Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'd Be Happy To Have Them Hunt Here

Temperature at departure = 48° F (9° C)

My favorite news quote of the day.

"the lead believed to be in the squirrel actually came from a part of the blender."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Indian Creek Trail Construction Update

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

Rather than sit around and surf the net during lunch, I decided it was much too beautiful outside and so suited up, grabbed the bike and hit the trail to put in a few miles. I've been curious about the status of the section of the Indian Creek Trail bike path that runs from Founders Park along the north side of 435 to the tunnel under Antioch. That stretch has been closed due to construction for a couple years and according the the OP web site:

"The trail is scheduled to be fully reopened by November 2007."

If you check the Winter update page, it says the trail "within the construction area will continue to be closed through 2007."

That is the one I believe. In looking at the section of the trail just past the tunnel under Antioch I'd be willing to bet on Spring or Summer of 2008 for that section to be re-opened. I ride past the signs on the Founders Park side twice a day and curiousity got the best of me today. There was no Man In the Yellow Hat to ask and Warren was curious; what did the path on the other side of that sign look like?

Here is the initial barrier.

58 yards down the path I was met with a Boma of fallen branches and brush that was quite effective in preventing me from going further. (I know it is tough to see -- for some reason my camera's phone switched settings on me...)

I don't know if you can see it in this camera phone shot, but about another 50 yards down the path there is a yellow caution ribbon and then it looks like construction equipment beyond that. So much for my lunch time adventure.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"I wonder if ... oh look, a puppy" Part 1

I opened my home e-mail the other day and had a notice from the library that a book I'd put on hold was now available. It took me a couple days to get by the branch that had the book on hold, but I finally got by and picked up my copy of Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back, by Jane Holtz Kay.

When I got the book back home I put it in the stack that is on my nightstand. That stack got me to thinking ... why do I have so many books in the stack at the moment? I've come to the conclusion that I may have Sudden, Adult On-Set ADD. I have no idea if this condition even exists, but when I consider the change in my reading and TV and movie viewing habits over the last few years, it is the only explanation I can come up with.

[Ooh, hold on, let me Google Adult on-set ADD. I see others have come up with a similar question but I can't find a real case. Should I try WebMD? See, there I go again. Focus, Warren, focus.]

In looking at the data from 1995 on, I can see that during the years I traveled for work a bit I was reading an average of 1.5 books read per month. The years I didn't travel my average would drop down to just less than one per month. Conclusion: when you're sitting in airport terminals, you have more time to read than you do when you're at home with all the school activities, etc. I didn't travel much in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and I can't blame the drop in books read entirely on playing Mr. Mom -- TV comes into play here (but that will be dealt with in Part 2).

In 2005 I started traveling again; a lot. I also read a lot. The big change comes in 2006 and this is where the Adult on-set ADD thing may have started coming into play. I'll start a book and will quickly loose interest. This year I've only finished two books and still have the following waiting to be finished:

How I Found Livingstone, by Sir Henry M. Stanley

A Fine and Pleasant Misery, by Patrick McManus

The Story of Baden-Powell, by Harold Begbie

The Art of Urban Cycling, by Robert Hurst

Count Zero, by William Gibson

The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great, by Steven Pressfield

The High and the Mighty, by Ernest Kellogg Gann

What is to blame? TV? RSS feeds? Blogging? I'll have to think about it.

In the mean time, the notice from the library spurred me into focusing on The High and the Mighty, which may be the best book I've read in years. Ernest Gann was THE prolific novelist of the time in the late 40's, the 50's and 60's. His were the books that were being made into movies featuring the big stars of the day. There is a reason he was so successful, he was GOOD.

At this moment I have 30 pages to go. I'm going to sit down and finish because the movie, with John Wayne, is on this afternoon. I'll tape it and may watch it tonight; although I'll probably get half way into it and get distracted by something else ... but TV and movies will be part 2 of this saga.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bicycle Tube Troubleshooting

Those of you who have had more experience with flat bicycle tires might be able to help me out here. I have now patched two tubes this morning and lo and behold -- the patches are in the exact same spot. I am 98% sure both of these tubes originally failed on the Mendota which had it's first flat while riding the KATY Trail. The very small punctures are on the side of the tube.

I've looked at the tire and I thought there might be a very small gash, less than a quarter of an inch -- but now that the tire is on I can't see it for the life of me.

So, here is my theory: If I let the tire pressure get down lower than 30 psi (these tires are supposed to take between 55 & 65 psi) the tube gets partially stuck in the gash and when I get off the bike the tire is pinching a hole in the tube.

My questions:

  • Is this feasible?
  • Should I just make sure I've always got the correct pressure (tough since I don't have a Presta Valve tire gauge) -- or should I get a new tire?

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Temperature at departure = 38° F (3° C)

Lovely. Nice ride this morning, very busy day at work, I carry the Mendota down the stairs at the end of the day and out the door, set it down ... another flat rear tire. I knew there wasn't going to be anyone home to come pick me up so I grabbed the hand pump from my backpack and pumped the tire back up. Looks like yet another slow leak so I was going to be good for a couple miles. So much for heading over to see Dad after work.

Five minutes into my ride home my work cell phone starts ringing. I'm on call this week so I answer and take the message; I didn't recognize the station's call letters so I would have to wait until I got home so I could get on-line to make sure they were a real customer. I got half way home and stopped to top off the air in the tire when the phone rang again. Another station off the air. I made it home ten minutes later and got both stations back up and running in time to get the one child that was home fed, pick up another to take him for a haircut, stop by and see Dad on the way and arrive at the hair place to find out they closed a half hour earlier. Back home, feed two more people and here I am.

So, I've got two bikes down with flat rear tires. If get ambitious I'll get up early and fix a couple tubes and try it all again tomorrow. If I sleep late, I'm sorry folk, I'll be driving.

I don't get it, I went for twenty some years without a flat and now they're coming fast and furious. Frustrating.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nary A One

Temperature at departure = 47° F (8° C)

So, yesterday morning I posted a shot of one of the deer I saw on the morning commute. I mentioned that sightings have been rather sparse in the last couple of months. Word must have gotten around -- during my evening commute I saw deer at the following locations:

I am sure they wanted their picture posted as well but my camera was in my backpack and I didn't want to take the time to dig it out.

Today -- no deer spotted. None. Zilch. Guess they were disappointed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Love This Weather

Temperature at departure = 38° F (3° C)

I love riding in this kind of weather. Last week I posted the list of what clothes work for me in different temperatures on CommuteByBike.

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, long sleeved tee, work out pants and I replace the ankle socks with longer socks.
38 - 44, tee shirt, sweat shirt, work out pants, wrap around ear muffs and ditch the no finger gloves for full gloves.
32 - 37, tee shirt, lined jacket, work out pants, wrap around ear muffs and full gloves
25 - 31, tee shirt, long sleeved shirt, work out pants, jacket, two pair of socks, balaclava and full gloves.
24 and below, tee shirt, long sleeved shirt, long john bottoms, work out pants, jacket, two pair of socks, balaclava and full gloves.

I had forgotten that the ear muffs do a fine job, but sometimes my face gets a little numb, making me talk funny for a couple minutes at the end of the commute. Still wasn't cold enough to break out the balaclava or the reflective, lined jacket. Here is a quick shot of the ear muffs in action this morning -- along with one of my shadow on the trail. Since they are panda portraits...

Some panda portraits
Biking shots I took myself
Fritz may be well pleased

Also, I think all the construction on 435 at Antioch has driven most of the deer away from the area around my building. I still see deer, occasionally, but not nearly as many sightings as there have been in previous years. Here is one of the three that were grazing about 8 yards off the path this morning. Sorry for the glare, I just grabbed the camera and snapped.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Should Have Stayed In Bed

Please forgive the following rantings.

It was one of those days yesterday. I’d planned a few things that I wanted to make sure got done and was hoping to be able to go on a ride with some other folk from church around Noon. Yep, it was going to be a great day. Then, I got out of bed.

I fixed my daily mocha latte and sat down to drink it in peace when the phone rang. My mother-in-law wanted Jonathan to come over and do some yard work for her and I’d told her the night before that I would take a look at the battery in the mini-van she hardly ever drives. By this time it was 9:30 so I told her we’d saddle up in 15 minutes or so and ride over – she only lives a mile and a half away and I want to do my best to make any trip under 3 miles on my bike. The phone rang again, it was one of Curtis’ friends – “Dad, I have basketball practice at 10:30 at Stonegate” (a park that is just under a mile and a half away). So, the plan was now to ride to my mom-in-law’s with Jonathan, work on her battery until 10:20, ride back and pick up Curtis and go to basketball practice. Looks like I was not going to make the 12:30 bike ride out at Shawnee Mission Park. Off Jonathan and I went. I got the battery hooked up to a charger, left Jonathan to help out his grandmother and headed home.

In retrospect, I should not have challenged the big, white, Chevy SUV. It was a dumb thing to do. I pulled up to a four way stop sign at the same time as a small blue sedan that was followed by the SUV. I let the sedan go first and started out into the intersection as it was half way across. I don’t know what the driver of the SUV was thinking but they decided that since the sedan had stopped, they must not have to. They weren’t happy that I was in the intersection and they kept coming, slowly. I guess the glare I gave them finally made them reconsider and they stopped in the middle of the intersection about 3 feet away from me. Again, it was dumb on my part to keep going and I recommend against it. Sure, it worked out fine for me this time – THIS TIME.

I made him home, scrambled for water bottles for practice and off Curtis and I rode. Sure enough, besides the coach, no other adults had stuck around for practice … so I stayed to help out. It was fun, but I figured I was going to be sore after the scrimmage we played at the end of practice. Curtis and I made it home around 12:30 and I got lunch fixed for him. I rode back over to see how Jonathan was doing and ended up doing some more little chores for my mom-in-law. Do NOT get me wrong – I don’t mind helping her out; that is part of honoring your parents and I want to set a good example for my kids… I’d still not gotten over to see my Dad, and he was only about another half mile down the road. I visited him for a while and when I got out to unlock my bike I found a flat back tire. I don’t get it, the tire was fine when I got there.

I never understood the people who mentioned all the flat tires they’ve had because I’d gone decades without a flat. Now, I’ve had three within as many months. I’ve still not taken the tire off to check it out; I’ve got the Mendota standing by for just such purposes.

I could have called Carolyn or I could have called my mother-in-law, but I was mad. I walked the bike the two miles home thinking some pretty dark thoughts about bicycles the majority of the way. Two miles and thirty minutes later I made it home and could finally start working on some of the stuff I meant to be working on all day. We worked on the yard, dinner and the house until around 10:30 p.m. and then I went to bed. Carolyn kept working on the kitchen, but I’d had enough.

Today is going to be a better day. Has to be. So, a quick check of the radar and I’m going to get the Mendota and head over to watch the Chiefs game with my dad. First, I think I’ll check those tires…

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Art of Subtlety

Morning Adventure

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

Well, it was an adventure this morning. As I had expected, the creeks did overflow and there were some sections close to the creek where the mud was too deep to go through and there was no way to get past. A lot of plan B this morning. Also, I think Overland Park Parks and Recreation owes me for all the limbs I stopped to move off the path. There was one that was stuck across the path under 103rd, after a blind downhill curve, in the dark; the thing was at least 12 feet long and 10" around at the base. As it turns out, it was lucky that I stopped to move it -- just past the limb the mud looked to be about 8" deep with no way around to the left or right. I backtracked and found a crosswalk that ultimately got me back to a clearer part of the path.

Of course, the construction workers are using the detour across Metcalf for parking again. I'll stop taking pictures of this because it is just going to be a fact of life until they get the bridge built.

Now, the positive side of all this was that I got my Trek back from the shop. I have to let you know that the service I received at The Trek Store was the best bike service I've ever had. I've taken the Trek in to the store where I bought it and waited two weeks for the free "tune up" that comes with purchasing the bike there -- just to get it back and not see or feel anything different about it from before I took it in. I paid a bit this time but when they wheeled the bike out it looked and rode like a brand new bike. It is certainly happy and so am I. Great shop. Clean, well organized, timely and great service.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rationalizations Pt. 3

It looks like a beautiful morning -- but I didn't ride today, I drove. The forecast is calling for the second half of the system that gave us torrential rains yesterday to come through again sometime this afternoon. Yesterday was a mess. I'd driven then too. I left work to go home and get some rain gear for my youngest because he was scheduled for safety patrol. The creeks were all up over their normal banks and almost to the point that Indian Creek was going to flow over the bridge in Corporate Woods. I got the rain gear, headed up to school and waited outside in the storm (shades of this last Saturday). Safety patrol was called off due to lightning, but we needed the gear anyway to walk to where I'd parked the van. By the way, they did postpone the marching festival for a week. Whew. My other reason for not riding today is that I know the condition of the trail next to the creek will be a mess of mud and debris today - and probably for a couple more days. I'll skip the mess today but will be dodging mud tomorrow like I mentioned the other day ... I must be going through cycling withdrawals.

Today I actually turned on the radio in the car. Weird, I thought I'd gotten over the radio bug years ago but this morning I found myself reminiscing about the good old days of being a disk jockey. Yeah, for a while there it was a lot of fun. The feeling of missing the gig didn't last long; I remembered that the business has changed too much and isn't as fun as it used to be. My last on-air job a couple years ago (granted, it was part-time) was mostly voicetracking, not live on-air work. Also, the pay was never great, the hours were frequently not conducive to family life, there were hardly any benefits and you never knew for sure if you'd have a job next week or not. Flashback to 1992 where I was fired from station 1 due to a management change, quit station 2 after a format change and almost downsized from station 3 due to an ownership change. Station 3 went through 3 different owners within the space of one year. Okay, the feeling is gone again. I'm still dealing with radio day in and day out -- just the technological side of the business -- and I've been in a stable job for ~ 15 years. I think I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Slogging Festival

The circle is Overland Park. The arrow shows the direction the storm is currently moving. I seriously doubt we're having the Shawnee Mission Marching Festival tonight -- but the kids still have to be there to find out if it will be canceled or not.

Wimped out today and drove. Tomorrow is another day with another fresh chance to ride my bike...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Change of Scenery

Temperature at departure = 48° F (9° C)

Nice, crisp temperature for this morning's ride. I love this time of year. Only a couple of negatives -- Saturday's thunderstorms caused Indian Creek to rise high enough to cover most of the spots where the bike path passes underneath the street with ~ 3 inches of mud. The mud is still there and forced me to climb up on, and walk across a railroad tie retaining wall to get around it. No biggie, kind of breaks the routine a little.

I also decided to change my route and ride up College Blvd from Metcalf to Antioch. Yeah, it was a change: one mile with an average upwards grade of 3% -- maximum grade 10% -- in heavy traffic. I do have to admit that the half mile down hill from Antioch to Indian Creek Parkway was fun with an average downwards grade of 5% -- maximum grade of 16%. Had it not been for the traffic I am sure I would have said Wheeeeee at some point. It was a nice change, but I will be back on the path tomorrow! Oh, did I mention the heavy traffic?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Camporee Rained Out

Curtis and I began the weekend Friday night with a trip with the troop out to Louisburg, KS for Camporee. For those of you not familiar with it, Camporee is supposed to be a gathering of area Boy Scout troops with the goal of some friendly competition and sharing information -- it also seems to have become a recruiting tool as most troops invite Webelos out to camp with them to see what it will be like to join Boy Scouts.

Anyway, the night started out alright but turned ugly around 4 this morning. I knew we were in for it when I was awakened by the sides of my tent hitting me in the face. The winds got worse and our troops dining fly caught the wind, up-ended and would have hit a couple tents, including mine, had one of the adults not been out watching the lightning; he caught the fly and called for help. All of the adults and most of the boys scrambled out of their sleeping bags to get things set back up and roped down -- all in the middle of a pretty intense thunderstorm.

By the time our site was put back in order it was 6:30 and we fixed a lot of coffee and enjoyed some REALLY good biscuits and gravy. We put some other canvas tarps up on the sides of the dining fly and a few of us had to stand there with our backs to the tarps holding them out away from the cooking equipment. The rain didn't let up and the winds would come and go. This may not be a very clear shot -- but you'll get an idea of what we were dealing with looking at another troops dining fly up in the trees.

Shortly after I took this picture our dining fly was pulled up and went flying for the second, and last time. With lightning striking in the campgrounds, we called it quits. Be prepared -- but don't be foolish...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You Go Girl

Temperature at departure = 42° F (6° C)

Okay, I don't know why someone passing me on the bike path spurs on my competitive side, but it turned out pretty funny last night. I left Corporate Woods, crossed the bridge over I-435 and took the hook to go into the Antioch tunnel when I saw that two other riders were coming up behind me. Once in the tunnel I powered up a bit to get more of a lead and quickly settled down to my normal pace. I guess it's pride that makes me mention the problems I was having with my chain and derailures - for some reason (yesterday's cold temperatures?) my rear derailure stopped picking up the slack whenever I stopped pedalling so my chain would droop & if I shifted to the big ring in the front, the chain made a loud rattle -- yes, I'm taking it in for a tune up. Still, I was probably running around my normal, average MPH.

Anyway... a couple hundred yards later I was passed by the first rider - an attractive younger lady decked out in spandex riding a very nice road bike. The other gal passed me in about another 100 yards. They were pedalling at a pretty good clip at this point but I knew that a steep, curving, pedestrian-ridden stretch was coming up so I just took my time. Sure enough at the bottom of that hill the gap had closed to about 15 yards.

Now, here is where the competitive side of me kicked in; at this point the trail forks off two directions -- to the right takes you up to the street, to the left you stay on the trail and curve left, go over a bridge and loop left to go under the bridge and continue looping left to get back up on the path. I know that if I go to the right I can just cross the street, go over the bridge and save myself some time. So that is what I did, putting myself solidly back in the lead.

I stopped about a mile later at the bike path detour at Metcalf. Here we go again...

Can we please get a detour for this detour? You have to step out into the road to get around the barrier to the crosswalk signal.

As I was standing there waiting for the light to change the two young ladies pulled up. "You cheated." I guess I wasn't the only one with a competitive streak. I slowed down after crossing Metcalf, waited for them to pass again and wished them a pleasant ride. I caught up with them again when I took the short cut for the next loop under a bridge; we just laughed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Now, Where Did I Put My Cape

Temperature at departure this morning = 50° F (10° C)

As I was pedalling along through the woods on a leaf covered path the end credits for Batman Begins started playing on the MP3 player. I thought of the sceene where Ra's al Ghul (Liam Neeson) says:
"You traveled the world... Now you must journey inwards... to what you really fear... it's inside you... there is no turning back."

So, in order to become Batman, Bruce Wayne had to become what he feared... Riding on the path, I asked myself what fear I must confront and in doing so, what superhero would I be destined to become?

Behold: Walnutman!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Crisp Morning

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

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy this weather. Nice cool temperatures in the morning, warm in the afternoon -- and the leaves are starting to change colors. Today's high is supposed to hit ~80° and then a cold front moves in and forces me to start having to think about what to wear when I'm cycling.

Anyway, after leaving my visit to Dad I had the choice of either taking a route in traffic that would allow me to really bump up my average MPH - or - ride the bike path and dodge walnuts, squirrels and slow down on the wet leaves. Did I mention it was a beautiful morning? I took the path. The only negative on this morning's ride was the walnut at the beginning of the narrow bridge by the office.

In three years of riding across the thing, this was the first time that I nearly hit the railing. I survived though and am now going to hunt down some coffee and pop-tarts®.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Attention: the following post contains nothing about bicycles. I mean, other than the quick comment that some parent rode theirs to the football game and locked it up in the stands; but that's it -- no bike talk -- other than the previous, which I thought was pretty cool. That's really it though.

You may be familiar with the theory that 20% of the people in any organization do 80% of the work. My hunch is that some of my regular visitors are that 20% kind of person. If so, you know what it is like to be a Dad That Volunteers [or an MTV].

One of the advantages to having spent years as a coach, scout leader, Sunday school teacher, classroom dad, etc., etc. is that you get to know the kids that your kids hang around with. As a result, the kids get to know you as well. So it was last night, when I took Curtis and his buddy Darius to the game so we could watch Katie and Jonathan march. We sat down and within 5 minutes I had a pretty steady rotation of between 6 to 15 11-year-olds keeping me company. Two mothers of boys that were in both my soccer team and my Cub Scout den were sitting on the edge of the group as well.

Last night's game was perhaps the best I've seen in the 8 years I've had kids at the school. I was actually enjoying watching the guys play football. The moms had taken off in the middle of the first quarter and came back towards the end of the second quarter. That is when I got into hot water. "Where's my son?!?!" "Huh?," I replied. The mom points her finger at me and says "I thought you were watching my son. Where is he?" I gestured over my left shoulder towards the top of the stands down by the 20 yard line. Did I know that this is where he'd be? No -- but that is where 11 year-old boys tend to end up at some point. I told her, that I was actually watching the game, not the kids. I figured this would have elicited a bit of a glare at least -- but, no real response of any kind came from the mom. Turns out she thought I was kidding because her son was, indeed, right where I'd indicated (without looking).

Anyway... if you're an 80%er -- don't just assume that the 20%ers exist to keep track of your kids; they may just be there to watch the game.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Appologies To The Birds

And now, another episode of Lessons Learned on the Bike Path:

If the branch is so low that you're concerned you're going to be cutting it real close if you duck your head as low as you can ... try to remember that you're wearing a backpack.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Nascar Bikes

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

Happy International Walk To School Day !! Curtis and I rode bikes (of course), but that still counts. I actually did see about twice as many people walking to school this morning as I usually see -- so our school got the word out.

I got an e-mail from my good buddy John L that I just had to share.

"I got free tickets to the Busch Nascar race last Saturday and took [my son].

"As we were leaving...even among 10's of thousands of cars...in "Car Nation" no less, I saw these two road bikes of some folks who chose the best parking decision. Makes you wonder if they parked a mile away like me, and didn't want to walk...but based on their gear, it looks like they opted to go car-less for a car-centric event.

"Thought you might enjoy..."

Yep, bikes get rock star parking.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Zero Per Gallon

I can't remember when I first saw the Zero Per Gallon site, but Fritz recently posted about it and his picture prompted me to get my own patch for my backpack. I ordered and my iron on patch arrived quicker than I expected. I finally got a chance to iron it on last night -- here it is.

One other note, if you read Jonny's blog you'll see it mentioned -- but I loved that he stamped his envelope with "Goat Free." I actually enjoyed pondering what the postal carrier must have thought... As I am fond of saying: you gotta make your own fun. The patches are only $5 dollars and I'm looking forward to the conversations that it will generate.