybrid.

I went with the last option in the name of simplicity. The end result? Knobby rear tire and slick front tire as seen in the photo to the left.

Friday, April 27, 2007

My 127th Street Rant

Well, the 127th Street Improvement committee had another public meeting on April 5th. I wasn't notified of it, so I didn't attend. What bothers me is that it seems some people went through painstaking steps to make sure everyone who lives along 127th street not only knew about and showed up to the meeting, but made sure they were all really angry and bitter, too.

Click here to take a look at the comments that were gathered from April 5th's Meeting

I'm going to pick apart some of the arguments here. I'm paraphrasing and condensing some comments that are in the same spirit.

It's not hard to see the angst spawned from that that two feet of pavement in the form of a bike lane. "There's no room for bike lanes." "I am absolutely against bike lanes!" "Please consider the views of Olathe residents before non-resident bikers"

First off, It's CYCLISTS, Folks! Bikers ride Harleys, Gold Wings and Triumphs, not Treks, Le Monds and and Bianchis!

What's not so funny is that, taking into account 143rd street and other roads with bike lanes, the road lacks a wide outer lane where the bike lane is present. There's really not much, if any width being added to the pavement for the bike lanes. I haven't seen if the proposal for 127th also fits the paradigm, but my guess is that it probably does.

If residents want to reduce the amount of their property that needs to be bulldozed, they should fight the 24-foot-wide landscaped median. A dozen or so people had some push-back on the wide median. More than three dozen pushed back on bike lanes.

Last but not least on this point, there are plenty of cyclists in Olathe, and I've seen several just in my little part of the world, who, like I, use their bicycle for basic transportation to and from work, to the store, or for running errands. Not all adult cyclists are weekend group-ride warriors in spandex superhero costumes*.

*no offense meant to road cyclists and/or group riders that choose to wear cycling-specific clothing, but you look ridiculous to non-cyclists.

From comments like "bike lanes invite novices into the road, which isn't safe", "children should use the sidewalks instead of bike lanes", and "I have never seen a child ride their bike to school", it's safe to say that the average attendee thought that bicycles are playthings for kids.

Children under 12 should not be using bike lanes. They should not be using sidewalks along major arterials, either. The sidewalk crossings that span residential entrances to arterial roadways are VERY DANGEROUS even to an adult cyclist or jogger. Children should be using residential streets for travel, and proper signaled crosswalks should be their only interaction with an arterial roadway, wherever necessary. I understand that crossing a main road is mandatory for many children to get to school or their favorite park. Bicycle lanes are not for kids.

Novice riders are safer in a bike lane where they're more visible approaching intersections than they would be on sidewalks. This is also one reason I say children should not ride bicycles on sidewalks next to an arterial roadway. If the novice cyclist stays in the bike lane, and motorists stay out of the bike lane, the bike lane will be the best balance of safety and efficiency for a cyclist to travel, regardless of experience level.

Others are taking issue with existing trails and bike lanes, as if they're efficient for bike travel. "Keep the bike lanes on 143rd and Dennis" "There's already a bike trail" "Are the bikers going to do laps?" "What good will a short bike lane do?"

Regarding bike lanes on the further-south streets such as 143rd, those streets are very far out-of-the-way. These are probably the same people who were complaining about the 127th street bridge lacking interstate highway access. Every second arterial has highway access. The rest have no access. College, 127th, 143rd, and 159th lack highway access. The arterials between them such as 119th, 135th (santa fe), and 151st do have highway access. This means that no one needs to go more than two miles out of their way to find a safe road to cross the highway. It would make sense for a bike lane to exist on 127th street.

The trails are not efficient transportation. They are safe from traffic and very scenic, but nothing more. They wind around, they're hilly, they carry traffic in both directions on a very narrow stretch of pavement, and they get easily covered with mud, water, and debris from the nearby creeks. Suggested maximum speed on the trails is 10 miles per hour. When I rode from 127th and blackbob to 119th and Quivira, I covered about 5 miles on Indian Creek Trail with an average speed of about 10 miles per hour as I didn't want to run anyone over coming around a blind curve. The trip took me more than 30 minutes. If I used the road, it would have been a 3-mile trip, and probably with an average speed approaching 16 miles per hour for a travel time closer to 10 minutes.

A short bike lane (2 miles long where the improvements are taking place) in and of itself will do several good things. As most trips by "vehicular cyclists" are 10 miles or less, 2 miles of bike lane will improve the safety of at least 20% of the ride for anyone using that stretch of road. Also, it brings a challenge to Overland park to section off a few feet of their already wide 127th street as a bike lane. 127th is so wide east of Pflumm that they could easily add a bike lane with nothing more than some paint on the road and a few roadside signs. The 127th street bridge in Olathe is also wide enough to paint a bike lane onto. West of Ridgeview, 127th street (known as Harold) already has an on-street bike lane. With some effort between KC road and Ridgeview, that 2-mile stretch of bike lane could turn into 10 miles of safe cycling without a whole lot of impact to existing infrastructure.

Others also doubt the feasibility of cycling as economic or good for the community. "Please explain the economic development standpoint for bike lanes" and "Bike lanes are less beneficial to the community than leaving my back yard intact" (remember, these are paraphrases).

This is selfish, short-sighted balderdash. Economically speaking, bicycling is just about the best way to travel. It's four times faster than walking, doesn't require fuel made from foreign resources, increases health, decreases stress, and increases your interaction with others you see along the way. When gasoline is at $5 per gallon and an SUV -- which you won't even be able to give away, much less sell -- gobbles $40 in fuel for every 100 miles driven, people will be looking at bicycles. A $2 lunch of a few ham-n-cheese sandwiches and some fruit can fuel a 30 mile bike ride.

Also, hundreds if not thousands of cyclists might use the bike lanes over the next 10 years. What's the biggest party you've thrown in your back yard?

That said, there are many other options. Brent, a fellow JCBC member made a good point that the scope of this project is very much overkill and that alternatives exist. We don't need a superhighway through suburbia. What's really angering the residents are things like high speeds, litter, noise, traffic jams, and a wide right-of-way that eats into their property more than they deem necessary. Brent has some suggestions that less lanes, and more bike/pedestrian space is a good solution. Maybe a two-lane boulevard with a shared center left-turn lane would work. Perhaps widen the road a bit, straighten it out, take out some of the hills near Pflumm, and keep the speed limit low and well-enforced.

Also, there were a few people there with their heads on straight at the last meeting. If you're one of them, please realize that I'm thankful you provided your opinion. Moving forward, Olathe needs more trails, more bike lanes, and more exposure for alternative transportation.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

So much for the warm-up!

It actually dropped in temperature today while I was at work, or at least it seems like it did. My forecast showed partly cloudy today with temps in the high 60's. When I got out of work it was about 48, still overcast and here I am in mountain bike shorts.

Definitely not a fun ride home. I also had to ride though some mud, which got my tires and shoes pretty dirty.

Oh yah. Tomorrow is supposed to bring more rain. Freaking great. Somehow, Saturday is supposed to be awesome. Let's just hope Indian Creek didn't wash out the trail.

I may be selling my car at a discount to a friend of mine who lacks a fuel-efficient vehicle for getting around town. He definitely has more use for it than I do right now. I'm not banking on anything, but it would be kind of cool to keep it in the circle of friends. I'll probably get to wrench on it a few more times, at least. :)

If it works out, I will probably try to get my road bike soon. It's just a matter of what's out there. I've been convinced by the masses that I don't need a beater bike and that with proper locking, I should be safe while I'm at work. The area isn't that bad.

This weekend should be fun. My wife and I are going fishing and probably going to brush up on our shotgun skills with some trap shooting. Yee Haw.

Weather 'n' stuff

The past few days have been not too fun on the bike. Tuesday, it was lots of rain and lightning. Yesterday, it was torrential downpour, hail, and just crappy weather to be out in. The water was coming down hard enough to once again fill my bottom bracket with fluid. The marine-grade axle grease is doing its job quite well, though. I took my BB apart to drain it. On the advice of some fellow cyclists, I may drill a tiny hole in the bottom bracket shell to allow water to drain. Overall, I'm still very pleased wih the refurb job I did on the bottom bracket. There were no signs of corrosion with this new grease. I couldn't say that about the stuff that was in there previously.

This morning is still grimy from the past few days of rain. It's still cloudy and I'm hoping the sun comes out and dries this mess up before I come home. Not much else exciting going on. For anyone who wishes to join me on the Indian Creek Trail on Saturday morning, it looks like we'll have some great weather, and hopefully the next few days will let the trail dry out all the way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What are your Bike To Work Week plans?

B2WW is coming up in just a few short weeks. How do you plan on dealing with it? Are you just going to bike to work as usual, or are you doing other stuff?

I'm going to try to promote it a bit. My company has a small team participating in this year's Commuter Challenge, a local contest that rallies individuals, cycling novices, and whole teams of people together to count their miles.

I also decided that if weather permits, in the name of independent transportation, I will attempt to go at least one day all the way to work and back via bike. If it works out, I'll do it as many days as I can handle it. Keep in mind that this month I'm closing in on my goal of 300 miles spread out over 4 weeks. Riding my entire commute by bike for a week would likely be between 200 and 300 miles in just one week.

What are your plans?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Forecast: Storms, Woe, Hail, and Tribulation

It's probably not going to be that bad this afternoon, but the NWS is warning of strong storms. I'm guessing that there will be a tornado within a few hundred miles of KC. Oh noes! It looks like my friends to the north in Nebraska are getting pummeled, though. We'll see what develops this afternoon. My homeward commute might be a mile or less to get to my wife's office from the bus stop, where I may wait it out.

This morning, I had the option to really hammer it with about 11 minutes to get to the bus, or I could take it slow. I actually chose to ride slower than normal. I dropped down really low and spun with minimal leg effort up the hills and I noticed that my abs seem to really get a good workout when I take that approach. I'm not sure how I like going 5 MPH on public roads. Something seems wrong with that. My goal was to not break a sweat this morning, and to just take it easy. Sitting here, sipping coffee, I kind of like it. My knees aren't stiff, my back isn't sweaty from my backpack, etc. I may start taking this approach one day per week. Tuesdays are a good day to take it easy, as I'm usually recovering from the mile-adding adventures of Monday.

Monday, April 23, 2007

FYI - Events coming up!

This saturday is my Commuter Wind-Down ride on Indian Creek Trail. It'll be a slow-paced ride but about two hours worth of pedaling. Check the announcement at the top of my blog for information. I'll update it before 7:00am Saturday morning. commuter challenge for bike to work week (May 14-18). Sign up and pack on some miles for bike to work week. Wrap up on Sunday with Free Beer at Boulevard.

Trying something new today

I have to be at the data center this afternoon. The roads going to it are somewhat treacherous, and I still plan on making my Monday Night recovery ride. So, the plan is as follows:

  • After lunch, hop on the KC Metro Area Express (with the cutesy name of "MAX", although not nearly as cheesy as "The JO") and take it down to 63rd street.
  • Transfer to the eastbound 163 Metro bus.
  • Ride to a bus stop near the data center
  • Go to my training
  • Leave the data center, and ride to the nearby bus stop
  • Catch the Westbound 163 Metro bus to get me close to State Line (KS/MO)
  • Ride 63rd to Mission Road, Mission to 67th, and 67th all the way across to get close to the Trek store.
Then, it'll be my usual recovery ride and the trip homeward.

This morning was pretty dull. I had to be in before 7:00 to get a brain dump from a co-worker as he tries to integrate me into one of the many bizarre procedures we do here. Didn't have time for a Mocha or anything but I'm on my third big mug of yummy, french-pressed Nitro (a tasty, dark-roast blend that's roasted locally)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Church, Wind, and Weight Loss

I decided to ride to church again this morning. Before doing this, I did my typical reality check by checking the radar and forecast.

A quick note. When NOAA says "wind advisory", they mean "if you're riding a bike, you're about to hate life." I rarely drop into my granny ring, but today I was truly thankful for having a triple crank. Of course, there was the return trip, which rocked. I actually hit my new lard speed record of 44.0 MPH with the help of a 20 MPH tail-wind downhill.

Finally, I weighed in again today. I don't pay a lot of attention to the scale, and often go weeks without setting foot on it. 16 days ago, I was at 211 pounds. Today, I'm at 207, the lightest I've been in probably 3 years. It's slow going, but I'm going in the right direction.

Friday, April 20, 2007


What a perfect day to wrap up another 5-day bike commute week! Overall, this week has been nothing short of stellar for cycling, despite being a little chilly a few mornings.

I am still on course to beat my cycling goal of riding 300 miles this month. I have about 70 miles left to go, and 10 days to sneak them in, including two more monday night recovery rides. If you have been keeping an eye on my log book, you'll know that Mondays often add between 30 and 40 miles each. One thing is for sure: it's paying off. I feel better and stronger than ever this month, and I might actually lose a few pounds.

I'll need to come up with a May goal for myself soon. Without enrolling in some distance rides, I don't think I have the time in a month to crank it up to 400 watts miles. I may need to do some number crunching, but I think I might go back to nursing my commute/drive ratio back to life, or work on bumping my average speed up.

It's worth noting that as I sit here writing this at Starbucks in City Center Square, I've noticed at least 3 other bike commuters, and I may have missed a few bikes on passing buses. I can only hope next week stays nice like this, if not a bit warmer.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Road Bike Quest - The Update

Things just aren't going well for me. Here's why:

  • My car hasn't been sold, nor traded yet. Some of this is probably my own fault, it seems I rarely have time after work to try to get people out here to look at it.
  • Human Resources and Property Management told me that I absolutely may not bring my bike into the building. This includes stairwells, storage closets, my own cubicle, or the access-card-controlled elevator lobbies in the parking garage. They said that they've had similar requests in the past and if they granted me an exception, they'd have to let everyone bring their bikes into the building. What? All three of us?
  • I'm just getting discouraged and impatient.
That said, I'm re-thinking my strategy on this. Part of me really wants to believe that no one would mess with a nice, shiny road bike hiding in the parking garage that's supposedly "safe". I really, really want a nice snazzy bike to show off. The other part of me is thinking that I should get a cheapo beater road bike.

There's a Schwinn World Sport at my LBS. It's used, it's chromoly, and it's probably about as old as I am. Okay, maybe a few years younger. It's in rough shape. It's got 27" wheels, tires that are okay but not great, a nasty saddle, a rusty rear cluster and chain, missing a brake pad on the front, completely destroyed handlebar padding stuff, and it's just plain ugly. But it has a TON of potential. It fits me, it's dangerously fast but that's partially because it's unsafe at any speed without front brakes, and it is almost identical to the road bike I had when I was in middle school, except bigger.

If I got it, I'd immediately replace the saddle, chain, cables and brakes, and I'd throw clipless pedals on it and see how everything holds up. If it stays together nicely, I'd eventually want to splurge for 700c wheels, and I'd probably re-paint it, flat black or some plain color that's not attention grabbing, but not the ugly beige color that's on it right now.

We'll see. I'm going to call up there tomorrow and see what Kevin wants for it. I still need to sell my car, but I think my cash might be better used refurbishing a beater that won't get stolen.

Today, while I was at JCCC, I decided it would be awfully fun to brush up on my skills in riding down flights of concrete stairs. That's what mountain bikes are for, right? I had a lot of fun playing around. I started with little 2-3 step drops, and worked my way up to conquering this little narrow stairway with about 8 steps. No, I didn't have anything other than my helmet on for protection, and yes, I had my bookbag, MacBook and all, on me while I played around. I go down some pretty steep dirt and grass hills, so I was confident that stairs were not going to present too much of a challenge. Concrete is a little less forgiving than grass, though.

What do you think? Old road bike? fix it up? Or should I go for a newer road bike, use it less often (maybe once a week or so) and hope security keeps the hood rats and bums away from my bike?

Starting to see more bike commuters!

A few months ago, I was seemingly alone downtown. A few weeks ago, I started seeing other bike commuters. This week, they're out in droves!

I used my mountain bike this morning but left it at JCCC since I car-pooled. I found the mud fender from my old high-school mountain bike last night, and put it on. I didn't need it today, but it's on there for when I eventually do. I actually appreciated riding the Sorrento this morning. The taller gears, more responsive shifting, and softer ride were all welcome changes of pace. I could have done without the mega-increased rolling resistance. Weight is about the same between the Sorrento and the Outlook right now. I left my rear rack and handlebar bag on the Outlook so there wasn't really anything extra on the Sorrento except for front and rear lights, spare tube and patches, and the plastic fender over the rear wheel.

Using my old tennis shoes on the platform pedals has proven to me that clipless pedals really spoil cyclists. Dare I say they make us "artifically better" cyclists? I never recall my form being so horrid on platforms since the first week or two of riding daily back when I got my wal-mart beater bike. Maybe it's the different geometry and configuration of my mountain bike, but it took me a good mile or two to get used to riding on platforms again this morning.

Anyhow, I'm poised for a nice relaxing ride tonight. No clipless pedals, no "cargo", no cycling computer or anything. I am going to have to guess my distance tonight when I ride around. It should be a good time.

Nice morning - and coffee!

I took the rare opportunity of being at JCCC in the morning to get one of Sandy's world-famous Quad-shot venti mochas. The ride in was really, really nice, although I only saw two dog-walkers and one cyclist on the whole length of the trail I rode (about 4 miles worth)

I'm waiting for my co-worker to show up (in a Prius, I laugh) to car pool to the data center. Gotta keep it short. Tonight should be in the high 60's. Mother nature can keep dishing this stuff out; I can take it. ;)

Crazy day tomorrow

Pretty uneventful ride home tonight. Just took the trail from the college to as close to home as I could get. Then I took 127th the rest of the way.

Tomorrow, more than 20 teams within my company will take to the track with our pinewood derby cars. I had a hand in two different cars. It should be a fun time. What this means is that I've got to get to the data center, which is 10 miles away from my office, via treacherous roadways.

I'm going to ride to JCCC and carpool with a co-worker tomorrow. I'll lock my bike up at the college, and when I get off work, I'll just take it to the college, and I'll have my bike.

I'm riding the Sorrento tomorrow. The Outlook's been running great since I tuned it back up. Since I won't need to be at JCCC until 8:00, I'm going to take my time and have some fun on Indian Creek Trail again.

By the time tomorrow's over, I'll have surpassed last month's 224 miles. I broke 200 miles yesterday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


First off, holy moly, I felt fast this morning! I had to do a cyclocross-esque 10-MPH rolling dismount and throw the bike on the bus really quick because I was about to miss it, but considering the fact that I got a 3-minute late start and still made it to the bus before it rolled off means that the odds are pretty good that my average speed was above 15 MPH... and I don't feel too winded, either. No signs of bonk or any of the usual stuff when I hammer it. Now, maybe the bus shoved off a little late. Maybe my watch is running fast, who knows. But, I felt like I was pulling a lot more consistent effort than usual - a nonstop fury of feet, constantly moving, refusing to coast.

We'll see what the numbers look like when I get downtown. EDIT: 14.9 MPH again. Natch. I got there not through spurts of speed, but by maintaining my cadence on the climbs and everywhere else. I didn't ever really hit my top gear, I was focused more on keeping the feet moving than anything, and paid no attention to my computer. I was, however, paying very close attention to my watch (on the handlebars) as I was literally counting down to the bus departure time. Once the bus was in sight, my attention was on its wheels until I got to where the driver couldn't avoid seeing me.

Next, and this is exciting stuff, is BIKE TO WORK WEEK! Sorry for the crappy photo. These flyers are on display in all of the buses. Of particular note is Friday, May 18. If you ride to the bus and put your bike on the bus, you ride the bus free of charge that day. Check out the link for a week work of B2W events. Also, for those of you who are already or are considering becoming bike commuters (even if it's for this B2W Week only), be sure to register for Eric's commuter challenge (registration opening soon)


Talk about posting late... I need to be in bed. GRR! Anyways, here we go.

Lunch: Thai. Chicken Pad Se Eu with plenty of Sriracha hot sauce. This sauce isn't really that hot, but it's really, really tasty and it adds a bit of heat to whatever you put it on. Great for adding flavor and heat to anything that's either tomato-based or already spicy. Sloppy joes, spaghetti, asian food, chili, you name it.

On the way home, I took Indian Creek Trail from JCCC. I do believe that I am actually the geekiest bike commuter in the world. You'd better get crack-a-lackin' if you wanna keep up with me, homeslice. I'm rollin on dub-six wire spokes, sportin the high-speed EV-DO internet connection with my MacBook. In Black. Boo-ya. Game over. Actually, I had to get online to ask my wife a question because she was at work without her cellphone.

Update on the new bike? Well, there's someone with a Giant TCR who would at least like to look at my car. I am waiting for more information (model year, frame size, etc) on that. Then there are about 3 other people who want to look at my car, but they'd be going the cash route, not trading it. Who knows. I know recent Giant TCRs are darn good bikes. I see a few on my monday night rides, and I'd trade my Escort for any of the ones I've seen. I'm trying to be patient, but it's hard.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

So... Tired!

I don't think yesterday's ride is what wiped me out; I've ridden more than that in a day without getting this tired. I think it was the fact that I had to run some laundry before going to bed. My cycling shorts, for example, I don't like to wear without washing afterwards. I should go buy more, but I'm kind of broke with taxes, saving up for moving, and trying to get my new bike. The clothes went into the dryer at about 12:15AM, and I took an hour-long nap while they dried. Then I was up until about 1:30, and woke up at 5:30 to hit the road this morning. I just could not bring myself to get ready. I just sat there in bed for a while, feeling numb and dizzy with a slight headache and swollen eyes.

Finally prying myself from under the covers, I checked the weather. 49 Degrees, chance of rain. I looked outside to find clouds to the south but dry pavement. My wife had been running the A/C all night, so I was frigid. I tossed on my jeans and a hoodie to ride in, even though shorts and a windbreaker would have worked fine.

I left at about 6:20, took a really slow pace, showed up and caught the 6:45 bus. I had to ask the bus driver where he was going. I'm going to have to do this on a daily basis now. Isn't that just delightful?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Well, I did it (half way so far)

Photo: Southwest Boulevard, leaving Kansas City.

No bus today. I mean, the bus was probably running. I probably could have taken it, but I did not. After talking to Eric from KCBike.Info and Jeff from Greased Melon, I decided to go for it. Props to them, as I probably wouldn't have had the courage to blindly hop on the road and go here without doing a reality check with fellow cyclists first. I took Broadway to Southwest Boulevard, which turns into Merriam lane, which lands me awfully close to the Trek store that hosts my usual Monday night group ride.

I'm here. I made it; by the time I get home, I'll have ridden all the way home from work without any help other than my lunch and my trusty steel steed.

Busy morning

Not that busy, but too busy to post until lunch time.

This morning seemed pretty chilly, but I dealt with it. Now it's closing in on 60 degrees. It should be even warmer when I leave.

Johnson County Transit went and discombobulated all of their downtown bus routes starting today. They changed timepoints, bus stop locations, and even split a few routes up. For instance, my route out of Olathe now has two different routes, both named "B" that go to different parts of town. Certain buses will only go to the downtown loop after leaving Olathe. Other buses will only go down to Union Station and Crown center (a few miles south of the downtown loop). If someone gets on the wrong bus, they'll be in for a surprise and a long walk.

Personally, If I had to get off at Union Station, I'd just hop on my bike and ride the few miles to work without much complaint. It grates on me that they did the split without giving the new routes their own names. The "B" route is now really ambiguous.

Anyhow, I'm finishing up lunch. I'm going to be packing on some miles later tonight, so my next post might be pretty late.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

More repairs?!

I noticed a really annoying clunk coming from my bike on my way home from church. I figured I probably messed something up when I did the R&R on my bottom bracket or front hub cones.

As it turns out, my headset wasn't tightened as much as it should be, causing just a little bit of play and an accompanying pop in the top race when enough sideways pressure was exerted on it such as leaning into a turn. Darn threaded headsets. It was an easy adjustment. I also trued up my slightly-out-of-adjustment rear wheel so that I could close some of the brake clearance. It's had a 6-spoke section where runout was about 3/8" and I finally went in and fixed it. That was really easy, but I'd been putting it off for more than a month. Since this weekend has been a non-stop tune-up already, I went for it. I'm really hoping that these are the last things I'll have to do to this bike for a while.

I rode back out to Daily Dose tonight to see some people from church play live music. One of the performers is my own dad :) The 7-mile ride out here was without odd noises. I can only hope it stays that way.

What a wonderful evening for a ride! It's about 65 degrees right now. It looks like I'll log about 20 miles today. Tomorrow's forecast is sunny and about 70 degrees. I predict a heck of a turnout at the recovery ride tomorrow! I'll try to get some photos. I'm half-tempted to take the mountain bike out there for giggles, platforms and all. If I can get my wife's Explorer, I might run home and swap bikes. I'm definitely not commuting on the Sorrento tomorrow unless my Outlook decides to throw more mechanical issues at me tonight.

Update, not worthy of a new post:
After tonight, I'm at 148 miles. Halfway to April 30th and pretty much halfway to my goal of 300 miles this month. I'm right on course!

Commuting... to church!

Back in the fall, I used to ride to church quite often. It's a little further than my usual commuting destination (3.5 miles). I didn't ride to church much over the winter months, so this is my first crack at it in a while.

It's almost the same route that I take to the bus every day. I climb the big hill (pictured from a distance of about 1/4 mile) and then over the viaduct on 127th, except I never go north, I keep going east on 127th. For those of you in KC, my church is still a new community, and we're meeting at Olathe East High School. It was nice riding it in the bright morning sun at 8:15 instead of having the sun blinding me (and motorists) as it peeks over the horizon at 6:15 in the morning. The temperature was a bit lower than 40 degrees. A t-shirt, long pants and a hoodie sufficed.

I locked my bike to a bench in front of the school once I arrived. I carried a rugby shirt and my laptop in my backpack, and shoes on my rear rack. I could get away with wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans and cycling shoes in church; We're pretty laid back, but I personally wouldn't do it. A rugby shirt and dockers is about as informal as I get at church.

The past 2 years, my church's praise team has played at Rock The Light, a yearly Christian music festival in Kansas City. Today, I'm recording them live for this year's demo CD as they attempt to get into the lineup again. MacBook + Audacity = Awesome.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Refurb complete!

Not that I had any doubt of my mechanical prowress. I've rebuilt engines, replaced clutches and swapped transmissions. I have also worked on delicate things like wind-up clocks and watches. One of my biggest website projects is chock-full of instructional walk-throughs for car maintenance, performance tips, and other stuff like that.

A bicycle is just another machine to me. It's a different kind of machine than I'm used to tinkering with, but a machine all the same. I have an interesting thing about machines of almost any type. I always appreciate them more once I've fixed something that's broken, or have taken it apart for no other reason than to see how it ticks. There's not much to take apart on a bicycle. You can see pretty much everything without so much as taking an allen wrench to it.

With the second failure of my bottom bracket, I decided it was time to break out the tools and figure out what was up. Getting the crank bolts off was simple enough, but having never really done this before, I quickly found out that I needed a device that screws into the cranks and presses the spindle out. I have tons of similar devices for yanking pullies and whatnot off of engines, but nothing for this task. A quick check on Sheldon Brown's site showed that I needed a crank puller. Fair enough. Off to the bike shop, but without the bike this time. I got my crank puller.

While I was out, I went ahead and splurged for some bearing grease. Given the fact that water had gunked up my bottom bracket twice now (and that I have no idea what's the proper grease to use) I picked up some trailer axle grease made for boat trailers. It's supposed to be great for applications where water can gunk up bearing surfaces.

I found that the bearing cage nearest the chainrings was totally destroyed. My guess is that the water and sludge got in there and diminished the lubricating properties of whatever grease was left in there. The carnage happened very soon after I'd hammered it downhill at about 35 MPH right before I got home.

Off to the bike shop again for some new bearings!

I polished up the bearing races on the spindle and cups before packing the bearings with the new swanky axle grease. I adjusted the bottom bracket until it felt right and tightened the lockring. Next, I bolted the cranks back on, and she spun like new!

While I had the bike inverted and before cleaning my greasy hands, I also re-packed my front hub with the same axle grease I threw into the bottom bracket. It has been a little rough feeling for the past few weeks, but after checking out the bearing races, there wasn't anything wrong that a little cleaning and some fresh grease couldn't fix.

In closing, I recommend that anyone who relies on their bike for basic transportation get familiarized with common problems, and invest some time and money into learning to fix them. After all, flat tires and the occasional loose bolt aren't the only problems that plague commuters and utility cyclists.

A bike might seem a little bit complicated for some people to just dive right in, but believe me that it's really simple and that many common problems can be fixed in your own home. You might also find out that buying the parts and tools to fix one problem costs the same or even less than having the shop do it. Then, you not only have the tools to fix the same problem in the future, but the knowledge and the confidence that you've done it before.

Here are some handy links to excellent resources for fixing your bike up properly:

Sheldon Brown's articles about bicycle repair
Park Tool Repair Documents

Friday, April 13, 2007

What an evening

Still raining pretty hard on my way home, I was greeted with another surprise that was not of the welcome variety. I was almost home, when I heard a kind of grinding noise for about two pedal rotations and then BAM, my cranks became almost impossible to turn. I could turn them backwards, but they had a lot of resistant turning forward.

Disgruntled, I hopped off the bike and walked it through my parking lot and up to my apartment. I didn't even have the front door closed by the time my 'bar bag and lights were removed, and the bike got inverted.

Bottom bracket number two has left this world and passed on to a better place. This is seriously grating on me. This one didn't even last me a month. I don't have a crank puller, so I'll have to either take it to the shop, or go buy a crank puller. I should probably just buy the crank puller. Freaking unreal.

So, giving up on the Outlook for a while, I braved the rain-slicked highways in my Escort to take it to the guy who wanted to look at it. She held up great on the highway, even with the clutch. The guy wants to talk to his dad about my car first, as his dad will probably end up with my car. I need to go back up there tomorrow to see where he sits on this whole deal. As with anything on Craigslist, there are no promises worth relying on until you have cash or goods in your hand. The car's still for sale.

I had to go to the store just now, and I was astonished by what I saw. Flurries and rain. Together. What the deuce is going on? It's the middle of flippin' April! By the time I got out of the store, the rain was gone, leaving only really gooey, sticky flurries that turn to a thin layer of slush as they land on soaked, near-freezing surfaces. Children were going mad, trying to catch flurries on their tongues, and running around like it's winter all over again.

No road bike. Hybrid is down for the count. Looks like I break out the trusty mountain bike for a while.

A quick, informal poll: Where do you park it?

Where do you leave your bike while you're at work?

In your office/cubicle?
In a storage closet or indoor stairwell?
In the locker room?
Covered bicycle-specific parking (cage, bike rack, etc)?
Outdoor bicycle-specific parking?
Chained to whatever stationary object you can find?

Let me know. I have been talking to management and HR about the feasibility of parking indoors once I get my new bike.

Starting to sprinkle!

It's beginning to sprinkle this morning! I hope the rain clears up before my return trip.

After spending two days off my bike and getting plenty of sleep last night, I had no excuses. I pushed myself pretty hard (14.6 MPH Average) but not as hard as I did during last week's hammerfest. It felt pretty good to hammer up the hills. I didn't full-on mash it, standing out of the seat or anything, but I kept it in a higher gear than normal and just let my legs and lungs burst into flames, sparing neither cadence nor gearing to give them any reprieve. On the flats, I opened it up even further, making gratuitous use of my top two gearing combinations. I didn't hammer it on the flats as much as I did last week. I kept a quick pace going, though.

The weather forecast for this weekend looks pretty gloomy. I'm not sure where I'm going to get all my miles this month. My wife is off work today (and every Friday) and we have a lot of running around to do. I certainly won't be doing a lot of riding tonight, even if the weather's good. On the bright side, tonight might be the night I get my bike.

The blood is in the water, can you tell? I don't think I've been obsessed with anything this bad since *cough* someone pointed out a potentially unhealthy obsession with a certain coffee shop that shall remain anonymous. Heeheehee.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A little update

I had today off, but I didn't get to enjoy the nice weather. I was too busy running around trying to raise funds by selling stuff that I own.

Why don't I have my road bike yet? Well, a few reasons.

1) Nick, the guy who's thinking of trading me a bike for a car, has a pretty funky schedule.
2) I'm kind of holding out to see if my Escort will sell so I can get a Trek 1200 instead of the 1000.

Nick wasn't there when I took my car up to the bike shop Wednesday night. I went in there today (details below) and Nick had one foot out the door. I may go again tomorrow, hopefully I can catch him at a good time.

After talking to another bike shop (same company, different branch) I was convinced to look at a closeout Trek 1200 as well. I test rode that bike today and it's really nice. I hadn't actually ridden the Trek 1000 yet, so I went out to the other store today and also took it for a spin.

My initial reaction is that I really, really like road bikes. My next reaction is that I don't particularly care for the Trek 1000's Sora brifters. The thumb button thing basically requires you to retreat to the hoods when you're shifting. Minor downshifts on the RD can be performed in the drops, as can upshifting the FD. If you need to pick up the speed a bit, you have to move to the hoods to bump up a gear or two. With the Tiagra brifters on the 1200, I can pretty easily upshift or downshift from within the drops or over the hoods. On either bike, I think I might want to add some Cane Creek Crosstops. We'll see if I have any room for things like my handlebar bag, light, and cyclo-computer first.

My final reaction is that even though the 1200 is a better bike, it only came in one color scheme last year. While it's a nice looking bike, it's hard to beat the eye-grabbing Orange color. That's a really sharp looking bike.

About my other problem... last night, I went ahead and posted my Escort for sale for $750. That's about how much I'd need to pick up the Trek 1200, because it's on closeout pricing. I'm still kind of confused, but I think I might go for the 1000. It's a perfectly decent bike. Like any new bike, it'll take some getting used to, but I'm certain that it'll serve me very well.

Tomorrow looks like lots of rain again. It figures, since I spent a lot of time cleaning the drivetrain after Wednesday's grimy, wet commute.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I hate the rain.

Photo: 2006 Trek 1000 in the "Flare" (I believe) color scheme. Credit

It was 45 degrees and raining at a pretty good rate for my whole commute. I'm on the bus and my legs (in work pants) are completely soaked. My shoes are buckets of cold water that happen to have my feet within them, and I'm just not loving life right now. I know. Fenders, Shoe Covers, Rain Pants.

Other than whining about the weather, not much to report this morning about my ride in.

On my quest for a road bike, however, an exciting possibility has popped up. Hoping to find a good used road, touring, or 'cross bike, I visited three bike shops yesterday. Acme Bicycle Co. downtown didn't have anything in my size that I liked. With 54cm being my maximum size for a road bike (which would offer zero clearance), it's hard to find a used bike my size.

The second store I went to had a bright orange 2006 Trek 1000 as pictured above. Not only do I love the color, but it's 52cm, which I know is really what I should be riding on a road bike after getting sized up at the Trek Store on Monday.

It's exactly what I had in mind. I wasn't actually expecting to be able to get a Cross or Touring bike, but figured if someone had such a beast laying around that they no longer wanted, they might be willing to trade. Some interesting facts about this bike:

  • It was purchased at this very same store around Christmas and returned not long ago. The buyer ended up not being into cycling.
  • It is last year's model, which is completely indistinguishable from the 2007 since it's the same frame and components -- and offered in a color that's valid for 2007.
  • It has less than 50 miles on it. I had a hard time telling it had been ridden until I saw a little grime in the crevices of the front fork.
  • If I get it, the bike shop manager is willing to give me the store's "new bike" warranty, free labor and tune-ups for life. I can use the warranty at any branch of the shop.
Now for the kicker. He was asking about the same price for this bike as I expect to get out of my car. When I told him that, he seemed interested in my car... interested in trading it for this bike! The manager had no way of knowing that I'd been trying to trade it, and I wouldn't have even thought to ask if a bike shop would take a car for trade-in!

Anyhow, if I don't get any offers on my car today, I'll throw a battery in it and take it out to Nick at Bike America in Overland Park. If he's happy with it, then I have my new bike!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Gah! Woke up late!

30.6 miles yesterday should not have kicked my butt the way it did. Oh wait, maybe it was staying up until almost 1:30AM waiting for my clothes to get finished in the dryer.

I woke up a little after 7:00, far too late to catch the bus - even by car. I was reminded this morning why I absolutely hate traffic. It's the first time I've had to drive all the way to work since my face has healed.

I continue to get barraged with ridiculous, insulting offers of trades for my car. I think part of this is because a great many craigslist car hunters think that anything over $100 is a really, really nice bicycle whereas those of us who have seen the light know that $350-$400 is pretty much the "ground floor" for brand new adult bicycles. Old, good bikes can be found for $100 and up, but I'm pretty sure if I did find the bike I was looking for, even used, it would probably be going for $500 or more.

I went ahead and put a cash price on my car's posting. I'd actually accept less than what I'm asking, but I want people to see I'm serious on this, and I'm not looking to trade my car for a bike-shaped toy or a beater bike I could buy from Salvation Army for $35.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I had to ride to the main HR office over my lunch break to pick up my bus pass. My driver carded me this morning, reminding me to get the new month's card. I went all last week on an expired pass, oh well. It's all paid for anyways, so no big deal.

I'm at Scooter's next to the Trek store, imbibing a nice cup of hot black coffee. Whee! In a bit, I'll head over and join the riders for the monday night recovery ride. It'll probably be close to 40 degrees on my way home, and without gloves, it'll be a pretty chilly ride. I think I'm sitting at about 6 miles for the day. Assuming tonight's ride takes us about 10 miles, I should have close to 30 miles by the time I get home.

I also got an adjusted time schedule this week since I've been putting in a lot of overtime (uncompensated, thanks to salary pay), so I get this Thursday off. The weather should be pretty nice by then. I might take the evening to run around on my bike and pack on a bunch of miles.

I'm still thinking of borrowing on of the bikes from the Trek store to use on the recovery ride. We'll see how that goes.


Well, as to be expected, I've certainly gotten quite a few responses on Craigslist (as well as via email and replies to my previous post) about my desire to trade a car for a bicycle. I need to see for sure what kinds of bikes a few people have to offer, but of the ones I've seen, I'm not terribly tempted to trade yet. A recumbent exercise bike, a late 80's/Early 90's Centurion Ironman (not a bad bike, I'd imagine) and a cheap mountain bike have been offered so far.

At this rate I might just hawk the car for cash. I also have a van I'm trying to get rid of for my parents. Who knows? Maybe that will get me close to saving up for a decent bike.

Also, it looks like moving plans have been altered significantly. My wife and I are downright sick of where we're living. It used to be a somewhat exclusive, affluent community. Now, it's full of drunken college kids who party until 5am and litter the area with beer cans on a weekly basis, entire echelons of non-english-speaking labor workers (who pack in between nine and twelve people per apartment, stay for 6 months, then leave) and jerks that don't clean up after their dogs' messes.

I'm talking about a pit bull terrier, not a chihuaha. And yes, it's a purebred pit that's leaving the piles. I honestly don't mind pit bulls, and this one is a nice dog. The owners leave something to be desired, though. A single dog turd in the commons area is forgivable. Fifteen cute piles of poo? Not so much. Double that, and smells like a manure factory after every rain? Completely unacceptable. Imagine what the summer heat will do when there's even more! Oh wait, most of those piles will turn into clusters of mushrooms as they rot.

Now, after all this, they want to raise our rent. For what, I'm not entirely certain. As-is, the bang for the buck where we're at is fading fast. There's nothing to warrant paying more in rent. We've been here for quite a few years, trying to save up for a house. Something always gets in the way. This year, it's the huge chunk of change we have to pay in taxes.

There are a few options we have. Our goal is to get into someplace that feels like home, where we can be happy. Preferably, our own house.

The move we were planning on making would have upped our rent, but gotten both my wife and I closer to work. It would also immediately resolve the degrading situation about where we live. It would cost a little more (still affordable) and would mean packing everything up twice. Once when we move there, and eventually when we buy a house. We'd be comfortable and happy there, but it would be inefficient for saving up for a house.

If we stay where we're at, we'll be paying more rent (not as much as if we move) while remaining miserable. It's the easiest option, though. Hopefully we could cut our budget to save some cash and move next year.

The third option, thanks to a generous offer from my parents, would be to move in with them. They have a three bedroom house with a finished basement (which basically adds a closed-off bedroom and recreation room combo). If we move down there, we'd basically half our rent, pay less for utilities and all that, and be able to save money really, really fast. Also, most of the stuff we pack could remain in storage. We won't need much furniture or any of our kitchen ware. The cons are that it's further away from work for both of us (making for a three-season, 17-20 mile round-trip bike commute that still uses the bus - the roads do not get cleared well out there in the winter) and going from a 2-bedroom 940 square foot apartment to the equivalent of a 400 square foot loft.

Right now, it looks like we might be moving in with the parents. My wife has lived with them before. Back when we first met, she was living with a complete slob of a roommate and my parents offered her the finished basement for a few months. That was about 10 years ago, believe it or not. Looks like we're going to be spending some more time down there.

With a 20 mile RT, it looks like I'm going to actually need that skinny-tire machine... I'm half-tempted to buy a $20 ten-speed and refurb it myself.

Still around freezing this morning and I couldn't find my gloves. I was mildly chilly and took it easy. I'm almost certain I'll be at the monday recovery ride tonight... Maybe I should see if I can take one of the Trek Store's 'cross bikes on the ride as a test-drive? :)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I think it's time for a road bike...

I'm so convinced, that I'm pretty much willing to straight-up trade one of my cars for a good road bike, or sell the car to buy a road bike.

Now, my dream bike at this point in my life would be a nice, gently used Redline Conquest but in reality I'll probably have to settle for something more along the lines of a used Trek Pilot 1.2 or maybe a 1500.

I'm sick of surfing craigslist all day long, finding nothing but bikes that people expect to get $800-$1000 out of. I don't care if it was a $1200 bike and you rode it for one season - you won't get me to cough up a grand for your bike.

Not only that, but there are other circumstances in my life right now. We have two cars and an SUV. One of my cars barely sees any use. It still runs, but it needs a little bit of love. I'd get a lot more use out of a solid road bike than I'll ever get out of that car. I'm kind of hoping that someone in KC is getting sick of looking at the bike that they bought in '05 which sat in their garage all summer last year, but needs a car for a teenager or something.

If I decide to sell, I may only get $500-600 out of my car -- Not exactly the kind of money I'd need for a brand new bike. I guess I start watching the bike shops and pawn shops a bit closer for used bikes.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fun but cold evening

I had to swing by the rental office before they closed at 6:00 today, so I ended up taking the bus to Olathe, not JCCC. Once I got done there, I rode out to JCCC via College Blvd. College during rush hour is NOT fun. I grabbed some mexican food and put it in an old pizza delivery bag that I brought along. I bungeed it to my backpack and went the rest of the way to JCCC.

After that, it was off to Daily Dose for my bible study. Temps dropped a lot once the sun went down. Next, I rode to Target for some stuff. They didn't have what I needed. I swung by the pharmacy, then home. Total, 22.6 miles for the day, and I thought it'd be 15 or so.

Nothing really exciting happened on the bike today. Tomorrow is Good Friday, so no commute. I decided that I am driving to the mall tomorrow. I've put on enough miles this week (84 since Monday, well over 100 if you go back 7 days from today). I'm very much on course to get 300 miles in this month. Assuming I take every Sunday off, I only need to average about 10 miles per day at this rate to round out the month. If I keep going the rate I'm going I could be closer to 400 miles! I won't get too carried away though. 400 miles sounds like a good May goal.

Also, one of the reasons I got back into cycling, even though I don't make too much of a big deal about it, is fitness. I'm knocking at the door of 210 pounds as of today. Although I've only lost about 20 pounds cycling, I'm losing inches in my waist, legs and belly faster than I'm losing weight. I'd like to get to 170 or so with time, but I'm not focusing on weight loss a whole lot. I've never felt like my weight is causing me a lot of problems. With time, cycling and a more active lifestyle will melt the pounds away. I'm just glad I got to it before my weight problem slapped me in the face with actual complications.


Photo: Two things. My new Trek Incite 6i Cyclocomputer gadget thingy and a 14.9 MPH average on this morning's hammerfest of doom!

Okay, 14.9 MPH over three miles might not seem that fast to you guys, but I usually average about 12, maybe 12.5 on a day I'm feeling a bit feisty. Case and point, yesterday's average was 12.2 and I thought I was doing alright. There are two challenging hills in my commute. For those familiar with the Olathe, KS area, those hills are southbound Ridgeview rd right before Pineview up to Washington Elementary School, and the 127th street viaduct. I've never bothered to check the elevation or do the slope grade math.

I'm not quite sure why I felt like hammering it today. I can tell you that I pushed myself to the dizzy pre-bonk feeling going up both of those hills, and again on the last leg of my trip (seeing if going 17 or 18 MPH up the mild slope of Strang Line rd would bump my average speed to 15.0 - I failed)

Anyhow, I'm relaxing on the bus now. It's about 30 degrees outside but I basically wore the same amount of warmth I had on yesterday except the thermal base layer on my legs was nixed. Just a pair of old Dickies work pants (well, and my padded bike shorts liner underneath) covered my legs.

I do believe this evening's schedule involves the bible study at Daily Dose. By all accounts, I should be in for some good coffee, good people, a nice ride home, and 12-15 miles total for the day. Yesterday's total was 14.8 all things said and done.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Photo: My trusty steed of steel, hiding among empty aluminum kegs that once held wonderful, tasty beer.

There was no good place to lock up, so I parked way around back, where no one would see my bike. I locked it up to the thick chain that they use to keep hooligans from stealing the kegs.

I am kicking back (with a Killians Irish Red) at Buffalo Wild Wings. I took Indian Creek Trail down here from JCCC and I'm sitting at about 11 miles total for the day, not sure how many I'll have by the time I get home, perhaps 14-15 or so would be my best guess. I've been packing the miles pretty hard (for me) over the last 7 days and it's hitting me with mixed results. I feel simultaneously stronger than ever but really, really in need of some rest.

I have Friday off, as the financial institutions grind to a halt for the Easter weekend (technically Good Friday, or in my case, EXCELLENT Friday! w00t!) so I guess I'll get some rest then. Friday also happens to be the monthly meeting with some of my pals at Oak Park Mall. I may attempt to make the trek out there via bike if my wife either doesn't mind be getting home really late, or coming to pick me up when we're done. Okay, so there's a good possibility of no rest on Friday.


I fired up the weather Widget this morning. 30 degrees, not 33. I shuddered just a bit. The next few days don't look like they did in last night's forecast either. The temps -- highs and lows -- are lower by as much as five degrees. You'd figure as one who rode through six inches of snow, in temps as low as Minus-Three Fahrenheit, and across ice rinks parking lots, that this would be okay. Honestly, I like playing in the snow. The temperatures of winter? Not so much.

Thermal Base Layer? Check
Long Pants? Check
Hoodie? Check.
Balaclava...*ahem* BALACLAVA? No balaclava - substituting old bala-esque ski-mask instead.
Willpower? Check.

Let's roll!

After stepping outside into the sub-freezing, windy world that is Olathe, KS, I lost hold of Willpower for a moment. Egad, it's brisk outside! Remembering from just a few short months ago that it all gets warmer once you're moving, I snapped back into action. It wasn't a bad ride, really. My Hoodie/T-Shirt/Base Layer combo did very little to stop the chilly wind, but I didn't get all that cold, and I certainly didn't sweat on my way to the bus stop. I miss my balaclava, but the knitted ski mask will get me through this little arctic spurt we're facing.

Make sure to check out some of the links and blogs on the right. I'm constantly adding and shuffling some stuff around. I recently added some new blogs.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

This is getting ridiculous.

I think I officially loathe spring. It was 64 and rainy when I left for work this morning. Now it's dry, but it's 50 freaking degrees out, and I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I was at Daily Dose hanging out with my Dad over some coffee, and returning to him the church laptop. Even though it was only 3 miles or so from JCCC to Daily Dose, it was too darn cold to be riding in shorts. Dad loaded my bike up into the car and brought me home, sparing me (or robbing me?) 6 miles. I promptly hopped into some jeans and a hoodie when I got home. It's supposed to be freezing overnight. That's where this is going. Look at that weather forecast! I guess I'd better make friends with the hoodies and jeans again! GRR! At least I have a padded liner to wear under my jeans now.

Bonus Photo? Can it be?! Noah hard at work... on the G3?! Yes, I broke out the trusty G3 PowerBook to post this stuff. Even though it's 9 years old, it's still a worthy machine.

I'll admit it. I'm kind of a Mac fan. But I'm also kind of a Sun Microsystems Fan, OpenBSD fan, among other things.

Grimy Commute, Part Deux

I didn't really pay any attention to the forecast last night. It was clear and warm. I'd heard it was supposed to rain overnight, but it didn't look to be the case.

At about 5:20 this morning, my weather radio alarm went off. Lo and behold, dangerous thunderstorms in the area. Radar looked like it would clear up, so I went back to bed for a while, planning on catching the last bus out of Olathe at 7:15.

It was still raining while I was on my way to the bus but the severe stuff had passed for the time being. The rain last week cleared most of the road grime off, but I still have some grit on me this morning. There's definitely going to be some drivetrain maintenance tonight.

Oh yes, note to self: bring a few extra pairs of socks and underpants to work tomorrow. Eight hours in squishy clothes isn't my idea of fun.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What an evening!

I hit a bump at about 35 MPH on Nieman en route to the Trek Store. eTrex flew off, I hit the brakes and got off the road to rescue it, just in time to see it get run over by 2 different cars. Needless to say, el eTrex es no mas.

I went to CVS for a light lunch today, and grabbed a pre-ride half sandwich before going to JCCC.

From JCCC to the Trek Store was a little over 9 miles, We rode a notch under 11 miles on the group ride, and my journey homeward was 13 miles on the nose once you count a detour to the grocery store.
All of today's riding totalled 39 miles.

Since I cratered the eTrex I bought a cheapo $20 Trek bike computer for the time being. The recovery ride was fun, I'd say close to 35 people showed up. My ride home was uneventful but slow (11.5 MPH average)

Oh yes... some other stuff!

This past weekend, my wife and I decided to hit the road. I like cycling, but I also like driving on the highway. I hate driving in town though.

We took a 450-ish mile road trip on Saturday, really for nothing other than to go to White Castle. The closest one to KC is near St. Louis! You could say ax0n & Fellisa go to White Castle. Haha!

I snapped the next photograph on the way back from White Castle. It's the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant and I had to go 4x optical, 4x digital zoom to get that photo (16x zoom) so it's quite a ways off in the distance from I-70. Nuclear power plants have always fascinated me. There are a lot of naysayers, but I actually prefer Nuke plants to Coal fired ones. Keep in mind that while I care for my planet, I'm not to be confused with an environmentalist.

Oh my gosh! A cyclist! Just as I was packing up my stuff at Starbucks after making that last post, a guy came and locked up to a tree. Judging from the backpack and street clothes, I'm going to guess it's a fellow bicycle commuter. He was riding a Trek mountain bike, but I didn't catch the model. You don't see many newish bikes around here, or at least newish bikes of this quality. I hope his bike is still intact when he gets back, but he was likely, as I, just stopping for breakfast. He didn't come into Starbucks, but there's a whole food court area in Town Pavilion.

Fun day ahead!

I'm sitting here getting my Mocha. This morning was b-e-a-utiful! Low 50's provided a great cooling effect. I didn't sweat, I didn't freeze. I got to the bus stop pretty early. A few minutes earlier and I could have gotten on the 6:00 bus!

This afternoon, I am going to JCCC for a sec, then riding to the Trek Store, going on the group ride, then riding home. Looks to be around 30 miles or so.

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