Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Dallas again

I'm going to have to try to talk them into buying a bike for the Dallas office again. For the price they pay for me to rent a car, they could BUY a pretty nice bike and leave it at the office for a couple of us to use when we come down...

Last year they'd agreed to it, but then that manager transferred to another office. I'm buddies with the new manager, so chances are good. In the mean time, I'm having to jump rope to burn calories the way I used to before I started commuting by bike.

Here is another shot of the dam at Lenexa Lake. I may or may not have taken this shot on July 4th, prior to the park being open.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

GPCC Tour de Donut 2

Six of us showed up yesterday morning for the second annual Great Plains Community Church Tour de Donut (muffin, pancakes, etc.).

We ride 10 miles round trip, including the big hill on Prairie Star Parkway which is part of the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride.

We met at the church land and rode to McDonald's for some carb-loading, fun fellowship. It's a fun ride and we're hoping to get more people involved next year.

* * * * *

After the TdD, Peter and I decided to check out the Lenexa Lake Park that I rode through on July 4th. At that time there may have been some signs up saying the trail and park were closed ... I'm trying to remember. No longer true.

Black Hoof Park is now open to the public -- and I wish I would have known this before the TdD.

The park features a spillway that is really pretty. Standing on the top looking down.

From the side.

Top of the spillway.

The park is gorgeous and I guarantee it will be part of next year's TdD.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cider Mill Century Bike Ride

HERE is a press release from the Johnson County Bike Club, asking for volunteers to help out with the Cider Mill Century bike ride.

I dunno. I remember seeing information on this one a while back, but with the two business trips coming up I wouldn't have been able to go on a ride on August 3rd. Yesterday I was told that my trip for the 4th had been moved. Hmmmm. I've never riden a century ride before.

I'll have to think this one over...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Look out Below

Temperature at departure = 74° F (23° C)

Several years ago I fell off the top of a 30' ladder. I was painting the trim on a third story window and the bottom of the ladder kicked out a bit, the ladder dropped a couple feet and stopped suddenly and I hit a rung like it was a diving board. I wasn't injured physically, in fact I held on to the paint brush and bucket all the way down and didn't spill a drop (let's talk about angels some time). My body was fine, but ever since that day I've had an issue with heights.

Once or twice a year I force myself to go off the high dive at the pool so my kids don't think I'm a big chicken.

I used to love roller coasters. Not any more.

So, it shouldn't surprise me that I get a bit of a queasy feeling when I ride the pedestrian bridge that spans I-435 at Roe every morning.

Queue the theme from Vertigo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It could have been worse

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

I had it all planned out. Since I'd worked more than an hour past quitting time last night, I figured I'd leave at 07:30, ride the 20 mile loop with one stop at the bank right at 09:00 when they opened. That would put me at the office around 09:15, but like I said, I worked a bit extra last night.

Two miles into the ride, my front tire went flat. I'd encountered a couple bumps that were probably to blame; squared off edges...

I pulled over to a picnic table, took off the backpack and patched the tire. I either messed up the patch or there was another leak because 0.2 miles further on the tire was flat again. So, I turned around and headed home. Every 0.4 miles I had to stop and pump the tire up again. Annoying, but I was glad it happened 2 miles into the ride instead of 10 miles into the ride.

Man, I hated having to drive into work. I'm going to be hard pressed to make my goal of 350 miles this month what with missing out on 16 miles today and being out of town all next week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Civics Lessons

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

I needed a change of scenery this morning. Not much, just a little time off the beaten path. The construction on the Metcalf corridor continues and part of the Vision Metcalf project between 103rd and 99th is the addition of a bike/hike path that actually runs south from the Metcalf South Shopping Center parking lot (call it 97th Terrace) south to 103rd, connecting to the Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail. Here is a shot from this morning heading south between 99th and 101st.

Once they finish the part just before the bridge, that will become a regular part of my route. As it is now, you can ride it but you're separated from the north bound Metcalf traffic by traffic cones and, perhaps, three feet. Probably 15 to 20 seconds that are not for the feint of heart.

Looks like there are some nice (proposed) changes to allow more bike traffic. Check page 7 of 11 HERE.

"In order to become a sustainable urban neighborhood, Overland Park must put an even greater reliance on people cycling as a true alternative mode of transportation."

Curtis and I attended the Overland Park City Council meeting last night with our boy scout troop. There were actually two bike trail related issues that were brought up:

1) Contract for needed repairs to the bike/hike trail goes to the lowest bidder -- approved.
2) Much discussion and approval of plans for additional construction at the Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin Treatment Facility (10001 College Blvd.), that is close to the bike trail by Indian Valley Park (116th & Knox).

During the discussion about the waste water treatment plant, they went back over plans to build a large, inflatable dome to collect the gas from the digester tanks and use it to produce electricity to help power the plant. I choose to refer to this dome as the giant gas bag. Anyway, in order to obscure the view of the giant gas bag from the bike trail and the houses close by, they are going to have to plant additional native streamway plants ... and they already have a guy who specializes in that. Imagine, some one has a job that appears to amount to the ability to cultivate weeds.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Taken as a Compliment

Temperature at departure = 74° F (23° C)

Last night my 15 year old asked me how long it would take me to ride to Roe Park. I told him it would take 15 minutes.

"So, it's going to take me 30..."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lighten Up

Temperature at departure = 74° F (23° C)

Perhaps I missed it; is today National Humorlessness Day?

1) I took to the streets for the first part of my commute this morning so I could run a couple errands. I was turning off Lowell onto a side street which forced a guy in a double cab pickup to have to wait at his stop sign for an additional 3 seconds. As I rounded the corner he said “Get off the road jackass.” Without thinking about it I just laughed and kept riding.

For the first 17 years we were married my wife and I lived on the Missouri side of the state line, however, we have been back on the Kansas side for 8 years or so. Although I can sometimes be accused of being as stubborn as a Missouri mule, the Kansas state animal is the American Buffalo. I’ll admit I was buffaloed by his comment but perhaps he is from Minnesota (state bird = loon).

2) Back on the bike/hike path I was on a long, open, downhill stretch when I had the following encounter with a woman walking a dog with a retractable leash:

WT’s bell: Ding, ding, ding. (no response)
WT’s bell: Ding, Ding, Ding! (wwdwrl turns head and retracts the dog who sits down next too her)
WT: Good Morning.
WWDWRL: Good boy.
WT: Thank you.

Let’s just say her response was less than polite, but, for the record, I prefer the term “smart-alec.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Temperature at departure = 65° F (18° C)

I'm not sure how any of this is going to fit into the article that I'm piecing together for Commute By Bike, but it sort of goes along with last Thursday's post about Close Encounters.

My youngest son is currently working on a citizenship merit badge. Part of what he is working on is learning what roles our elected officials play. Thus, I thought it might be a good exercise to observe the roles played by two of our nations Governors (one past and one present) along with a former Gubernatorial candidate who is presently a candidate for the U.S. Senate ... so we sat down to watch Predator.

As I rode to work through the woods, I was reminded of some of the scenes where the pointman was carefully making his way through the jungle. As he moved along he would have to keep his eyes open for the enemy, trip wires, natural obstacles and any other surprises that might pop up. It struck me that riding on the MUP through the woods in Leawood and Overland Park is a lot like being on point. Like I said last week, you gotta keep your eyes open.

With that in mind, I had the safest ride to work in recent memory. Sure, there were plenty of pedestrians and cyclists out; but, by harnessing a pointman mentality I avoided several situations that could have led to more close encounters.

For the most part, it is just common sense. If the path is wet and you're riding downhill towards a sharp turn obscured by trees -- slow down. When approaching a series of hairpin turns -- slow down. When a big group of joggers is headed your way, make sure you can get around them.

Some times you can see a good 30 seconds worth of the path.

Some times it's more like 2 seconds.

Can you see the jogger in the picture above? Neither can I, but she's there. Black pants, black shirt, long dark hair, she looked like a young Maria Shriver. Had I been hammering through this series of twists and turns I probably would have been apologizing instead of saying "Good morning."

I've ridden the route enough times that I have a good handle on places where it looks like it would be a blast to go as fast as possible, but the path is actually treacherous. Today, I was on point. Stay frosty. Oh, and "Get to the chopper!"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride 2008

Peter and I rode in the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride again this year -- Sunday morning, midnight.

Some marked differences between this year and last year. It was around 15 degrees or so cooler. Last year when we rode into the caves, the drop in temperature was a nice break from the heat. This year it was cooler above ground than it was below.

Mark from Bike America told me he was going to be there -- and I'm sure he was, I just didn't get to see him. I only got to briefly say "Hi" to Noah before he was called away. As he rode off I tried to get a shot of him ... but my daughter had borrowed my camera and I have no idea what setting she had it on. Sorry dude. Still, it kinda makes it look like you're on fire.

Peter and I were fortunate to only be about four rows back for the beginning of the ride. There were plenty of people stacked up behind us.

Keep in mind, this is a fun ride, not a race. Still, at mile 4 I was in third place and Peter was in fourth (taking it easy on the old man). By mile 6 we had dropped to seventh and eighth, and by the time we hit the caves we were probably around twelfth to fifteenth. After the caves we found ourselves in the middle of the families who were taking the short route so we throttled back a bit. It's not that we were trying to race, we just got started ahead of all the families, groups and people with pets. We made good time and kept the pace at about 17 mph.

Last year it took us 63 minutes to make it to the finish line. This year it only took us 47 minutes. I also think they may have compressed the monster hill from last year. It didn't seem nearly as tough to make it up the hill. Of course, last year I was taking a 7 mile route to work and this year I'm riding 20 miles to work...

Our favorite moment was as Peter and I were headed over to get pancakes. Some guy, all decked out in his racing gear, came across the finish line and felt the need to pump his fists in the air and yell -- just like the winners of a Tour de France stage. As he did so, he hit a bump, faltered a bit and lost his headlight. Seriously folks, rather than pretend you're riding in a real race -- try riding in one.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just Don't Have the Time?

I read, with interest, the comments to a post from new bike commuter John B. In it, a woman explained that one of the reasons her husband had given up commuting by bike was the time the 20 mile round trip took out of their lives. Now, I don’t know the woman or her husband and I don’t want it to seem like I was dogging on them when I added a comment quoting the often mentioned statistic:

“According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year).”

The comment I read was close on the tails of a conversation I had with someone the night before, where they told me they would never have the extra time to ride on errands rather than drive. That person then turned to talk to another parent about several reality shows that she’s following.

Um, yeah.

Disclosure: I too have wasted time watching TV recently. After a long day, it feels good to just plop down and zone out. As I turn the darned thing off I regret that I wasted that precious time and promise myself that I’ll not do it again … but, it’s a hard habit to break.

I should know better; my degree is in radio and television and to this day (what, 28 years later?) I remember a lecture, and the chapter it was based on, discussing the concept of L.O.P. We don’t watch programs, we watch television. When the box gets turned on we scan around for the Least Objectionable Program and stay with it until it becomes boring or objectionable and then we scan again.

I’ll try to do better.

Wow, I got off track. My point was, if the average person watches TV for 4 hours a day, they can afford to drop one of those hours in favor of the increased time riding a bike would take.

One last point, a year ago on the Presentation Zen blog, the author had a picture of his hotel room. He was working on a book at the time and one of the things I noticed in the picture was the hand printed sign he had taped over the TV screen: “TV SUCKS.” Agreed.

Okay, I lied – this is my last point … I’m reading another book by Steve Allen and am reminded of a story that came over the AP News Wire at a radio station I was working at in the mid 90’s. I was so impressed with the story that I made note of it in my Franklin Planner and still have it:

(AP News story) Steve Allen says he can write books and do TV shows and get all his shopping done and still have time to do volunteer work, because he doesn't waste time. Allen says he "gets a fresh delivery of 24 hours every morning," and by not wasting time, he has three or four extra hours to work.

Hmmm, three or four extra hours…

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Close Encounters

On my ride in this morning, I had just crossed a bridge on the Tomahawk Creek Bike/Hike Trail when I was almost taken out by another cyclist coming from the other direction. I was as far right as was safe to ride (the side of the path at that point is large rocks) when this guy on his road bike, in full cycling kit, came blowing around a blind curve to his right … all the way over on my side of the path. He slammed on his breaks, we brushed shoulders and I continued on my way.

Every July, for about three weeks during the Tour de France, I see more guys decked out in racing spandex out riding on road bikes. The guy this morning had “I’m playing Tour de France” written all over him. Idiot.

Flash back 10 minutes; I was riding south on the MUP that runs parallel to Nall this morning to get a change of scenery. Taking Nall from 103 to 127th cut 3 miles off my normal ride, but it’s just been way too routine the last few days. I had stopped and gotten off my bike at the entrance to the Sprint campus. Having pushed the crosswalk button, I waited for the crosswalk light while the cars in the right turn lane took their chances turning on the red in front of me. As the traffic light and crosswalk light both turned green I started across as a guy in a red SUV decided not to yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk. I stopped. He stopped in front of me. I started to walk. He started to drive. I stopped. He stopped … and threw his hands up in frustration. I’m not a fan of crosswalks.

Every other cyclist and pedestrian I encountered this morning was cheerful and polite. Had it not been for all of those people, I might have regretted riding my bike today. You see, yesterday morning’s ride was fraught with peril as well. There were four thundering herds of teenage girls out on a training run more interested in chatting amongst themselves than they are of the cyclist heading their direction ringing his bell and calling out “GOOD MORNING!!!” There were two thundering herds of teenage boys out on their training runs trying to act cool and like they own and are blockading the path. I couldn’t for the life of me get the attention of the two gals jogging in place talking to each other. I saw several folk who were new to cycling and were having a lot of difficulties focusing on trying to stay upright and completely ignoring my bell and voice. Perhaps the closest call yesterday came as I was riding down the path next to Quivera where I normally reach 36 MPH. I had already had to pull off into the grass to avoid three golf carts that were coming towards me, when I saw the crew working with weed eaters. One guy had moved from the curb and was walking onto the path while facing away from me. The guy never looked around and I’d run my bell and shouted “HEADS UP!” at the top of my voice twice. Finally, as I was almost on top of him, he starts to turn to look … so, of course, the business end of the weed eater is now swinging into what little room there was left of the path. Made it past with no ill effects, although I’m not quite sure how.

Most of these near misses have had one thing in common, these folk weren’t watching where they were going, they were focused on where they were at. That is not a good idea. I’m tossing around an idea for an article on “Target Fixation” for CommuteByBike wherein I’ll expound on that a bit. It all boils down to the need to keep looking ahead while you’re riding… Now, where’s my coffee?

Monday, July 07, 2008


Temperature at departure = 78° F (26° C)

It's the time of year when every bike ride is named Tour de (something). My morning commute will hence be known as the Tour de Creepy Crawlers. Along with the normal wildlife I would expect to encounter while riding the trail in Overland Park (deer, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and birds galore) this morning, for some reason, had all the elements of a bad horror flick. In order of appearance:

  • I had to dodge a very lively snake.
  • I rode trough an active spider web and had to remove it's angry resident.
  • I almost ran over a dead bat.
  • A wasp hit me in the face.
  • A bee landed on my shirt.

Oh, and as I was zooming down Quivera at 36.1 MPH there was a Thwack! and I ended up with this bug splatter on my glasses.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Gearing up for the TdF

Last year my youngest son watched a good deal of the Tour de France with me. I wonder if he'll be as willing this year...

Google Maps has a special Street View set-up for this year's TdF. Check it out HERE.

"Experience the famous French race like never before. Le Tour de France and Google Maps invite you to ride the 2008 route using Street View. Now, you can feel like part of the race, no matter where you are."

You can "ride" through each one of the stages. Interesting.

Further Evidence

...that I'm giving in to the dark side.

I won these cycling socks by participating in Bike to Work Week. I never understood the need for cycling SOCKS. Having tried them, I like them well enough. They're much lighter than the cotton socks I normally wear.

Prior to scout camp I bought some more socks that were billed as "breathable" and seem to be made of the same fabric. I'm not giving up the short cotton socks, but the new socks (cycle-specific or not) are a welcome addition.

But wait, there's more evidence that I'm becoming less "Fred" to come.

Temperature at departure = 64° F (18° C)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Still, I felt like a jerk...

Rain today, so I drove. The last two days I've taken the long way and tested out a couple Father's Day presents. First, a pair of Pearl iZumi Slice Gloves to replace my old Wal-Mart weightlifting gloves. I like the padding. You know, there is something to this wearing of bike specific gear...

  • They're nice and snug, but not too tight.
  • My hands aren't all sweaty when I finish the ride [I've hated the slimy feel the old gloves were taking on].
  • Like I said before, the padding helps keep a good grip on the handle bars.

It is a very rare occasion for me to overtake and pass another cyclist on my morning ride. Over the last few years other riders were pretty rare at that time of the morning on a weekday. I passed four riders yesterday. Granted, they appeared to all be recreational cyclists and I was a man on a mission -- but I felt kind of bad about it and none of them really knew how to react to someone else on a bike passing them.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Back From Camp

That was my home away from home last Sunday through Saturday. Loved it! We had rain three days, but it wasn't ever much of an inconvenience. Actually, the rain came mostly overnight and cooled things down.

I didn't get to nap and read as much as I'd hoped because I signed up for Conquer the Kaw where I hiked 11 miles and biked 20. We didn't get to canoe on the Kaw because it is too high and fast at the moment.

Here is a shot of our hike on the Camp Naish Rimrock Trail.

And this was taken during our ride.

Those of you who are familiar with Boy Scouts may understand the significance of Curtis and I going through the Ordeal for the Order of the Arrow. We made it.

Great time -- except for that one trip to the ER...