Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 2008 Recap

Too much to cover for storytelling here. You just have to read and look at the pictures from May.


  • My convoy program for Bike Week was a success
  • I only took 6 one-way trips on the bus, effectively making my ultra-cheap $15 bus pass not worth it. Paying as I go would have cost $10.50. People who take the bus both ways every work day spend about $70 per month.
  • I did accomplish my goal of 600 miles for May. I rode 618.
  • Went on some fun singletrack rides. I need to do that more often.
May Numbers:
16 bike commutes
3 bus-assisted commutes (round trip)
5 vacation days (no commuting)
383 commuting miles
148 Errand miles
88 Recreational miles
618 total miles
0 Car Commutes

2008 Numbers:
91 Bike commutes, 66 of which have been bus-assisted, 25 bike-only
1611 Miles
0 Car Commutes

Goals for June:
  • 600 miles
  • Finally get my fat ass back under 200 pounds

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ow OW. But new toys.

I had a credit for a free Minsky's pizza since the last time I ordered from them they tried to poison me with mushrooms when I didn't ask for them. Before picking up my delectable disc, I swung by River Market Cyclery. There they were: the panniers of my desires. Axiom's Journey Series of bags is not only rugged, but very attractive. I picked up the LaSalle model, which holds nearly twice as much as the Banjo Brothers saddlebags are rated for, while sitting further back on my rack.

Not only that, but they come with rain covers. Here they are. One with and the other without the rain cover installed:

After a few weeks, I'll put a review up. They had no problem hauling my ample load home this evening. In fact, I could have used just one of them.

The triumvirate of callous humidity, baleful headwind and obdurate sun made the ride home even harder this evening. With Chris, Karen and I As a homeward convoy of three, there was a symbolic moment of three-on-three. Us versus the weather. Part way back home, we stopped at the Trek Store for water bottle refills and a break. Chris had a coupon for some free stuff, too. I think that's the real reason we stopped.

A few blocks later, I saw yet another Foo reference. Gotta love Foo, even if The Crumudgeonator himself remains guarded about it. Okay, and there are the (not so?) infrequent trolls and morons there. But really, it's funny to see what cyclists of all walks discuss when they're trying not to talk about bikes.

I rushed home as fast as I could with my noodly legs and evil weather. I got to finally bring my wife home from the hospital, after more than 3 days there. She's feeling better and resting now, but still needs a few days before she even thinks of being mobile.

Random Tunage:
Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles
Daft Punk - Technologic


I woke up this morning and hopped on my laptop to check Kansas City Weather and peek at the radar. A band of rain appears to be either on top of me or on its way shortly. Then, Twhirl, an application I use to keep my pulse on the Twitter universe pops up with a message from Chris.

So, not only is it actually raining, but I'm going to have company on my ride in this morning. Weather, wind and tired legs be damned, I'm pretty much obliged to ride all the way. If Chris can do it (he lives a good 10 miles further out than I do), then so can I. Right?

I told him to give me a call when he got closer to my apartment, then quickly shifted my efforts toward re-packing my panniers, water-proofing items that needed water-proofing.

The Brookside riders were somewhat quick last night, so I was feeling it pretty good this morning already. Chris, though, being the hammerhead that he is, dragged me into work this morning at a pace that at times rivaled my personal best of 19.2 MPH. We were close to that by the time we hit Boulevard Brewery, but it dropped as I slogged up the hill on Main St. I was the glutton of my own punishment. Chris offered to take it easy and he let me set my pace. The pace which I kept was as high as I could manage. It was quick for me, but he happily spun along, ready to go as fast as I could manage and plenty faster if need be.

Chris, JR, Lorin and I partook in our morning beverage, then waited for the rain to settle down a bit before heading our separate ways.

No photos this morning. My digicam doesn't get along with rain too well.

Stats and numbers:
May is winding down. Dave and I both have a goal of hitting 5,000 miles this year. While Dave is training for races while he commutes, I just want to get from point A to point B. Dave's tactic is to ride 13.7 miles per day average. And if you think my spreadsheet makes me look like a numbers freak, you haven't seen Dave's stats. By now, I think it's fairly obvious that I think I am in competition with Dave, whom I communicate with often but have only met in person once. I don't know if he knows I am in competition with him. I'm pretty sure he doesn't care, or maybe he thinks it's funny because I'm currently way behind him in miles for 2008. But... And this is a big deal to me: I'm ahead of him for May, even if it's only by 20 miles. Knowing him, though, he's got an 80 mile training ride planned for tomorrow anyways. Even if he doesn't see this, he'll blow past my meager 610 miles or whatever I end up with for May. My competition is really with myself, but knowing someone local with the same mileage goal and a completely different cycling paradigm makes Dave a target for me to chase, however elusive and sneaky he may be.

All of this to say I decided not to bracket my miles on a per-day average, but rather to try to appropriately guess how many miles I could pack on in a given month. This month, my goal was 600 miles. I'm 2 miles away from that goal right now, but I'm still more than 500 miles behind where I want to be this year. for reference, I have a goal of 600 miles per month all the way through August. September's goal is 400, October is 300. November is 250 and December is a scant 118 miles to take me all the way to 5,000 miles for the year. The reason I'm currently 540 miles away from my goal is because March and April were particularly brutal this year, netting me a little over 300 miles each month when I figured I could cover 500 miles per month. Silly me.

I refuse to revise my goal slope, though. How it sits is how it will be, and now I get to play a game of catch-up over the coming months. Commuting alone is only going to give me 500 miles per month if I don't take any vacation days or use the bus at all. Errands and recreational rides will have to round out the mix. Fortunately, I have a couple of mile-fests in store for the summer. I won't go on any of the organized club rides, but a few friends and I, if you can't tell, have some fun night rides and perhaps a double century in the pipeline.

I think I'll make 5,000. I know Dave will.

Oh, and Dave? Just in case you are finally figuring out for the first time that I'm watching your miles just as closely as you are? Game on, brother! It's been fun, but I have a feeling you're going to widen the gap in the coming weeks.

Random Tunage:
Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up
Information Society - What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Brookside Ride

Interesting night. Not two hours after trying to kill myself on my bike, I rode out to Brookside. I've never been on the Brookside ride but I always hear great things. They have two rides. A slow one and a fast one. I wanted to go on the slow ride. Just get some cruising in. After all, just getting to the ride was a 10-mile jaunt.

Brookside is a quaint little part of Kansas City. I like it, actually. It's just between Midtown and Waldo, I guess you'd say.

Any readers here on BikeForums? I think this is awesome.

Bike rack too close to the fence. Lame.

Got some pick-me-up refreshments at Roasterie's Cafe before the ride.


and gathering! Maybe 40 total tonight. Good crowd.

Oops. I took the faster ride. Not terribly fast, but was moving right along.

After we'd dropped everyone we re-grouped.

The PVYC Blue Moose riders blowing by as we regroup.

I didn't realize that the black gentleman in yellow and blue was none other than Kenneth Walker, President of Major Taylor Foundation's KC Chapter. I've ridden with him before, and with his son (hiding behind him) multiple times. They're not only fast, but really down to earth.

Partway through the ride, I got a call from my wife. I had to split, and couldn't finish the ride. I've been kind of mum on the topic here, but she's at the hospital recovering from Gall Bladder surgery. Obviously, getting back to her ASAP was more important than living it up on a group ride. I took Indian Creek trail for part of the trip.

Then, I found what I thought was a bike trail short cut. It's not. It dead ends on a section of Switzer that's been blocked off for almost as long as I can recall. I hopped the barricade and took this picture.

Then took a detour. Figuring I could get to College Blvd this way.

Umm... Then rode about 1/4 mile through grass that was as tall as my handlebars....

More detour than I bargained for, and definitely not a shortcut.

My wife is recovering reasonably well. They're keeping her overnight again (tomorrow will be 3 days in the hospital), but she should be home tomorrow. The kitties and I really miss her.

Random Tunage:
Crystal Method - Busy Child
Ryan Farish - Legacy

Bontrager Hard-Case Tires: The good and the bad

I've been rolling on a hard-case tire for about 8 months on my rear wheel. Constant glass-shard flats and occasional snakebites finally pissed me off enough to swap out the OEM Bontrager Select 25mm tire for something beefier. A Little more than a month ago, my front OEM tire gave out, too. I replaced it with the 25mm Bontrager Race-Lite Hard-Case tire, too.

I haven't flatted once in the rear since I put this tire on. I haven't flatted in the front, either but it's only been a month.

One thing I noticed is that the rear seems to lock up a bit easier than the original tires. They also seemed to have a little bit of squirm to them when cornering hard, but I attributed it to the sidewalls being a bit less compliant.

Today, I put them to the test, unintentionally. I was coming down a steep viaduct and preparing to turn left. The left turn light went green, and I hammered to catch it while it was green. 40 MPH when riding down hill is easy to come by with this bike, and I was going about 40. I went to lean hard like you'd see a racer do, but the bike wanted to slide. I wasn't on the brakes, but I was going to wipe out if I didn't act fast. Not wanting to hit the front brake while it's washing out on the hot pavement, I opted to right myself a bit and hit the rear brake. It locked up instantly and I started skidding again. I counter-steered and feathered the front brake enough to scrub off some speed, but I wasn't going to make the turn. I finally got upright and feathered both brakes again to slow down as much as I could, and then ran head-on into a 4" tall curb between 10 and 15 MPH, doing as much of a bunny hop as I could muster. The front wheel bounced off the curb pretty good. The rear wheel hit hard. I got it shut down before I slid all the way into the concrete streetscape.

That mess narrowly avoided, I'm standing in a flower garden with my front wheel a foot away from a concrete wall. I click out and dismount, fully expecting a mess of mangled rims, broken spokes and pinch-flats.

Aside from two hefty skid patches on the rear tire (the worst shown below) and a roughed-up sidewall on the front, only one word describes the condition of my bike's rolling stock: "Unscathed"

I need to make sure the fork didn't take a beating, but I think these Hard-Case tires saved my wheels. They are, indeed, more bullet-proof than originally thought. Having said that, they don't grip nearly as well as my admittedly crappy OEM Bontrager Select tires. These are definitely not for racing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Any night-time riders in KC? Read this.

I haven't been on a good night ride since the August full moon ride. I'm talking serious miles in the darkness, riding in the boondocks with a handful of like-minded zombies with only bicycle lights, the moon, and the occasional passing car to light the way. I've only done one other one (in July of last year) and quite frankly, I miss it.

These used to be organized by CommuterDude, but he's got a bunch of other stuff going on. I know he's in, but it's up to someone else to organize it. I think that means Badger and I. Badger's got a hell of a route (35 miles round trip?) and I have the desire to get some people out for a late-night ride.

So here's how I think we're going to do this. We're thinking June 20th since it's a Friday night and there should be a big, bright (almost full, waxing) moon. Weather permitting, of course.

These things usually start around 9:00 PM.
These things can run 3 hours or longer, between 30-50 miles.
The pace isn't brutal, but it's not usually lethargic, either.

You will need lighting, a helmet, and reflective gear.
More specifically, you should have head and tail lighting that will last 3+ hours.
You should be ready for some serious fun riding in the boondocks.
Oh yeah, you might want to get permission to be out late.

Fill out the form to be kept in the loop about this specific ride. The start location is going to be kept guarded until the time gets closer. In the spirit of c'Dude's past night rides, this is mostly so we know who to expect, and are positive that participants are properly equipped for a few hours of riding after dark. Think of it as a cross between an underground rave scene and a mountain bike epic, but on the road, not as painful, and without the annoying drum & bass music.



Phone (Optional)


"Thirty Miles Per Ham Sandwich, Sir!"

I'll get to the headline quote in a moment.

Yesterday was Memorial Day. I think I ended up making three separate trips to the grocery store due to one count of broken-down communication and a count of stupidity. I saw these evil twin police cruisers at a local cheesesteak shop. Mind you, I might ride a bike, but I have a soft spot in my heart for sharp-looking cars, and I happen to think that these are some seriously sexy police cars.

At least one of those grocery runs was made on my way home from the Monday Night recovery ride, so it wasn't a total disaster. Speaking of the Monday Night ride, I saw this and lol'd.

Then there's Dora, who is not amused that "I stoled her yarm."

I cheated and took the bus this morning. A whopping two miles ridden. I went to bed late, woke up late, and was expecting a storm when I woke up. Instead, I just got wet pavement that my fenders would have made short work of. Lame.

So, here's what happened. I was cruising down Southwest Boulevard, just about to enter Johnson County. I approached a stop light at a pretty good clip, probably 25 MPH or so. There's a huge pickup behind me. The light changes, and there's no way I'll make it. I downshift, signal my stop, and start braking. I also move over to the right. The pickup pulls up next to me. F-650 Super Duty dually. Nice. Triton V10 or something like that, who knows. Noisy as hell and reeks of Diesel fumes. I hear the passenger window roll down, and glance over. Two hard-workin' American guys inside. Just about what you'd expect. I'm ready for "Git off duh roawwwd" or something. The ensuing dialog went something like this:

Passenger: "Hey there, what kinda mileage ya get on that thing?"
Me: "Thirty Miles Per Ham Sandwich, Sir! Trying to make a living."
*Some huge belly laughs come from inside the truck.*
Driver: "Right on. Be safe."
Me: "Thanks, guys!"

Not all is as you would expect. It's why I don't judge until it's earned. Condition Yellow, I suppose, keeps me cautiously guarded with 360° situational awareness and ready for almost anything. I'm willing to accept adversity, but I expect kindness and adversity alike, ready for both.

Later on during my homeward commute, I quite literally ran into some chalkwork on Turkey Creek Trail. Outside the spectrum of kindness vs. adversity, it was, in fact, unexpected.

Nearing Aristocrat Motors, I saw these two guzzlers in the overflow parking lot. I can tell they're jealous.

Sorry, you really have to admit, that Porsche has some voluptuous curves and seductive lines. Sitting next to that bricky made-over GMC Yukon, she seems even more sleek and gorgeous.

Great Scott! 1.21 Jiggawatts!

Miscellaneous Photography

I dropped a pair of oldsters. :P Naw, these seniors were just out for a nice cruise. You don't stop riding because you get old. You get old because you stop riding. I almost made the man crap his diapers as I passed. I guess he wasn't using his mirror.

Oh, the business park. Not to be confuzzled with the Industrial Park. This is the last leg of my homeward commute. It's a curvy road with smooth, easy hills and not much traffic to speak of when I roll through.

Jeez, do you think this guy sells... I don't know... stickers or something?!

See this green crap on the ground? It's the bane of my existance. It's everywhere. It's on my cars. It's on the trails. It's in the parking lots. It gets slimy and slippery when wet.

The offending tree. No idea what it is. 15 years ago, I could have told you. Frankly, I replaced most of my botany knowledge with something similarly useless after graduating high school.

Random Tunage:
Madonna - What it Feel Like For A Girl
Spirallianz - Heiterheute (rmx)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day

I didn't take these on Memorial Day, but the Lenexa post office was already flying half-staff. I had to go for the breezy photo op. Tomorrow is officially Memorial Day -- a U.S. holiday set aside to remember our fallen heroes who perished in military service. Obviously, there is a strong observance of prisoners of war or those missing in action as well. This is a federal holiday.

Among other businesses and industries, Wall Street will be closed. I, working in the financial services industry, do not work either. Between this and the brewing storms, you can bet your britches that I won't be leading a convoy in the morning. I'll be sleeping in.

I ran 9 miles of errands on The Goat today. Hard telling what's in store for tomorrow, but Tuesday I plan on riding to work and back, weather permitting.

On my way home from church, I saw this wind farm at EcoWorks in Lenexa. I've seen it before many times (I used to deliver Pizza in this business park all the time) but it was churning today.

Too bad I couldn't capture the motion blur with any of my photos of the turbines.

Random Tunage:
Black Dove - Capsule
Basslimit - Paradise

Friday, May 23, 2008

Oh Deer, what a mess!

I took The Goat out for nine slow, sweaty, grimy miles at Shawnee Mission Park. I almost hit this deer. She wandered off the trail, though, completely tame and unafraid of me. I was mere feet from her when I took this photo. I probably could have hiked over and pet her, but you don't want to see what happens when a deer is both afraid of you and close to you. It isn't pretty. I rode off.

Mud pits on the trail are a bit of a paradox. To be earth and trail friendly, you're supposed to avoid riding straight through muddy ruts because it erodes the trail and makes it worse. The paradox? By trying to go around it, your wheel will inevitably wash out, slide into the rut, and either make you very messy if not cause you to lose control of the bike. And you'll still make the rut deeper and erode the trail.

Fortunately, I just got really muddy and didn't eat it. But I further eroded the trail.

These are a bit out of order. This is before I got all messy, at the intersection of the "difficult" loop and the "easy" loop. I rode all parts of the trail once, and sections of both the easy and difficult loops multiple times.

Trying to "capture the trail" again, but my secret is usually to wait until the sun is going down enough to filter the light through the canopy at an angle. It hadn't quite set enough for my liking when I took this.


Random Tunage:
Gravity Kills - Guilty
Ecano - Run

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bicycle Friendly Community Meeting

See the other photos I took at the BFC presentation

My wife and I had some fun today, including playing a round of mini-golf, in which she successfully beat the challenge at the end for a free game. The challenge involved putting the ball up a steep slope along a 3" wide plank and into a cup. Make the shot, get a card for a free game next time. Color me impressed.

Later and on a more serious and cycling related note, I rode to the reception for the Bicycle Friendly Communities seminar going on this week in Shawnee, KS. There was a pretty good showing. I got to meet more people (hi, folks!) and catch up with some old pals I've met before but haven't seen in a long time (Ray, Badger, and others). I rode back home with Ray, who had a bit of a journey left ahead of him to get back to Olathe. He's the one I see on 87th turning to Santa Fe Trail drive quite often.

Not a lot of miles ridden today, but that's why they call this a vacation, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Singletrack, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

See the rest of today's photos here.

I hung out with Jason over lunch at ChefBurger. He's always a blast. I ran into Karen on my way home, too.

I met my wife for supper about 5 miles from home. We put The Twelve on the back of the Explorer and came home. I spent some time getting The Goat back in singletrack form, then took it out for about an hour on the trails at Shawnee Mission Park for 5 slow miles of the funnest suffering I've had in a long time. I'll pay for this in the morning, I'm sure.

I love my Tunage and don't often get to listen and ride since I don't listen to music when commuting. My journey this evening was powered by this soundtrack of random tunage picked by iTunes' party shuffle (and the songs then transferred to my LG Chocolate for listening)

Consider it a mega version of Random Tunage:
Real McCoy - Another Night
Nine Inch Nails - 32 Ghosts IV
Peaches - AA XXX
Hooverphonic - Battersea
Alice DeeJay - Better Off Alone
Dave Matthews Band - Crash (live)
Dirty Vegas - Days Go By (Oakenfold Remix)
Prince - Guitar
Nine Inch Nails - Something I Can Never Have
Orbital - Planet Of The Shapes
Orbital - Dŵr Budr

Monday, May 19, 2008

Recovery Ride May 19, 2008

Recovery Ride May 19, 2008, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

Tim O on his Trek 1500 and his son, Matt on his new (okay, 2006 closeout) 650b Trek 1000. Taken from down low.

Tim and I go way back to long before my cycling addiction. In fact, we met each other through a car club. Full circle.

Check out the rest of today's photos.

Busy Sunday

I rode to church Sunday morning, and encouraged others to do the same. We usually meet in a high school auditorium, but graduation was yesterday and the school was unavailable. Occasionally, we can't use the school for other reasons. This happens a few times per year. Instead, we end up going to our community center. It's not big enough for all of us, but we just meet outdoors (weather permitting). This was a beautiful day for church outdoors, not to mention the ride there (11 miles)

Assistant Pastor Kurt and his wife Emily roll up on their bikes.

Abbey (pastor Kevin's daughter) rolls up. They live just across the street.

Whee! Bikes! (a few more are parked elsewhere)

About as laid back as you can be and still calling it worship. I love this church, the people that make it, and all the stuff that goes along with it. I won't bore you with doctrine, though.

Pastor Kevin will use any excuse to inflate the slide for the kids. They love it.

Mike cooks pancakes. Also in the brunch spread: Bagles, parfait, pudding (???) and juices.

After church, I had about a 15 mile ride to my birthday party at Antioch Park. I took about 1/2 the trip on the road, and in the middle of the trip, I used Indian Creek Trail (Warren's Fave)

Sneaking up on some walkers. Cue the "Jaws" theme.

Kids at the sandlot. Hardly a cloud in the sky yesterday. Just airliner contrails.

Maybe I took a little Singletrack with The Twelve. Contrary to belief, road bikes can go off road. Just gotta be careful. It's fun, though.

The freshly opened section of Indian Creek Trail that has Warren all excited. It was nice not having to use the blighted walking path through Corporate Woods.

Some family members at the shelter at Antioch Park.

... Mating Crickets??? Not sure what was up with this, but they were clinging upside down to the ceiling of the shelter.

After the party, my wife and I went fishing at Shawnee Mission Park.

The geese were flocking. Sheesh.

They swam right through where we were fishing. Notice the red bobber halfway up and a bit left of center in the photo. Somehow they avoided tangling in the fishing line.

FAIL! This guy spent about 5 minutes trying to cram this overloaded bag into this trash bin. Eventually he gave up and just put the lid on top of this bag.

How to have fun at the lake!

Let's see, you can toke on a hookah... ???

Or kick a ball around... These little heathens kicked the ball into the lake. Their dad (the one who's toking above) and the kids were both too chicken to go get the ball. I took a swim and rescued it. I bruised my feet up pretty badly on the rocks while getting out of the lake, though.

Go Kayaking...

Or just go fishing. Hi, Hunni.

This is the only fish we saw. He was too tiny and still refused to take our bait.

This was my sister's B-Day present to me. Those are full of beer. Lots of beer.

The ride in was nice this morning with the exception of my bruised and tattered feet. Chris and Karen joined in for yet another convoy.

Tomorrow is my Friday. I'm on vacation off and on for the next 2 weeks. I've been blogging and photographing like mad here, especially in the face of Bike Week. I'm going to be scarce but not completely absent for the next 2 weeks. For the time being, check out Dave's Good Stuff, as he bike commutes during the week and packs on the weekend training miles. What initially started as a brotherly challenge training for the Triple By-Pass turned into a lifestyle change and a heck of a good read that's mostly cycling related but always interesting and frequently updated. No pressure, Dave!

Random Tunage:
Chicane - Offshore
Hybrid - True To Form

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