Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Half Century!

So I closed out the year by bicycling 50 miles (actually, 57) which is known as a Half Century. It's by far the longest I've ridden since starting to ride again in February. It may be the longest I've ridden in a single day ever. For those who care, here is my route.

I did the ride on my Raleigh Marathon, which is a quarter century old. Toward the end of the ride I thought I had a problem with my rear rim (I popped a spoke yesterday and the bike shop fixed it). Today toward the end of the ride (like the last 15 miles) I had a very pronounced pulsing every time the tire went around. Just before getting home, I glanced down while I was stopped and saw the mother of all bulges on the tire. This was an old tire and I think it picked its time to go bad. Luckily it held together until I got home.

UPDATE ON JAN 1: So that bulging tire brought the New Year in with a bang! It exploded at 6 am this morning. I'm glad it held together yesterday!

Dinner for One (German for Happy New Year!)

This 1963 television clip is the most repeated TV program ever. The English-language skit is traditionally shown in Germany on New Year's Eve. Watching it has become as much a tradition of German New Year's Eve as singing Auld Lang Syne is in the U.S.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Lure of the Open Road

The travel diary of two 21-year-old women who traveled from Buffalo to New Orleans (and back again) by bicycle in 1944.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Out and about: Fort Worth Water Gardens

I took a ride on Christmas Eve and took several pictures, including a bunch at the Fort Worth Water Gardens. The Water Gardens are situated at the south end of downtown, literally in the middle of the city. Even with the stark concrete forms, the cascading water and plants can make you forget where you are. If you want to ride your bike there, I included directions at the end of this post.

For the most part, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

These pictures were taken at the Active Pool

The story behind this sign is that four and a half years ago, four people visiting from Chicago drowned at the Water Gardens. Prior to that, lots of people dipped their toes in the water.

SciFi fans may think this looks familiar. The Water Gardens were used as a setting in the 1976 movie "Logan's Run".

Michael York, Jenny Agutter and Peter Ustinov as Logan, Jessica & Old Man, at the Fort Worth Water Gardens in Logan's Run

And this is the Quiet Meditation Pool

Flags at the Water Gardens, with the Omni Hotel in the background.

If you want to ride your bike there from the Fort Worth Trinity River Trail, there are two ways to approach it.

One way is to get off the trail at West 7th Street (at the north end of Trinity Park, just east of the Montgomery Place shopping center). Turn right (east) on W 7th and proceed over the Trinity River toward downtown, staying on W 7th for about a mile. There is a sidewalk elevated to curb level that can keep you out of car traffic on the bridge. 7th will take a slight bend to the left; stay on it. A few blocks later, turn right (south) on Houston Street* and it will lead you to the entrance to the Gardens on the left, just south of the Fort Worth Convention Center on the left and Omni Hotel on the right. Total from the trail to the Gardens is about a mile and a half.

The other approach is to get off the trail at Heritage Park (there is a bicycle/foot bridge that goes over the river from the main part of the trail). Ride (or walk your bike) up the steep hill to get to downtown along N Taylor Street. Proceed along Taylor until W 5th Street and turn left (east) on W 5th. Two blocks later, turn right (south) on Houston Street* and it will lead you to the entrance to the Gardens on the left, just south of the Fort Worth Convention Center on the left and Omni Hotel on the right. Total from the trail to the Gardens is about a mile.

*When I went there, Houston was closed due to the construction of the Omni Hotel, so if necessary, turn left (east) to detour on W 9th Street past the Fort Worth Convention Center and turn right (south) on Commerce Street; the Gardens will be on the right just after the Convention Center.

If you want to make a day of it, there are several places to eat in Downtown Fort Worth within a couple blocks each way of Main Street between the Convention Center and the Court House.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thanks to jkirlin

Jeff's blog, The Thing of the Moment, is my favorite photo blog. My current header photo is shamelessly cropped from one of his photos.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

All I lost for Christmas was my one back tooth

So on Christmas Eve, I broke a tooth. It's one of the molars on the right side, bottom. The one on the end. Dang. Luckily it doesn't hurt, so I got that goin' for me.

So I call the dentist's office and get the usual "If this is an emergency, please call..." message. I call and the following conversation ensued:

Me: "Hello?"
Phone: "Hello!"
Me: "Umm... hello?"
Phone: "Hello!"
Me: "Is this Dr. So-and-so's answering service?"
Phone: "This is Dr. So-and-so."

He actually put his personal cell phone number as the emergency contact number. I thought that was pretty cool. He told me what to do until after the holidays, and said he would see if he could look up my records online to figure out what's going on.

I got a message an hour later while I was on the phone with my mom. I just now remembered it and listened to it. It was Dr. So-and-so letting me know that he saw that it was one of the teeth he was a little worried about and that if it fractured the way he thought I would need a crown after the New Year. He said to make an appointment after the holidays, and that he would have his staff start the paperwork for the insurance.

This guy is good.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The ride to work

So back in February I started bicycling to work. The route is about 7-8 miles the way I go in the morning, sometimes longer in the afternoon if I'm up for a longer ride. I've ridden with one of the managers from my office a few times, but usually it's just me and the bike.

I finally got around to taking some pictures of the route. I didn't want to take pics on a work day because I wanted to wait until I had some extra time. Without further ado, here is the view down my street as I head out

At the end of my street I come out to a major six-lane road. I have to make sure there is no traffic coming, because even though the speed limit is 40 MPH, cars traveling 60 are not uncommon.

Also, I make a left turn into a shopping center parking lot after only a block or two, so I need to get all the way over to the left,

...and make my turn.

Then I drive through the parking lot past the Albertson's supermarket, a Valero gas station and a Sonic Drive-In.

Then I make another left turn onto another major road; this one has a lot less traffic and I follow it for a half mile or so.

At the next light,

...I can either go straight or turn right. This morning I turned right,

...down a lightly-traveled two-lane road with very wide lanes. Just to prove it is me, here I am.

I take the first left to get into a residential neighborhood, and from here on I am in residential areas for most of the remaining ride.

You may notice my shadow in a lot of these pics. That's a good thing; it means that for cars coming up behind me, I am well-lit and they can see me. The house in the center of the next picture belongs to a friend of mine. I usually wave as I pass the window, just in case someone inside is looking. Sometimes I get a wave back.

I cross over this bridge

The only time I've gotten a flat during a commute was at this point.

Even though there is a wide, marked shoulder, that lane often has glass in it. After a gentle rise and then a gentle downhill, I come out at the crossing of a major street.

There is a high school on the right just after the light. I almost got right-hooked by a student and followed him to his parking spot for a little extra-curricular education about sharing the road with bikes! After the light I go down a few blocks and turn onto Wedgemont Circle. It really is a circle, with a constant bend to the left for quite a ways.

It comes out again at a busy street but again, there's a traffic light to help me get across.

After crossing the busy street and the train tracks, I turn right and follow the train tracks up to the freeway.

This is an interesting and unique intersection. The side road I travel on is on the same level as the train tracks, each with its own bridge over the freeway access road, and the freeway itself is on an even higher level above. As a result I don't have to deal with any of the traffic getting on or exiting the freeway.

And I end up in yet another residential area after passing this church.

I turn left to ride parallel to, and a few blocks south of, the freeway, through a very nice neighborhood,

...although even nice neighborhoods are not exempt from tacky Christmas decorations!

Finally, I come to one of the most challenging parts of my ride.

This is Hulen Street, one of the busiest streets in Fort Worth.

The proper way to cross this intersection is to dismount the bike to become a pedestrian, and cross on foot. Note that there is no way for vehicular traffic to go straight across.

The proper way.


Anyway, once I get through I pass another Albertson's,

...a whole bunch of other stores, and finally a Home Depot.

At this point I'm running through the parking lot of a shopping center that runs along the freeway access road. I cross over into the parking lot of an office building,

And then over to the parking lot of this fine establishment:

After Hooter's, I have to finally get on the freeway access road. It's all downhill from here, literally. In fact, I call this part of my commute "Hooter's Hill" since there's a Hooter's at the top. It's fun going down... WHEEEEE...





Unfortunately, I have to ride UP Hooter's Hill after work. :(

At the bottom, I cross through the traffic light, and there I am, at the nondescript strip mall where my office is.