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.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ramming Speed

Temperature at departure this morning = 74° F (23° C)

My average MPH went up 1.5 MPH this morning without my thinking about it. I wrote about this back in April, but today I was listening to the end credits from Sky Captain and Kingdom of Heaven (one of my examples in April) and I must have automatically kicked into my body's high gear.

Ironic side note: on one of my weekend rides the Sky Captain soundtrack came up just as I was overflown by a Stealth Bomber that was making a run on the air show downtown. Words can't express how cool that moment was. I love seeing the Stealths fly.

Bike Path Follow-up

Here is a follow up to last weeks post about the Indian & Tomahawk Creek Trails. Since the note I got mentioned that they still needed to put up some fencing and do some seeding, I figured I'd check out the actual status of the path. Here you'll see one of the areas that I assume they'll seed.



There is a sign, going one direction, with this warning:



There are only a few spots where dirt and gravel cover the path; wasn't really a problem. I encountered a number of cyclists out for a ride on this section of the path.



They've got posts up for the fencing and for good reason as the side of the path drops abruptly.



Now, the Metcalf detour. Heading west you'll see the section of pavement that joins the path to the sidewalk on the left and the part of the path that is closed on the right.



Here is the challenging part.



The crosswalk signs are covered so you just cross with the green light. I encountered a couple problems here on a couple different rides this weekend:

  1. The people that want to turn right are not going to be looking for you.
  2. Sunday, a guy heading south pulled up about even with the bumper of the gray car pictured above, completely blocking the crosswalk and forcing me out around the cones and into traffic. I gave him my best passive-aggressive eye roll so he, hopefully, will be a little more careful next time...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Indian Creek & Tomahawk Creek Trails

Temperature at departure this morning = 76° F (24° C)
Temperature at departure yesterday evening = 94° F (34° C)

The recent construction project on Metcalf at 103rd street has made another Indian Creek bike/hike path detour necessary.

This one is a bit dicer than the one still in place at Antioch and I-435; you'll be routed up to the crosswalk on the North side of Metcalf. They have added some pavement just to the east of Metcalf to get you back off the sidewalk and onto the path. I would recommend taking the few extra seconds it takes to dismount and walk the bike across. As you can see, this is a busy intersection any way and they've funneled three lane into two, both directions. The detour is the crosswalk seen in the middle of this shot from the traffic cam.

Actually, I should say this is a HORRIBLE intersection to try to navigate as a pedestrian or cyclist. Most of the drivers here are going to be more apt to be looking for gaps in the traffic that they can shoot through and guess what? -- You are most likely to be in the gap, unseen by the motorist. It isn't a matter of who is right and who is wrong, cross with extreme caution!

Next, although the maps of Johnson county trails shows this stretch of the Tomahawk Creek trail open, I noticed on a ride a month or so ago that some work being done around Alt-69 between 135th and going north east to Metcalf. The path was just gravel in the section circled here:

I sent another note to the guy mentioned yesterday and got a quick response saying:

"We are close to completing that project and should have it officially open in the next couple of weeks. We still have some fencing and seeding to do there. This will complete the last major gap on the Tomahawk Creek Trail that runs from Leawood to Olathe (Pflumm Road). We still have a minor gap on 127th St. between Nall and the bridge near Deer Creek, but with the street and sidewalk, it is at least passable. That stretch will be completed with the road improvement in 2010."


He also gave me a heads up on some possible future work on the Indian Creek trail:

"While we are on the subject of closures and a heads up. In 2008, we may have a closure/detour of the Indian Creek trail in our Foxhill South & North park areas. This is the stretch between Mission and Roe. There is a major flood control and bridge construction project planned for this area. No timeline has been created but it will likely occur in mid 2008 and continue into 2009. The last time we had to close this stretch, we detoured users over I-435 via the pedestrian bridge that parallels the Roe street bridge."

I may ride the Tomahawk Creek trail this weekend to see how much work is left. Thought those of you who occasionally ride these paths might like the info as well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Virtual Dinner?

...that's what the kids call the stuff I cook. [Bah dum bump]


Seriously, Virtual Dinner? I can't even get the people that live in my house all together at the same time...

Spouting Off Again

Temperature at departure this morning = 80° F (27° C)
Temperature at departure yesterday evening = 96° F (36° C)

Once again, the fine folk in the City of OP office come through in a flash. I have got to believe that this one guy rolls his eyes whenever he sees my name in his In Box. Granted, I don't e-mail him that often -- last time was 3 or 4 months ago. I had to send a note this morning though as the new Ed Eilert Fountain seemed to be the source of a new tributary for Indian Creek. You can see part of the fountain in the upper left corner and the photo doesn't really give you a true picture of just how much water is flowing down the sidewalk and path...


This shot is looking down towards the bridge for 109th. The water picks up again just past the tree in the upper, center of the shot and covers 3/5ths of the path with an inch or two of running water.


I sent the above mentioned contact an e-mail with these shots and got a reply back within an hour saying that they'd had a problem a week earlier with a stuck solenoid and he'd have someone check it out right away. Service with a smile... By the way, if you're riding the path and need a quick cool down, the sidewalk meets up with the path in two places and allows you to get right up next to the fountain. I took advantage of the spray this morning.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Birdman or Birds?

Temperature at departure this morning = 81° F (27° C)
Temperature at departure yesterday evening = 100° F (38° C)

So I was going to go with this one...


I'd just turned right off 103rd when I noticed a robin on the curb to my right, eating a bug. The thing must be part squirrel as it started to fly away from me, changed its mind and flew under me somehow shooting the gap between my pedals and back wheel. Nothing like a little shot of adrenalin to start the morning.

Flash forward 5 minutes and 1 mile. I rode through the tunnel under Antioch at my normal 12 MPH preparing for the sharp right turn at the end of the tunnel. As I exit the tunnel I enter a flock of what must have been close to 100 sparrows. They scattered and I rode in the middle of the frightened flock for a few seconds. I said that there was nothing like a LITTLE shot of adrenalin... So, I've decided the picture of the day should be:


...although I prefer the "Birds" sceen from Mel Brooks' High Anxiety...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Once Around the Campfire, James

Temperature at departure = 75° F (24° C)

On one hand, this is just wrong. On the other hand, if I had the money to burn...

Behold, Glamping! (glamorous camping)

$595 a night -- plus an additional $110 per person per day for food.

"The perks include a camp butler to build their fire, a maid to crank up the heated down comforter at nightfall and a cook to whip up bison rib-eye for dinner and French toast topped with huckleberries for breakfast."

I wonder if they have someone to walk around and round up all the chiggers... Hmmm, that would be SO worth it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Baiku

It has been a while since I've seen a baiku on Fritz's site. Fritz, here you go...


This heat's oppressive.
Where'd my water bottle go?
Found it, now I'll ride.

Just Do It

Temperature at departure this morning= 76° F (24° C)
Temperature at departure last night = 98° F (37° C)

Pardon the interruption, but if you are someone who commutes by bike, please go read Fritz's post over at CommuteByBike and take a minute or two to send an e-mail to Ms. Peters via the link provided. Thanks.

We now return you to our regular programming.


When I initially saw this, after arriving at work yesterday morning, I was going to say that my kids must have come to the office for ice because they always seem to empty the trays at home without taking the 15 seconds it takes to fill them and put them back in the freezer. That's right, I've timed it. My kids roll their eyes every time I mention the 15 seconds to them -- you'd think that they'd fill them up just to avoid the schpeel they know will ensue as a result; but, no, they do it anyway... But here I was at work and someone had emptied trays and put them back without filling them.

I filled the trays and decided not to comment because standing in front of the freezer I realized that I've been doing something similar for months. There have been several receipts which I've been carrying around in my backpack, transferred to my laptop bag, back to my backpack, to the top of a pile on my desk at home and back into the backpack. I simply needed to fill out a form, attach a copy and mail them to get a check back from my medical reimbursement plan. It would be interesting to know how much time I've blown moving the stack, carrying forward the task in my planner, etc. So, the empty ice cube trays chidded me into sitting down and getting this task (originally put on my list in February) done. 29 minutes and, yes, I timed it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Generation Gap

Temperature at departure = 81° F (27° C)

Ahhhhhhh. The first day of school. Apologizes to The Old Bag, but it will be nice to get back into the routine and away from all the phone calls regarding what people can have for breakfast, lunch, snack -- all the calls of people wanting to "tell on" their siblings.

So, I rode along with Curtis to his school and turned to head off to work when I caught up and passed another cyclist. I got stopped at the signal I love so well and he caught back up with me. "Man, what happened to your ankles?" I had a few seconds to explain the chiggers at the last campout and he was amazed that the bites would still be as prevalent as they are. Our light turned green and we headed out into traffic and chatted a little bit before I took a right turn and got back up to speed.

And now, from our "You know you're getting old when..." department:

Me: "I don't want to sound like a broken record, but..."
14 year-old: "What?!?!?"


Thus began a 5 minute explanation of the ancient technology of phonograph records. [Sigh]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Happy YMTYTSDFW Day

Temperature at departure = 78° F (26° C)

Some of the weather folk are saying that this will be our hottest day of the year with the temperature probably topping out ~ 103°. Still, it could be worse -- I could be back down in Texas where playgrounds are spontaneously combusting.

I can't find it on any calendars, but today must be Young Mothers Take Your Toddler and Small Dog For a Walk Day. I decided to stretch out my morning ride and met 4 of the above combinations within a 1.5 mile area. I must say, we all behaved very well with me slowing way down and dinging my bell and the moms moving to the side a bit making sure neither of their charges were in danger. "Good morning" shouts were shared all around and it was a very pleasant ride.

Here is a shot from the path just before I met up with the first group.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This Time Last Year

Temperature at departure = 77° F (25° C)

It was nice getting back on the bike yesterday. When I got into the office I did my normal hot weather routine of filling my water bottle most of the way and putting it in the freezer. Last year, when the temperatures for my afternoon departure were in the low 100's for several weeks, I'd stop for a drink around half way home and the water would be cool but the ice would have already melted. When I left the office yesterday the temperature was 93° F (34° C) and the bottle was still mostly filled with ice when I got home.

There are a few differences that might explain why I'm only filling the water bottle half way before freezing today:
  • A 10 degree difference in temperatures.
  • Last year my route was mostly in traffic -- this year it is primarily on the bike path which runs next to a creek and provides lots of shade.
  • My route home is only 2/3 what it was last year.

Don't misinterpret what I'm saying, it was still oppressively hot and breathing seemed a bit labored at times. So, for now, I'm not going to worry about my average MPH. I'll slow down a bit and stay on the lookout for misaimed sprinklers that are misting over into the road.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back From Dallas

Temperature at departure = 75° F (24° C)

I honestly thought I'd get more done on-line last week than I normally do. Really, I was going to be in another city with only my normal work hours to deal with; my nights were mine to do with as I saw fit. No kitchen to clean up, no running people to lessons, etc. All I had to do was find dinner at some restaurant and the rest of my evening would be free.

I can't figure out where that time went. I didn't watch that much TV. I didn't really go anywhere because my feet and legs were killing me (see previous). It just goes to show that I get into a routine at home and even though there are a ton of things on my calendar, I'll still have time to do some of the things I want to do -- and some of the things I don't. So if you'll excuse me, I've got to go clean off the spider webs I rode through on the trail this morning. Ah yes, back in the groove.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Chiggers

This last weekend we had the rare opportunity to camp out at Shawnee Mission Park. The park doesn't allow camping -- unless your group is the Boy Scouts (or another similar youth organization). There is a special Boy Scout Camping Area just off the mountain bike trail and the fire road. This is, literally, primitive camping with no water, latrines, etc. The spots available for tents are far from level, you just find the best spot and set up your tent. Here's mine:

I had thought about taking a shot of Curtis' ankles -- or mine for that matter. We have so many chigger bites that we're both miserable. Antihistamines and hydrocortisone cream mute the itching a bit for an hour or two before the horrible itching comes back.

I used to get chigger bites in the summer due to all the running around in bare feet that we did. I never had it as bad as I do now and Curtis' bites are twice as bad. Poor kid. I don’t remember how long it takes for this to run its course; hopefully not much longer. Now, excuse me, I have to go do my best not to scratch.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pretenses

Temperature at departure = 76° F (24° C)
Days until school starts = 14


We have yet to have had a 100° day this summer. Don’t get me wrong, that is NOT a problem. Last year, July and August gave us afternoon temperatures around 102° to 105° on a regular basis. What I’ve noticed is that the necessity of having a water bottle for my commute is negated; I still freeze a bottle over night and then freeze it again when I get to the office – I just don’t really need to drink during the 20 minutes I’m on the road when the temperature is in the 80’s.

Still, I was reminded this morning how the water bottle serves other purposes as well. Some people keep them handy to use as a projectile in the event they are threatened by drivers or dogs. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I use mine as a psychological prompt for over-courteous people.

I pulled up to an intersection early in my ride and a driver who had no stop sign and clearly had the right of way stopped to wave me out into my left-hand turn onto a busy street. What these types of drivers don’t understand is that they may, in fact, be waving cyclists into some other on-coming traffic. Perhaps you’ve gotten into an exchange of waves that goes something like:

“You go.”
“Thanks, but you go.”
“No, I insist, you go.”
“I really appreciate your looking out for me but, please, you go.”
“I just won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, you go”


That just gets the driver (and all the cars piling up behind them) miffed at you. The answer to this dilemma is as close as your bottle cage. I now just stop, put a foot on the ground and grab my water bottle to take a drink; off the drivers go and everyone is safe and happy. I use that a lot when I come to parts of the bike/hike path that cross over driveways in the office park. I also use the technique when I get to the door of my building. I appreciate that people want to hold the door open for me as I carry my bike in, but it really is much easier if they go ahead and let me open the door by myself.

So, the bottle is back in the freezer prepping for the ride home so I can get a swig of bottle water when I get home – unless…

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hold Your Breath I Guess

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

So, today is our second Orange Ozone Alert day of the summer. The media is encouraging us to limit our emissions. Great, and we're having fajitas today... The news reports today suggested the following steps:

  • Cut back on strenuous outside activities. They suggest staying indoors in the air conditioning.
  • Drive less. My favorite part of the report I heard was when they said to ride a bike or take a leisurely walk -- right after they said to hide indoors.

Oh well, at least we won't have to worry about giant bugs.