Thursday, January 31, 2013

Flurries In The Forecast

Nope, I didn't ride to work today.

There were snow flurries in the forecast. As I read the Forecast Discussion Page on the National Weather Service site it seemed to me conditions were ripe for a surprise. Since I don't like surprises I decided I would drive.

Early in the afternoon it began to snow.

By mid-afternoon it was trying to look wintry.

Later the temperatures began to tumble and the conditions became perfect for black ice to develop.

I think it caught the street and grounds folk by surprise.

When it was time for me to leave the Courthouse for the evening the snow had stopped, but a flurry of a different kind, a flurry of activity, was underway.

The salt trucks were out and the maintenance people were spreading melt-em stuff on the sidewalks. The wind was picking up and blowing what little snow we received over the streets causing even more glazing.

General Grant watched it all from his place by City Hall.

Me? I walked mindfully off into the sunset.

I don't suspect I will ride tomorrow either. Oh well, it's about time the season gave me a reason to drive.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Streak Ends

Nope, I didn't ride to work today.

The last time I didn't ride to work because of the weather was 14 February 2012. Today was the first time I drove my car to work in nearly a year.

The temperature dropped 7degF just in the time it took me to drive to work. This was pretty much all the sun we saw. I parked in the employee parking lot which means...

I enjoyed a nice five block walk in the rain.

It was 53F/12C when I left for work this morning. It was spitting some snow flakes and 31F/-1C when I got home.

The streak well might have continued if Billie was available. She's still waiting for Mike and me to get our acts together and get her tube and tire changed out. That said, I was concerned with snow possible and with the falling temperatures the road crews might be out with the chemicals today. Unlike Billie, Isabelle isn't sprayed down with Boeshield T-9. The chemicals they spray on the road to keep them free of ice are extremely corrosive. I didn't wish to risk riding Isabelle in such a caustic soup. Also, the wind was supposed to pick up, which it did, gusting up to and over 35kt.

Even though there wasn't any ice or snow on the roads today, it still seemed a pretty good day to drive rather than ride.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

And, It Did

Yes, I rode to work today.

The day was overcast.

During the afternoon I kept checking the National Weather Service radar. I was watching a line of storms slowing moving toward St. Louis. By four o'clock it became obvious the front was going to arrive just as it was time for me to depart work.

And, it did.

Fortunately, it wasn't windy, nor was there much thunder and lightning. I was riding Isabelle, my Kymco People 250S, and with her front and rear disc brakes she is probably a better bike for nights like this. Billie has drum brakes and isn't quite as well balanced as Isabelle.

Tonight was a very good test for my Firstgear pants. The first year I owned them they did well in the rain. Last season they began to leak. I re-waterproofed them according to direction from their customer service people. I was hopeful. Alas, they failed. They didn't fail terribly, nonetheless they failed and I had a wet bottom by the time I got home. Oh well, time to move on. Fortunately, the pants I wear when it is cold have so far proved waterproof. 

Tomorrow is looking like a drive day. Things can shift around very quickly here in the Midwest.
  • 66F/19C and overcast for the ride to work.
  • 58F/14C with heavy rain and a thunderstorm or two for the home ride.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Yes, I rode to work today.

Isabelle was the ride of the day. Billie still is waiting on an ordered inner tube.

Needless to say with today's temperatures I wasn't the only one riding.  Tomorrow it is supposed to be warm again, but storms are a definite possibility. By Wednesday the temperatures will drop and we may even see some snow.
  • 60F/16C and overcast for the ride to work.
  • 71F/22C with some clouds for the home ride.

Friday, January 25, 2013

It Didn't

Yes, I rode to work today.

And, it didn't rain, snow, or sleet. Although I'd planned for the possibility of some drizzle or rain, I must admit I expected it to play out the way it did. I suspected the forecasters at the National Weather Service were going to be very cautious after the earlier in the week "Oops".

This is the view out the window of the office I work in at the Civil Courthouse,
The only accumulations today were of the melting agent the good folks from building and grounds put down on the sidewalks and steps. It seems they were rather enthusiastic in their application.There were piles of the stuff all over.

I think I need to clear something up. I'm very careful when it comes to ice and snow. I don't believe two wheels and ice go together at all. I know there are some who put studs in their tires and ride year around in places I'd want at least three wheels on the ground. That's not something that interests me. But, with the new chemicals and the strategy employed in recent years of getting ahead of the snow, there are safe riding days now that would have been stay at home days in the past. 

The downside is, all these chemicals are difficult on machinery and in particular scooters and motorcycles. I've coated Billie with Boeshield T-9 to try and protect her. My friend Maggie didn't ride today because of all the caustic stuff on the road. She won't subject her scooter to this abuse. Me? I have made other choices, but I understand hers.

To sum things up: Today began gray, but ended up sunny and warm. It was a great day to ride.

Have a wonderful weekend!
  • 28F/-2C and gray for the ride to work.
  • 41F/5C and a little cloudy for the home ride.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stayed Tuned

Yes, I rode to work today.

There is a possibility of some freezing rain tonight. The trucks were out during the day spraying the roads. By time for me to ride home the chemical had dried leaving an easy to read trail on the road surface. It was very obvious what streets had been treated with chemicals and which ones hadn't. On my way home I spent some time exploring and making sure I had a route planned made up of all treated streets.

After work as I was starting Billie, my Symba, I noticed the sky to the West was filled with some interesting pinkish clouds. A moment later the sky turned orange.

I took the above photo before I left the parking area. By the time the sunset turned dramatic I was on the road and couldn't stop. Luckily my friend Ashly sent me a photo she took and is letting me post it here.

Heather, too, sent me a photo she took looking out her office windows.

Yes, there are a lot of churches in St. Louis.

Today was a dry day, but tonight it appears there may be some freezing drizzle. There is a possibility of a light glaze forming on untreated surfaces, hence my scouting out a route with this in mind.

I'm very careful when it comes to ice. If the forecast plays out as suspected because of the treatment on the roads I will probably be able to ride. Billie is sprayed down with Boeshield T-9 to give her some protection from the spray and salt. With an expected high tomorrow of 46F, the ride home should be as delightful as the morning ride could be dismal. Stay tuned.
  • 16F/-9C and mostly cloudy for the ride to work.
  • 25F/-4 and just the right amount of clouds to make an awesome sunset for the home ride.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Clear and Dry

Yes, I rode to work today.

The roads were clear and dry.

And, it was a little warmer for the ride in than I'd expected.

At lunch I watched some workers tearing down the big Christmas Tree in Kiener Plaza.

I didn't know the the tree was made up of a bunch of smaller trees. I'd thought it was just one big tree.

Also, during lunchtime I noticed the scaffolding is down from around the Old Courthouse.

I still haven't visited this landmark. Who knows, maybe I'll get around to it this summer.

As I was leaving work the moon was hanging in the eastern sky.

But, you can tell from the light the days are definitely getting longer.
  • 17F/-8C with a few clouds for the ride to work.
  • 38F/3C with even fewer clouds for the home ride.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Drier Than A Dead Christmas Tree...

Yes, I rode to work today.

When I check the National Weather Service forecast I frequently look at the Forecast Discussion page in addition to the main forecast page. I do this especially if there is any chance of a weather event. Today there was a chance of snow flurries, but no accumulation was listed on the main page. Immediately I went to the Forecast Discussion to see what was going on. Here's the phrase that stuck with me:

"Lower levels are drier than a dead Christmas tree in the middle of any precipitation that hits the ground should be very light and unlikely to accumulate."

You can imagine my surprise when I went out for lunch and discovered...


Apparently there was more moisture in the "Lower levels" than was thought.

When it was all said and done I suspect we may have gotten a half inch of snow on the ground.

The roads were clear for the ride home. I rode for quite a while with someone riding a Ruckus. Obviously I wasn't the only one who rode today. I didn't come up next to him at any of our common stops. It just didn't seem to be the sort of day to start a conversation.

None of the roads were snow covered until I made it to the side street I live on...

And even this street wasn't bad, it was just a little more interesting to ride on than the others.
  • 14F/-10C and a little cloudy for the ride to work.
  • 17F/-8C and overcast for the home ride.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Different Choices

Yes, I rode to work today.

And, after work I managed to ride sixty or so miles.  Friday is usually a night for making music, sharing ceremony, and hoping for peace with my friends at Neve Shalom. Tonight I did manage to get to Neve, but since I was on Isabelle I didn't have my instruments. Still it was good.

Yes,  you read correctly, I rode Isabelle today. I had some bank business to take care of. It was important for me to get there before the bank closed. It was Isabelle or the car. This wasn't a very difficult decision. If this had been before Isabelle the choice would have been the car. Someone asked me if I was finding myself riding Billie less now that I have the Kymco. The answer is yes, and it is no. I still ride Billie to work nearly everyday, but the weekends usually belong to Isabelle. What is happening is, much like this evening, more often I'm choosing to take Isabelle rather than the car.

It was a beautiful night to ride. Isabelle really lights up the night. Her highlights seem as bright as the headlights on my Toyota Yaris. A very nice change from Billie. Billie's lights are rather anemic.

For me it is a three day weekend. The Courts are closed in observance of Martin Luther King Day. Heather doesn't have the day off. We know what that means. I'll be taking her to lunch.

Have a great weekend whether it be two days or three.
  • 30F/-1C and clear for the ride to work.
  • 53F/12C with a few clouds when I left the Courthouse.
  • 45F/7C and clear when I arrived home.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It Is In My DNA

Yes, I rode to work today.

After work I took the Symba over to Mike's for an oil change and a mid-winter once over. It was good to catch up and talk bikes with Mike for a while. Actually, he does most of the talking and I listen...and I learn. One thing I've learned is Mike views me as a rarity. As he puts it, "You take care of your stuff." I can't imagine having something and not taking care of it. Both my Grandpa and my Dad were big on preventive maintenance. I guess it is in my DNA.

Today I got an email notice announcing Aerostich's January Sale. One of the items on sale is a WINDSTOPPER jersy. I ordered it. I have been wearing something similar to it, which I pulled out of my inline skating kit. This will be nicer and more versatile. And, it will allow me to put my pullover back with my skating gear.

When I pulled up the link to show Heather what I had ordered she said, "Wow, Aerostich. So, you're going for the high end stuff now?" I reminded her it was on sale. This will be the second Aerostich product I own. I also own the Aerostich Triple Digit Rain Glove. I've been very happy with them.

Today I saw some starlings, but still no robins. The prediction for tomorrow is for even warmer temperatures than today. Actually, it is supposed to be warm all through the weekend. I'm interested to see if the warm temperatures brings out the birds again.
  • 31F/-1C with a few clouds for the ride to work.
  • 37F/3C and clear for the ride over to Mike's
  • 33F/1C and still clear for the home ride.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Was Mistaken

Yes, I rode to work today.

And, I thought I saw a bird.

But on closer examination...

It turned out I was mistaken.

It warmed up considerable today.

But, one could still find ice in Citygarden.
  • 21F/-6C with a few clouds for the ride to work.
  • 40F/4C and partly cloudy for the home ride.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Yes, I rode to work today.

And, this morning those who had cars parked on the street overnight woke to find frost on their windshields.

And, this morning I had the opportunity to wonder why some people think they have the power to see through windshields completely covered with frost. 

That's just plain dumb. 

Or why others clear a spot the size of a baseball in the frost on their windshields and seem to think that's good enough. 

That's almost as dumb. 

And, finally what about those who spray their windshield with their washers thinking their regular old washer fluid is going to do something other than make it worse. 

Also, dumb.

This morning I saw all three of these failed strategies employed with predictable results.

Later in the day I did see another rider,

but I still haven't seen a robin since the weekend.
  • 19F/-7C with a few clouds for the ride to work.
  • 29F/-2C and overcast for the home ride.

Monday, January 14, 2013

There Is Definitely A Line

Yes, I rode to work today.

0700 CST
It was a chilly morning. Last Friday there were bikes and scooters everywhere. Today I didn't see a one. The cold didn't stop the bicyclists, but it seldom does. They are out in all kinds of weather. I've even seen a few souls attempting to ride in the snow. I wonder about the wisdom of such a thing. There is definitely a line between being adventurous and being foolish.

In last Friday's post I mentioned how this area can experience large temperature swings. This had tragic consequences for one family over the weekend. You may have heard about it in the news. A father and two of his sons went for a hike Saturday morning. It was warm Saturday morning, but the forecast was for rain and plunging temperatures. They were caught out on the trail wearing only light weight coats and no raingear. They became lost. In the end, all three died from exposure.

So very sad.

I read the article in our local paper and saw a quote from the father's father-in-law. Talking about the family and how they liked to go camping, hiking, and stuff, he said, "They are very adventurous.” (click here to read the article)

Yes, there is a line between being adventurous and being foolish. Sadly, most often one doesn't know one has crossed the line until it is too late. Here's hoping both you and I have the playfulness and joy to be adventurous, while being wise enough to know where the line is.
  • 18F/-8C and clear for the ride to work.
  • 24F/-4C with a few clouds for the home ride.

Friday, January 11, 2013

How Now Goes The Seasons

Yes, I rode to work today.

This was yesterday:

This was today:

And, tomorrow night there could be snow.

A friend commented today that St. Louis is the only place she has ever lived where she has had her air-conditioner and heat on in the same day.

It was Autumn yesterday, Spring today, and by Sunday it is supposed to be Winter. Oh well, I guess this is now how goes the seasons.
  • 51F/10C with a few clouds hanging around from yesterday for the ride to work.
  • 61F/16C and mostly clear for the home ride.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

And, It Rained

Yes, I rode to work today.

And, it rained.

It rained all day.

I've always loved rainy days and still do. But, now rainy days are becoming an opportunity for these bones to remind me how wonderfully hard we've played throughout this life.
  • 45F/7C with a light rain for the ride to work.
  • 49F/9C with a pretty steady rain all the way home.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Whole Point

Yes, I rode to work today.

And, for the second day in a row I forgot my camera.

I saw the thinnest sliver of a moon hanging in the sky when I came out of the cafe this morning. It was beautiful. I tried to capture it with the camera in my phone, but it wasn't to be. Perhaps it was for the best. I suspect it is good to be reminded of how fleeting, once and for all, and creatures of memory most beautiful moments are.


I'm convinced beauty is the heart, the center of all-that-is. Beauty is everywhere, yet it must be sought to be seen clearly. Riding is one of the things I do to seek it out.

After work I saw a young man pushing his unicycle as he walked. I was waiting at a long stoplight. If my XP had been hanging around my neck as it does most days I'd have had a wonderfully whimsical shot. 

Whimsy, too, dwells close by the heart of all-that-is. As I sat there waiting and waiting and waiting for the light to change, while watching and watching and watching the young man stroll across the street in front of me, I heard the faint laughter of all-that-is. I suspect I could have only imagined it. And, what if I did? Perhaps that was the whole point.
  • 40F/4C with some clouds for the ride to work.
  • 50F/10C and becoming overcast for the home ride.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I'm Noticing

Yes, I rode to work today.

And, I'm noticing there are sunrises again on my way to work. Yes, little by little, the days are getting longer. Once upon a time I wouldn't have noticed.
  • 30F/-1C with a few clouds for the ride to work.
  • 49F/9C with a few more clouds for the home ride.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Lot

Yes, I rode to work today.

And, today I was in the best mood I've been in for ages. I would really hate to think it was because yesterday was the official end of the Christmas/New Year festivities. I do suppose it could be a coincidence.

Or, then again it could have been the milestone Billie reached this morning. This photo was taken just after I parked her in her usual spot at work and shortly after I had turned off the key. I have no idea how Symba miles compare to official miles, but I do know that 20,000 of them represents a lot of saddle time and a lot of good memories.

Also, it is beginning a warm up again.

Oh well, it doesn't seem right to be so warm in January, but it is what it is.
  • 25F/-4C and crystal clear for the ride to work.
  • 39F/4C with some clouds for the home ride.

Friday, January 4, 2013

It Stirs Something In Me

Yes, I rode to work today.

I didn't mention the big water main break I encountered last evening. It was a block from home and made for an interesting urban water crossing.

They worked on it all night, sometimes very loudly. I must say I have spent many a more restful night.

They were still working on it this morning when I left the condo to head for the cafe. I took the long away around and missed a repeat of riding through the water.

It turned into a very pleasant day. It got all the way up to 41F/5C this afternoon with plenty of sunshine.

After work one of the judges was walking my way. As we walked we talked and she asked me if it wasn't a little cold to still be riding. Heaven knows I get asked this question all the time, but she seemed to ask it from a place of complete curiosity and simplicity. I must admit, usually when I'm asked this question I give a flippant or curt answer, but the way she asked the question deserved better. I told her there were a couple of ways I could answer her question. One answer might have to do with growing up in Michigan and still having trouble viewing 40F/5C as cold. The problem with that answer is I know lots of people who grew up in Michigan who view 40F/5C as plenty cold. Probably the best and I hope the most honest answer is I just like riding in the cold. I don't think I do it to prove anything. I know I don't do it to show how tough I am. That said, there is something very satisfying about getting to work knowing I've made the correct gear choices and have a bike prepared to handle the cold. I find great enjoyment in getting home on a cold night, taking off the helmet, turning into the wind and simply smelling the air. When it is real cold the air seems so clean. It is a beautiful thing. It stirs something in me. I can't name it, but I love it.
  • 25F/-4C with a few clouds for the ride to work.
  • 38F/3C and fair for the home ride.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fools Me

Yes, I rode to work today.

It was quite a bit warmer today than it was yesterday. The winds were light and there was abundant sunshine which always makes it feel warmer. Being a native Michigander the sun here this time of year always fools me. In Michigan the sun could disappear in December and not make another appearance until March. When the sun shines like it did today it still surprises me when I come out to near darkness after work. It just seems when I look out at 4pm with all that sunshine it ought to be Spring, but come Spring I won't be riding home in the dark.

Tonight was get gasoline night. My morning commute is a little over ten miles. The evening commute is rather variable. Supposedly the tank on the Symba is approximately one US gallon, but I've never been able to fit more than .78 gal. into the tank. Most commonly these factors mean a trip to the gas station every third commute.

Tonight a man I didn't recognize came over to me and said, "I think you know my wife?" I didn't say anything, but I guess I looked puzzled. He added, "You used to work with her, her name is Barb." Well, of course, I knew his wife. She bought him a Fatboy for Christmas a couple of Christmases ago. He continued, "She told me you've been riding," and he shook his head. I told him I'd checked last years calendar and I'd ridden to work all but three days during the whole calendar year. He was envious when I told him how many miles to a gallon I get. He told me he didn't like the cold, nor did he like to ride after dark, "Too, many crazies. They just don't see you, at least when I do ride they can hear my pipes." I responded by saying I thought wearing a white helmet was really important, not only because of it's visibility, but because people tend to notice things which are possible threats. He cocked his head like he wasn't following me.

"Who traditionally wears white helmets?" I asked. I could see the light bulb go off in his brain.

"Police," he said and laughed, "I never thought about that."
  • 21F/-6C and a few clouds for the ride to work.
  • 35F/2C and balmy for the ride home.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Rather Brisk

Yes, I rode to work today.

It was rather brisk this morning. I was grateful for the calm winds. Although I'm usually nice and toasty in my gear, wind chills when it is this cold are very difficult on my co-workers.

I hadn't realized I'd forgotten my camera until I went to take my customary first photo of the week. Oh well, I was running a little late anyway.

It warmed up quite a bit by the afternoon and the winds remained light. A nice commute to begin the New Year.
  • 15F/-9C with some clouds and calm winds for the ride to work.
  • 30F/-1C and little more cloudy for the home ride.