Thursday, December 28, 2006

It Blinded Me With Science

Temperature at departure = 39° F (4° C)

Okay, the bike computer is cool and I am hooked. I'm sure I'll get into the groove and use it for just tracking my progress, but for the time being it is challenging me -- every time I get on the bike. It's almost a whisper "Go faster, you've got to the that Average MPH up there and can't you get a higher Maximum MPH than 32.3?" Okay, it's not a whisper, it's a shout! Now, I wonder if there is a heart monitor and calorie-burn counter I can find out there to make my spreadsheets even more numberific...

Thank you to Mike 3D for the public photo.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's All In The Data

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

My family is very happy that I became so serious about bike commuting this last year. Finally, they've got something they can use when they buy presents for me; before they were at a loss. Thus, I reaped a bunch of cycling stuff for Christmas: Bright florescent yellow jacket with reflective stripes, new gloves, balaclava, mega-tool and bike computer to name a few.

Before I opened the bike computer I had never really thought I'd want one. Once open, I couldn't wait to get it installed and tested out. It's very cool. Once I made it to the office I set up a new data base to track the data for each trip. I was interested to see that I'd miscalculated the distance to the office; I thought it was right at 5 miles but it turns out to be 5.647 miles. Guess my spreadsheet tracking the last 6 months is off by a mile a day. I was, however, very close on my estimate of average speed -- I guessed 12 MPH and today's average was 12.3.

Biking and data mining, gotta love it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Naughty Picture Of Me

Well, what were you expecting?

Actually, I don't think that really counted as my being naughty as much as just starting down a clumsy path. Still, our Christmas trees have certainly changed over the years.

I was talking to Dad about Christmas lights a couple weeks back and he told me how the huge treat for him when he was a boy was the Christmas Tree at church. He says they would light candles and clip them to the tree with special holders and then the tree was hoisted up to the rafters with a rope. Dad said he'd just sit there and marvel as the tree would rotate around. [He also mentioned that there were two men sitting in the back of church with a couple buckets of sand; just in case...]

How things have changed since the early 20's when he was a little boy. For him, simple candles were the special effects. For me it was tinsel and those big bulbs - and then, later, those alluminum trees with the color wheels were all the rage. Now our kids see computerized light shows to Mannheim Steamroller music. Same with Sunday School I guess as the Flannelgraph was the high tech media I started out with before going big time with filmstrips. Now our kids get videos, powerpoint presentations and more. I'm going to have my dad talk to my kids about what his Sunday School was like when we get together in the morning. In the mean time, Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Home for the Holidays

Made it back from Dallas last night. Let's see, while gone our furnace fan motor went out and we had to have it replaced and then last night a pipe behind our master bath shower wall burst so we're trying to get a plumber out and work on it while we're getting the house ready for family. It may not be super picked up but hopefully everyone will understand.

In the mean time, until I get a chance to get back on the bike, don't let THIS happen to you...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stop The Madness

I'm down in Dallas this week and haven't been thinking too much about the blog or bike. Did a search and found the following oddities:

Forget 29er's, check this out.

Thanks to Siti for the photo

And then there is THIS. Spinners for bikes? That is taking it a bit too far, isn't it?

Anyway, I wouldn't be able to ride today if I were home due to the lousy weather. Still have a bit of shopping to do which is difficult when away -- but, I'm hopping to get everything wrapped up before Sunday...

Friday, December 15, 2006

More News You Can Use

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

Uneventful ride in today. So, we harness the power of the internet to bring you the following stories:

Ikea gave 500 workers flat-pack bikes. Cool.

CNet has an ARTICLE about a study on teen media habits. "Americans aged 13 to 18 spend more than 72 hours a week using electronic media--defined as the Internet, cell phones, television, music and video games." So, what media that is near and dear to my heart is missing? Radio isn't mentioned at all. No surprise, really; if my kids are downstairs I can pretty much guarantee that at least two will be playing video games, at least one is going to be on their laptop with the others will be watching their siblings while text messaging. The industry really needs to figure out how to make radio relevant to that demographic. Quick.

Public photo by jody9. I loved this when I saw it because it includes two of my interests... Plus, I think the rusting "RADIO" is kind of a metaphor...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pregnant Pause

Temperature at departure = 45° F (7° C)

I had almost forgotten about Friday's incident until we waved at each other this morning. Granted, it had been an incredibly stressful weekend which included taking my dad to the ER, having him in ICU for a day, a plumbing repair I was trying to effect which was interrupted by my daughter calling to say her car was stuck in the center lane of five west-bound lanes in the middle of the post Chief's game traffic... I digress.

One of my sons decided he was going over to a friend's house and was riding his bike. Now, although it was in the teens in the morning, the cold front had passed and the temperature was in the 30's. He hit an ice patch wrong and took a spill. One of our neighbors, who is as sweet a person as you'd ever meet, happened to be driving by at the time and offered to take him home so he could put some ice on his leg and have some hot chocolate. [I hesitate to mention her lovely daughters because they may or may not have anything to do with his agreeing to go...]

So they tried to call me at work, but I was on the phone helping a customer with five radio stations off the air. They then called my wife to explain what was going on and that he was fine. The neighbor was concerned that we'd allowed him to ride his bike in this kind of weather... My wife explained that she couldn't leave her job site but if my son needed me to come home I could, she then told our neighbor "it will take a half hour since he rides his bike to work."

Tick, tick, tick. And there it is -- she delivered a plump healthy baby "Oh..."

Public photo courtesy of JIGGS at flickr

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Reality Check

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

Many thanks to my buddy John from Sprint for the moment of clarity during lunch yesterday. As we're sitting there I point out someone out riding their bike, to which he replied "Oh look, someone's driving a car." I will allow two points.

BTW, he's a cyclist too -- just doesn't have the opportunity to commute to work. Yet.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Plausible, Deny Ability

Another nice thing about commuting by bike: when the child calls and says they forgot something they need for an after-school activity and asks you to bring it to them real quick, you can say "well, I'm on my bike so it will be 30 minutes before I could get home and another 15 or so to get it to you..." by which time the activity would be over. Moral of the story: be prepared (as the Boy Scouts would say).

Risk Worth Taking

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

Mist and light fog with visibility of 2.5 miles. I mention this because of an exchange I had with the driver of a big ol' Cadillac towards the end of my ride in the twisting roads running through Corporate Woods. The time was about 8:20 a.m. and I'm on the main road with the right of way when the Cadillac was pulling out of a parking lot. I can see him plainly through the small trees that line the road so I'm fully expecting him to NOT see me. I slowed down as he pulled into the intersection in front of me and stopped, rolled down his window and said "Why don't you have your lights on?" Well, it was one of those times when you really don't need lights -- but on the other hand he had a point; but so did I as I replied "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." He looked down at his dash, chuckled, turned his lights on and gave me a wave as he drove off. To be honest, I normally wouldn't have said anything but this guy looked like a really nice guy and he made his comment with more of a nice, concerned tone rather than an "I own the road" tone. I smiled when I replied, which probably helped my case. So, we both drove/rode off with our lights on and without any real road rage. Bonus.

Okay, I don't know why I like graphs as much as I do -- but here was one I came across from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition that explains why women don't like to bicycle. I'd be interested to see the data for men; my guess is it would be similar.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Stalactite or Stalagmite?

Temperature at departure = 13° F (-11° C)

Last night my youngest boy was bragging about how his was the only bike in the bike rack yesterday. We had our Tim Allen grunt moment and exclaimed to all within hearing distance (his 13 year old brother and the two dogs) that we are indeed tough and rugged. So this morning I had two boys accompanying me on the morning commute...

I do have something new to look out for on the ride home -- icicles! I narrowly missed one hitting me in the face as I rode under a bridge this morning. With temperatures the way they are I'm sure it will be there as I ride home in the dark. Some new excitement.

I did the plastic bag over the toes thing I mentioned yesterday and it seems to have helped a bit. Next time it is in the low teens or below I'll just add another pair of socks and have the plastic layer in the middle.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

One Got Fat - Bicycle safety 1963 (Funny and weird)

You know, I think I may have seen this in grade school. I actually think the lessons are taught pretty effectively. Maybe if they remade it with Mark Wahlberg and some of the other cast from the 2001 Planet of the Apes...

Oh yes I did...

Temperature at departure = 12° F (-11° C)

Windchill was 0° F (-18° C) standing still, no idea what it was coasting downhill at 20 mph... New record low for my morning commute. My body stayed nice and warm except for my face and toes. Looks like I need to drop plenty of hints about the balaclava I'd like for Christmas.
As for the toes, several blogs I read suggest cutting the corners off a plastic grocery bag and putting them over your socks. I'll try it tomorrow as it is supposed to be a little colder.

By the way, here is a picture of the Liberty Memorial lit up that shows the gobo (lighted logo) a bit better.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Temperature at departure = 21° F (-6° C)

New record low temperature for my ride with the previous low of 25°. I added long john bottoms today and stayed toasty warm the whole ride in. The only thing that got a little chilly was my face for the first mile and a half.

I met a guy out walking that I always seem to run into just as I'm getting on the bike path. He looked at me this morning and asked "You joining the circus?" I said I almost felt like it today. He simply chuckled and said "It's going to take an acrobat..."

I quickly found out what he meant; a good deal of the path was ice that people have been walking on which has refrozen into 3 or 4 inch jagged peaks around their foot prints. Also, there were several areas where there was just a large patch of smooth ice. I'll be honest, I had a blast. Once off the path and back on the roads, things went very smoothly. I'd almost say people are paying more attention and giving you more room because, well, they think you must be a side show freak or an idiot who should be watched carefully and avoided at all costs. Works for me.

So, acrobat, side show freak or clown, take your pick. I made it to the big top so let the show begin.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cool toys

I'm proud to say my wife has been one of the people involved in setting up the special lighting for the Liberty Memorial and keeping it running. It's been quite a bit of work and chewed up a bunch of her evenings and weekends the past couple of weeks but it's gotten some nice local and national press and looks fantastic. BTW - the newly reopened museum is definately worth the $10 admission; she says it is very impressive. Thanks to Fußgänger for this shot - I haven't downloaded the pix from our camera yet...

Sufice it to say, my wife has some cool toys.

From CAT lights KCKCC

Tired of the snow

Man I feel guilty not riding my bike to work today. 23° F (-5° C) right now in Overland Park, but the temperature wasn't the determining factor, it's the traffic -- the roads still aren't very clear after the big snow last week and I don't want to anger the drivers in already narrow lanes. So on my way to dropping off my youngest at school and rolling my eyes at the traffic snarl of others dropping off their children, I noticed another bike commuter merrily pedaling along. Nice rig and I was a bit jealous. Didn't last long though when I saw the conditions of the part of the path I would have been on (which hadn't been cleared) and the roads where a third of the right-hand lane was filled with piles of snow from the snow plows. Anyway, should get up to 38° today and melt some of the stuff away; so I'm trying it tomorrow.

After two snow days last week and two days off the week before, home with the kids, I was ready to be back in the office. We got to eat at the Plaza III Saturday night for my office party and with the snow on the ground, the Plaza was beautiful.

I even got to try the official version of Plaza III Steak Soup. My wife has a recipe for the soup that was passed down to her from her mom and we make it often for "Soup Sunday" (during the Fall and Winter we do soup for our after-church meal - a little family tradition we started several years back). The first bite was interesting, tastes exactly like what we make. If I get ambitious today I'll type it up and have it available.

Anyway, hope to be back in the saddle tomorrow.

Thanks to Kansas Explorer for the public use photo from his flickr site.