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Sunday, April 29, 2007

INteresting "justifiable annoyed driver" experience today. I'm cruising down Country Fair, Southbound, and cyclists are going North, an older and hyounger (possibly father-daughter) pair. They signal that they are going to turn left, ever so tenuously, but they've got all kinds of room.
Then they pull over to the right... where there really isn't that much room, and slow... and the SUV driver with the Fire Dept. stickers has slowed 'way down and gives 'em a honk and a holler. Didn't singe the air or anything... but dudes! PREDICTABILITY is the watchword. Okay, *if* I were sensitive to the tenuosity of those signals, I *might* think "they will not have the cahunas to actually make a left turn." However, personally I had kinda thought that seeing a confident cyclists such as myself, my confidence would rub off on 'em. Perish the thought. More likely I was the last straw in the "oh, no! we can't turn, there's a vehicle there after all!" even though we really weren't in conflict. Lesson: signal and then DO IT.

Yesterday after the club ride I drove the car. There's a poem in it. First there was that feeling that it ought to be criminal to get into a CAR on a 70 degree sunny day to drive to a bike shop and pick up a bike (even if I was taking a bike out there 'cause I couldn't get the wheel on it, and I'd be taking *two* bikes back. I have the Tray Bien for doing that.)
Was a time when I welcomed that womblike feeling of being in my little safe capsule, breaking the time-space continuum and catapulting myself to another place. Now I feel like I've been shoved back into the womb and I want to be out there in that treacherous world because I'm not an embryo any more. (Resonates with the usual seasonal yearnings for new horizons and adventures, too.)
Going to get "stuff" done to the car 'cause it would be cheaper here than where Big Brother lives. Two headlights would be nice, eh? What will it feel like without a car? I know the garage will be bigger :) :)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bike to work commercial :) (it's short!)

Is it addiction or is it Gore-Tex?

It wasn't raining when I finally got myself out of the office at 5:30 yesterday, and the bike - kinda like the bike in The Lively Ride. (Sit through the short self-promo... this little clip is cyooot!) - took me out the back way.
Over the overpass with major tailwind. Traffic not too happy. Holes in road at top of bridge enough to throw a person - take the far right for the safer spot. If I dropped some plywood there, would it stay?
South on Rising for five reasonably peppy miles, keeping the speed at faster-than-four-minutes-to-the-mile, a.k.a. 15 mph, thinking I need to put that speedometer on the bike. Then Bwaaaap! Left turn INTO the wind, and the drizzling starts. I'm going 'way slow but in a mile or two the mental adjustment happends and I find a smoother stroke and a higher heart rate. Through Savoy. ONward. Tried to cast a happy-web over your house as I drove by :) Bwaaaaack... a little more open into-the-wind, then left and down Race street. Took the bike path for the last two miles 'cause I wanted a cool down. Home by 7:15, wet from the inside out.
Gore-Tex is good :)
Took the short way in this a.m. dodging maintenance trucks and FedEx, UPS and DHL in a three block stretch of White Street. Is this national Deliver Me day or something?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I'm still trying to gather the mechanical momentum to stick the connections together from my baby MP3 player to that speaker I have and to put some fun sounds on it such as screeching brakes or gobbling turkeys so that I can make creative sounds as I'm riding by.
SOmebody's taken it a step further and hooked up the sounds to a motion detector, so that the faster you're going, the louder the horse or the motorcycle sound is, with video

(Now, I still want good old fashioned turn signals, which just shouldn't be that hard with LED... what I *really* want is solar powered ones, of course ;))


How to blend around a fender. Dremels rock :) Now I have to find the assorted missing pieces of the blender so that it works right. I k new I was missing the O ring, but it did alright with that (I just didn't set it down on anything that couldn't get a little seeped on). Don't know what it was that made the whole thing go round instead of just the blade :( I know I wanted to scout out the bigger-than-five-cup jug that the fella at the Springfield ride had on *his* alternative-power-source blender.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The other reason I want to bring camera on the Saunter is to capture things like the speed bumps that now grace the roads of Philo. THey have little openings about a foot wide in them. I don't know if they are placed at exactly the width of firetrucks or soemthing, because I have difficulty believing/hoping that somebody could have said "that way bicycles can scoot through!"
But! They can. It's pretty cool.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Gazelles are nice for days when you oversleep and can just pour yourself onto the bike and get there, lock & all, in your church clothes. Turn signals would be nice.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I decided to take my old route in this a.m. since I had an early start and I'm going to be talking about commuting. The time warp effect was remarkable. The bus marquee that said "SMILE ITS SUNNY" inspired me to do so. I remembered the routine as it unfolded, tho' I felt like a stranger. I may have to ride it for the next few weeks just to see whether or not there really is a sense of "who is usually here." I arrived at Neil and Hessel at 7:27, recalling that 7:30 was the "okay" time, and did the right-left to Avondale and scooted up Randolph to John. I'd forgotten those charges up that hill... and oh, my, I'd forgotten the tradition of trying to reach 25 mph on the downgrade to Mattis. No computer and overdressed, so I didn't try. Arrived at Parkland at 7:49, which bears noting since it could be a "longer distance faster travel" route. We'll sprint it next week and see; Sioux *likes* more miles faster.
Conclusion: this route is more physical, less social and less mental. SOme mornings it's good to be physical.
Yesterday's night sky was the stuff of romantic postcards. Crescent moon with some planet in close proximity, vivid and ... oh, stellar... in the center of the sky. Just out there sayin' "tonight *I* want to be center of the universe."

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Successfully toted Pie Monday, as pictured and chili yesterday. I kinda like the basket ;) The pie I think is a more popular comestible :) I am the queen of meringue - I suspect because it's such a novel act that I'm giving it the attention it demands. I successfully prevented Pete from introducing a white that had had a broken yolk "but I got every bit out!" into the mix. Talk about Breaking THe Laws! I only have about five Things I KNow about cooking, but one of them is "when you separate eg whites, if the yolk breaks, don't EVEN use it." It's not quite like dividing by zero ...

Construction to start on Bradley April 28. I think I will strive to ride a longer route and come in on Duncan, even though the construction might not... no, it will. I have to get onto Bradley and I won't be the expected entity. Besides, longer is better, especially since the weather is betteR!
Ride tonight :)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Midwestern Margin

So I'm taking the cheesy through-the-campus-sidewalks route to church (it is the most direct) and coming up on the all-way stop (as in, traffic has to stop both ways for the pedestrian traffic even tho' there is no cross street except a driveway to a parking lot on the other side, which I can't remember whether has any yieldage or not, except that everywhere else in life where a sidewalk meets the street you're supposed to look both ways)...
... the car pulling up to stop there a: was getting there first, and b: would have had time to paint her toenails and have three cell phone calls and then pull out even had I accelerated from where I was (the "cut curbs" aren't a straight shot so I have to do some serious weaving)). Still, in the instant-assessment-process I knew she was trying to figure out "wait for the bicycle?"
I squeezed the brakes and sat up higher. I didn't actually *apply* the brakes. (The Gazelle.) SHe smiled and went through.
It took 5 seconds (maybe) - and the more experienced commuters are doing that, the easier it gets for everybody. Get out and practice :) :) :)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Digital Divide

Rode to Stepitup2007. Got revenge (inadvertently) on those cars that stop for me when they have the right of way 'cause I assumed I had the stop on THird St. and whatever road I was on, only they did. I hopped onto the sidewalk and pretended to adjust somehting so I wouldn't look like I was just yielding for the sake of yielding (or having an attention lapse). WHat were cars doing going down the road anyway?
Found the remains of the "rallY" which had done its photo early ... and several other people arrived to be on time for the stated time of the photo. As in, stated on the website, which the organizers left over under the overhang hadn't seen. The left mouse does not know what the right mouse is doing...
It's 37 degrees and raining. Gore-TEx is good.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

And windy has stormy eyes!
No storms but wind.
I have put a new tire (not studded, in flagrant nose-thumbing at the forecast for sort of snow) on the front of the Gazelle, since the poor Xtra is in the shop with its warped brake. (Yes, I brought the blender by, too, for fender-notching possibilities.) It was making rattly noises - the kind of rattly noises most of my bikes have except that the Gazelle shouldn't :( SO something isn't bolted down right. And it was rubbing just a little... or swishing, anyway, when I put the wheel back. And I'm not sure the tread is pointing the right direction.
I still get a perverse pleasure out of having a headwind be my excuse for 2-minute tardiness.
It would have been five except I got motivated by a baby Caterpillar, which was in my mirror, bearing down... I "took off" (as much as you can on a fifty pound bike up hill in a 20 mile headwind) and the hill helped me (or hurt the Caterpillar more).
At the stop light he says, "Cold?" (imagine the communication over the engine and the wind, through his bundled layers) "Not while I'm moving!" He makes pedaling motions with his hands. I say, "You need pedals on that thing!" "You're right, that's what I need!" light turns green... we go.
I get to school and... the Trek 4100 is gone from the rack. Is it a coincidence that public safety is parked nearby? Public safety pulls away as I pull in.
I have to wonder: like many folks, people figured a: Sue rides her bike every day. B: That bike is there every day. C: therefore, the bike must be Sue's. So when I pull up, welp, they know nobody stole my bike. The world is okay.
Yes, I do have delusions of being the entire center of *everyone's* universe. I reckon it was the usual "watch the C parking lot in the morning class time" and it was time to go to anothe rparking lot. Besides, they know I am the space case who has parked her bike in the hall and forgotten about it ;)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Today I drove the car.

Being a practiced PollyAnna, I tried to enjoy the idea of being able to sleep in and get here faster, and drily. The competition was pretty fierce, though. My brain kept wanting to look forward to anothe rDay Outside In The Elements, the way I really really enjoy nature, the way a lot of people really, really enjoy nature and wish in their heart of hearts that they didn't have to spend so much time in the rat race.

Fortunately I had a ferocious ride last night so, honestly, I *feel* like I rode to work. Usually when I drive I am yawny and disconnected. (This was a big contributor, I think, to becoming a regular commuter; when it was intermittent, the light went on in my brain one day when I realized that there was a pretty directo correlation between feeling sleepy and stupid and having driven instead of ridden in. In this case, the correlation is because of a cause and effect relationship, I do believe.) THanks P & R :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Xtracycle and water-soluble chalk ... I remember doing some snowball surfing and wandering to a website that talked about this bike 'round in 2005 or 2006, and being sad that the site died after the convention (I mean, when he got elected there should have been even more "Bicycles against.")
Seems there were secret "intelligence" files on the bicycle in question, which has disappeared. Check this out ...

And I wondered why I think about my searchable phrases when I post...

So I'm cruising home late last night (after 11:00) and for unknown reasons my mind's wrapping around dark things, imagining the physics of actual impacts with cars, dialogues with hostile humans ... and then there are two cars preparing to come out of a parking lot and the human voices are loud. I'm thinking, "Premonition ?!?" and giving a little more distance than usual (but with interest and curiosity, not fear - the voices were loud, but not hostile).
The cars leave the lot with proper accuracy and pass me, and I hear "hey, man, that's Crrrraaaaazy!!! I LOOOOVE it!!" and they role sedately off into the night.
The power of Xtracycle with Hokeyspokes and Christmas lights ;)

Monday, April 09, 2007 - note to self: put this on the template with the other "important links." It goes to the schedule of current road projects and what have you for the City of Urbana.

Maybe it was just the tailwind, or maybe it was having the Xtra back, but this morning's commute felt well-timed and harmonious. 35 degrees - supposed to get close to 50! Come on, sun... come on, sun...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

This just in!!

"In the coming weeks, UI bicycle patrol officers also will step up enforcement of traffic laws applicable to bicyclists. 'If you’re riding your bicycle on the street, you need to behave as a vehicle: You need to travel the right direction on one-way streets, signal when you turn, obey signs and signals, and yield to pedestrians when they’re in the crosswalks,' said Lt. Skip Frost. 'A lot of the bicyclists aren’t complying.'

However, cyclists say that the existing bike path system is not conducive to compliance with traffic laws because it is confusing, doesn’t connect with the cities’ bike paths and doesn’t exist on some streets, Frost said.

The UI and the cities hope to develop a bike master plan in the near future, along with adopting 'complete street' design and signage standards for the University District, said Pam Voitik, director of campus services."

Interesting that it's those of us riding in the streets that will have to ride as vehicles - and the "however" refers to the paths. I have to wonder if the reporter was doing some creative conflation (a word that my linear brain has a lot of trouble wrapping around so I hope it applies:)). Getting both ideas out in writing seems like a good idea to me, especially since the first one rather implies that cyclists at least have the *right* to go to the street if we want to. (I'm not sure what referring to us as "the bicyclists" and not "bicyclists" means. Probably the usual lumping of all of a minority group together and assuming they share more characteristics than they do.)

chopsticks at church

After the Easter Mass (wherein being cantor I got to say the A word the most - do I win :) :)) the Korean Community had its annual hmmm... is it called kee bim bop? ... brunch. Fork over a few bucks - or is that spoon? Get your carryout styrofoam with rice and egg and veggies and this and that with a plastic spoon on top.
Folks looked about as comfortable as I am with chopsticks, but then I did too. Plastic poons really aren't the best shovel for rice, especially when it's so good you want to aim precisely for targeted comestibles.
THe folks with the real advantages were the parents who were accustomed to spooning all kinds of things into little kid mouths ;)
Century training and what have you come in handy for that SUnday after the Vigil after the Triduum :)
I have the Xtra back. Scot had said I might not need a new chain - that with the Xtracycle Free Radical I would have been doing more spinning than crunching. Hmmm... I didn't think so and I made him check and he said, "well, it's on the borderline, so we'll change it." He suggested everything else in the world had been upgraded so it would probably onle need a cassette next year.
When I picked it up, he talked about the assorted thigns he'd done - redoing the headset, adding the fenders... and showed me a truly wobblified, nastified jockey pulley and that "the chain was horrible," and that he'd replaced the cassette. I thought you so!! I thought you so!! P'raps he doesn't realize Geonz's are not graceful creatures so that even at feminine weights we do a burly job of pounding those pedals even when we're doing our best attempt at proper "all around the stroke" technique (and it's not as if we have clipless to fully enable that). I'd like to be less wearing on the drive train, but I figure a lot of it is physics: a double-length chain is going to get a lot more torque and wear. I shall, honestly, endeavor to clean it more often.
It seems to fit into the flow of traffic better. It's so quiet that I had to undo the bear bell.
Happy Easter!!! Bundle up and stay warm!!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

step it up rally ... urbana free library... april 14 (planning meeting april 7)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"Lenovo is first, Apple is last, says Greenpeace"
Slightly OT: an insightful little blog about corporate spin and environmental spin. The fresh tasting part is the care taken not to spin the blog. Got there because I was reading up on assorted Wikipedia scandals because there's a school administrator who said that Wikipedia should be okay because, well, truth doesn't really matter. Heavens, "This American Life" is optimistic and idealistic in comparison.

I don't have to get a new computer, though - so I'm being green. My hard drive's replaced.

Ride in this morning STIFF. 33 mph winds in my face, 29 degrees. WInd chill technically fourteen but that applies to standing still, not cycling. Fighting the wind makes me much warmer than going with it... I will be cold riding home...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Some of the photos are of scary scenarios (bike lanes flirting with door zones) but this is, IMHO, a good explanation of some dicey issues such as "how can you say riding on the street is safer than a separate path?!?!?" It's a PDF at

Menacing clouds made me scout unsuccessfully for a sheltered spot to park the Trek. Perhaps something to ask my "parkland senate" rep about.

SUpreme court seems to think our prez shouldn't be whacking away at environmental safeties. Hmmm... you think they might be feeling a heat wave?

Minor jubilation: found both the phone *and* the big honking light. (should put a horn on it so that's a literal truth :))

Heard Ted Koppel this a.m. saying that the British sailors' capture drove the price of oil up... and that, what was it?, driving the price down would be waht it took to get them home or somethin glike that. Made me ponder the possibilities of a "bring them home" movement to cut back on our consumption and send a message. The blurge was coming at me... "we all remember the grief and horror from 9/11, but don't you also remember the unity? Let's not forget that... let's re-awaken it. Whether you're left, right, center or none of the below, we can unite to ..." need just a little more caffeine to activate the schmaltz producers... I was thinking Tax Day would be a good starting point. "If you *have* to drive, give someone a ride! And be kind to the people you see making a sacrifice for freedom."

Monday, April 02, 2007

SOmething about a full moon. Maybe those astrologists are right and the eclipses created a buildup taht this full moon is finally releasing - but I made stop lights nicely tonight and enough words were flowing in my head to inspire me to figure out that digital recorder so I could save them at least once to see if they made any sense later. And the Gazelle tyres are mushy but they didn't splat so I got home in a timely manner, and now I've got that new tire to put on.
Among other things I was contemplating friendships and relationships and the tensions created by trying to make them fit structures, and that little VOice of my Perfect Lover (the best term I can think of for my favorite surreligious quasi-entity) piped up and reminded me that love is a verb and not to try to make it stand still; that the only thing to do with a good verb is to be it and do it.
Let's go downstairs and see what it tastes like.

In honor of Fools' MOnth, a clever spoof on the "research" about helmets and their effect on drivers' passing behavior (which starts with the absurd assumption that cyclist behaviors don't):

The site also has a nice write-up of The Peanut Ride.

Had my judgement skills affirmed with yesterday's non-ride. I'd posted a 1:00 departure from Countryside School, saying that folks could tuck in behind me for a wind-impeded crawl, since the forecast was for 20-25 mph. winds.
It was Palm Sunday *and* we went over a few Maundy Thursday hymns, so I had no time to check the Weather Channel... I bolted home, changed to shorts, and bolted out.
Rode Kirby all the way out and was duly grateful for every ounce I have not lost this winter, since all of 'em were required to keep me on the road. Gusts and leaning and pedaling hard, it was!
Got to the school, which is on the fringe of the prairie, and *hoped* that the increased brutality of the wind was some kind of wind tunnel effect, but as we mounted and took off, I realized it wasn't.
In order to feel like I had any control at all, I had to create enough momentum to be too far out in front to do anybody any good, as if it would have, and besides, getting close meant a gust would bring a collision. Slowing down made me feel like I'd swerve into the ditches. NOw that I think of it, there were *no* birds out there. Not even ones struggling sideways or riding the wind...
I'd thought we'd get out to the stop sign that would be a mile, but I was afraid to get out of what had to be at least a little shelter from the development to our right, so I stopped at its driveway. One of our number had been unable to get on her bike. SHould we go on? People were ambivalent... which usually means we should carry on... but I'd ridden in it already. I looked over at the incredible dust being stirred up and said I thought it was time to turn around and ride another day.
I rode back even further "in town," got back adn checked the Weather Channel.
Winds 45 mph, gusting to 53. LIke, dude, tropical storms.
It had dropped to "only" 35 by 5:15... but my potential riding companion said, "I'll pass."
Only mistake: Not going out at 10:00 and taking a moonlight ride. Tomorrow, perhaps!

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