Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bike Comute 2011 - Day 50 - 2/3rds Done!

IN -

This was my first bike commute after playing Rugby Saturday. My legs felt tired and heavy. I felt old and slow.

Surprise, this was a very fast morning at 33 minutes, one of my fastest.

When I came to my building they had the sprinklers on. This wouldn't bother me except I have to serpentine my way through to the door I use and parts of the path were soaked from runoff. This makes the way slippery and I have to slow down.

That wasn't much of a problem today though.


This was a day of crossing. First an Amtrak crossed my path. It was long before I got to the tracks so it didn't slow me down.

Then a caterpillar crossed my path, the small, fuzzy, butterfly larva kind, not the big, yellow diesel kind.

Then it was a chipmunk, then another train, this time a freight train. I crossed under this train so it didn't slow me down either.

The SD card in my phone died so I can't take any pictures, but I'm going to try to make it up when I do get it fixed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Week 16

I'm behind so I'm going to hit this whole week in one post.

This is week 16. I had planned on 22 weeks to get to 75 bike commutes by October. I'm a bit behind (blame the break down). 16/22 is 72% and I finished 49 rides this week (65%).

I'm driving in on Thursday and Friday because I have Old Boys this weekend and I want to rest my legs. We'll see how that works.

Day 47 - 22 Aug 11 - Papa and Boushette's 47th anniversary
IN -

Very clear and cool, a nice morning. The stars were bright and beautiful.

I think I figured out one of the main reasons my glasses have been fogging up so badly lately, I've been looking up.

When I look up my breath goes onto the glasses and fogs them up. Since I've been star gaping quite a bit lately I've been looking up more, and getting more fog.

It was fairly humid today too. I actually saw fog near Libertyville High School and again when I first got on Abbott campus.

I also got to work just as they were opening the gates.


Speedy! I went for speed today and I got it. I made it home in 41 minutes which ties a record for me.

Funny thing is, the other time I made it home in 41 minutes I made no big deal about it. I actually stopped and took some pictures that day. I wonder if I really made it in 41 and not 51 since today I was booking it.

Day 48 - 23 Aug 11

IN -

Cool, clear and dark. I saw ground fog covering the field by Sandburg Middle School.

Orion is rising. When I first spotted him a couple of weeks ago he was laying on his back in the east. Now every morning he's a little more upright. That's very cool.

A mouse ran across the street in front of me this morning in Oak Grove (a town by the sign of it).


Argh, headwind today. I intended to make this a nice easy ride, something pleasant and unhurried. Instead I was fighting the whole way.

I knew I didn't have to beat any clocks so I didn't fight too hard, but it's still disheartening to pedal yourself sweaty and see the landscape creep by at a frustratingly slow pace.

I rode past two groups of runners from Carmel High School too.

When I do that sort of thing I can't look like I'm struggling, so that slows me down too.

It ended up taking ten minutes longer to get home today than yesterday (and I didn't stop for pictures).

Day 49 - 24 Aug 11 - Volcano Day (Vesuvius erupted 24 Aug 79)

IN -

Remember the mouse I saw yesterday? In about the same area a woodchuck (or groundhog) ran across the road in front of me.

That was about the most interesting thing this morning. It was foggy again, and this time the sky was hazy too. I ultimately took my glasses off in order to actually see, even though I tried not to spend too much time looking at the sky (especially since it was too hazy to see anything well anyway).


The race was on.

I wanted to see if I could beat my 41 minute time.

As soon as I got out the door I knew I had problems, it was much hotter than Monday had been. Then there was the headwind. It had to have been at least 15mph from the west, if not WSW. I could see the tops of trees swaying, the grass leaning and the big electric turbine spinning.

I put my shoulders down and pedaled.

I didn't put my head down. I have a tendency to look down at my feet to see if they're set right on the pedals, at the gears to see if they are the ones I really want, at the gear selectors, etc.

I'm trying to break that habit. I had been telling myself, "Don't look down, keep your head up, no keep looking forward, not up, out, keep looking out."

I pedaled and hedged stop signs at intersections with no one else there. I pedaled when I approached redlights, picking up my speed to try to catch one green cycle earlier.

I dug in up hills, I raced down hills. I hugged the turns. I pedaled right up to stops and braked at the last moment, putting more on the brakes and less on slowing down.

I made it in 45 minutes.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 46 – My Fifth Day THIS Week

IN –

It was uneventful and foggy. I ended up taking my glasses off a couple of times to be able to see better. I debating wearing them again. The idea behind wearing them is to protect my eyes and to keep them from watering when I'm in high winds. Lately they've been all foggy and actually reduce my visibility. I'll have to take it day by day.

HOME – Off to the races.

I took the Des Plaines River Trail as I am wont to do on Fridays. I took a couple of pictures trying to show how low the river is and how clear. The mud was covered with bird foot prints as well.

Des Plaines River just south of Oak Springs Road 18 Aug 11

As I was taking the pictures, someone rode past me. He was wearing a backpack and looked to be in his 20s.

I got back on my bike and pedaled hard to try to catch him. I did catch him, but the trail was narrow and I was only going marginally faster than him so I elected to stay behind until we got out to a wider part.

I was proven to be right in my decision almost as fast as I made it when man came by the other way.

He rode off the Des Plaines Trail and up onto the North Shore Trail. Just when I decided to pass him, he turned off the trail. There is a big parking lot before you get to Cluver's. It's full of warehouses, but it's also where a dozen or so school busses park. I'm guessing he was a driver.

Later I spotted a couple other people and I caught them just as they were turning the other way.

Then I came up to a man riding along with no shirt on. It was a very nice day and the trails were full of people. I passed him.

When I got to Milwaukee Avenue I had to wait on the light.

I caught all the lights that day, all the red lights that is.

Meanwhile, back on Milwaukee; by the time the light turned the naked man caught me, or almost. I got away and rode off.

At Butterfield I again had to wait on the red and again, naked man nearly caught me, but I made it across and then really put the pedal to the floor. Actually I put each pedal down and up and down and up in very rapid succession, but I don't need to explain how to ride a bike. Do I?

I never did see him again, but after Carmel HS I passed a couple of High Schoolers.

Now, I would have thought with all this racing that this would be one of the fastest rides home.

The one rider I could not beat was myself. It took me 49 minutes to get home.

I blame the photos.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 45 – A Train Wreck of a Day

From Thursday, 18 Aug 11
IN -
Gave my wife four sets of work clothes for me to stage at work for the rest of the week and the beginning of next week.  That way I could ride every day this week.
It was a very sweaty morning (about 70o - 87% humidity), but I finally saw a deer near the seminary.  It had been so long that I hardly recognized it.  She was facing away from me and several cars went by when I saw her, so I felt fairly confident that she wouldn’t, you know, run me over.
Maybe that’s an unreasonable fear, but I would really not like to have my butt kicked by Bambi as he prances over a road in the dark.  That is very Un-Prop-like.
When I got on campus and in front of my building I saw something that I had never seen before, the sprinklers were on.
That’s it, nothing more exciting than just, the sprinklers were on, oh, and I did not get hit by a deer.  I guess I’m not really building up the suspense I said I would need.
This may be an Illini6 exclusive.  As I was heading home, as I rode around the southern part of my work campus I saw the train tracks full of trains and trucks.  I could see and hear the gates down at the crossing.
I approached cautiously.  I really have no alternative route and I had no idea if they would let me cross.   I could see that the train wasn’t moving, and as I got slowly closer I could see that there were several trains filling the tracks.
Passing a man who was walking back to one of the trucks I asked, “What happened?”
“Derailment,” came the answer.
There was a man standing on the track waving cars by so I rode up and he waved me by as well.
Looking over my shoulder I could see where the problem was, one of the cars had been crunched and what I assume was the cargo was spilled all over the track.
I crossed the tracks and turned around to get a picture.  I didn’t know if that was allowed so I tried to be as nonchalant as possible, hoping that the Canadian Pacific man wouldn’t notice.
He noticed.
“You can go down there and get a better shot, just stay off the tracks.”
I thanked him, but said that I had to be getting home.
I got my photo and pedaled home as fast as possible to try to meet my youngest at the house.
Here is the general picture I got and a closeup.
Once in Mundelein I pedaled across Lake Street to find one of the side streets full of about five police cars, a fire engine and an ambulance.
I wanted to stop but I was already running late.  I never did find out what happened there.
Once I had gotten home I saw on the news that a man had stabbed two other men while I was riding home, except that man was in Gurnee, opposite of the way I ride.
What a crazy day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 43

Day 43
IN -
I ride to work on Route 176.  It runs East-West, just a couple of blocks north of my house.  There are three ways to get to it from my subdivision, but the way that is furthest East and thus, the least riding on the busy street takes me through the subdivision and out a small trail between two houses.  It’s a paved walk/ride way, but it is narrower than a normal sidewalk and unlit.
This morning I was changing gears and trying to dodge potholes when I made my approach.  I guess I was aimed just a little to the side.
I didn’t see it until I was right on top of it because my lights were on the dim side.
Suddenly I was right on top of the curb and a mailbox.
Thanks to my ninja-cat-like reflexes I managed to steer clear of the curb and onto the path, but I came this close (holding up my thumb and forefinger a Planck length apart (yes, it is a real unit of measure)) to eating a mailbox.  I was pretty cowed for the rest of the ride.
Birdbath for emus
Got home pretty quick today, nothing interesting or memorable to see really.
I do seem to remember lots of guys with white shirts.  I guess I’m in fashion.
Not that it is something special for today, but I took a picture of this Giant bird bath.  I don't know if it's evident in the photo, but this thing is probably about five feet tall (1.5m) and made of concrete so I would guess it weighs a couple hundred pounds (over 100kg).  I don't know why you would need such a huge birdbath.  It's always caught my eye as I ride and it is only visible from the bike trail so it is sort of my little secret.

Bike Commute 2011 - Life, The Universe and Everything - Day 42

From Monday, 15 Aug 11

Maria's Name Day in the Greek Orthodox tradition, so happy name day to all you Maria's out there.

It's also my answer day, my Day 42.
IN -

Got a late start this morning at 4:13. It took me 35 minutes so I got in on time, but I didn't have time to get in a little early and write my thoughts.

It was extremely foggy this morning and difficult to see. That may have been more a function of my glasses fogging up than the actual fog, but the result is basically the same and probably both caused by the high humidity.

The moon caused a bit of difficulty seeing too. There was actually too much of it. it was full or nearly full and it made the stars difficult to see, as well as causing glare off the fog of my glasses.

I felt very wobbly and what I will call, "scategorical" for lack of a better word. I felt like I was all over the place with very little control (relatively). I don't know why. Maybe I'll figure it out if it continues.

On Atkinson I was passed by a car and when it had gone past I noticed a car parked on my side of the road. Where it was parked is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There are houses on that side, but their back yards face that road. On the other side is an open field and then after a couple hundred yards, a stand of trees. As I went past the car I was startled to zip past two people. They were a couple, like man and wife, as near as I could tell. I didn't catch their conversation, but their demeanor made me think that they were there on purpose. It seemed like they had parked there specifically and had gotten out of the car to stand there. I also think they may have had mugs in their hands, or it could have been binoculars.

It's entirely possible that they were star gazers. I had thought to myself that that might be a good spot for it. The thing is, as I said, the moon was too bright. They weren't facing the moon, so they weren't looking for that, but it was washing out most of the stars. The Perseids were at their height last Friday/Saturday, so I don't know exactly what they were doing.


I rode past some kids riding bikes and one was stopped. One of the others was going back to him to talk.

I remember being a boy and riding with my friends. We did a lot of crazy things, like fighting and riding at the same time and running each other into things like trees and parked cars. I never would have wanted a grownup to have stopped and asked us what we were doing or if we needed help. So, I didn't stop. I feel entirely justified in this, and not guilty at all; except…

I had made an admonition to stop. I didn't not fulfil it so what good is it, but they did not need help, would not have wanted it.

So it begs the question, when can a grown man help an older child, or a young woman?

I know that I make a sort of deranged face when I'm exerting myself. It has frightened some of the tougher people I know, just by its inhuman appearance. I don't suppose anyone who is already predisposed to feel like a possible victim would really want that sort of thing barreling down on them asking if they're in trouble.

I don't think I could be much help if I'm intimidating and frightening.

Maybe I'm thinking about this way too much.

Do you think I am?

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 41

From 11 Aug 11

IN -

It was hazy this morning so I didn't really star gape. Honestly, I tried a bit, but I could hardly see anything and even Orion looked faint (and not because it looks like he's lying down).

I didn't put too much effort into the ride today. I worked out my legs pretty late last night and my head was full of family matters. It was about 60o and calm.


It was a pretty day with a slight headwind. It wasn't much to mention, but I was having a good time, thinking about how many people were using the trail when I passed some fun-riders.

I saw a pair of ladies on bikes ahead of me and I tried to ride faster to catch and pass them. As we were all approaching Butterfield we passed another lady standing next to her bike.

I've been telling myself for quite a while that I should at least ask if other riders need help whenever I see them in any level of distress, from confusion to pain to broken bike. As I passed this lady she seemed to be fairly well equipped, like she was a regular rider, but not like she was a fanatic. She seemed to be just adjusting the strap on her helmet so I passed her without bothering her.

When I got to the light at Butterfield, the other two ladies were waiting for it to change and talking about the third lady. I didn't hear it all, but I got the gist that they were worried about her and then one of them turned around and went back to see how she was doing.

At that point I felt awkward because I wasn't with those other women, and if I had gone back too, then it would have seemed very creepy.

The light changed and the one lady and I crossed. As I looked back I could see that the lady who had doubled back was walking toward the light with the other woman. They didn't look too concerned and may have been walking only because they were going to have to wait on the next light any way.

It really made me feel guilty and took the pleasure out of the rest of my ride. I should have gone back to help her, or at least ask her if she needed help.

I think that even if you don't believe in God or that life has no purpose, that it's just a random event from a very long series of evolving events with no guide, then the very least purpose of being here on earth, of being alive is to help make the world a better place, helping each other and strengthening the community.

If I continually ignore those in need or even those potentially in need then what good am I?

I am making a firm admonition right here and now.

Whenever I am riding my bicycle and I see another cyclist stopped for any reason I will ask if they are okay.

This includes the ones who, I think, are clearly stopping just to catch a view or because they seem to have gotten to their destination. I will exclude those who are stopping because they have met others to whom they are talking.

I will not let another opportunity to help someone else slip by.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 40

Day XL - from 10 Aug 11
IN -

Got a very late start for some reason and left at 4:12.

I had been reading about amateur astronomy, so when I left and the sky was so clear I caught myself star gaping. I didn't cause a gazers block or anything, but I was slower because I was distracted by the stars.

The night was very clear and before I left, while I was standing in my driveway I saw a meteor. I saw another one on Atkinson.

I spotted Cassiopeia while standing there as well. Once I got going Orion was very visible. I noted that he was laying down on the job. I couldn't see the big dipper though. Those are about the only three, "constellations" that I can recognize, I'm ashamed to say.

The moon is nearly full this next couple of days, but it had set already by the time I got out.

Otherwise I didn't notice anything interesting.


Much nicer day today. The wind felt much lighter so I was surprised to see when I got home and checked that it was 9mph WNW. I guess my estimate for yesterday was possibly conservative.

It was a sunny, beautiful day at about 75o. It felt like early October rather than early August.

I was feeling so good and light hearted that I actually stopped to snap some pictures.

The first was a pair of gym shoes hanging from a telephone (power?) line. I didn't know people still did that.

The second was from the same spot, but looking in a different direction (off Seymour, just east of Kracklauer Park). It looked and sounded idyllic. You could hear the little brook babbling away. In the distance there was a couple lying on a blanket.

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 39

From 9 Aug 11
IN -

Started at 4:10 and then I remembered that I hadn't put out the garbage so I went back, put the trash out and then started again at 4:14.

The ride felt long, slow and laborious. However it only actually took me 34 minutes so in actuality it was one of my fast rides.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I weighed myself last night. About last week I weighed myself and I was right around 224-225 (down from just about 249-249 at Christmas time). Last night I was about 228-229. I have no idea how I could have GAINED 3-5 pounds since I've ridden quite a bit in the last month and last week actually was exercising in addition to that. I don't think it's adding muscle that much.

Maybe that disappointment is what made me feel every turn of the pedals and feel like I was creeping along.

My phone said it was raining or pretty likely could rain this morning (over 30% chance). Turned out that it not only wasn't raining, it was so clear that I could see the stars. It was very wet on the ground, but not a cloud that I could see in the sky.

I have a meeting today on the other side of campus, about a mile away. I didn't hesitate much over whether I could do that while bike commuting. I will have to go in my work clothes and be careful not to sweat too much, but I've done it before once. I just hope it doesn't rain.


Now there's a new entry. It didn't rain and it was a pleasant, relaxed 5 minutes across the approximately mile wide campus. I was specifically trying not to ride hard because I had my work clothes on and I didn't want to get to the meeting all sweaty.

In the end I walked around half the building trying to find the office and got a bit of a sweat worked up anyway (it's a manufacturing facility and a bit warm inside).

It all worked out perfectly fine.


There was like a 400mph wind in my face, no matter where I turned the wind was there, pushing me back. It was only by a titanic effort of will and my massive yet finely muscled prop legs that allowed me passage through the maelstrom and got me home in time to deliver a check to my daughter.

Not exactly, but I was going for suspense.

My middle daughter called and said that she needed a check for sports and she needed it by 3:00 today. My wife made a little trip over to my building to give me the check (which was very nice since I enjoy seeing her) and I made sure I left right at 1:30.

I don't know exactly how strong the wind was, but I do know it was out of the West, it was visibly blowing the trees and the wind turbine that I have pictured before was going crazy. Based on past experiences I would guess that it was at least a 15mph wind.

I'll say it again, when you're only going 15 mph, a 15mph headwind basically takes away all your work and you're at a stand still. At least it feels that way. I'm sure it doesn't actually work out that way if you take all the physics into it. All I know is a headwind like that just chews you up.

Since I was on a time crunch I rode as hard as I could the whole way. I actually made it in 46 minutes which is very respectable. The quickest time I've had this year was 41 minutes, but the average is about 48 minutes.

Man was I tired, but I got the check there on time.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 38 - Fifth Bike Commute This Week!

With this ride I have finally, at any time ever, rode to work every day in a week.  Five bike commutes in a week really ran together.
IN -
Knowing that my legs were probably fully taxed out yesterday, I didn't expect much from this ride.  Like what I said about omens, you really never know what you are going to get until you actual do it (they say that's why they play the football games on Sunday).  I caught the green at Butterfield and again at Milwaukee, mostly through hard pedaling rather than just timing and waiting.  I actually only took one minute longer than yesterday and today I went all the way around to the front door.
My legs were pretty much mush by this time.  I did have one excuse for my 51 minute ride though, I was stopped by a train right as I left Abbott.
The train only took a couple, maybe three minutes, so it wasn’t much of an excuse.  Ever notice how loud the horn is?  When you are right up on it and not in a car the horn itself can shake you and scare you.
I took the Des Plaines River trail down from Atkinson, which is a treat I reward myself with on Fridays only.  It was cool and leafy and green.
When I got to that section where they are repairing the road there was a worker standing right there.
They had partially paved half the road where the North Short Bike Path crosses.  He told me to watch the drop and then told me not to bring my dog over there because the new asphalt was still very hot.
I got off my bike and walked it across just to be safe.
As I left I mentally kicked myself.  One of the things I thought it might be good to do on my rides is to actually talk to people and maybe challenge myself to meet a new person each day.
I should have gotten that guys picture and told him I was going to write about this in my blog, but I didn’t.  Here is a photo of a road worker that is a unlike him as I could find.
NOT my construction worker "friend"
After I kicked myself I stopped (mentally of course) and asked myself what I was thinking.  My commutes are about riding as a means of transportation first and foremost.  They are also about health and helping the environment.  Last they are meant as enjoyment, but more of experiencing my surroundings rather than as the sport of riding.
I think I did miss an opportunity today, but to manufacture such opportunities, for their own sake would not really fit the ethos I’m attempting with my bike commutes.
Friendly and more in touch with my surroundings and fellow earthlings, yes; sport rider and artificially manipulating my environment, no.
Then I saw a lady that I had seen at least three times before riding toward me.  I smiled and nodded at her saying, “hello.”  Then I passed a man I had seen yesterday.  He seemed much happier to see me today than yesterday.  We exchanged nods and quick, “Hi”s.
Friday is over, five rides in five days, every day this week.  Now I’m out of clothes again.  I think I’m going to ride my Monday clothes in with me and give four more sets to my wife to drive in to me.
It is Friday and I’m still a bit giddy about the week, so we will see just how dedicated I am come Monday morning.

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 37

Thursday, 4 Aug 11

I was very busy at work on Thursday and I didn't have time after work to report on this either.

IN -
The weather was very similar in the morning, but this time it was far less cloudy.  I didn't fear rain, but oddly enough the fog was much more visible.  I heard all sorts of animals, from frogs to bugs to birds.
Deer don't aestivate do they?  I mean, I haven't seen any deer since mid-June or maybe even earlier.  I wonder where they are.

My legs were mush today.  I thought I was riding well and hard, and it took me 46 minutes, three minutes longer than Wednesday.

I tried to come up with a joke and just couldn't keep my mind on it.  I had been thinking about something else when work ended and I just couldn't bring myself around to the task of breaking some words down and creating a joke.  I did think it could be something to do with a, "tale wind" but that's as far as I got.

I didn't stop for pictures since I thought I was racing home to be able to help and run my daughters around to errands.  After getting home exhausted I found out that they changed their minds.

In the end we ran a very few errands and I took a much needed nap.

Libertyville Village Band 2011 Concert 6 Review

We play on the landing here at the Cook Museum in Libertyville, IL
I completely forgot to report on the Libertyville Village Band's last concert of this summer. It was on Thursday, 29 July 2011.

The band board received a commendation from Libertyville Mayor Weppler. We followed on the heels of a senior picnic so we had probably our biggest crowd except for the Forth of July.

Our intended play list was as follows:

1. Triumphant Fanfare, Star Spangled Banner
2. The Dancing Cabalerro
3. Man of the Hour March
4. Il Convegno
5. Mary Poppins
6. Lassus Trombone
7. Beale Street Blues
8. The Fairest of the Fair
9. The Avenger March
9. Big Band Spectacular
10. Band of the Shenandoah
11. Star Spangled Spectacular

I've been to four of the six concerts we've had this year. I missed the previous two concerts, but still the only song I had played with the band in concert before was the Star Spangled Banner and Triumphant Fanfare. Every other song was not played at all on the first three concerts.

That somewhat excuses us for being so out of sync that the director stopped us and restarted Beale Street Blues. It isn't enough of an excuse that we still couldn't get it together after the restart and he cut it off and went to the next song.

We skipped The Avenger March altogether and he whispered to us to skip The Band of the Shenandoah, but after we played Fairest of the Fair and Big Band Spectular, he launched right into Band of the Shenandoah. We finished up with Star Spangled Spectacular.

I have to make special note of Il Convegno. First, there are no sax parts for that song so we sat out. Second, there is a large clarinet duet that the song is built around. The band director and another clarinetist did the duet. I don't remember the name of the second clarinetist, but he's a recently graduated senior from High School and was fantastic.

My family also attended, which was a real treat, and I appreciate their support.

That's one summer down. I was just awful, but I think I was slowly improving. Maybe if I keep at it by next year I'll be an actual asset to the band rather than a hanger-on that is just trying to be as little an impediment as possible.

I may join the College of Lake County band, which only performs one concert and plays the same songs all semester. That would be good for me, to concentrate on a few songs.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Bike Commute 2011- Day 36 - Omens, No Wait..

I was going to write about omens today, about how you can’t trust them.  Too often the ride starts out with my making some lights, with the ride being smooth and then ends up in the ash can.  Other times I get off late and forget things but it all turns out all right in the end.

I was going to write about that, but I decided not to.

See how things can change.

IN -
I got started late this morning.  I don’t’ know how I keep getting latter and latter, but somehow I do.  I didn’t leave the house until 4:08 this morning.

Just before I got to Carmel HS I realized something very strange.  I saw no cars, no cars at all in Mundelein.  None passed me, none went the other way, none crossed my path.  I did see two in the far distance heading toward the seminary, but otherwise nothing.  That was too weird.  It wasn’t like I was traveling so early that everyone was in bed.  It was too weird.

It was 75o, only 3o cooler than the day before and I was a bit nervous because the 78o day ended up kicking my butt in the afternoon.

To top that off, the humidity, driven by last night’s crazy storm was palpable.  It was a liquid sky.  The fog wasn’t anything you could see, but there were little droplets of water hanging in the air.  They were just hanging there.  As I rode along I rode into them an d I thought it was raining, or at least threatening.

It was very overcast and dark anyway, so in fear of a messy morning I rode as fast as I could trying to beat the rain.

I also went in the back door of my building.  This meant that I had to walk through to where I stow my bike, but it was worth not getting rained on.

I felt very lucky to beat the rain, but no, it didn’t rain.  It didn’t rain all day today.  Is that lucky?

When I got into work I opened my email to find  a bad problem that could hang over my for a while.  I buckled down and didn’t let up from my work all day.  I barked at anyone who came by to talk.  It was dark, but it didn’t rain.

Good gawd, what a difference a few degrees and some humidity make.  It was 12o cooler in real temp (from 94o down to 82o) and 22o in heat index (107o down to 85o).  Today there was a 10 mph breeze, AT MY BACK!  Ah, it was delightful and uplifting.

I thought today about traffic on my blog.  How do I get you readers, how do I get you to participate, how do I get you to keep coming back?

I’ve asked questions.
I’ve blogged regularly and heavily.
I’ve tried ranting.
I’ve offered polls.
I’m one of the very few people that I know of currently journaling his daily commute.
I think I know what I need:

Suspense.  I don’t have it.
Suspense like this?

What’s here that would keep you driving on to the next post; that keeps you waiting for my next installment?
The trouble is, where is it, how can I get it?

It doesn’t seem like the simple suspense of , “will he make it home in one piece today” counts around here so…

I thought maybe I should do something really off the wall.  I tried to bite trees, to catch a leaf in my mouth as I rode by.  I thought maybe I could make it a different leaf each day and there could be suspense in wondering if I could catch a leaf that day.

I couldn’t get one leaf, and now in front of the computer, sobered up from the cool quick ride (did I mention that it only took me 43 minutes to get home (as opposed to yesterday’s 56) I realize how silly that was at all.

I need a bit of input from you the readers; what are your challenges to me?

How about a Joke a Day?  How many bike commuters does it take to change a light bulb?  Don't know yet, they haven't decided if the chemicals in florescent bulbs actually make them more earth friendly yet.

No?  How about a funny picture hen?  This looked to me like the kind of mole hill that Bugs Bunny might kick up if he thumbed a ride to Albuquerque with the Underminer.

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 35 (Neal Anderson?) - Focus!

How to stay focused?  From the get-go of bike commuting I decided I did not want my bike commutes to become like car commutes, with my mind wandering and not noticing the world around me.

Of course when I first started it was easy.  Everything was new and everything was an experience.  I planned what to write and I wrote about everything.

Now, my mind wanders.  I've talked about practice breeding complacency, and that is very true, not only about building skills but about staying aware and in awe of the world.

On the other hand, I used to use my commute to work out details of some of my fiction writing.  At other times I would use that time to listen to audio-books, sometimes even non-fiction.

I guess I could use the other 2/3rds of the working year to do those things.

So, I'm back to trying to find a way to stay focused.

Does anyone else have this problem?

IN (Tuesday, 2 Aug 11) -
Started a bit late today, but I did hit the snooze button so I started the whole day one snooze late (5 minute).  It was overcast so even darker than yesterday, and it was even hotter.

I strained and did actually hear crickets and frogs along the way today.

Everything seemed very mundane though and I was thinking I wouldn't have anything to write about at all.   

Then I got stopped by a train.

I was coming up the hill over the highway on Atkinson and I thought I heard a train whistle.  I had heard that sound before and when I topped the hill I realized it was just the whine of my tires on the pavement and not a train at all.  Today, it was a train.

It was moving slowly when I first saw it, but it picked up speed and I only got delayed for 2-3 minutes.

I tried to take some pictures, but you know what, there are reflective squares on the sides of train cars.  I didn't realize that until every photo had huge bright squares from my flash bouncing off.  I don’t think any of the photos are any good but I'll share them to show how bad they are. 
Night Train to Terror - You cannot stop evil with bullets
Oppressive, stifling heat, bearing down and strangling my vision.  That thing I said about the heat and pain tightening your vision, shrinking your world to just the trail and pedaling home made me it’s bitch today.

It was 94 real degrees and the heat index was 107o!  1-0h my god-7!  That’s Africa Hot!

It took me 56 minutes to get home yet somehow I felt like I was pedaling as hard as I could and really moving.  I guess the world was moving around me.

I don’t know if I can stay here if it’s going to be this hot.
No pictures, no jokes, no nothing today.  F that!