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2019! The How was your commute? thread!

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2019! The How was your commute? thread!

Old 06-26-19, 04:48 AM
  #1151  
essiemyra
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A very pleasant uneventful commute this am.
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Old 06-26-19, 05:09 AM
  #1152  
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Hello boys and girls. It's time for the week nine fun-filled edition of the Tundra_Man Heart Surgery Newsletter. I hope everyone purchased their secret decoder ring to unlock the special message contained in this text. If not, simply send me $17.99 plus shipping and handling, allow four to six weeks for delivery and then be amazed at all the secret wisdom to be revealed after ordering the ring. Most notably you will learn a valuable lesson about money management and avoiding scams.

So here I am nine weeks after surgery and also twelve days removed from my last bout of atrial fibrillation (AFib). Much to my delight, my heart rate has been rock steady ever since June 15th. In fact, it's beating so strong that I've had several new people in the last week remark that they can hear my mechanical valve as it slams shut sixty times each minute. I made the curious discovery that if I put my left arm across my chest with my hand on my right shoulder and then take a deep breath and hold it, the clicking noise becomes twice as loud. I'm not sure why, but it's fun to demonstrate as a party trick. By the way if that's the entertainment provided at your parties, then you need to find more interesting parties to attend.

With every day that passes without my heart going into AFib, my hopes of coming out of this whole adventure without a pacemaker increase. I've still got a long way to go until my re-check in December, but a journey of a thousand miles has to start with a single step. In this case, the road to avoiding a pacemaker has to begin without my heart quivering like a Jello salad at a Baptist potluck. Maybe I'll get lucky and be one of the few whose heart can heal itself from that condition? A pacemaker wouldn't be the end of the world, but if I can avoid it that's one less medical thing I have to deal with.

Two weeks ago I had an echocardiogram as part of my final post-surgery cardiology appointment, and finally yesterday I received the results: good news. The test revealed that my new aortic valve is functioning perfectly as far as leakage. The little bit of heart damage that had occurred prior to me getting the new valve has not gotten worse, which gives hope that by having this surgery I've put a halt to future problems.

Preventing further heart damage was actually the whole goal of getting the new valve. Prior to my surgery I was unusually asymptomatic considering my aortic valve was at 33% leakage. My cardiology team was somewhat amazed that despite the limited amount of blood getting pumped through my veins, I didn't feel tired and get winded easily. I adamantly believe that my cardiovascular system was kept strong by being a year-round bicycle commuter and that was the primary reason I displayed no outward symptoms. Cycling was more or less keeping me alive.

However tests revealed that even though I couldn't tell anything was wrong on the outside, the valve regurgitation was beginning to cause wear on the heart because it had to work a lot harder to supply my body with blood. A third of all the blood my heart was pumping wasn't going anywhere. Seeing as someday down the road I didn't want to wind up with a transplant baboon heart, getting the valve replaced now was the best action I could take to stop any further damage from happening. When this most recent echocardiogram came back saying that it looks like the plan worked I was very happy.

Speaking of my prosthetic heart valve, I was going through some stuff this week and came across the card they gave me to carry in case I set off metal detectors. It had the name of the valve manufacturer and the valve size listed on it, so I did a bit of Googling and found some information on my valve. I have the 29mm valve, which is the largest one they make. This is a good thing. From what my surgeon says, size does matter when it comes to replacement heart valves. Having less calcification in the heart allows a larger replacement valve to be installed, and valve size has a direct correlation with expected lifespan post-surgery. The larger the replacement valve, the longer the patient will likely live. As a bonus, I think my new valve is pretty cool looking:
As far as doctor visits are concerned, last week was the first seven consecutive days since my surgery that I hadn't been to the hospital for one reason or another. For a while it felt like I had been living there. It's never a good sign when you're showing up so often that the hospital gives you your own coffee mug to hang in the employee break room.

I do have an appointment at the end of this week to get my blood thickness checked, but those coagulation appointments are going to happen for the rest of my life so I'm considering that as part of the "new normal." Outside of those, I don't have anything scheduled for nearly six months until my pacemaker follow-up. Well, my regular doctor did say I'm now old enough to get a colonoscopy, but that's not heart related so I'm not going to count towards my heart surgery recovery. Don't worry: I have no plans on writing a weekly colonoscopy newsletter. ("Welcome to the Tundra_Man Colonoscopy Newsletter where we finally get to the bottom of what's going on...")

Exercise is still happening every day. As of yesterday I have walked 214 miles and ridden my bike 202 miles since coming home from the hospital. I even ran for a mile this last week. It took me three separate sessions to complete the mile, but I did it. I was running so slow that elderly women using walkers were yelling at me to get out of their way, but I did it. I was running so slow that I had to time myself using carbon dating, but I did it.

Overall this last week I have been feeling great physically. It's hard to specifically pinpoint when a person is 100% recovered from a procedure like this. If I press on my incision I feel just a little discomfort, but outside of that I am feeling no soreness even when I lift really heavy things. I'm exercising just as well as I could prior to surgery and I'm not getting winded outside of situations where one would expect to get winded. (Cycling 8th street hill west from downtown while trying to keep up with traffic will leave anyone breathless regardless of their heart health.) If I'm not yet 100% recovered then I'm declaring myself close enough for all practical purposes. I had an algebra teacher in high school that said if a boy and a girl on opposite sides of the room repeatedly halved their distance between each other they would never touch. However, at some point they would be "close enough for all practical purposes."

As a result of this declaration, unless some new unforeseen event happens (I sure hope not) that would warrant a bonus episode of the newsletter, I believe this will be the last one I will write. If all goes as planned, going forward there should not be enough going on outside of normal life to warrant writing about. Some of you may be relieved at this news, and some of you may be disappointed. For those of you who are disappointed and care to read more of my ramblings, I've got plenty of them over on my web site at http://www.TundraMan.com .

Thank you to everyone who came on this journey with me, even if you did so against your will because "these stupid newletters just kept showing up." Recovering from this surgery was the most challenging thing I have gone through to date. There have been times when I was trying my best to wear a good game face to hide the difficulty. Heed my advice: take care of your heart as you don't want to have your chest cracked open if you can avoid it. I am thankful that I have finally reached the point where I can say it is something I have done, rather than something I am doing.
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Old 06-26-19, 07:09 AM
  #1153  
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I'm breaking new territory here folks, going on 3 days with no rain! Coming into downtown I saw a young woman riding a Townie, no helmet, working on her phone. I wish my brain worked faster because I would have taken off after her to ask her to get off the phone before she kills herself.
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Old 06-26-19, 07:11 AM
  #1154  
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Rode again this morning and looks like weather may allow me to ride out the rest of the week. Last night I took a different route home to scout it out in anticipation for some upcoming construction on my normal route. When the construction starts I'll have to go this new way which adds about a mile to the one way trip.

This morning's ride was nice and peaceful. I still didn't see a lot of people out on the trails this morning but they are out there on my evening commute.
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Old 06-26-19, 07:44 AM
  #1155  
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Quite nice out this morning with a little lower dew point than typical summer days. I managed to get out a little early and leisurely rode 15 miles to work. I even stopped at a park for a bathroom break and to slurp some warm water from the water fountain. A couple of guys were out on the soccer fields doing some sort of drills.

I saw 4 other bikers - probably recreational - on my way in. That's 4 more than normal.
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Old 06-26-19, 08:42 AM
  #1156  
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Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
As a result of this declaration, unless some new unforeseen event happens (I sure hope not) that would warrant a bonus episode of the newsletter, I believe this will be the last one I will write.

It had the name of the valve manufacturer and the valve size listed on it, so I did a bit of Googling and found some information on my valve. I have the 29mm valve,.
I've been enjoying your updates, and the fact that you no longer think they are necessary is good news. Glad you are on the right track.

If only you had a little more clearance, you could have pushed for something like a 35mm so that you could run at lower pressures and increase comfort. JK, I did see that it's the largest size possible. Your body is just like a racing frame...
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Old 06-26-19, 10:46 AM
  #1157  
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Drove again today... yesterday i dropped of the commuter for some TLC. rear cable to derailleur; advise if new cassette is warranted, brought one in that I had bought, it might have been the cable all along; asked them to upgrade front brake caliper to TRP hy/Rd (matches the back now) and asked about the benefits/ costs of installing a bb and GRX crankset from Shimano. That might be an option if they cant straighten the current one.
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Old 06-26-19, 02:08 PM
  #1158  
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Yesterday about 4:30 I noticed that I was completely unproductive with no prospect of becoming so before 5:30. So I snuck out for a longer ride. Instead of turning right for home I backtracked left down the ARBT for a few miles. Coming back I was still ahead of schedule so I front-tracked past Willow Creek. Total distance 3.5x normal and I still got home a little early. For some reason heart rate didn't record. That's annoying. I also have been more annoyed with the bottle cage situation on the trike. The bottle is a Hydro Flask, and normally this would be ok, but on the trike the cage is level so it wants to shake out, and the cage the trike came with is an aluminum plate thing, so it's scratching the powder coat on the bottle.

I'm mostly envious of Tundra Man's recovery. I'm very lucky I didn't get any afib. But my heart was malfunctioning going in, so I didn't have the same base level of fitness - though still better, probably, than average for HOCM. My heart is only sort-of-fixed, I still get symptoms. I feel much better than I did before the surgery. But I don't feel better than I did, say, ten years ago before I was diagnosed. As noted earlier, though, I improved since May and I think that improvement is continuing. This might be temporary due to scar tissue from the surgery that is still swollen and will subside. If that keeps getting better it would be really nice to get off the beta blocker so I can really work out hard. I haven't been able to do that in ten years. On the sternum side of things I've been naughty about lifting toddlers who weigh substantially more than 5 lb, so my recovery has been slower. I'm getting there.

For some reason I was idly fantasizing about bike racing. This was brought on by seeing photos from the Motherlode Epic, a 32-mile trail race right in my backyard last weekend. There's other local offroad bike racing including Folsom Rodeocross in Sept-Oct, Sacramento Cyclocross in Oct-Jan, xc racing at Prairie City in the spring. I resolved a while back that I wouldn't do any MTB until I don't feel like it would really hurt to crash, figuring that would be in the spring. And what the heck am I thinking looking at racing while I'm 200lb and taking a beta blocker? But I'm sure it would be fun. Rodeocross and Prairie City both allow tandems, too.
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Old 06-26-19, 08:13 PM
  #1159  
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I had a pointlessly eventful commute today.

I left work a little bit early to buy some groceries for dinner. As I approach the grocery store, I saw a Polaris Slingshot. Ha ha, I thought, its a recumbent tadpole trike just like mine! It was even orange and black.

As I locked up at the store, I was approached by a bearded guy. "Is that a Terra trike? Can I take a look at it?"

"Sure."

"Do you like it?"

"Yeah..." thinking I might have a live one I volunteer Ill be selling it soon.

"Well," he says,"Unemployment sucks."

"Yeah, Ive been there."

"Homelessness sucks too."

"I bet... Ive never been there. Im sorry."

"Oh, dont be sorry. I get food stamps!" Taking this to mean hes not asking for a handout, I tell him to have a nice day. Yes, this is Folsom, where people who can feed and house a roofless sports car shop at the same store as those with no house.

I go through the store and find at the checkout Ive left my debit card in my pants at work. I hurry home before I discover I don't have a house anymore either.

As I climb up to my house there's a young lady standing in the street with her back to me with her head down in the cell phone position and her legs very crossed, like opposite shoulder width. I assume she's texting but she gives a big jerk and a little kite rises in front of her! As I pedal by I tell her it's a nice day for it, she says she doesn't know what to do and she's going to get her mom for help. Hope she got it working.

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Old 06-27-19, 05:53 AM
  #1160  
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Nice ride in again this morning. Pretty uneventful except I forgot to charge my light so it ran out right after I began. Last night I took the alternate route home again and enjoyed it. I did have one near miss at the end. I have a big intersection that I need to cross so I'm waiting there for the signal to change and the crosswalk sign to tell me to cross. There is a lady to my left that I know wants to turn right and she is on her phone. I looked back at her several times and I know she saw me because we made eye contact. The light changes, I get my crosswalk signal and start to go and she turns right in front of me and then for some reason stops right in the middle of the crosswalk acting all surprised that I was there.

I just stared at her and mouthed WTF. I sort of anticipated her turning so I was prepared for her to turn but the fact she even attempted to beat me to the turn is just amazing. I do sort of like the new way home even though its a mile longer time wise its not that big of a difference on time.
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Old 06-27-19, 06:44 AM
  #1161  
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Originally Posted by RidingMatthew View Post
Drove again today... yesterday i dropped of the commuter for some TLC. rear cable to derailleur; advise if new cassette is warranted, brought one in that I had bought, it might have been the cable all along; asked them to upgrade front brake caliper to TRP hy/Rd (matches the back now) and asked about the benefits/ costs of installing a bb and GRX crankset from Shimano. That might be an option if they cant straighten the current one.
Looks like alphabet soup to me.

On the way home yesterday I got behind a Penske moving truck going through this one neighborhood. For about 1.5 miles I drafted him at 20+ mph. I know the road well enough to know where the couple of speed humps are and anticipated his slowing. It was fun but also a little scary, especially considering there was another one right behind us. I could have been pancaked pretty easily.

Warmer and a bit more humid this morning. I left early and went to the gym for about 35 minutes on the way in. Hadn't done that in a while.
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Old 06-27-19, 07:57 AM
  #1162  
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Originally Posted by mgw4jc View Post
Looks like alphabet soup to me....
TLC = Tender loving care

TRP is the brand and hy/ rd is the caliper model

BB= bottom bracket and Shimano GRX is their abbreviation for the their gravel roadset.
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Old 06-27-19, 09:37 AM
  #1163  
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Consecutive bicycle work commute number 756:

Installed a new seat and did some work on the bottom bracket of my road bike last night. Was looking forward to the 21 mile ride today to try out the changes.

Woke up this morning to... rain. No road bike for me. Took the hybrid with fenders instead.

It was raining steady for the first half of the ride to work, after which the skies unleashed and it started to downpour. It was raining hard enough that my visibility was affected. When I had my glasses on there was so much water on them that I couldn't see very well. When I would take the glasses off the rain would pelt my eyes and make it so I couldn't see very well. So there was a lot of squinting and eye rubbing going on.

Lots of lightning. One bolt came down close enough that there was no delay between the flash and the boom, and it caused me to involuntarily say, "Whooooo!" I think it hit a flag pole about 1/8 of a mile from me.

After a while it started hailing so I took shelter in the alcove of an apartment building until the hail stopped. I thought about just trying to wait out the heavy rain, but after a few minutes of standing there it didn't look like it was letting up. I finally decided that I was already wet, so what's a little more rain?

Rode for two more miles through the deluge. During the last mile the water was so deep in the street that my feet were underwater at the bottom of the pedal strokes.

Turns out the deluge lasted for an hour and a half before it lightened up, so I would have been sitting under that alcove for a long time. Four hours later it looks like the rain is finally over. Flash flood warnings are now in effect so I may have to alter my route when I leave the office to ride to a client at 11 AM. Pretty sure my clothes aren't going to dry out by then.
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Old 06-28-19, 05:51 AM
  #1164  
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After not getting to ride last week, I'm on consecutive day 4, not as impressive as Tundra Man but only 752 behind him. Morning ride pretty uneventful but I actually saw another person in my complex who rode in this morning. As for my evening route, this week I've ridden my alternate route each night this week and I'm actually liking it a bit more because even though its a mile longer its not really adding much time since I can go a little faster.
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Old 06-28-19, 05:59 AM
  #1165  
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the ride in, this morning, was uneventful, just the way I like it! mid-60s, clear sky, dry roads & light traffic. I expect tonight to be a bit dodgy w/ temps near 90 with Friday night drivers ...
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Old 06-28-19, 06:51 AM
  #1166  
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Last night I flipped the fixed to the freewheel, left my tires a little soft, test-rode just 2-3 miles, and today my first bike commute since my injuries. I've been going along with what the orthopedist says, or would say if I'd seen one, and holding off but after three weeks I felt that it's time to ease back into it or else give it up.


Nice and slow so that I didn't sweat in my casual work clothes, sunny 73 degrees, it felt good getting out as opposed to driving. My shoulder is a little sore - maybe not more than after driving my manual transmission though - and ribs weren't stressed at all. You're always overly cautious after something like that, and I was, but thankfully there was no irrational fear that I half-expected. Just an easy ride in the Greenway and finishing up on the road, just like I've done thousands of times. Score one for habit and routine!


It's got me thinking about putting a lightweight rack on my road bike though, because I'm probably never again going to carry anything hard or rigid in my jersey. Including phone and wallet - the impact was enough to snap a credit card in half, which was flat inside, and the phone squirted out at least 20 feet away. Freak accident maybe, but regardless I'll never set up those conditions again. I have a trunk bag on the FG I crashed but was carrying the wallet and phone anyway, that won't happen again either.


So, that stuff in a rack or top tube bag from now on. Maybe fenders if I'm doing that anyway.
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Old 06-28-19, 07:09 AM
  #1167  
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Wow @Tundra_Man - quite the wet ride. I think I would have thrown in the towel on that one.

Decent Friday ride for 15 miles this morning. A couple of other cyclists, runners and dog walkers out in various places.
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Old 06-28-19, 08:11 AM
  #1168  
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Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
Consecutive bicycle work commute number 756:

Installed a new seat and did some work on the bottom bracket of my road bike last night. Was looking forward to the 21 mile ride today to try out the changes.

Woke up this morning to... rain. No road bike for me. Took the hybrid with fenders instead.

It was raining steady for the first half of the ride to work, after which the skies unleashed and it started to downpour. It was raining hard enough that my visibility was affected. When I had my glasses on there was so much water on them that I couldn't see very well. When I would take the glasses off the rain would pelt my eyes and make it so I couldn't see very well. So there was a lot of squinting and eye rubbing going on.

Lots of lightning. One bolt came down close enough that there was no delay between the flash and the boom, and it caused me to involuntarily say, "Whooooo!" I think it hit a flag pole about 1/8 of a mile from me.

After a while it started hailing so I took shelter in the alcove of an apartment building until the hail stopped. I thought about just trying to wait out the heavy rain, but after a few minutes of standing there it didn't look like it was letting up. I finally decided that I was already wet, so what's a little more rain?

Rode for two more miles through the deluge. During the last mile the water was so deep in the street that my feet were underwater at the bottom of the pedal strokes.

Turns out the deluge lasted for an hour and a half before it lightened up, so I would have been sitting under that alcove for a long time. Four hours later it looks like the rain is finally over. Flash flood warnings are now in effect so I may have to alter my route when I leave the office to ride to a client at 11 AM. Pretty sure my clothes aren't going to dry out by then.
Sounds kind of like my ride home last night. I rode into some kind of microburst. I was at the top of one of the big hills on my ride when the storm hit. I did have to take shelter for a little while from marble-sized hail, but after the hail and swirling wind let up, I rode on through the driving rain. My ride then takes me down to the bottom of that hill and along a creek bed that floods often. I was worried the road might be impassable and I'd have to ride back up to where I came from and try a different route. There was a couple inches of water on the road at the bottom of the hill, but I was able to get through. There was a manhole cover that was blown off the storm sewer from the pressure of the water coming down from the top of the hill and a little geyser 2 or 3 feet high. Wish I had a picture of that. Then half a mile further on and the road was completely dry, there'd been no rain there at all...
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Old 06-28-19, 11:45 AM
  #1169  
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How's it going, my fellow commuters?
My bike commutes are off to a late start this year and will end early too due to me deciding to go for higher education.
I see a couple of my fellow riders are on the path to recovery! Wish them a speedy recovery!
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Old 06-28-19, 03:32 PM
  #1170  
robertorolfo
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Quite a few more bikes than usual on the streets of NYC these past few days. People seem to think it needs to be over 85 degrees Fahrenheit for it to be good biking weather, when in reality it's a little too hot...
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Old 06-29-19, 12:39 AM
  #1171  
wphamilton
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Just chilling on the way home on the Greenway, 14 or 15 mph, I'd almost forgotten how aggressive the slow wobblies can be when they're passing you. Close passes with no reason, never checking themselves for oncoming traffic, splitting with pedestrians and so on. It's almost enough to push me to the streets if I'm going slow enough for those guys to pass ... and I take the streets if I want to go fast ...
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Old 07-01-19, 05:52 AM
  #1172  
beachball42
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Had a pretty peaceful ride in this morning. About halfway in I started to wonder if I made a mistake about what day it was. For a second I had a fear it was Sunday morning it was so quiet. I saw 1 jogger around mile 3 and then 1 bike rider and 2 more joggers around mile 6 of my ride. Outside of that, nobody was out. I anticipate more people this afternoon but being a holiday week I know a lot of people have left town for vacation.
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Old 07-01-19, 06:15 AM
  #1173  
mgw4jc
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Mornings are getting quite warm. 74F with a 70F dew point. I left later than normal and had to take a couple of my shorter routes.

Mid-year mileage is at 2854. Good for me, but i had hoped to get 3,000 on my way to 6,000 for the year. I doubt I'll be able to make up that deficit, but maybe.
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Old 07-01-19, 05:22 PM
  #1174  
Darth Lefty 
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It's going to be an awkward week for commuting due to a dentist appointment tomorrow and the holiday Thursday, but it's ok because it's midsummer and no one cares
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Old 07-02-19, 05:06 AM
  #1175  
essiemyra
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The commute was very pleasant this am.
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