Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: Year in Numbers

Total Miles for December: 75.7 - Last December saw 62.4

Total Miles for the Year: 2,125.2 - Well above my secret goal of 1,600.

Total Number of Utility Rides: 13
Total Number of Morning Rides: 25
Total Number of Commutes: 69
Total Number of Other Rides: 50

2007: Year in Pictures


Hidden Corn Crib


My First Bike


Busses Only


My Bike at Work


Brown Street Overlook


On a Garage


West Point Windmill
West Lafayette at Night
Pork Chop Man


The Grad Students


Hadley Lake
Sunrise on Campus
Marching Band Practice


Sunrise Near Cairo
Leaves Gather


End of the Ride


Holiday Pose

Here's to a great 2008!

One More for the Year

This morning, I thought I was done riding for the year. I even totaled up my stats. However, at 2:00, it was sunny and warm with little wind, so I called the neighbor to set up a ride. We hit the road by 3:15 or so.

Too bad the sun was obscured by clouds and the wind was picking up. We still had a good ride, but the way back from Granville included a cold headwind.

Still, it was a good, quick ride.

Miles Ridden: 9.2

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Ride

Nothing special. Just a ride to Granville and back. The roads seemed a little unfamiliar, and it turns out it has been over two months since I last rode that way.

I had to cut the ride short so that I could make it to the 'orphan Christmas' my neighbors were hosting for grad students from foreign lands. They served great gumbo!

Miles Ridden: 9.1

On Granville Bridge

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let's Go Shopping!

Today was warm (high 40s) but wet, with a misty drizzle in the air all day. Yet it looked like the best of the 10 day for a ride. Plus, I had some shopping and errands to run. So, I threw on some biking clothes and tossed my wallet in the pannier, and off I went.

The local maul (as Noah calls it) is not very accessible by anything other than a motor vehicle. All of the entrances are on major highways, and the shoulders on those highways are either in bad shape or non-existent. However, I felt up to the challenge.

I attacked from the south, coming across the south side of Lafayette on Twychenham/Brady/Creasy, and the plan was to take a short jaunt on the US52 shoulder to get to the edge of the mall parking lot. However, two conditions killed that idea. First, the shoulder was buried under the ice and show from the plows earlier in the week. Also, the northbound lanes were backed up as far as I could see for some unknown reason (I found out later that the Interstate had been closed for accident cleanup, and all traffic was being routed through town). Instead, I continued on to SR38. This is a five lane highway with no shoulder, bike path, or sidewalk for a cyclist to use. Time to 'take the lane'! I had no problem staking my claim to a portion of the concrete until I got to the back entrance for the Payless grocery store. After a little parking lot hopping, I was at the mall.

Mall DirectoryLike many shopping malls, the Tippecanoe Mall has a ring road that circles the property in the middle of the parking lot, and a curbside lane next to the building. In my car, I prefer the outer ring, but the slower curbside lane felt better for the bike. It took almost a full circuit to find a bike rack. The mall directory inside indicated a second one, but must have missed it on the way by. Mine was the only bike at Entrance A.

After the mall, I went in search of blank CD-R and DVD+R discs. I tried to find a store with a rack in the front.

Best Buy - no rack = NO SALE
Circuit City - no rack = NO SALE

I didn't feel like fighting the traffic for K-Mart (is that place still open?), so I headed north on Creasy to hit the cable company office to exchange my ailing remote for a fresh one. Apparently, there is a limit to how many times one can drop a remote before it quits working! I had one more store to hit for the discs.

Office Depot - no rack = NO S...

Well, actually, I was tired of fighting my one man battle for bicycle facilities, and they didn't seem to mind when I parked the Trek in the vestibule between the two sets of automatic doors (even though they opened and closed at least ten times while I removed and secured my helmet and gloves and dug around the pannier for my wallet). Even better, the discs were on sale!

Office Depot Vestibule Parking
Office Depot Bike Parking

As I pulled out of the shopping center on Creasy to head home, I had the green light, while the opposing red light strained to hold back a sea of motorized traffic, with a semi truck pulling a gravel trailer at the head of the line in the right lane.

Using my best passive-aggressive cycling skills, I grabbed a little more of the lane than usual, riding squarely in the right tire path. My goal was to force the semi into the left lane to pass me, rather than squeezing me into the tree line. However, the driver had other ideas, passing me at what seemed like inches away (although it was probably a few feet). Regardless, I found myself screaming obscenities into the air as he rolled by, and I was worried that he would cut back to the right before the trailer was past me. He didn't, I lived, and I cussed a little more. Aggression beats passive-aggression every time.

Myers Pedestrian Bridge
Myers Pedestrian Bridge

The rest of the ride home was thankfully uneventful. I was damp, muddy, and happy when I pulled into the driveway. The bike got a quick spray from the hose before rolling into the garage.

Miles Ridden: 23.6

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Check out these MIT Cycling Team members who are conducting research on a supercomputer. They powered the computer using their bicycles.

Maybe I should setup something like this so that my web surfing could also be exercise!

Like tonight, instead of preparing for a ride to work tomorrow, I'm watching Radiohead videos on You Tube. (I especially like this one)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Day Off

Tom says that this may not be the best day for a first ride back after an injury (glad you're back in the saddle), and I can see why. Here's the view of the street in front of my house this morning. (The street is actually six inches below the snow.)

Snowy Sunday Morning

See all those leaves? They were the last remaining on the trees, but the strong winds have plucked them all and strewn them on top of the fresh snow.

This will likely be melted by Thursday or Friday.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Test Ride in the Cold

Snowy Sunrise
Snowy Sunrise

Since I've committed to riding to work on my first work day of 2008, I thought I should try out my cold weather gear ahead of the day. With a required trip to campus to pick up a University vehicle (conference in Chicago), today seemed like a good day for a test ride.

The route was nothing special - a little jaunt around the campus and through the downtown areas of Lafayette and West Lafayette. Temperatures were hovering just above freezing and the winds were light. We haven't had snow in a couple of days, so the only snow or ice conditions I encountered were on my cul-de-sac. My little skinny tired road bike handled the trip with grace and dependability. If conditions are snowy, I'll likely use my normal commuter bike (or maybe my son's bike).

On my way around West Lafayette, I purposefully avoided the Cattail Trail, since I expected it to be snow covered and icy. However, to my surprise, I found the path to be cleared and ready for use. Let's give a gold star to the City of West Lafayette - probably the Parks Dept.! The bike lanes along Salisbury Street hadn't fared so well. With piles of snow pushed from the street and from driveways, and forgotten piles of leaves frozen in place, they were useless. I'm taking the star back!

Lindberg Road
Multi-Use Trail Near Celery Bog

Here's what I wore:
My headband sporting a Purdue logo covered my ears and forehead quite well. Unfortunately, the exposed top of my head really felt the cold - especially down the first hill. Even after I warmed up later in the ride, I could still feel the effects of the cold air. I have a helmet liner, which is basically a Thinsulate© version of a swim cap, but the one time I wore it my head was dripping sweat after 15 minutes. It's going to have to be pretty cold for that to be useful.

Although I didn't see any other cyclists on this ride, I did pull up next to a scooter rider at a stop light. Along with his snow suit, he was rockin' the full face ski mask - accessorized with a lit cigarette sticking through the mouth hole. Quite a look!
I never have much trouble keeping my body warm, and today was no exception. My layers consisted of an athletic undershirt (compression shirt?), a long sleeve heavy jersey, and a wind breaker. After climbing the second hill, I had to unzip the jacket and I was wishing for arm vents (although I cooled off quickly when I stopped). I could add another jersey layer if it's really cold.
In lieu of any cold weather cycling gloves, I grabbed my leather driving gloves with the sheep's wool lining. They look good with my dress coat, and work well for chilly cycling. No problems.
Layers again, with my cycling tights covered with a pair of athletic pants from Dick's Sporting Goods. They're not sweats, and also not part of a wind suit (at least I don't think so), so maybe we can say 'warm up pants'. Anyway, this combo didn't block the wind entirely, and my knees were a little cold at the start, but I quickly got comfortable.
Here's where I need help. The usual white cotton socks and Wally World sneakers are pretty much all I have to work with. (I know, I should get real bike shoes, but I can't find any in wide width. Sure, I've seen some articles that talk about a certain line 'running a little wide', but I'm not ready to take that gamble. If you know of any, let me know.) My other choice would be my snow boots. As expected, my toes were cold after about 45 minutes.
Overall, I think things went pretty well. On the short ride to my office, the biggest problem I'll have will be keeping my head warm without cooking my brain. Depending on the length of the ride, my feet will be the next trouble spot.

All-in-all, it was a good ride.

Miles Ridden: 14.6

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Is He Crazy?

Ok, so Noah wants us to promise to ride the commute on our first work day of 2008. Surely it will be no problem for him, but I haven't tried a snow commute yet. I answered yes in his poll, and I'm already regretting it. My wife says that she won't let me if there is an ice or snow storm (although I could counter that it wouldn't be any safer in a car in those conditions).

I guess I have a few weeks to get my clothing and other equipment ready, so I really have no excuse.

See you on the road Jan 2!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Doesn't Look Good

My wife and I were driving home tonight around 7:00, when we saw police lights ahead on SR26 just west of campus. As we waited in the line of cars stopped at the apparent scene of an accident, a tow truck, lit up in yellow, passed us on the left.

After a minute or two, our westbound lane was directed through the parking lot of the now empty flower shop in the front of the Horticulture Park area. On the road in front of the shop was a bent up bicycle. A small, white car facing east had its windshield shattered. We didn't see any people standing around - maybe the driver of the car or rider of the bike, so I can only guess that one or both of them were transported away for treatment.

At this point, we don't know what's going on, but I'm going to guess that the rider wasn't wearing any lights (none were seen at the site) or reflectors. Also, the auto driver wasn't payment much attention to the road, or to those using the road.

I'll watch the local news and pass along what I learn.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Double Dose of the Avenue

I don't know why I feel guilty when I don't ride. It's not that I'm trying to save the world or stop climate change. I'm not trying to impress anyone (except maybe you). And while I need the health benefits that riding can give, one day off won't kill me.

I guess there is a bit of pressure from the example that others set. I read many bike commuter blogs, and many of the authors are based in Canada or the northern US. They are already fighting cold and snow, and loving it. I just can't get myself out when it's below freezing or maybe raining or snowing.

Last week at work, my department had a meeting at the basketball arena. This is a business affair, with most of the guys in suit and tie, and the ladies in a dress or pant suit. One guy walked in wearing his suit with sneakers while carrying a duffel bag. I jokingly remarked that he was ready for some hoops. A young lady from my office said "No, he just rides his bike - EVERYWHERE". Her tone was surprisingly judgmental, especially since she's seen me ride to work part time for the last 10 years.

Anyway, I guess I'm impressed by and jealous of those that can ride, and enjoy it, under conditions that keep me home or in my Saturn. I'll keep working at it.

Today offered a chance to ride in December, so I grabbed it. At 50 degrees and windy, it was as good as it would be for the next week. Since I had to go into the office, I'm calling it a commute ride.

I took the Wabash Avenue Route into campus, and despite the wet roads, it was a nice ride. Since there was so much ice and sleet yesterday, the first hill I came down was covered in a thick layer of sand. It does a great job of helping give traction on the slippery frozen roads, but at 50 degrees it's a bunch of mud. No matter; I was dressed for the mess. I continued my leisurely pace on River Road, and turned south onto US231. Up the long hill, I took my time and wasn't too bothered by the gentle slope or the consistently strong winds. At the top, a guy in a small Japanese sports car sped around me to get first place at the light. I would have laughed when he killed the engine trying to speed off at the green arrow, but I was still embarrassed by almost falling behind him when my shoe wouldn't come out of the toe clips. I thought that only happened to the clipless crowd.

I discovered pretty quickly that I had overdressed, so I removed my windbreaker and stuffed it in the pocket of my jersey - giving me that lower lumbar hunchback look.

Is it me, or does Wabash Avenue between Beck Lane and the sewage plant have some of the poorest pavement conditions in town? The concrete surface is full of long, vertical cracks, poorly patched potholes, and ill-placed seams. It has been that way at least since I moved here in 1986.

I took a detour to check out the preparations for the Lafayette Christmas Parade planned for the afternoon. I didn't see much except for the TV truck setting up for the taping (to be broadcast on Christmas day). After I crossed the river, I tried what could be a better path for the route from the Myers Bridge to Williams Street. Instead of following the Wabash River Trail to River Road, which requires a sometimes hard to maneuver left turn onto Williams, I just took the fairly new Tapawingo Extension. It's much easier and probably safer.

At work, I left my bike at the bottom of the stairs on the terrazzo floor instead of on the carpet in my office. But first, the bike and I posed for a Holiday shot in front of the model of the Boilermaker Special that is specially decorated for the season.

Holiday Pose
Happy Holidays

Coming home, I decided to double back on the Avenue again. It's just as fun in the opposite direction.

Miles Ridden: 19.2