Monday, June 30, 2008

June 2008 Recap

Holy smokes! This has been a heck of a month.

June Week One - Parked at church.

While I broke my car-free streak by driving so I could pick my wife up from the hospital after work last week, by all other measures this month was chock full of surprises, miles, and good times with good cycling friends. I also JUST barely squeaked my $15 worth out of the bus pass, using it for 9 one-way trips this month which would have cost me $15.75.

June Week Two: Karen and I chasing down a new commuter

I packed on the "recreation" miles pretty hard these past two weekends, with the June Moon Ride the weekend before last and the 200k Permanent last weekend. I pretty much enjoy every mile I put on a bicycle, so "recreation" is just a term I use for superfluous bike trips that have no transportation value.

June Week Three: Bike Surgery, wheel swap and fender installation.

I suppose I could say I rode 137 miles last weekend just to get to 3 convenience stores and write it off as a really action-packed day of errands but I doubt anyone would buy that. Completing the 200k lets me scratch one of the big to-do's off of my list of goals for 2008: To ride a genuine century.

June Week Four: Lunch break in dress clothes.

With that, I've managed to wrap up June with 848 miles.
479 came from 20 days of bike commuting
139 came from bike errands
230 came from group rides and the 200k
I rode the bus 4.5 round trips (9 one-ways)
I drove once.
2008: 2460 miles so far.

Another month like this might well kill me, but it would put me right back on track for my goal of 5,000 miles.

June Week Five (okay, just yesterday and today): An electric Scooter.

Other stuff worth mentioning:
I made a radio appearance, and it sounds like a BBC radio appearance might also be in the works for next month. I don't go out seeking media attention, but I'm pretty easy to find if you're looking for a cyclist in Kansas City or a blogging bike commuter anywhere in the world. I'm also a so-called "expert" or "pioneer" according to some local advocacy gurus. I'm actually just a regular guy that's kind of nerdy. I have a way with words and I have a passion for bicycling. The truth is I'd rather be well known for my geek knowledge than my bicycle riding, but if what I know can help and inspire others, I'm all for it. It just so happens that bikes are more popular than cryptography, electronics, and UNIX.

To all who stick around, read my ramblings and leave comments: Thanks. I'm glad someone other than I can get some enjoyment from my goofball adventures.

Rolling 7-day miles (as opposed to only week-to-week miles): I don't know why I get so obsessed with this statistic, but it seems to be a good measure of how I'm doing from an endurance standpoint. Take the last 7 days and total them up. Last year about this time, 175 miles in any 7-day period would have me feeling worn down. My average week was 198 miles this month, or about 28.25 miles per day all month long. This means I'm obviously getting more endurance as I pack on the miles. I don't really feel any stronger on the sprints or while climbing hills. If I were training for a race or something, I may feel inclined to work on that. I'm not, however; and I don't really care if I slog up steep grades at 3MPH.

The last order of business is my weight. I failed this goal for June. I ducked briefly below 200 pounds for just a fleeting moment. As of right now, I'm right at 200 and can't seem to shake it. It always seems I can never lose weight if I'm watching it and trying to lose it.

As far as July goals are concerned, I don't really have any. I'm just going to ride and enjoy it, while trying to bring the other two 2008 goals to fruition. Mostly, that means riding a lot and driving very little.

Lunch and the Monday Recovery Ride

Snagged some lunch and took some pics. It's amazing how many bikes are around downtown. Here are the ones in my work garage today:

A fountain outside of Black Coffee

A NEXT bike and an e-GO electric scooter.

Then, at the Monday ride, we had a helper! IIRC, his name is Felix. What a champ. Dad kept telling him to ease up on the pedals. This kid's a masher.

Dad was piloting this unique but awesome folding road bike from Slingshot.

Group ride.

Merriam is ready to rock for Independence Day.

After the ride, I hammered it to Cinzetti's to meet my wife for Supper. Moar carb load plz!

Saw this bizarre sculpture at The New Theatre.

From another angle, this guy is staring at me. Creepy.

Candid Photography - Lots of bike commuters!

Today's photos are pretty raw and craptastic. Took quite a few from the hip or with a lot of zoom (and thus increased f/ and slower shutter speeds).
I was up really, really late last night. Crazy late. I probably would have had the legs for the full bike commute today but I was tired and feeling quite lazy. I slept in a bit and rode to the bus in my work clothes with the exception of my clipless shoes since my dress shoes are at the office. Just call me Fred.

This dumpster-destined Roadmaster bike was joined by a NEXT Power Climber last night, of nearly identical design to my first bike as a bike commuter. The Power Climber is gone this morning. This Roadmaster had absolutely nothing of use on it. I would have parted it out, otherwise. I just left it for someone else to mess with. It's repairable but it'd cost more than buying a brand new one unless somebody had brakes, cables, shifters, a new FD and a chain laying around.

The crazy bus ride. Here's a ridiculous story. This bus is pretty much packed to capacity although it's not standing room only. TheJO is actually sending around a second bus to follow this one for its entire route. If this one gets to standing room only, the standers can board the second bus.

Pardon my rant, but WHAT IN THE HELL?! First and foremost, almost half of the riders of this bus board at its last stop in Johnson County: Oak Pork Maul. This bus is never, EVER full before it gets to The Maul. Ever. Further, what is the matter with having to stand up for twenty minutes? 30% of the riders get off the bus at its first downtown stop, leaving ample seating room 20-25 minutes after boarding at The Maul. I have three suggestions:

  1. Just send one bus. If people have to stand, call the waaaaambulance while playing Wintermärchen (a.k.a. Hearts And Flowers) on the world's smallest violin.
  2. Send one bus straight downtown from the stop before Oak Pork Maul. Send a separate one specifically for the riders at Oak Pork Maul. At least you're not wasting twice the fuel following one bus with the other for the entire route.
  3. Send the second bus straight to Oak Pork Maul and have it on standby if needed, while running the earlier part of the route with just one bus.
Come on, people. How hard is this?I took candid shots of only perhaps a third of the bizarre urban bike commuting creatures I saw while imbibing my caffeinated yumminess. This one was walking his bike while talking to a woman when he stopped to roll a cigarette.

A few seconds later, he was lit up and walking some more. Positively fascinating.

This one, in full office attire, was also walking his bike.

There is a fourth bike commuter in my building now. I saw him unloading an old Trek road bike from the back of a minivan, then locking up to the fence I used to lock to when I first started riding. He must not know there's a bike rack over where the motorcycles park. I've heard about this bike before from other cow-orkers but this morning is the first time I've seen it. I'm guessing he gets a ride with someone who works downtown but has a different homeward schedule, then rides home -- wherever that might be. I didn't get a chance to talk to him.

Tons of bikes on the buses, and a great many cyclists out riding on Main Street this morning sporting trunk bags, panniers, messenger bags, backpacks, and almost every kind of non-bike-specific clothing imaginable. People are either getting very smart or very, very desperate. I'll let you decide, but I think I know which one is prevailing.
Random Tunage:
Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles
Robert Miles - Children

Saturday, June 28, 2008

200k Permanent Ride Report - Part 1 - Photos

I've finally gotten a little bit of sleep, but I still feel a bit hazy. I'm not going to jump to conclusions about the Randonneuring Lifestyle just yet. If you backed me into a corner right now and made me comment on it, I'd probably say "What was I thinking?! How do Rando's get any kind of a kick out of this suffering?!" - All natural reactions when you consider my current physical conditions:

  • Sunburned to hell
  • Knees aching
  • Feet cramping
  • Left hand still partially numb six hours after riding
  • Butt still sore
  • Nips are raw from shirt buffeting
  • Arms, legs, abs, neck and back are stiff
  • Still tired. Very Tired.
I do, however, have the clarity of mind to make a few suggestions to myself if I choose to embark on another ride that's a century or longer:
  • SLEEP MOAR, Newbtard. For real.
  • Wear. Sunscreen.
  • Multiple hand positions: good idea. Flat bars are not your friend.
  • Chafing sucks. Pick up some chamois butt'r and/or something for the nips.
Oh, and for the record, no one should ever mutter phrases out loud such as the following while on a distance ride (we were both guilty):
  • The wind is calm
  • We're making pretty good time
  • It's nice that there's not much traffic out here
  • etc...
Interesting things seen:
  • A squished armadillo 5 miles south of Pleasanton, KS
  • A 2-cent increase in fuel prices at Casey's between our two visits (only a few hours apart)
  • The La Cygne, KS Coal-fired power plant
  • An old man who thought c'Dude and I were just about the strangest humanoids in existance
  • A trailer hauling crushed cars that lost TWO trailer tires at the same time
Without further delay, here's a Photo dump. Check out the whole album for more. I uploaded some 60 photos or so of today's adventures. There's no way I'm posting them all here.

3:30 AM at the first control checkpoint.

Awesome, hazy, foggy sunrise

La Cygne Power plant

Foggy, twisty descent

3.91 per gallon at Casey's

... a few hours later on the return trip...

Old steel bridge

The Dude

Riding on the shoulder of US-69 for a few miles.

Check out the rear driver's side wheels on this trailer.

Parked at the Pleasanton Control checkpoint

Steep grades are fun! When descending...


Blue Skies.

137.0 miles.

Random Tunage:
Paul Van Dyk - Out There And Back
Flobots - Handlebars (I'm not one for much rap or R&B but the lyrics are geeky and catchy)

200k Permanent - Success

Before I go into details, I need a shower and sleep. Here's the stats, though:

First Control Departure Time: 3:30 AM
Last Control Arrival Time: 3:50 PM
Total Distance: 137 miles
Avg Speed (Rolling): 13.7 MPH
Max Speed: 41.1
Miles for June So far: 828.4

Friday, June 27, 2008

200k - here I come!

Jeff tagged me on GTalk today, he's back in town from helping a friend move halfway across the country, so we snagged some lunch at Antonio's Pizza in the City Market area. Definitely not worth a repeat. Not the worst I've had, but there are far better pies in KC for the price.

I just got home a bit ago. I decided to save my legs for the 200k and took it easy. A gnarly headwind would have worn me out this afternoon, so I also took the bus home. This was pretty hard because aside from the wind, it's a really nice day!

It looks like we'll have to contend with rain for a portion of the 200k tomorrow. Fortunately, I really don't mind getting wet if the temperature cooperates. I've got most of my stuff together for the ride. Now, I just need to get some sleep and be up at 2:00 to be out of here by 2:30.

Look for a ride report and hopefully some great pics in the next few days. I'll probably be too wiped out to write about it Saturday. Maybe Sunday or Monday.


Lots of lightning out there again this morning. I guess I take the bus again. I suppose I'll still get plenty of miles this month once you count my attempt of the 200k brevet about 21 hours from now...

Maybe giving my legs another rest will be a good thing. I'm getting ready to head out to the express "L" bus. Hopefully this bad weather means a few less riders -- thus, a seat available so I don't have to stand up, freezing and wet on the way to work.

Random Tunage:
Laurent Wolf - Happy TV
Brother Brown - Under The Water (Faithless Remix)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Helpful links for bicycle commuters

This is being posted in advance of my appearance on KCUR's Up To Date radio show in a little more than an hour. I may add more stuff here over the next couple of hours.

Shameless Plugs:
While I mostly use this place to share my pictures and carry on and on about my personal adventures in getting around the Greater Kansas City Area, I do actually have some useful information for bicycle commuters here:

Multi-Mode commuting using your bicycle and transit

  • Google Transit maps - get transit schedules and route suggestions. In Kansas City, only works with KCATA's Metro and MAX buses.
  • KCATA - Kansas City Metro and MAX information, schedules and route maps.
  • The JO - Johnson County Transit bus information, schedules and route maps.
  • TARC Bike Rack Rap - Humorous informational video of how to put your bike on the bus. The racks shown in the video are the same used on all MAX, Metro and The JO buses.
  • MARC Guaranteed Ride Home - Bus riders, bicycle commuters and car-poolers can sign up for RideShare, which entitles you two two free taxi rides home in certain emergency situations. This alleviates the "what if" worry for many car-free commuters.
Bicycle Commuting Information
Local Clubs and Advocacy

Hammer. *gasp* Fest. *pant* - new personal best

The skies were overcast this morning, and I was having trouble getting my shutter speed low enough to snap many non-blurry photos. So I hammered it.

My personal best average speed on Hybridzilla is 18.8 MPH by the time I hit Boulevard Brewery, but that time I had a backpack instead of panniers. My personal best to the brewery on The Twelve was 19.2 MPH average. After slogging into downtown, my PB was 17.3, which I've hit a few times on both bikes.

About halfway into my ride today, I'd gotten up to 18.2 MPH average.

By the time I reached Boulevard Brewery (where my route begins a general trend of climbing into downtown) I had gotten to 19.6 - almost half a mile per hour over my personal best average speed by this point in my commute.

Even after the slog, I was doing alright at 17.9 MPH average. That's again, about half a mile per hour faster.

Now, I had a great tune-up ride on the June Moon ride, and I had a rest day yesterday. This was basically a perfect storm for a record-breaker hammerfest. I had to take it.

Random Tunage:
Pole Folder - Waxxx
Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone (Jason Nevins Club Mix)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Brevet Bug Bites me...

Earlier today, I got a casual, last-second (okay, few days' notice) invite from c'Dude to come along on a 200k Brevet -- technically 217 km, a 135 mile event. I just kind of sat there, rubbing my goatee-covered chin for a few minutes. Then I replied. I really want to give this a shot.

I've done three full moon rides, all of them with commuterDude. Every time, I end up talking about Randonneuring a little. And it's always fascinated me a little bit. The truth is, I'd heard of the Paris-Brest-Paris and knew it was a 700+ mile endurance cycling event but I figured it was basically TdF for people who weren't professional racers. It wasn't until I started reading commuterDude's scattered observations from the saddle that I came to even know the words "Brevet" and "Randonneur", or that there were even events like this.

Also, much like commuting, touring and randonneuring have very few hard and fast rules on equipment. Brevets have strict time controls in place, and significant safety rules. Other than that, whether commuting, touring, or randonneuring, you ride whatever bike you want to ride, take along whatever you think you'll need to complete the task at hand, and do it.

Logic tells me that once you've ridden for two solid hours, it's just a matter of staying hydrated, fueled and focused. I've ridden for plenty longer than two hours at a time, but never more than 70 miles in a single chunk (with a few breaks of perhaps 5-10 minutes). Hybridzilla's certainly no touring bike, but she's got everything I need and most of what I want in a bike. I'd like some more hand positions, I guess. Other than that, I don't see why I couldn't pilot this machine for that kind of distance, versus my road bike. It can handle the miles. Now, do I have the chops for this? I don't know, but I know how to figure it out.

Noah On The Air tomorrow (Thurs. Jun 26 11AM)

FYI, I'll be a guest on tomorrow's Up To Date radio show as we discuss bicycle commuting. The show will be at 11:00AM Central Time. If you miss it, you'll be able to find it for a few days in their Podcast.

If you don't have a radio handy or you're outside the area you can use the following links to listen to the live MP3 stream of KCUR 89.3

Low 24k

Med 40k
High 128k

I plan on discussing a few challenges I've managed to conquer, pass along some tips, and sing the praises of multi-modal bike commuting using the region's two most prominent bus transit systems.


It's just not fair.

After finally finding I-35 northbound (it took me a while, I never drive this way) I'm still stuck at this God-forsaken stop light and the bike commuter I've never seen before is way ahead. He didn't run that red, by the way, he squeaked through yellow, but only just.

On top of all that, feeding a parking meter?!

And seeing a picture of the bike one of the sbux guys just got from JR, hanging among other things on the bulletin board...

Dude, where's my bike?!

And then these two...

I even slept in this morning, getting a bit more rest, but I feel like my ass is dragging this morning. People ask me if riding my bike 14-15 miles to work in the morning wears me out. No, it truthfully energizes me and kicks off the day nicely. I miss my bike already. I'm also not looking forward to shelling out a $10 bill for the privileges of lethargy and jealousy.

Random Tunage:
Third Eye Blind - Jumper
Kate Ryan - Only If I (Hiver & Hammer Remix)

Kate Ryan's stuff is typically dancefloor cheesiness, but she's an awesome vocalist and to top it of, she does this multi-track stuff where she pulls off spine-tingling harmonies. This track, in particular, is worth a listen if you like stuff with a bit of a thumpy drive to it.

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