But I am just a pilgrim on this road, boys
Until I see you fare thee well
-Steve Earle, Pilgrim

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tokyo's Robotic Bike Parking

Not something we will see in Springfield anytime soon, but it is a cool idea. To deal with overflowing bike garages, the Tokyo subway system has spent $67 million on an underground bike garage managed and operated by a robot. With the swipe of a card, robotic arms grab bikes and place them in a spot underground. At the end of the day, the robot retrieves bikes in a matter of seconds.

The high-tech service is $18 a month for any of the 700,000 or so Japanese transit riders who bike to train stations daily. No need for locks or worries.

The robot garages are nearly full every day and neighborhood biking has spiked 20 percent since they were installed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Springfield, MO, Ride of Silence

Twelve cyclists rode the 13-mile route through central Springfield. Dave Christiano, the ride leader, read the Ride of Silence... poem prior to the ride. Coy Hart provided SAG, which fortunately was not needed.

The Ride of Silence...

Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight's ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride

- Mike Murgas

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Edwardsville, IL, 400K Brevet

The 400K was this past weekend. I almost had as much trouble getting to the ride as I had completing it. I was set to head out of Springfield about noon when I stopped to fill the tank of my truck. I pulled up to the pump, put my foot on the brake and turned off the key. The brake pedal went all the way to the floor. I started the motor and pumped the pedal a couple times, but it would not come back up. I got out of the truck, and there was brake fluid splattered on the front left tire. Fortunately, the gas station is also where I get my truck serviced. It turned out that the front brake line had rusted through. They put a mechanic to work on it right after he returned from lunch, and I was able to get on the road a little after 4:00 PM. The drive was uneventful until I slammed into the back of a storm front just after I crossed the Mississippi River east of downtown St. Louis. It was a deluge, and I got in a line of cars in the right lane of the interstate that was doing about 40 mph. I could see pretty well at that speed except when a truck would roar by in the right lane at 65 mph. I finally got to Hamel, IL, a little after 8:00 PM, and checked into The Innkeeper Motel.

I asked for a 3:30 AM wake-up call, which never came, but I also had my alarm set, which did go off. I got to the ride start in Edwardsville about 4:30 AM for the 5:00 AM start. There were about a dozen riders with about 10 riding the 400K. There were also 200K and 300K events starting at the same time. The 400K route is basically a figure eight (Map).

The weather was great at the start: about 67 degrees and a west wind at about 5 miles an hour. The favorable wind helped us get to the first control in Breese (51 miles, marker 21) about 8:20 AM. By that time, the wind had shifted to the WNW and picked up to about 20 mph with gusts to 25 mph. We had to ride through some water in a low area just southwest of Breese. I was riding with John Jost, the RBA, and his tire began to get a little soft about halfway to the next control in Okawville. We stopped a few times to pump it up, and he changed the tube in Okawville (78 miles, marker 33).

We next took a short break at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cemetery where we viewed the cyclist's grave stone. We stopped in Pinckneyville (marker 52) for lunch at Subway. Two other riders stopped and told us that they had been chased by a dog that was unfortunately hit by a car and killed.

We enjoyed the tailwind until a few miles east of the control in Ava (150 miles, marker 58) when we began heading west again. This part of the ride also had the steepest hills. We reached Sparta (177 miles, marker 63) around 7:30 PM. I forget the exact time, but we turned on our lights less than an hour later.

At sunset, the north wind dropped off to about 5 mph, and the temperature also began to fall. We passed a bank sign that displayed 45 degrees. We made one last stop in New Baden (216 miles) to get some hot chocolate and warm up a bit. We ended up staying about an hour. I was cold as soon as we started riding again. The temperature was about 49 degrees, but the dew point was about 39 degrees, so it seemed colder. Part of the problem was that I forgot my cycling cap, so the cold wind was blowing through the vents of my helmet. Fortunately, I did have a wool sweat band to cover my ears. If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have put a couple of paper towels in my helmet before we left the c-store.

We pulled into the final control in Edwardsville at 3:01 AM. After checking in, I loaded the bike in the back of the truck, climbed in the cab with a blanket and slept about four hours before driving home.

At the start

Breese control

That was not here last weekend

The RBA always goes first

RBAs get flats too

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cemetery

The cyclist's grave stone

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Stand By Me

No bike content, but a cool video.