Friday, December 30, 2011

December 2011Christmas gift from my wife ... a trailer hitch and platform bike rack.

For over a week I failed to notice that my wife had borrowed my car and had a trailer hitch put on it. We'll be testing this rack out in just a bit as my son Peter and I head to Shawnee Mission Park to ride some of the Gary Haller Trail.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is there anything worse?

Temperature at departure = 19° F (-7° C)  

From General Bike Pix

December has been a lousy month for bike riding for me. Up until this morning I had only ridden three times because I was in Dallas for a week, when I got home it rained too much and then last week I had a cold. I was bound and determined to get out this morning.

There are many things I like about riding in cold temperatures, the thing I like most is I don't have to deal with as many people out on the Indian Creek and Tomahawk Creek Trails. 

There are some things that you do have to watch out for, including ice. Remember, we've had a lot of rain lately. There are several patches of ice due to run off from the saturated ground, including a big patch in the middle of a long, steep, winding decent. Just keep your eyes open.

After riding 6 miles I encountered my first jogger. I rang my bell several times as I approached him from the rear. He was wearing earphones and jogging with a dog on a retractable leash. I hate retractable leashes! So, even though I rang my bell and shouted "GOOD MORNING" he didn't hear me and was startled as I rode past. Ugh. I thought to myself "There's nothing worse than a guy jogging wearing earphones and using a retractable leash for his dog." But, of course, there are worse things...

Less than two minutes went by when I approached two guys jogging with two big black labs OFF LEASH. I rang my bell and the guys moved out of the way but the dogs zigzagged around in the path. I had to stop short to avoid hitting them. I harnessed the power of an angry glare and moved on thinking, "there's nothing worse than a couple guys jogging with dogs off leash." But, of course, there are worse things... 

Three miles from home I make the sharp turn to go under Nall and there, in the middle of the path next to the creek, sat an idling CAT bulldozer taking up the whole path. Fortunately, I always slow way down taking that blind curve thinking there might be another biker or jogger under there. Is there anything worse than a bulldozer taking up the whole path in a blind curve? 

Yes, there are many worse things that could have happened today. But they didn't. All told, there were maybe 30 seconds to a minute of bad experiences this morning during an otherwise wonderful one hour bike ride on a clear, crisp morning. In retrospect, it was a really nice start to the day.

While I've got the opportunity, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Bunch of Jehus

One of the things I had always admired in my father was that I never heard him utter a cuss word. Not once. Not even mild, broadcast TV replacement ones. I hope my kids will be able to say pretty much the same about me ... but I know they've heard me use a couple of the mild replacement ones a couple of times, especially when I'm driving. I've been guilty of calling some other drivers the modern day equivalents of Racca. But I'm going to change that. I'm going to try to emulate my dad.

I do recall my father remarking that someone was "driving like a Jehu," so I'm going to go with that. I'm also going to stick with his pronunciation jay-hoo, rather than the dictionary's jee-hyoo. 

So, the text for this morning's message comes from the book of Second Kings, chapter 9, verse 20:

"The lookout reported, 'He has reached them, but he isn’t coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi—he drives like a maniac.'" (NIV)

So Jehu had been anointed king of Israel and was headed to Ramoth Gilead with his troops to dispatch Ahab's son Joram. The troops had been spotted and first one and then a second rider had been sent out to find out if the troops were coming in peace. The riders were told to fall in behind.

It reminds me of a bike ride I took with my son Peter a couple weekends ago. We decided to head south on part of the route I'd ridden for the Tour de BBQ. A good part of the route was on Nall between 123rd and 157th. As we headed south, things were mostly good; we had a nice tailwind and most of the drivers gave us plenty of room. Things changed as we headed back north. That nice tail wind turned into a nasty headwind with gusts pretty steady around 25 MPH. Drivers turned ugly and aggressive as well. Just past 135th a large pickup truck pulled up next to me, their front fender two feet to my left, and paced me for about 20 seconds before gunning it to pull ahead and pass myself and then Peter. There were no cars in the lane to his left. I suppose the driver was just trying to teach me a lesson or something. This was not an isolated incident. 

When we got an opportunity to get back on the bike path, we took it. It just felt too dangerous. I didn't want to be out in front of a bunch of Jehus anymore.

Something to keep in mind, next time you're out in front of, or mixed in with, a bunch of Jehus; pull over and fall in behind. Let them drive off like a maniac and wait for the danger to pass.

Stay safe out there, and stay off Nall on Sunday afternoons.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I reached a milestone today. Since I began noting my mileage back in July 2006, I have ridden 10,000 miles. This may not seem like much to some; it may seem like something heroic to others. Regardless, I'm glad to see that number on my spreadsheet. And, really, that's all it is today -- a number on a spreadsheet.

I began riding my bike to work in March 2006. I didn't begin tracking my mileage until July 2006 after purchasing Bucephalus (2006 Trek 7.5 FX Disc components with the 7.3 FXD frame - because Trek was out of the 7.5 frame and I liked the color of the 7.3 better anyway).

Chain and cassette problems cropped up late last year, so I started riding the 2007 Mendota. My number of miles ridden per month dropped from triple digits to double digits. I'm not sure what caused the drop. Riding a different bike? The lack of a bike computer? Unusually nasty winter weather? More time spent walking the dog? A combination of all those, perhaps.

Throughout the spring, the malaise continued. In June of this year, I took a ride to the grocery store on Bucephalus which required no shifting and decided then and there that I had to get a new cassette so I could start riding this bike again. The next day the bike was fixed and the number of miles ridden skyrocketed (if you could call it that). I broke my previous monthly mileage records in July, August, September and have already beaten the old record for October and it is just past the middle of the month. I am on a roll. Last week my buddy John even mentioned that I've seemed a lot happier the last couple of months...

I'm looking forward to the next 10,000, and I don't think it will take 5 years this time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tour de BBQ 2011

I took the opportunity to ride the 62 mile route in the third annual Tour de BBQ on Saturday October 1st for a number of reasons. It’s a great fund raiser for the fight against cancer. It was an opportunity to go on the longest ride of my life -- that’s right, I’ve never ridden over 60 miles in a day before and hope that doesn't lessen your opinion of me. It was an opportunity to participate in another group ride as I’ve ridden in less than a handful.

I had a marvelous time.

The weather was beautiful; sunny and chilly with no wind in the morning and pleasant in the afternoon. The ride was very well planned. The route was great (for the most part). The SAG stops were great (volunteers, food, port-a-potties, well spaced out).  

There were supposed to be over 2,000 riders and I’d believe it. One of the organizers has told me that they've not had their post-event meeting yet so the numbers could go up. I also can’t comment on how much was raised because they’re still raising money and won’t have final numbers until about a month from now.

The only thing that surprised me was lack of interest in the event by our local media. I know for a fact that the television news directors were told in advance. One TV station showed a little footage from a traffic helicopter before the ride took place, but other than that the only videos I’ve been able to come up with is from the radio station that was a sponsor … 99.7 the Point.

99.7 the Point’s video
Kelly and Erica discuss the board and then Erica gets engaged. The proposal (I’m in it at 2:58 - 3:06)
This year’s grand marshalls
I would have thought something that impacted 62 miles of area roadways would garner some interest from the news directors in town. Guess not. In my experience with local media, the only way to guarantee that they’ll cover the event is if they’re sponsoring it in some way. It makes it look like they care, I suppose. This should IN NO WAY diminish all the hard work Kelly Urich and the folk at 99.7 the Point put in.

From Tour de BBQ 2011

Kelly was one of the people who got this whole thing rolling in the first place. He genuinely cares about the fight against cancer. Many, many thanks to Kelly and the whole board.

From Tour de BBQ 2011

The ride started at 07:00 (for those of us riding the 62 mile route) in the Kansas City Power & Light District in front of the Sprint Center and headed south down Grand and then Main.

We were released in groups of 100 or so. My biking buddy Chris and I were in group 2.

From Tour de BBQ 2011

Within a few blocks of the start, stop lights began the process of splitting the groups up even more. Almost everyone riding stopped at red lights … the stop signs in the residential areas, not so much.

From Tour de BBQ 2011

In less than 10 miles I was back in the neighborhood that my wife and I spent the first 17 years of our married life in. The first SAG featured the BBQ of Smokestack, a block away from our first house. In my opinion, Smokestack has the best beans in town.

From Tour de BBQ 2011

From there, back to the Kansas side through Leawood and Overland Park to Spin Pizza for some gelato and fruit.

From Tour de BBQ 2011

Back on the road we headed south again and then back over into Missouri to Jack Stack in Martin City.

From Tour de BBQ 2011

I believe some riders main goal was to make it to this watering hole. I wonder if they continued on or just called it a day...

From Tour de BBQ 2011

Next official stop, GatesBBQ.

From Tour de BBQ 2011

Back on the road, headed north. I don’t think the moving van on Lee Boulevard was part of the plan...

From Tour de BBQ 2011

Once we crossed 95th street, those of us riding the 62 mile route joined up with those riding the 35 miler. I believe the 15 mile ride also made it to Oklahoma Joe’s. Busy, but very, very good BBQ and worth the wait (which didn’t take that long).

From Tour de BBQ 2011

I comforted myself with the thought of all the calories I was burning during the ride...

We made three more stops: RJ’s, Johnny’s and Woodyard before heading down Southwest Blvd. and then up Walnut.

From Tour de BBQ 2011

The route was great … even with the short stretch of rough, hilly roads in Shawnee Heights where several folk failed to heed the “Slow Down” & “Rough Pavement” signs and ended up with flat tires (or worse). Perhaps one more sign would have helped ... SERIOUSLY, SLOW DOWN, ROUGH PAVEMENT!!!

I’m looking forward to riding in this event, or volunteering to help next year.

If you rode, you'll find 2,604 pictures of the event (some including me) at Atherton Photography's site.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Double Entendre

The city of Overland Park is putting up a few new mile markers on the Indian Creek Trail. They look nice; but I have to wonder if the new Mile 3 marker was intended to be a traffic calming measure or not.

From General Bike Pix

The marker is just to the side of the bridge that goes over the trail just north of Suburban Lawn & Garden on Roe. As you head north over the bridge, you have to make a very sharp turn to double back and go under the bridge.

From General Bike Pix

I've seen a lot of folks come off the bridge and swing wide into the grass, especially if there is another bike or pedestrian coming up from below.

From General Bike Pix

So, the person that positioned this post either wasn't thinking things through ... or they are a genius. I haven't decided.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


While riding the Tomahawk Creek Trail this morning I encountered a group of 3 people standing on the trail deep in conversation. Since they completely blocked the trail I rang my bell well in advance of reaching them. Then, I rang it again since they had ignored the first attempt. They finally moved ... which means the ones on the left moved to the right and the one on the right moved to the left not really changing anything. I squeezed the brakes, and slowly maneuvered through the little group. As I proceeded down the path I heard one of them say, "See, they're not all jerks."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Been There. Done That.

This morning, as a matter of fact.

"...hundreds of little spiders pendant on the end of long tough webs were floating about in it. These early-rising creatures, or rather their webs, caught upon the horse's and our own forms by scores, and ... we rushed along coverd with hundreds of long grey threads that streamed out a yard or more behind us -- and a very strange appearance they must have given us."
From the book Allan Quatermain, by H. Rider Haggard 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Elsewhere on the Indian Creek Trail...

From General Bike Pix

I'm sure the recent heat wave is the cause of all the vertical cracks that have opened up on the Indian Creek and Tomahawk Creek trails. There are a few places where you could catch a tire and cause some damage to yourself or your bike. Be careful out there.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Indian Creek Trail is now closed at Switzer! For real.

As of today, Indian Creek Trail is now officially close at Switzer road until "March 2012."

View Indian Creek Trail Closure August 2011 to March 2012 in a larger map

The red line above is the section of the trail marked as closed. The blue line is the posted detour.

From General Bike Pix

I spoke with a polite gentleman at the Park Services Department a week or so ago and he had told me that they would be setting up a detour, but he admitted that it might not be completely bike friendly. He wasn't kidding, although only half of the detour causes me much concern.

From General Bike Pix

The signs went up within the last day or two. Here are the signs at 119th, just east of Quivera.

From General Bike Pix

The narrow sidewalk has several low hanging branches to contend with. Also, there won't be enough room for passing another bike or pedestrians. I believe there were eight places where you had to cross over streets or highway on or off ramps. 119th is a busy street and 69 highway and 119th is a busy interchange. Depending on the day and time of day, this could take a while to navigate.

From General Bike Pix

From General Bike Pix

From General Bike Pix

From General Bike Pix

From General Bike Pix

The detour also runs along Grant Drive between College Blvd. (111th) and 119th.

From General Bike Pix

From General Bike Pix

Once you're on Grant, things should calm down a bit as the street is wide enough for both automobile and bicycle traffic.

The detour adds 0.3 miles to the ride and the hill up to 119th and Grant is impressive. I'll still make the loop occasionally, but I believe I'll find some other places to ride until this is finished. Again, the 119th section is too narrow and busy to use more than once in a while.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Indian Creek Trail closure at Switzer beginning Monday

I noticed a sign today saying that the section of the Indian Creek Trail from Indian Valley Park to Swizer will be closed beginning Monday July 18th and will not be open until March 2012.

There is no good way around this. The sign didn't say that they'd be closing Switzer, just the trail under it. I may try the following route as a work around. At 109th just south of the Eilert Fountain, take the bike path adjacent to 190th, across Mastin, under Alternate 69 to the Access Road, carefully make my way across College Boulevard and take Switzer south to pick up the bike path again.

I'll try it early next week and update this post if it won't work.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chris tries out his new road bike

Many thanks to Chris Kohl for inviting me out for a ride. Chris just got a new road bike and I was glad to go along for the ride. Sure it was hot outside and my knee was a bit stiff after the parent/son baseball game last night, but we mapped out a promising route on veloroutes and were ready to give it a try.

I made the mistake of looking at a bank thermometer just past the halfway mark - 109° I know it wasn't acurate, but it felt like it was...

From General Bike Pix

Here's Chris with his new Trek road bike as we prepare to head out.

From General Bike Pix

Having crested the highest point on our route, we finally get to enjoy a little downhill riding. I'll have to admit that on the long uphill stretch from 163rd to 179th on Switzer, we weren't too happy with the plan. After making the turn on Mur-Len to head north we decided the route was a keeper. Maybe next time it will be 10 degrees or so cooler...

Thanks again Chris.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

King of the Zoo?

After watching today's stage of the Tour de France, I went on a ride to the end of the Indian Creek Trail in Missouri. I got several comments about the shirt I was wearing.
From General Bike Pix

When I wear the TdF tee shirt that Curtis got for me in Paris I think "King of the Mountians." My wife thinks Put Me in the Zoo

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Library Run

From General Bike Pix

Lunchtime ride to the Central Resource branch of the Johnson County Library. It was nice to have some company in the bike rack. Usually there are only one or two other bikes there.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Glad I wasn't sitting there

From General Bike Pix

A tree blew over, smashing a park bench on the Tomahawk Creek Trail. I believe this happened Tuesday evening when the huge squall line blew through town.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Bike America Overland Park - Rocks!

Bike America, at 95th and Nall, is having another swap meet this weekend. There are a bunch of bikes and bike parts and supplies for great prices. If you're into cycling and are close to the Overland Park area, they'll be doing this tomorrow as well.

Mark Rainey was kind enough to contact me to see if our boy scout troop would be willing to sell refreshments during the weekend. Bike America donated the food and we jumped at the chance to be part of this.

From Scouts - Bike America

Bike America Overland Park - Swap Meet.

From Scouts - Bike America

Troop 251 begins setting up shop. The generous folks at Bike America provided hot dogs & fixin's, chips, and drinks and donated the proceeds to our troop. Without exception, their staff was wonderful.

From Scouts - Bike America

The grilling begins.

From Scouts - Bike America

Local cycling phenom Mark Rainey samples the brownies which we baked in dutch ovens.

From Scouts - Bike America

Bill and some of the boys take it on the road.

From Scouts - Bike America

Saturday's turn out was great. We're looking forward to tomorrow as well. the swap meet will be running from 11a to 4p Sunday. We'll be grillin' dogs from 11a to 2p.

From Scouts - Bike America

They've got a bunch of stuff inside too.

From Scouts - Bike America

Peter's been thinking about building up another bike from scratch; the one he did a few years back has been outgrown. Here is the beginning of his next project.

A huge thank you to all the staff at Bike America for allowing us to be part of this event.