Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh bollocks!

3,100 miles. Looks like that pre-deer skid killed my tire, too.

Crazy week. Only Tuesday.

It's been a crazy week already, and it's barely Tuesday. In fact, I haven't even left home yet. That means Sunday and Monday have been real whoppers. Lots of riding.

I saw this on the side of the road yesterday after work. It's the eccentric bolt that allows a car's alignment to be adjusted by professional mechanics. The fact that it's not attached to a car means that someone's suspension is about to shuffle off this mortal coil. It'll probably take one of the car's wheels along for the ride. It will not end well.

Lots of riding in the dark these past few days, through the aromatic byways of Johnson County. Without being able to see much aside from what's illuminated directly ahead of my bike, I've noticed my sense of smell gives me some entertainment. The perfume of flower gardens, blooming trees and fresh-cut grass fills my nostrils.

The last two nights in a row, I've passed CenturyLink on my way home. I was pretty close to landing a job here, so I've had a lot of practice with what would have been my commute route. It would have been about a mile longer than my current route, with more hills.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A few rides later, feeling alright.

Most of the road rash is healing nicely, but a huge football-sized bruise manifested itself on my left thigh on Thursday. I'd call it a Mystery Bruise, but its origin is no mystery. Again, I'll spare you the photos of that mess. I'm still a bit sore, especially on my deeper scrapes, but they will go away soon... I hope.

A good friend of mine donated a helmet to the cause. It's a typical recreation helmet, but every bit as comfy as the Bell Solar I had before. Anything with a CPSC sticker is fine in my book! It has a detachable visor. I'm usually not a fan of those, but it holds my Take-A-Look mirror better than the helmet tab I was using before, so it may stick around.

I actually got back on the bike on Friday with a round-trip commute. I got about 20 miles in over the weekend, and had a nice ride to work this morning as well.

As far as the bike goes, everything looks to be in good shape. I found a few deer hairs in the steerer crown and fender when I removed the fork to examine it closely. The carbon fork appears to be un-damaged. I'm not sure I trust it, though. When carbon fails, it fails spectacularly!

So, I'm on the prowl for a caliper-compatible steel or aluminum road touring fork with front-rack eyelets. It would pretty much complete my bike as a do-all tourer/commuter. It looks like Surly's Long Haul Trucker fork would work. I wonder if those Cantilever bosses are removable...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bike Camping: Canceled.

Okay... This has been a craptastic week for me... well, for a lot of us. Several people who originally answered "yes" or "maybe" have bailed. I'm calling it off. Sorry, folks. I may try to throw together something like this in July.

I'm not even sure I could ride to Hillsdale lake in the condition I'm in, much less enjoy my stay there and the ride back. Plus, it's looking like it was going to be only Josh and his son (on/in a flipping sweet Madsen, by the way!) with myself, even if I wasn't injured. While I'd be totally down for camping with a group of any size -- even solo -- I just don't have it in me this week.

Argh. I've had the camping bug for months.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I was on my way to work, into a mild headwind. I was taking it very, very easy. Then, I got to the funner, hilly section. I tucked and coasted, picking up some good downhill speed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a deer ahead of me, leaving some taller grass and running for the road. I eased into my brakes at first, but I was on a collision course. I tried to swerve away as best I could while braking hard with the front, sitting up and back to get some more traction to the rear tire, which I kept locking up. I got slowed down before impact, but I don't know by how much. The rest happened in slow motion.

The deer's hooves were on the asphalt, and I could hear it clopping. It was leaning away from me, and slipping. It looked me in the eye. Its tongue was out, too. Not sure what's up with that. My front tire hit the deer right in the ribs. According to the motorist behind me, I knocked it over, then it righted itself and took off.

My left shoe came off, and I landed first on my right shoulder and on the right-rear part of my helmet-covered head. My bike flipped over the deer and landed on me. I rolled over and skidded a while on my left lumbar, foot, knee and left elbow. I kept rolling, coming to rest on my knees, elbows and wrists, all of which took substantial damage.

A motorist called 911 and the paramedics arrived promptly. I was assessed and taken to OP Regional for X-rays and a trauma work-up.

Deer: unharmed.
Helmet: Shattered
Bike: Stem rotated 20* on steerer, easily fixed.
Me: Shallow but wide-covered road rash on right shoulder blade and left lumbar, deep abrasions on both knees, both wrists and on my left pinkie toe, Shattered left thumbnail, and two almost-bone-depth abrasions on my left elbow. I also have a really long shallow gash that runs the entire back of my right hand. No clue where that came from.

Cyclist vs. Deer. Helmet Loses.

Ambulance ride. I feel okay. Mostly road rash, I think...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Grinder at Grinders!

Jon Grinder comes through Kansas City a few times per year when he visits his family out east. Usually, he blazes through KC and stops in one of the eastern suburbs for the night before pressing onward for the rest of the trip in the morning.

A few months ago, we'd arranged to meet up next time he came through town. That was today. He jokes that all of his pictures look the same, so here he strikes his usual pose.

I decided it would be cool to meet at Grinder's. Not only because it's Jon's last name, but because it's not too far off his route, and the food is good. If you like dive bars with art culture and good music, Grinder's is your spot. Last time I was here, I had their "insane" wings, and they were kind of weak, but tasty. They're billed as "effing HOT!" so I was a bit disappointed. This time, though, they delivered a mainline of pain!

We shot the breeze for an hour or so while my wife tried not to get too bored listening to gearhead-speak. I've been reading Jon's stuff longer than I've been posting here... almost as long as I've been bike commuting. It was cool to finally catch up with him in person!

Jon's Suzuki is great for touring. Boy, was it loaded!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Operation: Squall Line

At quittin' time, the radar looked something like this:

Operation: Squall Line was in full effect. I put the raincover on my lone pannier and hit the road, hoping -- no, knowing -- I could beat it. I darted up Renner, slogged the rolling hills of 113th street, and started northeast on Santa Fe Trail Drive with a strong sidewind and storms approaching from the west. Immediately ahead of me, a cyclist I hadn't seen before. Just pulling out of Southlake business park a few blocks to the north, I saw Jim's retina-searing jacket.

It didn't take me long to blow past both of them. Not that I was being a dick about it. I greeted them both upon passing. I don't usually ride hard, but this was personal. This was a race. Me against the dark, growling beast. Keep in mind that my skinny tires, tall gears, and drop bars gave me an advantage. In reality, I wasn't going that fast. This is me we're talking about.

About 2 minutes after I took this, the downpour started.

Random Tunage:
The Chemical Brothers - Star Guitar
Underworld - Born Slippy (Original)

Muggy commute

Humidity defined:

As I wheeled my Trek 1200 out the front door of my apartment, I got hit with air that was at first blush cooler than the air inside, but gooey with moisture. I carried my bike down the stairs, straddled it, and glanced down at the clock on my cyclometer, already beginning to fog up. I looked around: drops of dew were glistening in the trees and creeping down the sides of parked cars. The recently-sealed pavement was sweating, with tracks of recently-departed vehicles laid all over the parking lot. As I pedaled through the still morning air, dew was forming on the tips of the hairs on my forearms and creating a frosty-looking haze on the smooth, painted surfaces of my bike.

Welcome to early summer in the Midwest.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lunch with Jim

I cornered Jim a few years ago when I saw him on Pflumm at Santa Fe Trail Drive. I see him around every once in a while, but never really caught up with him. My new job has me working pretty close to him, so we finally got around to meeting for lunch at Chipotle. Jim has a commute that is even closer than mine, and he is a serious year-round rider. It was nice to finally catch up with Jim. I found out he knows a lot of the same people I ride with. While eating, I saw at least 3 roadies come and go. Unsurprisingly, they were all wearing "Team Garmin" kits.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


No bikey stuff this weekend, aside from some errands.

I'm slowly but surely getting back into nerdy things outside of work again. A friend of mine brought a pair of these systems to CCCKC last week. AT&T marketed a few different computers in the 1980s. This particular model, the 3B1/7300, was designed and manufactured by Convergent Technologies in 1985. It runs genuine AT&T System Five (SysV) UNIX, one of the operating systems I cut my teeth on as a kid. I haven't used it in well over a decade, but I love its descendands (Solaris, AIX, Linux and other "unix" variants) and still use them on a daily basis.

Today: Fishing.

And not 10 minutes after casting, I got my first catch of the season, a nice-looking if somewhat young channel catfish.

I caught more, too. In fact, enough to feed my wife and I, my sister-in-law and her two daughters. My niece was using the compact fishing rig I built almost exactly a year ago. It would have been nice to see how it held up against the fish I caught today. I was using a hand-me-down rod and spinning reel that my dad gave me ages ago.

I usually catch-and-release, or simply end up feeding the fish as they steal bait from me. My wife has this awesome recipe for fried catfish, though. I much prefer bass, trout, or, if I can catch it in significant quantity, panfish such as bluegill. I'm not a huge fan of catfish, but this stuff was fresh... and goooooood!

Friday, June 11, 2010


This morning, I ran across almost every cyclist I've seen to date on my new route, except for Terry. Brian was rolling out of my apartment complex at the same time as me. Coming up to 95th St, The Silent Roadie and I were stopped next to one another. I didn't have time to catch his name, but we talked for a second. He rides from 75th and Metcalf down to 151st St. That's a decent ride. Then, I got passed by someone I haven't seen before, commuting on a triathlon bike and apparently trying to catch up with the roadie. We exchanged "good mornings" and little else. Finally, I saw the daily northbound guy south of 95th.

And how could I blame them? It was a beautiful morning for a ride!

I got tired of staring at the eight un-labeled and functionless buttons on my office phone. Over lunch, I added some new labels to them. Tip of the hat to my friend Ben, who kind of inspired me to do this by sending me a link to a photo where someone had done something similar. I wish I could claim it was original. It is, however, fun to look at.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Johnson County cyclists: suggestions wanted

Below: a rectangle that contains some of the gnarliest highway interchanges in our community.

To me, these represent serious barriers to alternative transportation use. There are five "islands" in that diminutive 12 square mile chunk represented above. Getting from one island to another is often a daunting task. There are only a few roads that cut through without forcing cyclists and pedestrians to "share the road" with a 3 or 4 lane interchange riddled with on-ramps and off-ramps and often no sidewalks, wide lanes, or even shoulders to work with.

This is my neighborhood, folks. I don't live in this rectangle, but I'm just north of it and I do a good chunk of my riding in this area. My job is in this rectangle. I may be participating in a focus group for the Johnson County Gateway Corridor project. While I certainly have my own opinions and thoughts on what could be done to improve the accessibility of this area, I wouldn't mind some opinions from my peers. I see a lot of people riding these streets. Speak up!

What are your suggestions for making things better for alternative transportation, if you had to focus your effort on this little slice of our community?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


When I got out today, it was still raining hard as ever -- in fact, probably harder than anything I've ridden in before. I rode to my sister-in-law's place to meet my wife. Once again, I was totally drenched, but the stuff in my waterproof backpack was dry as a bone. In fact, the water droplets I've noticed before (which I attributed to opening the bag in the rain) weren't present.

Here are some cameraphone pics of my nieces at Chatlain Park a few weeks ago. I just stumbled across them when clearing out my memory card. My sister in law and her daughters stayed with us for a couple of weeks in May while they transitioned to her new apartment (which I'm writing this from)

Here comes the bus!

Without a bike rack, I had to leave The Twelve at the office when my wife picked me up to run some errands after work. I probably would not have truly enjoyed the rainy commute this morning anyway...

Friday, June 04, 2010

The other F word.

I was asking for it a few weeks ago. It caught up with me.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Terry lives near KU Med and works just across the street from my new job. He showed me a way to avoid the gnarliest intersection of my route. Thanks, Terry! See ya on the road!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Indian Creek Trail near 135th St.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Meet Isaac. He's a retired LifeFlight paramedic riding from Chicago to Texas. Where in Texas? He doesn't even know. Sorry for the crappy pics, all I had on me this evening was my phone.

I came across Isaac on my way home from the hospital tonight (my wife is back in, getting some medications adjusted) and he was wrenching on his trailer and Mongoose mountain bike. I offered to true his rear wheel up. It was really, really bad. I couldn't get it perfect, but he'll have a lot better luck getting around now that his brakes aren't scraping the rim for half a wheel rotation.

He was intrigued by the reflective SMV sign hanging from my cargo rack.

In exchange for my SMV sign and the repair work, he offered in trade a perfectly new spray bottle fan. I would have let him have the sign for free, but he insisted on a barter. It's also odd that my wife just yesterday said that she really wanted to get one of these. I couldn't say no, really. It was an even trade. We both had something the other one wanted. I love the barter system. It was a big part of how I survived while I was laid off.

I hung out with Isaac for about an hour, shooting the breeze and getting his story. I gave him some pointers on route and accommodations for the next leg of his journey, then made my way home. I seem to run into one or two cheerful wanderers like Isaac every year. I have a lot of admiration for them, and try to get to know them for a brief moment when I have the chance.

June 26th - Family Friendly Bike Camping

This is just a new post, since things changed.

Mark your calendars: June 26th. This will be another caravan-style bicycle camping trip, but with a twist! The family's invited, even if they have to drive. Especially if they have to drive, although I encourage car-pooling if it can be arranged. I'll leave that up to you.

Cyclists should plan to depart from Lenexa Senior Center at 2:00 PM.
Depart from South Olathe Price Chopper at 3:30 PM.
Likely arrive to Hillsdale sometime around 5:00-5:30 PM.

We will try to snag the campsites near Crites Boat Ramp again. It's walking distance from real bathrooms and showers, and spitting distance from running water and "Brick Outhouse" style facilities.

This is not a rain-or-shine event, though. If it looks like it'll be stormy beyond gentle rain, there won't be a Plan B. It'll simply be canceled.

Basically, I'd like this event to be one your families can come along for, even if they don't ride. Accommodations could be a bit more lavish if you'd like your non-cycling relatives to bring out the propane camp stoves, the coolers of beer and hamburger patties, the bigger tents, the kids and the dog. If the family's not interested but you'd still like to ride out, you're welcome to show up solo, too!

If you want to haul some stuff on the bike and have the family haul the rest, go ahead.

If you'd rather ride your racing bike with no cargo, that's cool, too.

If you want to ride down with us, then throw your bike on the back of your team car to get home, do it!

Stay all day Sunday if you want. Go fishing with the kids, try the walking trail or hit the swimming beach. It's your choice, but I'd like a focus on family fun with bikes in the background.

The return trip may be less convoy-ish than the ride out to Hillsdale. My guess is that many of us will be riding our bikes back to town, though, if you feel better riding in a group.

P.S. a more minimalist trip is in the works for the first or second weekend in September. It will be much more focused on the self-support and S24O aspect, like the last Hillsdale trip I planned. Venue, date, and times are still kind of up-in-the-air on that one. Suggestions welcome.

Who's in? Please RSVP by emailing me (contact form at the right side of my site) or by commenting here that you'll be going.


18.6 MPH Elapsed time average, including all the stops. 2/3 of my homeward trip was spent over 30 MPH on level ground. I *have* been getting a bit faster, but I cannot take credit for this one! Also, Bike Camping is definitely moved to the 26th. More details later. I am on the go with more errands to run. Peace out...

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