Friday, January 30, 2009

Mistaken Identity

Temperature at departure = 28° F (-3° C)

It is SO good to be back on the bike after a one week hiatus. I'm amazed at how the absence of the daily ride affected some the other things in my life. But, I'm back in the saddle and ready for another day.

I'll be headed to Sydney a week from today (for work) and am comforted by the picture in the link below. It is good to know I'm not going to be mistaken for Russell Crowe. He'll be the one with the beard...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Inattentional Blindness

Temperatures in the teens, freezing drizzle, snow. Another day off the bike. I grow weary of winter...

Since I've been reading Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), by Tom Vanderbilt, I've been more apt to ignore my cell phone while driving. I'm trying to convince some of my loved ones to do the same. This might do the trick. A tip of the helmet to Tom Vanderbilt, author of the wonderful book Traffic, and the How We Drive blog.

Take the Driving Challenge by clicking HERE. I missed 8 questions from the cell phone caller and missed spotting 3 pedestrians. I did, however, spot the surprise.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It was Tails

I was on the fence this morning, waffling one way or the other about whether to ride my bike to work or not. It was 15° out and I've ridden in much colder weather for the last several weeks. Perhaps it was the weekend trip to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas that took the wind out of my sails today. We were scheduled to camp out Friday night, but the forecast said 10° with winds gusting to 30 MPH and that is too cold to risk. We got up at 2:30 a.m. and drove; a wise choice. In the afternoon we stood out in the cold for quite a while launching rockets.

So, it turns out I may have reached my tipping point regarding riding in the cold. I'm tired of it. Still, the rest of the week is looking worse with snow on the way tonight. Should I, or should I not? I don't stress over situations like this long ... I just flip a coin. (Not in a Two-Face kind of way, more of a Proverbs 16:33 way.) Heads: I ride. Tails: I drive.

I hope you don't think less of me.

Anyway, we all had a blast (pun not intended) on Saturday. I highly recommend the Cosmosphere. They have a fabulous museum with

a U.S. space artifact collection second only to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow.

Here is a shot of our guys getting ready to launch their rockets.

And this shot was lucky enough to catch one of the rockets launching.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gettin' Stuff Done

Roads too wet to ride
A warm day melting the snow
Wow, I need fenders

I had too many things to do today, anyway. That plus all the "serve-passenger trips" means I'm taking another day off.

But I'm getting a ton of stuff done around the house. Stuff that has been hanging around for years waiting to be done. I'm listening to some great tunes on YouTube as well...

Want a really good example of vocalese? You just can't beat Jon Hendricks's version of the Miles Davis tune "Freddie Freeloader." It features Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Jon Hendricks and George Benson singing lyrics to each note that was originally played by Davis, Wynton Kelly, Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on the tune from "Kind of Blue." Got 9 or 10 minutes to relax?

Friday, January 16, 2009


Several family members and friends have been questioning my ability to reason as of late. I found my excuse not to ride when I looked out the door...

Didn't take more than a block to wish that the XYZ Bike was still in working order and that I had ridden rather than driven. The office seemed kind of lonely without the bike sitting there too. Maybe it was time to take a day off after all.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Update on the tire

15 days and 150 miles into the new year and this is my second flat tire.

I had thought the flat was due to the - 3°F temperatures causing a pinch flat. Nope, that would be a puncture.

The inside of the tire feels fine and the hole in the tube was small. The tube is patched and I should be good to go for the ride home, forecasted to be around 8°F. I'm beginning to think of excuses to drive tomorrow...

New Record Low Temperature

Temperature at departure = -3° F (-19° C)

And that would be a new record low temperature for my commute by bike. My wife, with raised eyebrow, asked if I was going to ride in this morning; I told her that I could check off riding in temperatures below zero and wouldn't necessarily have to do it again. She chuckled her approval and I suited up. The Adidas Response CWW Bib Tights - Non Padded that she got me for Christmas really do the trick in cold weather. I'll have to work up a review...

The down side: 3 miles into the ride my rear tire started getting real low. I stopped and grabbed the pump attached to my frame (and I think the plastic mount cracked in the process) and pumped it up as much as I could. We'll see how the tire is doing around lunch time. I hope it just got low due to the temperatures as this tube only has 150 miles on it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hoist the Mains'l

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

When I left home, the same site showed winds from the NNW at 26, gusting to 50 MPH. Perhaps this would be a good day to drive, not because the temperatures that will fall into the teens in the next couple of hours and single digits by the time I ride home ... just don't like the gusting winds.

Then I remembered, I'm heading south. Wheeeeeeeee!

[note to self for the ride home: there WILL be more branches and sticks on the path.]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Linking the Indian Creek and Gary Haller Trails

Temperature at departure = 5° F (-15° C)

Ignoring the fact that I look like some sort of lame Muppet, I took a quick polar panda to show the effects of 5°, headwinds and watering eyes. Frozen droplets on the eyelashes and a frosty balaclava.

A far cry from the 45° Peter and I had for our Sunday ride. Sunday's ride is on the list of favorite rides for 2009 and likely to stay there. The weekend before we'd tried to link up the Indian Creek Trail with the Gary L. Haller Trail but the map showing bike lanes on 119th must have been outdated. We didn't have enough daylight to make it to the next logical attempt at 143rd so we had headed back home.

Many thanks go out to Josh in Olathe. I'd noticed on his blog that his bicycle commute runs through the area we wanted to check out, so I left him a comment and got a reply back that included a map and some great instructions. Armed with my MARC map, map of the area loaded on the new Google phone and Josh's instructions written out on a note card -- we set out on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.

Josh's instructions were spot on and we hooked up with with the Gary Haller Trail just in time to turn around so we could be home before it got dark. As we rode home the sun dipped low enough to turn the normally dirty brownish flora into a beautiful golden color. We picked up the pace and made it home as the sun was setting and had a fantastic 33.3 mile ride.

So, here is my map for linking the two trails.

View Larger Map

Once again, Josh, I really appreciate the help. Next time Peter is home we're going to leave earlier and ride from home up to the lake at Shawnee Mission Park.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Might want to get that looked at...

Temperature at departure = 18° F (-8° C)

Officially, it is named Wedd Street; I prefer to think of it as "The Avenue of Deformed Trees."

Knot (/pun) only is it an disturbingly scenic jaunt, this hill from 91st to Switzer is very fun to ride DOWN. I've always wanted to take some pictures of these trees and make some comment about tumorous ents ... I just never wanted to slow down to do it. Today, after dropping off stuff at the library, I was running late anyway so might as well take the time. Oh, I didn't stop, just slowed down.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Awwwwwh, Freak Out

Temperature at departure = 29° F (-2° C)

From: National office F. C. o. A.
To: Overland Park, Kansas chapter

On behalf of all of us at the national office, I would like to congratulate you on a successful launch of the first Freak Out Warren T Night. I know you have been planning this for a while and the results certainly seem to indicate that the planning was well worth the time and effort.

To the two fauns who jumped into the creek and thrashed around just as he began riding over the narrow bridge -- nicely done. You almost got him to crash into the railing. Perhaps next year you could add a bellow or something...

To the squirrel siblings on the north end of Corporate Woods, well done. After the fauns got the ball rolling, your rustling in the leaves certainly got him thinking the deer were back.

And finally, O.P. chapter president - P. T. Bull, kudos on getting your human to come out and "exercise" you at the right moment. You were correct, the target completely forgot there was a fence separating the two of you.

As a result of your efforts, I hear that the target was flinching at the site of a leaf blowing across the beam of his headlight. Excellent! I'm looking forward to reviewing your individual reports and to your plans for the next Freak out Warren T Night. Congratulations again on a job well done.


Jack A. Lope
Communications Director
Furry Critters of America

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happiness can be Found in Wool Socks

Temperature at departure = 25° F (-4° C)

For the last three winters I've read about the advantages of wool socks but not paid attention because a double shot of cotton socks had worked for me. This Christmas, my wife gave me a pair of Cannondale wool socks and I tried them for the first time today. Love. Them.

In this temperature range I would have normally had on two pair of cotton socks and my toes would have been a bit chilly by the end of the ride and the rest of my feet would have been a bit sweaty once I hit the office.

With the one pair of wool socks today my feet stayed warm for the first five miles and then were just a touch cool after that. I was comfy enough for the whole ride and my feet stayed nice and dry. Okay, I'm sold.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

First Flat for 2009

With temperatures hovering around 50 yesterday afternoon, Peter and I decided to head out on a ride to see where we could get the Indian Creek Trail to link up with the Gary Haller Trail. Two miles in I rode under a bridge and the mud from a storm a week or so ago was hardened into a mess of 3 inch deep ruts. Thus was born my first pinch flat of 2009.

I had grabbed my trunk bag at the last minute before the ride so I had a spare tube and the new tire levers that CAT had put in my Christmas stocking. A few minutes later we were back on the trail. I had a map from MARC that indicates a bike lane on 119th from Pflumm west to the Gary L. Haller Trail. Um, not so much. There is no bike lane and 119th is a mess of retail traffic in that area; no way I'll lead a bunch of scouts on a ride here. We doubled back and took the ICT out to 135th before we had to turn back in order to make it home before dark.

We'll hopefully get another ride in before Peter heads back to K-State and we think we'll be able to hook the two trails up with just a short jog on 143rd. All in all, a very nice ride (even with the flat).

Friday, January 02, 2009


While reading Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putnam, I came across a statement about people dependent upon television for their primary form of entertainment: "People who are social isolates to begin with gravitate toward the tube as the line of leisurely least resistance."

I'm not sure why, but it got me thinking about why I started commuting by bike back in early 2006. I don't think I've ever explained my switch from car to bicycle in this blog ... I had in my first blog at work (which I'd never backed up and was flushed from the servers after the sale to Google).

I'd ridden my bike to work sporadically before that, mostly in the mid to late 80's.

In March 2006, I had taken Trevor, our oldest, back to K-State and was stopped and waiting at a red light behind another minivan when a catering truck driven by a 19-year old (who was more interested in checking out the co-ed walking on the sidewalk than paying attention to the road) hit me from behind at ~35 MPH.

My beloved minivan was totaled and when I went to the doctor the next day I learned that I had been compressed from 6' 6" to 6' 4.75". Don't worry, no other ill effects and I'm back up to 6' 5" now. Anyway, after the time the insurance company alloted for a rental car had expired I was faced with dealing with one less vehicle for our family's use until the caterer's insurance company paid up.

We had moved to our current house in the summer of 1999 and I had always wanted to get out on the bike trail which was close at hand ... but had never taken the time to check it out. Now sounded like the time, after all, I used to ride my bike further than that to work in traffic and here was a nice bike trail which ran almost up to my office door.

I saddled up my 1977 Yama 10 speed and rode it to work April, May and June 2006, even after I'd replaced the minivan. The Yama's 29 year old cables finally protested in July and my wife suggested I check out a new bike at the local bike shop. The rest, as they say, is history.

So, to circle back, driving a car to work was my path of least resistance until car problems forced me to try cycling. Once tried, I couldn't give it up. I know the same is true for Noah and others. This last summer, gas prices seemed to be a factor in getting some new bike commuters past their path of least resistance. What about you?