Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Brain Freeze

What's the deal with every morning having the same 18° F (-8° C) temperature? Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying getting out in it, but some variety would be nice.

This morning I actually had two goals in mind when I set out on my bike:

  • Take one of the boy's forgotten-in-the-rush backpack to school.

  • Coffee -- NEED COFFEE (trip to grocery store)

  • A half mile into the ride (right in front of the frozen fountain) I noticed that my head felt colder than it should. I'd forgotten to put the wrap-around ear muffs on over the balaclava. Still, it wasn't terribly uncomfortable. As I walked into the school and, later, into the store I got a couple questioning looks but no one said anything about it being too cold to be out on a bike. Perhaps the people in the school office are just used to seeing me this way. Perhaps no one in the store wanted to talk to someone who was peeling off layers to let out some of the heat trapped within. Perhaps winter cyclists are becoming so common that no one gives them a second thought anymore. Naaaaahh.

    I got home and swapped biking layers with dog walking layers and headed out for another morning walk wherein I show my dog that I'm the pack leader and that animals are in subjection to humans.

    Here she waits patiently while I bag her waste. Wait. What!?!

    Friday, December 03, 2010

    Pastoral Ride

    This morning I was musing on how 28° F at 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. seems to be the ideal setting for maximum squirrel activity when I rounded a corner in Founders Park and saw her. A beautiful doe standing right next to the trail. We eyed each other cautiously as I coasted past and I thought to myself -- it's great to be back on the path.

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    How Warren got his Groove Back

    I've gone through a lot of phases with my bike riding. Bike Commuter, Recreational Cyclist, Utility Cyclist. It's no secret that the end of my commuting put a damper on biking and blogging; and that is fine, we all go through that kind of ebb and flow in various aspects of our lives.

    This last year my interest in cycling waned. There were lots of excuses: I'm working from home now, walking the dog in the morning, working on the house and yard, the apprehension that came after a couple of friends had been hit by cars, and, to be honest, the thrill was simply gone.

    For some reason I turned the mental corner a few days back. Perhaps it is just because this is my favorite time of year for riding. Yes, it is getting cold, but cold weather riding is not uncomfortable if you're wearing the proper clothing. It also means I'm a bit more visible with my highly reflective and hi-vis jacket. Also, the air is "crisp" and I like that.

    Now, as a case in point, I needed to make a quick run to the bank this morning which would be 3.5 miles round trip. I knew it would be cold so I dug out my balaclava and quickly checked the temperature: 28°. I checked my list of what clothes to wear based on the temperature and hit the road. (I do need to adjust the list again now that I've discovered the miracle of wool socks.)

    When I got home I realized that the joy of riding that has been missing for months is back. I also feel energized; I don't know how else to put it. Maggie and I will still get our daily walks in, but I'm going to make time to get out on the trail early in the morning so I can have this feeling throughout the day. So, when you see cyclists out in the cold, don't feel sorry for us -- we're having a blast.

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Reasons to ride

    In all the articles I've poured over concerning reasons to ride bikes I always see items along the lines of riding being good for the environment, good for the body, good for traffic calming, and FUN! I hardly ever see anyone else mention Rock Star Parking, although Noah has been kind enough in the past to mention it.

    So, Saturday I spent part of the day replacing a faucet and when I found myself needing a couple of faucet connectors I knew it meant a trip to Home Depot. I almost drove but since the round trip would be less than a mile and a half and the weather being nice, albeit windy, I hopped on the bike and grabbed a parking spot right in front of the door. I just wish they had a proper bike rack.

    As I was unlocking the bike, a guy who lives down the street was headed to his car and came up to say hi. He said "I'd never thought of riding my bike." I told him I just wanted to get in and out and this made it quick.

    Guess who made it home first... [Me]

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Altruism ride?

    Something our pastor mentioned in his sermon yesterday reminded me of this headstone. I've driven or ridden past this for almost three decades, always meaning to take a picture. Since it had still been on my mind this morning, I decided a lunchtime ride would be in order. A quick check on the weather revealed sunny skies with temperatures in the mid 50's and no wind.

    Does the angle of the sun make my shadow look fat?

    The first half of the ride was primarily residential side streets and as quiet as can be. I rode the Mendota and the lack of a bike computer resulted in a leisurely pace.

    The second half of the ride was in moderate traffic.

    While I waited at the Metcalf light, you could tell that the cars that pulled up behind me weren't used to sharing the road. I'll leave it at that because the rest of the ride was wonderful.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010


    Feeling out of whack?
    Needing balance in your life?
    Learn to ride a bike.

    (It has been a while since I've done a bike haiku...)

    Friday, November 05, 2010

    Walking my dog is making me fat

    I started walking my dogs pretty regularly around 6 months ago. Before that time I hate to admit it was rare due to one being rather old and the other being such a challenge to walk. 4 months ago I finally made it a daily habit; I knew we didn't have many months left with Belle and wanted her to enjoy her final days. I could still get in several bike rides a week but dog walking was becoming my daily thing. Belle's gone now but I still get out with Maggie every morning. I'd mentioned before that bike rides have also taken a back seat to painting the house, so there just hasn't been any spare time to go riding.

    When I weighed myself at the gym yesterday morning I came to a sudden realization: walking my dog is making me fat. Granted, I've only gained 3 pounds in the last couple of weeks, but if I do the math it seems that if I don't get back on the bike soon I'm really going to pack on the pounds.

    I walk the dog for 30 minutes in the morning before work. This used to be the time that I'd go out for a 40 minute bike ride.

  • 30 minutes a day walking the dog burns 142 calories.

  • 40 minutes a day riding my bike burns 612 calories.

  • That's a difference of 470 calories per day or 14100 calories or 4.7 pounds gained per month.

    That must account for the gain in weight, I'm sure it has nothing to do with the jalapeno/artichoke dip with chips and/or the milk and Oreos I've been snacking on lately...

    So, walking the dog must be the reason I'm gaining weight. Realizing this, I decided to take a ride during lunch and got 10 rather windy miles in. In celebration, I had a bowl of ice cream.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Painting poses playtime problem

    I've been spending way too much of my spare time painting the house the last month and a half or so. My lunch hour, an hour or so after work, weekends, pretty much any sunlit hours available have been spent scraping, priming and painting. This hasn't left much time to go out and spend an hour or so riding my bike for the shear joy of it.

    Truth be told, since I work from home now, cabin fever has crept in and it was supposed to be a beautiful weekend and I wanted to go out and ride. The problem was that it was going to be a beautiful weekend and I'm close to finishing the house. I promised myself that I'd put in a full day on Saturday and didn't care what was left on Sunday ... I needed to get away from the house and was going on a bike ride.

    Since the boards under the kitchen and dining room windows had suffered some wood rot, they had to be replaced. Since they had to be replaced, the brick moulding had to be replaced. Time to break out the mitre saw.

    With that done, it was time to paint the shutters a lovely K-State purple. This, my friend, is time consuming.

    The front windows were done, but after church I looked at the area around the garage door and decided it could use a coat of paint before I took my ride. This led to painting some other trim around the front door. At 5:45 the daylight was running out and I'd yet to hop on the bike. I was happy with what I'd accomplished, but rather than pack it in for the day I hopped on the bike and took off for a 30 minute ride before the sun went down completely.

    I felt a little bad that the ride had taken a back seat once again and was tossed in at the end of the day just because I'd promised myself that I'd do it. Turned out to be a nice, relaxing ride anyway. All in all, it was a good weekend.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    The Office Bike Commuters

    In season 3, Jim briefly commuted to the Stamford branch of Dunder Mifflin. Last night's episode opened with Oscar showing off his new "Lance Armstrong bike."

    Oscar: "I love cycling. Andy, I feel like a tourist in my own city. I literally can't wait to wake up in the morning."

    I know what he means.

    Then, of course, there's Dwight: "Can't beat a horse. A horse is a bike that pedals itself."

    It is refreshing seeing bike commuting presented without a negative stigma. You can check it out on Hulu.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Slow News Day

    Looks like it is a bit of a slow news day. I'll add a couple items to spice things up.

    Local Cyclists Ignore Signs, Face Decision.
    This group of bikers must have failed to notice the huge signs blocking the road two times within a half mile stating that the road was closed ahead. This attempt to stare at the torn up bridge long enough that it fixed itself failed and they instead chose to wade through the creek rather than back track.

    Area Man Pauses to Watch Paint Dry.
    Yeah, I've been spending way too much time painting lately...

    Note to the local TV stations, feel free to use my two stories if yours have gotten a bit stale.

    Friday, October 01, 2010

    Too soon?

    Yes. This is too soon.

    I took the afternoon off thinking that I'd ride my bike to Sears to pay a bill and then continue painting the house. I've spent most of my spare sunlit hours painting during the last three weeks. After dropping the check off I headed home and decided to make the 3 mile errand ride into a 10 mile recreational ride.

    Somewhere along the way my 10 mile ride turned into a 23 mile ride. And why not? No one else was home, the dogs had been walked, the dishwasher had been cleared and it was a beautiful 72° (22° C) day.

    Like I'd said, almost every spare sunlit hour I've been painting. I could stand on a laddar for an extra couple hours or I could just enjoy some of the day.

    12 miles in I was met with a little surprise.

    They didn't say the park was closed, so a little off road cycling and I reached the other side of the closure.

    THIS seems a little more timely.

    Have a great weekend. (I'll be painting)

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    Random Sidewalk Factoid

    Seen this morning while walking the dog. Yes, I know, it should be spelled "Caterpillars make chrysalises." I like it the way it is (especially with the heart).

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    99th closed at Marty

    I took this one day before they shut down 99th street at Marty (just one block west of Metcalf). Proof that there are more bikes out on the road this year than I've ever seen before. If you can't make it out, there was a bike stopped at the red light heading west, a bike on the path heading north and I was on my bike waiting on the light heading east. I had to get photographic evidence...

    There are a couple of you who read my blog that occasionally use 99th. It is going to be out of commission here for another month, adding 2 miles to any of my rides to the east. Alternate routes for bikes are 91st, 101st or 103rd (to the bike path). Not really very convenient. For the time being, I'm riding north, south and west.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2010

    Family bike ride in Ft. Collins, CO

    A few weeks back we packed the family up and headed to South Dakota for a wedding and then to Colorado for some rest and relaxation. Having heard about the bike friendliness of Fort Collins, I searched for bike rentals in the area and came up with a couple options. One company gave me the run around for several weeks, so I called New World Sports and explained that we wanted to ride the local trails and needed a variety of bikes for 7 people. Joe delivered in a big way. Curtis wanted to try a road bike, Trevor and I opted for cruisers (mine with the high handlebars I remembered from my childhood), Peter grabbed a mountain bike and Katie, Jon and my wife rode hybrids.

    From Ft Collins family ride July 2010

    We knew we wanted to ride the Spring Creek and Poudre trails and hoped to make a stop at the New Belgium Brewery. Joe had us grab a copy of the FCBikes map (12 meg PDF available HERE) and gave us a couple different route options. He checked and adjusted all the bikes, gave us water bottles filled with ice water, equipped us with a pump, tools and extra tubes (just in case), made sure we could get in touch with him if something happened that we couldn't take care of and off we went.

    We started on some very bike friendly side streets.

    Riding with a view of mountains was a treat.


    I've got to admit, riding the Monkey Bike brought back a lot of memories.

    The bikes were wonderful. The trails were smooth and riding a cruiser didn't pose any problem. If you're ever going to be in the Fort Collins area and want to ride the trails, mountain bike or participate in the Tour de Fat and need a bike, contact Joe. Reasonable prices and great service. Thanks for some great memories Joe.

    Joe of

    Note: I wasn't compensated for the review in any way. I was just truly impressed with the guy and wanted to pass the information along.

    Monday, August 02, 2010


    In the first chapter of the wonderful book The Invisible Gorilla, by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, there are a couple of paragraphs on inattentional blindness to which cyclists and motorcyclists should pay close attention.

    Analysis of over sixty accident reports involving cars and motorcycles showed that none of the car drivers had any experience riding a motorcycle themselves. It appears that those of us who ride vehicles that the majority of car drivers don't expect are more likely to notice similar unexpected events.

    Wearing bright clothing should make a bike or motorcycle rider easier to notice. However, as Chabris and Simons point out in their book, looking at something doesn't guarantee that you will actually see it. Wearing conspicuous clothing "will increase your visibility, making it easier for people who are looking for you to see you. Such bright clothing doesn't guarantee that you will be noticed, though."

    Just remember, hi-viz clothing is not an excuse for you to stop paying very close attention to the road and traffic around you. This has been a public service announcement from the Committee to not get Squashed Like a Bug.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Cathartes aura

    Went out for a leisurely ride during lunch. I didn't like the way this guy looked at me.

    I've never been that close to a Turkey Buzzard (some of you might call it a Turkey Vulture). I rode to within four yards of him and he just hopped to the side a bit. A slight twinge of the heebie-jeebies and I was on my way. Sorry for the blurry phone photo.

    Wednesday, June 09, 2010

    Heeding my own advice

    Ask my kids, ask the scouts; when I'm taking new riders out for a ride and we enter a parking lot I explain that this is the most dangerous part of the ride. And so it was today.

    I was riding through a parking lot on the way to my bank and noticed a jeep driving through empty spaces 20 or so yards away. I remembered my advice to new riders and told myself "keep an eye on her."

    I'd lost track of the Jeep for a moment. The driver saw an open spot by a store's front door through a gap in a row of parked cars and gunned it at the last minute. She must have caught a glimpse of me and slammed on the brakes. The Jeep's front bumper was, I kid not, 18 inches from my leg.

    I know I'm not permitted to add a 27th verse to Psalm 136 so I'll just create my own mini psalm here:

    He kept the jeep from hitting me,
    For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

    Monday, June 07, 2010

    Oh, yeah, about that hill...

    Yesterday our church had a picnic and I convinced my wife and one of the boys to ride our bikes rather than drive the 3 miles to the park. What I didn't tell them was that the hill going up Lamar from 95th to 91st is a bit of a challenge for someone rather new to cycling. Oops. They did well, although as I tried to chat with my wife 3/4 of the way up she made it clear that she was not in the mood to talk.

    Our pasta salad, Mexican dip and chips all fit into my panniers. We all enjoyed the ride (especially the ride back DOWN the hill).

    Tuesday, June 01, 2010

    That's not paint

    The other day I noticed some reddish splotches on my rear tire. I figured I'd ridden through some paint or something. When out riding with CAT over the holiday weekend, those splotches got bigger and more frequent. I took a closer look and it appears it is time for me to order another set of Michelin Transworld City tires.

    CAT asked me how many miles I thought I got out of them and I guessed 5,000. I checked my spreadsheet (I know, I know) and it turns out they've given me 4,973 miles. Sure, I didn't get 8,500+ like Noah, but these tires were inexpensive and I'm more than happy to order another pair. The front tire isn't in that bad of shape and I may root around in the attic to see if I've got another former front tire up there that could get me by for a while. In the mean time I will get back on the Mendota and enjoy the change.

    Note to self: with this next set, rotate the tires at around 3,000 miles.

    Monday, May 31, 2010

    Nary a rude driver

    Memorial Day. Thanks to those whose loved ones have served.

    It's been a wonderful weekend. CAT and I took another ride yesterday, 13.3 miles on the Indian Creek Trail to Wornall in KC, MO and back home. One stop at Sonic to get a lemonade slush, but hey, it was our 28th anniversary ... we splurged.

    We were both a little sore from 6 to 8 hours of yard work the day before. More yard work in store for us today.

    I took a solo ride of 16 miles on OP and PV streets this morning. It was interesting to see just how polite all the drivers were today. Not one jerk. Doesn't give me much to write about, but sometimes it's nice to not have to hear about close calls and rude gestures. Many thanks to all the people that gave me more than enough room and to those who waited patiently behind me at red lights when they were signalling for a right turn.

    From General Bike Pix

    There was a good mix of sunshine and clouds along with a cool breeze. Great morning for a ride.

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Wild Life

    This last Christmas I got my wife a beautiful new bike so we could enjoy cycling together. This spring, of course, the weather didn't cooperate. We've finally had a chance to get out on the Indian Creek Trail. I'd told my wife about the abundance of wildlife that I've seen in the past but all we'd really seen this morning was the occasional rabbit and squirrel.

    Then we rounded a corner and crossed a bridge. "See, there you go" I exclaimed as we passed the male jogger relieving himself at the side of the path.

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Good to be back

    Let's just say the last several months have been real busy. Being on call 2 weeks on and 1 week off might be part of it. The last time I'd been on a ride of more than an hour was the end of November and the one before that was in early October. Looking at the numbers validates the general malaise that I've been under this winter while working from my basement. Today was a chance to change all that.

    Last night we had another Eagle Board of Review for one of our scouts. Afterward the group was asked if anyone would have a chance to run the paperwork by the Scout Office in KC, MO. It just so happened that I'd be taking the day off since this was the first time I could take the comp day earned for being on call on President's Day. I knew I'd be taking a ride today, just hadn't made any concrete plans. I told them I'd be happy to run the papers to the office. This would give me a chance to check out the addition to the Indian Creek Trail that opened in December. This winter's weather crushed all my planned attempts to ride out there with Peter.

    Sunny and 41 degrees as I headed out the door. Really sunny. I got to the underpass at Wornall and went from extreme bright to what appeared to be pitch black. It was a good thing I slowed down a bit as my front tire became mired in this...

    6 inches of mud.

    I walked up to Wornall, rode across and continued on. The new stretch of trail begins at 99th and Holmes and is reported to end at Banister and Lydia. I figured I could ride on Lydia and work my way around to the Scout Shop and avoid the nasty traffic on Holmes. Turns out that the trail ends rather abruptly and although it is in the vicinity of Banister and Lydia, the closest tie-in to a road or parking lot is a mile or so back.

    I back tracked a bit and decided that even though the ground here was pretty muddy, it would cut some time off my ride if I climbed the hill up to Lydia. Yeah, it was a soggy mess and further than it looks in this picture...

    I made it to the Scout Shop and locked Bucephalus up to the closest thing to a bike rack that they have (see below) and turned in the paperwork.

    When I got home I checked the bike computer: 18 miles in 80 minutes. I feel great. I realize now that rides under an hour are great and all ... but it's the rides over an hour that really clear the head and make me feel, well, wonderful. I don't know how many times I'll get to ride that far in the next couple of months before school ends; but I'll do my best to get some more rides like this one in.

    Sunday, March 07, 2010

    A² +B² =C²

    Temperature at departure = 52° F (11° C)

    Many thanks to the blond woman in the Lexus convertible who was nice enough to stop at and trigger three traffic signals, allowing me to keep a steady pace and ride through each light without having to stop.

    View Got a little help in a larger map

    I must admit that I don't know much about trigonometry, so I was not quite sure what you meant when you said "Sum of the pitch." Perhaps you meant pace or cadence; I'll ask my son who is a senior in Civil Engineering, he's pretty good with that stuff.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Carving out time

    With temperatures in the 40's this afternoon, I had 30 minutes during my lunch hour to sneak in a ride. Mapped out a 5 mile ride, mostly on 99th/99th Terr. A little traffic sure helps bump up the average MPH.

    Glad I got it in. Looks like more snow and ice are just about here. Back to the gym tomorrow.

    Yesterday it wasn't quite as warm, but I had a few more minutes to use so I headed to the library to pick up some more of those videos I complained about recently... My bike was a bit lonely in the rack. The camera phone made everything a little blue (perhaps because of all the snow?).

    Monday, February 01, 2010

    Howdy Neighbor!

    Temperature at departure = 26° F (-3° C)

    What a weird encounter! With three hours sleep last night and the threat of freezing drizzle and snow on the way, I decided that I needed to get out this morning and jump start my day. It was a nice ride on mostly side streets -- until I was just shy of one mile from home.

    I was riding on a two lane, minor arterial street. A car was approaching from the other direction and slowly crossed the yellow line into my lane. It was a neighbor of mine from a few houses down and they had a really angry, determined look on their face and were muttering something to themselves as they traveled head on my direction. I pulled down my balaclava, exposing my face, smiled and waved. The look on my neighbor's face was, as they say, priceless.

    Now, there are many ways I could handle this. I've decided, for the most part, to just act as though it never happened ... with this one exception:

    With five kids, I've never really encouraged them to go door to door for the various fund-raisers that they participate in for school, sports, church, scouts, etc.. I just didn't want to be a pest. Now, however, this neighbor of mine will be visited for each and every fund raiser my kids have. Within the next month they'll be encouraged to buy trash bags, cookie dough, entertainment books and flowers. Why not have fun with it?

    Sunday, January 31, 2010

    Library Rant

    Sunshine and 33° F

    Nice weather for a ride to the library to pick up some DVD's that they had on hold for me. Yes. Videos. You see, I'm cheap. I don't rent videos often (two trips to Red Box last year) and I don't belong to NetFlix. Why should I, when I can put a hold on videos when they come out and check them out for free? Thank you taxpayers of Johnson County. I'm not really happy that the library had to resort to competing with Blockbuster in an attempt to get people in the doors. I'm sure it was a rational decision, so I can rationalize my using the service. I would imagine that the majority of the items checked out from the library now are DVD's and video games. Sad. But, like I said, I'm cheap. If I think about it, is checking a movie or music CD out any different from checking out a book? It is still a tax subsidized way to circumvent paying an author for their work. Last year I read 20 books, 17 of which I borrowed from the library.

    But I digress. Using my trip to the library to pick up the videos on hold for me as an excuse to get out on the bike, I saddled up and away I went. I locked my bike up to the otherwise empty bike rack and headed to the self-checkout section. I had four items on hold and only one item (a music CD) was there. I went to the desk to ask if they could check in back for the three DVD's and was told that a bunch of DVD's were stolen the day before and the ones I had on hold were among the missing. The librarian made a comment about $15,000 dollars worth being stolen. I don't know if that is a yearly total or if it was this last weekend's loss. I said I was sorry to hear it and she said "I'm sorry. It's your tax dollars." And it is. But should we be spending this much money on providing free DVD rentals which also appear to be so easily stolen? Do we spend more tax dollars on security systems or personnel to protect the DVD's? Do we stop libraries from buying DVD's and have them gradually revert back being a source for reference books and books that we want to read but don't want to own? I don't think there's a good answer for any of these questions.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    We're Back

    Temperature at departure = 26° F (-3° C)

    As I suspected, fall's bumper crop of acorns has produced a bumper crop of squirrels. Tons of rodent toddlers on the path this morning. Looks like the deer are back as well. There haven't been as many out the last two years. Perhaps the herds in Shawnee Mission Park are tired of being shot at and decided to migrate south a few miles. Whatever the reason, I welcome their return like the bike path seems to have welcomed mine.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    38 Days

    On Sunday, the streets had finally dried out for more than an hour or two. It had been 38 days since I'd been on my bike. My excuse, snow Packed streets for close to a month with temperatures well below freezing and the resulting melt off keeping the air and streets wet and foggy for another couple of weeks. So when I finally got a day with dry pavement and at least a little sunshine, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to ride to the library. I could tell I'd been away...

    Yesterday was a bit better. I had time after dropping kids off at school to take a quick ride. The temperature was 28° F so I layered up and took off on the Indian Creek Trail.

    I was amazed at how quickly I'd made it to Leawood Park. I was averaging a little over 17 MPH with ease and felt great. I'd forgotten just how much I enjoy winter riding. Yeah, that should have registered a bit of a warning, but I decided to extend the ride to State Line. When I turned around to head home I realized why I'd made such good time on the first half of the ride: tailwind of 21 MPH with gusts to 29 MPH.

    The ride home was a lot of work. I don't know what the wind chill was and don't want to know. I pedaled for all I was worth and by the time I'd gotten home, my average speed was down to 13.5. I was tired and sweaty and (according to my wife) my eyes were as bloodshot as all get out. I'd forgotten just how much I enjoy winter riding.

    It's colder today and I've already got my lunch-time ride planned. It is good to be back.