Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New Record

Temperature at departure = 8° F (-13° C)

Windchill -8° F (-22° C). I was all set to just drive today, and then I saw it. Driving one of my sons to school, there it was up ahead -- the fluorescent yellow jacket of another bicycle commuter. I debated with myself all the way home. The winning argument was that if I didn't ride today I would miss my target miles for the month by 4.5 miles - and - this would be a new record low temperature for my ride in. So, I rode in. Interesting observation: my bike computer doesn't like temperatures under 12°F - at the end of the ride the display became weak and sluggish.

On the way in the door, a guy stopped and said "Brave soul." I replied with "It IS brisk." The good news, I wasn't ever really cold. It is all about the layers people.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Good To Be Back

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

I took a little reconnaissance trip Saturday to check the condition of the bike path and found that there were key, very hilly, spots that were still ice covered. As I looked at the first patch, two quotes came to mind: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” ~ Albert Einstein - AND - "Ladies and gentleman, take my advice: Pull down your pants, and slide on the ice." ~ M*A*S*H character Dr. Sydney Freedman played by Allan Arbus

So today I made sure the boys got off safely and then rode the rest of my commute in traffic. I was glad to be back. The drivers must have been happy to see me as well as several honked their horns to say "hello." Only one driver tried to teach me a lesson about riding on her streets. (Why does it always seem to be either Lexus, Cadillac or Mercedes drivers that do this to me?)

I got to wear the new balaclava that my wife got me for Christmas and am working on a review for commutebybike. I want to get a little more feed back from some others before I spout my trivial views...

I'm debating tomorrow. The forecast is for single digits and although I think I'd be fine -- I don't think I want the boys out in it. They might want to try, but there will be other days.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Just like riding a bicycle...

After 16 days of not riding due to ice and snow, the old adage is disproved...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Restless Legs Syndrome

It has now been 15 days since my boys and I have ventured out on our bikes. Although it has been above freezing for the last few days, the streets and lawns are mostly clear of snow but the curbs, sidewalks and bike path are still snow and ice covered (the picture was taken 5 minutes ago). Today’s high temperature is forecast to be around 55° F, so I’m hoping it will take care of the rest of that before we go back to below freezing for the next week or so. I don’t mind the cold – but I’m not going to have my youngest boys out on the streets as they are at the moment.

I actually went for a jog the other night. A jog? I don’t jog; that is how bad I want to get back outside. I am also extremely tired of having to drive in traffic; especially the traffic dropping off and picking up at the elementary school (which was designed in a time when more people walked or biked to school than were dropped of by car or bus). Let’s see, this morning I was cut off by someone who didn’t feel they had to take their turn at the 4 way stop, blocked behind someone who parked in the drop off lane and left their SUV, almost backed into by someone pulling out of a parking spot and cut in front of because I obeyed the “Do Not Block Intersection” sign – all within the first half mile of my trip.

MELT! Please MELT!!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

News Yin and Yang

It's been 12 days since the boys and I have been out on our bikes. I say this because, once again, just when it looks like all of this stuff will melt off around Friday -- the long range forecast is for another round of sleet/ice/snow this coming Saturday. I am going to trust in the fact that most of these long range forecasts don't pan out. Anyway, we're going a little stir crazy.

Yesterday morning's TV news show had a story about how a proposal which would cost around $26 million would provide free bus rides to school for students living one mile away from school. Of course, timing is everything; I believe the last time the proposal was made, the weather was a bit nicer. This time they wait for the couple of weeks that we have to deal with the winter slop. Sure, I may be getting a little tired of having to run the boys to school and back -- but it's something we're willing to do for the week or two a year that it is necessary.

So, same time, same channel this morning they run a story about how they're trying to find ways to stop the spread of obesity in our school kids. Um, I've got an idea...

Monday, January 22, 2007


It was a simple comment -- and yet, it turned out to be a milk-shooting-out-the-nose moment for some and confusuion for others. At the dinner table Saturday night my wife was discussing a customer who was upset with another company.

Let me step back for a moment and describe the participants: two adults, three teenagers, one grade-schooler. Having worked with angry or upset customers on a pretty normal basis for a while, I knew exactly what my wife meant. The teenagers, growing up in their media saturated world, heard something else. The grade schooler was taking things more literally. So, when my wife said "They were hot" what came to mind was:

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Bonus points to KCTV for their 2:20 p.m. prediction. I checked at 2:22 and there were a couple flakes falling. By 2:30 it was snowing lightly. We'll see who the winner regarding snow amounts is tomorrow.

More Snow ...

I'm thinking a lot about weather and forecasts at the moment. I just posted at CommuteByBike about different weather forecasts and decided to see how accurate our local forecasts were going to be for the storm that is headed this way.

So, as of 11a.m., here are the predictions:

As of 11 a.m., snow is expected to arrive at what time? How much snow to expect.

Weather.com - 5 p.m. - 3 - 5"
NOAA - 6 p.m. - 5 - 6"
WDAF - 6 p.m. - 4 - 6"
KCTV - 2:20 p.m. - 3 - 5"
KMBC - "Some time after Noon" - 3 - 6"
KSHB "Today's Forecast" showed Friday's hourly information.

We'll see who the Winter Weather Winner will be.

Friday, January 19, 2007


They’d had just about as much as they could take. The ice, the piercing, polar-like ice of the previous weekend had finally started to melt from the streets, parking lots and lawns; it would only be another day or two and the sidewalks and bike path would be free of the odious mess that had meant nothing less than a feeling of incarceration these last several days.

Sure, it had been nice to start out with – a break from the normal routine of riding their bikes. “I’ll pick you up after school” he had said. It almost had a nice ring to it. What they hadn’t counted on was what followed the ride home. “Um, aren’t you going back to work?” they’d asked. “Nope, I’m just going to finish out the day from here.”

They cursed that wretched contraption – the internet – and it’s ability to allow him to work from home. “What are you doing there?” they asked when he opened a new spreadsheet on his screen. Spreadsheets. They knew, only too well, that feeling of impending doom. The only thing worse than his spreadsheets was what lay behind tab “3” in the Franklin planner… A new spreadsheet. Would it be an update to the list of chores? And then it happened … he entered their names and the time.

Without a word they knew the part they had to play; “So, uh, what are you working on?” Maybe, just maybe, it was something for his job. Yeah, why should they worry? And then it happened -- “I’m keeping track of your TV time.” It couldn’t be. How could they salvage this? What could they say to distract him, throw him off course? “Why?” It had come out too quickly. They’d not thought it out. They watched, as if in slow motion, as he picked up the Franklin Planner and turned to tab number 3. “Remember our family meeting this fall when you agreed to only two hours of TV/video games a day on school days?”

But the wait was now over. One last day of riding in the van. On Monday, things could get back to normal; he wouldn’t get back from the office until after 6:30 and he’d never figure out that they’d been watching TV before he got home… “Dad, could you turn the radio up? I wanna hear the forecast.” “Sure,” he said.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Cone of Silence

I look forward to taking my (almost) 14 year old son to his trumpet lesson for a number of reasons – I enjoy hearing my son and his teacher play, his teacher is an interesting guy to talk to and then there’s the fact that there is no cell phone reception for either my personal phone or my work phone while I’m there. Thirty minutes of pure un-reachable bliss. I can listen to them play while I read. I can nod off and take a short nap. I can take the laptop along and work on what I want to work on off-line. With all the family things going on, it really is about the only half hour I get to myself besides my bike ride to and from work.

So, with our weather this last week, I’ve not been able to get the bike out of the garage; hence, I was looking forward to tonight’s lesson. I had my copy of David McCullough’s 1776 ready to go when I realized that there would be no one at home to be with my youngest. Plan B: I asked the youngest to come with me and he told me he needed to go over some facts for a report he is doing on Omar Bradley and needed my help.

Don’t feel bad for me – we had a blast and I learned some very interesting things about Bradley and his second wife, Kitty. So it all worked out and I had more fun than I probably would have on my own. There’ll always be another time that I can sit and read by myself. I won’t always have the chance to help out a child that really wants Dad to spend some time helping them…

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rationalization Pt. 2

Temperature at (what would have been my) departure = 2° F (-17° C)

Since the temperatures stayed well below freezing over the weekend, the right hand side of the streets aren't bike friendly and the bike path is still a solid block of ice. So, I'm taking the van for a few days and hoping that warmer temperatures later this week and plenty of sunshine will melt things off.

There was an interesting article in the KC Star last week that discussed how people commute in the Kansas City area. They included a couple sentences about a bike commuter. Still the 2000 U.S. Census data shows that less than one percent of people here commute by bike. In fact, more people walk to work than bicycle.

The article goes on to say that we are "the sixth-least-congested metropolitan area with a population greater than 1 million." Also, we are "spreading out and driving more. With the population shift to the suburbs, our work commutes are not only longer, but we’re also grabbing the car keys more often for trips to the grocery store and restaurants, and we “outsource” more home chores, such as lawn care, meaning more service trucks on the road."

Mell Henderson, transportation director at the Mid-America Regional Council, puts it: “Our traffic is growing at three times the rate of our population.”

And -- "Chances are rising that you will run into a traffic snarl. The percent of congested travel during “peak vehicle miles traveled” (rush hour) increased from 5 percent in 1982 to 32 percent in 2002. Those levels, however, are low compared with other metropolitan areas of similar size."

I would love to see more people, at least those of us who work in Corporate Woods and live near by with a great bike trail system in place, hopping on their bikes...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

My B-List

In addition to Fritz's B-Lists, available HERE and HERE I noticed that The Cycling Dude has a nice list of Bike Blogs that contains a bunch of the ones I have set up in Google Reader and check on a daily basis. Rather than try to cut and paste all his links, I'd just suggest you check THIS post. Here are the ones from my list that don't appear on his:

32 Spokes
Bicycles and Icicles
Bike Commute Tips Blog
Cycling London - Urban Commuting by Bike
KC Bike Commuting
London Cycling Diary
The Bike Show
The Old Bag
Up in Alaska

Who are we leaving out?


I didn't ride to work yesterday. I kinda felt bad about that -- even with the light freezing drizzle in the morning, maybe. But, turns out I made the right decision; we left the office early to finish the day from home. Nasty road conditions and more on the way today.

From OP Bike Path ...

Here is my rationalization; if you look carefully you might notice something is missing from this photo: tire tracks. I rode my bike out of the garage to see how my slicks would actually work on the ice and ... no tire tracks. Folks, I'm around 200 lbs., there should be tire tracks.

Anyway, I'm hoping that I can make up for not riding by jumping some rope. Now, if I can only find my old track cleats.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


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

Too bad I dressed like it was 30°...

Okay, I had to jump on the media bandwagon and use the word SURGE. If you haven't noticed, there has been a, um, surge in the use of 'surge' lately. (I hereby promise to never use that as a joke again). But I had to follow up on yesterday's post, having riden the same path this for this morning's commute. I have no way of knowing if my e-mail to the Manager of Parks and Forestry for OP had anything to do with it, but there was a surge, nay, a flurry of activity on the path this morning. I passed three two-man crews at different problem areas along the way with all kinds of heavy equipment clearing - or - having cleared the path. The result was a smooth ride in. I owe Greg a huge thank you this morning.

Looks like our run of nice weather runs out tonight so I'll probably chicken out tomorrow and hitch a ride in. If that is the case I can always get my bicycle fix HERE. (If they'd only used squirrels instead of teddy bears...)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hooray ... Oh, Wait.

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

On the commute home last night, I was thrilled to finally see the sign saying the temporary detour for the Overland Park Bike Path was finally done. Originally scheduled for August completion, they kept moving it back month by month.

In my opinion, they’ve still got some work to do. Here are a few photos which I took this morning on the way in; imagine what this was like in the dark… There are a few more HERE for those who think they might want to ride this soon. Here is the entrance to the bike path/sidewalk on the bridge over 435 – the green stuff is rebar.

The middle of the bridge has an open bag of cement in the middle of the path. The end of the bridge has dirt and a big wad of what I can only guess to be lane tape. Once across the bridge, here’s what you have to hike over to get back on the sidewalk.

I have to admit, I like the tunnel under the Antioch bridge.

You’ll need to be careful though as there are some big chunks of concrete just outside and your night vision is going to be gone when you exit the tunnel. Lots of dirt clods to dodge and then there were two places where small tree limbs are growing pretty much all the way across the path. Here is one I caught in the headlights just in time to stop.

And then, at the end of the detour, the path closed sign has just been tipped over.

So, I think they’re close – but it is not quite ready for prime time. I’m sending a note to the people I’ve contacted before and am going to include the picasa link so they can see the actual status of the path. In the mean time, I can take riding in traffic in the dark a little longer to avoid all the obstacles.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


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

That’s my youngest, “driving in traffic” this morning.

It is such a beautiful sunny day I just had to get out on the bike and run some errands and make up for the not so wonderful ride home last night.

The precipitation that was supposed to hold off until 8 p.m. started around 5:30. I didn’t get to leave the office until 6:20 and the mist was pretty heavy. Let’s see, what else was there about the ride… Oh, my rear red blinky light went out at some point, my headlight batteries started going out and the “temporary route” through the construction on Antioch was full of construction debris – wet, gloppy debris. The traffic that I encountered seemed to feel that it was a lousy evening as well and were happy to let me know how I was contributing to the beginning of their weekend.

Thanks to Fritz over at cycleicio.us for including me in his list of favorite blogs. His has been at the top of my list of bike blogs to check daily. I’ll try to get some time to put my list together, but since the Chiefs aren’t doing so well against the Colts at the moment, I’m going to go take down the Christmas lights.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast...

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

At least I didn't have to fight the 21 gusting to 29 mph headwinds of yesterday. Also, I decided to not look at the bike computer until I reached the office today and ride like I normally would have pre-computer. Looks like my normal ride takes about 1 minute longer than it does when I'm busting my tail to get that average mph up to -- oh, about a half mile an hour faster...

There are other benefits for slowing down; check Fritz's post on Commute By Bike.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to track the data twice a day. My next step is to figure out some cool charts or graphs. Speaking of cool data, if you like numbers make sure you check out the Data Mining blog.

Does anyone else think that having Internet access in your car is going to end up being a really bad idea? Introducing the wireless car.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mac Deer

Temperature at departure = 29° F (-2° C)

As I write, there are 10 deer outside my office window. Yeah, pastoral -- that is until you're riding home in the dark through their territory. I learned something the other night that I'll share with you now: Whitetail Deer are Mac users. I have anecdotal evidence.

The other night as I was riding through the woods whistling; I do this to give critters advance notice that I'm heading their direction. For some reason I was whistling the 7 note Windows startup sound over and over. I crossed my narrow bridge and I see a deer in a clearing about 20 yards off. I kept whistling because, like I said, there is a herd here. The deer's head snapped to attention, tail went up and it bolted. At the same time two deer in the woods beside me crashed deeper into the woods. So there you are, deer don't like Windows.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy 2007

Temperature at departure = 23° F (-5° C)

Only one more day until school starts again!!!

Rang in the new year at home with my wife and a sick child. The other kids all had parties to go to. We, on the other hand, had a jigsaw puzzle. Finished it though. Oh, and we opened a big can of Topsy's Popcorn -- 6.5 gallon tin of Caramel, Cheese & Cinnamon -- so it was a good night.

Nice ride yesterday and the commute was uneventful this morning. I think there are still a bunch of people taking some time off for the holidays. Anyway, Happy New Year to all!