CC Attribution: Bikes Are Slippery When Wet by Jim Carson
I was looking over my bike last night in preparation for the ride and saw that my bike computer read 11:08 already. I had been dealing with a problem at work (I'm the primary on call for my security group) and I must have lost track of time. So much for arriving at 11:15, or 11:30 for that matter, without hammering it.
This was the first time I've really had my Blackburn Flea out on truly dark stretches of road before. I must say that for a relatively wimpy 40 lumens, the strobe mode is certainly eye-catching and illuminated reflective signs very far away.
When I got to Merriam Marketplace, it was only 11:03. Then I realized that I was looking at my odometer earlier, which I intend to reset monthly, but often forget.
A few minutes later, "Wildcat" Al showed up.
And then Badger and his wife... This is one of the color schemes offered on the 2009 Trek 2.3 WSD. I like it. A LOT. And it comes close to matching Badger's Sea-foam-green Rivendell Atlantis.
Drew and his friends showed up via Turkey Creek Trail.
Lots of mingling was going on by 11:40 or so.
Mark Rainey's Trucker. This is how his kick-stand works.
And you also have to love the headset bottle opener.
Warren, (who's been podcasting Bicycle Commuting In The News at LimitedWarrenT.com) was adamant that I called this the Un-Lenexa Midnight Ride yet still wore his Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride shirt? Iiiiiiiinteresting :)
Eric is a relatively new bike commuter who's heeding my advice to stick to a mountain bike on this ride. He recently scored a nice Technium on Craigslist. Like Jason and I, Eric does InfoSec work. I know of one other infosec bicycle commuter in town, too, but he doesn't have a website.
At Midnight, I gave a little talk. The typical "Two abreast. We stay together and re-group. Try not to break too many traffic laws. I hope you got lights and helmets." Schtick. Then we rolled out. By my count, we had a total of 25 riders. It was at least that many, but I could have missed a few. Some joined us part-way through the route.
Our first re-group was at the new gas station near Roe and Southwest Blvd. The traffic light split our group.
Sorry for the blur. This was taken at the entrance to the cave. Seeing the faint shimmer of moisture on the slope, I gave a warning for people to be mindful of their speed and to try to stay away from using their front brake if possible. (Braking with the front on slick surfaces can lock the wheel up easier and cause a problem)
There were two decent wipe-outs coming down the hill to the cave. It's been slicker than it was last night, but it was still a bit challenging. One group bit it at the bottom of the hill while a few others wiped out half way down. Everyone was okay, save for a few scrapes. We all got our selves together and continued the route through the cave.
Most of us walked our bikes out of the cave. Good Call.
Return Trip: We got split up at Southwest Boulevard and Rainbow. Only a few of us made it through the light. This was the rest of the group:
C'Dude, Warren and his son Peter
Riding through Rosedale:
Back at the Marketplace, cDude shows his battle scars (he got taken out by a wipeout in front of him)
Reed is huge on Twitter.
After we got back, some of us went to Denny's for some post-ride carbs. Mark and Nancy locking up.
When you go to Denny's (or pretty much anywhere open 24 Hours) at 2:00 in the morning, you never know who you'll run into. This couple wanted me to take their picture, too. I gladly obliged and handed him one of my cards. The Cigarette was just for show -- he whipped it out for the photo. I thought it was funny. Nice to meet you!
With that, there was much pigging out and discussion.
And looky what we have here! We got a ride report from this family about the official Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride. The official word: Lenexa PD says Midnight is too dangerous. The '07 and '08 rides both had something interesting happen with things NOT related to the ride that could have put the riders in jeopardy. One year, a search party was looking for an escapee in the area. The next year, a high-speed chase on Renner bisected the ride when police were forced to shut down the intersection for a few minutes. The word is that Lenexa is looking at moving this to an early morning ride -- say 6:00 AM or so (that's early?!) and returning to the cave route. That might be acceptable.
Again, big thanks for all who came out, spread the word, and had a good time!
"Midnight" is a confusing word. So let me clarify. The ride will start at the stroke of midnight SATURDAY NIGHT INTO SUNDAY MORNING. That means get to Merriam Marketplace LATE Saturday night. I'll get there sometime around 11:15 or 11:30. I recommend not getting there any later than 11:45 PM.
This ride is a combination of July's Dark Side Ride, and an alternative to the traditional Lenexa Midnight Ride, because they changed their route and location in such a way that detracts from most of the features that made it fun. Sure, riding on a bicycle in the dark rules, but after that, the Lenexa Midnight Ride has nothing. We're going to fix that by adding a cave.
To discuss more dark-side rides throughout the year (most of which do NOT include a cave, start earlier in the night than Midnight, and usually have a distance of 25-40 miles), sign up here.
Check your lights (and batteries), brakes, tires, chains and quick-release levers in advance. No one will be inspecting bicycles for safety at this event.
Show up at Merriam Marketplace with enough spare time to get your bike set up. I recommend showing up no later than 11:45 PM on July 11th, 2009. It's Saturday night.
At the stroke of Midnight July 12, we will all depart, riding northeast on Merriam Drive. We'll take it all the way to Kansas City, MO (where it's known as Southwest Boulevard) with re-group points along the way and turn right on 31st Street.
There's a large hill on 31st street. We'll re-group at the entryway to the cave and I'll unlock the door if it's not already open. We'll ride through the cave loop counter-clockwise, then come back out to return to Merriam Marketplace.
Every time I've been in the cave, there's been a thin, slick mud on certain parts of the roadway. I've never wiped out on it, but my road bike's narrow tires have gotten squirrelly in some parts. I'd recommend using a mountain bike for this ride. Also, the hill coming out of the cave is pretty steep.
Afterwards, some of us will undoubtedly be hungry, and for some of us, it wouldn't feel right not to wolf down some pancakes or breakfast after the ride. There is a Denny's at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Eby that's open 24/7 which is riding distance from Merriam Marketplace. Feel free to join some of us there for the after-party.
If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me via the form on the right, or here in the comments.
We cyclists had a unique "problem" at the bus this morning. Lorin and John C were both waiting at the bus stop with their bikes. This doesn't surprise me. John C and I were both on the bus with our bikes yesterday and Lorin usually takes an earlier bus. Today, Lorin had agreed to meet me for coffee. That means trying to get three bicycles on a rack made for two.
That didn't happen. John C brought his singlespeed on board the crowded bus. I think he got the short end of the stick because he's the skinny one who happened to be the most unburdened of the three of us. We all gathered for some pre-work caffeination with JR -- who hadn't shown up by the time I took this picture, but he'd have parked out of fram anyway.
I've been seeing more bike commuters lately -- many of them are of the suit- and business-casual attire wearing variety. It could be due to the lofts downtown, or due to transit. Regardless, more and more people are riding downtown with every passing week, so it seems. I would have taken more photos but I was all out of battery by the time I took the one above.
Also, fellow bicycle commuter, security nerd and blogger Jason would like some help trying to identify another bicycle commuter who got taken to the hospital on his watch a few days ago. I'm not one to tell people what to do or how to ride, but seriously? Helmet: Good
100pu Week 1 Day 1: 6/6/4/4/5 - My abs were still sore from the initial test from Wednesday night. This batch of pushups was a butt-kicker. I just need to tell myself that it's "the good pain" ... isn't it?
This has left me with muscular legs, a heart that's stronger than it's ever been before, above-average lung function, and yet I still don't have a lot of core strength. My weak, useless arms and flabby belly remain from my decade of lethargy. I haven't GAINED any weight in the last year, but I haven't actually improved my fitness, either. To that end, hammering more miles won't get me where I want. Sure, a refined diet and more calories burned would eventually start melting away my excess weight but it wouldn't do much for my upper body.
So, the goal is simple. Last night, I started the 100 Pushups program. It was my initial assessment, and I was able to execute 10 well-formed consecutive pushups. Weak, but you have to start somewhere. The goal is this: in 6 weeks, be able to do 100 in a row.
After doing just ten measly pushups for the initial test last night, I'm already feeling it this morning: abs, pecs, arms -- all of them are letting me know they're accounted for.
Has anyone tried this program before? Any luck?
As usual, I participated in massive amount of explosives and fire on Independence Day. While we didn't have professional-grade stuff like last year, my friends and I all got to set off a bunch of smaller things. And I mean a bunch.
Jon is actually made of explosives. :)
A few repeater cakes (pre-fused multi-shot aerial displays) staged in the yard.
Jon, Angji and Joel setting up a few bottle rockets.
This made me laugh, particuarly seeing Jon cheer as the projectile launched. I made it from a sequence of images taken with an intervalometer script on my camera (thanks to CHDK)
Angji shows off her Twitter Glitter. By the way, this was just about the most underwhelming piece of the night, aside from one ironically called "The Migraine". Both of them were basically a 4-shot roman candle. At least Twitter Glitter could be described in 140 characters or less.
My next vacation day isn't until September. Thankfully, it looks like I have some fun weekend bicycle trips planned to pass the time until then. The Midnight Cave Ride is this weekend, and we're looking at 30+ participants for that ride. We're still lined up to have quite a few participants for the group S24O camping trip at the end of July, too.
The lights themselves are lightweight and small. Unlike other smallish lights (such as the "hipster cyst" Knog Frog), they're also rechargeable. In the cycling world, that all adds up and usually means that MSRP is somewhere in the $ARMLEG range.
The Blackburn Flea can be purchased as just the headlight or tail light, with a slight discount offered for buying them both at once. I bought only the front light, as I really don't need the rear one. MSRP for each is $29.99. As you can see from the Amazon embed to the left, it's considerably cheaper to just buy it online for about $22. Strangely, it's also cheaper to buy the Flea Front and Rear separately -- About $44 total -- than it is to buy the Flea Combo which even via Amazon commands the full MSRP of $54.99
The Flea lights mount with velcro straps (included). The front light has a plastic track to hold it to the velcro, while the rear light uses a metal clip (which can be used to attach it to a belt, wedge pack or helmet strap. Either way, these lights attach easily to many places on a bicycle. I opted to be boring and put it on my handlebar.
Both front and rear offer 3 different light patterns. The headlight has low, high and strobe while the rear offers steady, flashing and sweeping modes. On high and flash modes, the headlight puts out about 40 lumens. This is enough to see a small patch in front of your wheel or enough to look down at your cyclo-computer. I feel it's better suited as an attention-grabber to alert motorists of your presence in low-light conditions. I don't think I'd want to depend on this light to see the road. Both lights have LEDs with both a narrow spot and a wide peripheral ring (as shown below). I won't bother much with a front-beam shot, as it would be mostly unimpressive. It throws light in front of you and will make your presence on the road known -- especially when you've got it strobing.
The unique part is the charger. Unfortunately, even if you get the combo, you only get one charger (as far as I could tell by looking at the package). This pretty much negates the $5 you save by buying them together at the local bike shop. The charger has wires wrapped around it and fits inside a small rubber case. The whole assembly easily fits on a keychain.
To charge, you un-wrap the wires and let the magnetic contacts adhere themselves to any 1.2-1.5V battery, while snapping the charger to the underside of the Flea light. A large D cell should yield more than a dozen charges. I just use rechargeable AA cells. The LEDs flash while charging and stop once the internal battery has fully charged.
Expect 3-6 hours of run-time from the headlight (Supposedly, flashing mode is the most efficient) and 6-12 out of the tail.
Overall impression: I wouldn't pay full retail for these, but for about $22, it's a handy supplemental light for those times you'll be riding under the streetlights and don't need help seeing the road, you just want to be seen. I'd rank it right up there among my favorite (relatively) inexpensive bike commuting gadgets. Its tiny size, modest run-time and clever charging mechanism won my geeky heart over. I'm just not sure I'd be willing to pay $30 each for them.
Tricks of the Trade
Last week, the sweltering climes hinted of August more than a month early. This week, it feels like May in July and the bikes have been out out in full force.
I wandered to the grocery store to pick up my lunch yesterday and saw another one of those strange single-sided fork bikes locked up outside. It's a Cannondale F29. Not sure how practical an expensive cross-country 29er is for getting around KC for errands, but it beats a car, I suppose. As one friend of mine pointed out, it will tackle the pot-holes and steel plates with ease. And we do have plenty of those around here.
On my way back from grabbing lunch, I stopped by the fountains next to Barney Allis Plaza.
While there, I took some pictures for my review of the Ryders sunglasses I got last week. After a week of testing, I've got to say I like them a lot.
Grandstand Burgers. I met my wife there, but just got a snack as I had a late lunch. If you're in the area and like burgers, this little gem north of I-35 on Antioch (at Merriam Drive) serves the best I've had in KC.
A nice, relaxing swim put an end to another perfect summer day.
With that, I'll probably be silent until sometime next week. I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures of explosions.