Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 2007 Totals

Bike Rack Sculpture
Not Just a Bike Rack, It's a Scuplture!

Miles Ridden This Month: 283.3
This Month Last Year: 225.5

2007 Total So Far: 1783.1

This month was much better than August, and especially better than July without the RAGBRAI miles.

Returning a Video

Wabash River

I had to return a video to the grocery store located north and east of my house, so like any good cyclist with time to kill, I turned south. With the sun rising in the east, and a waning moon still high in the west, I headed into Lafayette.

South on US231 provides a nice wide shoulder (that I've mentioned before). However, today it seemed like a slalom course as I was trying dodge all of the debris. There was much broken glass, stay metal, and rocks and pebbles. Somehow I survived without a flat.

I turned east on 500S and then north on 100E - aka Ninth street.

Ninth is a pretty good place to ride. It is a straight thoroughfare with some wide sections and several stop lights to keep the traffic under control. Plus, it wasn't very crowded on a Sunday morning at 9:45. All of the Christians were already in church, and most of the heathens still in bed.

The street passes by many great neighborhoods and landmarks, including Old Farm Road, Twychenham Estates (my old neighborhood), Central Catholic High School, the Lafayette Country Club, Highland Park, Historic Ninth Street Hill, downtown, Centennial Neighborhood, old Jeff High School (now a Senior apartment complex), and the County Jail before becoming North Ninth Street Road leading to Battleground.

There are only a few choices for crossing the Wabash River with a bicycle, and I've tried all but one of them. Today, I tackled Sagamore Parkway between Duncan Road and Soldiers Home Road in West Lafayette. The route for US52, this is a road I usually avoid because of the fast traffic, many driveways, and narrow shoulders. This stretch of road solves two of those problems, since there are no drives on the bridge, and a lane wide shoulder just for me. Still, it's pretty steep - almost the same as Happy Hollow Road.

Sagamore Parkway

When I got to the top, auto traffic was still light, so I continued on to the grocery store. I opted against using the cheezy bike rack at Marsh, and just leaned the bike against the Blue Rhino case.

The ride home was uneventful.

Miles Ridden: 25.3

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gameday Saturday

I rode around campus again today to observe the festivities leading up to the Purdue/Notre Dame game at noon. It's always a big deal, and the game has been sold out for several weeks.

As I reached the edge of campus, I rode past the RV park area along SR26, and there were quite a few pre-game tailgates. I continued on to the village area to see the Breakfast Clubbers. The crowd there was large and loud, but pretty well behaved. The police that had sidewalk duty seemed to be having a good time watching all of the students looking and acting stupid.

Heading north, I stopped at the Circle K for a water and then on to Cherry Lane at the top of the stadium lot. This is where the action really was. Tailgaters here have earned their place through years of attendance and early morning line ups to get the primo parking spots. I rode down the west side of the stadium to visit my co-workers manning the tailgate tent. They were too busy to chat, but it looked like everyone was having a good time.

Next, it was over to University Street to watch the Notre Dame band march to the Stadium. After about 20 minutes, they came by with their full complement - no puny pep band for the Irish. The drums pounded out a cadence (including a couple of tempo changes - pretty cool), while the band chanted enthusiastically in call and response format. I wish they would have played a song, but it was still neat to watch.

As expected, Purdue won.

Even though the streets are crowded on game days, I feel pretty safe riding around because of the slow speeds and numerous police officers directing traffic. It's a fun day.

Miles Ridden: 10.2

Friday, September 28, 2007

Two Great Rides

Take OffBoth yesterday and today were both great days for a commute. The mornings were slightly cool, and the evenings warm with a light breeze.

It's also apparently roadkill season. In a one mile stretch of River Road I passed 4 raccoons and an opossum. Today's route along Lindberg Road saw two more recently departed woodland creatures. It's a little grizzly.

I was able to perform a couple of errands on Thursday, including racing down State Street hill to get to the cleaners before they closed. I love riding State in traffic!

Sunrise on CampusMiles Ridden Thursday: 9.0

Miles Ridden Friday: 11.8

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Like the Dark

Another pre-dawn ride to the west. We seem to have our headlight problems solved enough to get an hour or so in.

The weather was warm this morning, and that made for a very comfortable ride.

Miles Ridden: 11.5

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Almost Clotheslined

There's a route I've been taking when I need a quick trip to the North because of a NE or NNE wind that I need to document and name. Trouble is, I don't want to just call it the North Route. We'll see.

Anyway, I took the (North Route) today, which starts North on 400W. I often will cut over on 450N, but today I went the extra (half) mile to 500N. After going east for a short time, I can head South on Taft Road/300W/Klondike Road.

Great Wooded Front Yard

There was an article in the paper a few months ago talking about how that road needed a major overhaul to handle the fast traffic using it. I've been thinking that all it needs it sidewalks for the shoppers on foot to use, and a few traffic controls (stop signs or lights, speed bumps). Instead of making yet another speedway, let's make this one a neighborhood street. Those that want to drive fast can use McCormick Road to the east or some ignored county road to the west. In reality, they will eventually build another Creasy Lane where the traffic goes way too fast for any traffic other than motorized to get around.

Anyway, I used Drury Lane to cut from Klondike Road to SR26, skipping a few thousand feet of state highway. About halfway into the subdivison, I came upon a man standing by him mailbox look intently at his neighbor's yard across the street. His dog was 2/3 the way across the street looking just as serious about whatever they were watching. (It could have been the turkey said to live in the trees in this area.) I was just 10 feet from them when I noticed the thin cable of the retractable leash across the road at about 2 or 3 feet in the air. I executed a flawless turn around the dog to the right to miss the cable.

SR26, Sharon Chapel Road, and Newman Road take me back to Division Road and home.

Miles Ridden: 13.7

Saturday, September 22, 2007

World Carfree Day

World Carfree Day is observed every September 22. This is the first year I've heard about it, so I thought I would give it a try. Plus, it could give me a chance to bump up my sorely lacking number of utility rides this year.

My family was surprised, and a little annoyed, when I answered requests for rides with "not on Saturday, it's World Carfree Day". My daughter had the best response with "Really?", in an amazingly sarcastic tone.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to leave the Saturn in the driveway and bike on my errands. I hooked a couple of panniers onto the trusty Trek 820 and set out for the grocery store.

(Actually, the 820 is not entirely trustworthy. Mainly because of my lack of maintenance, it is having progressively worse transmission issues with weird pops and tings, and the the occasional gear slippage on hills (when I'm standing and don't need to be caught on a strong down stroke when the chain slips). Plus, it has developed a wobble in the front tire this week. I promise to take it in to the shop tomorrow.)

With my shopping list in hand, I headed north to the store to pickup food for lunch this weekend and dinner tonight. (I made an interesting spicy Italian chicken dish.) The trip was pretty uneventful, and I even found that the Payless store in West Lafayette has a bike rack. Who knew?

Payless Has a Bike Rack
Bike Rack at Payless - West Lafayette

With each item I considered throwing in the cart, I had additional criteria to weigh. Along with price and healthiness, I had to decide if it would fit in my grocery bag pannier and traditional model. The bottle of wine went back on the shelf after a call home to confirm a backup, and the gallon of milk was totally out of the question if I was to squeeze in the loaf of Italian bread. It turned out that everything had a space, but there wasn't much room for anything else.

I'll bet that if I had to ride to the store each day for supper, I would be pretty trim in a few months.

Trip 1 was a success!

Miles Ridden: 11.2

Purdue Fire Station
Purdue Fire Trucks Ready for Action

For the next run after lunch, I needed to go to the drugstore to pickup photo prints that I had ordered online early. This store is just a block from the grocery store, but my timing didn't work out. Plus, what's wrong with an additional ride?

To be a little adventurous, I decided to try the multi-modal route. Many of the busses here have bike racks on the front, but I've never used one. I biked into campus and found a bus stop that was served by the required route, and waited. Over the six minute wait, at least 20 other riders showed up for the same bus.

There was already one bike on the rack, and I took the 2nd spot. There were only a few seats left on what I expected to be an empty Saturday run. It was handy letting the bus do the work up the hill, although the route was pretty circuitous. I pulled the cord a few blocks from the store and hopped off.

I shopped and came home without incident.

Miles Ridden: 9.0 (plus a few more on the bus)

In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I'll be picking up my son from a party at 10:00 tonight, as my wife has refused to go out that late. Maybe after dark it doesn't count? :-)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Late Day

Sunrise on Newman Road
Sunrise via Cell Phone Camera

Since I had to work about an hour late tonight, I just took the direct route home.

Miles Ridden: 6.8

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Which is Your Favorite?

Riding around the other day, I was noticing the different configurations for bike lanes, turn lanes, and intersections. Which do you prefer?

1. Bike Lane Straight Through

Which is Your Favorite?

This is a new intersection on US231 with Tapawingo/Williams in West Lafayette. The bike lane continues straight with the turn lane appearing to the right. The sign says "BEGIN RIGHT TURN LANE - YIELD TO BIKES". Motor vehicles must cross the bike lane to turn right, and those drivers are expected to watch for cyclists.

2. Bike Lane Around the Side

Which is Your Favorite?

This is the next light north of the previous photo, where US231 intersects with SR26 (River Road and State Street). An older intersection, it has the bike lane following along the edge all the way to the stop light. The rider must change lanes to continue straight, and runs the risk of being 'hooked' by a right turning car. The same "YIELD TO BIKES" sign is posted here.

3. Bike Lane Disappears

I don't have a picture of this one, but I see it all over. The bike lane just stops before the turn lane starts. The rider has to merge into his favorite lane with no special protection - just normal traffic rules.

4. Something Else

What else have you seen? Describe it, or post a photo.

Please leave your choices and thoughts in the comments, and I'll summarize in a later post.

The Dark Forest

The neighbor and I took a pre-dawn ride to Martell Forest - again.

Miles Ridden: 11.1

Monday, September 17, 2007

Liquor and Laundry

I had a little extra load today, as I was carrying a bag of dirty shirts to the cleaners and a $45 bottle of wine to give to my former boss. I probably looked like a well better dressed version of the weird guy that picks up cans and odd trash for recycling.

On the way home, I took my time. As I rolled up to the house, my son was standing in the yard waving his arms. Apparently, his ride to marching band fell through, and he was late. We rushed to school, but didn't make in time to avoid the wrath of the evil band director. I told him not to worry about it, but he still seemed pretty bugged by the whole thing (he takes after his dad).

Miles Ridden: 8.3

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Great Morning - Cut Short

Wow, Are Those Horses?
I was envisioning a great ride today that came to around 28 miles, but I only had an hour. Instead, I rode the Avenue. Pretty uneventful.

Miles Ridden: 13.7

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Drums are Calling Me

I could hear the drums as I was unlocking the bike, so I rode by the marching band practice field on the way home. They were just wrapping up as I came by. On Saturday, my son's high school band (along with twenty or so other school bands) will appear with the Purdue band at halftime of the football game. It's a fun time, and my wife and I were lucky enough to get good seats for the game (one of the better perks of my job).

Marching Band Practice
High Five After Practice

Miles Ridden: 7.3

Hey! This marks five days in a row where I biked to work. Not bad! I love the September weather.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Photocopy of Yesterday

Like yesterday, the weather was great, and the ride was nice. However, I did get a picture.

Water Fowl Conference
Gathering of Waterfowl

Miles Ridden: 11.7

(Yes, even though I took exactly the same route as yesterday, I measured seven tenths of a mile less.)

Clint Gets Flattened

Clint has recently started riding his bike to work in Chicago. Today, he had an altercation with a truck that ended badly for his bike, his computer, and his iPod. Somehow he escaped serious injury.

Pretty scary.

Read about it here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Picture Perfect Day (With No Pictures)

Like Monday, I drove to work this morning, but took the bike back after coming home for lunch. However, unlike yesterday, there was a lazy tailwind pushing me home. Clear, sunny skies, slightly cool temps - one couldn't ask for a better day for a ride.

Miles Ridden: 12.4

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Old Walnut Trick

Walnut Prank

I came out of the office building today to find a walnut wedged under my front brake cable. I looked at it for a minute trying to figure out how it got there, but it's obviously a prank. No harm done!

A fierce headwind slowed my ride home on the South Work Route. But, it was a nice workout.

Miles Ridden: 8.2

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Intimidator

After our dark ride the other day, the neighbor came armed with the 'Intimidator'. He had moved his halogen light with the rechargable battery from his commuter bike to his road bike, plus he added a second blinky in the back. He still had his not so bright LED headlight, and I was using my Trek light.

We called it the Intimidator because oncoming traffic would slow and pull to the side as we came up. It may have been aimed a little high, but we thought that it was the sheer awesomeness of the halogen beam that made all drivers cower in fear.

When a passing car was close, and I was temporarily blinded by his headlights, I hit a broken branch that was laying across the bike lane. A piece jumped up and banged me in the shin. No serious wounds, but there is a bump there still tonight.

Shortly after that, my headlight switched off. No amount of banging and switch flicking would bring it back. Now, I was dependent on the Intimidator for my safety.

As we neared Martell Forest, we started to notice that the halogen bulb was getting weaker. By the time we returned to Division Road near Granville Bridge, it was a tiny yellow blip. At this point, we were both relying on the weak LED to light our way home. I also used the light of cars coming up behind us to help see the road.

We came up upon another rider with a very bright LED light and followed him for a while. However, we had to turn on Division while he continued on River Road.

By the time we got back to the neighborhood, there was enough light to see without lights.

Looks like I'm going shopping for a light soon.

Miles Ridden: 11.1


After I drove home for lunch, I decided to take the bike back to work, so I was able to fit in a commute.

Bonus Miles Ridden: 7.1

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Breakfast Club

It was well after 9:00 before I got on the road today - mostly because of the fog. The humidity remained throughout the ride.

First, I took a few ride bys of the morning Breakfast Club participants - Purdue students in dopey costumes drinking in the AM. It's a tradition.

Breakfast Club Montage

I took a couple of pictures around campus, but the cloudy, foggy sky gave me cloudy, foggy pictures.

Class of '39 Fountain
Class of '39 Fountain

Purdue All American Marching Band
Purdue All American Marching Band

Miles Ridden: 10.8 (very sweaty ones)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Slow Start

The neighbor and I took a 6:00 am ride today on the Granville Bridge Route, but we started off slow. Not because we were still waking up or weak in the legs, it was because we couldn't see past the reach of our headlights - and neither was reaching very far in the tree canopy covered section of Division Road. Once we passed the River Road intersection and got out into the floodplain, we could see the road well enough to open things up.

I received several great comments on my headlight post from last month, and think it's time to go shopping. I may hit the LBS this weekend.

Miles Ridden: 11.2

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Mighty Hand of Dan

I need to find a way to disconnect myself from situations where motor vehicle drivers make stupid mistakes around me. This morning, there was yet another stupid passer.

Because the sun wasn't high enough to be in my eyes, I wasn't wearing my sunglasses, and therefore didn't have my rear view mirror on. Although I couldn't see it, I could hear the vehicle coming around me while the oncoming driver began to slow. I thrust my left hand out with the palm facing back in a vain attempt to stop the driver from crossing the yellow line to get around me. I guess I thought it would help.

But nope, the young mom in the minivan with her little precious safely lashed to the middle seat came around on my left. The oncoming pickup slowed and swerved into the grassy shoulder to let the van come through. I looked over and first saw the youngster in the car seat, and then the mom looking straight ahead. I yelled a question accented with profanity, but got no response.

It has been obvious to me, even before I tried to hold back the van with my authoritative left hand, that I can't do much to stop this from happening. Sure, I can ride more to the left and discourage the meeker ones, but there will always be some self-important motorist who feels that his time is more important than the safety of others on the road. It would be great if I could let it go, rather than stew about it for the rest of the ride. But I guess that is not my way.

I was in this mood today when I read about Steve from Halifax being hit by a car again. He is just back in the saddle after several months of recuperating from an earlier collision* this year. Luckily, he wasn't seriously injured this time. Could that be me at some point?

I can't really close this thought, since I'm still a little upset. I guess I'd like to ask all users of the road - motorized or not - to take the time to consider the big picture of everyone's safety and allow everyone their place.

Miles Ridden: 8.3

*I first typed 'accident' here instead of 'collision', but think that most collisions involving cars could be avoided, or at least minimized, with changes to our driving habits and attitudes. It's not an accident, just bad judgment.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day

On day three of this long weekend, I got up later than usual, so my ride started a little late. That cut down the time I had available to ride, but I still got an hour in.

Bridge Graffiti
Bridge Graffiti

It was a pretty easy route: north on 400W, east on 450N, south on 300W, Drury Lane to SR26, Sharon Chapel Road to Newman, south to Division Road and home.

Bush with a Grill
Bush with a Grill

Miles Ridden: 12.3

Sunday, September 02, 2007

You Can't Go Home Again

This morning, I decided to ride over to the south side of Lafayette in the area of my old neighborhood.

I started out on some very familiar roads (I just rode the same two yesterday) - east on River Road and south on US231. But as I continued south on 231 past SR25, I was transported back to 1998 (or so) when I used to tool around the area on my big red Murray mountain bike.

Busy Cell Tower
I Wish This Tower Were Closer to my House
(Our Reception is Awful!)

Heading east on 500S. I passed two voluntary toll stops being run by the Wea Township Fire Dept to raise money for the MDA Telethon. Unfortunately, bike shorts means no pockets, which means no money. All I had on the bike was my camera, my phone, and a spare tube, and I wasn't giving any of them to Jerry's kids. (Besides, I contributed yesterday at a WL Fire Dept stop.) I came upon two more toll stops before the ride finished.

Wea Creek
Wea Creek at 150E

I turned north on 150E, and passed two new schools that have popped up to serve the quickly growing number of families in the recently built subdivisions in the area. After crossing the now commercially crowded 350S, the road became 18th Street in Lafayette. I continued north to Main St, and plunged down the hill into downtown.

The old neighborhood has become much more developed than when I left six years ago, but it's still not a bad place. The interesting thing is that, except for the shoulders on US231 and a two block stretch on State Street in WL, there were no bike lanes to be found. However, with mostly wide streets or four lanes of traffic, I never felt like I needed to be anywhere else but the right lane. I'm starting to think that it's better that way.

After crossing the river, it was the normal trip through the village and campus areas and on home.

Miles Ridden: 20.3

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I'm All Dressed Up With No Where to Go

Hadley Lake
Hadley Lake

I had no plans when I left the house, other than to generally head into the ENE wind reported by the Weather Channel. Happy Hollow Road called me to climb the hill, so I did. Next, I headed west on Kalberer Road and enjoyed the flat terrain and slight tailwind. After that, I rode by Hadley Lake on Morehouse Road. South on 400W brought me back to Division Road and home. When I arrived at my subdivision entrance, I had to yield to around 15 cyclists in full Purdue kit that were headed out to the west. I thought about joining them.

It's great rides like this that keep me hopping back on the saddle.

Miles Ridden: 21.0