Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Busy, Busy

Temperature at departure = 72° F (22° C)

The last few days have been hectic and, at times, stressful; but then, that's life. I had a very nice ride with some guys from church on Saturday which I will talk about next time. The end of last week we had some front end work done on the van. Sunday afternoon I was headed to my Dad's house and the tie rod popped off one side and I lost steering. The van was doing it's best to change lanes or plow into the curb, but I got it stopped without hitting anyone. When I showed the problem to the tow truck driver he pointed out that the nut for the other side of the tie rod was barely on. So, looks like they set the tie rod in place, stuck the nuts on and then promptly forgot to tighten them up. I was not amused. Had it been 10 minutes or so earlier I would have been driving 70 MPH down the highway with three of my children in the van. I still get a little shaky every time I think about that. All better though, they said they were sorry. Yeah. If the owner of the shop wasn't a long time acquaintance I'd pursue the matter further. As it is, I believe I will now look elsewhere for future repairs.

I found out Friday that our office might be moving down the road a bit to College and Metcalf. That would make the drive shorter but my bike commute will be a couple miles longer as there is no way on earth I would try to ride a bike down Metcalf. I did a recon ride this morning to see what kind of bike parking facilities they have for the three towers on that site: Two pipes bent in a U, next to a bush at the corner of one of the buildings. The battle is joined.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Dad, I’m bored"

You need to understand how rare it is that one of my children would admit to being bored. It has been several years since any of them have dared to utter the phrase “There’s nothing to do.” I cured that long ago by handing the person who said it a small shovel and a plastic bag to do something we like to call “Poop Patrol.” We have two large dogs…

So my youngest must have been VERY bored when he came to me today. This time I had something different in mind. We’d recently had a dinner conversation about Carbon Credits and Carbon Neutrality. I explained that companies that put out a bunch of carbon can buy credits from a company that doesn’t put out as much carbon in order to avoid governmental fines. I took it a step further and asked why couldn’t people sell Personal Carbon Credits where they would do something green in exchange for someone else who didn’t want to make the effort but still wanted to feel good about themselves (see my post from Monday for an example…).

So, rather than just sit around watching TV -- and in an effort to avoid Poop Patrol, Curtis set up shop selling Kool-Aid and Carbon Credits.

There were three, one-dollar options today:

1) Curtis will ride his bike to school and his dad will ride his bike to work for a day so you can drive and not feel bad about it.

2) We will raise our thermostat two degrees so you can lower yours two degrees for one day.

3) Curtis will play outside for the day and not use any electricity to watch TV, play video games or use the computer.

He made three bucks today; all of it in Kool-Aid sales. He did have one person ask about the carbon credits and he explained that, like big business, they could pay him to do something environmentally friendly so they didn’t have to -- but could still feel good about themselves. They thought that was kind of dumb. Why should they pay him to do something that they should be doing themselves? Yeah. Exactly.


In the three weeks of the Tour de France, they say that the riders will burn around 124,000 calories. I added up my calories burned cycling so far this year and I'm only up to 70,000. That is for the entire year. Still, that is equal to 20 pounds of body fat, so I can't complain too much. I get to have the occasional bowl of ice cream or can of Classic Coca-Cola without guilt.

Yesterday Peter and I tried out what was supposed to be a 20 mile route that was all bike path (except for a couple blocks on 127th). http://veloroutes.org/bikemaps/?route=2799

We got lost a few times and were thrown a curve ball when the path at 135th and Alt-69 ended suddenly, turning into gravel. We tried riding the gravel path for a bit until we were forced to turn around due to construction equipment. Rather than face the nightmarish traffic on 135th at that point, we took the sidewalk on 135th to Metcalf then headed down Metcalf to meet back up with the path by a golf course. The map showed a path all the way around that course, but it actually ends about half way. We decided to cut the ride short and take Lamar down to L.A. Juice and grab a smoothie. Once we made it home we'd put in 22 miles. We'll probably try that route again and just head down 127th once we get to Lamar. All in all a great ride.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

TdF Games

I'm taking a few vacation days this week and riding the bike more than I normally do. Peter and I took a ride on the trail to try out his new (new for him at least) Diamond Back hybrid. There are a few parts that need to be replaced, but he loves fixing up older bikes.

Curtis and I actually watched the end of stage 15 live yesterday. Last night he decided to go spend the night with a buddy, so we hopped on the bikes and headed over. I've never seen him peddal that fast before; I actually had to try to keep up with him a couple times. As we're headed up 99th he yells back to me "Dad, I'll be Contador and you be Rasmussen." Zip, off he went.

We met up with his buddy (also on his bike) about a mile later. As we headed to the friend's house, Curtis said to his friend "You be Rasmussen and I'll be Contador." "Hey," I shouted, "I thought I was Rasmussen." The reply made me chuckle a bit: "I guess you can be Leipheimer." I guess you can tell who his favorite is...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Argument Deflected

Friend: "I don't understand how you can still be a conservative."

Me: "What I don't understand is why I'm the one riding my bike to work while you drive an SUV."

Friend: "How was your weekend?"

Me: "Great, got a couple of really fun rides in..."

Friday, July 20, 2007

What Did I Do?

Temperature at departure = 74° F (23° C)
Humidity = 84% (drippy)

I would like to believe that I am a reasonably approachable guy. Even when I’m riding on the bike/hike path, I try to be courteous and considerate of the pedestrians and other riders. I make sure that people that I’m approaching from behind know I’m there; I ding my bell and say good morning and pull as far to their left as possible. When I’m meeting someone head on I make sure I hug the right side of the path and I keep the pace nice and slow around the walkers.

So, what was the deal this morning? The first pedestrian I encountered turned around to look at me when I dinged and said good morning and promptly hurried three feet into the grass at the right of the path. I shrugged it off and continued. Pedestrians two and three were enjoying a morning stroll together and even though we were heading towards each other, I dinged again, slowed down and said good morning. They scurried off the path about 4 feet into the grass. Weird.

Now I’ve got several thoughts running through my mind: Do I resemble a photo of some criminal that they’re showing on the morning news? Did I cut myself shaving and miss stopping the flow of blood? What?

A little further down the path I see that I’m going to overtake a young woman out for a leisurely ride; great, what do I do to NOT scare her? I ding my little bell and say “Good morning, coming up on your left.” She rides off the path into the grass. I just don’t get it. I take the loop around the park to head back towards my building and as I’m getting back to where the loop rejoins the path where I got on and I notice there is another cyclist coming towards me from the other side of the loop; it looks like we’ll meet at the junction. Nope, the guy stops and turns around to pedal back the other way. Further on the gang out trimming trees along side the path hustle out of my way and I just want to get to my office and let the world get back to their own business.

I still don’t get it. Now, WHERE’S MY COFFEE!?!?!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One Year

Temperature at departure = 76° F (24° C)

Today marks the one year anniversary of this blog. To those of you who check in occasionally, thanks. To those of you who comment, I appreciate your taking the time; it means a lot to me.

I actually had been blogging for about a year before I started this one, but that blog was on a corporate site and after an acquisition the server that held all those posts went away, never to return. I know I should have backed my work up, but as we say in Kansas -- "Sailor Vee." It's a shame, really; those posts were so much more witty and entertaining. I mean "Dave Barry watch out" kind of funny ... but, sadly, the world will never know.

Anyway, I will endeavor to persevere, so please keep checking back.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride, part 2

Temperature at departure = 76° F (24° C)

I've been trying to find a news story to link to regarding either the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride, or the activity that occurred during the ride. No news to be found. So, apparently 4 people can get together on a corner to protest something/anything and get coverage, but > 1,000 cyclists just isn't news worthy. Not that I'm bitter...

Around 4 miles into the ride I noticed a helicopter overhead. Cool, I thought, I'll have to watch the news later in the morning to see if they show some shots of the ride. Time and miles went by; around 2 miles from the finish one of the volunteers stationed at an intersection yelled to us that the next major intersection might be closed off due to a high speed chase the police were involved in. Up above we still see the helicopter, but now I notice it is shining a spotlight on the ground. Close by. Where we are riding.

We made it through the next intersection without event. A few more blocks go by and we noticed some officers walking between a couple industrial buildings -- the helicopter is now shining its light on and around the officers. We picked up the pace just a hair...

So, I can't find any news about the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride or anything about the police searching for a fugitive in the area. All I know is it added just that much more excitement to the ride.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

French Lessons

Temperature at departure = 76° F (24° C)

Curtis, our youngest (11 years old), and I have been spending quite a bit of time together the last few weeks. CAT has been working late the last two weeks or so, moving her office and storage down to the Arts District (warning: the preceding link has audio - you have to put your cursor on the video and hunt down the mute button - I hate sites that do that) and the other kids are either working or out with friends. Curtis' friends have been away on vacation or busy with baseball, so he has been hanging out with dad. A lot.

Last week I started watching the Tour de France for the first time in my life -- and I'm hooked. I avoid checking the news in the morning (which isn't difficult) and catch the re-broadcast on VS later in the evening. Curtis decided to watch with me. It is interesting (to me) to watch people's reactions when he tries to discuss the peloton, breakaways and the four special jerseys.

A quick note about the news coverage: you really have to dig for it this year. I checked several of the big news sites, like Google News and there is nothing to be found on the front page. Fritz is doing a wonderful job keeping up and there is always Versus but, again, I watch at night so I've been trying to skip checking in until after 10 p.m...

Anyway, when Curtis and I watched Stage 8 the other night we noticed some things that looked like awnings covering parts of the alpine roads. The odd thing, in my mind was that they have grass growing on them.

"That's cool." said Curtis...

"That's weird." I said, to which he replied:

"Well, it's France."

I got a good chuckle out of it...

Here is a fuzzy screen capture of a YouTube video of one of these overhangs. From what I gather, they are designed to keep the water from the melting snow in the Alps off the roads at critical places; and you know, they are cool.

By the way, CAT, Curtis and I decided to head out to see Ratatouille last night -- FANTASTIC!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride, part 1

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

Sunday morning's Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride was an absolute blast! I am so glad my buddy John talked Peter and I into giving it a try. John has ridden a bunch of organized rides throughout the country and he says this one was organized and run better than any in the Midwest, and as well as the good ones he has ridden in California. The volunteers and the police were fantastic.

Peter and I met up with John at 10 p.m. and waited for the registration table to open up -- they'd closed it down and moved all their stuff under some awnings since a thunderstorm was threatening. They opened the tables, briefly and we got our selves checked it and went back to get our bikes and kit pulled together.

A half hour before launch I saw Noah; it was wonderful getting to meet him and ride along with him. We took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other...

Dude, sorry this one came out so blurry; cell phone camera...

There was a photographer that the city of Lenexa uses to take pictures of all their events. Cool idea.
From left to right, a shot of Noah, my buddy John, my son Peter and myself, waiting for the ride to begin.

Having maneuvered up towards the start of the pack, past most of the families with small children and the guy with the big dog in the kiddie trailer, we were in a good starting position and since the thunderstorm warning had been lifted we actually got to start at Midnight.

We rode for about a mile when John asked if we wanted to move past some of the people we were behind. Off we went! We never made it up to the breakaway, but we were in the front part of the peloton (I've been watching a lot of the TdF). I can't tell you how much fun I had riding straight through left turn lanes while running the red light with an officer standing there watching. The ride was fairly level until we got close to the turn-around point. There is a rather steep hill -- a half mile down and a half mile up -- we flew down the first time and John and Peter made it to the top well before I did. I was huffing and puffing a bit, but recovered by the time we had to do it again. This time I let everyone hammer away on the downhill part and I took it easy. This time I passed the others on the uphill side.

Lesson: always keep a little in reserve.

The ride through the industrial limestone caves was worth the whole entry fee and more. Very cool ... in more than one way; it was fascinating riding past all the limestone pillars and the temperature cooled down so that it felt like we were riding through a refrigerator. The cool temp.s were very welcome after the hills we'd just ridden. I'm borrowing one of Noah's pictures of the caves.

The photographer they had on hand got the following pictures of Peter, myself and John close to the end of the ~2 miles we spent underground.




Chris Cakes pancakes at the end were a nice touch. Great ride and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year. Sorry for the length of this post. I've got a few other things I want to mention, but will wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

That Was Much Better

Temperature at departure = 69° F (21° C)

This morning more than made up for the previous day. With no one else stirring yet I got up, made my mocha latte, headed out to the back yard with the dogs and just sat on the porch and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Then I packed my backpack and headed out on the Trek hoping that I fixed the flat and got the rear wheel back on correctly. I've got some adjusting to do since to shift up a gear it is two steps forward and one back at the moment. But, I made it.

I saw another bicycle commuter in my neighborhood this morning. He pulled in front of me ~20 yards from a side street and I thought I was going to be able to catch up and say good morning at the traffic signal of doom, but he swung to the left and hopped on a sidewalk that goes through a group of duplexes. I continued on and lucked out with the light; a driver had pulled up earlier and the light turned green just as I got to the intersection. I turned left and headed down 103rd and right where I pull off to the right to join up with the trail, and I see this guy pull up to a stop on the far side of the road. Now, if I'd been stuck at the light for a bit, as is the norm, he would have had the advantage. So now the dilemma, the sidewalk has a sign that says "Private Drive" -- but it would cut out the majority of the only real traffic I face daily. I could try it and take the "It is better to ask forgiveness than permission" approach, but I'm a rule follower by nature. We'll see; once school starts and the traffic turns ugly again, I may give it a try.

I'll leave you with a shot of yet another cyclist on the Indian Creed Trail. Didn't catch up with him though...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Temperature at departure = 73° F (23° C)
Days until school starts = 37

I love that book -- and it pretty much sums up my ride home last night and the ride in this morning. I left work a little late hopeful that the 3.5 inches of rain we got in the late afternoon would be mostly dried up, and that I’d beat the next batch of storms headed my way. Eh, kinda. Here is what I faced in the first .8 miles home:

  1. Snakes. Apparently, snakes seek high ground during flash floods along the creek -- and the bike/hike path is the high ground.
  2. Washed out sections of the little bridge that I’m so fond of. The water got so high that it popped up a couple of the boards.
  3. Mud. Lots and lots of thin patches of mud.
  4. Flat tire. I’ve been reading a bunch of blogs that have been discussing all the problems people have with flat tires. I didn’t understand because flats have never really been a problem for me. I went 28 years on my ten speed without a flat; I ended up replacing the tires once or twice and got a new tube in the process, but no blowouts. Now, after close to 2,000 miles on the Trek, I’ve had my first blowout.

So, I called my wife - she has the van and is at a job site. I called my eldest – he’s out with buddies and is more than a half hour away. Tried calling my daughter but found out that she and the next oldest boy were both at work. So, I walked home. As I was walking across the bridge over 435, I got to the far end and found it was blocked off. Figures.

Storms threaten again this morning, but I decided to hop on the Mendota and head in. The tires are LOW. I decided I’d still ride in but skip the extra loop and fill the tires in my office. I make it half way down the part of the path that runs adjacent to 435 and am met by this guy.

Keep all the rain we’ve had in mind and you’ll understand what a soggy mess it was maneuvering around the guy. He wasn’t happy I took the picture (which will soon be e-mailed to the construction company working on the project) but, tough! I’m having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad continuation of yesterday.

I made it to the little bridge and stopped to take a picture of a wild turkey that was standing five yards away from me when a woman walked up and scared it away. We chatted for a minute about all the wildlife on the trail and I headed to the far side of the bridge to take a picture of the popped up boards to share with you. She followed and, just as I was about to snap, stomped the boards back into place. Oh, well. Perhaps the rest of today will be better once I’ve found my coffee cup. I know it has to be here somewhere…

Monday, July 09, 2007

Back To Work

Temperature at departure = 77° F (25° C)
Days until school starts = 38

It was a great weekend! I got a bunch of yard work done that needed attention, meals for the next two weeks planned, got to spend some time relaxing on the newly cleaned off back porch and got some extra miles in on the bike. I even spent some time watching the Tour de France.

I'm running a bit behind on my cycling goals for this year and just passed the 1000 miles mark for 2007 yesterday. I'm going to quickly place the blame on some business trips and all the rain we've had this year (excuses, excuses). I'll pick up some more extra miles this weekend as Peter, my buddy John and I are riding in the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride. Should be cool and I'm looking forward to some Chris Cakes at the end of the ride. I believe Noah said he'd be there too ... hope to see you dude.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Temperature at departure = 76° F (24° C)

Although I recommend against it, I enjoyed watching one of the mythbusters drafting behind a semi. The video on the link is around 4 minutes long and did not appear on their show. Now, before you get any ideas I'll remind you of what they always say on their show: do not try this yourself, they are professionals. Still, how cool would it be to have their job?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Nice Day Off

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

Not much traffic out there on the bike/hike path this morning. My office building is ground zero for the big Corporate Woods Fireworks Display so there was plenty of debris to avoid on the way in. The other, minor, inconvenience was the Caution tape that had been strung on the far side of the little bridge I have to cross. I hit the 4' wide bridge at ~16 MPH and didn't see this tape until I was just about on it.

I stopped with my front wheel having bowed the tape out 6". Easy enough to hop over; and I hope no one minds that I pushed the tape down to the ground. No further need to keep people from going to that side of the creek.

Sorry about the quality of the picture; taken with my camera phone...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Temperature at departure = 71° F (20° C)

This morning I was riding through the woods when, suddenly, a bee hit me in the neck. No biggie, I thought; at least it didn't sting me. I continued on my way and after another half mile I started thinking how fortunate I was not to end up like RickyD.

A few moments later I felt a frantic buzz inside my shirt, just above one of my backpack's straps.

I was in the woods with no place to really pull over so I had to wait a half minute until I found a clear spot (shown above) at the side of the trail. Off came my back pack and I started fluffing my shirt with all my might. Finally the bee fell out the bottom and flew away. I can't remember if I'm allergic to bee stings or not. I know my 14 year old son has very nasty allergic reactions to bee stings, so I've decided I need to start carrying some benadryl in my back-pack along with some aspirin, wipes, bandages, etc. What else would you suggest?

Monday, July 02, 2007


Temperature at a.m. departure = 68° F (20° C)

You know, 68° sounds like a nice temperature to get out and have a leisurley ride to the office. Problem 1 - although I wouldn't mind a leisurely ride to the office, once I start looking down at the bike computer I start pushing myself to get my average MPH up. Problem 2 - the relative humidity this morning was a muggy 81%, so by the time I got to the office I was soaked. Oh well, it IS July and our normal temperature for this time of year is ~10 - 15 degrees warmer...

We spent a good part of the weekend out looking for cars for TWT. His gave up the ghost this last week and although he intends to give commuting by bike a try, he still wants a social life. I hate shopping for cars. 'Nuf said.