Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Moving to a rental house

This weekend we will be moving into a rental house. We will be there for at least 4 months. The hotel is nice but it seems like it gets a little bit smaller everyday. We've been in a hotel for three and a half weeks now.

The insurance company hired another company to find us temporary housing. They arranged for the hotel and started looking for a rental house. Our original plan was to let them look and they would send us what they found. Helen got a little impatient and started looking on Zillow and we forwarded what we found to them check on the details.

After forwarding one house to them we went and looked at it. Helen and Rachel both thought it smelled funny and we all thought it was too small. They insurance company gave us a little grief when we turned it down because they said it was comparable to out house. I told them that while they owner claimed it was 1500 square feet, it was much smaller. In fact, the city records said 1100 square feet.

After that,  I just started calling the landlords directly. We went and looked at two houses on Sunday. We forwarded the information to the housing company once we decided that we liked them. Only one of them was willing to do a short term lease so that is where we will be staying.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Still Lucky

On Thursday, we changed hotels. The Residence Inn in Richmond Heights was nice, but the floor plan did not work well for us. The second bedroom was a loft so light and noise from the kitchen and living room would reach you.

Helen was very sick on the day that we moved. She called in sick for the second time in 4 years.

Now we are at the downtown Residence Inn. The layout is much better. The bedrooms are on opposite sides of the living room. Both bedrooms have actual doors. On the day we moved in, there was a leak in the kitchen sink. I called to the front desk and they had a maintenance worker there in about 5 minutes. He ended up replacing the garbage disposal.

On Friday, we got the dogs from the kennel. They have never stayed in a hotel before so there may be an adjustment period. No accidents so far!

Through all of this I am reminded how lucky we are. Insurance is paying for the hotel and will pay for a rental house once we find one. They will also be paying for the damage to the house and to clean or replace the contents of the house. My son's school offered to provide him with new clothes to replace what he lost (we turned that offer down so they can use that money for someone who really needs it).

A friend of mine used to be a firefighter. When I told him about the number of doors and windows that the firefighters had to break, he told me that when they worked a fire in the poorer areas, their chief would yell at them if they broke windows unnecessarily. he knew that a lot of people did not have insurance and doing too much damage could make them homeless.

All of my problems are first world problems. I've always considered myself lucky and the fire didn't change that. Nobody was hurt. No animals were hurt. We have insurance. There have been and will continue to be annoyances, but no tragedies.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Conspiracy Theory

What is the government trying to hide? Everyone knows that a normal house fire doesn't burn hot enough to melt vibranium!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Damage Report

The fire happened in the laundry room in our basement. The washer and dryer, clothes, and plumbing were all destroyed. There is some damage to the beams but I don't know how extensive it is yet. The kitchen, which is directly above the laundry room, suffered a lot of damage as well. The kitchen appliances all seem to be a to be a total loss and the walls suffered a lot of damage. The fire department had to break many of the windows and force their way through 4 out of 5 exterior doors. I expect the entire repair process to take 2-3 months.

The rest rest of the house seems to have suffered only smoke damage. Smoke seems to seep into everything and the odor is very difficult. The typically process seems to box everything up and ship it somewhere else to have it cleaned.

I am considering hiring a public adjuster. A public adjuster works on behalf of an insured person and negotiates the settlement with the insurance company. They do this for a percentage of the settlement.

Like most policies, my insurance covers ALE. This does not mean beer; it means alternate living expenses. That means they pay for the hotel that I'm staying in right now and the kennel where my dogs are staying. They will also pay for the rental house that I will probably need in the future.


Spoiler Alert: Everybody's OK. Even the animals.

Early Saturday morning I woke up to the sound of smoke alarms and dogs barking. I grabbed my phone and the dogs and got out of the house and quickly as possible. Helen and the kids were staying at a hotel in Collinsville for Archon so I didn't have to worry about them.

I tried to call 911 but between the adrenaline and trying to hold the dogs I couldn't get my phone to work. I ended up banging on a neighbor's door and having them call. Later I discovered that my phone was on airplane mode.

The fire department showed up and put out the fire. As a side effect of this they also broke a lot of windows and kicked in some doors. One of the firefighters asked me if I had tried to put out the fire myself. When I said no they replied "I asked because the water in the kitchen sink was running." I tried to imagine myself putting out a fire with the sprayer attachment from my kitchen sink.

Actually I never even saw the fire. The fire department said it started in the dryer. They eventually let go in to get a few things. The water in the kitchen sink was still running. My guess is that one of the firefighters knocked into the faucet.

My neighbors were really supportive during all of this. We put leashes on the dogs so that I didn't have to keep holding them. Someone gave me a bottle of water.

I called the insurance company and got that process started. They arranged to have someone come out to board up the house. They also made hotel reservations for me. For a few days we'll be staying in the Resdidence Inn. There were no vacancies for a 2 bedroom on Saturday night so I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. This worked out okay because Helen and the kids still had the hotel room in Collinsville.

I changed out of my pajamas into some smoke infused clothes. Once it was lighter I looked round the house some more. Water was leaking from the pipes near where the fire was so I turned off the water. I was a little surprised that they didn't shut off the water when they shut off the gas and electricity.

I waited around for the house to be boarded up. Later I checked into the Holiday Inn Express and took a shower. I tried to take a nap but couldn't really sleep. Since all of my clothes smell like smoke I went to Walmart and bought some clothes.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

An eventful few months

It's been a while so I have a lot of ground to cover.


On May 24 I did a 600K in Edwardsville. This completed my SR series for the year and qualified my to do a 1200K. I had previously registered for the the Cascades 1200 and was on the wait list. I decided to drop out of that ride and do the Taste of Carolina 1200K in October instead.


After the 600K I took too much time off. I did very little extra riding so I only had about 300 miles in June and 200 miles in July. I decide that I needed to pick up the pace if I wanted to be ready for the 1200K. I decide to try to ride 1000 miles in August. This would be a personal record for miles in a calendar month.


To reach my goal I would have to average 33 miles per day. My commute is 14 miles so I need a lot of extra miles. I tried to extend my commutes as much as possible and also do extra riding on the weekends to catch up to the pace.
As of August 18 I had 635 miles (35 miles ahead of the pace). Unfortunately I got hit my a car on my way to work on the 19th. No serious injuries but enough to keep me off the bike for a while.

The Accident

I was heading south on Big Bend in Webster Groves. A car came up from behind me and wanted to make a right onto Baker. He saw me but I guess he thought I was turning right so he sideswiped me. The impact of the car did not do much damage but the impact of the ground did. The driver stopped and I called the police.
I ended up with road rash on my elbow, calf, and ankle. My elbow needed a couple of stitches. I am still dealing with his insurance but I hope to have this resolved soon.
This dashed my hopes for a thousand mile month. I only rode 40 miles the rest of the month.


Since I did not meet my goal for August, I felt like I needed another big goal to get ready for the 1200K. I had already registered for the MS-150 so I decided to ride to the ride. I did this once before and it ended up being 520 miles in 4 days.
This time I decided to rent a tent from Padre's Cycle Inn. This meant that I would not have to carry a tent or deal with setting it up once I got there.
Day 1 (148 miles)
Friday was very hot (high of 95°F) and thunderstorms were predicted for the evening. There was also an issue with part of the Katy trail being closed with no detour. Since I was behind schedule, and because of the  uncertainty of the trail, I followed the Google Maps directions and left the Kay trail near Steedman.
This route was shorter than following the Katy, but it took me along a lot of gravel roads. A little while while after I went through Fulton, the storm hit. There was no shelter nearby and it was too windy to ride on the gravel roads so I had to walk my bike for about 15 minutes. The rain gradually lessened in intensity so I was able to get back on the bike. Riding wet gravel roads was not fun. I managed to stay upright but it was a struggle at times.
With about 15 miles to go, I was back on paved roads. This was a great relief. The rain had stopped as well. When I neared the campsite, I stopped at a Casey's and got a sandwich and a Coke to eat in the tent.
I got to the campsite a little before 8:00. My original plan was to check in to my tent and then pick up my registration packet. While I was putting my stuff away, it started raining hard. I decided to stay in my tent and eat while I waited for it to blow over. Eventually the rain slowed down and I was able to get my packet.
Day 2 (103 miles)
Saturday was the easy day: great weather (high in the 70's), and only 100 miles. The only issue I had was some saddle soreness. I think that this was caused by sitting and coasting on the downhills. I resolved to stand while coasting the next day.
Day 3 (136 miles)
I rode the 75 mile route on Sunday and then started back home. I did not want to ride on the gravel roads so I took the Katy trail. When I reached to closed bridge I was able to go down into the creek bed and climb up the other side. I had to make two trips: one for my bike and one for my gear.
Shortly after I got back on the open trail I came across a down tree. Again I had to make two trips to get through it. It was not nearly as bad as the tree on the 600K in 2007. I met some cyclists heading the other way while I was doing this and I gave them a scouting report on the bridge.
I did not have a plan on where to sleep that night. If I didn't find a hotel or B&B I figured that I could put my sleeping bag on a bench. When I was in Hartsburg I saw a flyer for a restaurant in Tebbetts that was open until 10:00. I figured that I would get there about 9:00, get something to eat, and then figure out a place to sleep.
The bad news is that the restaurant had closed at 8:00. The goods news is that there is a bicycle hostel in Tebbetts. It has bunk beds, showers, a fridge, and a microwave. This was like finding a oasis in the middle of the desert. There was a family (grandfather, mother, and son), and a woman already there. Everyone was friendly and there was plenty of room.
Day 4 (113 miles)
Because the hostel was so comfortable I did not get started until 8:00. By this time the distance was starting to wear on me. The Katy trail is flat, but the crush limestone surface slows you down a little. I estimate that 12 mph on the trail is the same effort as 15 mph on pavement.
This was the toughest day psychologically. The monotony of the trail, the discomfort, and the uncertainty of what would be open can take their toll. Someday I need to ride the Katy when I'm not putting in crazy distance. That way I could stop at every bench and every historical marker if I wanted to. As it was I had to keep grinding.
Leaving the the trail was a big boost. The long climb out of Creve Coeur Park was tough and I think I was starting to bonk. I stopped at the McDonald's at Westport for some fries and a Coke. This refreshed me enough for the rest of the ride. I got home about 8:30. Tired but feeling happy. 500 miles in 4 days is something to be proud of.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stick with me, I'm lucky

On Saturday I did the St. Louis 400K. It was a great ride and I set a personal record.


There were a total of 17 people riding. 6 doing the 200K, 3 doing the 300K, and 8 doing the 400K. I chatted with John during  the first part of the ride and found out that he is planning to retire as RBA after next year. I am considering taking over for him. Someone needs to do it and I figure that I owe it to the sport.
After that, I bridged up to the group that Bob Booth was in. I always enjoy riding with him. I never even saw the fast group. That's probably good because I wasn't tempted to hang on.
Bob Booth was there and I always enjoy riding with him. We rode together for the rest of the ride.We spent a lot of time riding with Jason until he split off on the 300K route. Bob and Jason were doing most of the pulling and I was hanging on.
In Sparta, Bob and I were joined by Jeff, who had dropped back from a slightly faster group.


The weather was very good. There was almost no wind for most of the ride and even a little bit of a tailwind in the evening. It was hot in the middle of the day during the climbs near Ava. And there was a severe thunderstorm just after midnight.
We were actually very lucky there. There was a chance of thunderstorms for most of the afternoon and evening. We were hoping to avoid any bad weather but we could see the lightning in front of us as we headed north from New Baden. Several times lightning would light the landscape as bright as day for several seconds, but still no rain.
When we got to Marine the front moved in and the wind really started to pick up out of the northwest. I saw a bank with an overhang and we took shelter there before the rain started. We ending up waiting about 45 minutes (and taking a short nap) while the storm passed. After that the rain was gone and we finished the remaining 15 miles with no problem.


Nothing much to say here which is a good thing. I used the rain cover on my trunk back but probably didn't actually need it.


I was pretty tired when we reached Ava. I bought a soda but couldn't drink it. I just drank water and tried to recover from the heat. I got a little sunburn on my arms. I think I must have sweated the sunblock off.
I did not worry about not eating enough. If I wasn't hungry, I didn't eat. I did drink a lot of soda at the controls. I think that I might be part hummingbird. I don't think I had any issues with bonking.


I set my pacing as if I were planning to finished in 20 hours. I did not actually think that I would; I just used this a a trick to help me get me out of the controls faster. It turned out that if not for the storm we would have finished in under 20. Even with the delay I set a new personal best of 20:20. Of course I had a lot of help from Bob and other riders.


Time: 20:20
Rolling time: 16:15:26
Distance: 254.34
Average 15.6