Friday, February 29, 2008

Beautiful Friday

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

From the recently discovered Lost Prophesies of Nostradamus:

Awake! for a Lion roams,
Along the highway,
O what mystery, this,
Upon two, not four.

Scholars have recently determined that the meaning of this quatrain relates to the section of the Indian Creek Bike Path which is scheduled to re-open this spring. The lion possibly relates to the astrological sign Leo, meaning that the path actually won't be open until July or August.

Okay, I admit, I made this up. But here is the state of the path as it stands and they still have to complete the section of 435 that will be over the path.

They've been more than optimistic in the past. They were about 5 months behind on getting the detour for this section in place. No complaints though -- as long as they keep the detour open, I'm happy.

On the way in today, I realized that I may be the doppleganger for Fritz's pal Dorky Doug. Let's see:

He wears a helmet, high vis yellow jacket and reflective pant straps.

Check, check and check.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Random Bike News

For no particular reason -- here is some more bicycle news from around the world.

Cannondale Bicycle Corp, acquired by Dorel Industries Ltd.

Moscow authorities envisage the introduction of bicycle parks around the center of the city and at metro stations.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon Honored

Congratulations to Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon.

Missouri Bicycle Federation recently presented Attorney General Jay Nixon with its "Distinguished Service to Missouri Bicycling" award in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the state's bicycling community and cycling resources.

Nixon was recognized for his 20 years of support for the Katy Trail State Park, created when Nixon was a state senator in 1987. The Federation also honored Nixon for his role to preserve the MKT bridge at Boonville.

Here is a shot of the MKT from this past summer when Curtis and I took a 50 mile ride with our scout troop. I was daydreaming about the KATY trail the other day while riding to work in the gray despair known as late February. This weekend we're supposed to have sunshine and temperatures in the 60's. In the Kansas City area, March always comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion. Mark my words...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Antioch Bridge Detour Open

Temperature at departure = 24° F (-4° C)

Back on the 15th I told you I'd let you know when the Indian Creek Bike Path detour on Antioch, over 435 is open. It is open again. Here is the location as seen in Google Map's Street View (which I am loving).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I'll go along with Noah and say that ER's are not a fun place to hang out, especially at the moment. Sunday I rode to my Dad's and then immediately drove him to the ER. I'm sure my dad will be fine. A couple observations:

  1. When I went in to get a wheel chair, I noticed that every single chair there was much wider than what I would normally consider a typical wheel chair width. Another commentary on American way of life, I suppose.

  2. We camped out in an ER exam room for 24 hours before a bed in the hospital freed up. They are that busy. People were and are lined up on both sides of three hallways leading to the ER waiting room. As it turns out, I liked the exam room -- it was a private room and the care was excellent.

Sunday I took a new route that I think I'll be very happy with. Much less traffic on the side streets I followed. Still, there were occasional intersections where I played they You Go, No, You Go game. A nice article from Memphis puts it this way:

"While stop signs are an indicator for bicyclists to stop, motorists often wait for cyclists to pass through a stop sign, even if by law it is the motorist's turn to proceed."

If it isn't my turn, I still put a foot on the ground and grab my water bottle. Works for me.

"Road safety is a shared responsibility: Cyclists should give cars plenty of signals to communicate what they intend to do, and cars should provide the room necessary for bicyclists to ride in the right-hand lane of traffic, a highly visible and safe location for bicyclists."

Yes, they should ... but, especially this time of year, drivers aren't used to looking for cyclists. I still feel that the more of us that get out there, the more drivers will come to expect people on bicycles to be around.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Favorite Commute?

The temperatures that had been stuck in the teens had gone. I awoke to sunshine and 68°. I left my cold weather gear in the corner, put on some shorts and a tee shirt and started on my ride to work.

As I moved from the road to the bike path I was joined by not only Michelle Pfeiffer (I swear sometimes that she is stalking me) but Rebecca De Mornay as well. We rode along chatting as song birds, so long absent, belted out their songs of spring.

When I began to turn towards my office, Michelle and Rebecca urged me to continue on with them as they were headed to Starbuck’s and lattes with Catherine Zeta-Jones. Reluctantly I declined as my desk and duties beckoned.

And then I woke up.

* * * * *

Okay, I'm lazy today. The above was a reply to Tim's post on CommuteByBike asking what was your best commute this year and why?

Temperature at departure = 20° F (-7° C)

Oh, yeah, I hate slush.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ice Storm, Round ??: Won

Temperature at departure = 17° F (-8° C)

Dave at work: "You can not tell me you rode your bike in today." Yep, I did.

It is an absolute mess out there with a combination of freezing rain, snow and sleet. Accidents all over the place. My wife might have been thinking of contacting Jamie Spears to get tips on how to do that conservatorship thing. I tried to convince her that I was going to be safer on my bike than I would driving and agreed not to ride the extra loop.

The non-treated surfaces were a breeze. Kind of crunchy, actually. And with not another soul to be seen on the bike path, I had a very enjoyable ride in this morning.

This is the path around Founders Park. At this point the ice was bouncing off my helmet pretty good and although I almost veered off to put in the extra 3 miles, but I kept my promise.

Oh, Dave, forgive me if I post this here ... I told Dave "Let me put it this way; I had fun on the way in to work today ... how was your trip?"

As a way of trying to make that up to Dave, I'll post a link to his new blog. Sorry dude.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wherefore Art Thou Spring?

Temperature at departure = 6° F (-14° C)

A new record low temperature. Beat the 7° F record of 1/2/08. Yippee. I could have sworn that the temperatures have been below 20 all winter long -- but in checking the data I see that my morning commutes have only been in temperatures of 19 or below 13 days (last year there were only 6 days below 20).

My toes actually stayed warm the whole way in; the only part of my body that started getting too cold was the index finger on each hand. They got down right tingly. The other odd note, my front shifter froze on me for a while. I clicked the thumb button and ... nothing. No resistance at all. After a half mile of flicking the button, I finally got up to the biggest front ring and stayed there. Yep, things get a little sluggish at these temperatures. Now, where's my coffee!?!?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Recycling Cycling

Temperature at departure = 15° F (-9° C)

On the way out the door this morning I decided to make up a lunch-time errand to ride to the recycling center and grabbed some cereal boxes and magazines, as many as I could fit in the rest of the available space in my backpack. I freely admit that this trip served no purpose other than getting me out for some extra miles today.

A couple good things came of it though -- in checking out the route in Google Maps, I noticed that Street View has now been added for much of Overland Park. Also, there is a .8 mile stretch with a 25% grade that was a pain to ride up ... but a BLAST to ride down. I stayed steady, coasting at 30.8 MPH for 2 minutes compared to the grinding 5+ minutes it took to go up the hill. Fun!

Okay, I can tell that I'll be wasting some time later this week poking around in street view.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Red Ball 2008 - Sprint Center

If you happened to be driving around downtown Kansas City on Friday night, you may have noticed that the Sprint Center had changed colors. My wife did that.

While I'm waiting to get her pictures, I decided to see if any of the local media outlets had taken any shots of the building. Nope. Thank goodness for bloggers! Ramsey has a post on his blog, pictures in Flickr and a video on YouTube. I'm borrowning a shot from his public Flickr stream for the time being.

The Sprint Center isn't the only KC landmark CAT has lit up. In December of '06 she lit the Liberty Memorial in red for the grand re-opening. I know I've got a post in the December 2006 archive, but I can't seem to get to it right now... Anyway, if your company is interested, she can do other colors as well. They did lots of nice lighting on the inside as well.

Hope you enjoy President's Day.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Indian Creek Bike Path - Antioch Detour Closed

This is the Indian Creek Bike Trail detour on Antioch road, on the west side of Antioch, going over 435. It would have been nice to know about this prior to riding right up to it this afternoon.

If you're riding south on Antioch, you just have to pop over into traffic for 58 yards. If you are trying to head north, like I was, you are faced with three options:

1) Jump into the south-bound lanes and ride against the flow. [Very dangerous]

2) Go back south to the cross walk at 108th Terrace, cross Antioch and use the sidewalk to go north to Country Club Drive where you can swing around and rejoin the bike path. [Annoying]

3) Head out into hostile territory and cross ~6 lanes of traffic to get the the far right-hand, north-bound lane. [A little nerve-wracking]

I went with option 3.

I am fairly sure this will be fixed within a few days. If, however, it is still closed a week from now, I'll start sending e-mail notes to my contact in the city of Overland Park offices. I'll also post an update when the way is clear.

We Are Not Alone

Temperature at departure = 13° F (-11° C)

I decided to run some errands this morning and lo and behold -- leaving the bike path, I pop up to Lamar and nearly run into another bicycle commuter. By the time he and a few cars had passed, I turned to follow him up Lamar. He always stayed about 40 yards ahead of me and I didn't feel like racing this morning. I got stuck at a red light at College and Lamar and figured he was headed for the Sprint campus and that I'd never get to say hi. As I pulled into the parking lot at B&V I noticed, for the first time, a bike rack and there was my fellow commuter.

This is Micky. He didn't seem to be surprised to see another person on a bike; in fact, someone had already locked their bike up this morning. Nice to know we're not alone. Oh, I made sure to take my balaclava off before going into the credit union and bank this morning ... didn't feel like causing a panic today.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yeah, Yeah, Happy Valentine's Day

No riding today because I'm taking care of a sick child.

Without going into to many of the mundane details, I'll just preface this by saying I spend a good deal of my workday troubleshooting technical problems. I recently started reading How Doctors Think, by Jerome Groopman, M.D. because it sounded interesting and at the time I put a hold on the book I was spending quite a bit of time hanging out where doctors, um, think. It turns out that much of what is in this book can be applied to my job.

"Observers have noted that, on average, physicians interrupt patients within eighteen seconds of when they begin telling their story."

I think I have been guilty of that a few times in the past. You can make some quick assumptions about what the problem is and where you need to turn to get the answers. Still, it doesn't hurt to let people finish their story; they may ultimately get to a key fact that you might have missed.

Seemingly unusual or atypical presentations often get short shrift. "Common things are common" is another cliché that was drilled into me during my training. Another echoing maxim on rounds: "when you hear hoofbeats, think about horses, not zebras."

He goes on to say that you shouldn't forget, there are times that you'll find a zebra.

"Don't just do something, stand there," Dr. Linda Lewis, one of my mentors, once said when I was unsure of a diagnosis.

I love that quote. I see many cases were someone jumped the gun and did things that, ultimately, ruined my chances of figuring out what the initial problem was.

How Doctors Think is really more of a book for patients than for doctors. From the dust cover:

Groopman explores why doctors err and shows when and how then can -- with our help -- avoid snap judgments, embrace uncertainty, communicate effectively, and deploy other skills that can profoundly impact our health. ... How Doctors Think offers direct, intelligent questions patients can ask their doctors to help them get back on track.

Yep, I am really enjoying this book and have no compunctions recommending it.

* * * * *

Oh, and to the construction worker in the backhoe that I met yesterday: I tried to do as you suggested, but am unable to locate a phrenologist in my area. I appreciate your concern.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Claw

Imagine that; something good coming of a reality television show. Whirlpool's Gladiator GarageWorks division announced today that they will become the first major U.S. manufacturer to commercially produce a product from the ABC Television network reality show, American Inventor. From the press release:

The bicycle storage device prototype designed by Craig Forrest and David Moeller will be displayed at IBS then restyled, rebranded, renamed and relaunched by the brand in the coming months. To store a bicycle up to 50 pounds the device grasps a bicycle's tire by opposing hooks when the central plunger is depressed. By re-pressing or "bumping the plunger" the device opens and unlocks for easy bicycle wheel removal without having to lift the bicycle over the top of a standard bike hook.

According to the Claw website, the Claw will be available this summer in Lowe's, Sears and other Gladiator retailers. Looks cool, but my cheap hardware store, plastic covered hooks have been working fine for over 20 years...
Temperature at departure = 16° F (-9° C)

Gas prices are currently $2.93 per gallon. Our 12 seat van gets around 9 miles per gallon. I am happy to stay in the 53 mpb category -- 53 miles per burrito. (thanks Fritz).

Other benefits to bicycle commuting that are typically bandied about include the health benefits. I'll just say I am the only one in my family who has thus far avoided the really bad cold that is going around. I have to believe it has something to do with a daily hour of fresh air.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Favorite Things?

Temperature at departure = 14° F (-10° C)

Okay, winter is cold; I get it already. Enough of the "snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes." When do we get the "silver white winters that melt into spring." I could even stand the "silver white" part, it's this dull brown that is getting to me. Enough winter already, I want to see some green.

BTW, thanks to those of you who helped me with my forms experiment yesterday. Could you do me a favor? Try the link again and re-enter your stuff. I want to see if the form appends or updates... Thanks.

Late edit: Here is a nice profile on the President's bike mechanic. Interesting read.

Monday, February 11, 2008


It had been a while since I rode past a particular building in Corporate Woods. A while back it was part of my daily commute -- my route changed and, like I said, it had been a while since I rode past and noticed the two bikes locked to the bike rack. They're still there in the same position. So, either there are others out there who make the daily commute in Overland Park by bicycle -- or, more likely, these bikes have been abandoned.

It would be a shame if they were, but it wouldn't be a rare occurrence. Here is a nice article from Madison, WI asking the question: Where Do Bikes Go When They Die?

BTW, I skipped riding to my Dad's today, but I did get out to run some errands. Here is a rather ironic shot of my bike parked at the AAA office where I needed to pick up a proof of insurance card for one of the cars. Yeah, brisk.

Nice to be Back

It was certainly nice to get back home from Dallas. Peter came home from K-State for the weekend and wanted to go on a ride (that's him above). We'd thought about going 20 miles or so, but he is suffering from a cold so we cut the ride down to 6 miles. I hope it didn't make his cold worse...

Anyway, I then rode to my dad's and back because the week out of town is seriously going to hurt my chances of making my meager mileage goals for this month. I'll try to play catch up again today because I'm taking the day off and need to run some more errands with Dad. Temperatures in the teens so, I'll bundle up.

Speaking of goals; if you'd care to indulge me, I'm testing out a new feature in Google Docs -- Forms and would love to have you help me test it. Pretty simple, just click the link and fill in your first name, February mileage goal and miles ridden thus far. Here is the link: LINK

Friday, February 08, 2008


While on my most recent trip to Dallas, I took along a DVD to watch. I seem to always take a DVD but hardly ever watch them. This time I actually went back to the room one evening and sat down to enjoy "Comedian" -- a documentary about Jerry Seinfeld's post TV show return to stand-up comedy. It was pretty good. I honestly can't remember whether or not a particular joke that caught my attention was done on stage or while he was chatting with some other comedian friends. He talked about looking at his reflection in a glass building as he drives by; what did he expect to see, a small Korean woman?

True, when I ride by the glass buildings in Corporate Woods -- I look. Sometimes I snap a Panda Portrait. What am I expecting to see? What if I looked and didn't see anyone? Ego, I guess.

Anyway, I'm back home and hoping to get a nice bike ride in tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dallas Once Again

Looks like I'm missing out on another ice storm back home. Rats. I'm down at our Dallas office for the week, attending a couple training sessions. I'd love to show you some pictures of the facility down here, but that is frowned upon; so here is a shot taken outside the building.

Don't think I'll get in trouble for this. [I hope.]

Saturday, February 02, 2008

That's More Like It

One week later and 7° warmer. It was nice to see some more bikes in the rack at the library. Looks like there was only one other adult sized bike there -- but still, it was good to see that the kids who rode didn't have to rely on mom or dad driving them.

I was a beautiful day. 40° at Noon when I started out. Library, my Dad's and the long way home for a little over 21 miles of bliss.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Unsung Hero

For the last couple of years, during the school year, Curt has had my back. Rain, shine, horribly cold conditions, it doesn't matter -- he stands guard at a busy intersection and watches over 8 to 10 kids who use that route on the way to and on the way home from the school which is a half mile away. I've written about him before.

We wave at each other every day, chat for a minute or two when we get the chance. He always hits the button for me so that I get the signal as soon as I roll up. He doesn't get paid much, if anything, to be there day after day ... but when I asked him why he does, he said he worries about the kids. Curt is one of my heros.