June 29, 2008

R-12 pt.5 -- June Permanent Complete

Ahh, the continuing saga of the march to R-12. It's been a pretty good run so far, but this one was pretty cool because I got to share it with someone else, and possible pave the way for another successful randonnuer to get his start. Or to lose his mind. Whatever. Yeah, for the first time since February in Texas for a permanent... and really the first time since April for ANY rando stuff... I have someone to ride with. Noah, of KC-Bike fame, recent radio celeb, IT guru god-guy, and all around good person. Oh, and fresh RUSA member...number TBA. He'd always wondered about rando stuff, and so he printed the forms, wrote out the checks, and showed up at my place at holy-crap-it's-early for the ride. That shows dedication -- or exactly the nuttiness required to try rando in the first place. Maybe a little of both. Closing in on 800 miles for the month, he's well into the "hard core" range. My month.... errrr.... well, I'm gonna commute tomorrow (Monday) so I'll round out the month with a paltry 419 miles. Dang, so he's got me doubled and I call myself a rando guy? Yeesh. Yeah, THIS guy is on his way to full-on nut-bar. Cue that "punch" sound that comes at the end of the Sonic commercials. These permanent routes were designed selfishly: I designed em to allow me to roll outta bed, fall into my cycling gear, and start riding. For him to have made the drive shows something more than a casual interest, I think. We'll give him a few months, and see if the bug still bites again. Maybe in July we'll tempt him with a new route that's actually 200K, instead of 217 that was on tap for this one. After the ride, on Noah's recommendation that came about 80 miles into the ride, in a desperate attempt to talk about anything other than the hills, I enjoyed a bottle of Boulevard Brewing Company's Smokestack Series "Saison". 750ml of pure goodness. Then I promptly snoozed on the back deck with my feet propped up, and then went to bed. What a day. Tonite as I type this, I've decided to make my last beer (of the weekend) a bottle of Rogue Dead Guy Ale. That should help the memories flow a little. Yeah, yeah. I've decided to limit my beer intake to post-RUSA event celebrations only, and since right now I'm only riding a 200k+ per month, I feel that it's appropriately moderated. Now that I have a tall glass of the good stuff, let's tell the tale: I opened the garage door and let in the cool, still night air. It was DARK. Darker than usual, as the moon hadn't yet risen at 2:20am when my alarm rang. Yikes, dude.... this is madness. At least when I started last month at 4am, rising at 3:30 seemed semi-reasonable, maybe form a Bob Burns comparison standpoint. 2:20 was like, you haven't even had a chance to sleep. I rose, showered, and entered the prep-chamber to suit up for the expedition. Tires aired, back pockets loaded, and cards ready. Noah pulled up, unloaded, prepped, and soon we were ready. The pavement was wet - but the skies were kind: a round of severe thunderstorms had skirted the area overnight, and it was supposed to have still been raining at this hour -- but we were blessed. It's hard to start out in the rain. Lights ablaze, we navigated the neighborhood and found Murlen, and the 7-11 a 1/4 mile north. Ahhh, the night guy. Low customer count, not much to stock - no deliveries scheduled. Maybe clean the slushie machine. It doesn't take much more than a total disregard for circadian rhythms to work the night shift at a place like 7-11. And here we come, two wayward cyclists about to embark on a day-long adventure. It's 3:30am. And there we are, alone in the world -- except for the annoying teenagers that should have been asleep.
"hey, can I get you to put the time of day and your initials in this box, please?" Blank stares at the card. Then at me. Wow. He carefully records the time of day. Then pauses. Initials.... Initials...... uhhhhhh....... "what?" "You know, like the first letter of your first name....," I started to explain. As if he recognizes the term "name", he jots down his name... it'll do. "Thanks, sir!" I depart with my receipt and caffeine dose. Noah has the same experience. After briefing on the permanent card procedure and such, that was an oddity. It's not always that bad, or awkward. No matter --- drinks are consumed, and it's time to ride. Saddle up, and head out into the darkness. There is always something surreal about navigating the suburban streets at night. The lonesome whistle of a train, the distant whirr of the highway, and the occasional passing car. Usually with stereo thumping - as it's summer, after all. But, mainly, quiet - serene. The wetness of the pavement squishing under tires. The gentle click of drivetrains under mild load. It's a great time to be on a bike, as traffic is essentially non-existent. Under the glow of the streetlights, and the glare of the traffic signals (that wouldn't change despite the 70 lbs. of steel tubing on top of the sensors) -- finally darkness, and nothing but headlights on the road. What a feeling -- nothing beats it. And nothing quite beats sunrise on a bike...but that was hours away. I tell ya what else is hard to beat on a bike... a distant thunderstorm. As we rolled south, and eventually ended up on 175th and then Antioch for the big climb - first of the day - about 20 miles to the south, light-shifted into the yellowish-amber color commonly called "heat lightning" was the thunderstorm line that had passed thru at about 1:00am. Brilliantly flashing and lighting up the night sky, you could see the cloud deck and the cloud-to-ground strikes. Magnificent, no sound -- just light. Spooky. With the wet roads under us, and occasional little patches of wispy fog, it was dreamlike. First stop came at the Shell station at 199th and US-69, a weird place for me to stop -- and yeah, it was all me, not Noah. Barely ten miles in, my stomach was still having some leftover issues from the early morning. I think I carb-loaded a little too heavily the night before or something -- whatever it was, it wasn't fun. Things were not happy. Not something you want to have happen a lot in a world of terms like "chaffing" and "saddle sore". That's when things are Normal. We roll on, Metcalf now - the long haul for nearly 200 blocks south, past Louisburg, and into the first of the hills. All the climbing on this route (Border Patrol) comes at the middle of the ride, and starting around 303rd street, the fun begins with long sweeping hills carved into the natural hills. It's breathtaking, even at night, with 30 mph coming easily - plunging into the darkness, hoping the headlight beam is true, only to slow to a crawl to climb up out of the mirth. The sun begins to show at around 327th street, and we stop for a photo and a nature break on top of a hill. The song of birds begins to fill the skies in the pre-dawn light, the northeast sky alive with purple and pink. The leftover clouds from the thunderstorm squall line are sharp and turbulent, but far out of reach. We roll on. We finally reach "phase 2" of the route, which is what I've called it after having ridden this perm route for the third time now. Riding along the shoulder of US-69 is not something a lot of local cyclists would consider "safe", but this far south between 335th and 359th streets there is not a lot of traffic in the mornings (or afternoons really) and the wide shoulder with rumble strip is great. With dawns light really coming on, we were in good shape, too. But, the highway stint is something of a divider between the northern part of the ride and the southern part of the ride -- so I kind of use that as a mental placeholder and a landmark. We roll off the highway down onto 359th street, and onto the gravel section of the course - which only lasts a mile -- this morning, it's wet and mushy, tho. No matter -- Noah is well equipped with 32c tires, maybe 35s. He's ready and willing. It's an interesting part of the route, but I honestly can't wait until they decide to pave it over. Wouldn't break my heart - although it does add a certain flavor to the route. Noah is doing well so far - snapping pictures and enjoying the sunrise and sights and sounds. The conversation is flowing, and there isn't much concern so far. Just another ride for the both of us. We talk about the history of the route, the area, as the question comes up why the route is called "the border patrol". We discuss the nearby Indian reservation for the Miami Indians (I'll have to do some more research on that), and I wax philosophical about the La Cygne power plant and how cool it is to ride past it at night during the 600K. The conversation bounces around between dogs, camera gear, bikes, food, drivers, the weather, and what lie ahead beyond La Cygne. Finally, the La Cygne control, about 46 miles in. Time to get cards signed and refuel a little. Bottles are topped off, and I engage the cheesy potato breakfast bites that proved so good on last months edition of this ride. Dude, they are TASTY. Potatoes and a little cheese. Hit me. DANG good. I fill a plastic baggie with them, trying to stick to my revelation that I can save control time if I eat ON the bike. Cards signed and receipts obtained from our friendly cashier Bambi, we're in good shape and we take off for the middle section - The hard section. We roll off across the old La Cygne river bridge, and out of town --- side note, this is kinda sad, and I'm glad Noah was diligent with his camera. I still have not made a good habit of snapping more pics on rides, but he does an excellent job. The La Cygne bridge is fairly old, not sure how old as I've never stopped to record the information from the bridge nameplate at either end, but pretty old I'm sure. Might date back to the 20's... it's an old steel truss bridge, specifically a subdivided Warren truss bridge with a concrete road deck. It's very unique in it's design - and I think it's on the block for demolition, as just to the south of the existing bridge are coffer dams and new concrete pillars in place for a new bridge over the river leading into town. Not only is it probably going to be less visually appealing and unique, but the absolute straightness of K-152 will be altered forever, as the placement of the new bridge will require a couple of curves in the road. For me, being a hard-line party member of the "leave things alone" crowd, it's a real bummer. One of the coolest views around here is either end of Linn Valley, especially looking from west to east towards the power plant -- you can follow the entire road all the way to the other end of the valley. Sticking a weird dog-leg in there is just gonna mess it up, I feel. But, it's done. It's just a matter of building it.
Too bad. But, as I learned with the Platte River bridge up on MO-116, time marches on -- at least we have pictures. We made the turn onto Linn Co 1095 highway, and into the mystery land at the middle of this route. We climbed up and over the first big hill, and Noah was doing fine -- but likely not amused with the steep grade --- nor was I. Feeling pretty good, and having my stomach malady calming slightly, I was climbing better that I'd expected - but I made a point not to be in a hurry today. Leaving someone behind on their maiden rando event? Not cool. Especially in an area where it's easy to assume you're not in the right place. This highway is weird. It meanders along, twists and turns, and seems very odd sometimes. Today was no exception - as I think Noah termed it best -- "are we in Narnia or something?" The grey light of the overcast skies, the smell of fresh rain, the birds and green grass; It was weird out here today, to the point that on several occasions I wondered to myself – and finally out loud – whether or not we had missed a turn somewhere…even though there are no turns to miss out here. Climb number two came, along with a few of its friends that I hadn't bothered to number. Finally we reached the turn to head east directly into Pleasanton - but for several miles it really seemed like we were in the wrong place. And I'd ridden this twice before... so I'm not sure what THAT was all about. Still, we were on course. Finally hill number three, the stupid one. Reminds me still of Colorado's climbs, as today we ascended into some marginal fog -- just mystical and surreal looking, and then getting shot out of a cannon on the downhill side at 42 MPH ... what a rush! Pleasanton, here we are! We meander our way thru residential Pleasanton, make it past the railroad crossing before the morning northbound made its way thru, and make it to the control at the gas station near the highway. To the usual odd stares and muttered comments, we dismount and prepare for the rando-ritual of massive food purchase followed by card signing party. This cashier knows what’s up, tho – always a pleasure.

I’m not sure how much time passes, but we’re not in nearly as much of a hurry at this control, and my stomach decides to give one last revolt before calming down for the day, so I make one more stop inside. Things are not “happy”, yeah… but, I’ve had worse. It’s certainly the meal from the day before – I know that much, as opposed to what I was taking in so far. I’d used the same fueling platform as the May edition for this ride, and it was not only calming things down, but was providing very consistent push with no cramping or other ill effects.


Breakfast: Hammer Sustained Energy (4 scoops), mixed with (2) Clif Gel Shots – raspberry and mocha flavor, with 50mg of caffeine.

Pre-ride On bike: Hammer HEED (1) scoop per bottle, mixed with (3) scoops Sustained Energy for the initial two bottles.
Hammer HEED, (1) scoop per bottle approx for the remainder of the ride for hydration and maintenance calories.

Temperatures were not that high at the beginning of the ride, so I was probably not taking in enough liquid – but it never showed while riding.

Other calories:

- (1) serving of Casey’s cheesy potato bites (latest all day – had one left before arriving at Louisburg on the return)
- Starbucks Double Shot minican at the 7-11 start – approx. 120 cals.
- Bought at Pleasanton, (1) 420 calorie bag of Planters “Pistachio Mix” – mixed into the same baggie as the potato bites, for the road. Ate about ¼ of the bag while standing around.
- Casey’s on the return, (1) slice of cheese pizza --- ended up being a marginal mistake, as it seemed to take a lot more liquid to digest. Minor stomach distress, but it didn’t last long. Also had about ¼ of a fresh orange, courtesy Noah.
- At Stilwell Grocery, a bag of Snyder’s Pretzel Nibblers – Honey Mustard and Onion flavor (mmm) – 2 oz., @ 130 cals per oz. – 260 cals total.
- Supplements: Didn’t really need any today. Had a full load of Endurolytes, but didn’t take any. Vitamins, however, I have noticed are a very good thing on rides like this – chewable vitamin C tablets, 500mg each, I took in two at each control, and the last two at Louisburg. 1000mg every 25 miles or so helped tremendously with digestion, mood, and spirit – and probably assisted in cramp control and lactic acid buffering. Never had any indication of fatigue, cramping, or soreness. Cheap, and easy to carry – this is part of my arsenal from now on. Used them in May, also, with the same positive results.

I’d like to think that the rest of the ride was ridden on stored fat, and that I burned a lot of it. I’m going to attempt the July edition on far LESS pre-ride carb-loading, and see if I can do this distance without having to eat a TON the couple of days before. I think some of that is bunk – yeah, you want to ensure that the glycogen levels in your muscles are topped off before such an event, but I truly think I’ve been overdoing it. The numbers above, let’s figure on 100 calories per scoop of HEED, and 114.3 per scoop of SE….say 300 for the slice of cheese pizza….420 in the bag of mixed nuts…260 for the pretzels (and I got home before finishing them all)…the potato bites are an unknown, but let’s say 400 cals easy.
Totals, 10 scoops of SE, 10 scoops of HEED:

HEED = 1,000 calories
Clif Shots = 200 calories
SE = 1,143 calories
Other = 1,380 calories

Total = 3,843 calories intake.
9 hours rolling time approx. @ 600 calories per hour = 5400 cals needed.

That still puts me at a deficit…and I’m not sure for me personally if the 600 cals per hour burned is accurate or not. If I assume that I burned what I took in, that’s got me burning 420 or so per hour… and I would hope that cycling is burning more than that. However, using BikeJournal.com’s calorie calculator, entering my weight, the mileage and the average speed, THAT shows I should have burned over 6,400 calories, which is 710 per hour! SO, I can safely assume (or hope) that the moderate pace was augmented by a healthy dose of stored fat calories…and I hope so, because my goal is to lose weight. Considering that I never felt weak, fatigued, or bonky – perhaps I’ve found a good balance. Personally, I don’t know HOW I could have eaten MORE. I’ll have to surf the forums a little bit, I suppose, or re-read the UMCA’s guidelines on fueling. Now that I’ve got hydration back to “second-nature” status, it’s time to ensure my nutrition choices are good ones. At the very least, you can see from the above that I did continue May’s pledge to stop fueling like crap: no donuts, no snack cakes, no real Cokes, or anything similar. Everything was pretty much complex carbs, proteins, and very minor sugar. The fats provided from the nuts are pretty good for endurance, too, I’ve read – and it seemed to work nicely. Back to my original notion, based on how I behaved the day of the ride, I’m pretty sure I didn’t need to carb-load to the degree that I did. The post-load digestive trauma just isn’t worth it. I’d rather just eat a carb-rich dinner two days before, and take it easy the day before – and feel fresh and “light” the day of the ride.

After enjoying the rest, it was time to roll out for part two of the ride.
Just as we were leaving town, the sky got a little bit greyer, and a few strap drops began to hit us. Hmmm…. That’s different. The temperature was high enough that donning the rain jacket would have been foolhardy – and I was honestly wondering, especially after some ribbing from Noah, why I had taken the rain jacket along at all. Still, it wasn’t taking up much space on the rack – let’s call it a mental preparedness move, eh? The rain steadily increased – but I would never really way it was “raining” – it was really just spitting. The roads slicked up a little bit, but even oncoming traffic were working the windshield wipers at a big interval – when we saw a car at all, that is.

Inevitably, we reached a point where I was starting to get annoyed at the sound of my own voice, but at the same time I still felt it necessary to fill the void with idle talk. Noah was kinda and tactful, and I ended up laughing about it – but I have caught myself more often than not lately just blabbing on about nothing at all, or reiterating the same point over and over – stuff like that. Here’s raising a glass to personal improvement, and sticking to what I’d outlined in this very blog a while back – not to bring up the past so much, and to continue looking forward (even though I just had to look backwards to make that point) Arg. (smacks forehead)
If you don’t have anything to say, stop trying. J
That’s what blogs are for.

On that point, the ride turned very “rando” in nature. Conversation lulled, and the internal dialogue started up. Hills came, we’d spread apart, then regroup – I was determined to keep us together as a group, and not turn Noah’s first RUSA event into a crash course in cue-sheet reading. Still, I caught myself doing the ole “one meter in front of the bike, thousand-yard stare” while riding along, and I’d begin to put in a gap just by hitting my default rando pace, before I’d snap out of it, and bring us back together. This explained a LOT of the “where AM I?” feeling from earlier in the ride; Noah was pointing out landmarks and such, taking photos, and noting the fact that the twin smoke-stacks of the power plant were SO far away, visible thru the trees – a feature I’d never noticed before, simply because I don’t look around a whole lot when riding solo. That’s partially a necessity on some of these rides, especially the longer ones. You simply have to pull the plug, and pedal. To my credit, however, I did notice a huge amount of wildflowers dotting the road; button daisies, little clusters of bright blue flowers, yellow flowers everywhere, tall clover umbrellas – very cool, and plenty of scenery for someone that stares at the road a lot like me. Good crops, too – a lot of soy, wheat and corn coming up. The roadkill was a constant source of comment, too. Even saw an armadillo, along with a really big turtle, and a lot of skunk. Whooof. Stanky, stanky Podunk.

Finally, after the last long downhill adventure at 40+ MPH, we were on the last long flat that leads back to K-152 and La Cygne for the final control…well, the final control out on the road. We stopped here for a pretty long time, probably 20-30 minutes at least. Meeting Badgerland back at Louisburg for a three-way ride back into town was right out of the cards by now. It was 11:00am, and getting 22 miles back to the BP station at 279th wasn’t gonna happen. I dialed in a voicemail to him, and we began to eat, and eat – and rest. Noah’s knee had a little spur in it for a while, but at one point on the return it snapped free and started feeling better = which is a good thing. Still, we were gonna start slowing down for the last part of the ride. Fatigue was coming up fast, and every pedal stroke for him now was a new personal best for mileage. Time to take it easy.
I sucked down the last of my slice-o-cheese pizza, freshly baked, and we were ready to head out once again. A long, slow coal train would have hampered our progress anyways, so it was a welcome rest.

The final climb out of the valley is always a forgotten bear. It stinks. It’s a great opportunity to work on pacing uphill, but geez it gets old. I think it’s probably two miles long, really, from when the grade begins to pitch to the rollover on the top. Toss in the fact that there’s no shoulder, and it’s a state highway… ugh. Still, it’s one of my favorite roads… a great downhill on the way in to La Cygne… and on the out it marks the last major climb for this ride. After this, there isn’t a whole lot to worry about. Well, except for the gravel section.

After we rolled north for a while, thankful that the wind hadn’t really picked up yet, enjoying the fairly new pavement of Jingo road – we said thanks to “Boz” for everything…. We really don’t know what for, but we rolled past some big family gathering somethingorother, and ole Boz was getting accolades from everyone else, so we both kinda chimed in, too. Then came the attack dogs, brothers probably, that would charge their fence line in a vain attempt to kill us. Funny thing is, whoever got to the fence last was a rotten egg, or something like that: it seemed that once they got there to bark at us, they were more interested in killing each other than us. Silly dogs.

Then, the old highway comes into view, and BAM – gravel section. Careful to avoid the gigantic and ever-growing hole at the precipice of the section, I take the middle, and begin the charge. Coming this direction, it’s basically all uphill until 359th street, and still being marginally wet and sloppy from the AM storms, it’s an exercise in cadence and traction. Anxious to get it over with, and basically to not fall over from my thin 25c tires digging in, I toss the engine into George Hincapie Paris-Roubaix attack mode. Making matters more interesting were the three cars that happened to be here – not sure where everyone was headed, but it’s odd to see ANYone on this section of road, much less having three cars in fairly consistent spacing have to squeeze past us, and it forced me to take lines on the road that were not my first choice. This is one of those rare times where 30c mixed tread cyclocross tires would be nice, if only they’d fit under my fenders.
Hammering the last uphill, I’m back on pavement, and I slam on the brakes. Yeesh, what a trial. I am reminded that only a month before was the Kanza 200 race out near Emporia, KS. 200 MILES of these kinds of roads… and the winner of the event, Cameron “somebody” (I can’t remember) finished in ELEVEN HOURS. A double in 11 hours is tough on pavement, but not out of reach…but on gravel like this? I SUCK. It’d sure be fun to try, tho!!! With my heart pounding after this charge, it puts that whole effort into serious perspective. It doesn’t take much to sit on a bike all day… but to do it quickly? Dang.

Noah catches up, and we’re finally back on the smooth stuff heading back towards Phase 1 of the route, but first we have to complete the highway section back north. It’s pretty nice, same good shoulder on both sides of the road – and it would be utterly unmentionable had it not been for the two miles of tire shrapnel we had to ride thru, finally coming up behind the “victim” – the trailer of a recycler’s truck has a double blowout, dropping the wheels to the pavement. That must have been an interesting ride!

Another nature break, one that always seems to hit in the same place --- each of the three times I’ve ridden this route, it’s always after coming off the highway. Near Rutlader, KS, as usual, looking south into the protected grasslands near the road, it seems like it’s turning into a nicer day – the cloud layers are burning off, and I can see my shadow for the first time today as we roll onward for the last nasty section before reaching Louisburg. Up, and down, and up, and down – 30MPH, then 9 or 10….over and over. It’s weird, and I think it’s all slightly uphill overall as you head north – or it’s the fatigue setting in – but I never seem to remember this section being so hilly in the early morning hours of the ride.

We finally make it back to Louisburg, and traffic is picking up. It makes me really wish for an alternate, fully paved alternative to Metcalf sometimes. With summer in swing, yeah – people are going to be out and about – but you’d think some of that would be stifled by the gas prices, and in a relatively small town there would be more people walking about and such – not so here. Louisburg is sadly turning into another Olathe or Overland Park, just off by itself. No real planning – just a lot of sprawl and car-centric culture. It’s amazing how many houses are near the main strip of town, and yet there are freaking cars EVERY-where. Nip it, people!

Of course, we rando guys are pretty much numb to traffic – bike commuters moreso. It’s something to comment on, but not a deal killer. As we make our way out of town, the traffic does subside a little, especially after crossing 247th street. On of these days I’ll also be looking at a route that heads east from here over to Cleveland, MO. That might be a fun road.

Noah and I are spaced about ½ mile apart here, riding our own rides, and taking in the new sunshine and bold scenery – as if from a postcard. The skies are loaded with puffy clouds against a striking blue backdrop, intersecting seamlessly with a carpet of lush greens and tans of good crops on either side of the road – even a John Deere making its way up the road towards us, we are suddenly thrust into rural Iowa, perhaps, instead of only being a few miles south of a burgeoning suburb, and new business park.

This is a repost from Noah’s blog, but I love this photo from that moment, as I stretch the shoulders a bit:

Soon, we’re at 199th and the Stilwell Grocery stop – and after a little rest, some hose water, and bottle refills, we are set to mount up again, as the wind begins to slowly pick up. Finally, which is REALLY odd for such a nice day, we see another cyclist. Contrasted to May’s ride, I had seen at least a dozen riders between Louisburg and Olathe before finishing – today, we hadn’t seen ANY, until now. A lone triathlete girl, stopping in for her turnaround stop, decked out in the KC Multisport kit on a nice grey Orbea (I think?). It was nice to talk to someone else from the fold, instead of the local passersby. But, it was over quickly as we mounted up and headed towards Antioch for the last charge, the last big downhill, and the last long steady run-up back towards Olathe – this time, pretty much directly into the growing wind. The fatigue of the day was beginning to show now, and Noah was entering “just get home” mode, so I tailored my pace down to help keep him in sight. It was done for me more than once, and it was time for me to pay it forward. Working together towards a common goal is what makes Randonneuring so appealing to me, and helps keep it a unique culture. There will always be time for a personal best, but not at anyone else’s expense.
Noah even asked me after the ride, something to the effect that I’d be lying if I said that the “finish sprint” never happened at a RUSA ride… you know, it was hard to explain. I’d never been a witness to it, personally – although I think between friends, it does happen – but more often than not I’ve seen a lot of people make a point to cross the finish line together, to hit the control together. I’ve even had more experienced riders completely turn around and ride the route backwards to regroup with the slower bunch, sometimes several times during a ride. Yeah, Ort and I would engage in speedplay once in a while on brevet – and the Warbird and I sometimes would give each other a run…but it was always short-lived. More often than not, the gaps in the group grow slowly, and unintentionally, just because everyone ends up in their own pace, their own world. You look back fifteen miles later, and realize there’s no-one behind you anymore, and it’s never because you were “trying to drop someone”. It’s refreshingly anti-racer. But to say that rando riders are slow is a horrible mis-representation. I just think that the speed is a secondary concern, as is the competition. Everyone is out on the road fighting their own personal battle, and the personal bonds that are created from the shared misery are far more valuable than the “sprint points”.

Finally, we are back on Lackman – a couple more climbs, and it’s 159th, then Murlen. At this point, my backside is ready to be done. Although it’s not really hot, at probably only 77 degrees, the sunshine after a full day under the clouds seems brutal. It’s time to wrap this one up. In the last mile, the pace naturally lifts a little, and Noah and I sail into the parking lot for the 7-11, and to personal victory. Noah has done it! And I have one more notch in the R-12 belt….. seven to go. Back at the home base, we once again have a slight issue with the language barrier on the subject of what “initials” means – as we both get the time of day recorded by someone named “7 eleven”. Nice. Now, all we have to do is ride back to my place – something that seems almost ‘easy’ now, but it’d certainly be better if our cars were right there in the parking lot. Oh well… we make it back in short order, and NOW we are officially done.

Shower time….. whoooo!

Now the before and after road grime shot, for the books:

I think I’m gonna try my hand at another route in July, maybe the Wellsville ride, or the WMG Memorial, since I designed that one but hadn’t ridden it yet. I’ll ponder it a little, but I definitely want to do it earlier in the month, so in case something happens I have at least one other weekend to reschedule. I have cut it close two months in a row by riding on the last Saturday. I think more of a buffer than that is appropriate! No major lessons this time out… keep doing what works, commute, and see what July brings!

Thanks for reading – now, go check out the photos and Noah’s write up on his blog! Do it! KC-Bike Blog.

June 28, 2008

Success, for June! 217km in the bag, and the maiden voyage for Noah - new RUSA member. Congrats to him for finishing his first! More to come

June 27, 2008

Gettin' the June Edition

It's 200K+ time again.... more like 217km, while I put my feet to the pedals and hit the highways and side roads again for another 1/12th of the task of getting my first RUSA R-12 award!
This will be month number five, and again just under the wire. Between being out of town in NYC for a week, and other family commitments, this R-12 thing is not so easy just from a scheduling standpoint. This is once again the last weekend in the month that I can grab a permanent, and the regional coordinator has once again been kind to me.

I'll try to do better with a ride update this time, afterwards --- and probably will include some highlights from the May ride: which went really well. But, I never did log back in and talk about it much. Also, I think I will have some more pictures... for two reasons:

I'll have my camera ready, and I'll also have Noah (aka Foshacks, of KC-Bike blog fame) along with me. Since it's hard enough to remember odd nicknames and get them to stick, I'll probably heretofor refer to him simply by his name. That's easy. This will be his first RUSA event, and his first ride of anything longer than probably 70 miles in one sitting. It will be a learning experience, but after having ridden with him a few times I can say that he's ready. He's quick, patient, and is appropriately equipped - so it will be a treat! All I know is that it will be entertaining to talk to someone OTHER than myself this time out!

So, stay tuned -- ride details and photolog coming soon...

June 23, 2008

Getting back to Dude-Dom

Week two of the 2nd complete week on the bike (to work) -- enough excuses, chapter 613. Something like that. I'm gonna try to make an honest run at pretending to live "car-free" -- yeah, yeah, while I still have a car rotting in the driveway, I'm going to at least pretend that I can't find the keys, or the tires are shot. Something like that.
I saw this awesome show a couple nights ago on this new network called "Planet Green" -- as the name suggests, it's a network devoted to all things "green". This will hopefully not turn into one of those VH1 specials about 20 years from now, when we're all living in UV-stable geodesic domes made of mylar -- dude, remember when we tried to "go green"? What a trip! (this is assuming that it DOES turn out to be a terrible fad, and we're all acting too late.
Ahhh....optimism...sometimes I just don't get it. I digress.... on Planet Green, there was this really great documentary, about an hour long, by one of my fave guys on the planet today: Les Stroud. I wanna meet this cat, just to sit there and drink some coffee and soak up the knowledge, the stories, ya know? This guy is living my dream life... hardcore wilderness guy, survivalist, musician, filmographer. Ugh... I took the wrong classes in school or something, or I was born too far south. ANYways... the only thing he apprently isn't is a cyclist, so I do have THAT going for me. Maybe he is... I dunno. Hey, Les.... if you wanna hit the trails up there in Ontario, and don't mind letting a room for a weekend, lemme know, eh? Sweet.
Anyhoo... this show was called "Off the Grid", and the subject was a typical suburban family (Les's), two kids, wife, husband; they decide to cut ties with the sprawl, the utilities, and buy some land out away from the hustle and bustle - build a homestead. Using the latest technology, they set up a cabin, renovate an old barn, dig a well, harvest rain, wind, and the sun to provide power and comforts, and chop wood for heat. The wife and kids are on board, there are adjustments, etc., but it's really interesting. It made me sigh outwardly, as I sat and watched -- snuggly seated deep in suburban Kansas. MAN....simplification sounds so IDEAL right now, at this time in history, in my life --- call it a midlife crisis if you will, but I seriously want to cut off the cable TV, even the internet perhaps (ok, maybe not...) tell the gas and electric companies "no thanks", and just GO out there somewhere -- all those places I love to ride that aren't too terribly far away... up north, near the water somewhere, reclaim some land - maybe some land with some history on it... build up a stone house, or a log home -- SUPER insulated, maybe partially subterrainian. Get a wind generator going, some solar cells, work from home, or at least work somewhere within reasonable commuting distance. Get out of the corporate lifestyle - something I've never quite fit into. Get my hands dirty again. YEAh -- I'm not exactly the Brawny guy from those paper towel commercials, but I'd survive -- I'd learn how, the hard way - and I'd welcome it. You didn't have "geeks" and "cube droids" 150 years ago... you learned a trade, and you adapted or you died. Toss out the gym memberships, and build my muscles the old fashioned way; lugging things around, working the land... and all the while minimizing my footprint, teaching my kids the value of sweat and toil, and honest work -- equipping them to decide for themselves someday what path to take, and what the differences really are. The benefits of both worlds. There is something very attractive about all that.
Ahhhh....but the wife would never buy it.....and so I snap back to reality again... She is my soul mate... but that doesn't always mean we see eye-to-eye on things of this sort...So I must be content with this life, knowing that my chance may well come in another lifetime. I am fully content to enjoy her company, her smile - knowing that this life comes with it, I wouldn't trade anything. I'll put on my outdoorsman's hat and fire up the lawn mower, for my "adventure" in the wilds of our backyard. Sometimes...just for fun...I can tune out the sounds of the nearby streets, and wonder just for a moment if I can light a fire without matches....maybe those dried weeds over there would make good kindling..... and if the sun is juuuust right.....
At least I can try to do PART of it.... and riding a bike to work consistently is a good start.
My point really here is that even though it seems frustrating that we can't do it ALL, and take HUGE steps towards a solution...we can take SOME steps. Even if they are small, the cumulative effect of all of us taking those steps is a huge solution in itself. So go ahead and take whatever steps you can, and don't be frustrated that you can't just chuck everything, and do it all. The point is to do SOMETHING.
Took a few photos today, along the way --- mainly testing out my phone's built-in camera to see if motion shots would turn out decently, and they did. Most were unintersting test shot of grass, spokes, etc....so I left those out....but the ones below I found reason to mention.

This first one, taken near Deanna Rose Park in OP, between 139th and 137th along Quivira Road.

The wildflowers in the background along the downwards slopes of the roadway above -- another one of those things that motorists up on the road flying past won't get to appreciate. There are yellows, purples and blues intermixed in there, all tiny flowers - alive with bees and bugs - ending abruptly at the stone retaining material that holds the soil in place right above the creek here. In full commuter trim in next to the tree is the Kogswell -- the first picture I think taken of the beast with the panniers attached. Yeah, the ole Carradice bags worked really well for a long time, but the lower center of gravity and essentially double capacity of the panniers is perfect for commuting - waterproof, too, and a lot of reflective material. In the foreground is the trail itself - finally complete, I can get home to office and stay out of the traffic for 60% of the way. Not bad -- but impassible in the winter. No trail maintenance here! By summer's end, however, the new overpass at 133rd Street and US-69 will be complete, and I'll be able to get home on the roads without any major headaches. Can't wait!

Later on, grimmacing into the glare of the rising sun ahead of me, this over-the-shoulder shot shows more of the endless construction along 139th streets. Including a new connector road to 135th, and wider lanes, this once quiet alley behind the ballfields now sports a small convention center, bigger and improved ballfields, and whatever it is they're pumping concrete for behind me. Been going on in some form or another for over a year now, I'm curious how traffic will be when they are finished.
Small, quiet roads that are condusive to bicycle commuting are fast becoming just like this one -- growth opportunities. "Fill it all in" seems to be the city plan of choice.

Finally in the office, I thought I'd provide a little food for thought for your own commuter-solution. Here's some of my plans that I've brought to life over the years.
At left is the "closet" -- the usual cubicle storage shelves are removed, and PVC pipe is cut to fit and hung with paper clips and zip ties to the slots that normally hold the shelving tabs. One shelf is retained at the top for cycling caps, whatever else. The intent here is drying of the commuter clothes after the morning ride. Out of the shot and on the desk surface is a table top fan, aimed into the cabinet for air cirulation. A collection of modified hangers and such provides room for a ful winter kit, jacket, warmers (hung on the PVC tube towards the back wall and lower), and shorts, etc. This is facing inwards to the inside of my work space, so passers-by can't even see what is hanging there. It works quite well. After drying, the clothes are stashed back in the bags until it's time to ride home.

The bags are stored up here in the overhead bin - again something normally reserved for files, notebooks -- stuff that doesn't make sense in this computer age. Everytihng I'll ever need is stored on shared servers and on DVD-ROM. The office of the future this ISN'T.... but, it helps hide my panniers during the day, it's lockable, and it's out of the way. I personally love the "this is my life" beige-tone steel. Very inspiring and motivating. Makes me want to crank out a spreadsheet.

Next, the shoe drawer...again, who the heck is gonna use all this file space??? Get with the now, tree killers! I'm not really much on sweatshops and overcrowding, but it makes me wonder about the planners that put together our "compound". We could have planned smarter, built half the buildings, and had some marvelous land left over for a nice park or something. Oh, who am I kidding, they would have turned it into a strip mall. But, the amount of space taken up by this monster cubicle -- it makes me wonder how many buildings we really needed in the first place. This is one of five drawers like this. I like it, but I only really NEED this one, and maybe the one above it. In this one, normally my dress shoes live - at night. Until I arrive at work and pull the Clark Kent, that is -- then my cycling sandals park here. Note the shoe buffer, and FeBreeze Anti-Microbial spray. Disinfected shorts are happy shorts... and happy shorts make for happy tushy. Happy tushy.... blah blah blah. Gross.
Anyways --- those on the fence about "what would I do with all that stuff?" when it comes to bicycling to work -- take a long look at your workspace, and I'll bet you can find a lot of unique ways to make the most of your space. Then, you will have one less excuse not to make the most of your opportunity to take one more car off the roads during rush-hour.
Thanks for reading, and talk to you soon --

June 22, 2008

The June Moon Ride

It was that time, once again -- time for the evening temps to get right into that butter-zone of excellence for cycling. June, in the evening! Ahhhh.... and what better way to kick off summer's arrival than by riding a bicycle when the calendar changes over from June 20th to June 21st?
I have long contended that night-rides are some of the best rides you can get, and every time I do one that notion gets reinforced. This was no exception. Nine folks showed up, including a who's-who of the KC commuting scene.... well, at least as far as MY circles reach: There was Noah, of KC-Bike.blogspot.com fame, who I call "Foshacks", mainly because when we first met I kept reading his email address wrong to myself. "focus-hacks"....doy. Speed-reading: don't believe the hype. Then there was Chris (Clem in these pages); Juan Sunuke "Crowbar" von Schnakalatte; Badgerland; Staatz-Man; crud - just a buncha good folks at the wheel, including Dave, Anmee and Jason <-- I'd never met them before (at least not that I can recall) but I'd ride with them again in a second.

Check out all the fine photos, courtesy Noah, at his page (linked above).... I once again didn't have the camera handy.... I need to get back on that game, actually. One of the things that makes Noah's blog so good is the high photo content, something that makes for far more meaningful content -- they say that a picture is worth (trite), but it's true... and since I can never seem to find time to TYPE anything anymore, maybe that's a good way to go!

Back to the ride, however, with the sun setting so late these days we almost didn't need headlights as we rolled out of the parking lot at 9pm sharp. Awesome twilight followed, including a distant light show from a thunderstorm tower about 75 miles away to the northeast. Very cool. Partly cloudy skies were the rule just above our heads, however, as some of the brighter stars came into view as the sun disappeared from view. Ahhh....my favorite time of day...sundown. Especially on a bike... the winds die, the threat of sunburn subsides, and the technology of cycling literally shines. We put on a light show of our own, with tons of light bathing the road ahead of us... and behind us. A Dinotte taillight, a few from Blackburn's Mars series, some Cateye fare, Spinnaga, Vistalite, and Niterider - and headlights from B+M, Shimano, Dinotte, gosh I lost track.... a lot of different brands represented, and all sorts of configurations -- very cool. VERY BRIGHT. More than a few times, approaching and passing cars took pause as we approached. Crazy. Never a dark corner on this ride!

I gotta say.... this is one of those perspective times for me. Since March I have GAINED almost ten pounds back. Stress. I know... *I* have control.... but it's amazing how many times I don't feel like I have any control at all over it. I've gotta just get the willpower back! Still, I have been feeling good lately, stronger on the bike simply from exposure. After a solid week of commutes to work, the first in months, my speed is coming up.... but tonite I got a chance to ride with some cyclists that have clearly been doing more work than me, and it was certainly humbling! I'm here to tell you right now.... NEVER, and I mean NEVER, judge a cyclist by their body type. Yeah, yeah.... that goes both ways, because it's easy to assume that a thin, muscular-legged looking fellow in a full kit on an expensive race bike might be fast.... I'm talking the OTHER way...someone that doesn't look like they should be fast, riding a fendered and racked steel monster with 10 pounds of lights, and they ARE fast. "Fast", also is relative...so for me, I can only relate from my own perspective..but fast is fast. The pace tonite, for me, was pretty hot. Last Saturday out on the road I was feeling REALLY good, managed to reel in a two-man paceline, and later a triathlete on a Cervelo P3C, and came home with a 17.4 average speed. Tonite, however, I was feeling my weight, and my lack of energy from a full days work at two jobs, and a full commute already in the bag. And this was a recreational, leisurely ride!
On my Trek 450, no fenders, yeah-yeah... feeling light and spry among the commuter bikes and such.... ugh. This was not a competition, by ANY means -- no,no,no... -- don't get me wrong, I'm not TRYING to drop anyone because it's not that kind of ride, but you know how it goes: you see a section of road that interests you, and whether it's a group ride or not, you just GOTTA go for it. You always drop back in, regroup, and talk about it, tho. That's how it works! Conversely, if you are in a ride and see someone do a move like that, and the mood strikes, you chase, right? YEah! It's fun! Dude, I couldn't break away to save my life. These guys are quick, nimble, and responsive on their machines. You see a guy on a fendered, 30-year old, HEAVY steel bike with a rear rack, who admittedly only gets his commutes in and no weekend rides or other training -- and here I am on my "race" bike with fast wheels, etc.... and I try to sprint a hill and get PASSED? THAT, my friend, is a fast rider ... I don't care where you come from. Staatz, I'm talk to ya, man... impressive stuff... put this guy on a 14-lb road bike, and SEE YA. I'm talkin' to you snobby racer-types that don't wave back out on the roads. Watch out, and assume nothing. Commuters are strong.

Humbling, indeed -- and that's not to insinuate that I for some reason THOUGHT that I could have been able to break away, or that I was somehow in a different class. Heck no. But, what that DOES say is that I'm horribly out of shape...if I'd have been riding the Kogswell, I would have been firmly at the back of the pack, I have no doubt. I need to get rid of this extra weight, and maybe start training for some goals and spending more time in these group rides trying to keep up if I truly want to get some speed back. My point to myself about all this: it's easy to think that I'm doing well, when I have nothing to compare with. I may be "king of the bike trail" in my own mind because I am getting home a little faster these days...but MAN...if I ever wanna get back to the glory days, I gotta WORK. These guys (and gal) that I rode with Friday night...holy....we're probably not talking about the cover of VeloNews, but what a solid crew, seriously. The exception being Dave on his Torelli.... fast, period, and headed to Triple Bypass in Colorado. He's ready.

Man, that was a really roundabout way of making myself a point, I know... but, long story short, group rides are AWESOME fun, and challenging, and I want to do more of them. All this solo riding is for loners and ... gulp... randonneurs. Hahaha! (smack) But, one lends itself to the other: I may not be the fastest on the block, but I can sit on a bike for 24 hours just to get a stamp on a card. Boo ya! Still, I wouldn't mind getting faster -- I think all cyclists think that way. And, I could use the FUN. Talk about a stress killer.... just good ole FUN on the bike oughta do it! Friday, under the stars and trees on a challenging course, that was AWESOME fun.

After some undulations and a particularly fast descent, a neat old bridge and some good conversation we arrived near DeSoto, KS.; Arm-pit of the cycling word. Cycling friendly? Uhhh.....not really. Still, with very little fanfare, we made it thru town to the only open gas station, and hit it hard like only a good group of cyclists can do. Like ducks on a loaf bread, we swarmed the beverages, then the snacks, attacked the sink and ice machine, the bathrooms, and finally the checkout counter. Gnashing teeth and gulping gullets, we tore that place UP. From the other side of the counter, it has to be one of the wonders of the convenience-store world. In ten minutes, we're gone, and so is their inventory.

Back on the road, we flubed up a turn before finding 95th street, and then proceeded down the darkest, hilliest road in these parts -- bumpy, too...so much so that Jason's headlight rattled off the handlebars onto the road ... thankfully all of the parts ended up being easy to find, and he was back in business. Rough pavement, anyone!? The rest of the ride was a lot of fun... after I hydrated a little bit and had some food, it was apparent that some of my lack of snap was caloric... but still, I was really just as slow as before - only now I was enjoying a little more speed play before falling back again. The real fun was advancing slowly up the road, and as my legs began to turn to iron I faded back and found myself at the middle of the ride between the front and back groups, chatting it up with Crowbar and enjoying the senery provided by our newly risen moon, guiding our way back east.

Badgerland peeled off for home about here, and the rest of us made our way back to the start line, slowly and surely -- the end of 30 miles of great riding. I gotta tell ya, tho --- I don't know about the rest of the pack, but I was WHIPPED after this one. Many of the riders RODE HOME from there, having ridden the day from Lenexa to KCMO, back to Lenexa, to west Olathe/Shawnee, did the ride, and then had to ride back again. I suck. hahaha! Self-defamation aside, make no mistake that I have very high regard for those I rode with - the REAL commuterdude's of Kansas City --- mine is merely a nickname, friends -- the heroes are out there, on the streets, getting it done every day at ridiculous distances. You see 'em out there, wave! Smile, and maybe bow. It's time for me to burn my car keys and get back to work.

An excellent ride! I personally can't wait to do another one of these, and although I got a little frustrated last year organizing rides and such, I think I might toss it out there for later this summer that another one of these night rides might be a good time. Stay tuned!
Thanks for the ride, all that were there, and good luck in Colorado, Dave!

June 17, 2008

Team commuterDude, plus Jerseys & T-shirts!

Click here for more information about our MS-150 team!
Join us for 150 miles, 2 days, and lots of smiles!
This is our 4th year as a team - join the action!!!

We'd LOVE to have you along!

DEADLINE FOR JERSEY & SHIRT ORDERING was Friday August 8th, 2008 at midnight - ordering is now closed!

Pre-order your very own Team commuterDude cycling jersey or t-shirt - see below!
Click here to Email the Head 'Dude for jersey details & team details TODAY!

JERSEYS: Above are the back (left), and front (right), views of the offficial 2007-2008-2009 Team commuterDude MS-150 cycling jersey. These jerseys are manufactured by Voler (http://www.velowear.com/) - and are simply top-notch. No two ways about it, these are extremely comfortable jerseys, pro quality, 3/4-length zipper, three back pockets, high collar, fully sublimated (that means it's produced by forcing gas dye into the fibers, for logos that are part of the fabric - as opposed to laid on-top-of the fabric, like a cheap iron-on. These are how all pro jerseys are made.) Jerseys of this quality are currently running about $80-$120 in most retail bike stores -- if we can secure a quantity order for our team of 16 jerseys, your cost per unit is only $59.99. As anyone that purchased them last year can attest, it's an absolute bargain! You simply can't get fabric of this level at that price, even in a plain, solid color.

T-SHIRTS: As a value alternative to the jerseys outlined above, Voler also offers custom T-shirts! These are manufactured by Hanes®, called Soft L'ink™ This is an athletic, highly breatheable tee, designed for all outdoor activies, made from a two-layer process that is designed for sublimation, the same process that gives jerseys that 'designed-in' look and feel. This is NOT a cheesey iron-on - this process makes the logos part of the fiber, and they will never fade! A looser fit, comfy on or off the bike - perfect for the MS-150 weekend, and beyond!
There is no quantity discount here - but they're still a bargain at ONLY $16.95 each!

Sizing information and pricing is outlined below:

Our total quantity for each of the categories is totaled together to calculate the quantity price break for the category. SO, If we order 6 Short Sleeve and 1 Long Sleeve Jersey, your final price would be based on a quantity of 7 items. You would then pay $63.95 for each S/S item and $78.95 for each L/S item. So, if you want to order a long-sleeve, or a Tri shimmel, go for it! We still get the discount for the total quantity of the entire order! I will handle the shipping.

Sizing Chart:

If you have any questions, let me know!

If you are ready to place an order for a jersey or a T-shirt, EMAIL ME TODAY!

Deadline for ordering was August 8th, 2008!

Ordering is now closed

June 11, 2008

A Metro Example to Live By & The 2008 MS-150 announcement

I've spent the last wek or so on vacation in or near the city that never sleeps. Two part saga, the wedding of a close friend, and an adventure in the Catskills, Manhattan, White Plains, Queens, the Bronx, etc. It's been a great time, and a terrific opportunity to unwind. Yeah, I didn't get a chance to ride in downtown NYC, but hey -- there's always next time! Got to see the ocean again, some dinosaur bones, and a lot of bikes on the train, the subway, bike racks all over town. This city has it together, and makes me sad for the sprawling headache that comprises most of the KC area. MAN, we need light rail. It's freaking perfect to be able to get anywhere in the entire metroplex, and three states basically, without having a car. I *LOVE* that! And, with gas peeking above $4.00 a gallon this week, and forecast to stay there -- well, more than ever, Johnson County, Jackson County; the time is now. I simply don't get where the hangup is: people may not have thought they'd use it a couple years ago....but you need to put it back to a vote again, and start the ball rolling. I'm personally tired of Johnson County, KS., and the rest of the metro, being so far behind the rest of the country with regards to public transporation and foresight towards responsibility and civic design. I mean, this game the oppulent here are trying to play, trying to shed our cow-town image and be some iconic, richy-rich community -- it's gotta stop. It's not cool, it's irresponsible, and no-one really cares that you're driving a 2009 Merc G-class. Green is chic -- and you look like a gluttonous idiot.
You people need to start giving up those cars. Stop idling at the grocery store because you're "hot" and wanna run the A/C. Big changes are coming -- you might as well get used to it, and start being part of the solution. Okay...I'm done.

Anyways, thats all from this side of the country -- back in town tomorrow early AM, and I'll be sleepign it off for a couple days before returning to the grind -- might get in a nice ride, between rain storms.

Anyways.... the MS-150!
Yes, I fold like a cheap card table under the pressure from past teammates and the MS Society - and really, I wouldn't have been easily guilted into anything. At the end of last year's ride, I was strongly standing on a "never again" decision, and was disolving the MS-150 team, and was simply not going to do the ride again in 2008. Eight continuous years was enough. Well, that's changed -- I feel like Ekimov, the Russian dude from the old Postal Service squad that retired from professional racing at the end of one season, and was right back at the Spring camps the next year for another run at it ... which earned him an "oldest pro rider" status, and a reputation for honestly being a hard worker and very passionate about his sport. I'm back for much the same reason -- good friends, a great time, a great cause, a great goal. I said I'd do it, because really, I really DO want to do it again - and not just the ride, but the leadership role at the reigns of a fantastic team. I'm back, and the doors are open to another great run at the Kansas City MS-150, an opportunity open to any rider reading this in the KC area!

So, this is an open invitation for any rider -- commuter or otherwise -- that wants to have a solid training goal, understands the cause, and want to ride with a TERRIFIC bunch of guys that are out to have a good time on the ride! If you are interested, email me at the link near the top of the page, below the MS-150 banner, and let's get started! I'm honored and excited to be back as the leader of Team CommuterDude!

That's all I've got for now --- starting on MOnday June 16th, I'm beginning an honest run at a continuous streak of commutes, and a solid start to a responsibly green summer, and a lot of gas savings! Cheers!