Sunday, February 10, 2019

Major project along the Boise Greenbelt

Fellow cyclists who traverse our "crown jewel" Greenbelt are aware of a major project that has disrupted travel temporarily, but hopefully for a bigger long-term good.

Several years back, they began an ambitious "whitewater park" project, intended to give kayakers, surfers, etc., a better experience.  But it's been quite pathetic, so far, at least as measured by person-hours of enjoyment.

Here's the adjustable wave as has existed up 'til now:

It's quite the engineering teat - that water barrier can be adjusted up and down.  BUT - only one or maybe two people at a time are benefitting from the downstream "wave," whether it be surfers or boaters.  It's sad to see 10 or 15 people queued up to wait their turn, while 1 or 2 people take a 30-second turn.

But now it's expanding downstream.  A week or so ago, I snapped some photos... it's far enough along that one can imagine the shape it will eventually take.  Particularly impressive are the temporary barriers, both upstream and downstream, to keep the water out of the project.  (The river runs particularly low this time of year, and the water is being diverted around the project using a canal.)  Supposedly it will be completed sometime this summer.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Bustin' that scale!

I was in the basement of my office today; that's where the scale resides.  (In our nice locker/shower room.)  I hopped on that scale - and I'm a Tub of Goo!  I'd gained 9 pounds since a visit to my doctor in mid-October!  (And I'm about 6 pounds heavier than any time I've measured in several years.  No wonder it's become hard to stretch that fanny-pack around my big belly!)

So - I came back upstairs to my office and ate a piece of "king cake" from New Orleans.  (I had to do my part...)

I don't know about anybody else, but for me, winters are pretty brutal, from the weight standpoint.
1) My bicycle miles are typically down considerably from the warmer months.
2) I spend more time indoors anyway, doing more sedentary activities.
3) The holidays are typically resplendent with a delectable assortment of tasty vittles... beginning about Halloween and going thru at least New Years.  (And that's not counting Super Bowl Sunday, Valentines Day, etc.)
4) For whatever reason, I'm also hungrier in the winter than in the summer.  Is that a "Grandson of Caveman" thing or something?  Some sort of instinctual thing... better thicken up that fat layer because it's cold???  (Other people have confirmed that I'm not alone in that.)

Fortunately, I haven't collapsed my bicycle or ruined the wheels or caused the tires to bulge and explode... and warmer weather is just around the corner.  Hopefully the Pedaling Diet will be successful once again, in helping me shed some beef.

(I lugged a 5-pound bag of carrots home from the grocery store yesterday afternoon - it felt heavy!  And I'm packing the equivalent of two of those, when it's just me, over my weight 4 or 5 months ago.  It wouldn't hurt me - health wise - to lose 30 or 40 pounds.  I'd feel much better if I shed half that much.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Return of a River Crossing

Remember the Winter of '16-17?  It was a doozie!  Snowfall at levels almost unheard of in these parts, accompanied by flooding for months, and property damage.  One of the casualties was the South Plantation Island Bridge, an important river crossing on the Boise Greenbelt (right behind what was once Les Bois Park).  The pathway on the island, as well as the footings for the bridge, were damaged by high water, and they decided to remove the bridge rather than risking losing it down the river channel.

Since then (almost 2 years!), there's been a virtual dead end on the north side, and only a place to stop and look across forlornly on the south side.  Here's what the view looked like earlier today:

Last summer, the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands (who manage the island) announced a fundraising effort.  They needed to raise $75,000 in matching funds, to get fed money to replace the bridge.

I commented on the Boise Guardian website, about pathway users needing to pony up and hold a bake sale.  Obviously we maintain second-class citizen status; taxpayer funds are used when a road breaks and needs fixin'.  But much to their credit, local private citizens rose to the occasion and raised the money!

So... I've been wondering when we could expect to see bridge restoration efforts get underway.  (They need to do it over the winter, when water levels are low.)  I emailed the Foundation to inquire, and got a nice reply from Jan Johns, the Foundation director:

Thanks for your inquiry.  We have good news as of yesterday.  All our permits have been approved and we received them in the mail yesterday.  We are now going out to bid immediately.  I will be sending out an update this afternoon and update the website as well.  

It has been a longer process than expected to get the permits approved due to holidays and government shutdown.  But hallelujah we are finally moving forward.  The engineers anticipate it will take a couple of weeks to get the work done once we get going. We will be keeping our fingers crossed that all the work goes smoothly.  Thanks again for your concern.

Great news, indeed!  That's a significant river crossing for the local bike/pedestrian community.  And a bridge is better than what was suggested by a commenter over at the Guardian: I’m surprised the government folks haven’t touted the benefits of swimming across the river as a viable and healthy alternative. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Am I toxic?

The Social Justice Activists have moved onto another defect that pervades our society - Toxic Masculinity.  I don't watch much TV, but apparently Gillette - the razor blade people - even have a commercial chastising the 50% of humanity who can grow a beard.  For being men.  (Admittedly I don't know the details, but the men who are confident about being men share some of the blame for the abusers and wife beaters?)  (Dang it, why didn't I take some psychology classes, so I'd understand all this stuff?!!)

Now I can't help but wonder... do I ride a bike (and with a beard, several months of the year) because I suffer from TMS?

I gotta confess - riding a bike instills in me a sense of superiority over the weak-and-infirm people who choose a lesser form of transportation.  But I try REALLY HARD to contain that feeling in my brain, and not point out the feebleness of the others.  (I'm sure they're painfully aware of it - why point out the obvious?)

Maybe I should change my moniker to Bike Neanderthal.

Well... if I'm a carrier of TMS, at least I don't have it as bad as those poor slobs who spend $50,000 on an F350 Super Duty, and then add $15,000 worth of masculine bling to it!!

(nudge-nudge, wink-wink)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Magic Carpet Ride

Last night as I put my bicycle to bed, I just happened to make mental note of the odometer - 88.8 miles (YTD).  Easy to remember overnight, huh?

This morning I rode to work in the dark... it's what I do this time of year.  Passing under a streetlight, I checked and it said I was going some outlandish speed - 100+ MPH!  Yowza!  (What the???  My actual speed was maybe 13mph.)  I started checking as I passed streetlights - it was obvious my bike computer was wonky, because my speed was jumping from 1mph to 800mph to 20mph, seemingly randomly.  Maybe that was the sign - time to get a new computer.  In any case, I was expected to be at work, so I'd deal with it later.

This afternoon, I checked.  It said this morning's ride covered 210 miles, and my YTD miles was 6100-odd.  HUH?

I rode away.  It seemed to be keeping precise track of MPH and distance once again.  I guesstimated when I'd hit 100 miles... stopped at that point and reset it back to all zeros.  (It'll be easier to add 100 to total miles than 88 or 92, assuming it remains faithful going forward.)

So - what happened?

Scenic route (to McCall and back)?


Dark-side-of-the-moon experiments by the Chi-Comms?

UFO flyover?  (Maybe I should find a hypnotherapist and see if some obscured memories emerge...)

I'll keep an eye on it.  I've usually gone with a Cateye computer since my first "Cateye Solar" way back in the 80s (and I think the price was in the $80s, as well).  This one is a Cateye "Mity 8" - and it's probably 9 years old, so perhaps it's approaching the end of its useful life.  We'll see...

Monday, December 31, 2018

Jingle in my pocket!

I probably pay more attention to the morning weather report than lots of people do... during the winter months, my safety can be impacted by the weather in a significant way.

Take this morning, for example.  They were saying there was an overnight dusting of snow.  The temperature was in the mid-20s.  And... I remember arriving home last night on a damp roadway.  All of that could add up to treacherously slippery conditions.

As a result - I put bus fare in my pocket as I was making my preparations.  On a dangerous day, I'll often bite the bullet and limp to the bus stop, rather than riding all the way to the office.  But... as I pulled out of the driveway the roads didn't seem dangerously slippery, so I decided to take my chances.  I rode slowly and deliberately... all the way to the office, without mishap.  And the bus fare is still pocketed.  I can use that money for something else... or possibly the next early-morning bus fare.

This is a lesson I learned at an early age.  When I was in fifth grade, Mom would give me lunch money... I believe it was 35 cents back then.  BUT - I signed up to be a lunchroom helper.  Instead of heading for the playground for 15 minutes, I would stay after lunch and make sure the trash was properly deposited and wipe down the tables with warm, soapy water.  For services rendered, I got a free lunch.  The 35 cents stayed in my pocket - at least until after school where it often got surrendered at the Roosevelt Market candy counter.

What if every commuter put his/her commute money in pocket or purse in the morning, and could keep that money pocketed by choosing an alternative form of transportation?  Would such an immediate and obvious reward result in changed behavior?

For most people, their transportation expense - in the form of owning, operating and maintaining that single-occupant motorized vehicle - isn't so obvious.  Instead of making a $15 car payment every day, you pay the entire amount once a month.  Instead of that $1 or $2 insurance expense, you pay every six months.  Gas?  Fill 'er up - every week or two.  Registration?  Just once a year... it's easy to lose track of that transportation expense.  It's all very incremental, and makes it easy to overlook the fact that maybe 20 or 25 percent of your income is going to getting you to your job.

On the other hand... the thousands and thousands of dollars I've saved by riding a bike for 33 years have been absorbed by the family budget mostly, over those years.  But if I'd saved them out in a special account, it would've have accumulated quite a healthy sum.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Off-season cycling

There are some very nice things about bicycling during the "off season."
1) Volume of users on the Greenbelt, bike lanes, parks, etc., is way down.  Another guy at the office says cold weather "weeds out the weak and infirm."  Exactly!!  (But these days it's rare for me to be making the first tracks, when it snows.  There are obviously other intrepid cycling souls out there.)
2) "Powder cycling."  Do you like "powder skiing"?  Cycling shares much in common... when you're cutting a new track through fluffy snow, it's a little more work, but it's so very serene and predictable!  (Once it melts and then re-freezes, the magic is gone, obviously.)
3) It's easy to prepare for cold weather.  I recommend layers.  (Above freezing, I usually wear a fleece-type jacket and some lightweight gloves.  When it drops below freezing, I add a wind-proof/water-resistant layer over the fleece, a balaclava that's thin enough to fit under the brain bucket, and trade in the gloves for some heavier ones.  My duration is usually 45 minutes or less this time of year... if I was going to be out longer, I'd need to layer up a little more.  But - it's surprising how much heat you generate, when the propulsion furnace is working.)

There are also some negative factors to consider.
1) Studded tires (on cars)!  I don't think motorists realize how noisy those blasted things are!  Why would they?  They are ensconced in their climate-controlled, pressurized cabins.  The windows are up, the heater fan is usually blasting away, and often there's some programming emanating from the 8-speaker sound system.  I'm even more likely to venture away from roadways during the winter, partly because of studded-tire racket.
2) Slippery surfaces.  Much harder to prepare for.  Especially because motor traffic is slippin' and slidin', too.  I try to avoid putting myself in situations where I could get injured or worse.  (I'm known to take the bus from time to time, when the roads are downright treacherous.  Usually I'll soldier on, taking the side streets, and sometimes on my fatter-tire beater bike.)
3) "Black" ice!  Even when the roads are dry - which they frequently are in our lovely community - it's not unusual to encounter a bit of slippery here and there.  It's only black when it's frozen over a black surface.  It's clear - hard to see, except for the glare, and glare is dependent on reflection.  (The best way to survive an icy patch... just coast easy!  Don't try to speed up or slow down or change direction, or you're lost!)

Some early-winter photos, taken on the "scenic route" home from work.  The last photo was taken a couple weeks ago - I was astounded to cross paths with a big ol' FROG!  (Or is it a toad?)  He was sitting in the middle of the Greenbelt, near the Fairview underpass.  The weather was barely above freezing; I'm sure his plight was grim.  He was hardly moving; I set him off to the side of the path, so at least he wouldn't get smashed by traffic.