Thursday, August 20, 2009

Every Library test trip

So back a few years ago, I pondered visiting every library in Hamilton County. I have revisited that off and on a few times, and while I was off on vacation this past week decided to give it a test ride.

The reasoning was to see how well the directions held up, how fast I could ride (approximately) with traffic and such, as well as test how long it took me to get in the library, check out a book, and get back on the road.

I left my house around 2:00 or so. Plan was to go to 7 libraries and then meet up with the fam at the end. A little something like this.

I set off and got to the Madisonville library right away. Coming down the hill was interesting. I mean going fast is nice, but you never want to get TOO fast. I've never been one of those guys that can just get super fast without worrying about falling. There were a few patches of gravel on the road which got me a bit nervous. I was up to about 35 mph coming down the hill.

So, as I got going, I realized I had forgotten a few things. This tends to happen to me when I just go without really focusing and planning on everything. Forgot my sunglasses, forgot sunscreen (it was hot and sunny), any water, my bike lock and perhaps most importantly, I forgot any type of carrying case for the books that I was going to check out. My plan had been to just check one book out at each library, and then returning it at the subsequent library. But that still meant I had to carry a book on the bike with me.

So I got to the Madisonville library and hurried to check out a book. There were a few hooligans hanging out by the front door, but I hoped that I wouldn't be in there long enough for anything to happen, and I was right. I grabbed a small paperback, checked out, and headed on the road. Left on Madison and headed towards Oakley. Got in there, parked my bike by the front door and went in.

It was annoying there because there was this kid at the checkout desk asking abou drawing books and the librarian was helping him (fine) and then she offered to show him where some of the books were. And I waited... and waited... it was probably 3-4 minutes of me standing in line waiting to check out a book. (No self checkouts there). Eventually I made my way back down Madison towards Hyde Park. There was a lot of road construction there, but I managed to find my way to the Hyde Park library without a problem.

Again no self checkouts at Hyde Park and I had to wait for a bit. When I went to checkout, the librarian said that she had seen me on her way to work while on my bike on Whetsel. Good times! I was right in Hyde Park Square and did not realize that I was supposed to turn right onto Edwards. So I missed the turn and had to circle back (onto Mooney if you're falling along). I went past Rookwood and past I-71 and into Norwood. I turned left onto Williams and then right onto a different Madison.

But then, tragedy struck. I got a flat tire :-(. I tried to pump it back up but it definitely had a hole in it. I got out my patch kit. I had a really hard time trying to get the tire off the rim but eventually got it but either my kit was too old and not working, or I was not doing it right, but I could not get it going.

So I called Carolyn and had her come pick me up. The baby was still sleeping but we agreed to meet up in Norwood somewhere. I started walking that way. I found a penny on the sidewalk as I was walking, so you know it's good times. And then I got thrown out of Kroger.

But things went well - I had about a 14-16 mph average and it was taking about 1-3 minutes per library.

One annoying thing was that the receipts on a normal checkout don't have a timestamp on them. It does appear that the self checkouts have a timestamp, but I really wanted to get timestamps for each one just as kind of a record of the trip.

But I think that it makes things possible. I believe the shortest distance was 121 miles. If I could keep up a 14mph pace (which I think would be tough over that long) that would be 8 hours and 38 minutes. Then if I could average 2 minutes per stop, that's 42 * 2 or 84 minutes (1 hour 24 minutes). That's about 10 hours. I have 11 hours to do it from 10 to 9 (possibly 12 hours if I start at the Main library which opens at 9).

Or I could always hope the library levy fails and they close a few branches :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Every State Highpoint

It has come to my attention that there is a group of folks attempting to visit every highpoint in the lower 48 states in 3 weeks.

Apparently the record (PDF) is held by a Brit - Jake Meyer at 23 days, 19 hours, 31 minutes.

Though in looking at these guys' website, the challenge has been called off for reasons that are currently unclear. Hopefully they will post something soon and hopefully everyone is okay.

Here are a few pics from our recent trips to Campbell Hill (Ohio) and Hoosier Hill (Indiana).

This was the log book - we got there about 1:00 p.m. but there had already been 2 people visiting before us that day!

Picture of the fam.

After doing the grueling climb up Campbell Hill (in our van :-) ), we headed west to Hoosier Hill. The Indiana state highpoint is a bit less well marked.

Here is the turnoff off of Elliot Road. We passed it because there was no sign or anything. We went down to the (north) end of the road and saw the signs for the highpoint pointing back this way so we made it. Apparently it used to be even more nondescript before 2005 when an Eagle Scout fixed it up as his Eagle project.

Carolyn showing her true joy upon reaching the summit.

And here she is, "pretending" to be angry about being forced to detour out of her way to visit this great site.

So 2 down, 48 to go!!!!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Every Super Neighborhood in Houston - Trip 10

It's been really hot in Houston. We generally are over - or at least flirt with - a 100+ degree heat-index every day. But even so, David kept bugging me to get out and do another bike ride. So we did a "short" 27 mile one and nabbed two Super Neighborhoods. See map.

David let me wear his cycling jersey just so I could check it out. I have to say, not having to wear a backpack definitely cooled things down.

We zipped through familiar neighborhoods and got a little turned around on the way to the first stop, so I decided to wing it. We came across this sign for #32 Braeswood Place:

Not my most attractive picture.

We again kind of winged it over to the Astrodome (which we could see almost all the way from where we stopped in Braeswood. We took a fun yet bumpy route along the bayou and then overshot our turn. We came to the back entrance of Reliant Center and the guard wouldn't let us cut through. So we went around to the Reliant Stadium side, hoping it would say "Astrodome" somewhere, but there was another guard station. So we rode allllll the way around to the east side of Reliant Center and the only sign we could see was actually on the Astrodome itself, way in the distance. We asked the guards if we could just go in to take a picture, and they said they couldn't let us, and even if they could, no photography was allowed (huh?). So we just took the best pic we could get using a cell phone camera:

Guards wouldn't let us get any closer

Even though it's blurry, you can just barely make out that it says Reliant Astrodome. Not to mention: I'm in front of the freaking Astrodome. So there you have it, #34 Astrodome.

So that was the last one for the day. Just for fun we rode back through downtown and along the Buffalo Bayou trail. It was getting pretty darn hot when we got back around 9:30am.

So my total is up to 270.1 miles and 58 out of 88 Super Neighborhoods.