Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tough Kids: Part 4

This arrived from Mike Schooling. Used with permission:

Schooling, Mike wrote:

So, how were the last 38 hours for you? Been interesting, huh?

Tuesday, May 29

6:30pm – I arrive at the Matthews Bldg to help unload the bikes to find Marc Delametter with a downcast look on his face … “Mike, the bikes have been stolen.” Much discussion, gnashing of teeth, etc., etc.

7:30pm – Back at the office composing an email to this distribution to say, “Hold what’ya got …”

9:00pm – Watch the news on Fox 23 to see their report on the theft.

Wednesday, May 31

7:45am – Begin flurry of emails related to “what now?” Respond to emails from many of you related to “what now?” Ponder to myself, “what now?”

9:10am – Suggest to Tulsa Tough committee getting the word out to bike groups to keep an eye out for the bikes (6 emails in about 20 minutes).

12:45pm – Get League of American Bicyclists onboard to help get the word out. Prepare contact list for other cycling organizations and clubs to notify.

2:30pm – On the phone with Ren Barger at Lee’s helping with plans to get folks together to get loaner bikes in shape for use Sunday. Will involve evenings at Lee’s, folks to deliver bikes early Sunday morning to Riverside, yadda, yadda …

2:45pm – Hang up the phone with Ren, check email and find message from Malcolm, the bikes have been found! Another flurry of emails ensues …

3:32pm – Send email to this distribution, “The Build is On.”

4:50pm – Leave work, pick up remaining supplies needed for build, change clothes, head for the Matthews Building.

7:??pm – Arrive at Matthews Bldg, start to unload, engage folks to assist as they begin to arrive. Excitement and the crowd build steadily.

8:00pm – Malcolm addresses the assembled group. Truck driver has been in contact and should arrive at 8:30pm.

8:30pm – Malcolm gets call from truck driver; he’s exiting 244 on Cincinnati! The excitement builds as all watch the truck come down the street and maneuver into the Matthews Bldg loading dock.

8:50pm – Container doors are opened and we see the bike boxes for the first time.

9:00pm – All is ready, paperwork needs determined, “counters” stationed at the container doors to inventory boxes as they’re removed from the truck, and the first box is taken out of the truck, opened, and the very first unassembled bike is handed to the first assembly team to begin work.

The next 15 minutes are a blur of activity as the container is unloaded and assembly teams, from 20 to 24 teams at different times during the evening, begin unboxing bikes, mounting them in repair stands, and putting them together.

The container is emptied and the truck driver is out the door and on his way back to Dallas … so long … while bike assembly magic is performed by the cadre of cyclists, spouses, kids, and friends fluctuating throughout the evening from over 50 to near 70 at the end of the evening.

I see a cyclist ride in off the street, all spokes and spandex, and he joins in. Everyone is sweating and smiling as one bike after another is completed, passed to the “Pros” from Lee’s and Tom’s for a last check, then ridden off the assembly floor to the lower level where Kathy patiently stacks the bikes in size specific rows; small, medium, large.

As the assembly teams hit their stride five to seven volunteers are kept busy removing empty boxes and related trash from the assembly floor to an area where they’re stacked for recycling. They also deliver fresh bikes in boxes to the assembly teams and distribute water, Gatorade, and snacks to those willing to take a break in the assembly efforts. Everyone is soaked with sweat, but still smiling.

I make an attempt to track progress on a half-hourly basis and post the information on a tally board for all to see (and later marvel at) as first 52 bikes are complete or near completion at 9:35pm, then at 10pm the completed total jumps to the mid-70’s until at 10:30pm we have 175 fully assembled and neatly stacked custom Schwinn bicycles in the lower level of the Matthews Bldg … awesome!

11:16pm – The last fully assembled bike is rolled down the ramp to take it’s place among the other 295 already completed … 296 brand new custom Schwinn bicycles ready and waiting for eager teens to pick up on Saturday and ride leading tour participants on Sunday morning. 296 of what had been a container of 306 before the theft … only 10 bikes were taken!

11:20pm – Group photo taken with abundant smiling, back slapping, high-fiving, hugging, and general euphoria ensues. Folks gather their tools, repair stands, and assorted paraphernalia as they depart, sweat-soaked and smiling.

11:45pm – The Matthews building is EMPTY again, floor clean, all equipment removed, my van’s loaded and I pull away from the building headed for home. Stop at WhatABurger on Peoria for a chocolate shake … ummmmm!!! Only thing I’ve had since lunch other than one piece of pizza grabbed mid-mayhem.

11:55pm – Home, share brief recap with awakened wife (today is our 32nd anniversary!), take a relaxing shower, crawl into bed clean, relaxed, ready for the sleep of the righteous … glance at the alarm clock … 12:32pm.

Not a bad day!!!

To all of you who participated or supported our efforts in spirit, thank you for coming together in a spirit of cooperation and caring. We all did a wonderful thing; can’t wait to see the picture of the new bikes, young riders in the saddle, leading the tour down Riverside on Sunday morning (won’t be able to watch in person; I’ll be out on the route coordinating mechanical support with another group of wonderful volunteers, Team Wrench!). Hope you all had a big grin on your faces this morning when you looked in the mirror … I sure did.

Okay, a little administrivia …

Unbelievably, we only had one item in the “lost and found” category when the dust settled on an empty Matthews Building. Someone got away without their Topeak Joe Blow tire pump. You can pick it up at the Matthews Bldg on Saturday while you’re down watching the races! If anyone else lost or found something, let me know and we’ll try to get folks reconnected with their tools and whatever else may have been misplaced. If one pump is all that was mislaid, that’s almost as much a miracle as the assembly efforts themselves!

Finally, the barely-controlled anarchy that enabled this effort to take place last night found me not getting an accurate list of participants. That said, take a look at the list of volunteers below, and if you or someone you know isn’t listed, PLEASE let me know and provide me contact info for them as well. I don’t want anyone to be left out. I’m also including Malcolm’s earlier tally of interesting “factoids” from the effort. And I want to be sure to note that at least one other group was represented last night but not part of Malcolm’s list; the Tulsa Area Triathletes. If there were members of other groups, let me know – we will leave no individual or group unrecognized! The assembly group was an amalgamation of just about every group of cycling-interested folks in the Tulsa Area … almost makes me tear up!

Okay … run the credits !!!!!!!! Roll’em


Container in Mathews building at 9:00 p.m.

Bikes completed at 11:21 p.m.

Total volunteers present: 70+ at the peak

American Airlines MS150 Cyclists and Friends: Appx. 25

Television Stations Present: 4

Newspapers present: 1

Bikes completed: 296

Avg. production of assembly line: One bike every 26.5 seconds

Person-hours of labor: 150+

Bike Shops represented: Lee's/Trek, Tom's Bicycles

Clubs Represented: Tulsa Wheelmen, Tulsa Bicycle Club, Sound Pony, Mercy Cycling, Team Power Train, Bicycles of Tulsa, Tulsa Area Triathletes, American Airlines cyclists and friends!

PARTICIPANTS (the ones I know of … help me assemble a complete list by emailing me the names and contact info of those I missed … don’t want to leave anyone out!!! I’ve only got 57 names here and I’m sure there were many more.):

Atencio, Manuel

Ball, Allen

Biggs, Hal

Biggs, Kathy

Boes, Mark

Boes, Mrs

Brown, Tom

Bulmer, Michael

Burke, Tom

Burton, Greg

Carrigg, Tim

Christian, Phillip

Clausen, Christopher

Clement, James

Crouch, Rick

Cummins, Kary

Delametter, Beth

Delametter, Marc

Dodson, Mike

Doering, Tim

Douglas, Darrel

Douglas, Deon

Doyle, Tom

Doyle, Debi

Fairless, Carolyn

Fairless, Carter

Freisen, Duane

Hall, Richard

Harwood, Karen

Hiren, Pat

Hirrill, John

Hoefer, Dave

Huizenga, Robert

Maldonado, Francisco

Mark, Wayne

McCarter, Aaron

McClure, Chuck

McCollam, Malcolm

Meinen, Darrel

Mulready, Glen

Noteboom, Tim

Painter, Jim

Peek, Jim

Prosser, Susan

Rittler, Daniel

Ryan, Jim

Sanders, Mark

Schooling, Mike

Stauner, Phillip

Troyer, Dennis

Wagner, Ed

Waldron, Doug

Wallbank, Tom

Wei-Haas, Lisa

Wilkinson, David

Vanderburg, Adam

Zenthoefer, Chris

Labels: , ,

Tough Kids: Part 3

Here's Malcolm McCollam's shot of the bikes and volunteers. It's better than mine. I like the flash reflected off the bikes, and the color of the frames shows up much better. Obviously, I was standing just to his left as this was taken. Be sure to see his list of statistics at the end of this post.

If you've wondered what 300 assembled bicycles look like, along with a gang of tired volunteers, well, here's your chance to see it. We assembled the bikes in under 3 hours. I lost count of how many went through my hands. Tom Brown of Tom's Bicycles asked me to join the group doing final inspection. I said, "I get to play with the varsity! Wow!" It feels good to know that someone trusts the quality of my work.

Also, Adam Vanderburg, owner of Lee's Bicycles, asked that I come back tonight to go over the bikes once again. He said they tend to develop flat tires after being up at pressure for a few hours, so we'll inspect them for flats or any other problems tonight. I'm hoping my tired old legs hold out. they were definitely not happy about getting up this morning.

One other thing - the Tough Kids bikes have a different color scheme from the Little 100 bikes in previous posts. These are mainly a dove gray with the Tulsa Tough decals. I'll get better photos tonight with the 'big' camera. These were shot with my Razr cell phone.

Malcolm McCollam (right) was the face of this event for the local media. He didn't pull it off alone, of course, but his is the best photo I have of any of the volunteers. It was a fast-paced evening and while I did shoot a lot, the low light in the warehouse produced some badly exposed photos. We had a generator powering lights inside the structure. It was still dark and gloomy.

Malcolm addresses the troops just prior to the truck's arrival.

When the truck pulled in, cheers erupted. After the driver maneuvered it to the loading dock - a feat in itself - we formed a conga line to grab bike boxes and drag them near the assembly area. Small groups assembled the bikes by attaching the handlebars, front wheel, pedals, and saddle. After assembly, they went to inspection. The 'QA' group was composed of professional wrenches (and one...ahem...talented amateur) who went over the bikes to see that everything was working properly, all fasteners were snug, and that the bike was safe to ride.

There were some minor problems. Coaster brake retaining screws were loose or missing. Some of the bikes arrived with front reflector brackets that were too small for the handlebars. And some of the assemblers could have done better work, but all in all, it went well.

As I finished an inspection, I'd check the tire pressure, then ride the bike down a ramp to the bike corral where they were sorted by size. This was "Ed's Vertical Crush Test". I could hear spokes ping as the settled into the rim, and riding down the ramp was a good means of testing the coaster brake. Yes, they do come in 3 sizes. Most are small or medium, with only a few large frames. Again, I'll get some better photos tonight.

I'm aching and sore this morning. Coffee and ibuprofen seem to be in order. Also, I've taken vacation days for today and tomorrow. While wrenching 300 bikes wasn't exactly relaxing, it certainly was fun!

(Just after I posted this, the following e-mail arrived from Malcolm)

The last 48 hours have been a roller coaster of emotions for me and the rest of the Event Committee. I still don't know if what I witnessed last night has sunk in. Your commitment, energy and giving spirit lit up the Mathews Warehouse every bit as much as the generator-powered floodlights Marc brought in for the bike build. To say I am proud and humbled to be a part of this endeavor would be the understatement of the year. As the event unfolds this weekend - and especially as those kids take to the start line Sunday morning at 7 a.m. - please know that each and every one of you are appreciated and a critical link in the Tulsa Tough drive train.

Container in Mathews building at 9:00 p.m.
Bikes completed at 11:21 p.m.
Total volunteers present: 70+
American Airlines mechanics: Appx. 25
Television Stations Present: 4
Newspapers present: 1
Bikes completed: 296
Avg. production of assembly line: One bike every 29 seconds
Bike Shops represented: Lee's/Trek, Tom's Rivertrail
Clubs Represented: Tulsa Wheelmen, Tulsa Bicycle Club, Sound Pony, Mercy Cycling, Team Power Train, Bicycles of Tulsa

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Breaking News...


The 300 bicycles stolen on a container over the weekend have been recovered by Dallas police. Just moments ago, I received an email confirmation that they've left Dallas and should be in Tulsa around 830PM. Some bikes may be missing from the shipment, but we won't know until they're off-loaded and counted.

This is wonderful news.

I must have had a dozen people inquire at work about these bikes and our effort to get them under area kids. I'm greatly relieved that we'll be able to carry on with the event.

Also, my mother-in-law put our predicament out on her prayer chain through her church in Pennsylvania. My deepest thanks to her and all those who prayed that these bicycles would be found.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

300 kids bikes stolen

As you may imagine, I'm way pissed off.

From KJRH, Tulsa:

300 bicycles that there going to be given to local children have been stolen. Tuesday afternoon, Tulsa Tough organizers were notified by Pacific Cycles that the container in which the bicycles were stored was missing. Pacific Cycles representatives said the bicycles were stored at a shipping yard in Dallas. Pacific Cycles has reported the incident to Dallas police.

Tulsa Tough Ride and Race, and The Children's Hospital at Saint Francis, launched a major youth health and fitness initiative this year. The Tough Kids Challenge is a program where 300 middle and high-school aged youth earned a new bicycle by taking part in Tulsa's Little 100 cycling event, or by completing a bicycle safety education course. Kids were supposed to pick up their bicycles Saturday, June 2nd and participate in a special Tough Kids 10 kilometer ride Sunday, June 3.

Tulsa Tough organizers say all children will receive the promised bicycles, even if it means making 300 new ones. If bikes cannot be found prior to the event, kids who do not have access to a bicycle may call 592-0884 or email Organizers will make every effort to find loaner bikes for the Tough Kids 10 km Ride.


Malcolm McCollam was interviewed on one television station. He said that the bicycles will be replaces, so none of the kids involved will miss out on them.

The container may show up when the thieves realize these are easily recognizable bikes that will be difficult to re-sell. That may simply be wishful thinking on my part, but I'll grab at whatever slim hope turns up.

Bicycle thieves should be hung by their thumbs.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tough Kids: Part Two

We did the final Tough Kids class on Saturday. Originally it was scheduled for the West Bank parking lot, but since the weather wasn't cooperating, we moved everything over to Owen Park on the other side of downtown. Believe me, it was a scramble to get it all done. Owen Park offered the advantage of a gymnasium for shelter if the weather deteriorated. As it turned out, we didn't need it. Light rain came down once or twice, but it lasted only a few seconds.

We had more kids signed up for this session, too. I think the count was supposed to be 74, but I don't know how many didn't show up. Regardless, we were short of loaner bicycles. Some of the kids had to take turns riding them.

One other restriction was apparent right away. The parking lots are much smaller than the West Bank lot. We had to take turns using the parking lots too. This worked out OK, as our group did a lecture while the other did practice drills. Kids being kids, some were obviously not thrilled with sitting through a lecture. They get lots of that in school, as one of the boys delighted in pointing out.

Michael Schooling and I took our group outside to a big patio. We covered the ABC Quick Check several times as new arrivals joined the group. After the third time, I said, “I'm tired of teaching this! Paige, you come up here and teach it.” Paige is about 12 with red hair and freckles. She was a little bit shy, but joined in with a huge grin on her face.

Like I said, some weren't happy about sitting through a lecture, but Mike and I tried to keep it fast paced and interesting. We covered starting and stopping, lane position, mid-block ride outs, and sidewalk riding – most of the actions that get kids into conflict with pedestrians and motor vehicles. We described the drills they'd be performing and discussed the reasons for them.

One mother joined us and asked some good questions. She wanted to know why skidding a tire caused longer stopping distances, for instance, something a kid would never think to ask. This is one of the differences between teaching children as opposed to teaching adults. In many cases, the kids will simply accept it as fact. Adults want to know why. When it comes to doing the drills, kids usually see them as a challenge, particularly the instant turn. Adults can be much more hesitant to try it.

After a short break for snacks, we were off to the parking lot for drills. The kids did the serpentine, a rock dodge, braking, and instant turns in a small parking lot. Mike and I set up two drill areas. As the kids exited one, they simply turned and joined the line for the next one, forming a quickly moving circle of riders. When the pace is fast, the kids don't get a chance to be bored. I worked with one of the lines doing the look back drill. Maybe the other instructors let me do this one because I'm so loud. Regardless, I was a bit hoarse afterward.

After the parking lot maneuvers, Gary Parker led the group on a brief road ride, a simple loop around the park. One kid dropped out with saddle problems. I fixed it for him, but by then the group was far ahead. We rolled back to the starting point and waited as they came around on their second lap. I didn't join in as they went by, though, because I was running short of time. My son had to be at work at 3PM, and I'd agreed to drive him there. I'm still the family chauffeur, after all.

So, what was learned from this latest event? First, always have a back-up plan in case of bad weather. Sandra covered that admirably. Second, keep down time to a minimum. Keep the kids moving and actively involved in the instruction. While I think we can improve on this, I believe we improvised very well given the change of venue and the larger number of kids.

I'll end this by saying we all owe a great thank you to the volunteers who gave up their own time for this event. We could not have done it without a big group of committed cyclists.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Where U-Locks Go to Die...

A Flickr image found via Boing Boing.

You realize, of course, that you can never take security too far.

Labels: ,

Do they watch game shows in Hell?...Part Two

A Wally Crankset Tale

The call came in the middle of the night. I hate those late night phone calls because they always bring bad news. This one was no exception.

Wally? Is that you?” I asked, knowing he was the most likely suspect.

Yeah”, he whispered. “It's me. I need you help. What's the terrain like going east toward Las Vegas?”

It was a typical Wally question. No apology for waking me at 3AM. No explanation of where he was or why he needed the information.

Wally, I think you have one mountain range and the Mojave desert. You're not planning to ride a bike there, are you?” It would be lunacy, but remember, I was talking with Wally.

Well, yeah, that was kinda my plan – after I break out of this jail.”

What! You're in jail and you're gonna break out! Are you out of your mind? What happened?” It all came out in a jumble. Mary was awake too. As quickly as I asked a question she asked another one. I had Wally stammering in one ear and an irate spouse demanding answers in the other one. My consciousness played ping-pong inside my head, alternately concentrating on both voices.

...a third of the women have boob jobs, so I said to her...”

What's he doing in jail?” Mary asked.

...and they have nicer jail cells too, and better food, though I'm not really a fan of tofu...”

Did he get on American Idolatry? Did he meet Alex at least? What's he like?”

I'm planning to escape in the catering truck.”

My mind seized on it like a drowning man on a life raft. Conversations with Wally were often led to crossroads where all the turnings went to Very Bad Places. I tried to choose the least threatening one. “Catering truck? They have catering in prison?”

It's California, remember. The caterers are all stoners. I'll stay up all night so my eyes are nice and red, steal one of their uniforms and ride right out with them. “

Won't they notice the extra guy?”

They're stoners!” He changed the subject. “There's a woman in here who looks exactly like Paris Hilton. She's begging to have my children.”

Ah, that probably is Paris Hilton there, pal. Don't do anything stupid.” Please, please, please, I silently prayed. In the history of all things Wally, he'd done some monumentally stupid things, but the idea of making a jail break with Paris Hilton in tow would have exceeded all of them by several orders of magnitude.

Paris Hilton? He met Paris Hilton?” Mercifully, she went silent, aghast at the unpleasant possibilities. I could just about make out the words going through her mind. In an earlier, more restrained time, 'hussy' would have been one of them. These words were far less polite, yet she was too genteel to utter them. Sometimes you have to admire a woman who won't say what she's thinking. It's rare, but it happens.

Wally switched subjects again. “How far is Nevada? I thought about going south into Mexico, but I think the Federales are still looking for me, and I already know what Mexican jails are like.”

This was a new revelation, an untouched chapter in his life. Wally hid somewhere in Mexico while one of his ex-wives stalked him with murderous intent, but I never knew he'd run afoul of the Mexican police. Again, my mind grabbed for a life raft, seized on the distance to Nevada, and coughed up an answer.

I think it's about 250, maybe 300 miles. But that's across the desert, Wally, and you've never been there.”

Piece of cake. I've seen lots of desert movies. If I can't steal the catering truck, I'll steal a bike or something. A bike would be a good idea because everyone here is so wrapped up in their cars, they simply won't see me escaping on a bicycle. Gotta go.”

Wait! Movies? You're gonna try to cross a desert based on what you know from movies? Are you outta your mind?” This last was almost a required question during any conversation with Wally. And he was going to steal a bicycle? This from a guy who once proposed hanging bicycle thieves up by their thumbs.

The line was dead. It switched to a dial tone as I stared into the handset, my mouth hanging open. My best friend thought of himself as Wally of Arabia, and he was about to become a fugitive from California justice.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Do they watch game shows in Hell?

A Wally Crankset Tale

I sat down at the computer planning to write a piece about the Cat-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, one of the kittens we adopted last summer. Wally sat on the couch, idly paging through a bicycle parts catalog while the television droned in the background. I'd nicknamed the kitten Miss M because she had a black heart full of mayhem. Her true name cannot be said aloud for fear the Elder Gods will awake from their long slumber and wreak havoc on humanity. Miss Malicious is their envoy, a demon cleverly disguised as a cute, cuddly kitten.

and welcome to another round of American Idolatry! I'm your host...

It was a good day, a productive one because the ideas were percolating. I like those rare moments when my brain spits out ideas almost faster than I can write them down. The TV muttered unnoticed. Usually it's on the weather channel, a favorite in our house, but someone had left it on a game show channel. When I'm in the groove, writing comes naturally, and I can ignore most distractions. On the bad days, however, I have to turn everything off in order to concentrate. Wally can be especially annoying at times like that, but today he was absorbed in his catalog.

I'll take “Wall Street” for $100, Alex.

The cat piece was coming together nicely. This cat is very pretty, yet behind those gorgeous eyes, there's murderous intent. I'd be on the menu if I wasn't so much bigger and more heavily armed than her. She's a criminal at heart. I've warned several visitors that she might jump into your lap purring, and then make off with your wristwatch, wallet, and car keys. She is not to be trusted.

Who is “Mammon”?

Miss Malice went into heat earlier this week, making what had been a normally hyperactive cat into a crazed, wild animal that was driving all of us nuts. She pawed at the doors, howled at the windows, and attracted the attention of all the tomcats in the neighborhood. They dropped by to leave their calling cards on the front porch.

What is the 'root of all evil', Alex?

While hosing off the porch, I threatened to use extraordinary measures in dealing with the tomcat menace. I'd even put my pellet gun behind the front door, leading Mary to threaten extraordinary measures against me. Now, I wouldn't really shoot one of the cats, but I know the unexpected noise startles them. The pellet gun scares them off and they learn to run at the sight of it in my hand.

I'll take “Detroit Iron” for $500.

Miss Mayhem was unfazed by all of this, of course. She was determined to get outside. She didn't know why she wanted to do this, but she lurked by the door in anticipation. Tomcats lurked in the flower garden, waiting patiently for her escape.

What are gutter bunnies?”

Huh? The television drew my attention.

The clue is, “Fallen cyclists.”

What are speed bumps, Alex.”

Wally threw a beer can at the set. Fortunately it was an empty this time. Once, he threw a full one, slopping beer all across the living room, the television, and Miss Mamba, whose glare promised Wally a lingering, painful death by torture if she ever had the chance. Worse, Mary banished him from the house, depriving him of home-cooked meals for a while. This was a hardship because he was in between marriages and he relied on us for decent food. She relented eventually, but only after Wally made a humbling, abject apology for his action. He was hungry.

But I was outraged at this stupid game show! I was going to write to all the advertisers until I realized they were automobile manufacturers, tire companies, oil companies, and motels. Well, there was an ad for Enzyte too, but somehow I think that's still connected to big, shiny cars, albeit ones with enormous tailfins. Dunno why I make that connection. The game show moved on to questions about celebrities, their sex lives and stints in rehab. It did nothing to mollify my anger.

But Wally was far more angry than I. He decided to deal with this personally. He's flying to California in an attempt to become a contestant on American Idolatry. We're doing the usual Wally-goes-on-vacation emergency drill, lining up telephone numbers for judges, lawyers, bail bondsmen, and various police agencies. Mary compiled a list of hospitals. Knowing Wally, I looked up the number for the marriage license bureau, just in case. Those of you with scanners in southern California may want to listen for any police calls involving Dr. Walter Crankset.

Stay tuned.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A short post...

I was dehydrated this morning. When I arrived at work, I thought it would be a good idea to down some Gatorade rather than coffee, but when I opened the can of Gatorade powder, the odor was an assault on my nostrils! The first whiff of this stuff smelled like those nasty, disreputable Keds we wore as kids, fetid, slowly rotting shoes so offensive that Mom wouldn't allow them inside her house.

I stood there blinking rapidly for a moment, and in that short moment, the smell was gone. I put the Gatorade back in the drawer and made lemonade instead.

Gatorade is building a new production facility here in Oklahoma. I'm not putting down their product in any way because I routinely drink gallons of it through the summer. I don't know why is smelled that way, or why it brought back memories of my childhood Keds. Chances are it's perfectly good so I'll eventually drink it. But that initial smell was very, very strange.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday Musette

A quick fake...

Riding home from work yesterday, I was grinding along uphill with a quartering wind on 56th Street. Up ahead, a pickup crested the hill and as he descended toward me, he straddled the center line. This is a county road that's not very wide. I think the lanes are in the 10-12 foot range, so with a truck straddling the centerline, there's not a great deal of space on my side. But I figured he'd move over as he approached. When he didn't, I got a little nervous. He could be falling asleep, drunk, or drugged. He could merely be toying with me, figuring on 'teaching that bicycle rider a lesson'.

I pulled a water bottle from its cage and cocked my arm in preparation. When he was close, I feinted throwing the bottle at him. He immediately pulled over into his lane! They guy was paying attention, after all.

This has happened before, surprisingly enough, in that same road section. The last time, it was a carload of teenagers who wanted to play chicken. I met them nearly every day for a week. I went so far as to hard-freeze a water bottle at work, planning to use it as a missile. A totally frozen water bottle is about as effective as throwing a brick. But a simple feint put them off and I never had problems with them again.

Let me be clear about something – it's a felony to throw an object at a motor vehicle in Oklahoma. I'm thinking that yesterday's dolt would say, “I wus jist tryin' to skeer 'em!” Would that justify me sending a 45 caliber Hydrashock whizzing past his head? “I was just trying to scare him, officer, no harm done.” It probably wouldn't work because the cops usually call that assault with a deadly weapon. Likewise if I swung and missed with a baseball bat. So how is it that 'swinging and missing' with a couple tons of metal and glass is any less lethal?

We killed about 42,000 American citizens last year on our highways. Another 29,000 Americans died due to firearms (in 2001). Now, I ask you, which is more dangerous, a fool with a motor vehicle or a fool with a gun?

I get around...

I don't recall what led up to this conversation, but Mary and I somehow got on the subject of marital fidelity. She and Lyndsay sat on either end of the sofa. Lyndsay was having a Pepsi and some chips while she watched television and listened to the old folks natter.

I don't worry about you,” Mary said. “I know you're faithful.”

Faithful? Me?” I replied. “Honey, you don't know much about me. Why, when I'm away from here I could be the playboy of northeastern Oklahoma!”

Lyndsay snorted Pepsi out of her nose. That's gotta hurt. Mary just rolled her eyes.

The women in my house do not take me seriously.

Mechanical problems...

The other thing that happened on yesterday's ride was a simple mechanical problem with the Bianchi's rear derailleur. As I started up the hill toward home, it refused to downshift. In a moment, I realized the cable was slipping through the anchor bolt. Sure enough, at the minimum tension position, the cable bowed with slack. The derailleur is still the original '96 Campy Mirage. I figured the cable anchor hadn't been tightened properly when I worked on it last, so I re-tensioned it and planned to ride it this morning.

Big mistake. I should have ridden it last night. I would have discovered that the anchor bolt just won't hold that cable in place, even when torqued properly. As yet, I don't know why, but I'll get into it tonight after work. Since I had only the big gears, I abandoned the Bianchi in the garage, changed into 'civilian' clothes, and drove the car to work.

I much prefer the old-fashioned anchor bolts that hold a cable via a drilled-through hole. Granted, they wouldn't take high torque and I snapped more than a couple . We kept a card of spares in the shop. These 'new' 1996 models hold the cable between a washer and the derailleur body. I'll probably find a groove worn in that nice, soft aluminum tonight.

(Later) I found the problem. The rear derailleur cable went through a ferrule that fit into a brazed-on stop on the right chainstay. Or at least there use to be a ferrule there. It must have split in half and it fell off. The cable houseing was being pulled through the stop. I ran a new cable, housing, and ferrule. It works!

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bicycling Magazine - July 2007

There's a lovely photo of a Masi replica on the last page of this issue! It's nearly identical to this one above from except that the Bicycling photo has a lovely Universal Mod. 61 centerpull brake, the cam-action opening mechanism for the brake, and a vintage Campy Record headset. This bike is gorgeous!

Labels: , ,

Tough Kids: Part One

We had our first Tough Kids class yesterday, a preparatory event for the Tulsa Tough weekend. Malcolm McCollam received 300 donated bicycles for the Little 100, and he needed only 200. We had 100 bicycles give away to area kids who attend both the Tough Kids class and the kick-off for the Tulsa Tough on June 2nd.

The class was scheduled from 10AM to 2PM. Instructors and volunteers were there earlier to set up some tents for registration and the mechanics. We were lucky to have about 10 instructors and volunteers, so the day really went smoothly. Kids and parents started trickling in at 9, and we were underway just after 10. We had a full class of 50.

We did the usual parking lot drills: learning to scan for overtaking traffic, the rock dodge, quick stops, and quick turns. The quick stops were difficult for some of the kids on coaster brake equipped bikes. I rode one of the Schwinn Little 500 bikes around the parking lot, and frankly, I'm not comfortable with coaster brakes, either. The bikes handle like any other road bike, not a track bike, though they strongly resemble one. Perhaps I have fixed gears so firmly ingrained in my bicycling consciousness that a coaster brake is just too foreign. The very idea of back pedaling just seemed wrong somehow.

Allow me to belabor the obvious. Teaching kids is much different from teaching adults. First, the kids regarded the parking lot drills almost as a challenge. They were eager to try them. Adults are put off by the quick turn in particular. They're hesitant to make the attempt since they 'know' counter steering is somehow dangerous. So in teaching adults, we have to get past what they already 'know' in order to do this drill. Also, kids don't need a wealth of explanation. Providing too much detail only confuses them. Jordan said, “Yeah, and it's boring!” They like it short and sweet. On the other hand, it's much harder to keep a group of kids focused on the lesson. Gary Parker, a retired teacher, said, “Welcome to middle school, Ed!”

I told my group that the important part of the instruction was to learn some new skills and to have fun doing it. The kids seemed to enjoy it because it was fast paced. No one had a chance to stand around for long and get bored, except for a couple of teenagers. Then again, when it's painfully obvious that they'd rather be anywhere else but in a parking lot on a Saturday morning with a bunch of totally un-cool bike geeks, well, the carefully studied appearance of crushing boredom is entirely understandable.

Several parents asked about bicycling events in the area, especially events for their kids. Brian and I talked with some about the various tours. There was one teenager asking about racing opportunities. I told him about the Tuesday evening criteriums. It would be helpful to have some handout information on area tours and races for these requests. Those teens are the next crop of cyclists.

We need to add to the instruction for the next event. We need to emphasize the dangers of sidewalk riding because some of the kids rode away from the event on the sidewalk. We need to explain lane use before going on a group ride. I had one boy who swerved from the curb all the way across the centerline, regardless of traffic. I, um, admonished him loudly, and told his Mom about it after the class. “Good!” she said, “Sometimes that the only way to get his attention.” Besides the name tags on the front of their shirts, it would be good to have a piece of masking tape with their names attached to the back of their saddles too.

I learned some new things, as is almost always the case. I saw some kids beaming from the praise they received. It's exciting to see them develop physical skills, and watch as they improve on each attempt.

And I learned from Ren that 'dude' is a non-gender-specific term. Personally, I would not be comfortable calling a female-type-person 'dude' so perhaps that's an indication that I'm out of touch, over the hill, or otherwise middle-aged. Of course, she could be pulling my leg. How would I know?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My prediction...

The doping charges against Floyd Landis will be upheld by the arbitration panel, even if one of the lab technicians were to come forward and state that they mixed grape Kool-aid into his samples. The World Anti-Doping Agency cannot afford to lose a high profile case such as this, particularly since the Beijing Olympics are only a year away. Billions of dollars are at stake. Billions.

Remember the golden rule - those with the gold make the rules. Floyd will be steamrollered. He will be crushed because he stands in the way of all those billions. His innocence or guilt are irrelevant to the money interests.

A week from now, perhaps I'll be proved wrong. I certainly hope so.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Sometime this evening, CycleDog went over the 60,ooo hit mark. I'm humbled to think that so many of you read this since I have such a good time writing it. I sincerely hope that all of you experience something equally enjoyable, whether that involves reading or writing about cycling, or if something you find here just makes your own riding more fun. Fun is paramount.

Thanks again for reading CycleDog. And now, I'm off to bed. It's supposed to be 50F in the morning and I'm really looking forward to it!

Is Tulsa Bicycle Friendly?

Brian Potter asked if Tulsa is a bicycling-friendly city. I almost cringe at the term because LAB often hands out their bicycle-friendly awards based on the facilities available in a particular city. While some amenities are necessary and desirable, it seems that LAB overlooks their own bicycling education program. Being bicycle-friendly involves more than bike paths, parking, or multi-mode transportation possibilities. They're a good start, but not the ultimate goal.


But our focus is on Tulsa, so let's discuss some aspects of cycling here. The main concern of nearly any road going cyclist is his interaction with area motorists. In general, I'd say that the overall relationship here is good. Most Tulsa motorists are accommodating toward road cyclists. They drive competently and safely, sharing the road with us. There are some exceptions, of course, but in my experience, they're thankfully rare. I should probably qualify that statement by saying that I commute to work regularly, and I see the same motorists day after day. They come to expect a bicycle rider somewhere on the commute. But even when I'm outside my usual hours or usual route, I seldom encounter hostile, irate motorists. I'd like to think that's because I take the lane when necessary, causing motorists to pass only when it's safe, but maybe being a big 220 pound guy has something to do with it too.


Most of the cyclists I've met on the road have been courteous and safety-minded. Some few, self-absorbed types have been so intent on their training that they couldn't respond to a simple, friendly wave, but I suspect they're arrogant dicks off the bike too. Occasionally, I've come across sidewalk riders who dart across traffic unpredictably. They're usually kids. I've seen numerous adults riding sidewalks in both Tulsa and Owasso. Once or twice I've met some wrong-way riders too, but again, they're thankfully rare.


I haven't heard complaints involving pedestrian/cyclist incidents that are more routine in cities like New York or Chicago. A few years ago, the River Parks Authority held a meeting about such conflicts at the northern end of the river trail. As I recall, the solution involved painting lines on the trail, dividing it into lanes, and providing more signage. Has anyone heard of other bicycle/pedestrian conflicts?

Law enforcement/cyclists

Most area law enforcement agencies have been positive and proactive regarding cyclist's complaints with one significant exception. I've had contacts with several agencies regarding enforcement or motorist/cyclist conflicts with very good results. Some officers are still woefully ignorant of both safe bicycle practice and bicycle law, but when an opportunity arises to educate his superiors, I won't hesitate to do so. I've been pleasantly surprised at their professionalism. That 'one significant exception' mentioned above involved a department that could not admit their deputy was enforcing his personal bias rather than the law.

Planning/public works/cyclists

The biggest failure I see in this area is in planning. Cyclists are the red-headed stepchildren of area transportation planners and public works departments. We should be getting routine accommodation when it comes to planning and designing streets and intersections, yet that is not the case. Frankly, I don't understand the willful exclusion of cyclists from area transportation planning. It seems our governments would rather design and build expensive infrastructure without any input from those of us who would expect to use it. I'm not talking about adding more linear parks, bike trails, or paths. I'd like to see traffic signals that reliably detect cyclists and building codes that require adequate bicycle parking. I'd like to see streets designed with cycling included as a normal part of the traffic flow. Those streets would be free of easily identified hazards to two-wheeled travel, like rough railroad crossings, wheel-trapping drainage grates, or angled motor vehicle parking.

In conclusion

As I passed the Shell station this morning, gasoline was at $3.10 per gallon. Every time the price spikes like this, more people turn to bicycles for cheap, simple transportation. Most of them begin as recreational cyclists. In fact, as I cruised garage sales on the Tour de Owasso last weekend, every garage I stopped at had a couple of bikes stored in a corner. Now, these folks might not consider riding to work every day, but they'll certainly think about using that dusty old bike to get milk-and-bread-and-eggs from the grocery store. We need to encourage them to try it.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 14, 2007

Now that your pictures in the paper...

Proof that even geeky-looking guys could be cool too! Maybe there's still hope for me.

I had to go dig this out just for Jett!

Labels: ,

Monday Musette

Why don't you tell me 'bout the mystery dance?

Before yesterday's Mother's Day festivities, I went out and cut the grass in our front yard. Then I ran the weed eater and cut up some brush for the yard waste can. My son mysteriously disappeared. Imagine that. But being a considerate father and all, I saved the worst part of the mowing – the back yard – just for him. Part of it has a steep slope. My knee was already hurting from waltzing the mower around the front yard. It would have been extremely painful if I'd done the back too. For some odd reason, I found myself humming “Waltzing the Mower” which is just like the Australian “Waltzing Matilda”. I could have been singing it, but then again, the neighbors think I'm a little nutty already. Dunno why.

I spent some time in the garage, working on a bike for the Community Development office and re=taping the handlebars on the Bianchi. The new tape is Celeste! It looks very nice with the dark green frame and its Celeste decals. I'll post some photos.

I was on my feet most of the afternoon, cooking hot wings, making bread, and cleaning up the kitchen. We used the 'good' porcelain china rather than the everyday stoneware with all its chips and scars. I almost wrote 'melmac' but I was afraid I'm the only one old enough to remember that stuff. I bought this porcelain for Mary years ago. She wanted white dishes with gold rims. Naturally, the ones I found weren't dishwasher safe, so I made a pledge to wash them whenever we used them. That means that I get to do dishes after special family meals. I really don't see this as a chore. It's just another way of saying, “I love you.” Doing dishes added to the discomfort in my knee. It wasn't truly painful by then, just tender and sore. I could feel some swelling.

This morning, I rolled the Bianchi out of the garage and promised that I'd ride only in the middle ring. My legs were stiff and clunky. I actually felt awkward on the bike because the pedaling motion just wasn't smooth. That went away after the first couple of miles and by the time I started climbing out of the Bird Creek valley, I was feeling normal again. I hoped that no other commuters caught up to me along the way because I was embarrassingly slow. But I stuck to the pledge and remained in the middle ring.

It helped. The knee has been remarkably cooperative this morning and my legs feel good, not heavy and stiff. The real test will be going home this afternoon with a tail wind. I may not be able to resist trying to go fast, but with temperatures expected to reach 90F (32C), I may not want to work hard for long.

Travel plans

I'll be flying to Pittsburgh soon to bring my mother-in-law out to Oklahoma. She's in a bad situation there and I know she'll be better off living with us. It'll certainly be better for her, but I'm not entirely certain it will be better for me. I like my in-laws in small doses. Mom is a good-hearted woman but she likes to micro-manage. I suspect that once she settles in, she'll have long list of things that I should do. It's just how she is. And I expect that my way of dealing with it will be to go on longer rides. So there is an upside!

Bike To Work

The Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) is hosting the Tulsa Bike To Work event on Wednesday from 7AM to 8:30AM at the Blue Dome Diner, 313 Second Street. I'm thinking about taking a vacation day in order to attend. There's something very perverse in that thought.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3...

OK, let's see if this works....

Happy Mother's Day!!!!

Mom's Day

Here in the unstately Wagner manor, we're celebrating Mother's Day with hot wings, fresh baked bread, a garden salad, and home made chocolate chip cookies. I made the hot sauce. I may have to send notification to the EPA. This stuff is good, but it's almost radioactive. The kids gave me the hot sauce mix as a Christmas present, and this is the first opportunity to use it. Given my wife and daughter have an intense aversion to spicy hot food, this will probably be the LAST time I see this stuff. Jordan thinks it's just fine, but like most guys, he wouldn't admit it if this sauce made his toenails fall out.

Tour de Owasso

I did the garage sale tour yesterday morning on the Centurion which has now been converted to a single speed with flat handlebars and a milk crate atop the rear rack. Very handy. I didn't find any good bike stuff or tools, but I did come home with a copy of "Photoshop 5 Artistry: A master class for photographers, artists, and production artists" by Barry Haynes and Wendy Crumpler. This copy is from 1998, but believe me, it's light years ahead of most of the technical books I normally use.


Are any of you seeing the photos I post? For some reason, all I see is a small blue rectangle where the photo should be. My computer may be blocking the images.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Old Cameras - OT

As you can see, I like old cameras too.

There are 2 Rolleicord IV's, probably manufactured in the 1950s or early 60s. When I want high-quality results on film, I use the Rolleis. There's also a Voigtlander Bessa folding camera in medium (6x6) format. I bought it at a yard sale and used it a few times until the shutter froze. If I had to have a travel camera, I'd strongly consider repairing it. Sure, it has a 'guestimator' for focus, but it really does take sharp photos.

That Minolta rangefinder is a clunky, heavy beast that worked well until its shutter froze too. I banged it around quite a bit and the wind lever is slightly bent now.

The bag in the background is a battered Domke F1 that has some invisible bricks somewhere deep inside. It is capable of hauling all my 35mm equipment, though not the lighting and tripods. I swear that bag made one shoulder lower than the other.

That's a Kodak electronic still camera on top. In the middle is my work horse Pentax MX with an architect screen in the viewfinder and a 50mm f 1.4 lens. The screen is scribed with a grid pattern, making it easy to line up even when I'm wearing glasses. On the right is my Yashica 'spy' camera. It's extremely quiet and unobtrusive. It replaced a much older Kodak Retina that had far more panache, but was very heavy. It was a German-made Kodak with a Schneider lens. I sold it since I'm basically foolish.

I sold my Graflex Crown Graphic too, but I don't regret it. The camera took wonderful 6x7 photos using Singer roll film backs loaded with 120. But it was a PITA to use. I much prefer the more 'modern' Rolleicords.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Dawn Patrol

Here's another effort at descriptive writing. Join me for a typical ride to work. Unlike my real life, this doesn't include any vicious chupacabras lying in wait or any attempted abductions by alien UFOs, yet I have to insist that the following account is true.

One of the dubious perks of middle age is waking before the alarm goes off. In those few minutes between the return of consciousness and the click of the clock radio, I take stock of all those minor aches and pains that may increase or decrease throughout the day. Some days the pain is immediate and intense. That's an ominous sign usually meaning I'll have a rough day.

I swing my legs over the side of the bed, moving carefully so I don't disturb Mary. No lightheadedness. That's good, but I don't know why I think about it. There was a time when I was recovering from surgery when sitting up caused dizziness. Maybe it's just a habit to take stock these days. My right foot hurts a little bit. I know it will hurt much more when I put weight on it, so I delay getting out of bed for a moment, steeling myself for the bolt of pain that will shoot from my heel to the knee as soon as I stand. The clock radio clicks on. I lurch to my feet, staggering across the room to quiet it. Then I shuffle off to the bathroom. With my elbows pumping up and down, I do a passable impression of walking like Walter Brennan.

My cycling clothes are waiting in the bathroom. I put them there last night, again, so I wouldn't bother Mary. I do some stretching exercises in an effort to relieve the pain in my foot. It helps. I'm able to walk normally once again, though the pain is still there, subdued, but noticeable.

As soon as I open the bedroom door, the feline chorus starts. They're hungry and they're overjoyed to see a semi-awake human capable of opening the refrigerator. The cat food is inside. I swear, if it wasn't for opposable thumbs, the cats wouldn't keep us around at all. They rub up against the cabinets, the refrigerator, and my legs, trying to communicate their happiness at seeing my sleepy form. I spoon reeking canned food into their bowls. Once they've eaten, I'll be completely forgotten until their hunger returns. Such is the gratitude of cats.

I pour myself a bowl of cereal, and then go out to the living room where I turn on the computer. I look at the news, check e-mail, and read some blog posts while munching. One of the cats tries to sit in my lap in order to be just a little bit closer to the milk in the bottom of my cereal bowl. I shoo her off. After finishing the cereal, I take the bowl out to the kitchen sink, running some water into it. I pour a small glass of orange juice and use it to wash down my pills: aspirin, niacin, and fish oil capsules. When I sit down at the computer again, the cat is instantly back in my lap. She's cold and wants someplace warm to sleep. This one is elderly and I think her health is fading. She likes to sleep on top of the computer monitor where it's warm, but she's been falling from it several times a day. I let her snooze on my lap because I suspect she won't be with us much longer.

All too soon it's time to go. I get up from my chair. The cat protests loudly, then stalks off in a huff. Mary packed a lunch and left it in the refrigerator, so I just transfer it to the pannier. I put my work clothes in it last night.

Then I put on my shoes while a kitten watches, fascinated by the laces going back and forth. I keep a wary eye on her because she's attacked the laces once or twice. Her aim is sloppy and she makes no distinction between laces and fingers. She has very sharp claws. I manage to get the shoes on without losing any blood.

I complete my mental checklist: keys, wallet, and cellphone in the jersey pockets. Stuff sacks with clothes, food, and rain gear are in the main pannier compartment; PDA, spare batteries, and dog alignment tool go in the outer pocket. There's an assortment of junk that's filtered down to the bottom of the pannier. Some day I'm going to get rid of it all if I can work up the courage to dig that deep.

I fill a water bottle and go out to the garage where I check that the bike lights work. I check the tires and brakes too, and make sure to actually attach the pannier to the bike. Once or twice I've gone out the door without it. The bike handles differently without the extra weight, so the absence is very apparent.

Then it's time to turn out the garage lights, open the door, and roll off toward work. I feel the wind on my face, promising a light headwind going south. I switch up through the gears while going down the hill, checking that the drive train works properly, and I listen for idling car engines, slamming doors, or growls and claws on pavement indicating a dog attacking from the darkness. I remember to avoid the road center at the bottom because there are some potholes. In a minute or so, I reach an arterial street. Traffic is light at 6AM. I take the right hand lane for half a mile, then gradually move left to set up for a left turn at a red light.

The city just re-surfaced the road south. It's jet black and seems to soak up my puny headlight. Granted, I can't see the surface very well, but it's a fresh layer of asphalt and it's completely free of cracks, potholes, or any other irregularities. For now, it's free of painted lines too. I'd probably avoid this in the dark if it were raining.

There's a big parking lot along that street, with plenty of early morning traffic in and out of the YMCA. It doesn't help that the highway parallel to the street has heavy traffic. My bike lights just don't stand out when there's all those other lights coming from behind. Motorists routinely pull out in front of me from that parking lot. I'm hyper-aware through that stretch.

I make a quick stop for a newspaper, and in a few more minutes I'm out of town, cycling across a broad, shallow valley through a pecan grove. The dawn chorus is starting, just a few birds at first, but within minutes it seems every bird in the northern part of the county joins in. My nose informs me that a skunk passed this way recently. And there's a road-killed deer adding it's own special stench. I hold my breath.

The road climbs gradually out of the valley for the next 2 miles. I breath a little harder, partly due to the climb and partly due to the slight headwind. There's a crest just south of the Bird Creek bridge. I check carefully for overtaking traffic because they can't see the oncoming lane. I don't want to get squeezed.

I stay alert while passing the house with a bunch of loose dogs. Most days they're asleep, but when they're awake I've been chased by 4 or 5 at a time. My knee isn't solid and I hesitate to sprint. Luckily, this morning I don't have to. No dogs lurk in the darkness, stomachs growling in anticipation of a cyclist's leg for breakfast. I ring my bell in victory as I pass. There are no answering barks. I can relax a little.

There's a diagonal railroad crossing ahead. I check for overtaking traffic again, then zig-zag across the tracks. I stay to the left side of the lane because there's a dip on the far side of the tracks and it still has a deep puddle from yesterday's rain. It would be just my luck to ride through it only to discover a brick hiding under the water, so I avoid all puddles.

Up ahead, the light at 46th Street changes to red, again. I seldom manage to get a green. The signal is controlled with magnetic loops, but the heavy traffic is westbound, not southbound like me. Besides, the loops are hidden under the re-paving the city performed a few years ago. I can't trigger the light. Most days there's enough north-south traffic to trigger it, but not today. I wait for a break in the line of cars, then scoot across the intersection quickly. Someday a Tulsa cop will spot me doing that and I'll have some 'splaining to do.

As I approach the north gate, I unclip my ID badge from the brake cable. A Pinkerton security guard stands outside his booth, scrutinizing the badge in the glare of the floodlights. It simply wouldn't do to allow some bicycle riding terrorist onto the maintenance base. It wouldn't do for me to topple over while riding across the damned speed bumps they've installed in front of the gate, either. Fortunately, this Pinkerton is standing well past the speed bumps, so I don't have to negotiate them with my ID in one hand and the handlebar in the other.

Now for the dangerous part – riding across the parking lot. Some of my co-workers are already late, but they seem to think that if only they can drive fast enough, somehow they'll be able to reverse the flow of time, thereby arriving early for a change. Stop signs, painted directional arrows, and lane markings are merely advisory. I've had too many close calls in the parking lot. It's another place to stay alert. But today I arrive at the bike rack without incident.

I remove the pannier and water bottle; check the handlebar computer; and cover the saddle with a plastic bag as protection against errant birds. The end of the morning ride is always a bit of a let-down because it's so pleasant. There's a temptation to just keep riding, ignoring the turn into the gate, and simply reveling in the fun of bicycling as the sun comes up. But I have a family and I have obligations. The one bright spot is the coffee waiting in the shop. Time for a cuppa!


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

150 Things

There's another meme floating around that lists 150 things and asks how many you've done. I went down the list and found I'd actually done quite a few! But, and this is the important part, it almost reads like a list of posting possibilities.

The Checklist Meme

Just bold the things you have accomplished in your life.

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said "I love you" and meant it
9. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

As I said, there are 150 items on this list. I'll post it complete under comments so it doesn't take up an enormous amount of space here on the main page.

"Wally and I had just completed our climb of the outside wall of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the treacherous overhang part, not the other side, when suddenly the Northern Lights flashed overhead!"........or something like that.