Sunday, May 20, 2018

Rolling Again and Rolling Thunder

Target Field, Minneapolis, MN.  Along the sea of broken glass I had to stop and take this photo.  Plaque: Kent Hrbek. Minnesota Twins. 1981 - 1994. Kent Hrbek to his wife Jeanie Hrbek, before the start of the 1987 playoffs. "I don't want to win the World Series for me, but for all of the fans of Twins baseball."

As expected, once I stopped taking the poison, Lipitor, and that venom left my body I would be walking and rolling again.  To bring you up to speed, Friday May 4th, I could not walk because the cholesterol prescribed to me by my primary care physician decided it would rather destroy my left leg muscles and knee joint rather than eliminating bad cholesterol and triglycerides in my veins.  Monday the 7th I rode a bike again after two days off.  Then after returning home from KC and Minneapolis I rode every day to work.  By Friday I was almost to total health with only the occasional glitch in the knee.  But the 7th was the big test.

We found ourselves in Minneapolis to see a rock concert.  I had a big fantasy about exploring the trail system so we took two bikes with us.  Because we drive a Taurus we had to remove the front wheels from the bikes to fit both into the rear passenger compartment.  Bicycles are safer inside vehicles than outside of them during transport.  I took my Verenti Substance "adventure" bike for two reasons.  First, it had flat platform pedals on it and since I was barely able to walk let alone ride a bike I did not desire to stress my knee out any more than necessary by having to clip in and out of a SPD pedal.  Second, the concert we were going to see, Peter hook & The Light, was going to be a performance of Hooky playing both the New Order Substance and the Joy Division Substance albums.  Substance being the name of those lps that featured all their 12" singles up to 1987.  Seemed only fitting that I bring the third Substance.  Coincidentally, the Verenti was purchased from England the home of Joy Division/New Order and Peter Hook.

So I rode home from work, barely, crawled into a vodka and club soda and did not ride a bicycle until Monday.  That first trip was from the front door to the car.   I had to see if I could pedal.  I could although that first pedal stroke HURT but it got better.  Then after driving to Minneapolis and checking into the hotel and changing our clothes for the ride I made Mary look the other way while I did that painful first pedal stroke in the parking lot.  But it felt better this time.  So with that out of the way I did probably the stupidest thing a person in my condition could do.  I rode on the streets of a major US city.  Bike lanes and not I was hitting the streets in less than 100% riding condition.  But I am stubborn and tend to deal with the limits hoping my guardian angel is there to rescue me.

Downtown Minneapolis.  A mix of one way streets, bike lanes both protected and unprotected, traffic, giant buses, potholes and broken glass.  After using the Google I discovered that Minneapolis is a Lakota word for "arseholes break glass bottles here."  To be honest, most of the broken glass was near the curb and on the sidewalks and the further we were from downtown the worse it was.  But we saw a lot of bicycles parked at businesses and cyclists in the streets.  This is bicycle commuter friendly city.  Lots of single speeds.  A few bikes with panniers.

As for the bike lanes, they were everywhere we needed them.  We started at the Best Western Plus Normandy Inn & Suites on S 8th.  Nice place.  Great to be able to park the car and leaving it in their lot.  Our first mission was to ride to First Avenue to see the venue for tonight's gig.  Definitely within walking distance.  And we discovered that the Target Center was basically across the street from First Ave.  So if there is concert there, Normandy Inn will be the place we will stay.

Hooky performed both Substance albums.  I rode the Substance.

After the obligatory photo session at one of the nation's best rock & roll venues we consulted Google Maps and picked a route to intercept a bicycle trail that would take us to the trail that goes around one of the lakes.  Way back over a decade ago I was up here for business and took my Trek 520 and rode around a lake or two.  Nice trail system.  Segregated lanes for bicycles and pedestrians.  I wish we had these in Des Moines.  But back them I started from south of downtown and it was easier to get to the trail.  We did stop at Target Field home of the Twins.  Eventually we got to the trail but only had time to ride around one lake.  The trail was a mix of people kitted out on road bikes, like Mary, and commuters and everyday bicyclists.  I wish we had those in Des Moines.

We knew this was going to happen.  Eventually we passed this bus and got on a protected bicycle lane.

After the lake more street action.  Issue with the buses.  Guess what pulls into the bike lane to pick up passengers?  I was never so relieved to find a protected bike lane.  Not overly visually busy like the protected lane on E Grand Ave in Des Moines.  Just enough bollard for cars to get the clue.  Upon returning to our hotel I noticed a brew pub across the street.  Damn, barely enough time to shower, change, grab a bite and get to the venue.  Of course it was closed after we got back but the hotel bar was still open.

As far I was physically, some soreness to the left leg and knee but no issues riding.  Walking in KC and Minneapolis and standing in front of Peter Hook & The Light helped remove the poison and damage from my leg and knee.  I am back.

Final note on Minneapolis.  They have a bicycle share program. We saw these kiosks/docking stations in quite a few places even near a residential neighborhood.

After returning home I rode to work for the rest of the week and the next week.  Rain on the weekend literally dampened any riding plans.  And lawn mowing and tilling the garden.  At least I could do that.  Both activities require functioning legs and knees.

Finally today, the 19th I was able to ride on a Saturday but once again that ride had an early ending due to rain.  What should have been a 40+ mile ride ended up a 14 miler.  I was on my best road bike.  The previous time on this bicycle I was in top shape when Mary and I rode with team Kum & Go to the High Trestle.  I was in great shape.  Then everything went south.  But today I rode strong.  The departure for the ride was delayed by my desire to finish mowing the back yard as it was getting out of control again.  And half way into the ride, 7 miles, we stopped to eat at a Mexican restaurant, La Feria just off the 4 Mile Creek Trail in the Copper Creek area.  Three other cyclists were there as well, two in Ragbrai jerseys.  When we went to pay they were finished too.  A large obese man man asked if there was a bicycle race somewhere near.  No, our fellow travelers replied, just out on a ride.  Then I chimed in, "when we drive cars we wear NASCAR outfits."  It was very warm and humid when we rode there.  Jerseys and bike shorts were needed for long rides.

After our meal when Mary went to the restroom I checked the radar.  Damn, something red was brewing south of town.  The temperature had dropped 10 degrees since we stopped.  Time to haul ass home!  The sky was dark and we made good time.  Two men on road bike passed us so we added more coal to the fire and caught them.  They too turned right on Scott Ave and headed to downtown DSM.  Raised our average speed by 2 mph as well.  As I reached for the door handle of our house I heard the thunder.  In the nick of time.  Just enough time to get the bicycles put away, the extension cord for the tiller inside and put away my single speed commuter before the first drop.

Glad to declare myself fit for riding and long rides.  Now if the weather would cooperate I'd be pleased.  This will be lowest mileage year in a decade unless I dedicate every non working moment to riding.  Nah, I've a life.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Did Statins Kill My Mother....

Cue Elegia....

Bear with me for a bit and read about my experiences.

April 2018

I am capable of riding centuries.  I am able to run.  Stairs, hell yes, I'm a pro.  I even climbed stairs with friends training for mountain hiking and the Fight For Air fundraiser just so I could talk to friends about my Ragbrai plan.  17 stories, Basement Level 3 to the roof three times talking the entire time.  My bicycle commute was a 27 mile round trip Monday through Friday.  Legs and knees perfect!  More importantly, my heart and lungs were great.  My latest EKG was good and the ticker sounded good.

The House of Pain.  but good pain.  Basement Level 3 to the roof.  When we trained for self contained backpacking adventure in the Rookies, 10 days, we did this once a week 6 sets and sometimes with 50 lbs in our backpacks.  I know real pain from training versus pain from bad medicine.

Then I got a new primary care physician.  Straight to hell.  My triglycerides were high (beer and non-vegan diet).  I had been on a low dose of fenofibrate for about a month then had it bumped up.  This was prescribed by my cardiologist.  The new doctor, despite a modest improvement in certain numbers, wanted to end the issue once and for all.  He suggested that I go on a statin.

St Michael, The Arch Angel, casting the rebel angels into the Abyss.  This is what statins do to me. From the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

How I feel when my leg and knees die from statins summed up in artwork.

My reply was simply.  Crestor had me walking like a 112 year old person.  Tried them and did not like them.  Two years ago I went on it.  Improved my cholesterol and trig numbers but after a few months I noticed that my leg muscles were sore.  And this soreness got worse.  A little research into that statin revealed that I was suffering from a side effect.  So I stopped.  Then about a month before my next check up I started it up again to keep the doctor off my ass.  The pain was worse.  Felt like the muscle was being stripped from the bone.  Could not cross one of my legs to put on socks and shoes.  I was walking very slow.  No running.  The first few moments of pedaling a bicycle were painful.  So I stopped it.

When I told the doctor about this I was put on a different cholesterol medicine, fenofibrate,  I suffered no ill effects.  But the dose was low and the progress was not as good as the statin.  Yeah, change diet.....

Well my new doctor did not like that.  "People on statins have fewer heart attacks than those who are not on them..."  He suggested Lipitor.  "I have a patient who was on one statin and suffered what you described so I switched brands and he did not have any issues."  OK, fooker, I'll try but if I react bad to it, no more.  I was good for about two weeks.

My son graduated from college.  We went to the ceremony at Wells Fargo Event Center.  We traversed the steep stairs up and down.  The next morning I woke up and asked Mary if her legs hurt.  Felt like I did a lot of stairs.  She said her legs were fine.  Odd.  Rode the bike to work and I pushed it a bit to stretch them out.  As the day progressed my legs hurt more and more.  Fook me, I'm limping.  When I left I took the stairs down to street level.  CRAP!!!  My left knee could barely bend!  Then it hit me.  The goddamn statin!  I stopped taking it.  

I only had two, one shot each.

Friday I limped all day.  Took the elevator to go home.  I could barely ride the bicycle home.  In my head I went through the list of people to call for a ride home.  But I made it.  Poured myself a cucumber vodka and club soda and sat down and wondered how long it will take this poison to leave my body.  I had a four day weekend so I had time.  But a busy weekend.  Had to drive to Kansas City to take my daughter, Dora, and her friend, Alexis, to see Post Malone.  Monday Mary and I were to drive to Minneapolis to see Peter Hook (Joy Division/New Order) & The Light at First Avenue.  We were planning to take bicycles along to explore the trails, something I have not done in a decade or so.  Basically, plenty of sitting on my ass time while driving.  I would recover.  But Friday night I could not sleep.  I could not find a position on the bed that did not make my left leg hurt.  Eventually I moved to the couch.  I considered staying home instead going to Kansas City but that would be worse because I would worry about Mary and Dora and Alexis the entire time.  I finally took 3 Aleve at 3 am and moved back to bed.

Getting in and out of the car was difficult.  And walking the first few minutes was embarrassing and painful until I warmed up.  But walking was good.  The more I walked the more the poison left my leg.  But if I sat down for a bit of time or drove somewhere the leg would stiffen up again.  The knee especially.  Cycle returns....At the art museum we encountered an elderly woman donned in spandex.  "I'm 93 y/o and look great!" she exclaimed and ran off.  F me, I can barely walk and she is almost running!  Then Mary made a comment.  "Your mother walked the same way.  She always complained about her knees.  She could not bend her knees or lift her legs either.  The doctors could not find a problem.  She was on a statin, too."

WOW!  What an observation!  A little about my mother.  Short and round.  Morbidly obese.  Couch potato.  Little to no physical activity in her final years or for most of her life except the demands of being a teacher and a parent.  Could not walk in her final years.  Had a PT that was able to get her to walk from the couch to her bedroom but when the insurance $$ for that service ran out of its alloted time she gave up.  I always thought that if she put a little more effort in moving around, i.e. walking, that she would recover and still be alive today.  I blamed it on attitude and depression, which did play a role, but it never occurred to me that it may have been her meds until Mary made that comment.


A wonder drug in many respects.  They clean out your pipes quite well.  Most people are placed on them for the rest of their lives.  However, dark side does exist.  They have been know to mess with brains and now muscles and joints. 

More info on statins

Crestor is bad side effects

Lipitor is bad side effects

Muscle Destruction info


I was able to ride a bicycle on Monday.  lots of riding in the streets of a large city, too!

Despite the way I am portrayed in social media, I do not drink that much.  Now even less.  Maybe a drink a day average for a week.  Special occasions, say the Funhaters Ride, a little more, ok a lot more.  Red meat is going bye bye.  Chicken skin, the best tasting part of that bird, no mas.  Over the years I have increased my fruit and vegetable and fiber intake.  I do not know how to increase my exercise over what I do now.  40,000 miles ridden in the past 4 years.....  I've dropped a few pounds lately.  Basically cut out fast food years ago with maybe a visit to Taco Bell once every 6 months.  Pizza and carbs have been slashed lately.  Driving Mary and Dora nuts with changes.  I must accept that my body does not process poison and garbage like it once did.  I do not have the strength or desire to become a vegan or vegetarian or the financial resources.  I know plenty of overweight V's anyway.  Carbs are easy to kick out thankfully.

I was able to get up front during Hooky's gig at First Avenue.  We walked to that show and for 3 hours I enjoyed myself and did not feel any pain.  Rock and roll heals!

I called the doctor the next day.  It was the day of the tornadoes.  They called me back the next week when I was in Minneapolis and I did not check voicemail until Friday.  However, Mercy has a personal health web page for patients and I was notified of the change in meds.  Back on fenofibrate instead of Lipitor.  They got the message.  I hope they read the survey that was sent to me asking me to rate my visit.

A week or so later I am almost pain free.  I can walk without a limp.  I can climb stairs.  I was able to explore Minneapolis on bicycle without much difficulty, always that first pedal stroke that's the killer.  Today I feel I could ride a century if it was not raining.  Maybe next weekend.

As for my mother, I do not know how she lived as long as she did.  But now in the back in my mind I wonder if statins sped up her demise.  We are like sharks.  When we stop moving we die.  RIP Mary Ellen.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Final Ride For the Red Vittorias

The mighty Vittoria Rubino Slick.  Only one flat ever for me since I put them on in June of 2015.  The lack of rubber over those threads was not the cause of the flat tire. This tire retailed for $45 USD in Des Moines.  2708 miles hauling my fat arse.  I got more than my money's worth and I am not revealing that I paid much much less than retail for this tire.  But you would have too for the price I got it for.

After 2708 miles the Vittoria tires had their first flat.  And last one for that matter as they will swapped out before tomorrow's ride for the new pair I purchased last year.  I went another season waiting for that moment when I knew it was time.  Fortunately, I was a mere 9 miles away from home and had a pump, spare tube and 2 levers for just this sort of occasion.

We were on on fast bikes heading east on highway 5 heading to Indianola.  Just a mile outside Avon Lake and passing the on and off ramps for the bypass when it happened.  The ride got rough.  No noise or explosion, just a rough ride that tells one that the tube is out of air and the rim is riding on the tire only.  A quick glance down confirmed the suspicion.  Crap!  At least I had enough speed to finish crossing the last ramp and coax the bicycle to the shoulder away from traffic to amend the situation.

Look for a safe spot.  Up shift to smallest rear cog.  Stop on shoulder.  Move the brake's quick release lever to the top.  Flip bike upside down.  Remove wheel.  Run fingers over tire and visually look for the trouble maker.   Use two levers (tight tire as it is a 700x23) to remove one side of the tire.  Remove tube.  Run thumb through the inside of the tire to find the trouble maker.  Install new tube.  2 minutes of pumping.  Place wheel back on bicycle.  Forget to lower the brake's quickly release to the normal position.  Abort ride to Indianola and ride back home.

The Trouble Maker!  Blaming a pothole or rough road spot.

Yeah.  Abort.  The flat gave me an opportunity to examine the tire.  Threads were showing.  Not a time to go further.  Just get home.  New tires have been on the work stand for 11 months.  That was the last tube.  Not sure if I had patches on me.  Better safe than sorry.  About 2 miles into the return trip I recalled that I did not put the brake quick release back to normal.  Just as well I thought.  saves me a step when I take the wheel off to replace the tire at home.

Of course we detoured to Fareway and Graziano's on the way home.  Needed fixings for lunch and dinner.  The tire held.

Not a bad ride, BTW.  It was great.  I was strong and fast.  Climbed well.  Scored a GeoCouch.  Got home without further incident.  Tomorrow I will ride this bike again albeit with fresh new tires!

Nothing on TV anyway!

1 mile before the flat I scored this GeoCouch just east of the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative on the outskirts of Des Moines.  Yes, Iowa is a great place to study apes in their natural environment!  Despite this wasteland of debris I climbed a steep hill and descended at speed the other side and then rode on a highway for about a half mile before the tire suddenly went flat.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

I Forgot To Wear The Uniform

Yesterday was the annual Fun Haters Ride that is very popular with the people I like to ride with.  Mary and I caught up with our "team" and many friends and some people that we have not seen or communicated with in decades.  Since this was a party ride we did not dress up for a 30 or 60 or greater mile ride.  We wore what we put on in the morning.

Our first stop was a mere mile form our home.  Dora had us meet her and her friend at Truman's the new Full Court Press KC themed establishment next door to Mad Meatball in the former location of Margarita's Mexican Restaurant (RIP).  After a hearty lunch of buffalo wings, burgers and pizza we rolled north to the Triangle Tap about 5 or 6 miles north of our location.  There we caught DJ Chop Shop's set of mostly 80's tracks and the start of the ride.  The place was crowded!  Good times.

However, the same question kept coming up.  "Did you bike here, those are not bicycling clothes?'  Most of the people asking are what known as baggers whom ride loaded touring bicycles with coolers full of beer and rarely wear cycling jerseys.  Hi-viz yellow seemed to be the color of the day it seemed but that color stands out.  Other than that the dress code is lax in terms of cycling.  Well, black leggings or tights are the standard.  Mary and wore blue jeans.  I wore a hoodie.  Since the bike I rode had flat pedals I wore sneakers instead of cycling shoes.

Yeah, I rode.  14 miles.  No need to dress like it was the TdF.

Not Mary.  this is Ray, an friend from college that I have not seen for decades.  But this is how I dressed to ride a single speed for 14 miles.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

New Commute

My bike's new day care!  Mary photo bombing with her pink Windsor.

Change is the only constant in the universe.  In the corporate world it is even more true.  In the bicycle commuter world it is the truest of truths.  10 years ago it was two miles each.  A few years later it changed to six miles each way.  And then a February 5 years ago it changed in to 12 miles at its absolute minimum.  I expanded this to 15 miles each way during good weather (spring and summer).  This week brought the latest change.  Perhaps a completion of a circle or orbit.  2 miles each way.

When the corporate powers that be announced that this was going to happen I was ready.  A bit disappointed that this did not occur back in early December but glad that this was happening.  It was a long winter and with Spring not coming on stage for nearly half of its allotted time the move came as a relief.  When asked what my thoughts were I said that I was looking forward to sleeping in an extra hour.

Honestly, I have been keeping an eye for such an opportunity.  I needed to work closer to home.  Nothing left to prove.  Checking the spreadsheet for the Icy biking Winter Commuter Challenge, I have been averaging over 3000 miles riding to and fro work from October to the end of March for the past 4 or 5 years.  Those were the bad weather months.  3000 miles just commuting,  Lately it has been about 2.5 hours per day Monday through Friday.  Then add in the April through September, the good weather months, and 6000+ miles per year just commuting back and forth from work.  A good run it was.  I had back to back 10,000+ mile years and then back to back 9000+ mile years.  Only handful of times were truly awful.  Nothing left to prove.  Who knows, the commute may change in the future.

This winter was the worst.  It started out extremely cold.  -17*F or -27*C or 245.95 Kelvin.  Since we did not drive over NYE weekend the car would not start.  My NiteRider light battery would quit very early in the ride.  I was forced to take the bus for the first time ever and that cost me a half an hour at work.  Other days were too windy.  Fighting the 20+ mph northwest headwind to work lost its appeal quickly.  And then the snow,  If it snowed on the weekend the trails would not get cleared in a timely manner but no one told the trail users and by the time it was time to use them for work the surface would be cratered and rutted from footprints and tire tracks.  The day of freezing rain had me take the bus home from work.  And all this left me with a January and February that I'd only be able to bicycle to work two days a week.  March was a good month.

And then the phone call.  My old boss.  "Have you heard the rumors of you transferring back downtown?  They are true."  Out of the blue!  Of course, winter had to be almost over since this call was in late March.  It took almost a month.  I drove everyday my last week.  Office needed clearing out.  No more desire.  So good bye love, you were not real.

2 miles now.  The alarm was changed.  1 extra hour of sleep.  Coffee can be brewed at home if I want to use my own beans.  There was a concern that the dog would try to get me out of bed before the new alarm went off but Fritz adjusted.  Mary and I did a recon ride to the new place.  Lots of changes since I last worked there.  She normally takes 10th up but when passing 8th she made a comment.  But I thought it would be busy with all the Southsiders coming down the viaduct.  Found the new bike racks underneath a roof.  There is even a fixtation for quick adjustments and repairs.   Plenty of room for early bastards like me.  Other racks were spotted but I like my bike parked in a dry spot and out of street view. Took a different route home.  4 miles or so.

2 miles.  Guess what another benefit of a 2 mile bicycle commute is?  One can ride to work in the same clothing that they work in.  This is a time saver.  There are lockers and showers.  I put a lock on one locker but have very little desire to take a shower there.  Like Mary I just pulled a pair of winter warmth pants over my slacks for the cold rides to work this week.  By the end of the week that was no longer necessary.

2 miles.  Lights are another benefit.  They no longer need to be plugged in for recharge every night.  My ride time is now less than 16 minutes to work in the dark.  Used to be anywhere from an hour to an hours and a half.  One week of the new commute has the morning run time of the morning trip of the old commute.

2 miles.  I get home earlier.  I gained an hour of sleep and an hour of play.  Winning!

Downsides, there are a few.  I must stop eating unless I get home and change bikes and go for a long ride.  Or join a gym which I have no desire to do.  My caloric requirements have lowered quite a bit.  Gotta eat myself fitter.  Also Happy Hour.  I am out of work TOO EARLY for my favorite Happy Hour spots.

Mileage is the biggest loser.  My 5 am math is telling me that I will be losing over 5000 miles per year with the new commute,  I plan on adding a longer loop once I get settled.  Back when I used to work there I would ride with Mary to Urbandale and then to work.  Maybe a 10 mile loop.  She now works just a few blocks away.  We could ride together and probably will but I seem to be out the door first.  For now I will just enjoy my new found freedom.

Stablemates.  So far I've encountered 5 other bikes at my new "bike day care" err bike rack.  Cool to see that there were at least 3 or 4 single speeds there.  One fatbike and a fat e-bike.  In the uncovered bike racks there were a few touring rigs.  One bike had a milk crate attached to the rear rack.  Panniers most have.  As for me, I rode the single speed from the photo 4 times and the Red Phoenix once when it was going to be a day of snow, sleet, freezing rain ect.  Currently, I am rebuilding my Trek Soho as a single speed (I hate its Nexus internal 7 speed hub) and start commuting that so the Gravity, the purple bike from the photo, can be serviced.  It needs a new headset and most likely a new BB.  IIRC it has over 10K on its clock.  A great commuter that taken a lot of abuse.

One last thing.  8th Street.  Do not take this after 530 am.  Lots of vehicles heading north.  A lot of 20 year old Ford Explorers and other assorted POS.  Not good for cyclists.  I've taken a different route each day and probably will not settle on one for a few weeks.  I do like taking the Principal River Walk, despite endless construction, most of the north and southbound part of the trip.  I have to hop the curb, a low curb, on 2nd to take Watson Powell Jr Way straight onto the campus or back onto the river walk area.  Less traffic lights.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Everyday People

Spring is always a wonderful day to be a bicycle commuter especially if one commutes by bicycle all winter long.  Finally the commute comes back to life.  No more dressing like an astronaut, tired and abused winter bike is given a much deserved rest and a faster good weather bike is chosen, the birds return and fill the air with their song and there is more daylight.  Although 2018 appears to have stalled the advent of Spring things are improving.  And more people are out.  Of course more people on bicycles.  From Stravacons to families with children on bicycles and pedestrians and dogwalkers.  And many of my friends.  Also more people walking the trails.  Here are a few of the interesting "everyday people" I encountered this week.

Ghost Faced Killer

Not on the trail but on the bus Wednesday morning because I did not feel like battling a 20 mph headwind tor 12+ miles just to get to work.  I forget what stop he got on the bus but it was an early one.  He sat in front of  me in the seat up front that faces the center aisle of the bus.  He was smiling.  But then he started moving his hands in front of his face and having a conversation with people we could not see.  This reminded me of my friend's son who is autistic and often waves his hands in front of his eyes for visual stimulation.  But this guy was having a conversation.  Was he talking to ghosts or invisible people?  He would laugh on occasion and the longer he was there the animated he became.  Perhaps he was reciting lines from a play, his voice never audible enough to comprehend.  Or preparing for a conversation that was going to occur when he got off the bus.  He never bothered anyone but the closer he got to his stop the more his hands looked like guns.  After he got off there was a collective sigh of relief.  I assumed that everyone on the bus knew him since I recognized most of the people in my field of vision from my January 2nd ride.  Nope.  He was new.  then I suggested that he really was not that different from others that just stare at their phones and electronic devices except that he never needs to plug into an electrical socket.


Jason and Cassandra

I've written about this couple before.  Their home is just off the trail south of the dog park north of the car wash.  If I am at the right time I encounter them walking their two Airedales at 515 am or so.  I've been riding past their home for 5 years now and we always say hello.  Occasionally I stop and we chat.  On other occasions Jason runs or bikes to work downtown and we stop and talk.  Nice guy.  He knows the name of my dog, asks where Mary is since until last November we rode together in the morning along this section of trail.  She now works at Unity Point at Methodist Hospital and no longer has a long commute.  I noticed that they are only walking one dog.  They explained that the female is 11 years old now and is undergoing acupuncture to relieve leg and back pain.  On Thursday Jason was running back from downtown and we stopped near the N Valley Dr intersection on the Walnut Creek Trail.  He inquired about my impending transfer to PFG and said he had a friend that just started there.  At that time I was not sure when the transfer was to take place because it appeared that my boss was delaying this change to ensure a smooth transistion and his boss, who had the idea of moving me, was on vacation.  Just goes to show that if you take the time to be friendly to those that you see on the trail they become your friends.  I will miss seeing them

Park Ranger

Thursday, Water Works Park Bridge.  I caught up with a gentleman riding a Giant hybrid with yellow panniers.  I don't recall what started the conversation.  Perhaps I politely announced my intention to pass.  Hate to say this but he looked sorta homeless.  Scruffy beard, forest green jacket and possibly a tent on the rear rack.  But we started chatting for the next 3 miles.  Ends up he works for the National Parks as a ranger.  Just down in Des Moines because of a girlfriend.  He is from northern Minnesota and considers the weather her balmy.  This summer he will be back up north at a park near the Canadian border. we also discussed bike trails, touring and Ragbrai.  He loves rails-to-trails but never has done Ragbrai.  He would like to.  My turn approached and we exchanged names and I quickly forgot which is not unusual.


Thursday was a fun day.  After leaving work and dropping off my work clothing and the cold weather gear at home I headed off to the store.  First stop was at the Smoke Shack on SE 14th for a rumored vodka sale.  This involved taking the Des Moines River Trail and then sidewalk on SE 14th for a few blocks.  Watch out for the missing chunk of sidewalk.  I was able to score said vodka, UV Peach which goes well with OJ.  After the purchase as I walked outside the store there was a custom forest green Chevy or GMC Denali Tahoe.  The driver who just stepped out was the spitting image of General Colin Powell dressed as a pimp!  I stopped in my tracks for a micro second.  All that missing was a can with a huge fake diamond and a hat with a feather.  Red violet trousers with matching vest.  His jacket must have been inside the SUV.  A woman in shorts exited the passenger side door.  She was wearing a Department of Corrections ankle bracelet on one of her ankles.  I assume they stopped for smokes.

Bridge Beer and New Beer Thursday for UNTAPPD


My kind of people!  I eventually made my way to the new Hy Vee and on the way back I crossed the hump and got onto the Jackson St Bridge.  Two touring bicycles were parked there.  Kelly and Nancy!  What a pleasant surprise!  And I too was packing beer.  A stop was mandatory.  They were talking to a 55 y/o dude on roller blades. but Kelly had to take off to find a restroom so they left not long after I stopped.  So I talked to the skater.  We discussed architecture of DSM and roller blading marathons.  "Yes 26 miles.  Some can complete them in less than two hours.  just like bicycle racing, one goes down and takes out a lot of others."  "That proposed 50 story condo/apartment building for the East Village will cast a huge shadow on the EV.  It also looks like a prison I saw near Chicago.  Who wants to live in a prison structure?  Ruins the character of the EV.  Look at these new buildings across the river on 7th.  They look like turn of the century housing for factory workers or something built in Soviet Russia."  True.  But it was time to roll on.


Every now and then Craig and I randomly cross paths on the trail.  This time as I was going home he was leaving the ballpark, opening day for the Iowa Cubs,  Does not take much to twist each other's arms and say "Hey, let's grab a beer.  Just one."  We went to Extra Innings just south of Mullets and grabbed stools at the bar.  Eventually we text our respective significant others and told them to meet us there.  Mary was probably getting worried that I have not returned from the store.  Mary also honored my request to bring the red flasher I neglected to bring.  I could tell it would be dark before we left.  Always good to see Craig and Kim.  It prolly has been a few weeks.  This winter is lingering on forever and we have not had many opportunities to ride together or hang out as often.

They say it is going to warm up after today's snow.  I hope so.  I truly enjoy when the weather is nice enough to be able to talk to the people I meet on the trail instead of riding alone fighting for survival.  My long commute will end when I reach home on Friday.  5 years.  On the 16th I start working downtown and will have a mere 2 miles to ride each way.  This should give me an opportunity to ride with Mary in the morning and get home with lots of energy and a desire to grab a different bike and head back out on the trail to different locations and see other friends.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Another Ride on the DART

The arm that secures the bicycle via the front wheel cannot get in proper position because the Salsa Anything Cage is in the way.  Front panniers would interfere as well.

Two this week actually.  Wednesday because I had seven quarters and desired extra sleep and coffee over battling the headwind of 20 mph for 12+ miles.  Friday because I had seven quarters and wanted more sleep.  Both times I rode my single speed to DART Central and placed my bike on the rack but rode the bike home from work.

First of all, this is convenient on those days that I have no desire to bike to work.  Also during an ice storm that left trails and sidewalks totally useless I found it an safer way to get home from work.  I am grateful for the service in these situations.  But.....

Do they have to use diesel engines?  Both times this week I felt nauseous during and after my ride for several hours.  I could smell diesel fumes until noon over 5 hours after I got off the bus and rode 2+ miles to complete my commute to work.  That and my susceptibility to motion sickness but the fumes.  I cannot fathom the damage to people who ride the bus everyday for 5 days a week.  Or the drivers.  Poison.

My other issue is with the bicycle racks.  They are easy to use but do not work well with bikes that have front racks.  The arm that secures to the front wheel cannot move past front racks or Salsa Anything cages.  I did not notice this on Wednesday I was distracted by the arm on the rear rack not working, extending, so the driver got out and helped me move the bike to the front rack.  But on Friday I did notice this.  The bike did stay put for both trips but I will obviously take a different bike if I need to take the bus again.  Perhaps an arm that locks to the top tube would be better.

For the immediate future this will be a non-issue for me.  My long commute ends on Friday.  The next bus I am likely to ride will be ones in cities that I visit when I choose to fly to.

Apologies for the crappy photo.  Had just a second to take it and I freaked the driver out.  had to explain that I photograph everything.