Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Temperature at departure = 33° F ( 1° C)

By the way, tip of the hat to Jill at http://arcticglass.blogspot.com/ for the idea for noting the temperature when I leave for my ride. She's up in Alaska and braver than I.

Well, I made it home. Actually, if traffic got scary, I just moved off the road and waited until it cleared out. The parts of the commute home in the dark that were unnerving were the times I hopped on the Overland Park Bike Trail. The path is 8 feet (2.5 meters) wide and goes through the woods; my headlight did a fair job of illuminating a spot directly in front of my handle bars but I kind of felt like I was in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" - or - "The Blair Witch Project." It turned out to be a bit of excitement on what was becoming a routine ride home.

Lessons learned:

1) Slow Down - especially when I'm on a dark, wooded path. I actually found myself off the path and riding in the grass at one point where the leaves confused me a bit.

2) When I get to the previously mentioned Bridge of Death -- REALLY Slow Down. The picture is the bridge in the daylight -- just under 4 feet wide with the railing at the same height as my handle bars which are 2' 2" wide.

3) On leaves, Really REALLY Slow Down.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Oh Deer

This guy is sitting outside our office window right now. I sure hope he isn't grumpy when I leave tonight; I don't want to be featured on the next "When Animals Attack."

Fall back

Temperature at departure = 60° F (16° C)

So, the big topic of conversation before church yesterday went something like this: “Wasn’t it great getting an extra night of sleep last night?” “Yeah, I love the daylight saving time change this time of year.”


Yesterday was a beautiful day though, sunny with a high of 76°. After four days off my bike, the 14 mile round trip to my Dad’s was just gorgeous with the sunlight filtering through the yellow leaves. Only problem was all the little flying bugs that decided this was their last chance at nice weather as well. If bugs bother you on your ride, you might want to consider THIS – but, um, probably not. Nice morning today as well; probably the last day I’ll get to wear just a tee shirt to ride in as the low drops back down to 35° tomorrow morning and is forecast to be even lower the rest of the week.

Tonight will be my first commute home in the dark. I’m a little nervous, but that is probably a good thing.

Friday, October 27, 2006

This is SO Wrong...

Words just can't express... Is this for those who just can't give up their treadmills but still like the idea of cycling? Check the website HERE. Anyway, it's my third day of missing the bike commute due to rain. I know, I'm wimping out -- but I'm still going to try commuting in the dark starting next week so cut me a little slack here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Doubt this will fly with my fam...

Hmmm. 7 of us in the family, conferencebike seats 7... Too bad the maximum speed is around 10 MPH. Tip of the hat to goclipless for the link.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When Worlds Collide

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

I was actually hoping it would be a degree or two colder so I could say this was the first time in my adult life that I've riden a bike in below freezing temperatures. Probably won't get the chance tomorrow as the rain is heading back this direction and I'm not equipped for the foul stuff (on many levels...).

One of the cycling blogs I like to check has an interesting comment about radio. I love it when a post combines two of my big interests - and - they said a lot in one short sentance about the state of radio commercials in London. Guess radio is pretty similar whichever side of the Atlantic you're on. Read for yourself here.

Next, our new devision vice president mentioned a discussion he was having with his 22-year-old about the future of radio; sounded a lot like some of the conversations I've had with my kids. He made a comment, I wish I could remember it word for word, to the effect - I'm too old to imagine a world without radio, she is young enough that she can.

Couldn't have put it better myself.

Monday, October 23, 2006

If You Build It...

Temperature at departure = 34° F (1° C)

I saw Katie's school's - October student news magazine on the floor this weekend and picked it up. The magazine was turned to a pretty funny ad that Peter and his buddies took out. I flipped back a page and there was an article dealing with a conversation that Katie and I had back in September. Turns out there are no bike racks at the high school; hasn't been a rack there since 1987 when the existing one was taken out by a car.

Interesting quote from the principal that I'm sure is a little out of context. The clip must have been part of a much longer statement; but I found it odd. To paraphrase: we haven't rebuilt the rack because no one uses it.

Um, yeah. Put another way, wouldn't that be 'no one uses the rack we didn't build'? I'm pretty sure no one used the library or football stadium before they were built. Anyway, tough call. I think he might have been trying to say (or actually said, but it didn't make it to the article) either:
a) there weren't that many people riding their bikes to school in 1987. Or...
b) there aren't many people riding their bikes and chaining them to the trees out front now. Or...
c) no one has been asking for a bike rack.

19 years is a long time for the comparison and, I believe they'd see more people riding their bikes to school if it appeared to be supported. Parking a car costs $60 a year and the traffic before and after school is very congested. Since the Overland Park bike trail runs right next to the school (which wasn't the case 19 years ago) I'd like to see them give it a try.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Temperature at departure = 37° F (3° C)

Perhaps I'm being too much of a newbie when it comes to the colder weather riding, but I'm really enjoying it. Beautiful fall weather today, plenty of sunshine, leaves turning colors - lovin' the ride in. Why didn't I try this before? I'm staying REALLY warm with just a tee shirt and jacket on. We'll see if the honeymoon is over when it drops below freezing next week -- but I think I'm still gonna love it.

The ride home should start with temperatures close to 70° F (21° C) but there'll be an issue. I noticed several "Additional Event Parking" signs as I was navigating through the round-about [pictured above] by the convention center this morning. That means some convention is starting and there'll be additional traffic about, including busses and cars that aren't quite sure where they should be going and how to get around this circle thing... I'll just keep my eyes open and take my time.

So here is my new experiment: I'm going to try to modify my traditional, left arm out with the 90° up angle at the elbow, right turn signal. Some guy returned my "wave" the other day and I just get the feeling that some people don't understand that the signal means I'm going right. I'm going to endeavor to just point right with my right arm -- but this 40+ year habit may be tougher to break than I thought.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I was having a beautiful ride in this morning; passed 4 deer that were standing about 5 yards off the bike path. The fauns are almost as big as Mom now. A blue heron startled me, or maybe it was me that startled it. Lots of ducks in the creek. I approached the turn to the last bridge before my office -- 4 feet wide and 15 or so yards long -- and I was thinking to myself that I hoped no one had stopped to look out over the creek this morning; it makes for an awkward situation that I just didn't want to have to deal with today. And then, it happened. There he was, right at the apex of the bridge, looking like the keeper of the Bridge of Death: a chipmunk. It just stood there staring at me. What to do, WHAT TO DO?

Understand, chipmunks may be the stupidest animals on God's green earth. If you pass one on the trail you can pretty much bet it is going to be so confused about how to get out of the way that it is going to end up trapped in your spokes. Didn't want to deal with that suspended over the "Gorge of Eternal Peril" this morning so I got off my bike and started towards it, slowly.

I kept waiting for it to speak and say "Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see" and then ask "What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?" [The Holy Grail: Scene 23] But it finally got the message and ran the correct direction away from me.

Anyway, nice to be back on the bike this morning. Temperature at departure = 36° F (2° C) -- must be a Thursday thing since I had the same conditions last week. Nice way to compare clothing options. This week I dropped the sweat shirt and added a long sleeved tee shirt. I also opted to just use the hood on my wind breaker (under my helmet) rather than the head band I tried last week. My glasses fared better but the hood cuts out my peripheral vision. Still too much clothes. Today's lesson, at 36° I can get by with a tee shirt and lined wind breaker.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Okay, I didn't commute by bike yesterday because it was raining. It's really more than just my not wanting to get wet; two kids that didn't want to get wet meant running them to school and I'd had enough of the rain anyway.

This last weekend was Camporee (Boy Scouts camping with other troops) and Troop 257 invited our Webelos den to join them. It was cold to begin with but Saturday turned beautiful and the boys had fun with most of the activities. Saturday night we were prepared for the cold -- what we weren't prepared for was the rain. Rain wasn't in the forecast when we left. Sure we had our tents and rain gear (be prepared) but the tents I took are pup tents we've had since our two oldest were small. The rain started at 1:15 a.m. and never stopped on Sunday. It wasn't too bad for me until around 4:30 when I rolled over and found out that I was sleeping in a small pond of rain water. The tent floors have become rather poreous over the last 15 years.

You know, as much as I want to grump about being cold and wet, that is really, kind of, what we went out there for. Camping trips need some sort of adversity in order to have really good stories or memories. Perhaps we just want the bragging rights... Ask the boys about the trips that had picture perfect conditions and they don't remember much about them; but suffer through the heat, cold, rain, wind or snow and now you've got something to talk about.

Anyway, that is my excuse for not riding yesterday. Still, when I don't get to ride to work my attitude isn't as good and, for some reason, I eat more than I normally would; junk too. I'm rambling. Later.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


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

Last year, when I started doing the bike commute thing, I stopped around this time of year because it was getting dark too early and the temperatures were dropping. I don't think I ever tried biking when it was below 50. So, this is the coldest my bike commute has been thus far. Not too bad really. I'm still going to do my best to stay on the bike for most of the winter.

Borrowed one of the kid's head bands, but they press my glasses down into the bridge of my nose and smash my forehead down making me feel like a Neanderthal man ... without the spear. My good buddy John recommends THESE and I've put them on my Christmas list and let my kids know. The head band and gloves really helped but I haven't got the clothing thing figured out yet.

Tee shirt + sweat shirt + sweat shirt lined, nylon hooded jacket. With the backpack that ended up being just too much. I guess it is just going to take some more experimentation.

What I know so far: 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, I add the work out pants. The rest will be trial and error.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


A study shows walnuts can fight strokes and heart disease. This article says "A team from Barcelona's Hospital Clinico recommend eating an ounce (28g) of walnuts a day." I agree, but my agreement has nothing to do with the health benefits; I just want to get the things off the bike path and the squirrels haven't been keeping up with their end of the bargain (another story). You see, walnuts have a dark side; an insidious, twisted secret that these, so called, "scientists" have turned a blind eye towards: Walnuts are intent on world domination. That is right, world domination. And they've started with a plan to eliminate bicycle riders on the Overland Park bike paths.

You see, walnuts have developed the ability to congregate on the bike path at strategic points, like sharp, blind turns -- they even have learned to hide themselves in the fallen leaves. Trust me; hitting a walnut in the middle of a turn is no fun. So, go ahead and believe the hype; just start eating more walnuts -- if you're looking for a free supply, just take a trip on the local bike path. Just be careful out there, the acorns may be in on the plot.

Here, this will get you started... Recipies galore.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Here Comes The Rain Again

I feel like such a slacker. No biking Saturday or Sunday due to chores that wouldn't wait any longer -- and today I chickened out because a) a quarter inch or less of rain early this morning and b) my daughter's marching festival tonight.

To be fair, we plowed through 18 large loads of laundry on Saturday and packed up Curtis to move him down to Peter's room on Sunday allowing Jonathan a room to himself for the first time in his life. Yesterday was nice riding weather but today, I wouldn't have the time to ride home after work and the wet pavement roads and bike paths wouldn't have been fun to navigate. It has been a long time since we've had a decent rain and today we had such a small amount that all it has managed to do is to combine with all the road oil and make the streets a slippery, dangerous mess. Lots of accidents on the roads this morning. The bike paths recently had the grass and leaves next to the path mowed and the crews that did the mowing blew all the debris onto the path. Wet leaves and oil soaked roads ... I decided to take a break for a day and drove the van.

I am going to do my best to still commute through the majority of the winter -- but am still waiting on the temporary path through construction over I-435. I really don't want to be riding in the dark and with the change to daylight saving time at the end of the month; it will be pitch black when I leave work. If they get some sort of path in place where I don't have to be riding in traffic, I'll keep riding. If they don't, even with my new flashy lights, I'll skip it for a while. The temporary route was supposed to be done in mid-September. I called the city on 9/15 and they told me it would be October. Called again the other day and now they are saying November. We'll see.

Here is another blog entry announcing the end of radio as we know it. Scroll to the bottom and it discusses how auto makers are going to make car stereos more iPod friendly. True, it would take a little market share out of the drive time audience, but, in my opinion, not nearly as much as they think it will.

Friday, October 06, 2006

More Lessons Learned

1) When a mosquito lands on your right wrist, taking your left hand off the handlebars to swat your right hand is not a good idea. Oh, you'll do it, it's just not a good idea...

2) Chewing gum while riding the bike path isn't a very good idea either. There must be something in the scent of your breath while chewing gum that makes small flying insects want to be right there in the middle of the action. Now, they do add a nutty flavor and some interesting texture to the gum, but you won't find that interesting for very long.

3) Always watch a Lexus. Other blogs I've read warn against the dreaded SUV; for me, the car that always seems to be the one that is going to cut me off or get REAL close is the Lexus.

Yesterday I mentioned that there were chipmunks everywhere on the ride in. Same was true on the ride home last night. This morning ... zero. So, I have two theories: they either have a very strong union and only have to work one day a week - OR - conversely, yesterday was a chipmunk holiday and the reason I saw so many was that they were out enjoying the day, this morning they are all too hung over from the "Chip N Dale Day" festivities last night.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Weird Wildlife

Normally, I've been seeing around 2 to 6 deer per trip to and from the office -- until the last couple of weeks. They're gone. Sure, I know, the seasons are changing; but this is normally the time of year when you see more deer around dusk -- and that is when I'm riding home.

Next, I usually encounter about 2 chipmunks and more squirrels than I can count. This morning I saw 6 squirrels but more chipmunks than I could count. Chipmunks everywhere. At one point, coming through Corporate Woods past one of the bigger buildings there was a chipmunk standing on top of the curb every 10 yards. Five of them, one right after another, and they all made a high pitched squeal of some sort when I went by. Very, very strange.

Oh, and then there were the 2 woodchucks (groundhogs). Haven't seen one since July and today I almost ran over two. At least I didn't run into the bobcat today.

Couple other quick notes:
My two youngest said that there were more bikes in the bike rack yesterday than they normally see. I'm hoping the word about International Walk to School Day got around.

On my way home, busiest intersection (that's the one in the picture) and I'm at the front of the line waiting for the light. My light turns green and I zip across the intersection moving to the right to get out of the way of the cars behind me. After I make it across, the car that had been directly behind me tooted the horn. I noticed that it was a gal from our church; so, I guess there are three possible explanations: she either recognized me and was saying "hello," she doesn't like bikes on the streets or she appreciates toned calf muscles... I guess I'll be able to rule out one option Sunday by seeing if she mentions, or doesn't mention seeing me...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"You must be crazy."

I've had a wonderful few days off. Thursday I headed up to KSU to take Peter to lunch for his birthday, back in time for high school parent teacher conferences, done in time for cub scouts and finished with that in time to make it back to South to see the play Katie has been working on. Friday saw more parent teacher conferences at the middle school, got some bike riding in with Curtis, grade school "Fall Family Mixer" and then fell asleep while attempting to watch Munich.

Saturday was beautiful and the perfect weather for the Overland Park Parade. This year our Cub Scout pack didn't have a float so we decided to just go and watch Katie march. Peter had made it home for the weekend and he, Curtis and I decided to ride our bikes to the parade; only a three mile ride and that way we wouldn't have to hassle with trying to find a place to park... We saw several people from the kid's schools and several times got the comment "You rode your bikes? You must be crazy." Some commented that they couldn't remember the last time they'd ridden. I think I've mentioned before that I get similar comments when Curtis and I walk or ride to his school which is only a half mile away. I don't know if they're jealous or if they think having kids walk or ride bikes is abusive.

With that in mind, I'd like to let everyone know that tomorrow, Wednesday October 4th, is International Walk To School Day. Here is a nice link to walktoschool.org that has some wonderful information about why it is a good idea. And no, I'm not crazy. I'm getting to spend some time with my kids doing something fun and healthy.