Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunset - 09/30/2009

Sunset - 09/30/2009, originally uploaded by KC-Bike.

Not much more I can say. I love Kansas City sunsets!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Road-side observations: Failure

This guy has seemingly mastered the art of failure.

Don't ask me how it happened, for I do not know. A motorcycle cop showed up just after I snapped this, so I wasn't going to interrupt and ask. It's a good thing, too. The discussion would have likely gone like this:

Me: "Pardon me."
Guy: "Yes?"
Me: "What the f***, dude!?"
Guy: "Just driving along, and my trailer flipped over!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tricks of the Trade: Ah, Autumn.

Shorter days. Nearly perfect east-west alignment of the sun at dawn
and dusk. Cooler Weather. Autumn is officially here.

Getting Acclimated:
Despite being 55*F this morning, I saw a fellow bike commuter all
bundled up in (what I consider) winter gear -- balaclava, thick
gloves, heavy jacket. Whatever's comfortable, I suppose. I'm kind of
guessing the guy's a newbie who hasn't quite figured out how to
appropriately gear up for cooler temperatures. I was the same way when
I started, and quickly found myself sweating through my clothes.
Similarly, he could just need that kind of gear to be comfortable.
About this time last year when I was visiting San Francisco, I noticed
almost all cyclists wearing similar clothing in the high-40s. They're
just more comfy at warmer temperatures.

Nailing your cool weather attire is a trial-and-error experiment.
Everyone's different. What works for me at 55*F (shorts and a t-shirt)
won't always work for everyone. The best way to figure out what works
is to start logging the temperature in the morning, then figure out
what temperature you start getting uncomfortable in your current
get-up. Log the temperature, then try adding a layer of clothing.

If you're into technical, cycling specific clothing, this usually
means getting out the long sleeve jersey and perhaps some arm- or
leg-warmers. If you commute in street clothes, you might want to throw
on some long pants. If you commute in business casual attire, you'll
probably get cold a lot less easily, but when you do, it's probably
time to use a windbreaker and maybe some long johns. Keep logging
temperatures and re-evaluating how you feel. If your hands or ears get
uncomfortably cold at a certain temperature, cover them up. Layering
is important, and it's important to use wicking fabrics next to your
skin on longer commutes. This might mean a cozy wool jersey, or a
sport-performance base layer under your clothes. Wool is very
versatile and I personally think it doesn't pick up the "funk" that
you get with synthetic stuff, but it's expensive and some people find
it uncomfortable. One thing is true, though: It will keep you warmer
than cotton or lycra if it gets wet. Scientific fact. I plan on
picking up some more wool stuff as winter nears.

I say this every year, but you might want to consider changing your
route or altering your work schedule a little bit if you find yourself
riding into the sunlight at dusk or dawn. It doesn't matter how much
reflective gear or lighting you have, you will be very hard to see on
the road as motorists approach you from the rear, driving into the
sun. If you continue riding into the lesser-utilized part of cycling
season (cycling season last year round!) you'll want to make sure
you've got ample lighting for your adventures. If you stay on well-lit
roadways, you can stick with relatively-inexpensive attention-grabbing
devices like the Blackburn Flea headlight and Planet Bike Superflash
tail light that I use. Otherwise, you'll need to look at more
expensive lighting that can help you see the path ahead well enough to
safely navigate. I have a 15W halogen light for that, but LED tech is
advancing quickly and stuff at the $100-$150 price-point is getting
quite impressive.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The 20-foot commute

It was a work from home day. A "Piggy Flu Drill" if you will. No pandemic in the office yet, but the higher-ups wanted people to shake the system down en masse for preparedness sake. I'm a fan of preparedness. I'm also a fan of things like flex schedules, telecommute days and other paradigm shifts in the enterprise that can reduce the amount of travel that's required for work. Both of the things I just mentioned have their problems, too. Examples: Not everyone has a distraction-free workspace at home. Not everyone can put in 10-hour-days in the cubicle maze and still take care of the kids.

Lessons learned:

  • The coffee RULES at this place!
  • I love my mouse and 18-year-old keyboard and wish I had matching ones at work.
  • KVM-over-IP does not work well over an RDP Session. Nerd alert!
  • Boots can lay in my wife's office chair for nine hours straight.

Toward dusk, I walked to the grocery store (instead of riding, it was beautiful out!)

PSA: September means east/west glare is particularly loathsome at dawn and dusk. Be seen. Be Safe. Maybe modify your route or arrival/departure schedule a bit if you find yourself riding directly into the sun on busy roads.

Fantastic sunset - I can't give it justice.

Random Tunage:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday was PARK(ing) day

I'd never heard that there was an official day for it. PARK(ing) spots are little miniature parks set up in parking spaces, and the BNIM folks set one up in front of Souperman on Friday. I heard about it from Eric and decided to check it out myself. I got there while they were still setting up.

The spot was barricaded by plants and rope. Park benches and games were set up for participants.

They had organic, veggies and snacks grown in urban community and container gardens, and a demo unit of an electric windmill.

A windmill of this size wouldn't do anything at all for home energy generation, though -- it was meant to be mounted on a boat. This company makes much larger models for home use. The representative on site noted that wind power is barely viable unless you're in a windy rural area.

PARK(ing) Day materials. The small flyers included recipes for snacks made using mostly veggies that one could grow in Kansas City's climate. I thought it was a nice touch.

Eric pulled up just as I was leaving.

Another subtle change I noticed lately is that all the crosswalks downtown are "WALK" by default when parallel traffic has a green light. I heard about it a while ago, just haven't been paying attention. Basically, the "push for walk" buttons are obsolete when there's traffic. I'd imagine that you'd still need to press it to let the system know you want to cross a busy street with no traffic in queue, though. Many intersections downtown are using motion-sensing cameras to trigger lights, as opposed to purely timer-based or underground hall-effect loop sensors. These won't likely sense pedestrians waiting to cross.

Random Tunage:
Tchaikovsky - Pas De Deux
Sarah Brightman - La Califfa

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Intending to get into bike commuting, I bought my cheapo mountain bike on Sept. 19, 2006 and rode it to the bus the next morning -- three years ago today. That bike didn't last long (only about 6 weeks before I destroyed the rear axle) but it kicked off what would become a completely different way I view transportation. I'm waiting for some scripts to run for work (I'm telecommuting tonight this morning) so I'll keep it short and post some more photos later this week.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You should have seen it.

If you weren't out the door by dawn this morning, you missed out on a spectacular display of God's handiwork. Fortunately, I got a capture that I'm pretty pleased to be able to show you here. I love when Venus and our Moon are so close together in the sky.

Into the darkness, Karen and I made our way downtown at a more relaxed pace than I've been pushing the past few days. I stopped at Truman and Main to try my hand at a panoramic shot with my phone. That didn't work too well, so I used my Canon, then stitched these together with Hugin.

On my way home, I noticed that someone loves parking meters.

Random Tunage:
Trio - Da Da Da
The Police - Every Breath You Take

The bike rack is officially a permanent fixture @HenHouseMarket in Lenexa!

The rack has been anchored into place with masonary bolts, as promised. Being a security guy and a cyclist, I gave it a good tug and shove. It should hold up okay but larger bolts would have been more appropriate. Again, Hen House Has been a pleasure to work with through all of this and it seems the whole company embraces and supports bicycling for transportation, not just individual stores.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another beautiful day!

I had a nice trip that started out a little bit on the misty/rainy side this morning, but the rain drops gave way to haze and fog just out of traffic's reach, maybe 50 feet above ground for the rest of the work-bound commute. I haven't used the bus at all this week, and it feels good.

Over lunch today, I had to head to the cave (round trip: 7.6 miles) to troubleshoot one of my personal servers that's residing there. I took my lunch with me and ate it there. Root beer, some left over pizza and a granola bar. Tasty. Despite my wretched diet, I'm losing a few pounds here and there once again.

This is the descent that wreaked havoc on the Un-Lenexa Midnight Cave Ride. There's no slippery mud on the slope, so it was a magnificent 85-foot drop into the limestone mines of days gone by. I still have no idea what the grade is, as my GPS doesn't work through 85 feet of rock and I suck at trigonometry. Not to mention that the 85 foot altitude change is just a guess from one of the folks in the leasing office.

The cool air outside near lunch time wasn't much warmer than the cave's internal temperature, so it actually felt warmer due to the increased humidity and lack of wind. The same humidity and lack of wind made this a genuine death slog on my way back to the office.

This was actually from the parking lot of the cave's upper entrance, as taken last Thursday.

The homeward ride was a little warmer than I'd have expected, but the winds are staying relatively calm -- not common for this time of year. I'm loving it, though. In the back alley across the street from my home, I saw these two delivery trucks deadlocked. I'm calling it "Mail Wars" - I wish I could have gotten my camera out quicker. This was taken after the UPS truck had backed up to allow the FedEx guy to pass through.

Random Tunage:
Say Anything - Baby Girl, I'm a Blur
Shiny Toy Guns - Le Disko

c'Dude needs some help.

With two jobs, a family and a busy summer, commuterDude hasn't gotten around to drumming up funds for the MS150. He hasn't posted it on his site yet, but I know he could use some help. If he doesn't get enough pledges in the next 10 days, he isn't able to ride. Period. I personally don't want to see that happen. The National MS Society is a worthy cause, and it hits close to home for my family. If you have the means and the desire for even $5, pledge to the National MS Society on his behalf. Don't forget to see if your company will match your contribution on the pledge page.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nice commute with Grey, Hen House Update

... and I hope that's how he spells his name.

Anyhow, I got out a little early this morning, and saw a cyclist carrying a good pace up ahead of me. Being 5:30ish in the morning, I figured it had to be Grey. If that's the case, I probably wasn't going to catch up with him, but it didn't keep me from trying.

Sure enough, though, as I was pulling up to Johnson Drive on Merriam, I saw him bombing down the hill and turning in front of me. I'd closed in on him, but only because I took the easier route. I think he takes Quivira to 75th, then Nieman to Johnson Drive, whereas I take 67th east to get on Merriam Lane.

He was racing cyclocross yesterday, so was taking it easy this morning. Grey's version of "taking it easy" is somewhere toward the upper end of the speed I can maintain for the distance of my commute. Still, it was nice to run into him. I only see him a few times per year, and it's usually not for very long. In fact, this might be the only time I've actually commuted WITH him versus just seeing him in passing along the way. I bid him farewell as we turned onto Main, mostly because I just couldn't keep up the pace anymore. I took it easy up the hill into Downtown KCMO and used it as a bit of cool-down time.

Hen House Bike Parking
I've been in communication with a few different people from the company that runs the Hen House Market stores, and they've been a real pleasure to work with, asking for suggestions on where and how to mount their new bike rack. My suggestions were:

  • Under the overhang, near the building
  • Perpendicular to the wall so bikes can park on both sides of the rack
  • Spaced far enough from the wall to make the closest spot usable.
After hearing from the director for that specific store, I checked the rack out last night (sorry, no camera) and I don't think I could have placed it better myself. It should be bolted down soon. Again, I find it exciting when local businesses that I patronize take a few steps to accommodate cyclists. With so much residential space nearby, it makes sense that people will show up by bike.

Matt from Hen House also wanted me to let you know that they're now on Twitter, where they advertise some of their specials.

Random Tunage:
Sarah Mclachlan - Into The Fire
Chicane vs. Natasha Bedingfield - Bruised Water

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fender Kludge.

Props go to commuterDude today for his advice on affixing my new fenders to the brake stay... drill bit and "Go Lance!" yellow zip-tie style. I also discovered (and am here displaying) the fact that when Planet Bike sells you silver "polished aluminum bonded to polycarbonate" fenders, you get clear polycarbonate fenders with a layer of what appears to be mylar glued to the inner surface. This ply happily separated from the fender itself upon drilling. You can see the dent-like appearance of my fender as shown above. I am contemplating finishing the job by peeling this anemic layer off right now. I would be willing to bet that clear fenders look awesome until the first time you ride and they get all scuffed, stained and thrashed on the inside. Then, they would just look ugly and ridiculous. Now that I have them attached, I just need to find a way to adhere the wayward "polished aluminum" back to the lexan from whence it came...

Monday, September 07, 2009

An Open Letter to Hen House Market

To whom it may concern,

I use a bicycle as my primary mode of transportation and like most Americans, I tend to patronize shops that are basically in my neighborhood. It was with joy that I saw a bicycle rack in front of your Lenexa location, as I usually have to find a less-than-suitable spot to lock my bicycle up while shopping. I am happy that you've decided to accommodate bicycles as transportation and given them a dedicated place to park as opposed to posting signs that forbid bicycles, skateboards and rollerblades.

I do have one concern, however. As of Labor Day 2009, the bicycle rack isn't bolted down or otherwise secured in any way. The rack is light enough for one person to lift onto a pickup bed, probably even if there's a bicycle locked to it.

Please contact me if you need help or suggestions for properly securing the rack at this location and any others.

Thanks again!

Photo of the rack in question. Some have suggested that I lock it to the hood ornament of that nice Benz in the rock-star spot. Somehow, I don't think that would work too well. :)

Until this thing gets bolted down, I think I'll stick to locking my bike to one of the brick support columns. By the way, the above note was sent through the official online comment form to Hen House Market in regards to the location I saw this rack at.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Road Trophy

Road trophies are those fascinating items you find... well... in the road whilst riding your bicycle. You are not obliged to keep them in order to consider them road trophies. Never before have I seen an ALTERNATOR in the road. Nothing else to indicate vehicular distress -- simply a lonely, worn and dirty alternator. I removed it from the road, as it was positioned to cause all kinds of problems. One of these days, I have a project in mind that requires an alternator, but that is a story for another time, and probably another website entirely. It also requires an alternator that really works, not just some crap I literally found on the side of the road.

Fenders. Finally.

It's been a few months without fenders. I got my Cascadias in yesterday and put them on last night. Just in time, so it seems, for more rain.

I went with silver fenders this time, and I kind of like the look. The rear brake bridge kept rubbing on the tire, so I had to leave that part off. Hopefully sometime this weekend I can figure out what kind of modifications it needs in order to fit, because without that piece, the rear fender seems like it could spend quite a bit of time rubbing on the tire itself.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

To go, please...

Since The Goat is really good at hopping curbs and medians, it is sometimes a lot faster to get take-out by bike. :)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Mr. Sunshine

Mr. Sunshine has been getting up later and later these days. I love the sky's gradient just at the beginning of dawn.

Bob says HI! I haven't seen him much lately, but he comes around once in a while.

Lately, bike commuters in Kansas City have been looking more like this (sorry for the blur) - it's interesting to see people in dress clothes with bikes. Most of them, like this guy, are seen walking the bikes on the sidewalks. I'm not sure if any of them actually ride these bikes, or what. This isn't an uncommon sight at all, though. I've seen more bike commuters this summer than ever before. With the mild weather we've been having, it's not much of a surprise.

As seen on my homeward commute. This is beyond the usual foreclosure stuff I see a lot of. These are respectively Nuisance Abatement and Unfit For Human Habitation notices. I did not read them to figure out what they were put up for. I just took the picture.

Here's my new phone. I just ordered some vinyl skins and a protective cover for it, in hopes that it won't end up scuffed and battered like my old phone. This is probably the last time it will look like this for a while. I'm thinking camouflage.

It opens with a full QWERTY keypad for email and text on the go. I'm liking it so far.

Fishies! Last weekend, Jeff gave us one of his old fish tanks. Behold.

It's finally ready for habitation, so we picked up some inexpensive tropicals to help fill it out: Black Mollys, Rummy-Nose Tetras, Neon Tetras and Blackline Rasboras

They joined the Chinese Algae Eater (shown below, we named him Wiggles) and some other unknown-species Tetras we've had in a 10Gal tank for the last 5 years or so.

Also, while scoping out fish, I made a new friend. I didn't bring her home, though. Perhaps I'll get a tarantula one of these days. I kind of like them. I'm pretty sure my wife would freak.

Random Tunage:
Noma - What's Out There?
INXS - Need You Tonight

Privacy Policy

This site is driven by software that uses third-party cookies from Google (Blogger, AdSense, Feedburner and their associates.) Cookies are small pieces of non-executable data stored by your web browser, often for the purpose of storing preferences or data from previous visits to a site. No individual user is directly tracked by this or any other means, but I do use the aggregate data for statistics purposes.

By leaving a link or e-mail address in my comments (including your blogger profile or website URL), you acknowledge that the published comment and associated links will be available to the public and that they will likely be clicked on.