Friday, November 30, 2007

They've Grown Accustomed to My ... Helmet

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

When I used to travel a lot, I always knew I'd been on-site too long when the people at Starbuck's would greet me by name as I walked in the door. You knew you'd been on-site WAY TOO LONG if they also engaged you in their small talk about last night's TV shows, etc. One time in Florida (can't remember which city at the moment) it was to the point that they'd be setting a Grande Peppermint Mocha with my name on it up on the counter as I walked in the door.

But I digress. Yesterday I took the day off so I could run some errands for myself and for my Dad. As I stopped by the rehab hospital and got on the elevator, a nurse I don't recall ever seeing there before came up to me and said "You didn't ride your bike today?" We had a nice chat on the ride up about the advantages of hybrids over road bikes and vice versa. So I've gone from the "You rode your bike?!?!?" stage to it being considered odd if I don't walk in the door with my helmet in my hand.

103rd & Metcalf Crosswalk Update:

They were moving the big pile of dirt this morning. That can only mean that the other construction material will be moved soon and the crosswalk swept clean for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy.

1, 2, 3...

Hahahahahahahahahahhaha. Right.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


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

I've been kind of surprised that this hasn't already happened this year (and believe I've mentioned it before) -- but this morning I finally had a standoff with an 8 point buck on the Indian Creek Trail Bike Path. This time wasn't nearly as bad as some of my previous encounters because there was plenty of green space available on one side of the path, but still was tense for a few moments.

I was riding along when I spotted him standing in the middle of the path. I didn't bother slowing down because the bucks this year have been a bit skittish; not this guy. He turned to face me so I slowed down and stopped about 12 yards away and waited for him to move. He, in turn, was waiting for me to turn around and go away. I shouted, waved my arms and dinged my bell to no avail. I finally resorted to talking to him like some people talk to babies or puppies: "Whoze th' wittle deerie? Whoze a big, big baby boy?" etc., etc. I don't know why I did it, but the beast must have gotten embarrassed or something because he turned tail and bounded off into the brush.

I took off and got about 5 yards before the stink hit me. Yup, must be rutting time. P! U!
Hopefully this will be my only close encounter this year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Relief For Sore Back

Temperature at departure = 31° F (-1° C)

A researcher in Overland Park, Kansas has revealed anecdotal evidence today that backpacks are actually good for your back. Local cyclist Warren T recently incurred a sore middle back after hours upon hours upon hours of bending over a sink doing dishes around the Thanksgiving holiday. The result was a very sore back that nothing seemed to help. Mr. T revealed that he was a bit concerned about strapping on the backpack that he normally wears for his bicycle commute but after his first ride found that his back was much less sore than it had been before he started his morning ride.

"It must have something to do with the pack's bottom pad being located right at the sore spot. This has worked wonders. I thought I was going to be out of commission for a few days but I'm back in the game without any medicine or other treatments."

Although "medical experts" are skeptical, T said he was happy with the results and would continue to wear the backpack and perhaps supplement that with coffee and M&M's -- LOTS of M&M's.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back To Work Again

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

We wrapped up the weekend with a birthday party for my youngest at the new Matt Ross Community Center in Overland Park. Three hours of swimming with eight 11 to 12 year-old boys. They were actually very well behaved. The water and air in that place was laced pretty heavily with chlorine, so we all took nice long showers when we got home. I thought that took care of it until this morning's bike commute.

If you're easily offended, please skip this next part:

Seems there was a bit of residual chlorine in my lungs which heavy breathing enticed to the surface. Also, I sweat a bit of chlorine out of my skin as well. Smells a bit like the swimming pool in my office.

...and we're back.

We thought we had been very creative having the party at the center, until we were told by a couple of the other parents that this was the second or third birthday party they'd brought children to at this site. So much for being original.

Anyway, like I said before, Thanksgiving was really nice this year, I got a bike ride in with Peter before he had to head back to school, Katie found out she is the understudy for one of the main characters in the next play at South and she and Jonathan were a big help at the party. I kind of hate having to go back to work...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Day After Thanksgiving

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

It was a great Thanksgiving. We had family in and enjoyed a marvelous meal and fellowship. Hope you had a nice one too.

A bit of a change in temperature since Tuesday's 62°... May I say once again that I LOVE riding in this weather! If you've thought about it but resisted because of cold temperatures -- layer up and enjoy.

Some of the benefits:

  • Fewer people on the bike/hike trail.
  • Rosy facial glow.
  • Great conversation starter.
  • I'm convinced motorists are more apt to see you and be cautious around you because they'll be convinced you are an idiot.

And for Fritz who may miss the cold now that he's snug in Silicon Valley:

Helping face the cold
Winter's blasts won't stop me now
Balaclava mine.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Detour at 103rd - The Saga Continues

Temperature at departure = 62° F (17° C)

I know I promised not to post anymore shots of construction vehicles parked in the crosswalk / bike path detour at 103rd and Metcalf, but this is different. The last several days they've been using the crosswalk for storing building materials. The last couple days this included steel girders that filled the entire area within the cones.

Here is what the detour looked like in August.

This is what it looked like this morning.

I've sent another note into the guy in the Overland Park city office who has been helpful in the past. We'll see how it goes. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gift Cards

I am not a talented gift giver. I actually spend time trying to come up with thoughtful gifts, but often they tend to be opened and set to the side -- permanently. The last several years I'd been under the impression that gift cards were a good option for some of the people on my list but now we know that $8 billion a year is just wasted by the recipients. Seth Godin has a great post about this:

"we bought the story that giving someone a hundred dollar bill as a gift ("go buy what you want") is callous, insensitive, a crass shortcut. Buying them a $100 Best Buy card, on the other hand, is thoughtful. Even if they spend $92 and have to waste the rest."

...but say I had given someone a $100 gift card where they'd used $92 and left $8 unused; wouldn't that be better than giving them a $100 gift that was appreciated initially but never actually used? I don't have an answer, but here we go with another shopping season.

Needed The Laugh

Temperature at departure = 35° F (2° C)

I'm a fan of 24 -- so I really enjoy 24 parodies. Someone pointed this out to me yesterday and although I don't condone a lot of stuff at the collegehumor site I laughed and laughed. If you like 24 or if you've been in the tech industry for a while you may enjoy it too. [I know, I know. It covers up some of my links and stuff. Still, it is too funny not to share.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Warren Identity

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

Last night was one of those nights that any parent can relate to. My house was more of a cabstand than home -- a base of operations, if you will. The plan was:

  • 18:20 leave home to get Curtis to basketball practice at 18:30
  • 18:35 leave practice to run by and see Dad
  • 19:15 leave Dad to head home to pick up Jon
  • 19:20 leave home to pick up Curtis
  • 19:35 leave practice and head to music lessons
  • 20:00 leave the boys at their lessons and run an errand for Dad
  • 20:30 pick up boys and go to library
  • 20:50 leave library and head home

I'd been thrown two curve balls before walking out the door but got Curtis to practice on time. I headed off to see Dad, but somewhere between 99th and 105th I just fazed out. I snapped out of it at 105th realizing I should have taken a left at 103rd. No biggie, but it reminded me of a day a few years ago that I not only fazed out about where I was going -- I swear I had a 15 second bout of full on amnesia.

I had been sitting at an intersection a couple blocks from my house when the light turned green. I pulled through the intersection and suddenly had no idea of where I was. Really, I couldn't recognize anything and couldn't even figure out what city I was in, or what city I was supposed to be in for that matter. I'm talking a complete blank. I pulled to the side of the road in a panic and tried to remember, well, anything. A couple of seconds later I remembered I had kids and that I was going on an errand or something for them. Focusing on the kids brought everything back pretty quickly, but that was an incredibly scary and weird 15 seconds. It hasn't happened since so I'm not too worried about it. Besides, I've now taken the precaution of having a lazer pointer thing installed in my hip...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


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

This piece of wire was Friday night's culprit.

I was geared up to start swapping around tires when I found this needle sharp wire stuck in the tire. It took a pair of needle-nose pliers and a good tug to remove it. So, I'm leaving the tires on the Mendota as they are -- just added another patch to the already once patched tube that was there. My guess is that with riding through all the construction junk at 103rd and Metcalf twice a day -- this is just going to be part of the routine.

This morning I missed being run over by just a couple feet as a careless driver turning left into the parking lot decided to cut a corner all the way over to the right. I jumped out of the way and found it kind of ironic that the parking lot was at the rehab hospital, the driver was a nurse and she had a bike rack on her car. Go figure.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Temperature at ... oh, wait, I didn't ride my bike today.

...come to think of it, I didn't ride a bike at all this weekend. When I got home Friday night Curtis asked me to ride with him up to school because a buddy had asked him to spend the night and bring his bike. Off we rode making it to school well in advance of the time he actually needed to be there. After the friend's dad pulled up in his pickup and we got the bike loaded in I saddled up to ride home and, once again, I had a flat on the Mendota.

I had time over the weekend to deal with it -- but didn't.

I've still not gotten new tires. I'm taking the advice that a couple of you have given and am ordering a set of Michelin Transworld City tires. Tonight I will take the two front tires and combine them as a mismatched set on one of the bikes to get me through.

[Having now corrected the many words I wrote kinda backwards, I will admit to some Monday morning, not enough coffee, bike-free commute dislexia and just post... Tomorrow will be a better day.]

Friday, November 09, 2007

Overland Park Bike Commute Ninjas

Temperature at departure = 43° F (6° C)

"Cursed politicians and their Daylight Saving Time." thought the weary warrior as he headed out into the night. Swift and silent he rode through the darkness, his senses long tuned for the twilight straining to find his way through this new, deep, gloominess. Without warning he was upon the ninja – and just as quickly he had passed by not giving the ambush the slightest chance of success. Still, the warrior was shaken. “That was too close” he murmured to himself.

Deeper into the pitch black woods he rode; adrenalin now coursed through his veins and he strained all the more to try to predict what lay ahead on the path. Once again his senses failed him as he plunged off the well worn, leaf covered path into underbrush. He thought he’d been going slow enough to be able to pick out the slightest variations in the trail before him – he’d been wrong. He quickly shook it off as the night had come alive with the sounds of something or someone coming from, seemingly, every direction.

He rode now with a new awareness. “Take your time” he thought, “you can’t afford another mistake.” Minutes went by without event. He was getting comfortable again when he spotted something ahead moving from a patch of light into the darkness. Another ninja – but this time he was ready and easily circumvented the space staying out of range. Now was not the time to engage in another conflict, he just wanted to make it home. And so, as he closed the door to his house behind him, he vowed to expect the unexpected the next night.

Playing the part of ninja number one was a pedestrian with long black hair wearing a navy jogging suit. Ninja number two was played by a gentleman in a black jacket, dark jeans and a black hat walking a dark brown dog. Seriously people – get something reflective or carry a flashlight!!!

Also, I have come to the conclusion that the cheap Planet Bike 1200 headlight that I bought for the Mendota to use during the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride is fine for leisurely cruises through the suburbs but insufficient for dark trails through the woods. It’s going to be an adventure every night now until the spring time change. For now, however, there is:

…no light at the end of the tunnel.

And for Fritz:

Ride into the night
Daylight Saving Time again
Now, where’s my blinky?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shuttle Fly By

About 15 minutes ago, the Space Shuttle flew over KC on it's way to landing in Florida. A co-worker took this shot


First Frost

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

We had the first real frost of the season overnight. You could tell because of all of the leaves that the trees just dumped in big piles. The leaves continued to fall too, this one decided to hitch a ride to the office during my bicycle commute in Overland Park:

There is something quite satisfying about riding through a fresh pile of leaves. It can also be a bit scary when you notice a few rocks and big sticks in there too.

We've also reached that time of year when the does and fauns move off the bike trail and the bucks take station on the trail. Right now I can hiss and chase them away -- this morning it was a beautiful six-pointer -- but there will come a time very soon when they'll want to stand their ground and challenge you. Regardless, a beautiful morning with more on the way for as far out as they're willing to forecast.

My buddy John asks "is it weird that the colder it gets outside, the more I want to bike ride in the cold?" No, this is my favorite time of year to ride...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Time For New Tires

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

I've got two small (around .25 inches - 6.35 mm) gashes in the back tire on my Trek. Looks like it is time to go tire shopping. I wonder, how many miles you should expect out of a decent tire? These have just over 2,500 miles (over 4,080 kilometers). I might try to go with something with a reflective side wall this time...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Writers Strike = Good Opportunity

Movie and television writers are set to begin their strike on Monday. Works for me; I've got plenty of other things to do. I was talking to my good buddy John the other day -- about how I tried to find a movie at the theater or a DVD to watch for the last few weekends and realized that there wasn't anything out that I wanted to see. TV? The only show I might miss is The Office, and I promise to be patient.

Here would be my suggestion to the writers: Make good use of this time. If you write for ER, volunteer at a hospital and see what really goes on. I haven't watched your show in years. John tells me that this season is season 3 -- just with different actors...

If you write for a cop show, try to go on a ride-along.

If you write for a sitcom, I don't have any good suggestions for you. All I ask is that you not try to come up with another poorly disguised Friends rip-off or some sort of American version of an English hit (sorry Office).

There are all kinds of stories out there. Do us and yourself a favor and get out there and find some.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

We Happy Few

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

Ah, first day of frost for the season. Crisp morning air, frost on the ground, steam rising from the stream and an absence of other riders and walkers on the path. Indeed, we're heading into a stretch of four or five months in which I'll have the path pretty much to myself.

During this morning's ride of 8 miles I saw a grand total of 7 pedestrians and no other cyclists. Once January and February roll around that number will be down to one - a retiree that I normally meet at the same point every morning. Sure, I'd love to see more people out on their bikes, but there is a selfish side that likes to have the route all to my lonesome...

People will start calling those of us that commute in this type of weather "hard core" in about another four weeks. As a bonus today, someone swept the path completely clean of all the debris in this area:

I've decided that in a case like this, where I can ride as fast or as slowly as I like without being impeded, the path becomes my private cyclobahn.

Now, with apologies to Shakespeare:

And gentlemen in Overland Park now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That rode with us upon this crisp day.