Friday, December 28, 2007

The Road Less Traveled

Temperature at departure = 24° F (-4° C)

Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference
-Robert Frost - Road Less Traveled

I got up early and took my daughter out to breakfast for her 18th birthday. We got around 3" of additional snow overnight and none of it had been cleared off. As we were getting back in the car to head home she said "You're not riding in this, are you?" I told her I had three options:

  1. Have someone else take me to work driving in rush hour traffic with bad road conditions.
  2. Work from home and listen to the boys argue about video games all day long.
  3. Ride into work with people thinking I'm an idiot -- but having several opportunities to go "Wheeeeeeeee!"
As you can see, I went for option 3.

When I got home, my wife said "You're not riding in this, are you?" I explained the three options and told her that this is my adult version of going out and playing in the snow. So, I geared up and headed out. Sure enough, I hadn't riden 4 blocks before a couple guys standing outside shoveling snow were pointing at me and laughing. When I was out in traffic, people were giving me a LOT of space. The wildlife track of yesterday were missing as well as the little critters seem to have had more sense than I. When I got to the office, a guy I met at the door said "I think you may have had the safest form of travel today." Yep. The most fun form of travel too.


[Edited to add this LINK to Noah's post ... he's been having fun in this all along this winter.]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oh What Fun it is to Ride

Temperature at departure = 25° F (-4° C)

We got more snow last night but since I had psyched myself up to ride the XYZ in the snow yesterday, I hopped on the beach cruiser this morning and headed off to work. This morning's ride rates as one of my top five rides of 2007! I can't believe how much fun I've missed by not riding in the snow more. Granted, it helps to have an inexpensive bike to plod along in and this one fit the bill -- big time.

There wasn't much traffic to begin with, but the traffic that was out gave me plenty of room. Once I hit the trail I was surprised how well this bike handled the snow and ice. I didn't slip once, and at times I was riding on sheets of clear ice of re-frozen run-off from the day before. The snow was a little over 3" high for the majority of the bike path and even though I only rode about 3.5 miles, I felt like I'd ridden 12 miles or more.

Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas was playing in the head phones and Linus and Lucy and Christmas Time Is Here [Instrumental] couldn't have come on at a better time. A peacful, slow ride through new snow with a great soundtrack for the morning. Perfect!


The tracks on my favorite little bridge include bobcat, rabbit, squirrel and myself. Grrrrrr baby. Very Grrrrrr!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just had to get out and Ride

Right before our latest round of snow, Peter and I headed out to try my latest new bike: the XYZ Men's Beach Cruiser. Man, it was nice getting back out on the road.



This thing was fun to ride in the snow and ice on the trail, so I'm planning on riding it to work tomorrow. You can read the reviews at CommuteByBike.

Resolutions

I have been thinking about a couple resolutions that I really want to stick with in 2008 and have come up with a way to make it happen. Lifehacker had a great article recently about how Jerry Seinfeld used a wall calendar to prompt himself to write daily. I'll give you a link at the bottom of this post -- but stay with me for a moment. The main idea of the calendar is to put an X or a checkmark or color the box in and keep a chain of marked days for as long as you can. A more recent post revisited Jerry and featured a spreadsheet for 2008 that you can check off as you go
(again, the link will follow).

If you have the self dicsipline to carry it off alone, great; but my experience has been that if the habit I'm trying to establish becomes boring, inconveinient or too hard I can rationalize my way out of it. On the other hand, we've all probalbly read numerous times that the best way to change a habit is to get someone else involved so there will be some accountability. Here is your chance.

Even when I wasn't employed by Google I was a huge fan of their products. Now, with the disclaimer out of the way: Google Docs is the perfect place to put the Seinfeldian calendar to use because I can share the documents with whoever I want, be it a friend, my two brothers-in-law or the world.

Here's how I'm going to use it: I've created an example spreadsheet that you can see HERE. As I make it through a day where I've accomplished the goal for my resolution, I'll fill in the box for that day with a Fill Color. Feel free to copy the data and paste it into your own spreadsheet, download the one that Lifehacker recomends or you can make your own and share it in Google Docs.

So, want to make sure you read the Bible, exercise, spend 10 minutes on your finances, do something nice for someone else or accomplish some other positive activity every day? Create and share the spreadsheet. Want to mark off the days that you don't practice the habit that you're trying to quit (like watching TV more than an hour a day, etc.)? Create and share the spreadsheet. The nice thing about sharing the data is that you never know if the person you're including will be checking up on you or not. If you decide to quit and delete the sheet, they'll be able to bug you about it.

Give it a try. Do your best to keep the chain of marked days going and make sure you include someone to encourage you on the path.

Lifehacker article: Jerry Seinfeld's Productivity Secret

Lifehacker link to spreadsheet: The 2008 Compact Calendar Now Available

My Google Docs example: Resolutions

Monday, December 24, 2007

Calm Before the Storm

Ahhhh. I've made my mocha latte and am sitting at the kitchen table looking at the snow covered neighborhood. I'm going to take the next five minutes or so and just relax. Once that is done I've got plenty to do -- none of the kids has done their shopping...

So, I've got to hit the bank this morning, deliver one present, take the kids shopping (4 of them, one at a time), clean house and start wrapping. I swear this year I am not going to stay up to 2 or 3 in the morning. Of course, I swore that last year and the year before and the year before that.

Tomorrow morning I'll get up early and make my annual Kringler (here is a recipe found on line that comes close to the one I use), go pick up my dad and bring him over, wait for my mother-in-law to arrive and then breakfast and open presents.

It all sounds like a hassle -- but I wouldn't miss it. To all of you, Merry Christmas, I hope you can find a spare 5 minutes for yourself and we'll chat on Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

While I'm Away

I'm in Dallas for the week. Yee Haw! So, even though this is totally fake, I thought I'd share it with you...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Much Ado About...

...well, I don't want to say "Nothing" because there is still ice in the trees. That said, the roads have been very drivable any time I've been out. Darned TV forecasters with their fancy toys that create brightly colored pictures of mist that looks like the storm of the century. I swear that every little rain shower that comes into town is just an excuse for them to justify all the money the spent on the technology. [/rant]

So, why was I freaking out so badly? After 3 months in the hospital and rehab hospitals my dad was released to go home. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, I had moved the release date back to Wednesday figuring we'd miss the big event. Turns out Tuesday would have been better than yesterday. But I was pretty stressed about getting someone out in any kind of bad conditions when they'd been laid up for 3 months because of a fall.

I got him home yesterday and spent the night at Dad's. Today and tonight my brothers taking a turn. I'm pretty sure Dad is just ready to have some time to himself.

Now, where is my coffee?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Iced T

[couldn't resist]

Update: Temperatures have been stuck at 32 and it has been raining all day. Good news in that it is just wet out. Temps are going to start falling, well, now and as you can see there is plenty more rain headed our way -- and it is starting to turn into a mix. At least there has been no wind to speak of and we're in a gap with no precipitation for a half hour or so.

Here is hoping we make it through unscathed.

Ice Storm, Round One: Draw



When I woke up and checked the local stations I found that 1) we still had electricity and 2) it wasn't nearly as bad as we'd expected.

Temperatures are hovering at 32° so the rain we're getting right now is dripping off the ice that is already on the power lines and tree branches. Roads have been treated so they are slushy, but passable. Still, if I'm given the chance to work from home I'm taking it. So today I am not commuting by bike, I am commuting by slippers.

Two more waves of rain and freezing rain on the way. The temperatures should remain just at the freezing mark until they start to drop at 4 p.m. Then the fun begins again. In the picture above you can see the little Pin Oak that still has leaves -- branches drooping to the ground. There are huge Pin Oaks out back with all their leaves and branches drooping over the power lines, that could be the issue later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Again with the Ice


Looks like this December is continuing to mimic last December. This is going to be espeically bad this week. More later.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dad's Dinner in a Dash

I hate this ice. There, I've said it. Oh, I'm still having to get out in it, just not on the bike. It was the same way the first part of last December.

Today I decided I would grill some quick burgers before we have to head out on errands and to Curtis' basketball game. Problem: the only ground beef I had available was in the freezer. What to do, what to do?

A few years ago, when I became the person who does most of the cooking at our house, I used to joke that I was going to write a cook book and call it What in the Heck am I Making With Hamburger Tonight? Well, for the short term I wasn't making anything. Then I decided to try to modify one of the recipes for an easy meal that we enjoy (and is great for camping). The original calls for ground beef, vegetables and two packages of Asian Ramen Noodles. I still had left over turkey, so:

Warren's in a Hurry Turkey Stuff

  1. Dice 3 cups of turkey and mix with the seasoning packet of one package of Chicken Ramen.
  2. In a skillet, mix 2 cups water, 2 cups of sliced and diced carrots and broccoli, the remaining seasoning packet and the two packages of Ramen noodles.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for 3 minutes. Add turkey and cook another 3 minutes.
  4. Serve.

Pretty easy. It was only Katie, Curtis and I for lunch; I asked the kids if they liked it and was told it was "Okay." I feel the need to add that it all disappeared. So, if you still have some left over turkey that you've not figured out how you're going to use it up ... this might be worth a try if you're in a hurry.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Some Days You End Up Driving


"God bless the man who knows he has said enough and can not be persuaded to say more."
-Ernest K. Gann

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Who's walkin' down the streets of the city...

Temperature at departure = 32° F (0° C)

Winds from the North at 22 mph, gusting to 35 mph.

The problem with sudden, unexpected lane changes on the bike path: the other lane is ... well, there is no other lane.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Um, No

Temperature at departure = 32° F (0° C)

I don't think this is right.

From NancyKay Shapiro. Happy Chanukah to my Jewish friends.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sudden Adult On-Set ADD -- Part 2

Back in October I wrote part one of my Adult ADD thoughts. Here is the delayed part two. I'm not sure if the fact that I got a bit distracted in finishing this up is further proof or just good sense at leaving well enough alone. My buddy John tells me he doesn't think I have ADD as much as I just make decisions not to keep up with books, movies and TV due to a busy schedule with more important things on it. Good point.

What originally got me thinking I was beginning to become ADD was the stack of unfinished books and DVD's on my desk and night stand. Why can't I finish a movie? Perhaps John is right, there are just too many other things that need attention that way outweigh the need to see the end of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, etc. But what about my TV viewing habits? I don't watch much TV -- but when I do I seem to pick a show, become a rabid fan and then get bored with it after one season and move on. Proof:

  • Trading Spaces -- I watched season two (the first season with Paige Davis as host) in 2001. I got my wife hooked the next season, but after that I lost interest.
  • Biggest Loser -- Season 1 began in October of 2004. I again watched the first seasons as a big fan, made it through the second season hit and miss, skipped season 3, watched the first episode of season 4 and won't be back.
  • Dog Whisperer -- Like Trading Spaces I missed season 1 which started September 2004. Watched season 2 faithfully and saw one or two shows the next season havinng moved on to...
  • Food Network -- We never really settled on one particular show. Pretty much any thing that was on was fascinating.
  • Heros -- It took a while, but I finally made it through the first season. Tried watching the first show or two of this season on-line but haven't made it through an entire episode and don't know that I'll make the effort.

This year I've become a fan of Gordon Ramsay. Be it Hell's Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares, I make sure I see every episode one way or another. I have to admit I prefer the BBC America Kitchen Nightmares to the Fox version. Still, I watch. A recent episode on Fox even added another book to the stack. "Finn McCool's" (which aired November 14th) featured a local paper's food critic showing up and making her presence known. I didn't think critics made it a habit of announcing that they were there to review a restaurant, movie or whatever and maybe it wouldn't have happened without the producers of the show opting for the drama her presence brought. It got me to wondering how the big restaurant critics operate and I found a book to add to my list:



In Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl, the author says "One of the primary requisites of a good restaurant critic is the ability to be anonymous." This was quite the opposite of the critic on Kitchen Nightmares. Garlic and Sapphires is a truly wonderful read. I'm making time to read it and loving every spare moment with it that I get.

From the flap: "Garlic and Sapphires is Ruth Reichl's delicious and compulsively readable account of her experience undercover in her position as food critic for The New York Times." "Reichl knows that to be a good restaurant critic you have to be anonymous, but when she signs up to be the most important restaurant critic in the country, her picture is posted in every four-star, low-star, and no-star kitchen in town." The book reveals some of the disguises she used and how she became those characters. Great book! I'm loving it and will be finishing it up tonight.

Update on the unfinished book list from October: I finished The Art of Urban Cycling, The Virtues of War and The High and the Mighty. I gave up on Count Zero and Asphalt Nation so I'm down to 4 books which I'm currently reading -- 3 by tomorrow morning...

Baby It's Cold Outside

Temperature at departure = 19° F (-7° C)

Why would we rather ride a bike than drive a car when it is 19 degrees outside?

WHY?

Friday, November 30, 2007

They've Grown Accustomed to My ... Helmet

Temperature at departure = 30° F (-1° C)

When I used to travel a lot, I always knew I'd been on-site too long when the people at Starbuck's would greet me by name as I walked in the door. You knew you'd been on-site WAY TOO LONG if they also engaged you in their small talk about last night's TV shows, etc. One time in Florida (can't remember which city at the moment) it was to the point that they'd be setting a Grande Peppermint Mocha with my name on it up on the counter as I walked in the door.

But I digress. Yesterday I took the day off so I could run some errands for myself and for my Dad. As I stopped by the rehab hospital and got on the elevator, a nurse I don't recall ever seeing there before came up to me and said "You didn't ride your bike today?" We had a nice chat on the ride up about the advantages of hybrids over road bikes and vice versa. So I've gone from the "You rode your bike?!?!?" stage to it being considered odd if I don't walk in the door with my helmet in my hand.

103rd & Metcalf Crosswalk Update:

They were moving the big pile of dirt this morning. That can only mean that the other construction material will be moved soon and the crosswalk swept clean for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy.

1, 2, 3...

Hahahahahahahahahahhaha. Right.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Standoff

Temperature at departure = 47° F (8° C)

I've been kind of surprised that this hasn't already happened this year (and believe I've mentioned it before) -- but this morning I finally had a standoff with an 8 point buck on the Indian Creek Trail Bike Path. This time wasn't nearly as bad as some of my previous encounters because there was plenty of green space available on one side of the path, but still was tense for a few moments.

I was riding along when I spotted him standing in the middle of the path. I didn't bother slowing down because the bucks this year have been a bit skittish; not this guy. He turned to face me so I slowed down and stopped about 12 yards away and waited for him to move. He, in turn, was waiting for me to turn around and go away. I shouted, waved my arms and dinged my bell to no avail. I finally resorted to talking to him like some people talk to babies or puppies: "Whoze th' wittle deerie? Whoze a big, big baby boy?" etc., etc. I don't know why I did it, but the beast must have gotten embarrassed or something because he turned tail and bounded off into the brush.

I took off and got about 5 yards before the stink hit me. Yup, must be rutting time. P! U!
Hopefully this will be my only close encounter this year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Relief For Sore Back

Temperature at departure = 31° F (-1° C)

A researcher in Overland Park, Kansas has revealed anecdotal evidence today that backpacks are actually good for your back. Local cyclist Warren T recently incurred a sore middle back after hours upon hours upon hours of bending over a sink doing dishes around the Thanksgiving holiday. The result was a very sore back that nothing seemed to help. Mr. T revealed that he was a bit concerned about strapping on the backpack that he normally wears for his bicycle commute but after his first ride found that his back was much less sore than it had been before he started his morning ride.

"It must have something to do with the pack's bottom pad being located right at the sore spot. This has worked wonders. I thought I was going to be out of commission for a few days but I'm back in the game without any medicine or other treatments."

Although "medical experts" are skeptical, T said he was happy with the results and would continue to wear the backpack and perhaps supplement that with coffee and M&M's -- LOTS of M&M's.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back To Work Again

Temperature at departure = 36° F (2° C)


We wrapped up the weekend with a birthday party for my youngest at the new Matt Ross Community Center in Overland Park. Three hours of swimming with eight 11 to 12 year-old boys. They were actually very well behaved. The water and air in that place was laced pretty heavily with chlorine, so we all took nice long showers when we got home. I thought that took care of it until this morning's bike commute.

If you're easily offended, please skip this next part:

Seems there was a bit of residual chlorine in my lungs which heavy breathing enticed to the surface. Also, I sweat a bit of chlorine out of my skin as well. Smells a bit like the swimming pool in my office.

...and we're back.

We thought we had been very creative having the party at the center, until we were told by a couple of the other parents that this was the second or third birthday party they'd brought children to at this site. So much for being original.

Anyway, like I said before, Thanksgiving was really nice this year, I got a bike ride in with Peter before he had to head back to school, Katie found out she is the understudy for one of the main characters in the next play at South and she and Jonathan were a big help at the party. I kind of hate having to go back to work...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Day After Thanksgiving

Temperature at departure = 19° F (-7° C)

It was a great Thanksgiving. We had family in and enjoyed a marvelous meal and fellowship. Hope you had a nice one too.

A bit of a change in temperature since Tuesday's 62°... May I say once again that I LOVE riding in this weather! If you've thought about it but resisted because of cold temperatures -- layer up and enjoy.

Some of the benefits:

  • Fewer people on the bike/hike trail.
  • Rosy facial glow.
  • Great conversation starter.
  • I'm convinced motorists are more apt to see you and be cautious around you because they'll be convinced you are an idiot.

And for Fritz who may miss the cold now that he's snug in Silicon Valley:

Helping face the cold
Winter's blasts won't stop me now
Balaclava mine.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Detour at 103rd - The Saga Continues

Temperature at departure = 62° F (17° C)

I know I promised not to post anymore shots of construction vehicles parked in the crosswalk / bike path detour at 103rd and Metcalf, but this is different. The last several days they've been using the crosswalk for storing building materials. The last couple days this included steel girders that filled the entire area within the cones.

Here is what the detour looked like in August.


This is what it looked like this morning.



I've sent another note into the guy in the Overland Park city office who has been helpful in the past. We'll see how it goes. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gift Cards

I am not a talented gift giver. I actually spend time trying to come up with thoughtful gifts, but often they tend to be opened and set to the side -- permanently. The last several years I'd been under the impression that gift cards were a good option for some of the people on my list but now we know that $8 billion a year is just wasted by the recipients. Seth Godin has a great post about this:

"we bought the story that giving someone a hundred dollar bill as a gift ("go buy what you want") is callous, insensitive, a crass shortcut. Buying them a $100 Best Buy card, on the other hand, is thoughtful. Even if they spend $92 and have to waste the rest."


...but say I had given someone a $100 gift card where they'd used $92 and left $8 unused; wouldn't that be better than giving them a $100 gift that was appreciated initially but never actually used? I don't have an answer, but here we go with another shopping season.

Needed The Laugh

Temperature at departure = 35° F (2° C)

I'm a fan of 24 -- so I really enjoy 24 parodies. Someone pointed this out to me yesterday and although I don't condone a lot of stuff at the collegehumor site I laughed and laughed. If you like 24 or if you've been in the tech industry for a while you may enjoy it too. [I know, I know. It covers up some of my links and stuff. Still, it is too funny not to share.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Warren Identity

Temperature at departure = 51° F (11° C)

Last night was one of those nights that any parent can relate to. My house was more of a cabstand than home -- a base of operations, if you will. The plan was:

  • 18:20 leave home to get Curtis to basketball practice at 18:30
  • 18:35 leave practice to run by and see Dad
  • 19:15 leave Dad to head home to pick up Jon
  • 19:20 leave home to pick up Curtis
  • 19:35 leave practice and head to music lessons
  • 20:00 leave the boys at their lessons and run an errand for Dad
  • 20:30 pick up boys and go to library
  • 20:50 leave library and head home

I'd been thrown two curve balls before walking out the door but got Curtis to practice on time. I headed off to see Dad, but somewhere between 99th and 105th I just fazed out. I snapped out of it at 105th realizing I should have taken a left at 103rd. No biggie, but it reminded me of a day a few years ago that I not only fazed out about where I was going -- I swear I had a 15 second bout of full on amnesia.

I had been sitting at an intersection a couple blocks from my house when the light turned green. I pulled through the intersection and suddenly had no idea of where I was. Really, I couldn't recognize anything and couldn't even figure out what city I was in, or what city I was supposed to be in for that matter. I'm talking a complete blank. I pulled to the side of the road in a panic and tried to remember, well, anything. A couple of seconds later I remembered I had kids and that I was going on an errand or something for them. Focusing on the kids brought everything back pretty quickly, but that was an incredibly scary and weird 15 seconds. It hasn't happened since so I'm not too worried about it. Besides, I've now taken the precaution of having a lazer pointer thing installed in my hip...


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Irony

Temperature at departure = 44° F (7° C)

This piece of wire was Friday night's culprit.


I was geared up to start swapping around tires when I found this needle sharp wire stuck in the tire. It took a pair of needle-nose pliers and a good tug to remove it. So, I'm leaving the tires on the Mendota as they are -- just added another patch to the already once patched tube that was there. My guess is that with riding through all the construction junk at 103rd and Metcalf twice a day -- this is just going to be part of the routine.

This morning I missed being run over by just a couple feet as a careless driver turning left into the parking lot decided to cut a corner all the way over to the right. I jumped out of the way and found it kind of ironic that the parking lot was at the rehab hospital, the driver was a nurse and she had a bike rack on her car. Go figure.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Regrets

Temperature at ... oh, wait, I didn't ride my bike today.

...come to think of it, I didn't ride a bike at all this weekend. When I got home Friday night Curtis asked me to ride with him up to school because a buddy had asked him to spend the night and bring his bike. Off we rode making it to school well in advance of the time he actually needed to be there. After the friend's dad pulled up in his pickup and we got the bike loaded in I saddled up to ride home and, once again, I had a flat on the Mendota.

I had time over the weekend to deal with it -- but didn't.

I've still not gotten new tires. I'm taking the advice that a couple of you have given and am ordering a set of Michelin Transworld City tires. Tonight I will take the two front tires and combine them as a mismatched set on one of the bikes to get me through.

[Having now corrected the many words I wrote kinda backwards, I will admit to some Monday morning, not enough coffee, bike-free commute dislexia and just post... Tomorrow will be a better day.]

Friday, November 09, 2007

Overland Park Bike Commute Ninjas

Temperature at departure = 43° F (6° C)

"Cursed politicians and their Daylight Saving Time." thought the weary warrior as he headed out into the night. Swift and silent he rode through the darkness, his senses long tuned for the twilight straining to find his way through this new, deep, gloominess. Without warning he was upon the ninja – and just as quickly he had passed by not giving the ambush the slightest chance of success. Still, the warrior was shaken. “That was too close” he murmured to himself.

Deeper into the pitch black woods he rode; adrenalin now coursed through his veins and he strained all the more to try to predict what lay ahead on the path. Once again his senses failed him as he plunged off the well worn, leaf covered path into underbrush. He thought he’d been going slow enough to be able to pick out the slightest variations in the trail before him – he’d been wrong. He quickly shook it off as the night had come alive with the sounds of something or someone coming from, seemingly, every direction.

He rode now with a new awareness. “Take your time” he thought, “you can’t afford another mistake.” Minutes went by without event. He was getting comfortable again when he spotted something ahead moving from a patch of light into the darkness. Another ninja – but this time he was ready and easily circumvented the space staying out of range. Now was not the time to engage in another conflict, he just wanted to make it home. And so, as he closed the door to his house behind him, he vowed to expect the unexpected the next night.


Playing the part of ninja number one was a pedestrian with long black hair wearing a navy jogging suit. Ninja number two was played by a gentleman in a black jacket, dark jeans and a black hat walking a dark brown dog. Seriously people – get something reflective or carry a flashlight!!!

Also, I have come to the conclusion that the cheap Planet Bike 1200 headlight that I bought for the Mendota to use during the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride is fine for leisurely cruises through the suburbs but insufficient for dark trails through the woods. It’s going to be an adventure every night now until the spring time change. For now, however, there is:

…no light at the end of the tunnel.

And for Fritz:

Ride into the night
Daylight Saving Time again
Now, where’s my blinky?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shuttle Fly By

About 15 minutes ago, the Space Shuttle flew over KC on it's way to landing in Florida. A co-worker took this shot


Cool.

First Frost

Temperature at departure = 30° F (-1° C)

We had the first real frost of the season overnight. You could tell because of all of the leaves that the trees just dumped in big piles. The leaves continued to fall too, this one decided to hitch a ride to the office during my bicycle commute in Overland Park:


There is something quite satisfying about riding through a fresh pile of leaves. It can also be a bit scary when you notice a few rocks and big sticks in there too.

We've also reached that time of year when the does and fauns move off the bike trail and the bucks take station on the trail. Right now I can hiss and chase them away -- this morning it was a beautiful six-pointer -- but there will come a time very soon when they'll want to stand their ground and challenge you. Regardless, a beautiful morning with more on the way for as far out as they're willing to forecast.

My buddy John asks "is it weird that the colder it gets outside, the more I want to bike ride in the cold?" No, this is my favorite time of year to ride...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Time For New Tires

Temperature at departure = 32° F (0° C)

I've got two small (around .25 inches - 6.35 mm) gashes in the back tire on my Trek. Looks like it is time to go tire shopping. I wonder, how many miles you should expect out of a decent tire? These have just over 2,500 miles (over 4,080 kilometers). I might try to go with something with a reflective side wall this time...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Writers Strike = Good Opportunity

Movie and television writers are set to begin their strike on Monday. Works for me; I've got plenty of other things to do. I was talking to my good buddy John the other day -- about how I tried to find a movie at the theater or a DVD to watch for the last few weekends and realized that there wasn't anything out that I wanted to see. TV? The only show I might miss is The Office, and I promise to be patient.

Here would be my suggestion to the writers: Make good use of this time. If you write for ER, volunteer at a hospital and see what really goes on. I haven't watched your show in years. John tells me that this season is season 3 -- just with different actors...

If you write for a cop show, try to go on a ride-along.

If you write for a sitcom, I don't have any good suggestions for you. All I ask is that you not try to come up with another poorly disguised Friends rip-off or some sort of American version of an English hit (sorry Office).

There are all kinds of stories out there. Do us and yourself a favor and get out there and find some.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

We Happy Few

Temperature at departure = 32° F (0° C)

Ah, first day of frost for the season. Crisp morning air, frost on the ground, steam rising from the stream and an absence of other riders and walkers on the path. Indeed, we're heading into a stretch of four or five months in which I'll have the path pretty much to myself.

During this morning's ride of 8 miles I saw a grand total of 7 pedestrians and no other cyclists. Once January and February roll around that number will be down to one - a retiree that I normally meet at the same point every morning. Sure, I'd love to see more people out on their bikes, but there is a selfish side that likes to have the route all to my lonesome...

People will start calling those of us that commute in this type of weather "hard core" in about another four weeks. As a bonus today, someone swept the path completely clean of all the debris in this area:


I've decided that in a case like this, where I can ride as fast or as slowly as I like without being impeded, the path becomes my private cyclobahn.

Now, with apologies to Shakespeare:

And gentlemen in Overland Park now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That rode with us upon this crisp day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'd Be Happy To Have Them Hunt Here

Temperature at departure = 48° F (9° C)

My favorite news quote of the day.

"the lead believed to be in the squirrel actually came from a part of the blender."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Indian Creek Trail Construction Update

Temperature at departure = 40° F (4° C)

Rather than sit around and surf the net during lunch, I decided it was much too beautiful outside and so suited up, grabbed the bike and hit the trail to put in a few miles. I've been curious about the status of the section of the Indian Creek Trail bike path that runs from Founders Park along the north side of 435 to the tunnel under Antioch. That stretch has been closed due to construction for a couple years and according the the OP web site:

"The trail is scheduled to be fully reopened by November 2007."

If you check the Winter update page, it says the trail "within the construction area will continue to be closed through 2007."

That is the one I believe. In looking at the section of the trail just past the tunnel under Antioch I'd be willing to bet on Spring or Summer of 2008 for that section to be re-opened. I ride past the signs on the Founders Park side twice a day and curiousity got the best of me today. There was no Man In the Yellow Hat to ask and Warren was curious; what did the path on the other side of that sign look like?

Here is the initial barrier.



58 yards down the path I was met with a Boma of fallen branches and brush that was quite effective in preventing me from going further. (I know it is tough to see -- for some reason my camera's phone switched settings on me...)


I don't know if you can see it in this camera phone shot, but about another 50 yards down the path there is a yellow caution ribbon and then it looks like construction equipment beyond that. So much for my lunch time adventure.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"I wonder if ... oh look, a puppy" Part 1

I opened my home e-mail the other day and had a notice from the library that a book I'd put on hold was now available. It took me a couple days to get by the branch that had the book on hold, but I finally got by and picked up my copy of Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back, by Jane Holtz Kay.

When I got the book back home I put it in the stack that is on my nightstand. That stack got me to thinking ... why do I have so many books in the stack at the moment? I've come to the conclusion that I may have Sudden, Adult On-Set ADD. I have no idea if this condition even exists, but when I consider the change in my reading and TV and movie viewing habits over the last few years, it is the only explanation I can come up with.

[Ooh, hold on, let me Google Adult on-set ADD. I see others have come up with a similar question but I can't find a real case. Should I try WebMD? See, there I go again. Focus, Warren, focus.]

In looking at the data from 1995 on, I can see that during the years I traveled for work a bit I was reading an average of 1.5 books read per month. The years I didn't travel my average would drop down to just less than one per month. Conclusion: when you're sitting in airport terminals, you have more time to read than you do when you're at home with all the school activities, etc. I didn't travel much in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and I can't blame the drop in books read entirely on playing Mr. Mom -- TV comes into play here (but that will be dealt with in Part 2).

In 2005 I started traveling again; a lot. I also read a lot. The big change comes in 2006 and this is where the Adult on-set ADD thing may have started coming into play. I'll start a book and will quickly loose interest. This year I've only finished two books and still have the following waiting to be finished:

How I Found Livingstone, by Sir Henry M. Stanley

A Fine and Pleasant Misery, by Patrick McManus

The Story of Baden-Powell, by Harold Begbie

The Art of Urban Cycling, by Robert Hurst

Count Zero, by William Gibson

The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great, by Steven Pressfield

The High and the Mighty, by Ernest Kellogg Gann

What is to blame? TV? RSS feeds? Blogging? I'll have to think about it.

In the mean time, the notice from the library spurred me into focusing on The High and the Mighty, which may be the best book I've read in years. Ernest Gann was THE prolific novelist of the time in the late 40's, the 50's and 60's. His were the books that were being made into movies featuring the big stars of the day. There is a reason he was so successful, he was GOOD.

At this moment I have 30 pages to go. I'm going to sit down and finish because the movie, with John Wayne, is on this afternoon. I'll tape it and may watch it tonight; although I'll probably get half way into it and get distracted by something else ... but TV and movies will be part 2 of this saga.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bicycle Tube Troubleshooting

Those of you who have had more experience with flat bicycle tires might be able to help me out here. I have now patched two tubes this morning and lo and behold -- the patches are in the exact same spot. I am 98% sure both of these tubes originally failed on the Mendota which had it's first flat while riding the KATY Trail. The very small punctures are on the side of the tube.

I've looked at the tire and I thought there might be a very small gash, less than a quarter of an inch -- but now that the tire is on I can't see it for the life of me.




So, here is my theory: If I let the tire pressure get down lower than 30 psi (these tires are supposed to take between 55 & 65 psi) the tube gets partially stuck in the gash and when I get off the bike the tire is pinching a hole in the tube.


My questions:

  • Is this feasible?
  • Should I just make sure I've always got the correct pressure (tough since I don't have a Presta Valve tire gauge) -- or should I get a new tire?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Arrrrrrrrrrgh!

Temperature at departure = 38° F (3° C)

Lovely. Nice ride this morning, very busy day at work, I carry the Mendota down the stairs at the end of the day and out the door, set it down ... another flat rear tire. I knew there wasn't going to be anyone home to come pick me up so I grabbed the hand pump from my backpack and pumped the tire back up. Looks like yet another slow leak so I was going to be good for a couple miles. So much for heading over to see Dad after work.

Five minutes into my ride home my work cell phone starts ringing. I'm on call this week so I answer and take the message; I didn't recognize the station's call letters so I would have to wait until I got home so I could get on-line to make sure they were a real customer. I got half way home and stopped to top off the air in the tire when the phone rang again. Another station off the air. I made it home ten minutes later and got both stations back up and running in time to get the one child that was home fed, pick up another to take him for a haircut, stop by and see Dad on the way and arrive at the hair place to find out they closed a half hour earlier. Back home, feed two more people and here I am.

So, I've got two bikes down with flat rear tires. If get ambitious I'll get up early and fix a couple tubes and try it all again tomorrow. If I sleep late, I'm sorry folk, I'll be driving.

I don't get it, I went for twenty some years without a flat and now they're coming fast and furious. Frustrating.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nary A One

Temperature at departure = 47° F (8° C)

So, yesterday morning I posted a shot of one of the deer I saw on the morning commute. I mentioned that sightings have been rather sparse in the last couple of months. Word must have gotten around -- during my evening commute I saw deer at the following locations:


I am sure they wanted their picture posted as well but my camera was in my backpack and I didn't want to take the time to dig it out.

Today -- no deer spotted. None. Zilch. Guess they were disappointed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Love This Weather

Temperature at departure = 38° F (3° C)

I love riding in this kind of weather. Last week I posted the list of what clothes work for me in different temperatures on CommuteByBike.

56 and above I can get by with a tee shirt and shorts.
50 – 55, I need a long sleeved tee and can still wear shorts.
45 – 49, long sleeved tee, work out pants and I replace the ankle socks with longer socks.
38 - 44, tee shirt, sweat shirt, work out pants, wrap around ear muffs and ditch the no finger gloves for full gloves.
32 - 37, tee shirt, lined jacket, work out pants, wrap around ear muffs and full gloves
25 - 31, tee shirt, long sleeved shirt, work out pants, jacket, two pair of socks, balaclava and full gloves.
24 and below, tee shirt, long sleeved shirt, long john bottoms, work out pants, jacket, two pair of socks, balaclava and full gloves.

I had forgotten that the ear muffs do a fine job, but sometimes my face gets a little numb, making me talk funny for a couple minutes at the end of the commute. Still wasn't cold enough to break out the balaclava or the reflective, lined jacket. Here is a quick shot of the ear muffs in action this morning -- along with one of my shadow on the trail. Since they are panda portraits...

Some panda portraits
Biking shots I took myself
Fritz may be well pleased





Also, I think all the construction on 435 at Antioch has driven most of the deer away from the area around my building. I still see deer, occasionally, but not nearly as many sightings as there have been in previous years. Here is one of the three that were grazing about 8 yards off the path this morning. Sorry for the glare, I just grabbed the camera and snapped.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Should Have Stayed In Bed

Please forgive the following rantings.

It was one of those days yesterday. I’d planned a few things that I wanted to make sure got done and was hoping to be able to go on a ride with some other folk from church around Noon. Yep, it was going to be a great day. Then, I got out of bed.

I fixed my daily mocha latte and sat down to drink it in peace when the phone rang. My mother-in-law wanted Jonathan to come over and do some yard work for her and I’d told her the night before that I would take a look at the battery in the mini-van she hardly ever drives. By this time it was 9:30 so I told her we’d saddle up in 15 minutes or so and ride over – she only lives a mile and a half away and I want to do my best to make any trip under 3 miles on my bike. The phone rang again, it was one of Curtis’ friends – “Dad, I have basketball practice at 10:30 at Stonegate” (a park that is just under a mile and a half away). So, the plan was now to ride to my mom-in-law’s with Jonathan, work on her battery until 10:20, ride back and pick up Curtis and go to basketball practice. Looks like I was not going to make the 12:30 bike ride out at Shawnee Mission Park. Off Jonathan and I went. I got the battery hooked up to a charger, left Jonathan to help out his grandmother and headed home.

In retrospect, I should not have challenged the big, white, Chevy SUV. It was a dumb thing to do. I pulled up to a four way stop sign at the same time as a small blue sedan that was followed by the SUV. I let the sedan go first and started out into the intersection as it was half way across. I don’t know what the driver of the SUV was thinking but they decided that since the sedan had stopped, they must not have to. They weren’t happy that I was in the intersection and they kept coming, slowly. I guess the glare I gave them finally made them reconsider and they stopped in the middle of the intersection about 3 feet away from me. Again, it was dumb on my part to keep going and I recommend against it. Sure, it worked out fine for me this time – THIS TIME.

I made him home, scrambled for water bottles for practice and off Curtis and I rode. Sure enough, besides the coach, no other adults had stuck around for practice … so I stayed to help out. It was fun, but I figured I was going to be sore after the scrimmage we played at the end of practice. Curtis and I made it home around 12:30 and I got lunch fixed for him. I rode back over to see how Jonathan was doing and ended up doing some more little chores for my mom-in-law. Do NOT get me wrong – I don’t mind helping her out; that is part of honoring your parents and I want to set a good example for my kids… I’d still not gotten over to see my Dad, and he was only about another half mile down the road. I visited him for a while and when I got out to unlock my bike I found a flat back tire. I don’t get it, the tire was fine when I got there.

I never understood the people who mentioned all the flat tires they’ve had because I’d gone decades without a flat. Now, I’ve had three within as many months. I’ve still not taken the tire off to check it out; I’ve got the Mendota standing by for just such purposes.

I could have called Carolyn or I could have called my mother-in-law, but I was mad. I walked the bike the two miles home thinking some pretty dark thoughts about bicycles the majority of the way. Two miles and thirty minutes later I made it home and could finally start working on some of the stuff I meant to be working on all day. We worked on the yard, dinner and the house until around 10:30 p.m. and then I went to bed. Carolyn kept working on the kitchen, but I’d had enough.

Today is going to be a better day. Has to be. So, a quick check of the radar and I’m going to get the Mendota and head over to watch the Chiefs game with my dad. First, I think I’ll check those tires…

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Art of Subtlety




Morning Adventure

Temperature at departure = 49° F (9° C)

Well, it was an adventure this morning. As I had expected, the creeks did overflow and there were some sections close to the creek where the mud was too deep to go through and there was no way to get past. A lot of plan B this morning. Also, I think Overland Park Parks and Recreation owes me for all the limbs I stopped to move off the path. There was one that was stuck across the path under 103rd, after a blind downhill curve, in the dark; the thing was at least 12 feet long and 10" around at the base. As it turns out, it was lucky that I stopped to move it -- just past the limb the mud looked to be about 8" deep with no way around to the left or right. I backtracked and found a crosswalk that ultimately got me back to a clearer part of the path.

Of course, the construction workers are using the detour across Metcalf for parking again. I'll stop taking pictures of this because it is just going to be a fact of life until they get the bridge built.



Now, the positive side of all this was that I got my Trek back from the shop. I have to let you know that the service I received at The Trek Store was the best bike service I've ever had. I've taken the Trek in to the store where I bought it and waited two weeks for the free "tune up" that comes with purchasing the bike there -- just to get it back and not see or feel anything different about it from before I took it in. I paid a bit this time but when they wheeled the bike out it looked and rode like a brand new bike. It is certainly happy and so am I. Great shop. Clean, well organized, timely and great service.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rationalizations Pt. 3

It looks like a beautiful morning -- but I didn't ride today, I drove. The forecast is calling for the second half of the system that gave us torrential rains yesterday to come through again sometime this afternoon. Yesterday was a mess. I'd driven then too. I left work to go home and get some rain gear for my youngest because he was scheduled for safety patrol. The creeks were all up over their normal banks and almost to the point that Indian Creek was going to flow over the bridge in Corporate Woods. I got the rain gear, headed up to school and waited outside in the storm (shades of this last Saturday). Safety patrol was called off due to lightning, but we needed the gear anyway to walk to where I'd parked the van. By the way, they did postpone the marching festival for a week. Whew. My other reason for not riding today is that I know the condition of the trail next to the creek will be a mess of mud and debris today - and probably for a couple more days. I'll skip the mess today but will be dodging mud tomorrow like I mentioned the other day ... I must be going through cycling withdrawals.

Today I actually turned on the radio in the car. Weird, I thought I'd gotten over the radio bug years ago but this morning I found myself reminiscing about the good old days of being a disk jockey. Yeah, for a while there it was a lot of fun. The feeling of missing the gig didn't last long; I remembered that the business has changed too much and isn't as fun as it used to be. My last on-air job a couple years ago (granted, it was part-time) was mostly voicetracking, not live on-air work. Also, the pay was never great, the hours were frequently not conducive to family life, there were hardly any benefits and you never knew for sure if you'd have a job next week or not. Flashback to 1992 where I was fired from station 1 due to a management change, quit station 2 after a format change and almost downsized from station 3 due to an ownership change. Station 3 went through 3 different owners within the space of one year. Okay, the feeling is gone again. I'm still dealing with radio day in and day out -- just the technological side of the business -- and I've been in a stable job for ~ 15 years. I think I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Slogging Festival


The circle is Overland Park. The arrow shows the direction the storm is currently moving. I seriously doubt we're having the Shawnee Mission Marching Festival tonight -- but the kids still have to be there to find out if it will be canceled or not.

Wimped out today and drove. Tomorrow is another day with another fresh chance to ride my bike...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Change of Scenery

Temperature at departure = 48° F (9° C)

Nice, crisp temperature for this morning's ride. I love this time of year. Only a couple of negatives -- Saturday's thunderstorms caused Indian Creek to rise high enough to cover most of the spots where the bike path passes underneath the street with ~ 3 inches of mud. The mud is still there and forced me to climb up on, and walk across a railroad tie retaining wall to get around it. No biggie, kind of breaks the routine a little.

I also decided to change my route and ride up College Blvd from Metcalf to Antioch. Yeah, it was a change: one mile with an average upwards grade of 3% -- maximum grade 10% -- in heavy traffic. I do have to admit that the half mile down hill from Antioch to Indian Creek Parkway was fun with an average downwards grade of 5% -- maximum grade of 16%. Had it not been for the traffic I am sure I would have said Wheeeeee at some point. It was a nice change, but I will be back on the path tomorrow! Oh, did I mention the heavy traffic?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Camporee Rained Out

Curtis and I began the weekend Friday night with a trip with the troop out to Louisburg, KS for Camporee. For those of you not familiar with it, Camporee is supposed to be a gathering of area Boy Scout troops with the goal of some friendly competition and sharing information -- it also seems to have become a recruiting tool as most troops invite Webelos out to camp with them to see what it will be like to join Boy Scouts.

Anyway, the night started out alright but turned ugly around 4 this morning. I knew we were in for it when I was awakened by the sides of my tent hitting me in the face. The winds got worse and our troops dining fly caught the wind, up-ended and would have hit a couple tents, including mine, had one of the adults not been out watching the lightning; he caught the fly and called for help. All of the adults and most of the boys scrambled out of their sleeping bags to get things set back up and roped down -- all in the middle of a pretty intense thunderstorm.

By the time our site was put back in order it was 6:30 and we fixed a lot of coffee and enjoyed some REALLY good biscuits and gravy. We put some other canvas tarps up on the sides of the dining fly and a few of us had to stand there with our backs to the tarps holding them out away from the cooking equipment. The rain didn't let up and the winds would come and go. This may not be a very clear shot -- but you'll get an idea of what we were dealing with looking at another troops dining fly up in the trees.


Shortly after I took this picture our dining fly was pulled up and went flying for the second, and last time. With lightning striking in the campgrounds, we called it quits. Be prepared -- but don't be foolish...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You Go Girl

Temperature at departure = 42° F (6° C)

Okay, I don't know why someone passing me on the bike path spurs on my competitive side, but it turned out pretty funny last night. I left Corporate Woods, crossed the bridge over I-435 and took the hook to go into the Antioch tunnel when I saw that two other riders were coming up behind me. Once in the tunnel I powered up a bit to get more of a lead and quickly settled down to my normal pace. I guess it's pride that makes me mention the problems I was having with my chain and derailures - for some reason (yesterday's cold temperatures?) my rear derailure stopped picking up the slack whenever I stopped pedalling so my chain would droop & if I shifted to the big ring in the front, the chain made a loud rattle -- yes, I'm taking it in for a tune up. Still, I was probably running around my normal, average MPH.

Anyway... a couple hundred yards later I was passed by the first rider - an attractive younger lady decked out in spandex riding a very nice road bike. The other gal passed me in about another 100 yards. They were pedalling at a pretty good clip at this point but I knew that a steep, curving, pedestrian-ridden stretch was coming up so I just took my time. Sure enough at the bottom of that hill the gap had closed to about 15 yards.

Now, here is where the competitive side of me kicked in; at this point the trail forks off two directions -- to the right takes you up to the street, to the left you stay on the trail and curve left, go over a bridge and loop left to go under the bridge and continue looping left to get back up on the path. I know that if I go to the right I can just cross the street, go over the bridge and save myself some time. So that is what I did, putting myself solidly back in the lead.

I stopped about a mile later at the bike path detour at Metcalf. Here we go again...


Can we please get a detour for this detour? You have to step out into the road to get around the barrier to the crosswalk signal.

As I was standing there waiting for the light to change the two young ladies pulled up. "You cheated." I guess I wasn't the only one with a competitive streak. I slowed down after crossing Metcalf, waited for them to pass again and wished them a pleasant ride. I caught up with them again when I took the short cut for the next loop under a bridge; we just laughed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Now, Where Did I Put My Cape

Temperature at departure this morning = 50° F (10° C)

As I was pedalling along through the woods on a leaf covered path the end credits for Batman Begins started playing on the MP3 player. I thought of the sceene where Ra's al Ghul (Liam Neeson) says:
"You traveled the world... Now you must journey inwards... to what you really fear... it's inside you... there is no turning back."

So, in order to become Batman, Bruce Wayne had to become what he feared... Riding on the path, I asked myself what fear I must confront and in doing so, what superhero would I be destined to become?



Behold: Walnutman!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Crisp Morning

Temperature at departure this morning = 56° F (13° C)

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy this weather. Nice cool temperatures in the morning, warm in the afternoon -- and the leaves are starting to change colors. Today's high is supposed to hit ~80° and then a cold front moves in and forces me to start having to think about what to wear when I'm cycling.

Anyway, after leaving my visit to Dad I had the choice of either taking a route in traffic that would allow me to really bump up my average MPH - or - ride the bike path and dodge walnuts, squirrels and slow down on the wet leaves. Did I mention it was a beautiful morning? I took the path. The only negative on this morning's ride was the walnut at the beginning of the narrow bridge by the office.



In three years of riding across the thing, this was the first time that I nearly hit the railing. I survived though and am now going to hunt down some coffee and pop-tarts®.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

DTV

Attention: the following post contains nothing about bicycles. I mean, other than the quick comment that some parent rode theirs to the football game and locked it up in the stands; but that's it -- no bike talk -- other than the previous, which I thought was pretty cool. That's really it though.

You may be familiar with the theory that 20% of the people in any organization do 80% of the work. My hunch is that some of my regular visitors are that 20% kind of person. If so, you know what it is like to be a Dad That Volunteers [or an MTV].

One of the advantages to having spent years as a coach, scout leader, Sunday school teacher, classroom dad, etc., etc. is that you get to know the kids that your kids hang around with. As a result, the kids get to know you as well. So it was last night, when I took Curtis and his buddy Darius to the game so we could watch Katie and Jonathan march. We sat down and within 5 minutes I had a pretty steady rotation of between 6 to 15 11-year-olds keeping me company. Two mothers of boys that were in both my soccer team and my Cub Scout den were sitting on the edge of the group as well.

Last night's game was perhaps the best I've seen in the 8 years I've had kids at the school. I was actually enjoying watching the guys play football. The moms had taken off in the middle of the first quarter and came back towards the end of the second quarter. That is when I got into hot water. "Where's my son?!?!" "Huh?," I replied. The mom points her finger at me and says "I thought you were watching my son. Where is he?" I gestured over my left shoulder towards the top of the stands down by the 20 yard line. Did I know that this is where he'd be? No -- but that is where 11 year-old boys tend to end up at some point. I told her, that I was actually watching the game, not the kids. I figured this would have elicited a bit of a glare at least -- but, no real response of any kind came from the mom. Turns out she thought I was kidding because her son was, indeed, right where I'd indicated (without looking).

Anyway... if you're an 80%er -- don't just assume that the 20%ers exist to keep track of your kids; they may just be there to watch the game.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Appologies To The Birds

And now, another episode of Lessons Learned on the Bike Path:

If the branch is so low that you're concerned you're going to be cutting it real close if you duck your head as low as you can ... try to remember that you're wearing a backpack.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Nascar Bikes

Temperature at departure = 51° F (11° C)

Happy International Walk To School Day !! Curtis and I rode bikes (of course), but that still counts. I actually did see about twice as many people walking to school this morning as I usually see -- so our school got the word out.

I got an e-mail from my good buddy John L that I just had to share.

"I got free tickets to the Busch Nascar race last Saturday and took [my son].

"As we were leaving...even among 10's of thousands of cars...in "Car Nation" no less, I saw these two road bikes of some folks who chose the best parking decision. Makes you wonder if they parked a mile away like me, and didn't want to walk...but based on their gear, it looks like they opted to go car-less for a car-centric event.

"Thought you might enjoy..."



Yep, bikes get rock star parking.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Zero Per Gallon

I can't remember when I first saw the Zero Per Gallon site, but Fritz recently posted about it and his picture prompted me to get my own patch for my backpack. I ordered and my iron on patch arrived quicker than I expected. I finally got a chance to iron it on last night -- here it is.



One other note, if you read Jonny's blog you'll see it mentioned -- but I loved that he stamped his envelope with "Goat Free." I actually enjoyed pondering what the postal carrier must have thought... As I am fond of saying: you gotta make your own fun. The patches are only $5 dollars and I'm looking forward to the conversations that it will generate.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Should A Detour Need A Detour: Part II

Temperature at departure this morning = 53° F (12° C)

Here is another installment of "Should A Detour Need A Detour?"

Last month I mentioned that the Indian Creek Bike Trail detour at Metcalf could, at times, be dicey. So it was this morning.



The workers seem bound and determined to force pedestrians and cyclists out into traffic. Not a big issue, but I wish they'd keep it clear.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Workers Say Nuts To You

Following a dispute yesterday between the workers of Local Squirrel Union 913 and the Parks and Recreation Department of Overland Park - the squirrels cut off talks and walked off their job. The resulting increase in the number of walnuts on the Indian Creek Bike Trail has created several dangerous patches of unprocessed product from the plants located next to the trail.

Talks resumed today and it is hoped that negotiators will be able to find a solution favorable to all concerned.

Monday, September 24, 2007

KATY Trail Ride

Temperature at departure this morning = 73° F (23° C)

Curtis and I headed out on a Boy Scout bicycle campout Friday night. Got to KATY Roundhouse campground around 9 p.m. and got the tents up before the rain started (you can't have a Boy Scout campout without rain). Saturday morning was nice and sunny and perfect weather to ride the KATY Trail.



We got all the tires pumped up and off we went on the first of two 25 mile rides.



The KATY Trail is America's longest "rails-to-trail" project, formerly the MKT rail line, and runs 255 miles across most of Missouri.



We rode past Rocheport on part of the Lewis and Clark trail next to some impressive bluffs by the Missouri River.



Plenty of cool scenery like the MKT Tunnel seen above.

There were two of us adults and four of the boys (including Curtis) who elected to ride another 25 miles. A good time was had by all and I slept better on this campout than I have in two weeks. These pictures and a few more can be seen HERE.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Paparazzi

Temperature at departure this morning = 67° F (19° C)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder -- I hope. Haven't had time to post lately as I've been spending a lot of time at the hospital first and now at the rehabilitation hospital after my dad took a spill and broke some stuff. He has some work ahead of him to get healed up, but after a shaky couple of weeks I'm happy to say I think he is doing fine now. One of my favorite moments from the hospital was after the attractive young nurse asked him if he wanted a bath in bed; he turned to me and said "How can I say no..."

The rehab hospital is just 0.3 miles off the path I used to ride to work before they got the detour for the bike path in place. I've been stopping by before and after work -- locking my bike to a tree out front. Pretty much every day I'm asked by some of the staff if I rode my bike. I answer 'yes' as I stand directly in front of them with my backpack on one shoulder and holding my helmet in gloved hands...

So, this morning I'm on part of the path that runs next to my kid's high school when I notice the first hour photography class walking towards me taking pictures of the surrounding flora and fauna. They notice me and suddenly I've got twenty or so people on each side of the path snapping my picture as I ride by. 30 yards later I exit the path and ride into traffic on Lamar when it hits me: I was just mobbed by paparazzi while on my way to rehab!

Oh great! Now Paris is text messaging me. Like I've got time for that right now.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Harnessing My Inner Gordon Ramsay

Temperature at departure this morning = 73° F (23° C)

I enjoyed Hell's Kitchen, my wife did not. She didn't like the way he goaded the contestants. I had the feeling that a lot of it was just for show, but that Gordon Ramsay is, in fact, a tough motivator. In searching for listings featuring Ramsay, I noticed that Monday had a bit of a mini marathon of Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America. I set up a tape. (Remember VCR's? Yep, still using one.) I love this show and can't wait for the American version coming out on Fox sometime in the next week or two.

Why do I like Ramsay's approach? Sometimes I need a kick in the seat of the pants like Chef Ramsay dishes out on a regular basis. He gets in people's faces, doesn't take excuses and makes them shape up and get focused and passionate about what they're doing. He yells and curses and insults many -- but you'll notice that he is kind and encouraging to those who show that they're willing to make an effort.

I kept Ramsay in mind a few times over the last few days when my motivation to tackle some of the important things that needed to be done started to flag. So, whether you like him or not, if you start to get off course today -- harness your inner Gordon Ramsay.


Oops, he's telling me to get to work -- donkey!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dog Days

Temperature at departure this morning = 73° F (23° C)

It was a truly beautiful morning today. I had to take a few minutes to sit on the back porch with my mocha latte and just enjoy the sunrise while the dogs stretched their legs (Maggie is pictured below). On the way in this morning I saw at least 6 other cyclists -- that may not seem like many but it is twice as many as I normally see.


Labor Day was spent laboring away at home; but we got so much done that it didn't feel like a chore. Saturday night CAT and I got to see a bunch of my family at a party thrown in honor of one of my cousin's son's recent wedding. Man, it was nice to see everyone, I only regret not getting to spend more time with each of them.

Two nice rides this weekend: Saturday, Peter and I rode the route we tried, and failed to ride back in July due to the construction mess mentioned a few posts ago. 23 miles including the ride to and from the route. Just as we were approaching the tunnel under Nall at 125th, a young mom crossed our path with two kids on little bikes with training wheels riding ahead of her and two dogs (one on leash and one off leash). The dog running free went after my front tire for some reason. I stopped just short of running the thing over. "Sorry." Yeah, me too. Weird, I can't remember another encounter like that since I was a kid. I told Peter later that I was getting ready to hop off the bike and get my rear wheel between me and the dog, but it didn't come to that.

Sunday, on the way home from my dad's, I'm riding along, minding my own business, when a rather large dog jumps up and comes barking my way. He was on a chain which stopped him short about 5 feet from the curb, but it did shake me out of my uphill, plodding trance. All in all, a wonderful weekend. Hope yours was too.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stop

Temperature at departure this morning = 72° F (22° C)

How many times have you heard someone complain that cyclists never stop at stop signs?

video

Yep, that is a stop sign. This was 8:30 this morning at a point where the bike trail has to cross the road. My phone only records 20 seconds of video so you missed the next 4 vehicles (including a FedEx truck) that rolled right on through. 11 drivers and not one stopped. I stopped, and I had the right of way... I was ready for this today because the same thing happened yesterday. I also wanted to try out the new Blogger video option...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First!

Temperature at departure this morning = 78° F (26° C)
Temperature at departure yesterday evening = 98° F (37° C)


How can you tell that you're the first one to ride on the trail during the end of August, first of September?


Spider webs. I know it's not a great shot, but it was a quick one with the camera phone... I rode through so many spider webs strung across the path that I felt like I must have looked like that guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark...


I've just got to remember not to step out into that beam of light.