Friday, August 31, 2007

August Recap

Wow, what a month!

August Goals and Results:

  • Take my RHR at least 3 mornings per week
    • Success - For the most part, I took my morning RHR on Mon, Wed and Fri.
  • Recover if I notice an upward trend in my RHR or other over-training signs
    • Success with the exception of the Gaunt memorial ride. My morning RHR was elevated but I still rode for a good cause
  • Carefully push harder if I feel like I'm at a training plateau.
    • I definitely pushed it a few times, especially when I noticed my RHR dropping below 50 in the morning and my legs feeling fresh.
2007 statistics (so far) at a glance:

August statistics at a glance:
Bike commutes: 22
Car commutes: 0
Commute/Errand miles: 529
Recreation Miles: 82
Total Miles: 611

August Events and Accomplishments:
I participated in a few events in August. A few Trek Store group rides, the somber memorial ride for Larry and Sierra Gaunt, and CommuterDude's Dark Side Ride. I saw a few new faces from the blogosphere this month, rolled over my Trek's 1500th mile, and had a whale of a time doing it.

Last but not least, I surpassed 200 miles in a rolling 7-day period (previous max of 191 during Bike to Work Week), did 100 miles in a 24 hour period, and pulled a metric century in one sitting, all thanks to the c'dude ride.

Looking Forward:
I don't really want any goals for September. I'll be honest. I'm to the point where I don't feel like I need them to stay motivated. I just want to have fun, stay healthy, and save some cash doing it. I'm putting some serious effort into the Monday Commuter Convoy. Details coming soon on that. I just want to have it established and working well by the end of September. We'll see how that works. Since the success of the Convoy heavily relies on other people participating, I can't really call it a personal goal. I'll give it my best, though. I'll continue to track my miles, my heart rate, and all that jazz. I'm just not making a big deal out of any specific stats next month.

Still recovering, took it easy this morning

Oh yeah, you guys need to check out commuterdude's write-up of wednesday night's ride. He's got a better way with words than I do when it comes to conveying the sheer awesomeness of a ride.

I set out into the almost-chilly air this morning. It was 62 degrees upon my departure. I pulled up to Monrovia (the street right along my apartment complex) just in time to watch the bus barrel by. I took off slowly, and missed my opportunity to follow it through the light on Quivira.

My legs are still a little stiff from Wednesday-into-Thursday's ride-o-death, so I've already decided that today is going to be more about keeping a slow, steady pace. As I approach some downhills, I decide that I'll shoot for a constant leg effort of about 60%. My "just breathe through the nose" power output level, if you will. I never left the middle ring for the entire trip. I spun up the hills, and used the higher gears on the middle ring to give me a little speed on the downhill sections. All in all, it worked well. I didn't sweat much if at all on the way in, but it came at the expense of a delayed arrival downtown and an average speed that's about 4-5 MPH slower than usual.

Despite my slower methodology this morning, I managed to catch up with the bus on Nieman, and rode alongside it for about half a mile of downhill road. Okay, I admit. I did push it pretty hard going down the hill to play leapfrog with the bus, although I never cut in front of it. And I hammered pretty hard once we started heading back up the hill. In the end, I let it fade off into the distance, then I took 67th down to Carter. Once I merged onto Merriam Lane, I was done with the hills and descents for a few miles and settled into a pace of about 21 MPH, which comes without a lot of effort on flat land. As I approach Johnson Drive, the bus goes by. The driver sees me and nods. Even at this level of effort, I'll be downtown before he can get there.

I rode up to the coffee shop just in time to see Lorin rolling in. Another multi-mode bike commuter joined us as well, coming in from the Plaza area on a re-built Trek 820 with a rack and trunk bag. He has a road bike too, but likes the mountain bike for urban riding. I don't blame him, especially given the construction.

When the buzz of my sugary mocha wears off, I'm going to press a batch of The Roasterie's boldest, baddest coffee, Dark Line Nitro. I haven't bought Nitro in probably six months. I've been experimenting with other locally-roasted blends lately, but I seem to always come back to Nitro. As I ground the beans up right before I went to bed last night, my whole apartment acquired a wonderful, dark aroma. I could actually smell it all the way from the bedroom as I drifted off to sleep. I'm really, really looking forward to this next cup of coffee! Yum!

Random Tunage:
Push - Strange World
Way Out West - Don't forget me (Slam Return To Mono - Vox Mix)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

100 miles in 24 hours + my first metric century

I don't consider 100 miles in a day to be a century, especially when it's broken up into three distinct parts like a commute, another commute after an 8-hour break, then a bunch of recreational riding a few hours later. At any rate, I recently got back from the c'dude ride which wrapped up 100.1 miles since I first departed home yesterday at around 6:00am. Once I left my apartment to ride to the start/stop location, I didn't stop riding for more than a few minutes at a time. I put 69.1 miles on all in one run of things, which qualifies as a metric century.

The air tonight was cool and perfect. There were four of us riding. The 'dude himself, clem, badger and I. We had a few bouts of speed but for the most part we just chugged along and ate up the miles as they came. The route was about 34 miles and we finished up in about 2 and a half hours for an average speed around 14 MPH.

Another thing this did was throw my 7-day rolling mileage up over 200. I'm definitely going to enjoy my rest in a few hours.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The commute gods were smiling on me

A light breeze was at my back, but I would have been happy with calm. This time of year, winds are almost always out of the southwest. The wind out of the north was nothing to write home about, maybe gusting up to 10 or 15 miles per hour, but it was welcome all the same.

I grabbed some cheesesteak sandwiches on the way home to fuel tonight's ride. Well, only one was for me. All in all I still feel ready to go for tonight. We'll see how I feel after 50+ more miles, though. Looks like a chance for a little but of rain for the ride tonight. It doesn't matter too much, though. Even a bad bike ride is better than no bike ride at all!

Random Tunage:
Vengaboys - We like to party
Kevin Saunderson - Powerbass

Morning madness and the conquest of Summit

Let's go over my gear assortment for the day, shall we?  It's supposed to rain today, or that's what it looked like on the radar when I woke up.  No laptop today.  In its place, I packed a towel and spare set of shorts, socks, and shirt for the ride home in case I got wet this morning.  I also put some tunes for work on a USB drive.  On the other side, I carried my usual clean-up gear and work clothes, and a tasty cinnamon roll that I haven't partaken in as of writing this.  All of this stuff is wrapped in plastic bags in case of rain.  I had the handlebar bag on, but it's meant for a flat-bar bike.  It seemed to fit alright.  Inside it, I have my windbreaker, cell phone (in a ziplock), keys, and wallet.  This is what I was planning on using for the C'Dude ride tonight.
I got off to a late start.  I stepped out around 5:45 which is at least 5 minutes later than usual.  As I pulled away, I realized I didn't have my gloves.  I don't NEED them, but they help absorb some road vibrations.  A round trip without them wouldn't be pleasant.  I went back up the stairs to get them, only to find that my wife had already locked the door behind me and she wasn't answering the door. I went back down to the bike and grabbed the keys.  I went back up to the apartment and unlocked the door to find my wife smoking on the balcony; that's why she didn't answer the door.  Grr!  I grabbed the gloves and locked the door on my way out.  I trudged somewhat angrily back down to the bike, put the keys away and slid the gloves on.  Let's roll!  I'ts only 5:52 -- 12 minutes later than usual but better than driving!
Well, not long after taking off, it's apparent that the handlebar bag is interfering with my front brake.  It's pushing the cable over to the side and causing some brake rubbing action.  I took the handlebar bag off and threw it into a pannier.  I'll need to find some other solution to carry my small stockpile of gear tonight.  Up the road a ways, I got barricaded by a train that was on the brink of stopping, causing at least 10 minutes of further delay.  I narrowly avoided being cut-off by another train near Mission and Southwest, but I blew through the crossing as the bells started clanging and before the arms started coming down.  This is NOT my day, is it?  So much for my morning coffee.
With that out of the way, I decided to try to conquer Summit.  Summit is a little road just west of the downtown loop.  It's a 9% climb at some points but about 5% average over about 3/4 of a mile.  Then, it levels off, goes over I-670, past the FBI complex and into the loop.  I made it, and didn't even need my granny ring.  I was tempted, though. This is one of those roads that I said I'd never intentionally take, but this morning I looked up it from the stoplight on Southwest Boulevard and it just started calling to me.  It's easily the steepest and longest climb I've had to make, which isn't saying much.  I know there are people out there who could zip right up it, but I hate hills.  Well, I don't hate them, I would usually not ride up them if I can help it.
Since I have no laptop, I'm making this post via email, too.  If it shows up with strange line breaks, blame Blogger's silly email posting feature.
Random Tunage:
Way Out West - UB Devoid
Orbital - The Box

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

404: Smooth Pavement Not Found

Really, it's out of control. It looks like they finally laid fresh asphalt on Central, but the construction elsewhere is just too much.

Anyhow, heat index was closing in on 100 degrees. Tomorrow's low is supposed to be in the mid 60's. Talk about a temperature swing! Rest assured, I'm packing appropriate gear for tomorrow night's ride. I'm trying something a little different than I did on last month's night ride, including a possibly stupid move of down-grading to a 5W halogen bulb that's helmet-mounted and running it for the whole trip WITH the supplementary LED setup. I'm also ditching the panniers but going to a handlebar bag just to keep my cellphone, windbreaker and full-finger gloves handy in case of rain or worse.

I caught a short nap with my wife this evening, but tomorrow is still going to be a LOOOONG night. The plan is:

Round-trip commute to/from work (~29 miles)
Ride to the start point (~16)
Ride with the 'dude (~33)
Ride to JCCC to kick it with my wife until she gets done with her shift (~15)

By my calculations, that's about 93 miles, which is the most I've ever ridden in a 24-hour period by far. Of course, c'dude's last ride was about 37 miles and that was the most I've ever ridden all in one go of things, so I've got a ways to go before I'm ready to just jump head-first into a century ride. I'm confident that I could do a metric, though.

Random Tunage:
Gravity Kills - Guilty
Stabbing Westward - Save yourself

The trailer guy is back!

Well, he's probably been riding regularly, I just happened across him again this morning. I saw him ahead of me again. As we lose more and more daylight, I really wish this guy would get a rear blinkie, as I could only see his silhouette against the road. His neon-green bag on the trailer doesn't do much until light hits it just right.

The rest of the trip was as normal as can be expected given the construction in the loop. I'm still slogging up Main instead of Baltimore. To complicate matters further, there are even more roads being resurfaced now. Central is destroyed. Wyandotte is torn to shreds. Completely sabotaging southbound traffic on Main, there's still a yawning crater that could devour a metro bus. Northbound traffic on main is also restricted as well. Let's face it, downtown roads are nearly impassable on a road bike right now. I've had to be really careful this week.

I'm glad martinoffroad mentioned it in my comments, but yes... the Lunar Eclipse was bad-ass this morning! It was going bye-bye as I hit the road a little late - closer to 6:00 than to my usual 5:40. But at 5:00 this morning, it was pretty sweet to look at!

Random Tunage:
Only Real Music - Lost in space
Usher - You make me wanna (Extended)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Commuting, Errands, Recreation, etc...

Let's see, over lunch I had to run some errands. I started with a trip to the HR office to pick up the bus pass that I may or may not get my money's worth for next month. I had to deposit a check at the bank, and waved to my boss's boss on the way there. She was heading out to lunch. After I hit the bank, it was time for some grub myself. I made a quick stop by a nearby chinese joint and snarfed down some cheap, mediocre-yet-satisfying pseudo-asian grindage.

I cheated and took the A bus most of the way home. I swung by the grocery store really quick, then grabbed some supper en route. I chilled at home for a bit, then it was off to the Trek Store ride. I drove there, unfortunately. I had some stuff to do that required driving afterwards. All in all, not a bad night and I still got about 30 miles in for the day.

Since I'm going on c'Dude's Wednesday Dark Side Ride, I asked my boss for a vacation day Thursday. To my astonishment, he granted approval for it. I'm going to be BEAT on Thursday morning. It looks like it could be anywhere from 80-100 miles if weather cooperates. Only 30-40 of that will be the c'dude ride, but between Wednesday's commute and then riding to and from the ride location, there's going to be at least 50 miles added to that. Maybe more.

Anyhow, that's a wrap. I'm about to retire for the night, I think.

Random Tunage:
Cake - Never There
Tillman Uhrmacher & Peter Ries - Bassfly

More fun this weekend and a nice trip to work

Last night, my wife and I tried going the other direction on the same trail we used Saturday morning. We ran into a hill that my wife wasn't quite up to tackling on her little three-speed Townie. I don't blame her. The granny gear is great for taking off from a start and someone like me could use it to mash up a hill in a pinch. It's definitely not made for casual recreational riders to be death-slogging 5% climbs, though. We turned around and went the same way we went last time, except we made a loop around some of the Mill Creek swamp land instead of riding all the way to 75th or so. We rode a little further than we did Saturday, sneaking in about 8 and a half miles together total for the weekend.

We finished off the evening at the pool and hot tub to relax and hang out. Some silly teenagers whining amongst themselves in our presence about some of their "huge" problems in the hot tub kind of killed the mood. These kids were probably fresh out of high school from the sounds of it. Still obsessed with their old classmates, their old schools, and their current state of drama in their friendships -- there was much wringing of hands and biting of nails over such trivial matters as who doesn't like whom, how attention should be divied up between a significant other and your friends while at social gatherings and other such childish riddles of life. I must say by the time I was out of high school I was a little more concerned with how to kick off my career and become a functional adult that could care for the family I was preparing to build. Oh well.

Anyhow, after the pool we grabbed some supper and passed out on the bed for about an hour. Then I decided it would probably be a good idea to make sure everything was locked up, bring my wife's bike in, get the rest of the bedding out of the dryer and make the bed properly before actually retiring for a 4-and-a-half hour nap.

I was more than a little bushed when I woke up this morning. I hit the snooze twice, got out onto the road a little later than usual, hammered the hell out of the first 1/3 of my trip then decided it was stupid to do that. I strolled the rest of the way in at a moderate pace. I ran into Lorin when I got coffee. I saw a girl pull up on a beach cruiser with a basket on front that tried to take her bike into City Center Square. That didn't work too well, security put the kibosh on that, much like they did with me. Must be new to the area. Several other cyclists were out today, too. It was a pretty nice morning despite being really humid from the precipitation late last week.

I am probably taking the bus partway home tonight. I'm going on the Monday night ride at the Trek Store. Wednesday night is another CommuterDude Night Ride. Another one that starts at 9:00PM and goes till whenever we're done. Email the 'dude (email link is on the page) if you're interested. He doesn't publish the ride details in public, so RSVP with him if you're in the mood for a dark ride.

Random Tunage:
Morningwood - Nth degree
Real McCoy - Run Away

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Good time on Mill Creek Streamway Trail

Looking for someplace new for the wife and I to ride this morning, I chose Mill Creek. This trail is one of the longer ones in the KC area, stretching about 17 miles end-to-end. The southern terminus is just a few blocks from our old apartment. The northern end is on an island (if you want to call it that) in the Kansas river. It's your typical 8-foot-wide asphalt multi-use path. For the most part, it's very flat and has quite a few long straightaways.

We got there before 6:00 in the morning, before the sun was even thinking about coming up. Just a few short weeks ago, the sun would be almost fully visible by this time of the day.

We weren't out for very long, but we got a little more than 4 miles in. Sefauna's getting more comfortable on the bike. Our schedules and the weather limit her to mostly weekend riding if we wish to ride together, so it's still going to take a while for her to build up to longer distances. Maybe once it cools off in the evenings, that will change.

Yesterday's trip home was interesting. I got caught up in some last-minute stuff at work and lost track of time. I wanted to be home early so I had to rush to catch the A bus. No time to change clothes! I rode to the bus, then rode home from the bus stop (about 3 miles) in my work clothes. Not exactly pleasant, but not terrible, either.

Random Tunage:
Rank 1 - Airwave
Humpty Hump - Do the humpty hump

Friday, August 24, 2007

Oh yes. It's definitely soggy.

There's that word again. Soggy.

It stormed most of last night and it's still sprinkling outside. Road grime is everywhere and the temperatures are starting to cool off. I did my usual crappy-weather routine of riding a few miles to the express bus to get downtown, but my riding clothes are still water-logged and covered with splotches of gray sludge. Even though I didn't sweat, I still had to take a sink shower this morning to get the thin layer of oil and mud-like substance off of my legs and arms. It wasn't a particularly pleasant ride, but it beats the heck out of driving in the rain.

Random Tunage:
Kelly Clarkson - Since u been gone
Alanis Morissette - Crazy (cover of Crazy, originally by Seal)

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Crazy headwinds again today. I'm not aching like I was earlier this week, but that's probably because I decided to see if my granny ring still worked.

Today on the way home, I picked up some more patches and Pedro's tire levers. The ones integrated with my Park MTB-3 rescue tools just don't cut it, and my Park Tool plastic levers have been missing for a while. I finally got around to fixing the Outlook from Monday's flat tire incident. I just patched it and it seems to be holding well. I'm probably riding the Outlook tomorrow. Between that detour and Thai food for lunch, I added about 4 miles to my usual to-and-from trip.

Also, I did a cheap fix to my NiteRider headlight. It works, but it's not as bright as I was hoping for. I need to drop by a hardware store tomorrow to see if I can find something a little brighter. I'm shooting for a light that will go an hour and a half or so on a charge, and with as many lumens as possible from there. We'll see...

Random Tunage:
Third Eye Blind - Semi-charmed life
Vertical Horizon - Everything you want

Another nice morning

It was about 73 degrees when I left home this morning. Very humid, but nice. I took it kind of easy on my way in, as I didn't feel like rushing it. I got to experience the smells of the commute again in full force. It's trash day! I also got stopped by a train in Rosedale. The rest of the ride was smooth sailing with my slightly modified route that takes into account Baltimore being closed for bridge construction.

Last night, I noticed a squishy rear tire during my pack-and-check routine. I pumped it up with air and found the leak before removing the tire, so I just did the old patch in-situ routine (patch the tube while still on the bike by only popping enough of the tire off to get to the puncture) I found another patch about 5 inches from the one I had to put on. That patch is holding up surprisingly well. Until last night, the rear tire rarely needed any air. Hopefully my new one holds air the same way.

Random Tunage:
Erasure - Always
Paul van Dyk - Vega

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

$25 and a six-pack

That's what I traded this bad boy for. This is the rear hub off of my spoke-breaking wheel. I already have a superior Tiagra hub, so I put this on craigslist earlier this week. A guy who works at the brewery that I ride past every day put dibs on it, and today I met up with him to make the trade.

I was asking $25 for the hub, but he offered a case of whatever beer I wanted. I opted for a sixer since that's about all I could hold in my panniers with all my usual gear. The beer was bottled yesterday. That's fresh. Almost too fresh, since Boulevard believes in secondary fermentation and the beer might not actually be mature yet. Imagine that!

Anyhow, thunderheads rolling in made me think twice about riding back home so I headed for Union Station to catch the express bus to the mall. I ended up bailing off the bus right after it exited the highway and taking some backroads to 87th street thus avoiding the death-slog and the traffic on the Quivira viaduct. I got rained on pretty good and the roads were soaked with grime. The beer survived, though and that's all that really matters. My bike is so grimey. Grr.

Random Tunage:
The Verve - Bittersweet symphony
Cranberries - Twenty One

On the road to recovery

I decided to hop on the express bus this morning. I'm sharing the bike rack on the front of the bus with Lorin! Whee!

My legs still ache, and my resting heart rate is up; It had been trending downward. I could easily ride all the way this morning. I could ignore the fire in my legs and just ride, but this month is about keeping an eye on my body's warning signs and reacting accordingly -- whether they're warning signs of dehydration, overheating, over-reaching or over-training. I simply didn't recover properly overnight, so this is what I get.

Right now, I really wish I was cruising the streets with wind in my hair, so it kind of sucks. I'll thank myself for this later, though.

Random Tunage:
The Chemical Brothers - Star guitar
Prodigy - Breathe

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Arterial Observation Redux: Metcalf Ave.

So, Fritz posted a link to a story about Metcalf Ave out here in lowly Overland Park, KS. This resulted in me leaving one comment on his post, and a little e-mail volley ensued under the blogosphere's radar. Fritz told me I should consider posting my views on the whole Metcalf ordeal, and I agree.

I think that it would be a waste to attempt to fix Metcalf itself. Remember, the key problem I have with our love affair of arterial roadways is the fact that there's often no easy way to get from one side of a town to the other without riding on a mini-highway.

Initially, I would have suggested investing in bicycle-friendly infrastructure one mile west, along Antioch, which Warren had to interact with daily during MUP construction. That's not going to happen, either, as they just added highway ramps, which did not exist just a year ago. Antioch was one of the few north/south routes to get from one side of Interstate-435 in Overland Park to the other without having to ride though a mess of stoplights and angry/anxious motorists trying to get on or off the highway. As we speak, Metcalf is undergoing construction that's actually blocking part of the MUP that Warren rides on.

They've been widening it again seemingly by narrowing the median this time. More. Bigger. Badder. Faster. Build. Develop. Consume. If you could flag counties like you flag flickr photos, those would be the flags on Johnson County, KS. A mile to the east is Nall, which has a highway junction as well. Pflumm, 4 miles west of Metcalf, is the closest way I know of crossing I-435 without going through a highway junction. Pflumm also has only one lane in each direction, dark tunnels under the highway, and blighted pavement near the gutter. Top that off with being a very hilly road, and it's really not worth the hassle to use it versus taking your chances in the melee that is your average Overland park interstate highway junction.

There are too many intersections for a bicycle lane on Metcalf. I don't see a way to "bolt-on" bike/ped friendly infrastructure to this death-trap. Click here to see a map if you don't know how bad Metcalf is. Warren posted that Metcalf doesn't really need improvements. I agree with that. Our infrastructure as a whole needs improvements. I suggest starting with our Multi-use paths, and later on, focusing on smaller roads that can be used to get across highways without the fuss of exit/entrance ramps: either with an overpass/viaduct or a tunnel.

What's wrong with our multi-use paths? First off, most people call our trails "jogging trails" and that's what you find out there. Joggers or walkers. They were never, ever designed to be used for getting from one place to another. They are recreational amenities designed to provide a shady, scenic place for people to walk. The signs themselves demand that bicycles maintain a speed below 10 miles per hour -- a ridiculous guideline that I only follow when approaching a pedestrian or a blind curve. The narrow trail, blind curves and overall design of our trails seem to be designed to ensure that you don't go fast for very long.

Honestly, a better-defined multi-use path system is what we need for the whole Greater KC area, and unlike Warren's Indian Creek Trail, we need one that's optimized for transportation AND recreation, that's at least twice as wide as anything else we have out here with two dedicated bicycle lanes (one each direction) on which no pedestrian, stroller, or canine can tread. One with long, sweeping curves and straightaways instead of scenic blind switchbacks designed to make higher bicycle speeds impossible or dangerous. Simply widening, extending, and interconnecting Indian Creek Trail, Turkey Creek Trail, and Mill Creek Trail would be a great start. Straightening out the switchbacks would be feasible in many places. Unfortunately, I don't think these things will happen any time soon.

This whole area prides itself on being very affluent and successful. Some call us the silicon valley of the midwest. With places like Sprint and Garmin claiming giant plots of land in Johnson County to build their world headquarters, it's not too far fetched. Success is displayed by square footage of your home and total tonnage of your vehicles combined. Needless to say, someone on a 19-pound bicycle seems to be practically bragging about their insignificance to most people out here.

Metcalf isn't what needs fixing. Our transportation infrastructure needs to be turned inside out and undergo a complete and total paradigm shift.

Homeward vs. Headwind

The winds were out of the south and southwest on my way home, gusting up to 30 MPH at times, and holding steadily above 20 MPH. Combined with the heat (index 102) and humidity (50%+), the extra effort to fight the wind made my ride home almost regrettable. Even now -- more than 2 hours after I got home -- my legs still ache, and these days, they don't often ache right after riding. I might feel the burn while I'm riding, and I might feel some healin' going on the next morning, but it really hurts right now.

I'm gonna see where I'm at come 5:00 tomorrow morning. I'm not going to devote to riding all the way in tomorrow yet, but I'm not going to chicken out 10 and a half hours before I leave, either.

I took a shorter route today, staying on the road and avoiding turkey creek trail. The result was about half a mile shorter and about 5 minutes saved at the expense of dodging cars. I don't think I'm going to do that again, at least in a 20 MPH headwind.

Random Tunage:
Hybrid - If i survive
Dave Matthews Band - Crash

Insert title here :P

Photo: Bob (who lives downtown) and Lorin (who multi-mode commutes from Overland Park, KS) joined me at Starbucks this morning. Both of them ride Schwinn SuperSports. If you can't tell from the bike on the far left, Lorin is a pretty tall dude.

As far as the ride this morning goes, it was about as uneventful as they come. The only exception being that on my way out of Johnson County, I encountered swarms upon swarms of these bugs. The same kind I mentioned in this post in late march. I could hear them bouncing off my helmet. They were getting stuck in the hair on my arms, and I probably got about a dozen of them in my mouth and nose.

Also, I found out that if I get a really, really good aero tuck going, that I can coast down the 67th street hill and my speed is almost as good at the bottom of the hill as if I were trying to pick up a lot of speed by pumping the pedals. I crested the hill at about 12-15 MPH, then coasted in a tuck, resulting in close to 38 MPH by the time I was at the bottom. I've been experimenting with more aerodynamic riding and it might be part of why my average speed is up a bit lately. Even on the flat bar bike yesterday, I found myself crunched over a bit more than you'd usually see on that kind of bike. No, you aren't likely to see me bolting aero bars onto my Trek or picking up an Equinox to commute on any time soon. It's just interesting to see what a change in riding posture can do.

Also, the more aerodynamic positions on my road bike seem to be working my core a lot more than I'm used to. This is a good thing, as my legs really don't need that much more work. My heart and lungs are always improving, but my core and arms are still lacking. I should probably take up more mountain bike riding as well. That would give me a better overall workout.

Random Tunage:
Nirvana - Lithium
Kenny Loggins - Meet me half way

Wow. That was some really random tunage.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wonder what it feels like in a crock pot?

If so, come to Kansas City this week. You'll get slow cooked by steam!

Let's see... The Outlook made it back in one piece and I'm getting more accustomed to the heat. 44 ounces of fluids (barely) got me back home from downtown. This was complicated a bit as the Outlook only has one bottle cage and no eyelets for another one. Sure, there are behind-the-seat ones, clamp-on ones, handlebar cup-holders, and a multi-colored array of things that I could use to increase my fluid carrying capacity. I just used my backpack for the other bottle.

There was no stopping for shade this time, either. I rode straight through and made pretty good time considering the fact that I was intentionally holding back a bit to stay safe.

I had to come home for a bit first, but when I was on my way out the door to the Monday ride, I noticed my Outlook's rear tire was squishy. Very squishy. I came in and quickly switched the lighting onto the Trek, then took off.

Tonight there were FIVE flat tires within about 10 miles of riding. My front tire was one of the victims claimed. So yes, I had another two-flat day. Oh well. The Trek is fixed up and ready to go tomorrow. I will work on the outlook tomorrow evening. It's time for bed in a little bit.

A note on the commuter convoy. I've been doing some networking. Mark Thomas from LocalCycling not only linked to the Commuter Convoy page, but he might be helping me add a few twists to the convoy. Similarly, if you'd like to make some suggestions, please contact me with the form on the right (down a ways, too!). Let me know if a different day or time would work better, if you'd like to meet somewhere further north or south along the way, or if you'd like to meet up at a convenience store or coffeehouse to get a kick before you hit the road. All of these are options I'm open to. I ride to work pretty much every single day, and I'll ride with YOU (*YES, YOU!*) any day of the work week as long as I can get to work on time. I'm also meeting with Bridging The Gap's new director of the Clean Commute program later this week and perhaps we'll brainstorm a little bit.

I'll see ya on the road!

Random Tunage:
Way Out West - Don't forget me (w.o.w. dust biter remix)
B-Movie ft. Koishii & Hush - Nowhere girl (club mix)

Never a dull moment when I'm on my bike

Photo: I took the Oulook and the backpack all the way downtown today.

Let's see, some interesting stuff this morning:

First, the slick, 85PSI tires on this bike are great at a lot of stuff. Navigating lightly rain- or sprinkler-slicked roads is not one of them. Right after leaving my apartment, I rushed to get through a light and mis-judged the corner and my bike's ability to handle it. My front wheel washed out just after the apex of the turn, and then my rear wheel started losing grip as well. Here I am, losing control of my bike in an intersection. The light turned yellow just after I entered, so if I lay it down, northbound quivira traffic will have a green light in less than five seconds. I got up out of the saddle and decided I would try to ride it out and bail if I hit the curb. My wheels nestled neatly into the curb's groove with a pretty harsh impact. I brought the bike back under me, still going about 12 MPH, then took off as if nothing had happened. That was a pretty fun (okay, scary) rush to start the morning with.

I was averaging about 18.7 MPH by the time I got to Mission road. I saw a young woman riding a bicycle on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the road who appeared to be commuting as she was wearing a backpack. Then I noticed a guy pulling a single wheel trailer, hauling serious ass as he merged onto southwest boulevard. I picked up the pace to catch up to him, and talked for a while. He's currently unemployed but doing some labor for a friend of his for a while before heading out to Colorado. It looked like he had tools and clothes on his trailer. We were going a little more than 25 MPH with a brief sprint up to 35. It was a good time.

All in all, the Outlook doesn't really feel any slower than the Trek 1200; My average was boosted to 19.4 MPH by the time I got to the brewery. I'm missing the drop bars and panniers. Wearing a sweaty backpack for anything more than 5 miles kind of sucks. Since I fixed the bottom bracket woes, this bike seems to be pretty nice, actually. The top speed leaves something to be desired, but it's rare that I really wring my road bike out on my commute.

I had coffee and ran into Bob and Lorin this morning. I've seen a few other bike commuters stroll by as well. This is probably the nicest feeling morning we've had this month. Although the humidity is in the 90%s thanks to light rains in the past 24 hours, the temperatures were in the low 70s. All in all, it felt a lot less brutal than usual this morning.

Random Tunage:
Filter - Hey man nice shot
Nine Inch Nails - Head like a hole

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Our bikes have a new home

Well, kind of.

About 2 weeks ago, I attempted (and failed) to re-organize our storage room to hold more stuff including the bikes on the bicycle rack. What I succeeded in doing was relocating the rack so that it was completely useless, putting it in a position to where no bikes would fit on it. Prior to this, I'd used it quite a bit for about 2 months without any problems.

Today, my wife told me to mount it on the wall in our office. There's ample room and little furniture in our office, which is basically just a computer lounge room. The patio is enclosed and we've never had a problem with our bikes getting wet or dirty out there. Whichever bike I am using for commuting at the time usually sits in front of the fireplace. The rest are on the patio. Now my mountain bike (which is currently out of commission since I stole its rear wheel for my Outlook) is the only one outside.

The rack itself is by Delta Bicycle Products. I found it on Craigslist being practically given away. It was still new in box when I got it. Look for a full product review later this week, or maybe even today.

Shown in the photo are my wife's Champagne Pearl Electra Townie 3S and my Metallic Black/Brushed Aluminum Trek 1200. The rack is also holding our helmets, gloves, and other accessories between the bikes.

Random Tunage:
Seal - Crazy
Chicane - Offshore (Ferry Corsten remix)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Arterial Observations

When I really want to get home in a hurry, the fastest way for me to do it is to catch the first Antioch bus to 87th street. The first run is an express bus, because there are no other buses scheduled for the transfer location. That cuts almost half an hour off the trip alone. It also puts me at the intersection of 87th and Antioch around 4:20 or so, just as traffic is starting to pick up.

87th is a pretty major road. It's almost a highway in and of itself. Two to three lanes in each direction, 45 MPH speed limit. Center turn lanes and islands, the whole nine yards. Fact of the matter is, no matter what route I take (all bike or any of the bus routes aside from the D which drops me off at my front door), I invariably have to spend some time on arterial roadways. With huge mega-interstates seemingly bisecting almost every community in the metro area and only mini-highways that cross those interstates, it's practically unavoidable.

Anyhow, back to 87th Street Parkway. It's a pretty busy road after 4:00 PM, especially on Thursday and Friday for some reason. It's not nearly as bad as 95th street, but it's still dicey.

Wednesday, I almost got hooked by a car that decided to make a right turn from 87th to Quivira... Via the CENTER lane. Thankfully I saw it coming. Yesterday, someone notified me that there is a sidewalk on 87th street. I'm glad it was a passenger, because if it took the driver that long to see the sidewalk, I'm pretty sure seeing things like other cars doesn't come easy. I'm assuming he thought that I belonged on the sidewalk. I really need to print out some materials for mouth-breathers like this guy.

Today, I was off the road bike. I was riding a cheapo hybrid bicycle and wearing a backpack. I looked a little less roadie, I suppose. I got nothing but plenty of room when being passed if people passed at all. Many stayed behind me. My riding style didn't change. My speed was about the same even on the hybrid. I took the lane today (center of the right lane) just like I did yesterday. Maybe it was the backpack. Everyone looks 12 when they're riding a bike and wearing a backpack.

I think this requires more experimentation.

Fun little jaunt

Well, that was a fun little jaunt to the mall this morning. My resting heart rate was below 50 this morning, a departure from the usual 51-53 range. My body is recovered but my mind and my legs are a little tattered from the riding and the heat. I'm glad I didn't ride all the way in today.

I got to the mall pretty early, so I rode a few circles in the parking lot, then decided to to a full lap on the mall's outer drive, which added almost a mile to the morning's festivities. When I got back to the bus stop, Lorin was there waiting for the bus with his bike and cars were beginning to pull up.

I grabbed my usual Mocha, even though I didn't need to cool down. The Outlook ran so smooth this morning. It's amazing what a psychological difference comes with a bike that's not creaking, grinding and clunking.

Random Tunage:
Hybrid Featuring Peter Hook (from Joy Division/New Order) - True to form
Prodigy - Breathe

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Outlook is back in action

This ain't no hybrid-zilla! This is a lean machine! Honestly, this is about as minimal as I get. Lights, reflectors, a spare tube and a bottle cage.

The plan is to ride to the bus tomorrow morning. My legs are tired; I am tired. Recovery is needed.

I tore the bottom bracket apart. As I suspected, the non-drive crank was a bit loose but the BB itself was also in need of some attention. I cleaned and polished it up, re-greased it and re-assembled. The mile-long shakedown run was on the bike as pictured below. It's so ridiculously nimble in this form that I'd almost call it twitchy. The cranks are tight, the bottom bracket is smooth as butter, and the bike has been freed of it's rack, the panniers, and the handlebar bag. No frills tomorrow, folks!

Random Tunage
Blues Traveler - Hook
Laurent Wolf - Happy TV

Someone's sharing the bike rack at work!

This is the 125th day in 2007 that I've locked my bicycle up to this rack in the first floor of our parking garage at work. Today, it's finally being shared... with a motor vehicle.

I'm not sure whether to be angry or to laugh. Regardless, it's kind of pathetic. The 30 day tags tell me this is a new vehicle so it will likely be locked up next to my bike for days to come.

Scratch the "I'm not sure" comment above. I'm angry. Thanks to a selfish scooter owner, there is no safe way for a bicyclist to lock up to this bicycle rack now. There's also a clearly marked "Bicycle Parking" sign next to this rack. If this scooter shows up on the rack tomorrow, I think I'll leave a nasty-gram on it.

Two addendums:

1) The cable is long enough to wrap around one of the support pillars in our parking garage, and it's not even securing the scooter. It's wrapped through a metal handle near the seat. This handle is attached to the scooter with philips head screws.

2) Tomorrow's nasty-gram will likely read as follows:
"This cable would easily wrap around one of the support columns in the motorcycle parking area. Why don't you leave a bicycle parking space free for someone who might actually need it?"

Thoughts? Comments? How would you deal with this?

The time trials

This morning's time trial commute was smooth as usual. There was no one else riding this morning to egg me on, but I'm so used to hammering it now that I managed another 19.2 MPH average between my apartment and the brewery. Like always, I slowed down once I started the climb into downtown, but even those averages are on the rise.

I'm going to have to stop this sort of behavior, though. I tweaked my knee on my way home Monday night. In an energetic rush of acceleration, I pulled up hard on the upstroke to take off from a stop. I usually "float" my upstroke; I rarely pull up forcefully. This is what I get. While my knee hasn't gotten any worse this week, it's not getting any better, either. It's just sort of stiff. It feels fine while I'm riding but stiffens up once I get off the bike. I'm sure this week's morning time trials are partially to blame. I think I'm going to ride to the bus stop tomorrow morning.

On my way over towards Mission Road, I caught up with someone who I only know as "the scooter lady". She's an older lady that passes me every morning on this little black scooter that can't have much more than 80cc of displacement. It sounds like something out of the Jetsons. We exchanged greetings at the stop light and she told me that I seem to make pretty good time on my bike. I agreed. The light changed and that was that.

Well, off to work I go!

Random Tunage:
DJ Eyal - Dreamcatcher
Alice DeeJay - Better Off Alone

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Larry and Sierra Gaunt Memorial Ride Photos

Photo: Cyclists start gathering.

Click for photo album.

I'm going to say we had A LOT OF FREAKING CYCLISTS out. I won't even try to guess but there were hundreds upon hundreds. I wouldn't be surprised to hear a number close to 1000.

I ran into MartinOffRoad, Chris and his wife, CommuterDude, and several others that I've met or read about before.

There were a few speakers before we started riding. This included one of Larry's sons (not Sierra's father), a guy from bicycle shack, and others. The talks included a teary-eyed thank you and a talk on bicycle and motor vehicle safety.

We rode at a slowish pace around the lake, stopped at the crash site for a moment of silence and to see the Ghost Bike that Acme Bicycle Company provided, then finished riding around the lake. There wasn't much talking; the ambiance was an odd balance of sadness and awe. I'd say that's about how this ride struck me as well. It's sad that yet again two cyclists died at the hands of a careless motorist when it could have easily been avoided. On the other hand, it's amazing that their story touched so many people and brought us together.

Larry and Sierra did not die in vain, nor will they be forgotten.

2500 miles

Just a quick update. I passed 2500 miles for 2007 just now. More
than 1500 of those miles have happened on my road bike.

No, I just bring those up here for fun

So it begins again. It's 102 degrees Fahrenheit right now, and probably climbing. I got the question again. "So, did you ride today?!" The question was asked with great anticipation. Surely, no sane person would dare venture out in this kind of weather on a bicycle! Be that as it may, no one has ever accused me of being sane.

I thought about saying "No, I just drag these old bike saddlebags in to work every day for the hell of it!" but I bit my tongue before responding.

I didn't show him my last blog post, but I did assure him that I definitely ride in this kind of weather, and that it's all about taking it easy, staying hydrated, knowing when to stop for a few minutes, and paying attention to the early warning signs of heat exhaustion. He kind of rolled his eyes and walked off.

I'm not sure what to make of these kinds of questions. I don't care how they get to work, so I'm not sure why they care how I do it. Perhaps they want to say "I told you so!" about something. I'm not sure.

Anyhow, I'm off to the Gaunt memorial ride after I run some errands and get some supper. I'll have pictures tonight or tomorrow morning.

Tricks of the trade: Beat the heat

Photo: Disappearing Road, courtesy Brent Danley.

This is a familiar sight for many of us this time of year. We're subjected to sweltering heat that feels like a sticky steam sauna, sun rays broiling us from above and radiant warmth scalding us from below. These conditions are not only trying, but they can be very dangerous as well. This is the polar opposite of navigating ice and snow while fighting hypothermia. Many a cyclist retreats on days like this. Here are some tricks of the trade to keep you safe and healthy when Summer is in full swing.

It's getting hot in here!

Our bodies are designed to operate at a tepid 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When the brain heats up to 101 degrees or so, disorientation, dizziness and nausea can set in. A few degrees more and you're completely delirious -- incapable of making rational decisions. This often results in a downward spiral of poor decisions that may result in death. For this reason, it's really important to keep your cool and stay safe in the sun.

You are likely starting to experience heat exhaustion if you start to feel dizzy, confused, crampy, sleepy, or not motivated to keep riding. Other symptoms include lack of sweating, nausea, headaches, blurred vision, difficulty breathing or debilitating fatigue that turns headwinds and small hills into seemingly impossible challenges. This is a trivial condition in and of itself, but only if caught and addressed early on. It can quickly advance to what's known as heat stroke, which can make you loopy or unconscious, either of which places you in nearly imminent peril.

Perspiration and hydration
Our bodies are designed to regulate temperature by means of evaporation. When we sweat, water evaporates and reduces the temperature of our bodies. In humid air, this process is less effective. Some quick research on the Internet shows that a person can lose as many as three or four liters of water per hour through perspiration. Along with that, electrolytes are also lost and calories are burned as well.

Replacing these fluids will keep you sweating, which will help cool you down. Your body absorbs cold fluids easier, so ice water is a great start to reduce your temperatures internally as well as providing fluids for evaporative cooling. Drinking plain water is a good start, but you also lose electrolytes through your sweat glands. Electrolytes keep the brain and nerves working properly while fighting off cramping muscles. Chlorides of Sodium and Potassium are the big dogs here. I personally drink both water and an isotonic sports drink. Isotonic drinks contain approximately the same level of salts found naturally in your body. They replace salts lost through sweating. Examples of isotonic drinks are Gatorade, Hydr8, Powerade and the like. Replenishment is just as important as rehydration for longer rides.

Heat Accumulation
Sometimes, sweating and hydration aren't enough to keep you from overheating. As I mentioned earlier, sweating is not as effective at cooling your body when the air is humid. This is because the air can only absorb so much moisture. If it's already got quite a bit of moisture in it, your sweat won't evaporate as easily. Pavement is dark in color, and can reach temperatures upwards of 140 degrees; This doesn't help matters at all. Finally, bicycling and other physically strenuous activities generate internal heat in the muscles. This warms the blood and your overall core temperature. If evaporative cooling and the intake of cool liquids is losing the temperature battle against internally-generated, radiant, and ambient heat, you will suffer from heat accumulation.

Options for temperature regulation

The obvious way to cool down is with ice or cold water. Pouring some on your head or stashing ice in your jersey pockets are popular options used by riders on longer bicycle rides. Frequent stops at convenience stores can be made to restock your ice. If you wish to stop and use ice or water to cool off, make it count. The head, neck, armpit, rump, and groin areas areas are some of the best places to provide active cooling for. There is a lot of blood flowing through those areas.

Warren swears by the "misaligned sprinkler" method of cooling. Look for lawn sprinklers that spray onto the road or sidewalk and time your approach so that you'll get a little bit wet. Ground water is often between 50-60 degrees. It will feel like ice cubes hitting you, which probably feels both good and bad at the same time. Similarly, you could just pour cold water on your head while rolling. Just make sure to save some for drinking! Remember what I said about making poor decisions when you're overheated.

If there isn't anywhere to gather ice or water, you can choose to stop in the shade. Wandering off the pavement and under a tree will provide several benefits. First and foremost, you're not exerting yourself. You also get out of the sun as well as getting away from the hot pavement. Take your helmet off when resting. This will allow the sweat both on your head and inside the helmet to evaporate and cool off a bit. Shade can be found under bridges or overpasses, in deep ditches. In a pinch, you can form a shade barrier by draping your jersey over your bicycle's frame or hide in the shadow of your panniers for a few minutes.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97: Wear sunscreen." (Sorry, I had to say it)

On a serious note: with summer comes sun, and lots of it. Now that it's the middle of August, it's a little late in the game to be talking about avoiding sunburn but it's worth mentioning that wearing sunscreen (SPF-30 or higher) and sunglasses will provide many benefits beyond keeping you from looking like a lobster when you get home from work. It doesn't take long to get a first-degree burn from the sun. A second-degree burn with blisters can happen in under an hour. Play it safe, and wear sunscreen. There are sport-specific sunscreens out that do not run or wear off as easily while sweating or swimming. Although it's expensive, I use Coppertone Sport SPF-50. It stays on my skin and out of my eyes while it protects me. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Reduce your exposure
There is no shame in mixing it up a bit with transportation modes. Drive, carpool, or take public transit half way. If you use public transit, you can ride the whole way to work in the morning, but use a bus, train, or subway to avoid some of the heat and get you closer to home.

Shift your work schedule. Around here, the 5:00 and 6:00 hours are the hottest. It also seems like that's when most people are on their way home. You may see if your boss will allow you to come to work earlier or later so that you can ride in cooler temperatures. You'll also likely avoid some rush-hour traffic.

Have your own suggestions for beating the summer heat? Post your comments!

Gaunt memorial ride

After I get off work, I'm taking the L bus home, then driving out to the Larry and Sierra Gaunt memorial bicycle ride. For those interested, it's going to be at the Longview College rec. center at 6:30 tonight. I should have photos this evening.

There will be press there, so the bigger the turnout, the better. Come and show your support for safer cycling in Kansas City! Here are some maps to help you find it.

This morning's ride was another quick paced one, about halfway between yesterday's speed and Monday's. I'm starting to get a little better at hills. :)

Random Tunage:
Inkfish - Acting out (part 2)
Brother Brown - Under the water (deep dish underpressure remix)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I lived to tell about it.

So much for the bus. I decided to ride the whole way. My decision was based on a lot of reasons. First, thanks to Fritz, I took a pledge to go car-free one day per week through New American Dream's C3 program. Taking it quite literally, I feel like I must set aside one day to do a full round trip by bike. Next, the bus has its benefits, but remains a boring option compared to the adventures you're about to read below. Finally, I just miss riding my bike in the evening. Sometimes there's no substitute for hammering out the miles.

Geared with 24 ounces of solid ice and 20 ounces of lemon-lime Gatorade, I took to the streets of downtown KC, MO. The sun above mercilessly pressed its intense rays into me from above. The dark asphalt radiated heat from below like hot stones in a campfire, boiling the little strips of tar used to patch cracks and crevices. The humid air blasted out of the south with a 104 degree heat index but it might as well have been 110 or higher. This is what I observed immediately after pulling out of the parking garage. This was going to be an interesting trip. Even as a teenage boy that loved to ride, this kind of weather was often more than enough to keep me indoors, or at least off the bike and lounging in the pool.

The first thing I did was to make absolutely certain that I stayed hydrated. I drank, and drank, and drank some more, but the first 4 miles or so of my trip resulted in absolutely no sweating that I could tell. This is usually a sign that one is dehydrated. I pulled off as I passed under I-35. I hopped off my bike and took a big swig of Gatorade as I dismounted. No sooner did I stop rolling and the sweat factory became evident. My theory is that my sweat was actually evaporating for a change. I hopped on the bike again and pressed onward. Sweat glands remained active. Hooray! I peered downward as I left the comfort of the shade. The glistening droplets of condensation from my water bottle were nowhere to be to be seen. The icy brick that once had complete dominance over the water bottle had become a small, helpless sliver, bobbing to and fro in what was left of the bottle's contents. It was doing little to cool the water, but it would meet its fate soon.

Several miles later, I approached another overpass -- the last of which I encounter on my way home -- and I started to feel kind of crappy. I was drinking as much as I could without feeling sick and bloated, but I know when I've had enough of the heat. I pulled off again, this time setting the bike down. Half crouched, half sitting, I rested on the steeply-angled concrete under the overpass. I shed my helmet, took in the last of my Gatorade, and took pause for a few short minutes. When riding in extreme heat, it's just as important to pay close attention to your body's warning signs. Dehydration is not the only risk. If you're starting to overheat, you should stop exerting yourself. Finding some shade is recommended, even if the only shade is but a smallish tree. If nothing is around, you can even try hiding your body in the shadow of your jersey draped over your bike's frame. Fortunately, I had several feet of concrete to cover myself with, and I kept drinking as I watched motorists whiz by in their climate-controlled death-traps.

Fluids running low, heat index climbing, and traffic congestion brewing, I departed from the safety of my dusky island and out into the stygian chasm between my location and my domicile. With seven miles remaining in my journey and but a precious few swigs of water left, there was no way I'd reach my destination without risking my health. Could I make it home? Almost certainly. Would it suck? Without a doubt. I stopped at Sonic a mile down the road to have my water bottles recharged with ice water. Sweet success!

Just down the road was the entrance to Turkey Creek Trail, and I knew I'd be in the clear once I got to that point. In this heat, there are no people to be found "enjoying" the paths. The rest of the trip was without event. I managed to polish off all the ice water as I approached my apartment complex. I managed to take in almost 90 ounces of fluids over the course of about an hour. If I am going to make this journey again, I am certainly bringing at least an extra one-liter bottle of water, tucked away in my panniers or lunch bag. Bite your tongues about the Camelbak, guys. It's not happening. I'll carry a milk jug of water in my panniers before I strap two liters onto my already drenched back.

Right after I got home, I still felt great. I could have kept riding if I had enough hydration and nutrients to support such an adventure. All in all, I'm very happy that I decided to abstain from the bus today. I might do it more often, once I have a way to carry more water.

An update on the NiteRider situation, too. All I have to do is fax my receipt in, and they'll send me a new bulb even though I'm almost twice beyond their bulb warranty. I followed one of my commenters' advice and called them directly, initially asking about putting a 15 watt bulb in. When the tech support guy heard that my bulb burned out in less than 4 months, he offered a replacement without me even asking. Had he not offered, I would have asked anyways. I'm glad they made the first move, though.

Random Tunage:
Benjamin Bates - On my feet
Johnny Crockett - E for elektro


Well, NiteRider still hasn't answered my email to them. I was inquiring about the feasibility of using their 15 watt bulb in my existing housing. I know it'll reduce run-time, but it already goes twice as long as I need it to. I also voiced my displeasure that it didn't even last 4 months. We'll see if I hear back later today.

Chris was out this morning and finally has some better lighting. I swear, my commutes are more like training rides if I try to keep up with him. By the time we got to the brewery, I was at 19.2 MPH, which is easily the fastest I've ever averaged on this trip. By the way: Ouch. No, I'm not injured. Yes, I'm sore.

I wasn't even focused on speed at first, I was just riding and keeping up. I usually leave my computer showing my current speed and the current time. Checking my average speed and seeing it at 18.9 shortly after leaving Kansas made me want to push harder. It didn't stay at 19.2 for long. As I began the climb into the downtown loop, I lost a little more than a mile per hour of my average speed, which is about normal.

I'm going to really hurt on my way home tonight. I just know it. Probably doing the L Bus again, or may be the A. I'm not sure yet. Miles don't matter this month.

Random Tunage:
Iio - Rapture (Creamer & Stephane K Remix)
Apoptygma Berzerk - Kathy's Song (Ferry Corsten Remix)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Haulin' ass with no headlight

Well, not exactly no headlight. After charging my NiteRider battery last night, I hooked it up and turned the headlight on to be greeted with a momentary blink and nothing after that. I grabbed my multimeter to do some diagnostics. Battery: charged. Headlight module: not responding. I took it apart and sure enough, the bulb is burned out. It lasted about 3.5 months. That doesn't seem right.

Anyhow, I used the Blackburn Quadrant in Half-Blink mode this morning, and it worked fine for being seen, and for the first 15 minutes of my ride, I have ample street lighting anyways. Chris joined the convoy and we were seriously high-tailing it (for my usual liking) all the way downtown. I played wheelsucker for the uphills. Drafting rocks... for the drafter!

Needless to say I got downtown pretty early.

I'm taking the L bus home tonight, and I won't be at the Monday night ride. Instead, I'm going to the Gaunt memorial bike ride on Wednesday. If you haven't read about it online yet, check out the following links. This is a really sad story, and it differs greatly from most of the other bike fatalities we've had in KC this year. These were affluent, knowledgeable, law-abiding riders with all the proper safety equipment, riding on the right side of the right lane of a 4-lane road. Safety conditions don't get any better than that, and they still got mowed down by a so-called "inattentive" motor vehicle operator -- I refuse to call the individual a "driver" because "driving" implies that the person is lucid at the vehicle's controls. Inattentiveness is not an option when operating a motor vehicle. Yet again, I doubt charges will be pressed or citations will be issued. This city doesn't take cycling fatalities seriously.

Kansas City Star: Another bicycle tragedy...
Kansas City Star: Bicycling girl, grandfather both die
Topix compilation of related stories (Dynamic content, may contain un-related news in a few days)

Random Tunage:
Santiago Nino - Mirage
Sean Callery - The longest day (24 theme song) (Armin van Buuren mix)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Weekend riding: Trails and Church

So much for a day off the bike to recover! Actually, yesterday's riding was at a pretty relaxed pace. After Sefauna got off work, we grabbed breakfast and took to Turkey Creek Trail. She works graveyards, so breakfast was in the dark, and it was barely daybreak upon hitting the trail. For the first time ever, we rode Turkey Creek Trail end-to-end. We continued back to the farmer's market. She racked up about 5 miles yesterday which is the most riding she's done at once and not a bad run of things for only riding occasionally. She's doing really well! We might go back out tonight after things cool off a bit... If they cool off a bit.

Today, I decided to take my bike to church. I haven't ridden there since I moved. It used to be about 7 miles round trip, now it's twice the distance. I'm running all of the church technology this week and next (lights, sound, video), so I threw the panniers on and carried the church laptop on the bike. The heat index was already 90 degrees by the time I showed up to church and 101 degrees (92 Ambient) by the time I got home a little after noon. It's getting warmer by the hour, too.

Anyhow, off to clean the bike for tomorrow's commute!

Random Tunage:
Probspot - Blueberry
Sutro Ft. Tyler Stone - Affected (Honeycut Mix)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Monday Commuter Convoys

Starting a new weekly group ride isn't easy. Getting the word out is difficult, and then getting people to show up after that can be a challenge, too. The Monday Commuter Convoy is no exception.

Chris and Karen have stuck with me pretty much from the beginning, and now Karen's on vacation for the next few months. I've had a few others come and go, and I've run across people who kind of "accidentally" joined the group en-route. That said, with only two regular riders and a few occasional ones, it's not quite a convoy yet.

The convoy is attracting a little tiny bit of interest in the local media. This started with a post on a while back ago, then with a KC Star letter to the editor and kind of took off from there. I've been contacted via e-mail by commuters in other cities and by other members of the press both local and elsewhere. No other exposure yet, but it's prompted me to try a little bit harder to get more people to show up. This isn't just about getting to work on a bicycle, nor is it just about being up at the crack of dawn to ride. Here are a few reasons I started it, and why I'd like to see more people commute with the convoy on Monday mornings:

  • To get other bicyclists introduced to commuting by bike
  • To show that almost anyone can do it. Trust me.
  • To create visible bicycle traffic with no doubt that we are commuting
  • It's fun, healthy, and safer than you may think.
  • It's better than 2 cups of coffee at waking you up.
This week, I asked Maggi to add the convoy to the JCBC Ride Calendar. It's on there. Spread the word, though. Even if you have a good reason to not commute by bike (and there are plenty of them), tell your bicycling friends.

Some push-back I've gotten from would-be participants revolves around the schedule and the temperatures we're seeing here in KC. Let me address those:

There are two reasons I want to hit Merriam Lane no later than 6:05 AM. The first of which is traffic once you get downtown. Traffic starts to really take off around 6:40 or so, and the less time you spend on the arterial roadways after 7:00, the better. The second reason is temperature. the 6 o'clock hour is the coolest hour by far on a normal summer day.

If you don't need to be at work until 8:00 and leaving at 6:00 seems counter-intuitive, it gives you time to relax at a local coffee shop, let the sweat evaporate a bit, and center yourself before work. It's also great "you" time before work if you're into meditation/prayer, reading, devotions, or catching up on the news. You don't need to be at home to do those things. Bring a book, the newspaper, or even your laptop. I do.

As far as temperatures are concerned, I advocate using the bus system to decrease your exposure to the heat and sun. You can get within a few miles of most anywhere in Johnson County using the JO buses. On some hot days, I take the bus halfway home. If I need to or want to, there are 3 other stops I can use ranging from a few blocks away to 3 miles. I'll gladly help you find a bus route to get you close to home, so don't let that get you down.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Commute week wrap-up

Well, let's see. This hasn't exactly been a record week for bicycling. My commuting miles were less than 80 this week (not even worth 3 full round trips) and I had about 9 miles on top of that for errands. There was no recreational cycling in this heat wave! This compares to the kind of miles I was getting before I moved to the new apartment. I'm not displeased to say the least. It's hot and I wouldn't blame anyone for completely eschewing the bike this week. I wouldn't blame anyone for calling me crazy for riding ANY distance in this stuff, either. I'm already acclimated to the heat, though. Mother nature has been ramping the temperatures up to this level for the past month and a half.

I did four one-way commutes all the way to work. I wimped out Thursday morning due to wet conditions. I did the homeward half-commute (about 7 miles) twice, a short 3-mile commute twice, and a really wimpy commute Wednesday when I not only had a broken spoke but I missed the first bus home.

All in all, not a bad week. Tonight's half-commute was a blast, and I was really, really scooting along considering the heat and the headwind.

Any Johnson Countians that work downtown and own a bike? I'm really trying to get some more movement on the Monday convoy. The weather has actually been quite pleasant in the mornings, just humid. We leave during the absolute coolest part of the day, so think of joining us! I am going to be posting further details, so keep an eye on my blog this weekend, and for the love of all things good and bikey, think about signing up and trying it out. You'll love it.

Random Tunage:
Freeloaders - So much love to give
Madonna - Get Together

Public Service Announcement courtesy of The Amazing Shrinking Man

I can has whole lane? Kthx.

Thanks, Tom!

No news is good news, right?

There wasn't really anything worth mentioning last night other than Hybrid-Zilla's bottom bracket evolving from a tick to a half-rotation creaking noise. I've been too busy to tear it apart, but I'm kind of wondering if the non-drive crank isn't just loose from the sounds I'm hearing. The crock-pot of doom that is the midwest was as sticky and hot as ever last night.

This morning, I was greeted with a few miles of Merriam Lane that had been chewed up for (much needed) resurfacing. Only the outer part of the lane was stripped of the top layer of asphalt, but as this stretch of road is one lane in either direction, I was forced to use the left part of the lane. Let's say that I made a few new motorist friends this morning.

I'm back on the road bike and was pondering a full round-trip today regardless of temperatures and humidity, but there's no way I'm braving Merriam Lane in rush hour torn up the way it is.

Random Tunage:
Mellomaniacs - Tribute to 1998 (Cover of Binary Finary - 1998)
Angelo Badalamenti - Falling (some unknown electronic/chill remix)

Thursday, August 09, 2007


We had a heck of a gullywasher last night. The ground is wet and the air is almost humid enough to drown you.

I took my Diamondback Outlook (ticking bottom bracket and all!) to the mall. This is going to be a low-miles week. The rain didn't cool it down much, but I'd bet it'll make for suffocating conditions this evening. Now where'd I put my stillsuit?

Random Tunage:
The Distance - Measure
Dirty Vegas - Days go by

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I'm probably going to jail...

...for the merciless slaying of my rear wheel. I am not kidding that this is the 5th broken spoke I've had to deal with on this wheel. That's right, I found another one. I'm not doing anything different than usual, either. I took it easy this morning. I really don't know what's going on, but I don't like it.

I somehow missed the Express Antioch bus, so I'm on the Quivira D bus. I swear, the D must stand for dreaded, derogatory, death, despair, disdain, and any other word beginning with D that can be used to paint something in a negative light. There's no reason that a motor vehicle should take a whole hour to transport humans 15 miles or so.

Anyhow, I get to go take my wheel back down to the LBS again. Sigh.

Update - The guys at Bike America hooked me up with yet another brand new wheel. They rock, and I'm happy. :)

I also have enough spare parts to build a bitchin' spare wheel. The Tiagra hub and decent spokes off my bike's OEM wheel will work nicely with the rim of the last wheel. I may attempt to take some of this stuff apart and do my own wheel rebuild sometime soon.

Bizarre Headwind, lack of coffee, and slowness

It should come as no surprise to anyone that when I got around to checking my heart rate this morning, it was about average. Averaging about 22 miles per day this week so far, I haven't really been pushing through the miles, and for good reason. It's freaking hot! Less riding means easier recovery, I guess.

The radar was clear overhead, but up north there had been some good storms brewing all night long. They were far enough north that I wouldn't need to worry about them on the way to work. I got out REALLY late this morning, partially because I took the time to eat breakfast before my departure.

One thing I didn't look at was the recent NOAA weather observations. This would have told me that mother nature had some cruel stuff in store for me on my way to work. Since I didn't look in advance, I got to figure it out the hard way. What cruelty was she brewing in her weather cauldron of doom? How about 79 degrees, 87% relative humidity, 12 MPH winds out of the East-Northeast? That right, a brick-walling headwind on top of relentless temperatures and humidity before the sun even came up.

So, I was running late and I was running slow in the face of these evil winds. I decided to just take it easy. The trade off is that I wouldn't have time for my morning beverage. When hitting the coffee shop, it makes sense to use Baltimore. If I thought Baltimore was a death slog, though, I was in for a surprise. Baltimore is not the most efficient way to get to my office, so I used Broadway for the entire trip to 10th street. Broadway is steeper and longer than Baltimore, but I went for it anyways. I've climbed it before, it's not impossible. It's just more trying than Baltimore.

So there you have it. At least I didn't break any spokes. That I know of.

I hope this 12MPH wind keeps going the way it was this morning. It'll make for an easy ride home. My luck doesn't work that way, though.

Random Tunage:
Eric Prydz - Proper Education (Remix/Cover of Pink Floyd's The Wall)
Plumb - Blush (Only You)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Smile and wave. And By the way...

I broke another spoke. Methinks this wheel got a bit over-tightened last night. It's all fixed now and a beer offering to the bike shop crew this evening will probably score me a re-lace if I decide I need one. Bike gremlins are starting to piss me off a little.

Anyhow, I took the A bus to 87th street, which gave me about a 3 mile ride home tonight. I didn't want to go too far on the broken spoke. After I got home with my re-re-spoked, re-re-re-tensioned replacement wheel, I took it for a quick shakedown run, then grabbed our rental videos, the outgoing mail, and the grocery list for an honest-to-goodness durability test.

Everything seems to be working fine again.

On my way home, a car drove by me with two parents and two teenagers. They were crowding me but I was holding the center of the right lane on 87th street. Eventually they figured out they needed to change lanes. The teenagers (male and female) were pointing and laughing at me in my lime reflective vest and big panniers loaded with groceries.

As the car changed lanes to get in front of me, I mustered up the absolute goofiest grin I had and waved emphatically with my whole arm as the teenagers started to completely lose all composure. I could almost hear them laughing through the glass. It was great. Tomorrow, I'm sure they're going to tell all their friends about the mentally handicapped dude riding his bike on 87th street.

Random Tunage:
Marc Houle - Bay of figs
Nine Inch Nails - Right where it belongs

Kind of a rough morning

Last night, instead of going to the Trek Store ride, I took my bike back to the shop that fixed my broken spoke. I think a newbie worked on it, because it only stayed in true for a few miles. When I got it there, Kevin determined that almost all of the non-drive-side spokes were far too loose. He ended up re-tensioning my entire wheel, plucking spokes to make sure everything was even, then he went ahead and checked for dish and trued it up. I must say that it was a smooth ride in this morning.

Today just started off all wrong. First, I had to wait up for a load of laundry to finish last night so that I could dry the whites so I had a shirt to wear this morning. I got considerably less sleep than I should have, despite taking about an hour-long nap yesterday evening. This morning, I forgot to take my heart rate, but it was a moot point anyways. I was stumbling around like a drunken fool and could not even walk. My legs felt fine, but I was off balance and it took me a few minutes to recover from my sleep inertia.

Due to other circumstances this morning, I didn't have time for breakfast either and as-is, I left 4 minutes late. I do have another cursed slow leak in the back, though. I had inflated the rear to 105 PSI last night, and a squeeze test this morning tells me that it was probably at 60-70 PSI upon departure. I was already running late, so I didn't bother topping it off. I'll probably have to burn an inflater cartridge before I head home, though. To top it off, I slammed my fingers between the door and the latch striker plate on my way out this morning and left a massive blood blister on my left hand's middle finger. I was not fast, nor even peppy on my way to work.

Sonic and QuikTrip are the two deadliest establishments on the north side of Southwest Boulevard. Both of these are located just a little bit west of the Kansas side of state line. Approaching QuikTrip, there was a pickup driver that wanted so badly to right-hook me. The driver didn't commit to it, though. Instead, she stopped right there in the middle of three lanes on Southwest boulevard with her front passenger wheel in my lane, looking straight ahead with stoic resolve so as to not make eye contact with me as I rode past. I pondered showing her my brand new blood blister but thought better of it. She stopped, which means she realized that I am not just a stationary object in the slow lane. That's good enough for me.

I was fully prepared to make a hard stop and/or right turn into the QuikTrip parking lot had she actually hooked me. She was an odd one, though. She drove next to me for quite a while as I was going the speed limit. At the last second, she accelerated to pass me and I knew full well what was going to happen and prepared for action. She did not use her turn signal or anything. What's funny is that had she pulled in directly behind me some 10 seconds prior to turning, she would have SAVED herself a few seconds over trying to plough her behemoth pickup across two lanes and into a parking lot. I was going the same speed as she was. Instead of accellerating, she could have coasted and ducked behind me. I'm really wondering how much these people get paid, to where eight tenths of a second is so costly. Of course, those 8/10 are only costly when they're rolling. Half the time, these are the same people that are on their phone idling at a green light for 5 seconds before they realize they can go. Alas, I digress. Maybe I should write a " Tricks of the trade: Be aware of your surroundings" article. It wouldn't be much of an article, more just a phrase to take to heart. It's saved me from a few right hooks, hundreds of pot-holes, dozens of storm drains, and a few crazy and/or suicidal pedestrians.

I got stopped at the next traffic light up from there next to a green Tercel. This was easily the highlight of my morning. Inside were 3 men probably my age (25-30ish) in business casual attire. Looked like car poolers. When the light turned green, I decided to take off pretty hard. I was in the lowest gear of my middle ring as I often am when taking off from a stoplight. Front wheel was hopping off the ground as it often does when I take off hard from a lower gear. I work through most of the second chainring before switching to the hammer ring and dropping it down a few notches on back, then work my way up from there. Before I know it, I'm cruising along at the speed limit again (35 MPH) and the Tercel is a few car lengths behind me. I stayed ahead of it until the next light, which was kind of fun in a childish street racing sort of way. I got "the nod" from the front passenger. Haha. I own. I was freaking destroyed after the sprint, though, so I took it easy for the rest of the trip in to work.

My average speed was, well, average. 17 MPH or so before I hit the brewery, slowly falling from there until I got to Broadway. Between my mediocre speed and my belated departure, I was caught in the beginning of morning rush hour, so I took Broadway north a few blocks to 18th street, then towards Baltimore so that I could begin my death slog. I whistled to the Huskies poking their noses out under the garage door at 18th and Wyandotte. One stuck his paw out under the door, stretching and yawning. I think I woke it up from its nap.

I had my mocha. I got to work on time. Yay. I am starving, so I'll make a big steaming bowl of Malt-o-Meal in a moment.

Ambient temps are supposed to be triple digit this afternoon with HX approaching 110 Fahrenheit. I'm probably going to cut my homebound commute in half again with the bus. That worked pretty well for me last night.

Random Tunage:
Bruce Hornsby - Mandolin rain
The Killers - When you were young

Monday, August 06, 2007

Heat Index: 103 Degrees. Headwinds: 15-22 MPH

Current Conditions:

City: KC Downtown
Sky: Sunny
Temp: 96F
Dew Point: 71F
Wind: SW 15MPH (22MPH Gusts)
Remarks: Heat Index 103F

Needless to say, this is going to be a heck of a ride home.

Update: Not too bad of a ride, I am doing the Bus to Johnson Drive again. No sense in getting a heat stroke. If the weather tames up a bit, maybe I'll do the Monday night ride to make up some miles.

Random Tunage:
Max Graham - Coastline
Moby - Porcelain

Tricks of the trade: So Fresh and So Clean

One of the things that keeps people from riding their bikes to work is the sweat factor. How does one combat the sweat, the body odor, the helmet hair, and all that mess?

This isn't such a big deal if you're riding your bike to work construction, or you'll be outdoors or otherwise getting hot and sweaty all day. Those aren't the kind of people who are letting sweat and lack of cleanliness hold them back, either.

Plenty of would-be bike commuters have to be dressed in business casual (or more formal) attire. Accountants, programmers, businesspeople, managers, secretaries are among them. Not smelling like a primate usually goes with the territory, too.

Locker rooms and showers
Some employers have showers and locker rooms for associates to use. This is commonplace for "green" companies that actively support alternative transportation to work, as well as companies who have a workout center on-site. Other times, you may be able to pick up a membership to a nearby gym or fitness center to accomplish this task -- with the added benefit of being able to cross-train and get a better total-body workout before or after work, or over lunch.

That's great, but...
What about those of us (like me) who don't have showers or locker rooms, and don't really wish to buy a gym membership? There are two health clubs within walking distance of my office. My apartment complex offers a 24-hour fitness center, pool, and hot tub to all residents. Paying for a gym membership downtown just for a shower would be a waste of cash.

Let's face it. Not all of us have a hot shower accessible to us, and some do not have the means nor the desire to buy a gym membership. There are a few different options for the rest of us.

Plan "B"... for Baby Wipes!
Baby wipes?! No, I'm not joking. Not all of them smell like baby powder, either. Baby wipes have a mild soap solution, sometimes with aloe, alcohol, or other cleansing or moisturizing agents as well. They do a good job of absorbing sweat and killing the germs that can cause body odor.

You can quickly dart into a handicap bathroom stall, take off your sweaty clothes, wipe down with a few baby wipes (face, arms, underarms, chest, and *ahem* anywhere else sweaty), apply some deodorant, cool off for a few minutes, and put your work clothes on. Go to the bathroom sink to splash some water through your hair and style it as needed. Use hair spray or other hair products if that's your thing. A small hand towel is nice to have, to blot your face if you're still sweating.

A small valet bag with wipes (in a resealable sandwich bag), deodorant, hair product, a small towel and a comb is often all you need.

The art of the sink shower
My personal favorite method of preparing ideally requires an isolated bathroom -- preferably with a locking door. The only supplies needed in addition to the above list is a wash rag and possibly your own soap (liquid or bar form) if you don't feel like washing off with the hand soap supplied in the bathroom.

Get into your birthday suit. Soak the wash rag, soap it up LIGHTLY, and scrub down. Rinse the rag out. Wipe the soap off; this may take a few rinses of the rag to accomplish. Use the hand towel to dry off. Cool down and hop into your work clothes. Fix your hair, and that's all there is to it.

Some final thoughts
If your head got ultra-sweaty on your way to work, you may wish to run some handfulls of water through it to rinse out the sweat and cool your head before you start the other parts of your preparation. Similarly, you can avoid a few extra steps if you have really short hair or none at all!

What do you do with the wet washcloths and towels? You can wring out the washcloth really well. Both the cloth and towel air dry by hanging them up somewhere. A warm place such as a utility/boiler closet, or laying on top of your warm computer monitor will work, just make sure they're dry enough to not drip any water on electronics first! This method also works for drying out your cycling clothes.

A really small baggie with minimal supplies is all you have to worry about, and the trade-off is huge. You could pack these supplies in a lunch bag or in a freezer storage resealable bag, or tuck your cleaning stuff into a jersey pocket. I personally use a small valet bag in one of my panniers.

In conclusion: If you have a place to go to the bathroom, you have a place to clean yourself up before work. Don't let summer heat and sweat keep you from experiencing the benefits of bicycle commuting!


I left for work this morning right on time and was greeted with a flash of lightning to the north within the first mile of my trip. A few more followed it over the next 10 minutes or do, but then it subsided. I was beginning to get a little bit worried. Between the sunrise getting later and later, and the partially overcast sky, it was dark for the first half of my trip. I broke out the lime reflective vest this morning, and it'll probably stay for the rest of the year.

I was scooting along as a pretty good clip this morning. Before beginning the moderate climb between Chavez and Baltimore, I was at an as-of-yet unheard of 18.7 MPH average. It was down to 18.3 by the time I started the slog, but I only dropped to 17.3 on the rest of the climb. Usually, I'm at about 14.9-15.5 average by the time I stop for coffee.

I'm sweating to prove it and It's really muggy this morning to top it off.

Random Tunage:
Binary Finary - 1999
Fun Factory - Close To You

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tricks of the trade: Save a lot of hassle in the morning

Getting out the door in time is the hardest part for me. Leaving five to ten minutes late is the difference between an uneventful ride, and a dicey time riding in the early stages of downtown rush hour.

Making sure that my bike is in proper working order is also really important. Leaving early enough won't do me any good if I have to spend five to ten minutes on the side of the road messing with my bike.

If I can get on the road at the usual time, and get to work and back without any mechanical problems, my day is just two nice bike rides separated by 9 hours in the office.

Prepare in advance
To get on the road as quickly as possible, I do as much preparation as I possibly can the night before. Having a checklist and preparing in advance not only saves you a bit of time in the morning, but it keeps you from forgetting important items such as your pants, work keys, or access card in the rush and half-asleep haze of the morning. You may choose to do this shortly after you arrive home, or you may wish to wait until it's time to wind down the night.

Obviously, depending on what your commute involves, each person's preparations will be a little bit different. I personally choose to take my clothes, work gear, and lunch in my panniers. The steps themselves aren't as important as getting into the habit of preparing in advance for your daily commute. That said, here's my nightly routine:

  • Empty the panniers
  • Put dirty clothes in the laundry
  • Make sure all tools and supplies are accounted for
  • Gather fresh work clothes
  • Gather non-perishable food items for lunch
  • Pack all that stuff in the right pannier.
  • Put the NiteRider battery on the charger
  • Check Blinkie. If needed: remove, disassemble, and charge batteries.
  • Check tires. If they're really low, find the leak and fix it. I usually just replace the tube.
  • Check brakes. If needed, tighten them with the adjustment wheel.
  • Fill water bottles and place in fridge.
All of this takes time but the payoff is worth it. In the morning, all I have to do is a quick squeeze test of the tires, put the NiteRider battery on the bike, put my water bottles on the bike, pack the laptop into the other pannier, re-assemble and re-attach my blinkie (if it had to charge). Finally, I pack any refrigerated and/or frozen stuff I'm taking to work. This sounds like a lot of stuff, but it just takes a few minutes compared to all the work I did the night before.

Preventive maintenance
Since this is my primary mode of transportation, I believe in keeping everything in top shape. Little problems can often be found and fixed by doing a thorough check of the bike. This way, you catch little problems before they cause major delays or annoyances in your commute. For bicycle maintenance, there are very few online resources as precious as Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Repair Articles and Park Tool's Repair Help page. Once you find a problem, you may need some special tools to fix it. If you purchased your bike at a local bike shop, it may be something that they can repair while you wait. Regardless if you decide to tackle the repairs yourself or not, finding a problem before it causes you problems is always a good thing.

Every other weekend (or every weekend if I had to ride in inclement weather), I flip my bike over onto its saddle and handlebars and do all of this:
  • Squeeze-check all the spokes. Grab parallel spokes and squeeze them together. Excessively loose or broken spokes should be checked by a mechanic.
  • Check wheels for trueness. Spin the wheel and watch the wheel between the brake pads or chainstays. If there's a wobble, your wheel is bent out of true. I usually leave wheel truing to the experts with special tools, but you can true a slightly bent wheel yourself with only a spoke wrench.
  • Check the tire casing for cuts or slices, and road debris that could work its way into the tubes. Remove anything you find, or replace the tire if it's permanently damaged.
  • Clean and reset the brakes. Dial the adjustment knobs back in and re-tighten the cable.
  • Lube the cables
  • Check the headset, pivots, bottom bracket, wheel bearings, and levers for smooth, silent operation. Lube if needed.
  • Scrub grime off of the hubs, spokes, rim and tires
  • Wash, rinse, dry and wax the frame (with rags and buckets, not a hose or sprayer nozzle!)
  • Put the wheels back on, flip the bike right-side-up again, and fully clean, lube, check and micro-adjust the chain, cogs and derailleurs.
Don't feel too bad if you think that some of these are a little too advanced or too much work. Millions of people ride their bikes every day without a regular check-up. Checking as much as you can, however, will increase the reliability of your trusty steed, making it less likely that you'll get stranded or have to make a "walk of shame" during your commute.

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