Wednesday, April 30, 2008

PTA-Safe Routes To School Recap

This PTA group was, as I expected, the best and well received crowd yet. I engaged them with some of my planned ideas as well as a couple videos that I have posted HERE.

It's going to take a coordinated effort of many people to make this happen and I really feel that the PTA will be fully on board supporting this project. After I left the presentation, they voted to donate money to help offset expenses starting the project. I was VERY pleased with this.

It is all coming together, albeit slowly. If there were not these little things called a job, family, and "personal sanity time" this would be a piece of cake!

Next up: Talking with Vermillion PD to get an idea of areas that need safety improvement, places for kids to meet to walk/bike to school, and any other input they have on the project.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Safe Routes To School - PTA Meeting

Continuing my speaking circuit which has included a speech to the school board and discussions with city hall, I will be talking the the local PTA tonight about the benefits of the Safe Routes to School Program tonight. I think this will be by far my most receptive group, but I am well prepared nonetheless.

One thing that stuck with me from Gary Sjoquist's from Bikes Belong speech at the South Dakota Bike Summit was that the more advocacy you do, the less riding you do. That is proving to be quite prophetic as I find my mind thinking about what needs to be done to get others involved with my advocacy efforts and much as I think about riding now.

On another note about Safe Routes to School and overcommitment, I am probably going to be doing a great deal of the writing of the grant. Lord help me there as I've never actually written a grant. I'm hoping to call in some favors helping me out with it. I only have a month or so to accomplish all this!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Weekend That Was

With Laura gone this weekend, many chores were completed around the house. I'm pretty sure that the kids will beg her never to leave again. Considering that my youngest was not feeling good yesterday and was pretty clingy, we got quite a bit done.

The "done" list:
* clean up and vacuum bedrooms (no small task, even for Mom & Dad's room)
* six loads of laundry, including bedding (5 folded and put away)
* pick up and vacuum living room
* took/picked up Austin from a "Heros" event that he went to.
* pick up, vacuum, and mop kitchen (scooba doo performed most of the mopping)
* visited with my Mom who came down for a funeral
* give the dog a bath
* washed pots/pans from the weekend and ran the dishwasher.
* all trash has been removed from the house.
* rebuilt a computer with Austin - replace bad hard drive and set up Windows XP from scratch. Yeah, I could have done a ghost of it, but I wanted him to appreciate the full experience. Since I image most computers nowadays, it never occurred to me that there were WELL over 100 updates since XP came out.
* watched a couple movies with the kids as a reward for their work.
* ripped a few CD's that my Mother-in-law dropped off so I can make a mixed CD of certain songs she has (sorry RIAA, she owns them all, no need to call in the hounds)
* played a little saxophone with Austin
* all kids homework complete
* answered the question from Marissa "what are we going to have for __________ (lunch, dinner, supper, snack)" approximately 50 times over 2.5 days.

On the bright side, Laura shouldn't have much to worry about for housework for a couple days. I try to NOT be the man who, along with his children, destroy a house the weekend Mom leaves.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I Am NOT a Babysitter to My Children

It's been awhile since I've had to post on a pet peeve, so it's about time.

My wife and her mother went to see my nephew in a national piano competition in Denver, Colorado this weekend (good luck Nicholas!) so I am in charge of the three precious little angels that contain substantial portions of my DNA.

Last night we went to the PTA Carnival at the high school, which is a fund raiser for the PTA and a fun night for the children. Once that some knew Laura was gone for the weekend, I had more than one person comment, "So you get to babysit for the weekend, huh?".

I don't "babysit" my children. I'm a Dad. It comes with the territory. If you are a Dad and you "babysit" your children, you are not a real Dad in my humble opinion.

Being a Dad is a commitment to:
* Play with your children
* Teach them right from wrong
* Help them with their spiritual growth
* Prepare them for the future
* Discipline when necessary
* Being a mentor
* Showing them respect and expecting the same

Sure the list goes on. Being a Dad is a never ending learning experience. It's a growing process. It should never be seen as babysitting however. It should be a partnership with your children.

What do I say when somebody asks me if I'm babysitting my children? I say "No, I'm being a Dad to my kids". Usually with a look of stupor, they walk away, hopefully realizing the err of their big mouth.

Now if you'll excuse me, Dad is being paged by his children. We have a weekend to experience together.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Week of Tough Decisions #2 - Summer Cycling

I'm selfish. I readily admit that. Last year I selfishly went after a goal of riding 10,000 miles and I put far too many things in my life on the back burner to make that goal. Although I didn't miss a single game my kids played, except when they played at the same time, I still put biking ahead of far too much in my personal life. This summer, while I will still be selfish and bike my fair share of solo or group rides, I also intend to have more family rides. However, there will be some concessions made to my cycling this summer, one of which will undoubtedly be a shock to some, but I feel it has to be done.

1. Tour de Kota is definitely on for the full week. Laura told me she needs the vacation away from the kids AND we are taking the tandem so we can put in 30 miles or so a day together after I'm done riding from town to town.

2. MS Bike Tour - Pedal the Plains is definitely on. I could never give this up. I'm too passionate about the cause now. A new passion will happen this year on the MS Bike Tour as this will be the target of Laura's first big group ride. I'm very proud of her goals and will do everything to get her ready. Laura will join me on the Tandem often this summer and I look forward to riding more with her.

3. Hwy 212 Gut Check - with apologies to Snakebite - is off. Mr. Bite, I'll still work on getting you and your bike to the start as I'm going to be out that way for another purpose (see below). CDV and I both have too many events that are happening this summer to make enough training time for this year. We (well...I anyway) will do my best to be back in one way or another for Gutcheck 2009. Below are a list of excuses. Choose your favorite:

3a. Cost - Last year it is estimated that with registration, gas, food, and other expenses, Gut Check cost $1000 plus for us. With the price of gas going up, this isn't going to be any better. If money were no object, sure, I'd go on the principle of it being another great cause that I believe in. Unfortunately money IS an object.

3b. Family Harmony - Laura's family is having a family reunion in the Black Hills the same weekend as the Gut Check. The "selfish me", at first, decided to go through with my plans to bike. After all, I had my event planned first. However, family should not come second in an event like this. Some members of the family are getting up there in years, and I'd hate to be the person that kept my family from seeing ANY family member for the last time. I don't mean that to sound morbid, but I think you catch my drift.

3c. Training - CDV and I simply will not have enough training time together on the tandem to pull it off. CDV has kids in various sports and so do I. He has two and I have three. Try arranging FIVE KIDS SCHEDULES to the point to get two Dad's together often for training. All the activities that my kids will be involved in this summer is deserving of its own post and will duly be posted after the kids are signed up.

3d. Other family fun - The other night I was going to ride 50 miles after work. I rode 30 instead. In lieu of the other 20 miles I managed to squeeze in playing catch with my daughter, a short bike ride with my youngest, and help my oldest with his homework -- okay, two of the three was fun. Last night I rode to the recycling trailer with my youngest and he helped me throw things into their proper bins and I played saxophone with my oldest and got some yard work done -- again, two of the three was fun. At any rate, there may be slightly less biking and more family activities. I'll only have one shot at being with my kids while they are kids. I'll have years to ride.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Week of Tough Decisions #1 - Kindergarten

Our youngest will turn five on July 27 (first person to tell me what other important event happened on July 27, 2003 wins a prize of my choosing) and is technically eligible to go to Kindergarten. Our oldest was born on July 4th and we did send him to Kindergarten when he was five. It was hard not to send him because he scored very high on the Kindergarten Roundup testing the local school district did.

Of course, now we regret it a little. He's in 6th grade and struggling at times. Some of it might be maturity. Some of it might be the transition into middle school. Some of it might be attitude. Whatever the case, we now feel like we made a err in judgment when we sent him. We are getting him back on track, but he gets frustrated.

Fast forward to Carson. While more social at his age than Austin was, he didn't score well on his kindergarten roundup and we wasn't surprised. I'm not saying he isn't smart, he is, but he's busy being a four year old. He is starting to understand letters and such, but at this point it is just getting in the way of him being a kid.

So, while he's starting to pick up more and more on things necessary to be ready for kindergarten, we decided to allow him to be a kid another year and not rush things. Too many people have told us that we will never regret NOT sending him, but that we might regret sending him. Which only leaves one question: Where were these people when we were ready to send Austin?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post: Week of Tough Decisions #2 - Summer Cycling

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

South Dakota Bicycle Coalition Website Is Up!

Big thanks to Happy Rider for getting the South Dakota Bicycle Coalition website off to a good start. He has been busy with a newborn and a potential upcoming move, so the fact that it's this far along is impressive!

We own two domains that go to the same place, but we prefer you remember (although will work as well).

Make sure you email Happy Rider or leave a comment on his blog if you have newsworthy happenings or upcoming rides.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tuesday - Let There Be Ride!

Tuesday weather - 72 degrees - winds 5-10. I'm riding. Are you?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

LBL 2008 Wrap-up

The journey started Friday night when I was picked up at the interstate by B-BiLLy and Dirk. In the self-appointed "Bike Box" was the MuSCLe, Snakebite, and the kErnEl. We trekked to Fremont, NE where we met up with eDLoNNie at the Windmill cafe for a bite before crashing at the lake house.

After driving to eDLoNNie's house in Lincoln on Saturday morning we met up with eDBiLLy and two more inductees into the BiLLy's - K-20 and K-40. After an awesome egg bake and an equally awesome New Glarus Hearty Hop I.P.A. we hit the bike paths of Lincoln where we came across the greatest single sight of the day which Dirk amazingly took a picture of on the fly.

We went to Spilker's brewery in Cortland, NE to get a tour and sample Foggen Lager and Hopluia (and sample, and sample). I picked up a sixer of Hopluia and shared one with a hopeful future BiLLy in CDV today so he didn't feel totally left out.

The day itself couldn't have been much better as it was around 70 degrees and the winds were 10 or under most of the day. Friends old and new turned this into a great time. To prove we actually DID ride, I give the following evidence from my Garmin. Unfortunately they started rolling before my Garmin finished getting it's signal and I didn't turn it on so I missed the first 10 miles or so.

And check the weather!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Initiation Into the BiLLy BRoTHeRHooD

In a couple short hours I'll be making my way down to Nebraska for my inaugural LBL (Lincoln-Beatrice (pronounced Bee-At-Risssssss)-Lincoln) ride. This is bound to be a memorable ride and I'm glad I don't have to miss it (sorry CDV...maybe next year).

I've been choked up and emotional about it all day, and then the CiTyBiLLy blog had to go and bring me to tears with the following picture of what awaits us.

I'm sorry...I have to go. I'm tearing up again.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rain Will NOT Prevent This Ride!

...unless it's a downpour. After the blow-fest of the last two days I'm very determined to ride today. The problem is that as the winds have diminished, the rains came in. Not exactly rain, but gloomy, misty, drizzly, I'm-going-to-do-this-all-flippin'-day type of rain. CDV and I have determined that it is necessary to ride so we are going to do an urban ride tonight after work to get a few miles in.

One thing I did get accomplished during the last couple days was to get my studded tires off (finally) and clean up my mountain bike. After a long winter with very little maintenance, it was pretty gross. My bad. Bad bike parent. One quote that is very true that I read on a blog from one of the Minnesota crowd (and damn funny too!):

Having studded tires is like wearing a rubber; it ruins the feel but makes you feel a lot safer!

However, my studded tires just finished up their third season and they are pretty beat up and the rubber is actually cracking from all the conditions. I'm already thinking about options for next year. Should I try to build my own studs? Should I buy better studs? Bike chains like they use for ice biking? When it gets really icy here, studs sometimes give me a false sense of security and I end up going down anyway. Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Two Windy Sucky Days

It finally hits 60's and 70's and what does that mean in South Dakota? Winds 25-45 mph. I've still commuted, but that's it. Upon the request of my youngest, I picked him up from daycare yesterday and battled the 35-45 mph winds on the way home pulling him along. A trip to the grocery story with the Grocery Getter proved equally as brutal.

Today it was less windy (a mere 25mph or so) and I toyed with getting a ride in, but I had a run in with a different type of issue today. My backside and the porcelain god became unfortunate good friends and my stomach was in an uproar. You get the picture and I need not expound more.

Tomorrow CDV and I are riding no matter what. Either a road ride or as Team Man Tandem. Either way, it has to be done. Then Friday I'll be leaving for the LBL ride. With very few rides under my belt and nothing over 35, this could be interesting. This ride will still be a classic and new friends will be made.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now it is Just Getting Creepy

The boys and/or girls from my favorite insurance company were back for a visit today. In the words/music of thE kErnEl: "Like a good neighbor stalker, State Farm this certain company is there!"

And as a commenter stated HERE, I find it interesting that the folks at the company have so much time on their hands! There can’t be anything on their case-load more pressing than to follow a guy’s blog about doing his civic duty. All their cases must already be settled to the highest level of customer satisfaction.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Safe Routes To School - Phase One Complete

I spoke to the School Board tonight and it went very well. I was a bit nervous as I seen a couple extra people there that made me think I might be walking into a bit of a trap. The bright side was that I went in very prepared and really kept my talking points short but well researched.

Apparently I headed off most questions as there were very few follow up questions. Of course, it helped take off the edge when I volunteered to be the point for the project.

Next phase, talk to the City folks. The School Board would like the City to take the lead in the financial/grant portion. I've already had a few probing calls to the City and they seemed pretty favorable.

The ball is rolling. I'm going to need more and more buy-ins from people/groups, so if you are here in Vermillion and reading this, I'll be needing you. Don't hide. I'll find you. It'll be easier on all of you if you just volunteer.

In Case of My Mysterious Disapperance

Seems I might be building a "fan club" according to blog stats. These aren't the first hits from this particular domain and conspiracy theories abound as to their plans of rubbing me out. Apparently they are checking into a couple of recent posts!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Wheels Of Life

I've received a picture called "The Wheels of Life" in email a couple of times, including one from my mother. I modified it a little for my life. Here's hoping that I don't see the LAST two things on the chart.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Score Another Win for the Cycling Community: State Farm Ad Being Pulled

I mentioned the State Farm ad in an earlier post that I found to be in poor taste. Streetsblog, a blog with a great deal of readership, had the following response from Tim VanHoof, Director of Marketing Communications for State Farm:

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I am sorry the advertisement offended anyone. Our intention with this particular ad was to recognize and empathize with the everyday challenge of high gas prices, and suggest that State Farm could help by providing lower auto insurance rates than a person may be receiving from their current provider.

But clearly we have heard your concerns. In fact, we take very seriously each letter, email and blog comment we receive.

During the past few days, I discussed the perception of this advertisement with others at State Farm, and we decided the right thing to do would be to discontinue it. We will remove this ad as quickly as possible from the current rotation schedule.

Please know that State Farm is very concerned about doing what we can to improve the health, safety and environment in our communities.

For example, in numerous states, employees can earn up to $1.50 a day by ridesharing, walking, or riding a bike to work. We also have more than 1,200 employees participating in van pooling throughout the country.

State Farm has also been a supporter of bicycle safety through the thousands of bicycle rodeos we’ve held for children throughout the US and Canada. We remain open to discussion about how State Farm might partner with the bicycling community in the future.

We value direct consumer input as we make decisions about our advertising messages and safety programs. As a mutual company with no stockholders, we work hard to be good stewards of our policyholders’ money.

For more information about State Farm, go to or talk to a local State Farm agent.

Thank you,
Tim Van Hoof
Director of Marketing Communications
State Farm

The whole post and thread of comments can be found HERE. So for those of you who LIKE the commercial, you will soon be relegated to YouTube to watch it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Two Epic Rides Upcoming

I'm looking forward to my initiation as "K-BiLLy" - my new Delta Tau Chi name apparently as anointed by thEkErnEl himself - next weekend at the LBL Ride.

When Ham(m)er's drawing came in this week, I started to get pumped up for the first ever Bunyan's to Bob's ride. May 17th. Don't miss it. More details to follow.

A Safe Routes To School Dream

If I could fall asleep and dream about what I would like to see from a Safe Routes To School program, it would look like the following video. Notice the wonderful bike lanes and the bike traffic! Also notice the bike racks about about :50 into the video. Brings a tear to my eye.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Safe Routes To School

There will be more posts coming on the Safe Routes to School program as I embark on the challenge of campaigning for and hopefully help in the implementation of the program here in Vermillion. I highly advise you check the program out for your respective communities.

Why am I so passionate about SRTS? The stats say it all. In 1969, approximately 50% of children walked or biked to school, and 87% of children living within one mile of school did. Today, fewer than 15% of schoolchildren walk or bike to school. So it shouldn't be amazing at all that there are more than three times as many overweight children today as there were 25 years ago.

From the traffic standpoint as much as 20 to 30% of morning rush hour traffic can be parents driving children to schools. I truly wouldn't be surprised if that number isn't higher here in Vermillion. The traffic is crazy in the morning. Get closer to our congested schools and it only gets worse.

There are many reasons to be passionate about this program. The thought of making a difference for potentially generations to come definitely tops that list. What are yours?

Take the time to watch both videos. It will help you find your own passion for the program.

Why Safe Routes To School Matter

Safe Routes Promotional Video from the League of American Bicyclists

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Up In Smoke - NO April Fools

Many of you who follow my blog know that I sold my car not that long ago in this post HERE. I did it by posting that I had a car up for sale and friends from Tea, SD actually purchased it. They gave me a down payment and off went the car.

I got the title together and was going to send it to them, but then the crazy week happened in my life and I just didn't get it done.

Then I received an email on April 2. It was my friend who bought the car saying that she was going to email me the day before (April Fool's Day) but didn't think I'd believe what she had to tell me. It seems her husband was at the grocery store on April 1 and turned the car over and it popped and was a little hesitant to start. He tried it again and there was another pop followed by flames. Yup, my car old car went up in flames in the grocery store parking lot.

We worked it out between us and it's all behind us now. We are still friends even (and still read my humble blog). She is right too...I would have been hard pressed to believe her if she had sent me that email on April 1st. It was hard enough on the 2nd! My oldest brother, who's a mechanic, is also off the hook having to fix a different issue with the car as it's been totaled out by the insurance company.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

They're On To Us!

Many of us belong to a drinking club with a cycling problem. Smart beer companies realize that and wisely take advantage.

One of my all time favorite beers....

One of my least favorite flavored waters beers, but a cool commercial.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Does State Farm Hate Cyclists?

Last night I watched a commercial by State Farm Insurance that I really took offense to from the beginning. I almost blogged about right away, but I know how my emotional side can take over for my rational side so I calmed down (somewhat) and let it go.

Then, while cruising the cycling blogs today I see that others were up in arms about it as well. It even set my friend Barry off...well...okay...Barry likes to go on an occasional rant anyway, but that's part of his charm. So I had to go through all the emotional checks again. Should I be upset? Should I not be upset? Do cyclists like to get worked up over nothing?

My rational side set in: It's a insurance company trying to sell car insurance. However, my rational side also said it was in poor taste. Put the guy in a nice suit coat and tie and put on some dorky shorts to over-emphasize your point. My rational-advocacy side then set in and spoke even louder: How DARE you make fun of bicycle commuters to try to sell insurance. We are already treated as second class citizens by many motorists and making us out as geeks in a suit and shorts sure doesn't help. Tell me the last time you ever seen anybody dressed like the guy in this commercial?

Kudos for the bike community for sending emails to State Farm telling them their commercial was in poor taste. Kudos to YouTube viewers for giving it (at press time) a ONE star rating. Kudos to State Farm (damage control) for actually responding on the Streetsblog article (comment #27).

Does State Farm hate cyclists? I don't think so. Actually from what I read they do a great deal for the cycling community with various events and sponsorships and cases of above-average coverage for bicyclists who have been in accidents. I think that the commercial was not thought out well before being put on TV. If they did, and thought it was a great commercial, the cycling community gave them their side of the issue quickly. I'm sure they meant no harm, but harm has been done. Damage control takes over.


You are always numb when somebody you know dies. You become even more numb when that person is a cyclist who dies in a cycling accident. The dangers of our sport becomes all too real.

Randy Van Zee was not your average cyclist, the guy was an absolute cycling animal. My favorite story of Randy was on RAAM 2004 when he had an accident in Ohio where he injured his groin and cracked his pelvis. While he couldn't even walk or get on/off the bike without assistance, he figured out he could still pedal. And pedal he did. He finished RAAM in '04 with over nine hours to spare.

Last year in the South Dakota Highway 212 Gut Check Randy and Bob Thunselle finished the 432 mile race in 37 hours 26 minutes. I straggled in as the only other finisher in 47:15 nearly 10 hours behind them. I will never dedicate myself to training like Randy did, but I vow to never forget his dedication to the sport. Rest in peace Randy. May the roads be wide open and car free for you in Heaven.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

When Bikes Attack and Other Short Stories

Last night CDV and I got out on the Tandem and got in a nice 31 miler after work. We had a planned ride today posted to the group so I decided to clean up/tune up the road bike this morning and swap my pedals out to my new Crank Brothers Quattro Pro SL pedals.

That's when it all went wrong. My Look Keo pedals had probably been on my bike the better part of 10-13,000 miles and didn't really appreciate the thought of being separated. I tried gentle persuasion. They resisted. I tried a little more force and that's when it happened. The big ring attacked my hand. It snarled and barked and ripped my hand wide open. It bled pretty bad too. By the time I cleaned the wound enough to look at it, I knew I had better go have it looked at. I could see the tendon through the cut so I also knew it was not only wide, it was deep. I went into the Doctor's office at 10:30 and didn't get out until 12:30. Killer service. Yeah, that's sarcasm.

It didn't stop me from going on our planned group ride at 1:00, but I'm not going to kid you, my hand hurt pretty bad. Here is a picture of my three stitches:

The ride would prove brutal on the hand and the morale as we dealt with 25 mile per hour winds with stronger gusts. It was pretty violent but no matter what, it was GREAT to be out on the road! 30 miles of riding was a nice first group ride. Let the official riding season begin!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Just Because... will probably never happen again in my lifetime. The Royals lost 4-3 to the Twins tonight, but were the last undefeated team in the major leagues. That, my friends, is something I doubt I'll ever see again in my lifetime. Just for proof, I am posting the following evidence that I captured at the end of last night:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fatherly Advice

"Son, you're making the same mistake in Iraq that I made with your

"What's that Dad ?????"

"I didn't pull out in time..."

Lunch with The kErnEl

The kErnEl brought a contingent down to the USD Programming competition today so CDV, THE Mrs. and I went to Mexico Viejo with him. It's always good to see fellow cyclists. We all agree that Spring needs to get here and stay here.

In other news, Team Man Tandem is planning on taking to the highway for 20-30 tomorrow night and the Lane Hogs are planning a 50 miler on Saturday. If you are in the area, come on along!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Jim's Big Ego

I needed to de-stress a little. Therefor I pulled out my newly acquired CiTy BiLLy CyCLe bottle opener and I'm enjoying a fine Harp lager and I pulled up an oldie but a goodie website. Every so once in awhile I have to pull up Jim's Big Ego. I don't even know how to describe them, but you should give them a listen. I stumbled on them quite some time ago. For me it all started out with a song called Stress. When Austin was young, it was imperative that we played this over and over and over. Another classic is Little Miscommunication which talks about the language barrier between men and women. Last, but certainly not least, their tribute to a few political figures called A$$hole. Should you be at work, you might want to wait on this one unless you have headphones :-).

JBE, any promotional ching you'd like to send my way for your increase of sales thanks to my blog will be appreciated and expected.