Friday, August 29, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present ... Hogie!

Temperature at departure = 68° F (20° C)

A few weeks back, my wife and I attended her X year high school reunion. She found out about it just a few days before the event, but the website prompted me to try to find my best bud from college again. Finally, Hogie got himself set up on Facebook. We haven't had a chance to chat for a while and now have gotten to do the e-mail/IM thing a bit. He seems to be doing well (but how he made the jump from TV to ad agency to banker is a story I want to hear when we've got some more time).

I was happy to see that he's into cycling too! In fact, he's just made the leap to bike commuter. Please check out his blog as he chronicles the new commuting adventure.

I took a different route to work today and met 6 kids on bikes on their way to school. They were having a blast. I can tell that they're headed to my kid's former elementary school and it looks like they're sticking to the sidewalks. They'll meet up with Kurt and he'll make sure they are safely across 103rd and on their way. Cool!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mountain Man

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

I'm glad I was pressed for time yesterday and was unable to write the post which I had intended. What I had in mind was a post about how the number of cyclists I encountered during my morning commute had increased dramatically when gas prices hit 4 dollars per gallon and, now that prices are back down to around 3.60 per gallon, they're still riding their bikes.

Yesterday morning I lost track of the number of other people on bikes on the trail during my 20 mile ride. I'd stopped counting around 20 cyclists. This morning I decided I would keep an exact count to support the post I had in mind. Today I only saw 6 other people on bikes on the same 20 route. There goes that theory.

Mountain Man

Now, let's talk about cyclist number 5. I was 12 miles into my ride when I noticed I was gaining on someone. As I got closer the other cyclist turned out to be a guy with a football player's build, probably around 30 years old, riding a mountain bike working

hard to get, probably, 13 MPH out of the thing. I was cruising along at 16 MPH. As I pulled up behind him I rang my bell and said good morning. No response. The guy is taking up the middle of the path so I rang the bell again and said "Coming up on your left." He looked back and then moved over to the left a bit to block me. So, I moved around to the right and off he goes, pedaling for all he's worth ... downhill.

Now, I take it this person has what you might call a bit of a competitive streak. Whatever, I really didn't want to race, I'm just trying to get to work, but I know what's coming up on this part of the trail so why not let him get his momentary lead. He seems to be a man on a mission, zipping around some elderly pedestrians with his only comment to them a brusk "MOVE RIGHT!" I did my normal ding, ding, "good morning" thing and as we rounded the corner I began lowering my gears. Yep, he's been pounding away and didn't bother to drop his gears to try to take on the nice hills. I pass him half way up and tried to be friendly again; "How're you doin'?" I guess that was the wrong thing to say. I coasted down the other side, paid attention to the pedestrians at the bottom of the hill and politely got around them. Hmmmm, I thought I heard some cursing back behind me.

Things kind of flatten out around the Deanna Ross Farmstead and as we approached the golf course I could hear some pretty heavy huffing and puffing coming up behind me. What the heck, I'll give it one more try, "I really hate this next part that's coming up." The only response was an icy stare.

I hope you won't think less of me when I admit that I derived a rather sinister sense of enjoyment knowing that the monster hill on the south side of St. Andrews Golf Club was moments away. I dropped down to the granny ring in front and made it up the hill without much effort. At the top of the hill I glanced back and the competitor was about a fourth of the way up the hill, off his bike, trying to walk up the hill. Never saw him again.

I really don't want to be a jerk about it but this morning's ride, along with that of August 8th, are probably the most fun I've had on a bike in the last three or four months. Sorry, but I guess when I'm provoked I can be a little bit of a jerk too. Yes, it bears repeating, "I ring my tiny bell in celebration!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Back

Temperature at departure = 60° F (16° C)

Well, I'm back from a hectic couple of weeks in Morgantown, WV and Cumberland, MD. The first week we worked 18 to 20 hour days. The second week we kept it down to 12 hour days. I've been trying to catch up on sleep, but our oldest dog, Belle, has developed a condition that causes her to drink gallons of water a day ... meaning we're up every 3 hours to let her outside. Man, I'm tired.

Anyway, it was a really good trip and I'm happy to be home and back in the school year groove. It took me a couple days before I had a chance to get back on the bike, but I'm back in that groove as well. This morning I caught a glimpse of a fox in my neighborhood. It has been a few years since I've seen one of those and I'm hoping they stay away from my yard. I had enough problems when my dogs saw a coyote in our side yard last year.

Speaking of coyotes.

Whenever I see the gas line pipe seen above, I think this:

Happy to be home and keepin' my eye out for Wiley Coyote.

[note: if you got 3 of these posts in your RSS feed, sorry. There is something going on with the latest version of Blogger that scrambled it two times...]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Good News, Bad News

The good news is, management has decided to install a bike rack. This rack will also feature extra security by being completely fenced in.

The bad news...

Greetings from lovely Morgantown, WV. I'm here for another week or so for work and when I saw this bike rack, I had to stop and get a picture. The thing is fenced in with some satellite dishes and locked up solid. Um, yeah.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Good Morning To You

Temperature at departure = 67° F (19° C)

What an absolutely gorgeous morning.  I'm not the kind of guy that spontaneously bursts into song, but here's how I felt during this morning's commute by bike in Overland Park.

To the driver of the white pickup that tried to pass me at the last moment and was left hung out to dry in the left turn lane at 103rd and Lamar: I understand that you probably don't expect cyclists to be riding at or slightly above the posted speed limit and you probably thought you could duck around me and not have to be stuck at the red light behind someone on a bicycle.  I would like to apologize for any inconvenience and stress this may have cau...  HAHAHAHAHAHA.  Who am I kidding?  You got served by a guy in his upper forties on a bicycle.  I ring my tiny bell in celebration.  Ding, ding.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

How Dare I?

Temperature at departure = 70° F (21° C)

Dave A's wife saw an interesting head stone in Idaho.  If I were Leah, I'd make sure I was off on vacation this December... (look close).

Tip of the helmet to Treadly and Me for the discussion of parents coddling children.  I love the comment "'curling parents' (sweeping obstacles aside for their kids)."

In the post, TnM links to an article from the Daily Telegraph that says:

"The simple joys of childhood such as bike riding, climbing trees and even just crossing the road are basic skills that are in danger of being entirely lost."

This is rather personal since I had a conversation yesterday about my letting my son ride his bike to drum lessons wherein he had to cross a four lane road.  Even after I explained that there is this thing called a crosswalk that he used, an acquaintance was shocked that I'd let a 12.5 year old venture out like that.  By the way, he was fine.

For the record, if I'm not with them, my younger kids stay off the really busy roads.  Much to my chagrin, they will ride sidewalks sometimes.  If they have to cross a busy road, they walk the bikes across in a crosswalk.  I've ridden with them quite a bit and discuss situations we encounter and best practices for riding on streets.  

In my opinion, my kids have a huge jump on other kids when they finally get their learner's permit and start driving.  They know most of the rules of the road.  They know the streets around their neighborhood.  They have an idea of how unpredictable some drivers can be.  No, they're not perfect, there are always some white knuckle moments with any new driver ... but riding bikes puts them ahead of the curve.

Sorry, I really didn't mean to rant like this.

Finally, it has been a while since I baiku'd for Fritz.

Clouds hover above
No one on the path but me
The rain is my friend

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Clean up on aisle nine, please.

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

While I was in Dallas last week, it appears we had some really severe rains in OP.  I've been riding the Indian Creek bike/hike trail daily for more than 3 years and this is the worst damage I've seen.  Several places have the top inch or so of pavement just washed to the side as seen below.

Fences tell quite a story as well:

The one seen above is at Deer Creek Golf Club around 130th and Metcalf.  According to Google Earth, this fence was 400' away from the creek.

Close to 135th and US 69 the fence above shows that the water was 10' to 12' above it's normal course.

My favorite little bridge fared a little better in this storm than it has in some.  It only lost one board this time.  Looks like I missed quite a show.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

No, I didn't really need any excuses to ride Saturday, but rather than just ride in the same big circle I ride to work I figured I could get some weekend errands done without having to drive.
"Honey, I need to run by the scout store. I'm just going to ride."
"It's pretty warm out there..."
"I'll take plenty of water."
"Can you run these scissors by my Mom's?"
You bet I could. CAT's mom's house is basically on the way to the scout shop. It was pretty warm, the humidity bumped the 89° F temperature up to a heat index over 100° F. BTW, By the time I got home the 92° temperatures had a heat index of 105°.

Having dropped off the scissors I doubled back a little and hopped on the bike path at Indian Creek Drive and Lamar. One of the things I enjoy about riding in extreme temperatures, hot or cold, is that it certainly cuts down on other pedestrians and cyclists.

If you happen to ride this trail, you may want to be aware that there is an additional obstacle on the Indian Creek Trail since the last time I rode it a week ago. Just west of Mission road they've torn the path up to do some maintenance. It is pretty easy to get off the bike and hop over, but I'm concerned that this may not be possible during the weekdays when the construction crews are back. I spaced it off this morning and rode it again ... no work crews so I made it across with no problems.

I split off from my normal route and rode through Leawood Park and continued to the Missouri part of the path. For some weird reason there was an over abundance of Blue Tailed Racers (western skinks) and Canada Geese.

There were WAY more geese out than normal. Noticed it this morning as well. It is my theory that the flooding that happened along the creek while I was gone has displaced a bunch of geese and other wildlife.

I rode to Holmes and then rode up Holmes to 103rd to turn into the scout shop. I won't ride that stretch of Holmes again; we'll leave it at that. The trip to the shop was due to the need for the cycling merit badge book. I've decided to become a Cycling merit badge counselor and needed to get the book to get an idea of what requirements we need to start working on.

The ride home was uneventful. I checked e-mail and found out that the library got a book in for me and have it on hold, so...

Once home, my mother-in-law called with another errand. Another trip there and home before the last ride of the day to the pool with Curtis and Jon.

Curtis on the climbing wall.

Jon in mid-air.

31.2 miles total for the day.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Cycling = Better Life

5 ways riding a bicycle makes life better.

Rather than cutting and pasting, I'll just link to the article that the KC Star borrowed from the Dallas Morning News who, in turn, grabbed from Bicycling magazine. Kinda bloggish of them, isn't it?

I'm back from a week of laziness in Dallas and am dreaming up excuses (chores) that can be accomplished on my bike today. I guarantee that there will be another ride to the pool on the beach cruiser.