Thursday, January 31, 2008

Separated at birth?

So, he bikes and does push-ups rather than go to a gym. Two more things Matthew McConaughey and I have in common.

"I've never been a gym guy,'' he says. "Because I travel so much I'd rather get to a spot and explore it -- why not jog or ride a bike into town rather than drive a car?
With that the interview is over and McConaughey is back to his uninhibited best -- dropping to the carpet to pump out some push-ups.

Retail Fun

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

I took Jonathan to the Toon Shop for his trumpet lesson last night and was told that they had finally gotten "Blue Juice" valve oil in. I'd never thought about it before this morning, but I could have gotten in cheaper on Amazon and not had to wait the month we've been waiting.

Anyway, I went upstairs and there were two kids behind the counter, one sitting down reading and another, who I've never seen there before, who asked me if he could help me. "I see there [pointing directly behind him] that you've got Blue Juice in. Can I get a bottle?" He turns and starts scanning the shelves ... they're in a big display right in front of his face. Nothing. He is just looking around. I try to be helpful "Blue Juice valve oil..." Nothing. He's now just standing there looking off into space. I probably should have kept my mouth shut, but "It's blue..." [pause] "...and it's juice."

The other gal finally got off her chair, walked around, grabbed a bottle 12 inches in front of the guy's nose and handed it to him. He then said:

"I'm leaving after this."

Oh well, now he knows.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Go The Extra Three Miles

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

Curtis and I on our way to school this morning. Yes, he is tough and rugged. [His backpack weighs more than mine too.]

Truth be told, I like to ride my bike because I enjoy it -- not because I have to. So it was today that our family with two cars and three drivers (four when Peter is home from KSU) left me with no other option than to ride. I don't know why that takes some of the fun out of it, but it does. I found a remedy though; Instead of taking the direct route, I added the loop with three additional miles. It made all the difference.

I got several benefits out of the additional miles. I've still got at least one review of the XYZ Bike to do for CommuteByBike and I needed to get a ride longer than 3.5 miles in. I doubled that today. I also got an additional two chuckles and one laugh out loud. I stayed warm up until the last half mile -- then my toes started to feel the chill a bit. Not bad, I could just tell it was cold. Here is a shot of the XYZ in action on the path this morning.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It took me less than 30 seconds to realize what I'd forgotten to pack this morning: my long john bottoms. Wasn't a problem as within another 3 minutes I'd warmed up enough that it was never a problem. Still, not a bad ride home, actually. A couple people stopped at a red light yelled something out their windows, but I didn't catch it. Most likely it was something along the lines of "I wish I was half as cool as you." Something like that, anyway.
Temperature at departure = 43° F (6° C)
Temperature upon arrival = 33° F (1° C)

It was 53° when I woke up so we're dropping about 10° an hour. Actually, my ride in was only about 20 minutes long in which time we dropped 10°. Winds were gusting to around 32 MPH but weren't too much of a factor. The ride home should see temperatures around 20° and they say winds will be gusting to 45 - 50 MPH. I'm doing my best to reverse my wimp status of last week...

Continuing the theme ... here is the XYZ Bike in the bike rack at work. Another Lonely Bike Club day. I double checked with Curtis last night and he says his WAS the only bike at school on Monday. I'm going to have to come up with a way to encourage more of the kids (more likely, their parents) to ride to school.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Lay Off That Bell

News I can't use ... because I'm not in Japan.

Japanese police are gearing up to start ticketing more cyclists. They'll be on the lookout for cyclists wearing headphones, operating a cell phone, holding an umbrella or affixing one to the bicycle, carrying more than one child as a passenger and excessive ringing of bells. Excessive ringing of bells?

I have no point of reference and can only imagine that if the people are riding their bikes on busy sidewalks that this action is probably warranted. Still, excessive ringing of bells?

Another Lonely Bike

Temperature at departure = 57° F (14° C)

To continue a theme I started on Saturday, here is Curtis with his rock star parking in the school bike rack. At 57° I would have hoped for one or two more bikes. Sorry for the blurry picture, but with winds gusting to 35 MPH my bike got blown over just as I was ready to snap the shot and I moved a little. The bad part in all that is that the mount for my cheap Bell headlight has broken. The light, which has taken several tumbles to the ground, is still working like a champ. I know I should consider getting a better light, but this one has served me well so I might check with Bell and see what it would take to get another mount. In the mean time, I've bungied the thing back on for tonight's ride home. Adventure awaits.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Library Run

Temperature at departure = 33°

It was a sunny and (finally) warm day today. I found a little time at 10 this morning to ride to the library to pick up a movie they were holding for me. The place was packed but I was the only one taking advantage of the rock star parking known as the bicycle rack.

I got to the counter and the e-mail they sent saying that Johnny English was waiting for me was premature. "It must be in the back or on the truck still. I'm really sorry." I think that the gal was actually sorry because I'd ridden my bike there for no good reason. Actually, the trip was more an excuse to get out and ride since the rest of the day has been spent running kids to lessons, going to Katie's play and to Curtis' basketball game.

Speaking of Katie's play, she did a wonderful job as the quirky, Dutch psychic. She the second on the right...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dropping Off

Today was one of the rare days that I had to drive Curtis to school and drop him off at the same time everyone else was dropping off their kids. May I just pause to say:


[takes breath]


[pauses to take pulse]


I don't care if the weather next week resembles the last part of the movie Day After Tomorrow ... we are back on our bikes!

Contrast that with the way the 16 to 18 year olds arrive and leave the parking lot at our high school. For some reason, they take turns! There is no announcement, nothing in the student manual, nothing on the web-site, no one directing traffic, no signs or signals ... regardless of their having the right of way, they simply take turns.

The blue lines show how far back traffic usually is in the morning trying to get into the parking lot. Sure, it takes a while, but it all flows smoothly. Same with the red lines when they're trying to get out of the parking lot ... one car at a time, they take turns.

Now, when adults are trying to get into the lot for football games, concerts, etc. -- it is an absolute nightmare. I tend to stay a while and let the madness subside before I leave when adults are driving.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Survey Says...

1. a weak, ineffectual, timid person.

2. wimp out,
a. to be or act like a wimp.
b. to show timidity or cowardice; chicken out.

Synonyms: baby, chicken, chicken liver, coward, cream puff, crybaby, daisy, featherweight, fraidy-cat, jellyfish, lily liver, loser, milksop, momma's boy, namby-pamby, pansy, pantywaist, pushover, scaredy cat, schlemiel, sissy, wuss, yellow belly, Warren T


I haven't decided if I'll ride or not. I still have a half hour to argue with myself. Let see ... on one hand, when I took my dad to the Dr. yesterday I checked my blood pressure and it was high. On the other hand, this would certainly be a new record low temperature. What to do, what to do?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Commute by, um, Wheel?

A while back I changed my home page on one of my computers to my iGoogle page. I also included the Blogger Play widget which pops up random pictures that people are uploading to blogger. I don't often get a chance to land on the home page -- but I did tonight and as I was talking to one of my sons, I noticed this picture flash by and I had to check the blog it came from.

Check out j.b. raetzke's blog for the full picture and watch the short video he took of this person walking along in what I can only imagine is some sort of human sized rodent exercise wheel run amok. Doesn't look like I'll be switching to a wheel like this soon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I debated and argued and rationalized with myself this morning. I am way behind on my mileage goal for January -- but it is 8° out and the path is a mess of jagged ice. I have decided that it just wasn't going to be fun to ride today and the main reason I commute by bicycle is because it IS fun. If it is going to be work, I'll just hang it up and drive. Sorry to disappoint.

I'll be driving tomorrow as well because of errands I need to run for my Dad. I'm just going to have to make the miles up later on. [Sigh]

Monday, January 21, 2008

It'll Give Them Something to Talk About

31° late this morning so the streets that hadn't been plowed were a bit slushy when I headed out on the XYZ bike to run a couple errands. After I left the bank, where I deposited a check in the lobby ATM (holiday today), I got to thinking that had there been tellers there today I might have caused a bit of a stir. Perhaps anyone who reviews the ATM's pictures will get a slight tingle when it comes to my transaction; you see, I'd left my balaclava on without thinking about it...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Snow Day

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

I hope they closed school today because of the cold temperatures, not because of the 2 to 3 inches of snow. Still, the kids are pumped and will, I'm sure, be out playing in the weather that is too nasty for them to go to school in.

I've already been out playing in the snow (as I like to call this kind of commute by bicycle). Stayed warm the whole way in. Had to get off and walk a couple of times and, man, was my heart pounding by the time I'd gotten the XYZ bike carried upstairs and into the kitchen to drip all over the floor (yes, yes, I'll clean it up in a few minutes). My arms can feel a difference as well. My bike computer and spreadsheets may say that I burned the same amount of calories as a normal ride ... but I beg to differ.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Grumpy II

1) I was awakened by my work Blackberry at 4 a.m. and again at 4:30 to work through support issues with a couple different radio stations with guys who had to have it explained, in detail, how to find the * key. Usually, when I ask someone to type an asterisk and hear a pause, all I have to do is say "Shift and the number 8." Not this time. Anyway, by the time I was done it was 05:20 and the dogs were now fully awake -- so I stayed up and worked on clearing the kitchen counters.

2) The combination of sprinkles, the forecast for rain and a number of errands that need to be run this afternoon have conspired to keep me from riding my bike today.

3) It is a gray, rainy morning.

I am grumpy.

Yesterday was nice, however ... took Peter back to K-State and being on campus always brings back some good memories. Here's hoping we all have a better day. [Grabs coffee cup and Pop-tarts package and heads for work's kitchenette.]

Monday, January 14, 2008

Good Morning

Temperature at departure = 22° F (-6° C)

What an absolutely gorgeous morning. I had the trail all to myself and decided to add an extra three miles to my trip in. Sure, the other parents still don't know what to think when Curtis and I roll up to school -- but there is no waiting and no jockeying for position to drop him off. He has his pick of where to lock up his bike on the bike rack too.

Overall, I honestly can't think of a better way to commute in Overland Park than by bike. I can enjoy the (mostly) empty bike path for another month or two before I have to exercise my bell thumb. I'm betting on more bikers this year.

That's it gang; nothing spectacular to report, just a really nice ride in today.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Right Back At'cha, Sport

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

As I rode by one of the buildings in Corporate Woods this morning, two guys standing outside in their shirt-sleeves, smoking, look over at me. "That guy's crazy," says one to the other.

Um, yeah. You've got your addiction, I've got mine.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sometimes, the Customer...

...just ain't right.

Don't get me wrong, most of the people I work with throughout the day are fine. Some, however, should never be allowed near a computer.

Here is a progression of stills from my web cam of a 98 minute long call that, honestly, should have only taken 10 minutes.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bucephalus Speaks

Monday morning and I just want to stay at home. “I know it is wet out,” he said, “but let’s go for a ride. It will be fun!” 6.146 miles later we arrive at his office and I am covered in wet, grimy road gunk. He gets changed, but I have to sit here and let the stuff dry until we go home. He promises a nice hot shower at the end of the day. Whatever.

Then, the phone rang, he slammed it down and made a couple quick calls and was gone. Great, now what? It was late afternoon before he walked back into the office and what do you think he has in his hand? Car keys. Can you believe it? CAR KEYS! He made a couple more calls and said something about taking his dad to the ER, but I don’t care, I’m just ready to go home.

The end of the day arrives and as he packs the laptop back in the back pack – he picks up the car keys again. WHAT?!?!? Yeah, he just walked off and left me sitting in his office listening to his “radio station” running in the rack next to me pumping out jazz, soundtracks, swing, some 80’s stuff and – oh you have got to be kidding me – Tiny Tim???

Tuesday arrives and he walks in wearing street clothes, car keys in hand yet again. Dude! I’m so mad I don’t even talk to him. The mud had fully dried and I just want to go home. Another long day and another long night. Hmmmm, Cannonball Adderely followed by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Interesting mix there guy.

Now it is day three and he tells me his dad is fine and will be going home today and he’ll hopefully get to come back late this afternoon and we’ll ride home together then. Right, spare me. Maybe I’ll let you ride home with me. Jerk.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Note to Self: Get Fenders

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

You can probably tell that with temperatures getting up to the 60's and staying there overnight last night, the ice and snow has melted. You can probably also tell that it hasn't evaporated.

Had a great ride to my Dad's house yesterday. With the warmer temperatures, there were tons of other cyclists out and about. Lots of smiling nods and waves.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Too Good to Pass Up

Had a nice ride at Shawnee Mission Park this morning with Peter and my buddy John. It was 44° at 8 this morning -- quite a difference from earlier this week. There is still a bit of ice on the path which is VERY slick. We're hoping it will be gone later this afternoon so we can go out on another ride. If not, I'm sure it will be gone for tomorrow's ride to my Dad's house.

Many thanks to Eric over at KCBike.Info for pointing me to this photo from Jeff's flickr photos. I love the irony here. The compression kinda messes it up here so go check the link for a nice view (and a pretty funny description).

Friday, January 04, 2008


Further evidence that local TV news is worthless.

No, this isn't my local news, but I wouldn't be surprised to see something like this in the morning on at least one KC station.

Incredible Ride

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

I got to shed a layer and enjoy a nice ride to school with Curtis and into work on the Trek. I didn't ride the XYZ Bike today because I won't be leaving the office until after dark and the Trek is all geared up for night riding.

On the MP3 player this morning:

The Incredibles Soundtrack


The themes from The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven from Elmer Bernstein

Yeah, it was a great ride in and with CAT out doing the lighting for The Elders concert tonight this morning's tunes have put me in the mood for guy movies.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Obey, or Not?

StreetsBlog recently asked "Are there in fact, good reasons to ignore traffic regulations when you can, because after all, they are really meant just for cars?"

I guess I'm just the kind of person who obeys the rules the best he can. The article, and many of the comments that follow it, seem to say that it is dangerous to follow the rules. I disagree. Sure there are times that I end up having to run a light because it won't change for me - and there have been a few times I've rolled through a stop sign - but I can't think of a time that treating my bike like a vehicle has ever put me in danger.

"Given that most traffic controls were put into place solely for the benefit of drivers, why should the rest of us have to obey them? They're not helping us. In fact, they're impeding us."

I dunno, so you don't get a ticket?

Yet Another Bobcat

Temperature at departure = 16° F (-9° C)

What a difference 9 degrees makes. Never really felt cold this morning during my bicycle commute in Overland Park. Missed seeing a rather nasty 3 or 4 car smash up on the Antioch bridge over 435. If I would have left 15 seconds earlier I would have been able to be a witness. Hope everyone was okay, but I have a bad feeling about the SUV that took out the light pole.

As I crossed the bridge where I saw the animal tracks last week I spotted the bobcat that lives in that area. Not the biggest I've seen on the trail but still big enough that I took a few glances back for a bit... I've added it to my bobcat map.

View Larger Map

I know I've left one or two sitings off (because I forgot about this map until this morning). No other wildlife out and about on the way to work, but the cat didn't look that fat. Hmmm.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The 2 Mile Challenge

I'm sure some of you may be familiar with Clif Bar's 2 Mile Challenge, but I came across this again recently and thought I'd share it. This would make a wonderful New Year's resolution for someone.

Some of the data from the video:

  • In the U.S., 40% of all trips are 2 miles or less.
  • 90% of those trips are by car.
  • If 1 out of 10 car commuters switched to a bike, CO2 emissions would be reduced by 25.4 million tons per year.
  • The U.S. has the highest per capita bicycle ownership in the world.
  • But it's at the bottom of the list for using them.
  • If 1 million people replaced a 2 mile car trip once a week with a bike ride, CO2 emissions could be reduced by 50,000 tons per year.

More information is available at their website. Try entering your address and see what trips you could make by bike within your two mile radius. I love this idea; it's one of the reasons I've been biking in the snow lately -- to show people it can be done.

[Spoilers: I'll be talking about this a bit more in my next XYZ Bike post on CommuteByBike. Also, I'll be posting this at CBB later tonight.]


Temperature at departure = 7° F (-14° C)

That is a new record low departure temperature! Beat last year's record of 8° set on January 30th. My eyes were a bit cold the first mile and a half, but after that I stayed pretty comfortable following my guidelines - with the addition of the plastic bag corners between the pairs of socks and the ear muffs over the balaclava.

The XYZ bike worked like a charm again with the only slipping occurring on a sheet of smooth ice. I have to admit that the drive train got a little sluggish in the 7° temps ... but what do you expect? It's a $100 bike in sub-freezing temperatures.

Oh yeah, since I've taken a couple days off: Happy New Year!