Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mini Vacation

Temperature at departure = 57° F (14° C)

I'd mentioned before that there was a strong possibility that they'd be re-routing bike traffic on the Indian Creek Bike Trail due to a closure between Foxhill North and South parks. Rode the detour this morning.

Here is the corner by Suburban Lawn and Garden where you hop on the sidewalk on the east side of Roe.



Below you'll see the second of three stops you'll have to make -- this one is the 435 off ramp where it is wise to watch the four lanes of traffic that are eager to be on their way and aren't used to seeing bikes here.



The pedestrian bridge over 435 was unsettling. It is narrow and the chain link didn't do much to convince me that the 8 lanes of traffic speeding by underneath me weren't more than a mis-step away. Truth be told, it was a little new excitement for the commute.



I figured I owed myself a nice ride in today after my daughter's graduation last night. Took a modified long route and didn't bother tracking my average MPH or how far along I was. I don't know that I'll ride it again -- the stretch along Antioch from 139th to 123rd was busy with grumpy drivers. I rode in traffic for a while and then submitted myself to the sidewalk for the remainder of that section. All in all a very fun ride this morning. Some people take vacations to have this kind of fun. I just leave for work a little earlier and take a mini vacation on the way to the office.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Arrrgh ... Wheeee

Temperature at departure = 64° F (18° C)

One of the things I really like about riding up a big hill: the other side.

Monday, May 19, 2008

BDIs

Temperature at departure = 66° F (19° C)

Overland Park, KS.

After decades of congressional debate and international controversy, the Bug Wars Defense Initiative was utilized for the first time today. While some viewed the results as a failure, others in the administration are confident that today's action will be seen as a successful deterrent in the days to come.

In a press conference concluded just moments ago, General P. Mantis described this morning's action.

"At approximately 08:25 we deployed a GPS (Gnat Path Screen) where a number, which I cannot divulge, of our brave, fighting gnats formed a defensive screen across the Indian Creek Trail. The purpose of the screen was to deflect a large, I believe the term is ... psycho-list away from its destructive path towards our homeland. I would like to offer our humble thanks to the families of those gnats who gave their lives in an effort to fly into the eyes and mouth of the enemy and although it made it past our defenses, I am sure that their sacrifice will serve as a warning to stay off our trail in the future. Thank you."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bike To Work(out) Day

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

I am taking the day off to catch the 6th grade talent show and to head to KSU to pick up Peter and bring him home for the summer. Still, I didn't want to miss the last B2WW Overland Park breakfast so after an unexpected trip to the high school I made it to the Matt Ross Community Center a little late.

I got a chance to talk to Fernando (who was the guy to the far right in yesterday's picture). Cool guy. I was, too late to see Lisa again as she had to get to work -- wanted to let her know that I got my miles posted for the OP Team in the Carfree Challenge. Oh well.

That's it for now ... another errand on the bike on the way to the talent show. Oh, 2 other commuters spotted this morning for a total of 7 for the week.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is it Official?

Heading home last night I noticed the "Trail Closed" signs had been taken down on both sides of the section of the Indian Creek Trail I've written too many times about to try to link again...

Today I approached the section by Antioch with the hope that the orange plastic fencing would still be gone and the way clear. I apologize for the quality of the audio here, I was using my Sony Cyber-shot. Towards the end I say something along the lines of having to put the camera down so I can use both hands on the handlebars. I was pedaling along at a pretty good clip by then.

video

I'll toss in a couple stills where the path runs back under I-435. This is a pretty fun stretch to ride down and isn't too bad riding back up. I can't believe it's been so long since it was closed down.









Again, these were all taken on the fly...

Overland Park Bike to Work Week Continues

Temperature at departure = 54° F (12° C)



I made it to Overland Park's second 2008 Bike to Work Week breakfast and got to put a star next to my name from yesterday's list. For tomorrow's I'll put a check-mark... As I rolled up I got the chance to meet Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for KC, MO Deb Ridgway (on the left), the guy who one the recent GoByBike challenge, Lisa Cox who works for the City of Overland Park & is (I believe) heading up the OP side of things as well as another bike commuter. I'm sorry I didn't get all the names. By the time I'd grabbed some breakfast, a pouch made from recycled bike inner tubes and talked with the others, two more commuters came by. I must say it was a real pleasure getting to meet Deb -- who is an incredibly nice gal who sincerely knows her stuff and Lisa who is also very personable and may have to work with my son this summer.

I can't really count the people at the breakfast as commuters encountered on the road/path during my commute because they weren't riding at the time. Today's count of other bike commuters = 0. So far this week I've met up with 5 and all of those were during yesterday's ride which I extended by an extra 18 miles. [sigh]

Thanks again to everyone who is working on these Bike to Work Week events in Overland Park. Here's hoping for a big finish tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More Work on the Indian Creek Trail

Forgot to mention this morning that it looks like they're making good on their promise to close part of the Indian Creek Trail around I-435 between Roe and Mission. I passed and ignored a "Trail Closed" sign when I swung to the east at Suburban Lawn & Garden and it looks like the section running under 435 will be under construction soon.

Last August I got a note from the Overland Park Manager of Parks and Forestry that said:

"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."

The sidewalk on the east side of Roe does look like the only option; it runs over 435 (separated from the traffic) and hooks up with 109th street, which, going east, meets back up with the trail at Foxhill South Park. The downside is you'll be riding on a sidewalk and will have to cross 4 lanes of traffic on the off ramp.


View Larger Map


I wonder if this is possibly related to the tax incentives the Overland Park City Council approved on Monday...

"The council formed Transportation Development Districts, or TDDs, for the projects that are planned north of I-435 between Mission Road and Nall Avenue. Retailers in the districts will charge an additional 1 percent sales tax on purchases, with the proceeds used to pay for public and private infrastructure related to the developments. The revenue will fund a $2 million bridge over Indian Creek and a $3 million flood control project along Indian Creek."

Snacked up and ready for the day

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

I took the extended bike path route this morning and left early so I could catch the Bike to Work Week event at the fire station at 138th and Switzer. Mine was the only bike there when I rolled in; granted, I was there around 8:00 and it was to end at 8:30. I checked the list and there were ~10 names -- not bad since this is the first year they've had an event here.



That's Kelly, the organizer of this event. Kelly is a great guy for a number of reasons:

  • He is a firefighter, so he risks his lives for those of us in Overland Park.

  • He is a cyclist.

  • He hosted this event.

  • He put up with my incessant yammering.

  • He brought chocolate milk.


  • If this were England, he would be knighted. Seriously, thanks for putting this on for us. It was appreciated. I hope to see some other bikers at tomorrow and Friday's events.

    On the way in this morning I counted 5 other bike commuters. Okay, I rode an extra 18 miles, but these 5 were the first other commuters I've seen this week, so they still count.

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Another Bike to Work Week

    Temperature at departure = 46° F (8° C)

    Sure, it was a little cool this morning, but I had hoped to see more cyclists out for Bike to Work Week. Today I encountered 0 other cyclists. Looks like we might have a re-run of last year's B2WW. I hope not.

    There are three events scheduled for Overland Park that I'm going to try to make. Each one will be a bit out of my way (Wednesday I'll have to ride the 24 mile route to catch a free breakfast). Still, I'm looking forward to seeing a few fellow bike commuters.

    Found via Eric's kcbike.info calendar:

    Wed, May 14, 6:30am – 8:30am
    Overland Park Breakfast Break by Fire Station #3 at 13801 Switzer. Morning snacks on the way into work.

    Thu, May 15, 6:30am – 8:30am
    Overland Park Breakfast Break at Tomahawk Ridge Community Center, 11902 Lowell. More free snacks.

    Fri, May 16, 6:30am – 8:30am
    Overland Park Breakfast Break at Matt Ross Community Center, 8101 Marty.

    Friday, May 09, 2008

    Aquaman

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

    I have come to the conclusion that when there is a question as to whether or not it is going to be raining during my commute, I will listen to the local meteorologists predictions and assume the opposite will occur.



    Three rides within the last week have proved the point. Two days (including today) we were told the rain was over and it came back in the middle of my ride. One day they said there was an 80% chance of rain so I rode and it was dry the whole day. Like I said last Friday, riding in light rain isn't that bad, but I need to get some appropriate gear.

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    Bike News Glut

    This is what I get for not checking my RSS feed for a few days.

    More folding bikes on London trains are creating more rush-hour resentment. I love this quote:

    "A Brompton folding bicycle, it's the bowler hat of modern commuting"


    From WEEK-TV in Illinois, "Please Don’t Squeeze" – starts today and is funded by a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Division of Traffic Safety to the League of Illinois Bicyclists (LIB). The radio campaign aims to educate drivers about the new law requiring motorists to give bicyclists at least three feet of space when passing.


    The Denver Post discusses Share the Road license plates, Bicycle Colorado and gives some handy advice on riding safely.


    In central Texas, the King's Daughters Clinic and Texas Medical Association are teaming up to give away 700 helmets and 4 bicycles to boys and girls in the community.


    Green Bay Cyclist builds "Franken-bike" while volunteering in New Orleans and decided to ride it home. Cool video.


    From Charlotte, NC: With gas prices up, you'd think more people would be out on their bicycles for their commute.

    "Not so, says Ethan Grossman, who opened Black Sheep Cycles three years ago."


    The LA Times has a nice article about the Trek Lime.


    And with 136 stories to go, I'm giving up and marking them all as "read."

    Duck Season, Wabbit Season

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

    I don't know what possessed me to take a short hop over to 95th between Metcalf and Nall, but I did. As I was headed to the east the SUV in front of me rolled over a pair of mallards. The male and female looked dazed, but not seriously hurt as I slowed down a bit so I wouldn't hit them. This did not improve the mood of Mr. Furious in the SUV behind me.

    Temperature rising, vision blurring, rage taking over ... he summoned his super powers and HONKED HIS HORN! Yeah, that taught me a lesson by golly. Anyways, the ducks moved off to the sidewalk and I smiled and waved to the driver as I turned the corner on Lamar. I'm sure he was thinking of a great comeback...



    Back on the path and I was dodging rabbits right and left -- along with wild turkey and woodchucks. Weird morning.

    Friday, May 02, 2008

    Ill Advised

    Temperature at departure = 55° F (13° C)

    Since we had rather severe weather overnight, I checked the forecast this morning prior to deciding whether or not to ride my bike. If you commute by bike in Overland Park, or anywhere for that matter, you do the same...

    Weather.com - Mostly cloudy today (no rain in the forecast).
    KMBZ-AM (using Channel 9's meteorologist) - The rain is over.
    Channel 4 - The rain is out of here.

    It looked like the streets were drying out, so I headed towards the high school to drop off a check and then continue on into work.



    Of course, when I left the school building to retrieve my bike from the otherwise empty rack, it was raining lightly. I pulled out onto 107th, headed towards Lamar when a wind gust blew me off the road and into the gutter. I decided against riding the rest of the way in traffic (which had been my intention) and headed towards my beloved Indian Creek Trail.

    The ride was a slow one. There were several areas where the water covered the trail by a couple inches; thank goodness for disk brakes. So, this is the first time in my adult life where I've ridden in the rain. Wasn't a bad ride, but if I'm going to do it again I'm going to need to find some different gear.

    Oh, one last thing -- even though the weather wasn't optimal, I was joined at two different stop signs by other bike commuters. They both commented on my $0.00 9/10 patch. Anecdotal evidence indicates that there are more people in my area commuting by bicycle.

    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    This Wind is for the Birds

    Temperature at departure = 66° F (19° C)

    If you are riding your bike south in Overland Park, or anywhere in the Kansas City area today, there is no need to use your brakes; simply stop pedaling. 28 MPH winds, gusting to 38 MPH. I did NOT take the long way today.



    Okay, this little guy is driving me nuts this morning. He keeps hitting my window and won't go away. Since he is a woodpecker, I don't know that the hits he is making will hurt him, but I hope he moves on soon.

    While I'm at it, the wreath next to our front door is once again home to a robin's nest. Every time we open the door momma bird flutters like crazy and heads over to a tree to start scolding us. I wonder how many will make it this year...



    We get bird's nests here twice a year. I kind of like it, but it freaks out a couple of my kids.