Monday, May 27, 2019

New bicycle - new horizons

From time to time I've been putting a few miles on the new MOUNTAIN BIKE.  (My "toy" bike.)

It seems very capable.  I'm wondering if I should've gotten the Size L instead of the Size XL.  (I went with my shirt size.  Once I'm riding, it's very comfortable, but it's like a Clydesdale when I'm hopping on... at least with the seat adjusted for comfortable road riding.)

I've gone on a couple of exploratory missions along a canal bank that runs nearby our house.  (The Missus has used the path routinely for walking exercise, but for 29 years I've lived within 1/2 mile of it, and have never set foot or wheel on it.)

It runs all the way over to Boise Motor Village.  Here's the Porsche dealership.  (I like that snazzy gold convertible with the black stripe.)


A little farther upstream - the beautiful campus of Bishop Kelly High School.


The canal isn't deep - probably waist deep in the deepest spots.  The scenery is at its best, this time of year, even along an old canal bank...


Continuing... we get to the Borah High School campus, from the back side.


I got off at the same place I got on - Philippi near the Hillcrest Shopping Center.  (The most challenging terrain is near the east end - deep ruts created by 4-wheel vehicles driving on it when it was muddy.)

Today is Memorial Day.  Traditionally I hop on the motorcycle and visit some of the area cemeteries to review flowers and flags.  However, the forecast was for unpredictable weather today, so I stuck close to home... but I did take a detour over to the two Fields of Honor, at nearby Morris Hill Cemetery.  The price of freedom is visible there.  (It's good to take a moment to feel gratitude for the freedom I enjoy, and for the brave men and women who have given it up for that freedom.)



Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ride to Sandy Point

On Thursday, 4/25 - just because I can, being that I'm a retired guy nowadays - I took an afternoon ride up Lucky Peak way.  The riding was nice... the scenery likewise.






The Greenbelt is gloriously un-crowded on weekday afternoons, I'm discovering - at least until school is out.  In June, all bets may be off.  (It's never very crowded east of Eckert Road or thereabouts, however.)

The past couple (nice!) weekends have brought the amateurs out, adding their little slice of humanity.  I'm always quite amazed at how many seem to not realize that the Greenbelt is a transportation corridor.  They seem to be in their own little world, when they stop to chit-chat and block the entire width of the path, or walk 3 or 4 abreast.  (I guess people complain about the "riding abreast" thing with cyclists on the roadways... but even cyclists are astute enough not to stop in a traffic lane to chew the fat for awhile.)  I think I'll start doing road loops on the weekends, and just avoid the most crowded times... do my Greenbelt riding during the week.  (I highly recommend retirement, based on the experience so far.)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

New bicycle!

I took delivery of a new bicycle.  The first showroom-new bike I've had in 10 years.

A few weeks back I reported on the crack that developed in my Cannondale "daily rider" frame.  Cannondale honored their warranty and said they'd replace the frame, but they don't make any "rim brake" bikes any more, so an alternative they offered was a steep discount on any bike in the fleet.

I decided to get a "toy" bike, since I already have the Surly LHT which will be my "daily rider" going forward.  (In fact, I've put 500+ miles on it since March 15, the day I retired.)

I ordered a last-year's-model mountain bike - it's called the Trail 6.  As seen below:


On April 20, I took my last ride on the broken bike (which was creaking with enthusiasm!)… and rode home on the new beast.

The thing is huge!  (It looks normal-size, but it's a size XL frame, and those are "29" wheels.)  It's got a long wheelbase and rides pretty luxuriously.  Other things that are new to me - there are 2 crank rings - small and super-small.  And a wide-range cassette on the back.  The hydraulic disc brakes are pretty nice - and they make much more sense on a mountain bike where the wheels are much more likely to get covered with muck.

I don't intend to make many changes.  It's got my "dual" pedals (flat on one side, SPD on the other).  I put the Anatomica seat on it, and added a Cateye computer.  (The one that tells you how many calories you burn - haha! - and also how much carbon you're NOT creating by riding it.  I'm WAY more earth-friendly than any of those celebrity tree-huggers!)

I intend to use this bicycle later in the year to cross another pastime off the bucket list - I'll ride it over to Stack Rock.  And probably some other places, too... but I'll get a slow start because it's gorgeous and I don't want to sully it, at least right away.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

New & Improved Plantation Island

The pedestrian/bicycle bridge right behind Les Bois park (RIP) was removed a couple springtimes ago, after the "Snowmageddon" runoff threatened to wash it out and send it downstream.  (In retrospect, the foundations on both sides held, and it would've likely remained in place.)

Following a fundraising effort, the foundations were shored up this spring, the bridge was dropped back into place, and the asphalt for the half-mile or so across the island was replaced.  It's all been open again, for a couple weeks.

Probably 90% of the area population is oblivious - it didn't matter to them that the bridge was removed, or that it was replaced.  But for those of us who grew accustomed to using it for our transportation and recreation, it's awfully nice to have it back!  My sincere thanks to the generous people who donated to the project, and to the good folks at the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands, who made it happen.

(Photos are of the new asphalt and the reinstalled bridge.  And I had to include a family of wild turkeys that crossed my path, just on the other side.  It's a blessing to have such encounters.)





Sunday, March 24, 2019

Cannondale crack, cont.

Earlier in the month, I posted about the cracks I discovered in my Cannondale frame.  Here are a couple photos:


Much to their credit, Cannondale will make good on their lifetime frame warranty.  That's the good news.

The bad news?

There's really no forward-compatibility, from 2011 to 2019.  Pretty much every bike Cannondale makes nowadays, has disc brakes.  And - there may be other compatibility issues as well, between my 2011 components and a 2019 frame.  So - I have a choice.  They'll replace the frame but then I have to purchase any bits that are required in addition, to make it into a rider.  Or... they will give me a 30% discount on any new bicycle in the lineup.

I went in and took a look - and even a quick test ride - on a "Quick" model urban bicycle.  It's an upright-handlebar road bike, and this particular one had one chainring on front and a very wide-ratio 10-speed cassette on the back.  I liked it - a lot.  BUT - it would essentially duplicate the Long Haul Trucker bicycle which I anticipate riding far into the future.  So, I may look at a lower-end mountain bike for playing in the foothills and desert.  (I'm retired now, and that should afford more opportunity for recreational bicycling.)  I say lower-end, because the Cannondale lineup appears to start around $650 and goes well into five-figure stratosphere!  (Oh my goodness!)  I'll report on what shakes out.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Under New Management!

Why is this guy smiling?
























Duh - because he's RETIRED!

March 15 was my last day toiling for my daily bread - after 44 years of full-time employment, I've joined the vast army of fixed-income senior citizens!

I rode to work this morning, before daylight, same as always.  On the way, I was entertained by three characters who were sharing the infrastructure:
- a bearded, beanie-cap wearing hipster, shivering and weaving jauntily up the bike path - on an E-scooter.  (That guy will be paying Social Security, so I can collect Social Security!  Like I've been paying for 50 years.)
- a SUV motorist playing tortoise-and-hare with me for a few blocks, from stoplight to stoplight.  It's so very satisfying to watch 'em go zooming ahead with a furious roar and a cloud of street dust... then slam on the brakes at the red light...  as I mosey up slowly behind, arriving just as the light turns green.  Repeat... Repeat... (I know the light timing patterns after riding the route thousands of times before, and paying attention.)
- One final smart-phone zombie, lurching across the street as I arrived at the bike room.

The awesome people at Boise Cascade have been signing my paycheck for the past 24+ years.  What a great place it was to work!  And I've always appreciated the delicate irony that I attended high school two blocks away (Boise High), at the very time my last work home was rising mightily out of the ground.  I've got many wonderful friends there who I will miss dearly.  The work?  Not so much.

So - what now?

I told my office colleagues:
- Judge Judy and Wheel of Fortune – every day!
- Putter around, get in the wife’s way.
- Yell “Get off my lawn!!” at the neighbor kids.
- Keep the checkout line waiting while I count out the exact change.
- FOX NEWS!!

But seriously...

I've got work to do, at first.  Sprucin' up the homestead.  Probably until early summer.  It'll be pretty sweet NOT having a fixed agenda every day; I'm confident I'll stay occupied.

I expect my bicycle mileage to increase, rather than drop, even though I'm no longer commuting to work.  I've got a "retirement bike" that needs to have some meaningful miles put on it.

Hoping to do a Coeur d'Alene Trail run in late summer, shortly after Labor Day.  At a leisurely pace, because I've got no place to be, or schedule to keep.

Life is great!  Stay thirsty and busy, mis amigos.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Phone Zombie hazards

I was arriving at the office this morning.  (At 6:50am the sun isn't up yet, but there's light in the sky.)

Riding along a downtown street.  A gal stepped off the curb, directly into my path... middle of the block.  She didn't look in either direction, and her attention was totally focused on her handheld gizmo, which was lighting up her face.  She had the earbuds, with the white cord dangling down.

I did the right thing, and slowed down instead of plowing into her.  She noticed me at the very last second, but didn't really alter her trajectory, and when the crisis was over, she went back to whatever I had distracted her from.  (I'm sure it was VERY important, or she wouldn't have been so focused on it.)

Is it any wonder that Pedestrian Deaths Reach Highest Level In Decades?  (Story HERE.)

Gosh!  Ain't "smart phones" great?  How did we survive for thousands of years without 'em?  (And why was life worth living, before they came along?)

Monday, March 4, 2019

Another frame bites the dust

On Saturday, 3/2, I was doing a much-needed drivetrain scrub on my primary bicycle - a Cannondale - and noticed a pronounced crack around the very top of the seat post, above where it joins the top tube.

I've been riding this frame since the summer of 2012, and it probably has 30,000+ miles on it.  (And it was a warranty replacement for a frame that I'd only been riding for maybe 2.5 years, and far fewer miles, that had the early signs of a similar crack.)

When I was done with my maintenance, I went on a ride, and rode into George's Cycles on State Street.  (That's the shop where this frame was paired with my components, and I rode away.)  They took a look and acknowledged it should be covered by the warranty.  They took some photos and said they'd get the wheels in motion.  Last time, my recollection is that it cost me about $200, for the labor involved in swapping everything over to the new frame, and for a new front derailleur.  (There was a fitment issue between frames.)

I'll probably keep riding it until it fails, or until I get it replaced.  Because of the location of the crack, even if it "catastrophically" fails, it will only result in the saddle/seatpost rotating loosely around the inside the seat tube.  I won't be face-planting or leaving a trail of ground-off flesh or bone fragments along my route.

This is disappointing.  Up until the failure of the frame in 2012, I'd ridden Cannondale bicycles for probably 20 years without a hitch.  (I've still got my first Cannondale frame... I bought just the frame when I saw it in the back room of a long-gone local dealer, and outfitted it myself.  It's difficult to part with old bikes - they are like old friends.)  But - the reality is - bicycle manufacturers probably don't "overbuild" bicycles for Clydesdales like me.  You don't see a lot of 240-250 pound guys bicycling 5000-6000 miles per year.  I may not spend a lot of time standing on the pedals and giving it everything I've got, but even gentle forward-back, or side-to-side motion on that seatpost, over the course of 30,000 miles... bikes just aren't built for that kind of stress.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

New bike computer enroute

Earlier this year, I had bike-computer issues.  And, apparently it's an ongoing thing.  I reset it back to "zero" at the first of February... the monthly mileage seems to be pretty accurate at about 250, but the total odometer has jumped to well over 6000 miles.  (They both started at zero on 2/1.)  So - time to retire and replace it.

I've always had pretty good results with the Cateye brand (this one has been in use for almost 10 years), so I ordered a new Cateye - the Velo 9.  And - check it out!  From the sales pitch:

BECAUSE YOU CARE: The Velo 9 also tracks calorie and carbon offset.

Think of the amount of computing it must take, to keep track of calorie and carbon offset!  And in the long run, maybe this one will pay for itself, if a Carbon Tax is implemented.  I can report my Carbon Offset to the IRS and pay a couple bucks less.

Take that, all you carbon-burning losers!!!

(I'll replace the computer to start keeping track on March 1st.)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Late Winter Wonderland!

For awhile, it seemed like we weren't going to get much of a winter in these parts, this year.  January was extraordinarily mild, with some days getting into the low 50s.  (Was Algore right??)  But - winter has returned.

The past couple mornings, the roads have been too gnarly for me to feel good about sharing them with cars... so I took the bus.  And each afternoon it warmed up nicely, providing suitable conditions for bicycling home.  (The buses all have a bike rack on the front.)

I share some photos of some nice winter scenes, snapped the past couple afternoons.  (The Parks Department does a fantastic job of maintaining the Greenbelt - heck, e-scooters could ride on it!  The roads shared with motor traffic... it's hit and miss.  But in the afternoons it's been more slushy than slippery.  Just the same, eternal vigilance!  Any ride where you get to Point B unscathed, is a successful ride.)

The final photo is the best possible "natural phenomenon" I'll enjoy this month - my brand-new granddaughter, Laurel!  (Being held by big sister Bonnie.)  Babies are miraculous!








Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Burning Man & Greenbelt - threatened!

I will assume you are familiar with the Burning Man phenomenon.  Every year in late August, in the Black Rock Desert northeast of Reno, thousands of people throw off the bonds of convention and gather for a week or 10 days of  "arts and culture."  Attendees are expected - encouraged - to push the boundaries of expression and excess.  It culminates with the "main event" - the burning of an immense wooden statue of a man, surrounded by the gyrating, howling - but peaceful - mob.



I've never been tempted to attend, any more than I've been tempted to attend the annual Sturgis "biker" rally.  Perhaps I suffer from what Yogi Berra explained as follows, when speaking of a popular restaurant: "NOBODY goes there any more - it's too crowded!"  (I tend to shy away from large, chaotic groups.  The Fair or a Bronco Stadium football game is pushing my boundaries; I tend to gravitate AWAY from big crowds.)

The population of the most recent "Burning Man" was in excess of 60,000.

The founders and organizers laid down these principles by which Burning Man will be governed:
    - Radical inclusion
    - Gifting
    - Decommodification
    - Radical self-reliance
    - Radical self-expression
    - Communal effort
    - Civic responsibility
    - Leaving no trace
    - Participation
    - Immediacy
… and they've done their best to stay true to those principles.  (I'm sure it's a challenge, when 60K people, with widely-varying levels of commitment, show up for a week and then go back to their day jobs, or whatever their pastimes.)

However, the spirit of Burning Man is under threat from "poseurs" - jet-setters and "social media influencers" who get limo'ed in for Instagram photos, who live in the turnkey, self-contained 2-bedroom "Moon Village" with "super powerful AC" while making the scene, and then get whisked away in the limo to the private jet that awaits at the nearest airport.

Interesting article about it all HERE.

This year, Marian Goodell, the CEO of the undertaking, expelled the worst offenders and warned others.  She wrote, "Black Rock City requires significant investments of time, energy, and resourcefulness.  Part of what makes Burning Man unique and powerful is that everyone has to work hard to be there..."

In thinking about it, that's a pretty good explanation of some of my recent "Greenbelt feelings."

As traditional self-powered Greenbelt users (pedestrians, cyclists, runners, skaters, etc.) are joined by people on electric-powered bicycles and now "e-scooters"...

There's rarely a traffic problem on the Greenbelt between, say, October and April.  But come those summer months, it gets mighty crowded on a perfect weekend afternoon or warm summer evening.  And apparently going forward, those traditional large crowds will be supplemented by people who "don't have to work hard to be there."  They just twist a throttle or push a button to become part of the mass of humanity.  And the quality of the experience deteriorates for everybody, just as surely as the quality of a nice drive from Eagle to downtown Boise deteriorates... if you're doing it at 7:30 on a weekday morning.

Surely the e-bikers and e-scooterers aren't going overboard on "decommodification," or "radical self-reliance," or "communal effort," or even "participation."  (I can't imagine I'd feel much sense of participation, if I was just rolling thru on a self-propelled vehicle.)

Time will tell.  2019 will be our first summer with full-blown, unlimited e-bikes and e-scooters.  It will also be the first summer with several new attractions (expanded water park in particular).  Our city overlords don't seem to have any reservations about trying to limit crowd sizes - growth is good!  I'm not feeling optimistic about the "Greenbelt experience" going forward, but maybe my worries are totally irrational... we'll see.

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...)
:-O

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)?

Sunspots?

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...