Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October Totals and Post 500!

It's hard to believe that I've written 500 of these little gems. I wonder how far I'll get before I tire of it. I'm sure that most that have read my little blog have moved on, but I keep going just for me regardless.

Leaves Gather
Fallen Leaves Hide from the Wind Next To my Wheel

This is the first month since January where I've missed my monthly goal, based on percentages of an annual, secret goal (as outlined here). I'm only off by 23 miles, and I've actually already passed the secret goal for the year, but I don't like missing a benchmark. Anyway, November is a new month, so here I go!

October Total: 147.0 miles
October Last Year: 135.3 miles

Total This Year (so far): 1,930.1 miles
Total This Time Last Year: 1,355.8 miles

Day 3

Wow! Third day in a row commuting to work.

Like yesterday, I did the there and back route, but not all at the same time. It was sunny all day, but got cloudy around half an hour before I left for home. Sustained headwinds of 15MPH with gusts to 25MPH made the ride home an energetic one.

I have to say that it's so nice finally having my bike fixed. The problem with the cassette hub must have been brewing for several years, but I didn't recognize the intermittent symptoms. I always thought the chain was jumping. Anyway, the acid test up the hill on Newman Road went great.

Miles Ridden: 7.2 (estimated)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

There and Back

I had just pulled up at the bike rack and was about to unwind the bike lock when my phone rang. It was my daughter, who had just missed the school bus, asking for a ride. So, I refastened my pant leg strap and headed back home.

There was almost no traffic heading away from campus. The neat part was that I rode seven miles at a good clip with no perspiration. It was a little chilly!

Miles Ridden: 7.1 (estimated)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cupcake Day!

Messy Cupcakes
Messy Cupcakes

I took these cupcakes into work today. When I left the house, I had them balanced on a diagonal to minimize the movement of the cakes. However, at arrival, I found the plastic box completely vertical. Most of the cakes had jumped/fallen out of their protective cup holders and smashed together at one end. Check out the one on the right where I had to reapply the frosting that had been stuck to the bottom of his neighbor's cup. A knife would have been nice, but my right index finger did the trick (don't tell my co-worker that ate that one).

This was my first ride after retrieving the bike from his third trip to the shop. They replaced the cassette hub using parts from the back - no charge! I just don't see how these guys make money. It is now working great - no TING sound anymore.

Miles Ridden: 11.8 (estimated)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

After Work...

... I was able to take a quick hour on the bike. I headed onto the as yet undocumented north route* despite a strong NNE wind. Sure, I fought it all the way up to 450N, but it pushed me home on the return trip. Traffic wasn't too bad except for the stretch of Klondike Road between US52 and Lindberg. Lots of unsafe passing, but I wasn't too bothered by it. Lucky for me the oncoming drivers were alert and patient.

Interesting Clouds
Interesting Clouds

It's funny how clouds look so 3D in real life, mainly because they are moving, but a photo instantly flattens them out. In this shot the two different layers were moving in different directions - pretty cool.

So I took my 820 back to the bike shop today. After my problems last week, I had clear symptoms to tell the mechanic. He thought maybe there was something wrong with the rear wheel something-or-other (I can't remember what he called it). Anyway, a couple of turns of the pedals made it obvious to him. He said it was a fairly rare problem to have, and he said he'd have it done in a day. I'm feeling confident.

Stonehenge Subdivision

Whenever I pass this sign, I have to say the name in the manner of Christopher Guest in This Is Spinal Tap. You know, that heavy fake British accent.


Imagine that it kind of rhymes with the name of that VOIP company - Vonage.

Miles Ridden: 12.1

*Maybe I could call it the Capilano/Klondike Route

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Much like this day, I took my son to his high school - this time for his PSAT. So I threw the bike in the back of the van and cycled away after dropping him off.

The thing about this morning is that it was quite cold - low 50s and windy. Sure, I'll love this kind of weather in January, but the first cold ride of the year is always an eye opener. I warmed up after about 20 minutes, and I got into a nice rhythm as the sun came up.

Sunrise Near Cairo
Sunrise Near Cairo

The ride to Brookston was pretty calm, and the town was pretty quiet. If had thought to bring some cash, I would have stopped for a snack in town.

Brookston Mural
Mural in Brookston

I didn't have a definite route planned, other than to maybe ride to Springboro, so I just headed east on SR18. This highway was not busy at all, and the motorized vehicle drivers didn't seem to mind me too much.

Did They Mean to Write 'MAIZE'?

When I got to 300E, I was getting worried about the time. I only had an hour or so before the test would be completed, so I turned south to begin a return to the high school.

As I re-read the account from my Brookston ride two years ago (linked above), I laughed at how I basically had the same problems with route planning (or actually lack of planning) today that I did back them. They say that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and I'm now the poster boy for that observation.

I could see up ahead that my road was ending at a 'T' intersection. Just then, I head something running up next to me. It turned out to be a dog. A big dog. However, he seemed happy just to ride along.

I stopped at the 'T' and turned to pull my camera out of the seat post bag. My new buddy seemed very interested and posed for a couple of photos. I reached out to pet him, and he leaned in and rubbed against my leg as I scratched his ears. Friends for life!

My Riding Buddy
White County Escort

So at the 'T' intersection I look at my clock (it's late), to the left there is a paved road heading east - away from the high school, and on the right is a gravel road with the Ash Grove grain elevator in the distance. In the interest of time, I chose the gravel road.

The dog and I took off to the east. He was running in front of me, much like a sled dog, as I fought to keep the wheel straight in what appeared to be freshly spread gravel - full of dust and loose rocks. Maybe I could have hooked up the dog to some sort of harness to have him help pull me through. It was almost two miles later when my escort dropped back, and I was on my own. A short ride to the south (more gravel) took me to Ash Grove and 900N.

Now, here's where the planning would have helped. That left turn on the paved road would have led me to a southbound road to 900N (also paved) in less than half a mile, and I probably would have actually saved time and frustration by not riding on the same stretch of gravel road that I fought last time (but maybe not have had my friend along). Anyway, next time I go to Brookston, I'm going to plan the route a little more carefully.

Heading back to the school from there was easy. I found some route markings from last month's Tour de CrossRoads, and followed one of their routes back to the school. Even though I arrived about 10 minutes later than planned, the test wasn't out yet, so I had time to spare.

Miles Ridden: 27.5

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

In a Fog

Some days, riding a bike can make it the best day ever. This was not one of those days.

My daughter had an after school thing, so I needed to pick her up at 5:30 - no time to ride home and get my car. Instead, I tried the trick from last year where I drive my car to her school, ride the bike from there to work, and then back to school to pick her up for the ride home. Not a bad plan.

I was surprised at the amount of fog today. Sure, I had my lights on, but my reflective vest was accidentally left home. For some reason, I felt very conspicuous today - riding around in my office wear in the fog. The worst part was my bike was not cooperating. Apparently, the bottom bracket problem the mechanic mentioned the other day decided to re-appear this morning. It was constantly slipping, so I must have looked like some sort of idiot - pedaling fast, then slow, then fast. At the intersection of Klondike and Lindberg, I almost fell off the bike!

I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it back after work, but I kind of got into a rhythm. If I never pedaled hard, it didn't slip very much, so I decided that I could probably limp back to the school.

(Unrelated to the bike rides today, I took the bus to get my shirts at the cleaners. About 10 seconds after I sat down, I could feel moisture on my pants. I jumped up and felt the soaked seat. No idea what it was, but at least it didn't smell. I told myself it was someone's Sprite and not homeless guy urine. Keep believing!)

At 4:30, I walked by a window between meetings to notice that it was raining. Great! At 5:00, I started changing clothes to head out when my wife called. It didn't take too much convincing for me to eschew The Walnut Strikes Again!the rain soaked ride on a barely operational bike and instead accept her offer of a ride. I guess I really am a fair weather cyclist.

On a lighter note, I found another walnut on my bike today - this time in the bottle cage. I wonder where the next one will be.

Miles Ridden: 5.6 (estimated)

Monday, October 15, 2007


Dan's New OutfitToday's commute was my first ride in a while. The weekend was out because my wife and I participated in the 40th annual Feast of the Hunters' Moon, and I was in period dress for the first time (Check out those knickers! If it weren't for the drop flap front, I could fit in with the trendy cycling folks in NYC). We spend Friday setting things up and running last minute errands, and Saturday and Sunday at the booth - no breaks for a ride.

This morning started out pretty slow. I'm a little sore from all of the walking (in uncomfortable shoes) and standing, as well as the work to erect and disassemble the tent. I'm sure my speed was even slower than a normal morning, but I couldn't tell because the battery in the cyclo-computer has apparently died. I'll have to hit the battery store soon to get it replaced.

I came home on the North Work Route. On Lindberg Road west of McCormick, I had to leave the 'bike lane' and enter the main lane to allow an oncoming jogger to pass. I decided to stay there for the short distance to 400W where I would turn left. I heard a car come up behind me, and the driver began to rev his engine. Without my rear view mirror, I couldn't see what he was doing. An oncoming car slowed and pulled onto the shoulder, and I heard the car behind me speed up and drive around me. Apparently, the guy was playing chicken with the oncoming car! When the safer driver got out of the way of the maniac, said maniac floored it to get to the next stop sign about 10 seconds ahead of me. What an ass!

When I reached the entrance to my subdivision, rather than turning for home I continued to Newman Road and headed up the hill. I wanted to check the transmission after the latest repair visit. I selected the middle chainring and gear three, stood up, and pushed up the hill. I was gingerly waiting for the chain to slip, but it never did. I guess they really figured it out.

I still have that 'ting' sound that I now know comes from the bottom bracket. The weird thing is that each time I hear it go 'ting', I have to say 'ting'! What an odd behavior.

Miles Ridden: 12.1 (estimated with GMaps Pedometer)

Monday, October 08, 2007

There and Back

I rode to work and back on the direct route with no side trips. Just another day.

Also, it was the first commute day since retrieving my bike from the shop. Sure enough, it still made the 'ting' noise as I began to pedal. And, as I climbed the hill on the way home, the chain was slipping so badly as I stood up on the hill that I ended up walking up. (I don't like to walk up hills!) So, I'm going to take it back to the shop tomorrow. I know that they want it to be right, so I'll give them another chance.

I think that the problem is they're all a bunch of thin cyclist looking types, and they don't have 230 pounds of RAW CYCLING POWER to test things out.

Miles Ridden: 7.0

UPDATE: I picked up the bike today (10/10). The head repair guy, who had been out last week when I last visited, said that there was a problem with the housing where the shifter cable connected on the bar, and that should solve the shifting problem. Also, he tightened the bottom bracket to stop the noise. He said that the bracket was getting a little wobbly, and I'd probably have to replace it soon. It has a bracket mounted derailur that would also have to be replaced with a seat tube mounted model. We'll see how long it lasts. When I got home, I rode it about 30 feet down my street and back. As I started to pedal, I heard a 'ting'.

I'll try a hill soon.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Scott Adams Hates Bicycles

Checkout this quote from a recent post on the The Dilbert Blog by Scott Adams:
Thanks to religious restrictions on freedom in the United States, we have a long list of things you can’t do (at least whenever you want): prostitution, marijuana, euthanasia, gambling, polygamy, and on and on. You might argue that the law is just trying to protect people from harm. But if that were the case, bicycles would be illegal.
Now, before you get all excited and post a comment about Mr. Adams' religious or political views - he's an idiot, he's genius, he's a heritic, whatever, please note that I only point this out because of his writing choice for the joke in the last line. I see Scott as a comedy writer that presents himself as a philosopher. Maybe his views are real, or maybe just part of the bit. It doesn't matter to me; I'm just entertained by his work.

My point to make is that I'm wondering why he chose bicycle riding as his choice of unsafe behavior. We know that a bike is one of the safer methods of transport available, and that, at least to us, choosing car travel would have been funnier. But then, bike riders are a weird bunch.

(The title of this post is actually meant to be a joke that Scott would get, if he ever actually read this. Not likely.)

West to East

The neighbor and I got out this morning for a couple of hours on a pretty warm day - especially for October. High 70s before noon is kind of rare. We decided to ride up to Montmorenci and then head east on 500N.

500N is a fairly straight, fairly flat road between Otterbien and the river. We rode the portion from US231 to 75E (which later becomes Soldiers Home Road).

We took Soldiers Home Road into town and then sped down Happy Hollow Road. I've often climbed this hill, but I rarely head down it. Today I reached one of my fastest speeds ever - 37MPH.

We came back home through campus and surveyed the aftermath of a Big Ten football game: hired students picking up the piles of trash, overnight RV campers packing to leave, and bleary eyed party boys wandering home.

Miles Ridden: 23.9

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ravines Run

Fog Along the Wabash
Foggy Morning

Not much time today, but I was able to fit in a quick run up Indian Creek Hill to the golf course and back.

Miles Ridden: 12.3

Tomatoes $1/lb
Tomatoes $1/lb - Golf Balls 4/$1

Friday, October 05, 2007

Formal Wear

New duties at work are requiring a better wardrobe, so I rode in today with a tie on. I'm sure it looks kind of weird.

Miles Ridden: 8.3

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Near Collision

While I waiting for bus at lunchtime, I witnessed a near collision between two cyclists. One was heading the wrong way on a one way street, and the other ran a stop light. They missed by inches, and they both probably deserved to wreck.

After work, I took a crowded trolley down to the bike shop to pick up my commuter bike from the shop. They took care of the wobbly front wheel and adjusted the transmission. Now, I can climb hills with confidence. Unfortunately, I still get the occasional 'ping' sound when I resume pedaling after a coast - usually when I'm in a big gear. Other than that, it works great.

Miles Ridden: 5.1

Bridge Out

The Highland Park "Bicycle Bridge" in Lafayette (featured here) has been closed by the city after failing an inspection. Let's hope it can be repaired soon.

Highland Park Bicycle Bridge will close, awaits repairs


Lafayette city officials plan to erect a fence closing Highland Park's Bicycle Bridge sometime today -- but the structure could reopen as early as next summer.

"We are going to get the bridge fixed," Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said.

More than 40 people gathered at city hall Wednesday evening to learn about the city's plans for the bridge, which was deemed unsafe after if failed a recent inspection.

Jenny Bonner, Lafayette city engineer, said bidding for the project will likely start this winter if financing can be secured. Under that scenario, construction would begin this spring and the bridge would reopen in late summer or early fall 2008.

"I'm disappointed that we won't be able to use the bridge till this spring," said neighborhood resident Frank Donaldson, "but if it's done right, we'll deal with it."

Roswarski said Tippecanoe County is looking into whether or not it can use its bridge fund to help repair the pedestrian bridge. He said the city will also apply for grants but will likely end up paying for at least part of the project itself.

The price of the project could vary greatly depending on which repairs the city chooses to pursue.

About 50 percent of the bottom of the bridge's through girders are in serious condition and have delamination, spalling and exposed reinforcing steel, according to the condition report done by H. Stewart Kline and Associates Inc.

That aspect of the bridge has to be repaired before it can reopen.

The city could also elect to pursue other, less serious repairs, such as fixing spalled parts of the bridge's railing and repairing delamination on the bridge's deck.

"If I can get enough money to do it completely, that would be great," Bonner said.

Residents at the meeting also expressed interest in adding drainage around the bridge, repairing the sidewalk that leads to it and even putting up signs to show it off to the wider community.

Neighborhood resident Connie Lux said at the meeting that she favors repairing the bridge and perhaps even turning the ravine it spans into a park.

"I would love to see the ravine in Highland Park, the diamond in the rough, turned into something beautiful for our children," she said.

But others feared developing the area too much beyond repairing the bridge might cause the wooded area to lose some of its appeal.

"I think the charm of the bridge is its discreet character," Donaldson said. "So I don't want to call a lot of attention to it."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Take Your Bike to Work Day

Bike in the Office
If It Were Any Closer, It Would Be In My Lap

It's kind of like Take Your Daughter to Work Day, except with a bike.

With my normal commuter in the shop, I rode the Pilot in today. Since I didn't have a lock with me (leaving it behind was a total accident - sure), I brought it down with me and parked it next to my desk - rather than leaving it outside.

On the way home, I could see the tail end of the Crew riding out to the river to practice. It only took me about a half a mile to catch up. As the last guy dismounted to walk the hill on Newman, I sailed up while out of the saddle. Another victory over an inexperienced rider on a discount store bike!

Miles Ridden: 7.0