Tuesday, July 31, 2007

... or not

So, I got the Diamondback Outlook all geared up.

Lights: check.
Hooks for hanging the panniers over the seat-post rack: check.
Heels don't hit panniers: FAIL!

Okay, re-adjust panniers.

Heels don't hit panniers: check.
Shifts fine: check.

Let's roll!

I took it for a 5-mile run to a grocery store and back. On my way home: Ping-ping-ping-ping-ping!

What the!? No freaking way!

Yep, another broken spoke.

Now, call me over-prepared, but I actually carry a spare spoke on my hybrid bike. I limp it home and check it out. Since I have a spare spoke, it has to have TWO broken spokes just to be a pain in my butt.

So yeah. I guess it's another MTB-to-bus day tomorrow.


Change of plans - I swapped my hybrid's rear tire onto my mountain bike's rear wheel. I'm going to lose some of the better gearing I have with the cassette on the hybrid's wheel, but I don't have the tools to swap cassettes.

Anyone know any good wheel builders in Kansas City?

Random Tunage:
Orbital - Lush 3-3 (Underworld Mix)
Eminem - Without Me

July Recap!

July was an awesome month, in part for the following reasons:

  • My wife got a bike and started riding with me
  • I really put myself to the test on bike commuting
  • I met three local bike bloggers (Warren, kG a.k.a. c'Dude and Jason) in person, all of which are cool people who I hope to meet again
  • I went on two really awesome and fun night-time rides
  • Phil got me a little bit of press in the Star.
  • I know I'm forgetting at least one other cool thing :)
How I did this month:
I did great, compared to my goals and expectations. The data speaks for itself. Here's a refresher of my goals for July and how I stacked up against them:

Some Stats:

Goals for August:
I want to make sure I'm not over-training. Remember, I'm doing this for fun, not to hurt myself.

In order to achieve this goal, I'm going to start trying to remember to take my resting heart rate in the morning. This morning, it was 46 bpm. I'll start logging (and perhaps charting) it in my spreadsheets.

I already analyze my leg stiffness/soreness before riding and my fatigue after riding. A morning RHR baseline should help. Then, I need to act on the feedback I'm getting. If I start to notice a trend between mileage or exertion and my heart rate, stiffness and fatigue, I'll dial it back a notch, or maybe take a recovery day by using the bus for part or all of my commute. Likewise, if I see a plateau, maybe I'll crank up my routine a bit.

My goals for August need to be something I can actually measure and be held accountable for, so here they are:

  1. Take my RHR at least 3 mornings per week
  2. Recover if I notice an upward trend in my RHR or other over-training signs
  3. Carefully push harder if I feel like I'm at a training plateau.
That's it. This has been a fun month. I don't need goals to keep me on my bike and keep me commuting to work. I don't expect I'll catch up with this month's miles any time soon, either, so I don't plan on pushing myself on miles this month. I'll keep pedaling, and I'll start keeping an eye on my body's signs of training fitness. Also, I'm not "training" for anything at all, nor am I "working out." I'm not looking to improve my speed or my strength. I'm not going to judge myself on how much weight I gain or lose.

I simply say training in the sense of my body's ability to keep up with the level of work I make it do. Over-trained is a condition that you can get yourself into without trying to "train". This is the first month I've had to really worry about overdoing it, and as Jon pointed out in my comments a week or so ago, there may be times where the best thing for me is to take it easy, even if it means ditching the bike for a day.

Random Tunage:
Photek - Mine to give
Madonna - The power of goodbye

The ride... OF DOOM!

For the past few days, I've been noticing a little noise from my rear wheel. It's kind of a squeaking noise. I tried lubing the axle this morning to no avail whatsoever.

Over lunch, I had to pick up my bus pass, go to the bank, and get some food. The noise persisted, and occasionally I heard a faint tick noise. I figured that I'd take the bike apart when I got home and start chasing it down.

On my way home, the tick turned into a Clink per wheel rotation and I knew exactly what was happening. I broke a spoke. In the name of not tearing the crap out of my panniers or drivetrain, I stopped to tie the broken spoke off and ghetto-true my wheel to keep it from rubbing on the brake. As I was doing this, Karen pulled up and offered help. I ended up just unscrewing the spoke and leaving the spoke nipple in the rim.

That was about the only thing worth mentioning from my ride home. I took the wheel to my LBS and I'm prepping the Outlook for commuter duty tomorrow. Backup bikes are freaking awesome.

Random Tunage:
Blank & Jones - Desire (Accuface Remix)
Butthole Surfers - Pepper

Interesting things

Last night, I added a little tiny bit of flair to my helmet-mounted mirror. The idea was shamelessly borrowed from the KC Bike Commuters mailing list/group, who in turn may have borrowed it from elsewhere. I was tired of presenting the world with a little gray rectangle in front of my face whenever I wear my helmet. I figured I needed to put something clever on there in a hurry.

The ride in was solo this morning. Supposedly Karen was riding. Chris is feeling crappy this week and is doing the wise thing: not making it worse by riding the bike.

This was my first commute on the road bike since last Thursday and I'm really thankful to be back on it. It's so much smoother and efficient than my mountain bike.

I saw some interesting things on the way in:

  • A southbound bike commuter I haven't seen before, near 18th street expressway at SW Blvd.
  • A cyclist about a mile ahead of me. I noticed him/her after I went under I-35 and never caught up nor lost ground. I don't think it's anyone I know.
  • A car passed me with a MO license plate that ended in "LOL"
  • A pair of Huskies peeking their heads out under a barely-open garage door near Mildred's Coffeehouse at 18th and Wyandotte or so. One was laying on its side and yawned at me as I rode by while the other one just looked at me like it wanted me to stop and play.
I saw Lorin again as I approached 13th and Baltimore. We grabbed some coffee and talked about the TdF (ugh) and my goals for August. I'm still working on those.

Random Tunage:
Bakke & Ljungqvist - Fanatic
Crash Test Dummies - Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

Monday, July 30, 2007

I made up my miles

I did the Bus-to-Trail thing again today racking up about 6 miles on the way home, and about a mile on the bike for lunch. Then, I rode to the Monday night trek store ride and back and of course participated in the ride, netting me about 31 miles for the day. About the same distance I'd get on a normal full-commute day.

Nothing really eventful to mention today, surprisingly enough. No crazy stories. No bums stealing stuff off my bike or anything like that. I'll save my breath for tomorrow evening's July recap.

Random Tunage:
Mike Foyle - Shipwrecked
Erlend Oye - The black keys work

"You'd never expect to see a laptop in there..."

The above is the quote I got as the bus was on final approach. The 50-year-old (I'm guessing) lady next to me thought it odd that someone would ride a bicycle to the bus but still have the means for what appeared to be a brand new laptop.

I explained to her that I ride downtown all the way most days, which I guess she interpreted to mean "I don't have a driver's license" because she started talking about some guy she heard on the radio that got a DUI and has been riding everywhere for a year and a half and has been losing the pounds like they're going out of style.

Then I had to explain to her that I have a car that I love, and that my license is intact, but I can't justify $10 per day in fuel and parking expenses, and that riding my bike is plain and simple a fun and healthy way to travel.

I guess it's this secret, un-written rule: In order to have a MacBook on the bus, you must drive the 2 miles to the bus stop in your Lexus RX450 or Ferrari 360 Modena. I know, who would have guessed? Oh wait, CBB nailed it last week.

It was quite funny, however, to have this lady next to me, full of pity for my horrible situation. Forced to ride a bicycle to the bus just to make a living downtown. Probably as a grease jockey for one of those fast food joints. Poor, poor kid can't catch a break.

All the while, I'm full of pity for her horrible situation. Brainwashed by society -- worsened by living in the most affluent part of our region, Johnson County. Poor, poor lady may never understand the joys of bicycling for transportation.

Random Tunage:
Inkfish - Eye Am
Nine Inch Nails - Head Like A Hole

More evil rain

Once again, I broke out my MTB to get to the express bus (2 miles). It's been raining on and off since yesterday evening, and I couldn't tell by the radar whether or not I'd be able to beat the storms downtown. Of course, now it looks like I could have, as I'm on the express bus about 10 minutes away from downtown, and I'd also be about 10 minutes from downtown on my bike had I left at my usual time. Still no rain.

It's a comin' to get us, though.

On wonderful spider news, our youngest cat found yet another brown recluse in our apartment. This one makes four so far. What's scary is the fact that it was a very, very young one. Not a baby, but definitely not mature. That probably means we're dealing with a full-on infestation of poisonous spiders. I really should have brought that wolf spider home with me Saturday night.

As usual, especially on Mondays that I don't get a full round-trip in, I am going to try to make it to the Monday night ride at the Trek Store. I've already exceeded all my cycling expectations this month, but the Monday night ride is one of the few times I can go out and get any actual recreational riding time and distance in one solid block.

Random Tunage:
Sarah Brightman - Snow on the Sahara (Cover of the same song by Anggun)
D:Fuse & Hiratzka - In Suspense

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The weekend wrap-up

Friday night I surpassed 600 miles by making a little grocery store run on my MTB in the rain.

Yesterday, my sister in law and niece came over to spend the night. My niece brought her tricycle and I got the Sorrento adjusted for my sister in law. Since the rack on the Explorer can only carry two bikes, I put my wife's Townie and the Sorrento on it, then hit the road on my Outlook to meet them at the trailhead about 3 miles away.

I haven't ridden the Outlook since May. The tires were still holding air and everything seemed to be in good adjustment except for some slight ticking from the bottom bracket. The cones on the rear hub could stand a tiny bit of tightening, too.

It was fun riding the Outlook again. It's definitely got a completely different feel than any other bike I've got. As a bonus, I got to play with a wolf spider that my niece almost stepped on. He was quite a big fella.

My niece is a real trooper. She hung with us riding her fixed-gear trike (hah) for almost 2 miles on the trail. You can see the rest of the photos here.

Random Tunage:

Sixpence None The Richer - Breathe
Michelle Tumes - For the glory of Your name

Friday, July 27, 2007

Commuting and goofing off on the mountain bike

So, I took a different bus than usual just to get out of town. I'm still really tired from all the riding yesterday, but figured that a little jaunt up Antioch to Johnson Drive and to Turkey Creek Trail would be a nice ride home. About 6 miles worth.

I got some in-motion pictures of the MTB, and then decided to ride on some old abandoned train tracks (a siding track for an abandoned warehouse) because I thought it might be a shortcut between two parking lots I'd otherwise need to ride around. It was a blighted double dead-end track that took me out into a big ravine near two main RR tracks, and I had to walk through a bit of viny thick stuff to get out again. Goofing off on this stretch of old track was kind of fun, but not worth the hassle. I won't do it again, and it didn't lead to where I thought it would.

It was kind of fun doing a little distance on the MTB today, but wearing the sweaty backpack made it less enjoyable.

Click here to see the rest of the photos.

Random Tunage:
DJ Eyal - Dreamcatcher (Tea Freaks Milk & Two Sugars Mix)
INXS - Need you tonight

Me = Zombie

Wow. The C'Dude FMF Ride was flipping AWESOME but I am totally wiped out this morning. I showed up to the secret meeting place around 8:40 or so, and started unpacking my bike from the back of my car, and re-assembling it. A few other people were doing the same. After I had things put together, I introduced myself and we hung out, waiting for others to arrive. All in all, there were six crazy cyclists ready for a ride through the humid air of a summer night.

As we rolled off, one cyclist encountered a flat tire right away, before we could even leave the parking lot. It was caused by an old slice in his tire. About 10 minutes later, the tire had been booted and the hole had been patched. Fortunately, after this, there were no other malfunctions.

In order to get through the whole ride while still having a headlight left by the time I got done, I used the trusty Blackburn Quadrant LED light when we were in well-lit areas, conserving the 2.5 hours of run-time that my NiteRider has for use out in the boonies, and we were out in the boonies for quite a while. Never too far from civilization, but we spent a lot of time on roads that are sparsely populated and rarely traveled at night.

We only stopped for refreshments one time, at Shell in Stilwell, KS. I was munching away on a Butterfinger bar when all of a sudden, something didn't feel quite right. One of the two caps for my front teeth had popped off! The Butterfinger just finished it off -- I'd noticed it felt kind of odd after eating corn on the cob a few days ago. That's probably what weakened it. So, I have a fang again. I'm going to look into my options for getting the tooth fixed.

We strolled back up Metcalf into Overland Park and wrapped up the ride a little after midnight. The total was about 37 miles. As expected, I got dropped on some of the bigger hills, but I was never too far behind and I was able to catch back up.

After grabbing some real food and taking some to my wife at work, then getting home and taking a shower, it was about 1:30 AM. I passed out. My wife woke me up at about 4:50 when she got home and I had a serious case of sleep inertia. I just couldn't get moving. My legs feel fine, but I spent too much energy yesterday and didn't get nearly enough recovery. I rode my mountain bike to a bus stop this morning. Here I am.

As if it wasn't cool enough to meet Warren and C'Dude this month, it sounds like I might grab some lunch with Jason today as well, since he works just around the corner from my office... but not for long.

Ugh. Where's my coffee?! This is going to be a very long day.

Random Tumage:
DeNuit - All That Mattered (Cover of "Love You Down")
Bruce Hornsby - The way it is

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Well, here I go!

I'm about to head out to the Full Moon ride in a bit. I've had a few hours to recover from my ride home. Tires are aired up, panniers are appropriately packed.

The ride home was nice and uneventful, but I got home a little later than I wanted to. I'm starting to feel the miles of the week, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to throw in the towel for tomorrow's bike commute yet.

Wish me luck. Hey, I'll get to meet two of my favorite local bloggers in July. w00t!

Random Tunage:
Orbital - Lush 3-2
Kimberley Locke - 8th World Wonder (HiBias Remix)

The smells of the commute

You know, riding along on a bike is a great way to entice almost all of your senses. Since I am riding into the heart of downtown from suburbia, I get to experience a broad selection of sights, sounds and smells. This morning, I'll focus on smells.

Sure, there's the faint smell of fuel and exhaust from the nearby highway and gas stations when I leave from home in the morning. That quickly fades, though. As I ride past the nursery, I smell flowery and fresh smells. As I pedal alongside the small streams and waterways, I may smell moss, or I may smell something putrid. Today was obviously trash day in Kansas City, Kansas and I smelled decaying refuse and 3-day-old pizza along the roadside. Coming into downtown, I pass a chemical supply place that always smells like burnt popcorn. Next to it, a Mexican food manufacturer that reeks of stagnating tortilla corn pulp. Not much further, I can smell delicious Mexican food being prepared. Right before I pull into the parking garage at work, I can actually smell the Folger's coffee being roasted and packaged. Yep, right here in Kansas City.

Anyhow, some smells are great, others are unwelcome. All of it is part of the commuting experience. While others are stuck breathing stale, exhaust-rich air in their cushy motorized contraptions, I get to soak up (and savor, when I wish) the many different sensory experiences of the place I call home.

The ride today was a little fast-paced with a train setting Chris and I back a few minutes. I got clearance to hit the Full Moon ride tonight, so I plan on going out there. I may not be in the mood to ride to work tomorrow, but I'll have to see what I feel like in the morning. There's always the bus.

As for my strength, I think it's sticking around. It's Thursday now, and I'm not nearly as wiped out as I have been in weeks prior to this. This isn't an amazing thing, and it's not something for me to be proud of. It's just something that comes with riding more. Looking back at how my bicycling has evolved over the past 10 months or so, my progress has been relatively slow, but it's proof that you don't have to be a jock or even in good shape to just pick up riding and be satisfied with the results you're getting while enjoying an effective way to get around.

Random Tunage:
Information Society - What's on your mind
White Zombie - More human than human

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July Goals, joke of the year

What was I thinking? 2 Round trips per week without a car (8 RT's total)? 400 Miles? Bike:Drive ratio up over 4.0:1? What the heck?!

Try 13 round trips by bike so far (3 round trips with some kind of vehicle assist) and 521 miles for July.. and a 2007 cumulative ratio of 4.54:1!

I could stop riding for the rest of the month and be okay on my goals. BUT... I have 4 more work days this month, which is at least 110 miles worth of riding if the weather is good. Awww yeah!

Then, and here's the fun part... I'm thinking of hitting the c'Dude Full Moon Feeeeevuh ride. That's right. 35+ miles of darkness, or will it be dorkness with my reflective vest? We'll have to see if I can make it to the ride. I want to. That could put me up over 650 miles for the month. And there's still a Monday Trek Store ride with my name on it... Hmm...

Stay tuned. When I started riding in September, I never thought I'd be one of those crazy guys that rides 200 miles in a month. No sir!

The ride home was fun. Lorin followed me in, and I showed him the ropes on how to get around on Southwest Boulevard and Turkey Creek trail. He hadn't ridden all the way home from work before. I hope he had a blast and wants to keep doing it! It was a nice, slowish pace which is just what I needed after the hammerfest this morning.

Random Tunage:
Armin Van Buuren Ft. Racoon - Love You More
Bryan Adams - Heaven

Random Tunage and lunch

Some of you may have noticed my recent posts have "Random Tunage" at the end. Music is a huge part of my day. I love music, and my tastes are somewhat eclectic but lean towards electronic-sounding stuff. This encompasses 80's "New Wave", 90's dance music, Industrial rock, and what most would call "techno" but is technically a variety of Trance.

Random Tunage is whatever happens to play from my massive collection of (you guessed it) random tunage while I'm posting. I limit it to two tracks that play, as sometimes my posts take me a while and I could hear 3 or 4 songs.

Anyhow, I'm on lunch. I took the bike on a short trip around the corner for some carry-out chinese. I didn't feel like gearing up, so I just hopped on and rode. Helmetless, dress clothes, and dress shoes on bare clipless pedals. It was nice. The roads I was riding on are all little back alleys and whatnot anyways. I always say it's stupid to ride without a helmet, and I'd say I was being an idiot, but hey. I was halfway down the stairs when I thought I'd ride instead of walking. And what a nice, short ride it was. The bike feels totally different without panniers and riding in office attire. What a blast!

Random Tunage:
Regina Spektor - Fidelity
Peter Cetera - You're the Inspiration (new version)


Well, I was going to meet up with Lorin this morning, but couldn't find him. I was running about 5 minutes behind again this morning because of this. As I made my way up to Johnson Drive on Merriam Lane, I had trouble getting the light to change, and no cars were around to trigger it. Remembering back to Monday, I decided to hit the crosswalk button and get back out into the street. Just as I hit the button, I heard Chris screaming at me. I guess he was running even further behind than I was! He always seems to catch up, though.

I tried a newish trick at the stoplight at Broadway on Southwest Blvd. I took the center lane. The right lane is always crowded with people that want to turn right a block up the road. The left lane is a left turn lane onto broadway. The center lane usually has a little less traffic, but the people there are the kind of people who don't want to be stuck behind the slow-down as the right-turners take their sweet time. That means they probably don't want to be stuck behind a slow cyclist either.

The solution? Hammer it. I knew I'd have to make the death slog up Baltimore in just a few blocks, but I hammered in spite of it. I ignited my legs into a high-RPM fury of pain and suffering, working my way through the middle ring and never switching to the third. Faster, legs! FASTER! I held about 30 MPH for a few blocks until getting stopped at the light on Baltimore. The car that was behind me at Broadway was far enough back that I knew I had succeeded in not slowing him down. I made my way up the death slog, and fan into the narrow section where Baltimore narrows to one lane (with a wall on one side) for construction. I had a car behind me, and I was already in the low gear of my middle ring from the climb. I hammered it again, this time for only a block, and uphill, not on level pavement.

Then, I coasted in for coffee. Oh, wonderful coffee!

My legs hurt. Have I mentioned that I haven't used my granny ring at all this week? Maybe monday morning on Baltimore, but ever since, I've been able to tackle all my hills on the middle ring without having to get out of the seat.

Random Tunage:
Moonman (a.k.a. Ferry Corsten) - Galaxia
Notorious B.I.G. - Mo Money, Mo Problems

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It never gets easier...

...you just get faster. -- Greg Lemond

I'm living that right now. Of course, my average speed isn't really up that much, but I'm starting to not lose it on the hills as much as I have been in recent weeks. It could be that it's early in the week and that I've been getting almost enough sleep lately. Whatever it is, I'm able to maintain speeds on uphills a little better, and stay in higher gears. It certainly doesn't FEEL any easier, but the speedometer isn't lying. I'm going a little faster. I'll know later this week if it's a progressive thing or just a fluke.

Not much exciting stuff this evening. I rode to lunch, and ran some errands on my way home. Will this be the week I actually make 5 full round trips totally by bike?!

Random Tunage:
Hybrid - Sinequanon
Real McCoy - Another Night

I got some ink. w00t.

No tattoos here! Sorry for the crappy scan. The letter printed across 2 columns and the scanner I have access to isn't the best... it's a 200dpi fax machine, basically. Thanks for the write-up, Philip!

I got out about 5 minutes later than I'd have liked to this morning. It makes a lot of difference in traffic -- more than I'd have expected, actually. On my way into town, I saw a few southbound bike commuters, and way ahead of me on Southwest boulevard, I saw someone, but didn't bother trying to catch up. The past two days riding alone have been kind of peaceful and calm. I tend to push myself to keep up with people when others are riding with me, whereas this morning, I barely broke a sweat.

I saw my car-club buddy, Jason as I went through Antioch. He lives there in Merriam, and I see him on occasion. Last time I saw him, he didn't know the guy he passed on a bike was me. This time he gave me a friendly honk and wave. I recognized him in my rear view, though, so it didn't bother me.

As I got up to 13th street on Baltimore, I saw Lorin ride by. I caught up with him and dragged him to Starbucks for some coffee. It sounds like he might join the bike commuter convoy on occasion. The more, the merrier!

Random Tunage:
Reflekt Ft. Delline Bass - Need To Feel Loved (12" Club Mix)
Nine Inch Nails - God Given

Monday, July 23, 2007

Heck of a ride, and my 13 seconds of fame

It was dry when I left from work. I have no clue what happened. Radar showed the recent trend of storms moving SOUTHWEST (What the heck?!) again. I figured I was in the clear.

When I got outside, it was muggy, overcast, but cooler than it was last week. I went for it.

Right about the time I got to the old Drive-In, I feel some moisture on my leg. It's really cold, so I figured it's condensation from my melting bottle of ice. Then I feel another drop on my leg a few seconds later. Then, it hits my helmet. It keeps this up for quite a while, probably to 69 highway, which is a few minutes away.

By the time I get to Lamar, it's starting to drizzle. When I get to Antioch (another 5 minutes down the road), I am in the midst of a rain shower. A cold, pleasant rain shower that is starting to get me very, very soggy. I blast down Merriam lane after Antioch, and it's like buckets just opened up. It felt really good and I knew I had warm clothes and a towel waiting for me at home. Had I not been sweating over the fact that my panniers could be slowly filling with water and drowning my MacBook, I would have turned it into a leisurely stroll.

Anyhow, I made it home okay. I got dried off and prepared the MTB for the Monday night ride. I wimped out and took it on the back of the Explorer. GRR @ ME! I'm such a loser sometimes, but I had other errands to run before coming home that wouldn't have been practical on bike, and my headlight was not going to last me, as I used it both directions today. Sorry, when it's raining, the headlight is on.

The Monday ride was nice. It kicked off a little late and we had some mechanicals early on. Nothing some elbow grease and spare tubes couldn't fix, though. All in all, I put in just about 40 miles today. Not too bad, I suppose.

I hear that KC Star is going to publish a letter to the editor that features my blog tomorrow morning. It was sent in by Philip that works at the Trek Store. I knew it was in the works for more than a week, but I didn't know who sent it in until I saw the text of the letter today, which had Philip's name on it. If I can find it, I'll have to pick up a copy and post a picture of the snippet. I think KC Star keeps some of their letters to the editor online too, so I might be able to link to it.

2000 miles and evening plans

I officially passed 2000 miles for the year on my way to work this morning. With onlyt 440 of those miles coming from recreational riding, that's a lot of money saved on gasoline and wear/tear on my car. Also, consider that each time I drive my car, the fuel and parking costs alone are about $9. Today's my 107th day of bicycle commuting this year. If you do the numbers and account for the $15 per month bus pass and about 1 inner tube per month, I've saved over $800 in commuting expenses so far. Sure, I've spent over $1000 in bicycle stuff since January 1st, but hey... I'll break even eventually, right? By my numbers, I will have paid for my bike in transportation savings by September or so. Besides, if you count what 7 months of membership at a gym would cost to get me to where I am health-wise, it would probably be far more than $200.

It looks like there's a good chance my homeward commute might get rained out. If it's cleared up, I plan on really packing on some miles today.

I want to start with the 15 mile trip home. I plan on being home before 4:45 tonight, but we'll see how that pans out. If I have to take the bus, I won't get home until a little after 5:00. Next, I'll ride to the Trek Store for the Monday night recovery ride. Getting there and back will be about 11 miles, and the ride itself is usually 8-12 miles. If all of this riding pans out, I should have about 50 miles logged today. If it rains for my trip home but clears up in time for my Monday night ride, I'll probably get about 25-35 miles today. If it rains and doesn't stop, it'll be more like 15 miles, unless I want to load the MTB up into the Explorer and drive 5 miles to the group ride. What's funny is that I HATE when people do that. Ride your bike to the group ride, for the love of all things good in the world! Alas, miles are miles. And I like miles right now. I think I might even taste a 600 mile month...

We'll see.

Cops, Dogs, and Right Hooks

There are very few stop lights that I just cannot trigger with my bike. One of them is going north on Nieman at 75th street. If Karen or Chris are there, our combined hall effect profile is significant enough to change the light. On my own? I can't ever seem to get it to change. I try every single trick I know, and I can see the under-pavement faraday loop. I can almost always trigger these. Today, again, I failed.

What I usually do is wait for oncoming traffic to trigger it from the southbound side. If no one is in the left turn lane, my light goes green. At about 6:05-6:10 in the morning, there is often enough traffic going south to get on Shawnee Mission Parkway or I-35 to trigger my light. If someone chooses the left turn lane, however, I will sit there at a red light for the rest of my days. If this happens, I begin entering the intersection, and then once all the cars have cleared their left turns, I run my red light while cross traffic still has a red. I did it again today, as usual. Then, I noticed a Shawnee police officer turn onto Nieman. He got in the left lane but didn't pass me. I was going about 30 in a 35 on a downhill and thought little of it. Then, as I climbed the next hill, I started to slip. 25 MPH. 20 MPH. 17 MPH. I stabilized at 17 or so, but the officer still wasn't passing. It was then that I knew I was probably busted for running the light. Why he insisted on following me for almost a mile and a half in the other lane at speeds varying from 10-30 MPH, I'll never know. He never once turned his lights on, got behind me, honked his horn or blipped his siren.

I eventually got tired of seeing him incessantly in my Take-A-Look. I looked right at him. He rolled down the window and said "Hey! You have to stop back there like everyone else!" I started pedalling again, and said "I Was stopped for over a minute! I can't trigger that light! Every morning, I have to wait for someone to trigger the light for me, or I'll go through after the oncoming left turns clear." He told me it's a dangerous intersection, then darted off. Traffic was coming up behind us. I guess he thought I just blasted through the red, but I was stopped. I can't hop off the bike and go to the crosswalk for every single light-controlled intersection. Is it time for me to build a MIRT?! I keek, I keed!

So, with the local yokels out of the way, I am moseying northeast on Merriam Ln when I spot a pack of 3 dogs up ahead. I don't recognize these three, but usually a pack of dogs is a harmless thing. One of them wanders out into the street, causing an oncoming pickup to come to a complete stop. The other two are sitting in the ditch on my side of the road. Tongues out, having a good old time watching their buddy attempt to do the age-old magic trick of changing himself from a dog into a pile of warm, chunky salsa with fur. This is all unfolding a quarter-to-half mile ahead of me.

The pickup goes around, and I'm coming up on the pack of dogs. The other two start crossing the street. I get within about 200 yards of them, and the same dog that had earlier tried to leave this cruel world locks onto me. I'm a pretty good judge of animal character. When a dog sees you and starts running with you and barking, you're his temporary playmate. When the dog stops in his tracks, puts his ears up and forward, then charges at you while snorting, showing teeth and roaring (rather than barking), that's usually a bad sign. Not always, but usually. When his two buddies decide to follow suit? It's time to really hammer it. So yeah, I won't need any coffee today after that little adrenaline rush. A few miles up the road, going into Rosedale, I saw one of the dogs that's in the friendly pack I usually encounter. I made kissy noises at him and he jogged on the sidewalk next to me for a little bit, then got too far from home and turned around.

On Southwest Blvd as I approached Rainbow, I had this guy in a big old Frito-Lay delivery truck (think UPS or bakery truck, not semi tractor) behind me. He had his right signal on, so I hammered on it again to try to clear the intersection before the light turned red for both of us. I got up pretty fast, but then noticed that he was moving to pass me. There's no way in hell he was going to get around me and make his intersection. I was going almost 25. The turn signal came back on though, in my rear view mirror. Then he was next to me. Grr. I got his truck number and already reported him. Have I mentioned that I love my mirror? Now that I know what behavior patterns go with right-hooking drivers, I am practically immune to them as long as I pay attention to my surroundings.

So, there you have it. I didn't get coffee this morning. Yet. I might go out a bit later once my heart rate drops from this morning's events.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


So, I've been battling a ridiculously slow leak after patching my rear tire back on the 12th. I'm talking going from 100 PSI to 70 PSI overnight or while I'm at work. Enough to where I can pump it up before my commute and get home with the rear tire starting to get teeny bit squishy.

So yesterday, I tried to find the leak. Impossible. I had the whole tube under water at about 20 PSI (bulging) without a single bubble. It's that slow. I rolled it up and switched it out for the brand new 700x18-25mm tube that I had in my seat bag. I figure this slow leaking tube would make a great "limp it home" spare.

When I aired up the new tire, I noticed that it had a narrow area near the valve stem. I deflated it and examined it, and it looks pretty strange. I aired it up again and thought to myself that it might be okay.

Right after I made my last post, I found a really low tire. The trip to the PHP user's group meeting was the first time I'd ridden on the new tube. I definitely wasn't going to make it home. With a total of 4 CO2 cartridges and a spare (slow leaky) tube, I decided to see how far I'd get by filling the current tire up. It bought me about 20 minutes, which got me within a mile or so of home. I was losing about 2 PSI per minute, by my estimates. I had some CO2 left from that cartridge and finished it off. I decided I would go past home by about 2 miles to hit Turner Cyclery for some decent tubes. I ended up burning another cartridge on the way there. When I got there, they topped off the tire once more and told me to hurry. I was losing about 5-7 PSI per minute now, and it didn't have much left by the time I rode the 2 miles back to my apartment.

Thank goodness I bought that cheap 25 pack of cartridges, eh? Remind me to never buy 18-25mm tubes again. I bought two 28-32mm tubes for my 25mm tires. I know it sounds bad, but the one I installed tonight seems to be a perfect fit. I don't think it's any worse than the 1.75" tube that's in the 1.25" tire on the back of my hybrid. That's held solid for over 400 miles.

I put the other new tube in the seat bag, and stuffed the slow-leaking spare into the pouch I keep in my panniers that contains some extra tools and my first-aid kit.

400 miles

I've amassed 407 miles this month so far, which is a few miles past what I got in May. This is the most miles I've been able to pack on in a month's time so far. I still have 10 days to go, too. I am definitely on course to breeze past 500 miles in July.

I'm about 8 miles from home right now at the local PHP User's Group meeting, and I'm at about 1985 miles for the year. My wife and I went on another bike ride this morning after she got off work. With today's riding, I'll be about 7 miles short of ticking over 2000 miles today without sacrificing time with my wife. Family is more important than 7 miles, though.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Blog Tag. Here's my five facts!

Well, I've officially been tagged by Fritz, which means I have to give you five facts about myself. Then I get to tag 5 other bloggers. With that, here we go.

  1. I am a devout Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that through him I am saved. I am not actually a member of any specific church nor do I endorse any particular "flavor" of Christianity (Catholic, Methodist, or whatnot) but I currently attend a growing church plant every Sunday and volunteer 2-4 Sundays per month to run video, sound, or lighting. I should also say that I don't believe in forcing my views on others. I don't keep it a secret, though. I will openly listen to what you believe in without criticizing you.
  2. I am a bona-fide nerd. I actually met my wife on a dial-up Bulletin-Board System (BBS). For those of you who don't know what that is, think of it as being a little bit like Craigslist. Online and local. But not quite the Internet. I met her online in the mid 1990's. We were bored one night and decided to meet face-to-face for some coffee and to hang out. The day was January 4th, 1997 but I had a friend's birthday party to go to. We met the next day (January 5th) instead. We hung out again on the 10th, then in the wee hours of the morning on January 11th, 1997 we decided to start dating. It's been the best 10 years of my life, and I know we'll stick it through. She's my best friend, my fishing buddy, my hacker babe, and everything else.
  3. I started taking things apart when I was about 4 years old. I've never stopped. It took me a while to learn how to put things back together. To this day, I blame Lego for this. I've replaced engines and clutches in cars and trucks. I've repaired electronics at the component level. I've re-built clockwork. My motto is "If something is broken, I can probably fix it. If something works properly, I can probably make it better, faster, or easier to use. If not, I can always break it." There is a very condensed version of this motto in my profile.
  4. I, by virtue of curiosity often strive to know every minuscule detail of a given system or subject -- and by virtue of confidence and tenacity, I refuse to blindly believe in accepted or posted limitations. These traits have lent themselves well to my profession in security. I am an amateur locksmith, and I excel in many other aspects of both physical and information security including surveillance, firewalls, and social engineering. My niche right now is host system security, roles and responsibilities, security auditing, and policy enforcement.
  5. I go to my parents' place every single Sunday for lunch. My dad is hands-down one of the best friends I have, and both of my parents are extremely wise, although they, like myself, can be nimrods on occasion. They're not perfect, but they put up with my bone-headed behavior while raising me. Instead of equipping me with everything I need in life, they equipped me with experiences and advice on how to get everything I need in life. While they have given me handouts when times got rough, I acknowledge that their advice and camaraderie is what really helped me along the way.
There you have it. Raw. Personal. I feel like an emo kid!

Now... Bloggers beware! You have 10 seconds to hide. But I'll find you anyways.

Tom. I'm calling you out!
Crum. You too!
Jeff, this means you.
Jason, you devious blogger, you! This has your name all over it.
Brian, I know it's an industry blog, but we want our 5 facts.

So with that, TAG! You're it!

That wasn't any faster...

I tried. I tried really hard to be faster, but all I got was a
lighter, nimbler bike. I made it in 53 minutes today, which is 2
minutes faster than Wednesday and at least 5 minutes slower than my
best time last week. The panniers stay. This is my first official
post from my phone. If it shows up wierd, I'm sorry.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Back to basics

I should have just ridden my bike today. The rain was all around noon time, but it was dry when I got to work and dry when I left. I hate taking the bus, even the express bus. I got stuck on another short bus on my way home, which had me lugging the sorrento into the bus, and holding it steady the entire trip, occupying the wheelchair space. I ended up working late, though, doing some glitch fixing. I'm not sure I would have liked trying to ride home at 5:00 PM.

So, I'm going back to basics with the Trek in the morning. My panniers are still at work. I'm leaving the laptop here at home, and taking just the bare essentials tomorrow. If nothing else, this will tell me if it's just me being slow, or if the extra encumbrance of panniers (and the stuff within them) is holding me back. All I'm taking with me is a plastic grocery sack containing my work clothes, cell phone, and access card stuff.

To pass the time at work, I took a 256MB memory stick I had laying around and threw 255.8 MB worth of music onto it that I let iTunes pick randomly out of my highest-rated tracks. I hope there's enough variety and music to keep me busy for 8 hours tomorrow. I'll just plug it into my work computer and use my headphones there.

I don't use my work PC for personal web browsing even though I could probably get away with it, so you won't likely see any further posts from me until tomorrow night. I'll be checking my comments and e-mail from my cell phone, though. ;)

Great links. Recommended reading.

I have ALWAYS loved the Bastard Operator From Hell stories. BOFH, the alter-ego of IT guy and fiction writer, Simon Travaglia, is a bitter and vengeful systems administrator. Simon's stories come straight from the trenches of IT. His adventures and exploits are obviously based on reality but slightly (and sometims overtly) sensationalized or exaggerated.

Anyone who's had to work in IT or management in a company with a structured IT department in the last few years has probably been faced with changes to the system. I'm talking about the ITIL Framework, change control/management, and all that jazz. Well, Simon's at it again, having fun with service level agreements this time in BOFH 2007 Episode 24: A question of urgency. This is worth the read, and hits close to home for me. I'd imagine anyone else that's involved in "the next big thing in IT management" will enjoy it. Unless you're one of those pointy-haired bosses that gets stuck enforcing this stuff.

Also, yesterday I saw this awesome letter to non-cyclists on RocBike.com. Even though it's almost 10 months old, it's also definitely worth the read, and it's even bike related! Imagine that!

Mmm. Rain.

They're calling for loads of rain and storms today. I'm doing the bike and bus thing with my mountain bike today. The plan is to hit the express bus a few miles away.

The good thing is that the temperatures will be all set for a really nice riding weekend, including some cooler temperatures tomorrow for the trip to work.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Headwind and potential changes

First off, what a headwind this evening! It made getting anywhere almost impossible, and reduced my entire homeward commute to a seemingly uphill battle. Cruising down the 5% grade of Baltimore on my way out of KCMO was about the only time that gravity was of any assistance to me. The rest of my trip home was into a steady 20 MPH blast out of the southwest.

Today, I brought home only my laptop bag, bungeed down to my rack. I left the panniers at work, and all the stuff inside them. I don't need most of it, anyways.

I can put everything I take to work on my bike into 3 categories. The first one is my commuting essentials. These are things I really, really, need. Some of this stuff is semi-permanently on the bike:

  • Spare inner tube(s)
  • Tire levers
  • Inflation device of some sort
The rest, I have to carry with me in pockets or on the rack:
  • Work clothes
  • Apartment keys
  • Cell phone
  • Wallet

Then, there are the things I have with me that are good to have, but in no way necessary:
  • Extra bike lock (for locking up at places like the coffee shop)
  • First aid kit
  • Some extra bike tools
Finally, there are the things I really, really like to have with me, but don't actually need.
  • Laptop (for listening to my music, checking my personal email, etc)
  • Digital Camera (For, you know, pictures)
Anyhow, I'm faced with a decision. I'm really looking to make my commute more efficient. The obvious ways are to reduce weight and/or drag. I'm battling with some ideas, but I'm not sure what will work best until I give them a try.

The most obvious weight reduction method is to keep doing what I'm doing and melt off another 30-50 pounds. At my current rate, that'll take a while.

I'm thinking I may try to use the panniers only on Monday, to lug in a week's worth of clothes to work. Bring the day's dirty clothes home strapped to the rack each night.

To solve the laptop problem, I really wish I could find a bluetooth PCMCIA (not cardBus) card for my old G3 PowerBook. I could just leave that laptop locked up at work without much worry.

I'd like to get to the point where I'm not lugging much between home and work. Does anyone else have any good suggestions?

So, I'm sitting here cooling down...

in my new awesome shirt.

I do the same routine as usual. I pull up to the coffee shop. I lean my bike against the window. I remove my helmet and gloves, and place them neatly on the rack. I douse my head with cold water, run my hands through my hair, rinse off my hands, rinse my face off, and rinse my hands again. I dig the bike lock out of the right pannier and freelock my bike, still leaning against the coffee shop window. I dig my laptop out of the left pannier, go inside, and the barista, already knowing what I want, has my drink pretty much ready to go. I pay for it, and sit down 3 feet away from my bike on the other side of the window.

I'm enjoying my morning phone call with my wife, letting her know I arrived safely, when all of a sudden, I notice this guy shuffling around the patio leading to the entrance of the building. He shuffles towards my bike, obviously admiring it. He shuffles closer and notices the lock. Then he looks it over some more. The window has these one-way shades, similar to what the windows of tents are made of, so he can't see me, but I'm getting concerned and muttering stuff to him as if he could hear me through the window. He reaches for my digital camera holster that's mounted on the handlebar. It's empty, the digi is in here with me. That's not the point, though. He starts tugging on the flap to open it. At this point, I call the guy a few choice words, again, as if he could hear me through the window. I pounded firmly on the window through the shade, and he jumped back, surprised and startled, hands back and up in the air a little bit. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't contemplating confrontation despite the fact that I'd successfully averted his attempt to do whatever it was he had planned on doing. My better judgment took over, fortunately.

Still, though. What the **** is up with people? For the record, this area is teeming with homeless people, but this is only the second time I've ever had a problem with any of them. Most of them are courteous, kind people. About half of them panhandle. The rest of them simply greet you or just ignore you while they go about their day. I guess a portion of them are greedy thieves who prey on the hard work of others to get ahead just a little bit. Those are the only ones that anger me. It's going to come back to bite them one of these days.

Anyhow, this is why I bring almost everything in off my bike that can be removed without tools when I get to the office. What can be removed without tools (and some stuff, like my saddle, rack, and bottle cages, that do require tools) gets either a cable lock or heavy chain passed through it and then locked to a bike rack.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A little better this evening.

Things went a little smoother this evening. First off, I had the smaller of my two water bottles in the freezer all day while I drank copious amounts of water from the larger one while working. When the time came to leave, I filled the larger bottle with as much ice as I could cram into it, and the rest with water (and a little more ice to replace what the water melted)

It was about 92 degrees in the shade upon departure, but it felt a little less humid. I focused on spinning low gears on the sections of headwind and hills that caused me problems last night. By the time I hit Rosedale, the ice was gone in my first water bottle but the water remained cool. I kept drinking small quantities frequently even though I didn't feel thirsty. By the time I hit Antioch, bottle 1 was done for, and it was time to start on bottle 2, which had a core of ice left in it, but had otherwise melted to become cool, refreshing water. It was 3/4 empty and tepid by the time I got home, some 6 miles after I'd broken it open.

I think I'm finding my groove. This heat, however, is truly a sadistic character. Its companion, the sun, is no less malicious. I haven't had to endure these conditions on a bicycle since the whimsical days of my teenage juvenescence. I am now nearly 65 pounds heavier than I was back then. I thought that some of the September afternoons were kind of warm when I first started riding my bike from the bus stop to my apartment. In retrospect, those temperatures were maybe in the low 80's.

With a slight change in attire, I managed to tackle even three-below-zero temperatures not that long ago. It involved using some moisture-wicking thermal base layers. I'll be damned if I get scared off by impending triple digit temperatures, much less the mid 90's we're experiencing this week. Yet again, it's time to give in and adapt. I picked up the closest thing to a roadie jersey that you'll probably catch me in this year. Technically it's a moisture-wicking running shirt. It's really thin, really comfortable, and really light. It also fits me like my usual t-shirts so that I don't scare people with that lycra look. Trust me. You do NOT want to see me in form-fitting lycra.

If this shirt works out for me, I'll probably pick up a few more. Just call me Roadie Noah. *sigh*

The bike commuters are out!

Not much to say this morning. It was a nice but humid ride in. I actually got some good rest last night, stayed hydrated this morning, and all that jazz. There's definitely a lot of bike commuters out this morning. Karen was riding and I saw several south-bounders as well. Just before I started my climb up Baltimore, I saw Jeff on the Soma fixie. I'm pretty sure he recognized me. Once downtown, I saw lots of people riding around. Some dressed to work. Others lugging stuff around on their bikes.

When I pulled up to Starbucks, I saw Lorin's Schwinn SuperSport leaning against the window. We hung out and talked for a bit and discussed various things from my wife's new bicycle to his own quest to pick up a steel frame road bike, such as the Surly CrossCheck.

It's already approaching the mid 70 degree range downtown. It's supposed to be in the mid 90's by the time I head out this afternoon. Remind me to load up on ice before I head home. Sheesh.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I've been communicating with Andy, a guy who works in basically the same industry as I do. He's a road cyclist with destination and departure points that aren't too far from my own, but his usual route varies from my own quite a bit.

Today, he drove to work and rode his bike home with Chris and I. Tomorrow, he plans on riding to work and bringing his car back home. This is just one of many ways that long-distance bicycle commuters can do multi-modal transportation to reduce the amount of fuel they use, increase the amount of time they spend on a bike, or help the environment. Whatever the motivation, this Drive-bike-bike-drive kind of commuting seems to be a popular method, and it solves the problem of how to get clothes and other gear to the office safely without loading your bike or your back with cumbersome panniers or backpacks.

Andy caught some coverage of my Blog from a link off of The Trek Store of KC, and uses bike commuting to supplement his training routine - it takes the place of some of his after-work training rides.

I know for fact that tonight, I wasn't helping him get any training in. I was SLOW. I let Chris and Andy escape, and I bailed off at the earliest sign of being able to hop onto Turkey Creek Trail. The headwind, humidity and heat were the main factors that really kicked my butt. The wind was hot and humid, brickwalling me and at the same time offering little in the way of relief. Sweat poured down my face and into my eyes. Sweat poured down my chest, back, and arms, drenching my gloves, shirt and shorts. Even riding head-on into 20 mile per hour gusts, the sweat isn't evaporating to cool me off. I keep drinking and progressing. I slow it down even more once I hit the trail, so as to not overheat, and to maximize my time in the shade of tree canopies over parts of the trail.

This is just the beginning of the kind of week we're in for. I am drained of energy right now. I'm hoping for a really good night's sleep to help me recover from this. I'm drinking tons of water right now, and plan on keeping it up at work all day tomorrow as well. I'm hoping that helps.

Last night and this morning

Last night was my wife's first time on a bicycle since probably her early or mid teens. Her hiatus from bicycling has been formidably longer than mine was prior to getting started again back in September 2006.

You know what they say about riding a bicycle? Well, it's definitely true. We pulled up to Turkey Creek Trail at about 8:30 as the sun and temperatures were falling. We took the trail a little past Merriam Lane before deciding to turn around -- partially because she wanted to make sure she had enough energy to make it back, and partially because the trail would be getting pitch black as the dim, light-polluted sky filters through the canopy of tree cover. We put 3.6 miles on last night, which I think is a heck of a good run for someone who hasn't ridden more than just test rides on a bicycle in a decade and a half.

We got her bike fine-tuned along the way, and she learned how to read the hills and shift accordingly with ease. She had it going pretty good. I'm proud!

The commuter convoy this morning was the usual 3-person echelon. We took a little different route this morning, going through the Skate World parking lot in hopes of picking up someone else along the way. No dice yet. People will come around, though.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Added another bike to the family

We finally were able to go out and grab my wife's Townie 3S today. While we were at it, we picked up some accessories. I already have more than enough lighting laying around the apartment, but she needed a bike bottle cage, computer, and a trunk bag to carry her stuff. Not to mention the mandatory helmet and worthwhile gloves.

I've probably ridden it more than she has already, and it's a really fun and comfortable bike to ride. We're going to go hit the trails for some fun this evening.

I'm back from the Lenexa Midnight Ride

Well, that was a blast!

I'm kind of glad I took the mountain bike. I got to the registration table pretty early, about 10:00. I got my rider number, my t-shirt and my inspection pass right off the bat. What I didn't know is that I was directly behind Warren's sons. Warren was, himself, in front of them. So our numbers were sequential. How strange is that?

After getting my bike inspected by the safety crew, I swung by the Mix93.3 van to pick up some free stuff. I don't listen to the station a whole lot, but hey, free stuff is good. One of the Mix underlings was taking pictures of people kickin' it with radio personality, Kelly Urich. I got mine taken, too. He's actually got a pretty sweet Cannondale R800.

I spent about an hour and a half riding around the parking area and blocked-off streets, waiting for the ride to begin. About 25 minutes before midnight, someone said "There's Noah!" I turned around and that's when I ran into Warren's clan and found we had the sequential number thing going on. Just for my blog, I took a picture of Warren taking a picture of me for his own blog. Or was he taking a picture of me taking a picture of him for my blog for his own blog? I'll let you decide.

I was kind of surprised that a few other people knew who I was, or mentioned my blog. To all of you who said hi to me or who saw me out there: Hi, right back at ya :)

Most of the photos I took were blurred pretty bad, but the ones that made the cut can be found here.

The pancakes were tasty but I didn't eat enough to make it worth $6. I ended up going back out to grab Denny's for my wife and saw a whole bunch of midnight riders there (no, not that Midnight Rider) including Eric from my local PHP user's group.

Well, it's about quarter to 4 in the morning now. I need a nap.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gearing up for the stormy ride :)

Looks like the Lenexa ride is in for some rain and maybe a little more. I'm gearing the Sorrento up. Not only does it handle rain better, but it's more comfortable and I can goof off a bit. I'm not anticipating the need to go fast, so the mountain bike will be great.

Pics will come later tonight. I don't know what they'll do if it's really bad, they'll probably delay it for a later weekend.


July is pretty much half-way over. I recently revamped my commute log so that all the summary information and month-to-month stats are on the first page. This reduces clutter and ambiguity from each of the pages.

Check it out to see the cold, hard facts.

In my June Wrap-up post, I said that I wanted to:

  • Do two round-trips per week without the bus or the car
  • Get my cumulative Bike : Drive ratio up over 4.0:1
  • Put in at least 400 miles
Needless to say, I'm well on my way to meeting and/or exceeding those goals. I did two round-trips completely by bike last week, and four this week. My ratio is at 4.21:1, and I'm closing in on 250 miles. Another 150 on top of that should be a piece of cake. Now, can I stay the course?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Raytown to Lenexa... Ow. OW. OW!!!!

So, I forgot I had a meeting at my company's uber-secure, top-secret, underground mega n-plus-one-redundancy mission-critical data center. Of doom.

I carpooled there, shoe-horning my bike into the back of a co-worker's car, and intended to take a bus to get me within 10 miles or so of home. The problem? By the time I got out of there, it was going to be a half hour wait for the bus. With a bottle full of ice water and another full of lemonade and temps in the high 80's, I took the plunge, knowing full-well that I'd have to put my nerves to the test on the treacherous road known as 63rd street.

I took it west for a little more than a mile, and it was a test of my patience and I'm sure I was a test of motorists patience as well. I swerved off onto Swope Parkway and rolled past the Kansas City Zoo, and onto Meyer Blvd. Meyer is a BEAUTIFUL road to ride on once you're west of 71 highway, which fortunately is not very far from the zoo.

Next, crossing Ward Parkway was a chore. It's basically a six-lane divided highway with roundabouts for all the major intersections. And guess what? I was on a major intersection. I slithered through the roundy-round and onto Tomahawk, to Belinder, down to 75th street, and all the way across to Wedd, which is the little road that's part of my "new" route that goes into the ugly industrial park. I ended up using the sidewalk for part of the trip near the I-35 overpass. Traffic is simply too unpredictable and dangerous there, and I don't even like driving my car on that particular stretch of road.

I got home from the data center, a total of almost 18 miles, in about an hour and 15 minutes. Did I mention I averaged something like 13 MPH and that my legs feel like they are on fire?

Oh yeah, Here is the route I took. A bridge out on Tomahawk forced me to go back to Belinder and I could have saved myself a bit of hassle by just taking Belinder. My plan was to go all the way to Mission Road, which -- if I recalled correctly -- has a nice bike lane. Belinder was nice and didn't have much traffic, though.


My goodness! This morning is the first time in quite a while that my legs have actually ached when I woke up. Yesterday, they were sluggish. Today, they are just painfully wrung out. My average speed dropped a little bit again.

I was off to a late start after wrangling the *second* brown recluse spider in the last week. I didn't post about the first one here, but I left a comment on mrmacrum's blog about it. In general, I don't mind spiders, but brown recluses are one species that I won't let live if I find them.

I already sort of ruined my chances of a 100% bike commute week since I did the bike/bus thing Monday. I made up most of the miles Monday night, but it's not the same thing. Despite my weakened and sore comdition, I'll probably suck it up and still ride home this evening. I'm really chomping at the bit in anticipation of a 500-mile month. By the end of today, I should have close to 250 miles for the month, so I am right on course.

I'm going to have a little bit of recovery after I get home. The Lenexa midnight bike ride kicks off 10pm Saturday night, with the start happening midnight Sunday morning. Once I get home tonight, I'm off the bike until the midnight ride.

Oh yeah. The tire patch held its own on the way to work, and the new brakes feel like they're going to work great, although I broke them in gently.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Upgrades... and more Turkey Creek pics

My old brakes were absolutely trashed. They've been on the way out for a few weeks, and may have had a week or two left in them, but I decided to replace them with SwissStop green pads, which from the sound of the bike shop techs, are a lot like KoolStop Salmons. We'll see. 80 grit sandpaper would probably have been better than my OEM pads at this point, though. The rain this morning had my bike grimed up pretty good, so while it was apart to replace the brake pads, I gave it a thorough clean and lube. I found yet another flat on the back tire, but it was a slow leak. I hope the patch holds. If not, I have everything I need to fix it en route. I think this will hold, though.

I hopped on Turkey Creek Trail even further north than usual today and got pictures of an area a mile or so north of where yesterday's pictures were. Click here for the whole album.

Rain drops keep falling on my head...

Edit: I just realized... TODAY IS MY 100th BIKE COMMUTE DAY OF 2007!

Yesterday, the forecast for today was 30-80% chance of rain, depending on who you want to believe. This morning, tall billows draped the sky in many directions, but it was nice and balmy. Not too warm, not too chilly, and humid without being overkill.

Without a second thought, I departed, and saw Chris ahead. Someone else was also behind me on a bike. A ways down the road, Karen was just pulling up to Quivira. 4 Bicycles?! Not quite. The guy behind me didn't follow us, and didn't appear to be headed to work either, unless he had ALL of his belongings at work already waiting for him. That's a possibility, I suppose.

I lagged pretty far behind for most of the trip. I'll make a halfway-through-July statistics post tomorrow evening, but right now, I've managed to rack up over 100 miles this week alone so far, already beating last week's miles with the very real possibility that I'll have racked up more than 140 miles by the end of the week, so long as I make these final three one-way trips between home and work this week. It's certainly not the 179 miles I rode during Bike To Work Week when I lived even further from work than I do now, but it still feels like a lot of miles and I'm to the point where I can ALMOST recover from the previous day's riding by taking my four- or five-hour long nightly slumber. The key word in almost. So yes, I was a little sluggish today, with about a 15 MPH average for the whole trip.

Anyhow, on with the rain. Oh, the rain! About 10 miles into my 14 mile ride, I felt a water droplet hit my arm. At first, I thought it was sweat. Then, I felt another drop. And another. This went on for about a mile. Then, it was sprinkling for about a minute. Then, it turned into a full-on rain shower. Nothing major, but it made the pavement wet, which in turn means it was slippery as well. Chris and Karen had both turned off down by Boulevard Brewery. I was still a ways behind.

I went ahead and rode straight to work through the rain. It wasn't that bad, really. I am really missing my morning mocha, though. If it clears up, I may walk down and get it a little bit later.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fun, cool ride home

Click any photo for the full album.

By cool, I mean 80 degrees or so. Cloud cover kept the temperatures at bay this afternoon. Getting out before 4:00 PM also helped a lot with traffic. Yes, this was a great afternoon for a ride. I took my time and soaked it up. Click the photo above for an album of the southern half of my commute. I also took a picture of a really tricked out Focus (visually, no clue on performance) that I saw on my way home. Many of you might know that I like the Focus almost as much as I like my bikes. I'm a tinkerer by nature, and I love watching Foci take on the challenges thrown at them in WRC events and tinkering with my own Focus on occasion.

This is just for Warren T. My new route takes me through some parking lots that are, in essence, private property. I really don't have any qualms riding through them, especially since they are part of a detour that gives me nearly two miles of pavement that are virtually free of motor vehicles in motion. I'm a wild and crazy guy, you know!

Shortly after I got home, my wife and I had our minds set on picking up some yummy Mexican food. It so happens that there's a nice little place nearby, but my wife had just woken up, and wasn't in the mood to go out. I went ahead and hopped on the Trek (sans panniers) and bungeed our meals down to the rack before heading back home. I'm sure the people in the restaurant were befuddled, but that's okay.

All kinds of cyclists this morning!

As I left my apartment complex, I heard a noise behind me. A rumbling sound, like that of a 150 horsepower diesel engine in an underpowered Johnson County bus. I glanced back, and sure enough, the D (Dreaded!) bus was bearing down on me at the stop light. When it changed, I took off. It passed me. A short while later, it stopped to pick someone up. I blew its doors off. It passed me again. Leapfrog with buses!

As I approached 79th street, I encountered Karen again. I'm usually riding too hard to talk much but we exchanged greetings and worked our way towards downtown, taking turns pulling, although she pulled more than I did. We encountered the Dreaded bus again at 79th and Neiman, but this time it was ahead of us.

I'm feeling kind of weak from 4 days straight on my bike. I'm at 73 miles for the week and more than 170 miles total for the month. By this time tomorrow, I'll have close to 200 miles for the month and we're not even half-way through it yet!

Karen and I ran across another cyclist near Antioch (the intersection shown in the first photo). This is who I had seen ahead of me on Thursday during B2WW. I didn't catch his name, but he lives near where we met him, and works at Cerner in North KC, making his commute easily as formidable as my own. As you can tell, he opts for a gigantic backpack. Wow.

I actually did slow it down on Baltimore today. I was even going slow enough to break out the camera for the death slog uphill. There was a bicyclist behind me by about 1/10 - 1/8 of a mile (about a city block) but he never caught up, even though I was just putzing along in the granniest of granny gears on the Trek, which isn't all that granny compared to my hybrid or MTB.

I rode to Starbucks as usual. At first, I saw Lorin ride by. He must have caught the L bus from Oak Park Mall. No coffee for him this morning, as he continued through the intersection. Then, as I'm locking up, lo and behold, the Dreaded bus arrives! Glad you could make it, buddy! I'm pretty sure the driver saw me, as I saw a silhouette of the driver's head visibly glance my direction, then mutter something. Take that. Slow and steady, pal. Slow and steady.

I went inside for my machine-fabricated mocha handed to me by a button pusher. He's a friendly button pusher who happens to know me by first name, but a button pusher all the same. As I'm standing in line, the cashier (a different kind of button pusher) mutters something about how everyone is riding their bike today. I look over my shoulder, and it's Bob, a 50-something (maybe older) guy who I talk to on occasion.

Bob has been talking about bikes with me for about 2 months now. I see him maybe once a week or so, sometimes twice. He used to ride a lot, but it started to hurt his back. He asked me about different kinds of bikes, and last week, I pulled up some websites and showed him some things to look for in a comfort hybrid bike, which would allow him to sit more upright, possibly with a suspension seatpost, and a seat that's easy on the tailbone.

He went to River Market Cyclery, my favorite bike shop by far when it comes to the downtown area, and they hooked him up with a Schwinn Sierra GSD. Not a great bike, but not your average wal-mart Schwinn, either. I checked it out, and the components aren't too shabby for the price. He was having problems with his gears grinding and I offered to look at it after I got done drinking my mocha. A few minutes talking to him revealed that he was cross-chaining it, which is a big no-no. I helped him understand his bikes gearing a little better. Hopefully this helps his shifting woes. As we sat and talked about bikes, I saw at least 3 or 4 other cyclists ride by, including the headphone-wearing helmetless bee. Ugh.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Took the new route home

I used Mark Thomas' suggestion for a way to get home while avoiding some of the more capricious roadways in Merriam and Lenexa. Aside from being hot and humid -- which I don't mind so much going home -- it was a nice ride. The new route took me onto Turkey Creek trail for a few miles south of Merriam Lane, and then through a bunch of suburban industrial areas and business parks, which had very little in the way of auto traffic. This allowed me to slow it down a bit.

Of course, the whole northern part of my commute was the same old crap. I got out a little bit later than usual today, so the impetuous rush-hour motorists on Southwest Boulevard were as antsy as they come.

I got confused a few times and had to turn around, so it added about half a mile to my commute from what it would have been had I followed the correct route the first time. I'll probably try it again tomorrow. It adds some pretty good climbs to my route home, but I think the trade-off of being able to ride in the shade on the trail, and ride without traffic for the rest of the alternate route is a worthwhile compromise.

Another Bike Commuter...

Not just another bike commuter, either.

I tried to take Chuong and John's advice and slow it down. The main place where I start to get sweaty is hammering on Southwest between Pennway and Baltimore. This stretch of road is plagued by grouchy motorists that have just gotten off the highway and now must muscle for the correct lane or be forced to take a less-than-ideal detour to get where they're going. I don't have much of a choice of route, all I can do is pick a lane that will get me where I want to go, and hope for the best. Usually, that's the furthest left (center) of three lanes, as most people want to turn right on 20th street or so.

What really finishes off the sweat-fest, however, is Baltimore. It's a relentless 3/4 mile with 200 feet of gain, or about 5% grade average. There's no level section. It's just one solid climb. As hills go, it's not that steep. It's just the cold-hearted wrath of one lengthy climb. This is where I had intended to "slow it down" a little bit.

Well, a problem happened. See, I'd gone this whole way without seeing another bicycle, save for one nestled neatly into the bike carrier on the front of a metro bus some 1/4 mile before this death slog into downtown. Then, I saw something. A blinking light. *sigh*



Keep in mind that my flabby ass hammering up a 5% grade means maintaining 11-12 MPH. Pretty weak, but I wanted to catch up and it seemed to be working. I'm not sure if he saw me and was slowing down, or if he was taking it easy (like I should have been) to hold back some of the sweat. I could already see from a distance that the guy in front of me was in RAGBRAI kit. I eventually caught up to him around 13th street and exchanged greetings.

As it turns out, he's not only a bike commuter that works at the same company I do, but he lives about 2 miles west of me, out in Lenexa as well. He doesn't work in the same building as I do, which explains why the bike rack at my building has never seen a bike other than mine.

It sounds like I might have another recruit for the Monday bike commuter convoy.

In other news, it did clear up last night, to I took my mountain bike out to the Trek Store ride. I was introduced to one of the bike shop employees who wrote this interesting story on choose2bike where he organized a group to commute to high school on bike, using pirate jargon on their route to announce turns, stops, traffic, and road hazards.

The Trek ride was fun, faster than normal, and had some interesting twists that would make any masshole or Prairie Village Yacht Clubber proud. No offense meant to Critical Mass or PV Yachters - but you guys have a reputation for pulling some interesting and/or dangerous stunts on occasion. Other than the one little incident where we jammed up 75th street pretty good and probably made a few new friends, it was a smooth ride, and I learned a new way to avoid some of the higher-traffic areas of my ride home at night.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Zealous, not stupid: Redux

Hail, lightning, rain, and an aluminum frame do not go well together, so I am taking the D bus (the D stands for Dreaded!) back to Lenexa, as it will drop me off right near my apartment. It looks like the storm should be a quick one, but it'll be intense while it lasts. If it clears up before 6:30 I'll try to make up some miles by hitting the Trek Store ride tonight. I'll likely be riding the trusty Sorrento, though.

Happiness is a Fan and a Sun Ray 1...

... OR how I learned to swim to work on a bike.

I brought this little fan to work last week. It was my wife's desk fan at our old apartment, but we have a ceiling fan in the data center office now, so she doesn't really need it anymore. Since it's getting warm and humid in the mornings, I decided it would be put to better use on my desk at work. This morning is the first time I've come to truly appreciate the value of a little, weak, quiet fan. The SunRay was just in the background of the fan, so I framed it in the picture. It's the computer terminal that I use to get much of my work done every day. If you're a geek and don't know what a SunRay is, think of it as a WinTerm or MSTSC hardware client for Solaris. If that doesn't make any sense to you, then it's just a small computer and I'll leave it at that.

I don't know what the humidity was this morning, but it was so moist that the air felt super-saturated. Sweating was doing no good, but I couldn't tell if the water on me was perspiration, or condensation. I'd bet the dew point was high enough that I could actually get condensation on my skin. It was that humid. I felt like I was swimming to work, between my sweat and the humid air.

No one was around to ride with me this morning. I took it solo, and aside from the heat and humidity, it was a nice ride in. I took this photo of the little Wyandotte county ghetto I ride through every day. It's a pleasant enough neighborhood, but it always feels like someplace I wouldn't want to be after dark. I'm not sure why. I'm not willing to find out, though.

Then, I snapped this pic of the industrialized area right before you leave Kansas. This is a nice, flat stretch of 45 MPH road that varies between two lanes with a really wide outer lane (enough room for parking, bicycle traffic outside the door zone, and car traffic) or three lanes without parking. 30 MPH on this stretch of road is no problem, and it's one of my favorite parts of the journey to work. You see lots of friendly people out in the morning. In the rush hours, it serves as an arterial for getting to and from I-35, so my afternoon ride though this section can be intimidating at times. In the morning, I roll through early enough to miss the heavy traffic.

As I made my final approach to the heart of downtown, I glanced down to see what my gearing situation looked like. As I did, I was greeted with a face full of warm, fresh-squeezed helmet juice. Fortunately for me, I regularly rinse my helmet out, so this wasn't carrying any pre-fermented human sweat broth with it. It was just recently-extracted sweat. I'm not sure where it was hiding, but there was quite a bit of it that materialized seemingly out of nowhere.

I stopped for coffee as usual. This half-hour or so allows me to cool down a bit and dry off while checking my personal e-mail before work. Even with all that, I was still sweaty when I made my final approach to the office. Needless to say, my pre-work clean-up ritual was a little more thorough this morning, including a sink shower that was a bit more extensive than usual. I don't know if I mentioned this, but I finally found a locking restroom close to my office. This makes getting ready to work a little easier. You can't exactly peel your sweaty shirt off and start soaping up your armpits in a communal restroom.

Friday, July 06, 2007

How does a security guy lock up?

I'm currently at Oak Park Mall waiting for my friends to arrive. There are a lot of annoying and/or bad things here.

* This place is crawling with emo kids.
* Malls are just evil.
* The whole mall is a "No Skateboarding, Rollerblading or Bicycling" zone.
* Bike theft is probably more prone here than in the secure garage at work.

I have no legal way to remedy the first two problems, so I'll tolerate them for now.

I know the "No Bicycling" thing is meant to keep the "gnarly dudes" at bay, and that I'd probably be able to talk my way out of any trouble with the rent-a-cops here, since this is my primary vehicle.

On with the big problem. Locking up in a somewhat hostile environment.


1) Take the front wheel off and set it next to the rear wheel.
2) Thread Ye Big olde ghetto tube-wrapped chain and lock through the main triangle, rear triangle and spokes of both wheels, then around a stationary object such as a natural gas pipe.
3) Thread cheapish cable lock through the wheels and frame, and around another stationary object.
4) Thread a really cheap thin cable lock through the rear rack, seat rails, and bottle cages.

I'm pretty sure my bike will be there when I go back outside.

Somewhat unintentional commuter convoy

Well, we had some practice for Monday. Chris had already planned on riding and Karen rolls through my route at about 5:45. I took off at 5:40. Just as I pulled up to the first stop light, Chris comes up behind me. As we're stopped at 79th, we see Karen coming up the street. We had a cool little 3-person bike commuter echelon (not quite a convoy) going.

My average speed was a little higher today than yesterday. I took the hill on 67th street at almost full tilt, hitting 41.7 MPH. It's not the fastest I've ever been on my Trek, but it's the fastest I've ever gone on a stretch of road where I have to dodge unpredictably-placed manhole covers and storm drains. Truth be told, I've gone faster than that -- but not by much -- on my Outlook. We took a slightly different route this morning, opting for the slower, longer, and curvier bike path instead of the more direct roadway that's littered with some of the bumpiest railroad crossings known to man.

Anyhow, we all agreed to try it again Monday, but I might ask that anyone interested in riding with us gets to Skate World by 6:00. Karen has to get to work pretty early for parking reasons. We'll try yet another route, since we will have to go through skate world.

Sorry I didn't get any photos. We were too busy riding!

Oh yes, before I sign off for the morning, I have a little bit of a rant. It starts with a trend I started seeing 10 years ago that I never thought would take off, but today it seems to be going like gangbusters. Why in the heck are people -- LOTS of people -- DRAGGING their stuff behind them in little wheeled luggage carts these days? I'm not talking about ginormous luggage cases. These are little bookbag-sized things with wheels and handles. Heck, some of them are even shaped like bookbags and seem to have the usual assortment of straps and handles for carrying on your back or in your hand in a traditional manner. What happened to plain old bookbags, briefcases, laptop bags and the like? I think my laptop bag (which I admittedly stick in my left pannier every morning instead of carrying it on my back) is the only non-wheeled case I've seen this morning. I would ask if people have actually gotten THAT lazy, but I already know the answer.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


... Foo ... Blah ... Stuff, whatever you call it. This is a miscellaneous post of quick, short, bike-related randomness.

Quick fun. Night riding on 87th street is kind of dicey. I ran some errands, grabbed some beer and soda for tomorrow's party at my place. Then I had to get some iced tea and other assorted stuff from the grocery store. I was running all over the 87th street corridor tonight in the dark... with proper lighting, of course. Fun stuff, but not a great road to take the lane on once the sun goes down.

Next, I have a meeting tomorrow at Oak Park Mall (before the party at my place), which is just a meeting with a bunch of nerds, including the nerds I was setting fireworks off with yesterday. I'm riding downtown tomorrow all the way (probably with Chris leading the way, crazy spin machine he be) but I'm taking the L bus to Oak Park Mall when I get off work.

Then, I have to mention that I'm getting excited for the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride on July 14th. 10pm registration July 14th, starts as July 15th arrives, just in case there is any confusion on which midnight it is. If anyone wants to join me, feel free.

Finally, for anyone interested in joining the commuter convoy on Monday, sign up soon, please. The weather looks to be great. If you'd rather the Monday morning commuter convoy change times either earlier or later, just let me know and I'll try to coordinate it with anyone else that wants to join up. This is a great opportunity to learn the layout of a popular bike commute route while gaining road confidence and the wonderful freedom that comes with getting places under your own power. If you're interested, PLEASE e-mail me and I'll try to get you up to speed. This is a slow-medium paced ride for anyone interested in bike commuting, even if you've never thought to try it before. If you'd like an easier trip home, I can help you find a Johnson County Transit bus solution that will get you close to home for a reasonable fee. All the big JO buses have bicycle racks to accommodate cyclists.

That's all for tonight!

Fireworks aren't all that's hot!

Sweet merciful crap! 14 miles doesn't seem too far to ride from work to home, but it's a whole different deal when it's over 90 degrees. It's cooled down a little bit since I left work, but it doesn't really matter. 90 degrees is HOT.

I'm glad I had two bottles of water today!

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