Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kicking off Memorial Weekend with a DSR

Keith goes over the basics and what to expect on the route.

Then, we're off.

We always tend to plan these things near a full moon. This is somewhat intentional, I think.

Parked at the rest stop about halfway through the ride.

Darius From Above. Accomplished with a 10-second timer and waving my tripod high above my head.

Obligatory group photo.

"Only" two mechanical failures. Dave flatted (easily fixed). Nan's stem stripped out during a hard climb, and the stem cap bolt just wouldn't bite. Handlebars flopping up and down? Deal-breaker. My own stem cap was held in with much longer bolts, so I swapped one of mine for one of hers. My stem bolt was able to hold things together, fortunately. Her bolt was long enough that it worked fine in my stem. I have spares for it back at home.

One of my favorite parts of the ride is where everyone cranked up the tunes on their phones as we split up into smaller groups. Tinny music of all kinds emanated from tin-can speakers in handlebar bags and jersey pockets.

I had to swing by the pharmacy on the way home, and snapped this. I ended up with just a little over 60 miles today by the time I finished up. By the time the night was over, I was limping home on my blackburn flea blinking very dimly, and my Mini-Mag providing just enough light to spot pot-holes ahead of me at 12 MPH.

More homeward commute railway hotness.

Random Tunage:
Burn In Noise - Raca
Robert Miles - Children (Inpetto Remix)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An early morning

I had to be in early this morning to make sure the stuff we worked on last night went smoothly. The roads are so peaceful at 6:30 AM. The air was cool and calm, the sun low and at my back. Some of these are from the homeward yesterday.

Random Tunage:
Front 242 - Tragedy For You
Dresden & Johnston feat. Nadia Ali - That Day (Myon and Shane 54 Remix)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Monday, May 24, 2010

Dark Side Ride this Friday Night

Imagine a 30-40 mile ride that starts at sun-down. That's a dark-side ride. These things seem to attract bicycle commuter-types, rando-nerds, and mountain bikers. These are no-drop rides with re-group points, but you can usually count on an average pace between 13-16 miles per hour.

As usual, there are rules. They're not my rules. They're just THE rules. The important ones:
* Headlight and tail light required. It's probably a good idea to make sure you can stay lit up for 2.5 to 3 hours, just in case.
* Helmet required.
* Reflective gear: It's ostensibly required, but there may be some leniency here. It's a good idea, though.

Starting point is near the Wendy's parking lot on Woodland just north of K-10. We roll out at 9 sharp, so get there at 8:45 or so. The route isn't going to be too brutal, but there will be a couple of sweat-inducing climbs.

See posts about some past DSRs to get a feel for what they're like:
"June Moon"
Pre-Halloween 2008
DSR: August 2009
The Impromptu DSR in April 2010

Hope to see you out there! Email me (using the form on the right side of my page) if you have any further questions.

Thoughts from the morning ride...

First: I met a guy named Brian that lives in my apartment complex. He just started riding to work last week, and is considering keeping it up. We had a little discussion between 87th street at Monrovia, and where we parted ways at 95th street. It sounds like he's working near the job I turned down in February. What a nice route!  I saw a few other cyclists on their way to work as well, northbound just south of 95th Street. These guys were actually friendly.

Thoughts on riding to work in your work clothes: Convertible cargo pants (with removable legs) and wicking golf shirts are awesome. I scored some of each for cheap at a second-hand store over the weekend. I've always wanted to give golf shirts a go, but can't usually justify the price. They're cheaper at places like Costco, but you can find them for a couple of bucks used if you know where to look. So-called "golf shirts" look much like polos, but they're made of highly breathable, fast-drying synthetics. Perfect for the road, sharp enough for the office. Same thing with the cargo pants: cheap at secondhand stores. Ride to work in shorts, zip on your pant legs once you get in to work. Done. Business casual bicycling without the chainring stains or sweaty back.

I also saw some mountain bike shorts (liner permanently attached inside) being sold as "swimming trunks" - I'm guessing one would want to run those through the washer a time or four before donning them on a ride. Still, an interesting way to get a $25-50 pair of padded bike shorts for less than the cost of a drink at Starbucks...

Also, for the types who pray, send positive energy, think happy thoughts, etc:

The photo in my "Wee Hours..." post was taken whilst riding home from the hospital early this morning, so that my wife has a vehicle there to get home with while I'm at work. At about 5:00 this morning, an hour or so after I got home, they decided to admit her to the hospital for observation. She could use your prayers. Well, so could I.

In the wee hours...

Gotta love it!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bike Week Saturday: It's a bike party at Chipotle!

I told my wife I'd bring back a Burrito Bowl from Chipotle for her, so I was figuring it would be an out-and-back ordeal, and that there might be a few other cyclists who would bother to show up. She told me I should leave early, because there might be a huge turn-out.

We were both right.

Coming south on Quivira, I saw a cyclist ahead of me a ways after cresting the I-35 viaduct into 20-25 MPH headwinds. As I pulled up to Chipotle well ahead of 2:00, I saw Jon, a guy I used to see on the bus with his custom-painted singlespeed. We chatted for a bit, and John (a differeny cyclist who I also know from the bus) showed up with his wife. If you look, you can kind of see the other two bikes around the corner of the patio fence.

So there were four of us, total. About what I had figured. A bit after 2:00, as we were all in line, I saw someone else roll up. Five cyclists! (HA! HA! HA!)

Upon leaving, however, my wife's suspicions became quite valid. Apparently, an entire group ride descended on us.

I'm glad the turn-out was so good for this event. Thanks again, Chipotle!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bike Week Friday: Another Year Older

Today is my 31st Birthday, and it was a good day. My current employer always has an Employee Appreciation Day around the end of May. Their idea of appreciation: Feed us breakfast, recognize those who have been with the company for a long time, recognize those who have been heralded by their peers as outstanding people, have a little fun, then send everyone home before 10:00 AM. In a drawing, I won a $50 gift certificate out of the deal, good for things my company sells (Jewelry, so it basically got handed over to my wife).

I swung by the grocery store to pick up a few things I needed to make some of my famous "Dang Kay-suh-dill-uhs" for lunch.

Speaking of food, don't forget to ride your bike to Chipotle tomorrow. It's your last chance to log some miles for the Car Free Challenge. You'll get a free burrito out of the deal (KC Area only as far as I know), but you might want to plan a 30 mile ride afterward, to offset the thousand-calorie foil-football.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bike Week Thursday: National swim home from work day.

I probably got more rain in the 30-minute ride home than I got in the 90-minute wetfest yesterday. I mean, once you're completely soaked like I was yesterday, you really can't get any more wet. But today was different. Wetter, even though both yesterday and today I arrived home looking like I should have been carrying a snorkel and flippers up from the parking lot, rather than a bicycle.

I got a bike rack at work. Just in time for Bike Week, the maintenance guys installed this 8-foot-long section of guard rail, now re-purposed "to accommodate up to four bicycles." It'll work, and it's certainly better than those awkward wave-shaped racks, but not by much. When I mentioned my bicycling habit, the HR rep I was talking to during the interview phase told me that there would be a bike rack installed soon. Lo and behold, here it is:

After I showed up for work, I noticed a bunch of people talking in the break room about bicycle stuff. Many of my new co-workers have expressed an interest in it. Apparently, many people haven't even considered bicycling for transportation since they left college. No one has seen a bicycle parked here, ever, from what I can tell. Hopefully this new bicycle rack benefits the company as a whole, not just me. Several of my new colleagues live nearby.

For what it's worth, I went through a very similar process at my last job when I first started riding to work. That included a new bike rack going in, and other people using the rack. Of course, the first commuter to "share" was riding a motor scooter. It took a while, but other bikes eventually filled the rack up. We'll see if anyone else jumps on board. Judging from all the questions I'm getting, there will be some other bikes on the rack this summer, at least once monsoon season is over.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bike Week Wednesday: OP City Hall, Rainy Errands

I went to Overland Park City Hall this morning for their Wednesday BTWW Breakfast, since it's not too far from home. I ran into lots of friends. Myself, Warren, and Mark cheese for the camera. Good lord, I'm fat. Still a lot less than I was when I started riding, but I can see this is going to be an ongoing battle.

Warren (with coffee) and Bucephalus, his trusty steed.

John Schnake showed up a few minutes later. He lives just a few blocks away.

Not sure whose Schwinn cruiser this is. I think one of the volunteers rode it to city hall.

Remember the tire with 8,500+ miles on it? Well, today, I couldn't put it off any longer.

That meant a few things. First off, it meant I got to rack up some "errand" miles with a trip to the bike store to buy a new tire. But, as predicted, it was raining cats and dogs all day long, and into the evening. More than 20 miles were ridden in a torrential downpour. Therefore, it also meant I got to put my waterproof backpack to the ultimate test, whether I liked it or not.

More than 90 minutes in the rain, and everything was perfectly dry and safe inside. And the backpack? Well, I rode more than 35 miles with it today. As far as backpacks go, it wasn't too bad. Waterproof panniers would have been appreciated, but the backpack was pretty cheap. Expect a full review on later.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bike Week: Tuesday WarBiking

I didn't make it out to any of the Bike Week events this morning, nor will I likely make it to any of the events this evening.  I will, however, be at Overland Park City Hall at around 6:30 tomorrow morning, since they're hosting another breakfast break. Maybe I'll see you there! Instead, I fired up my WarBiking rig and gathered data about all the wireless networks that adorn my new commuting route. WarBiking is a play on WarDriving: driving around, looking for wireless networks. This has been a geeky pastime of mine for nearly a decade. I chart the networks that I find on a map (using GPS data). Oddly, I only found 30 new networks that I haven't previously logged. I'm up to 27,648 wireless networks, though, if you care. I don't really do much with the data. Some time around 2007, I started finding that wireless networks using encryption started to outnumber those what were "open" and these days, I'd say less than 15% of the wireless networks that I encounter are left un-secured.

Monday, May 17, 2010

KC Bike Week: OP Breakfast Stop

Due to a bit of miscalculation, I showed up to the Overland Park Breakfast stop about 15 minutes before it was scheduled to open. I had figured that there would be some set-up going on already. I had figured wrong. But, at about 6:25, a public works truck showed up and set up shop.

Bananas, OJ, Coffee, granola bars and plenty of give-aways were ripe for the picking. Be sure to sign the rosters at the various events you go to this week. They're being counted and will be used for advocacy purposes.

commuderDude, myself, and Shawn quaffed our beverages, noshed on breakfasty goodness, and conversed with the volunteers for a while before parting ways a bit before 7:00.

My score from the booth: A reflecto-slow-moving-vehicle sign.

Getting from southern Overland Park to my new office near 119th and Renner was an interesting adventure in wayfinding. 127th Street is the preferred method of crossing I-35, but parts of 127th are completely torn out for the "Improve 127th" project. At 7:00 AM, rush hour traffic is picking up in Johnson County, but people were pleasant on the arterial roads. Years of commuting through cul-de-sac-ridden suburbia has given me a certain intuition about finding a clear path. I had no problem carving an efficient residential detour around the construction between Black Bob and Mur-Len.

Side note: Read this great article on the effect of cul-de-sacs on a community's transportation habits.

Random Tunage:
Brian Eno - An Ending (Ascent) (Leama and Moor Remix)
Fluke - Atom Bomb

Friday, May 14, 2010

KC Bike Week starts tomorrow!

This year, I'm not leading a convoy, nor will you see my hideous countenance on TV. I'll just be riding my bike.

There are a lot of events planned, so check out the KC Bike Week page to check out the calendar. Sign up for the Car Free Challenge, and ride. While there are prizes for the Car Free Challenge, its purpose, among other things, is to be counted as one who is interested in alternative transportation. Even if you know you won't log insane miles, it's worth signing up and logging your activity.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Posting will still be light for a bit...

We had to kind of pick and choose what would get paid for while I was out of work. Obviously, rent came first. Without breaking out into some sappy sob story, I'll put it frankly: Flickr Pro is expiring in a few days, so many of the photos won't load. Not that I am really able to upload much of anything from home anyway. Our Cable TV and Internet was cut on Friday. That means I have to tether via my mobile phone for Internet access at home. It's slow and disconnects often. Basically, it's more trouble than it's worth.

I figure things will probably return to normal in mid-to-late June.

Look for another S24O announcement soon, a-la One Ton Paceline. I've got the camping itch BAD, but we really dodged a bullet doing the trip in August. I'm thinking June might be better.

Also: I just realized I bought The Twelve 3 years (plus a few days) ago. It has logged more than 10,000 miles, believe it or not. In fact, I have had the same front tire on that bike since late 2007 when I got sick of the OEM tires and switched to Bontrager Hard-Case. The front tire has about 8,500 miles on it, without a single flat.


So there are other commuters using my new route!

If you haven't yet seen this, it's worth watching. That's kind of how it went this morning.

Me: Fat guy. Cargo shorts and t-shirt. Entry-level road bike with fenders, lights and a rack. 30 pounds of God-knows-what in my panniers. I'm gradually bringing my usual desk stuff in to the office. 12 Miles per hour. Enjoying the ride and the mid-50s temperatures, looking forward to pulling into the parking lot without a drop of sweat and a heart-rate under 110.

Him: Typical crit racer build. Epic team kit complete with branded arm-warmers and windbreaker (as if it was below freezing). S-Works Carbon Tarmac. Too much stuff crammed into his well-used messenger bag, which is trying to fall off his back and under his right arm. Faster than me by a good clip. I see him coming from half a mile away.

Me: Wave, say "morning."

Him:  . . . [continues hammering away]

Is this related to the old rule? "If you can have a conversation, you're not riding hard enough."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Generally speaking, my commute is southwest in the morning and northeast in the evening. Riding in this morning was refreshing. Sunny, 53 degrees, and a good wind out of the southwest. This time of year, the wind generally tends to be out of the southwest, so that didn't surprise me.

When I got out of work, it was as beautiful as you could imagine. Fluffy clouds, bright sun, and 67 degrees... with a northeast wind. Ah, omni-directional headwind.

While there are a lot of siding track crossings along my route that can be dicey with traffic, I really do like looking at all the railroad scenery that adorns Santa Fe Trail Drive. If you see the tracks from the highway, or you drive along SFTD, you might think that the same railcars have been sitting there for the past decade. The truth is that a lot of those cars get moved hither and yon by small locomotive engines.

Pardon my grainy, tilted photos.

Random Tunage:
MGMT - Kids
Bloc Party - I Still Remember

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Day

I opted to take the bus this morning, just so I was certain I'd show up fresh and on-time. It's nice to have a Plan B.

I had a great first day at work. Officially, my title is Linux/Windows Administrator. Practically, I am helping a relatively small IT group wherever they need it. After a brief orientation, I went up to my new office, caught up with my new boss, got Windows 7* installed, and started familiarizing myself with my surroundings.

I've got a great team to work with, and they've each got a unique and complementary set of skills. The pile of stuff I was handed this morning is almost entirely related to bolstering the company's security stance. A cursory look, however, shows that the team has managed to really stay on top of things. Over the coming months, I'll be streamlining all kinds of security-related processes when I'm not helping the team with system administration duties. Basically: this is a dream come true.

I took a bit of a pay cut, but when you consider all the benefits of having a job this close to home (and without interstate taxes) it's worthwhile. The small size of this group and the growth speed of the company means that this is a genuine career opportunity, not just a paycheck.

For those of you not in the Greater Kansas City Area: today was filled with cold temperatures, massive rain and biting winds gusting over 30 MPH. In the morning, the bus schedule agrees merrily with my work schedule. It stops running homeward around 4:00 or so, well before the end of my work day. Due to her medical issues, my wife needs her car. My car is currently out of commission in more ways than one. Homeward, there is no Plan B, and this photo doesn't do any justice to my aqueous, breezy journey. I was way under-dressed for this evening. It felt like a blustery, October day. I was, as you might imagine, dressed for the average May rainstorm, which usually doesn't call for any special gear.

* Windows 7 is one of the slickest operating systems I've ever used. I'm anything but a Microsoft fanboy, so that's saying something.

Friday, May 07, 2010

For real this time.

6 miles. No hills to speak of. Indoor parking. That blue stripe at the top of the image is the "elevation graph" with the little red band showing the most extreme climb of the route, which is something like a 3% grade that lasts perhaps a quarter of a mile.

Added bonus? The "Dreaded" bus still gives me door-to-door service for the really bad weather days. Boo yah.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Small World

I got to hang out with Ryan in person over "Lunch" (Bacon Pancakes for the win!) and beers at Swagger. Although we'd never met before, I know him through the social sphere of my fellow bike commuter, blogger and information security guy Jason. Ryan moved to Florida a while ago, but he was in town for a wedding this weekend, hence the meet-up. It's cool getting to know new people who share many interests. I thought Jason was actually going to show up to Swagger as well, but he didn't. *sideways glance in Jason's direction*

Upon meeting up, though, we were also joined by another acquaintance of mine, David, a web developer who I know through various technology groups in town, who used to work with Ryan. Indeed, a really small world. Or an unfathomably gargantuan Internet. Perhaps the latter.

Since I was in the Waldo area, I took a stop by Family Bicycles on my way home. I couldn't resist the temptation to test-ride a new Dahon Espresso. The Goat is in shambles right now and it's easy to think of replacing it with something more practical and easier to store. Also, there's a little part of me that's really lusting after a 26" folder.

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