|You went over my helmet??|
Perfect weather for a bike ride . . .
April 17, 2016
April 16, 2016
It does represent another new day in the life of the dude, if nothing else. With no outside help, no prodding, no additional riders, and nothing but self-motivation and excuse-elimination - i actually printed a card, mounted up, got my first receipt, and rode a RUSA ride for credit.
Motivation? Self-assuredness? Self-accountability? Yeah... I'm no-good at it.
September.... I think I printed no less than five separate cards for myself for the Border Patrol route (the full 200+ km), yet, in each case the date came and went and the cards went unused into the paper shredder for recycling. This had begun to compound the personal frustration and found me further and further away from my "last decent ride" of any length. Before long, the excuse algorithm became self-aware and Fall yielded to Winter. Without my tried-and-true accountability chain in place, it had become FAR too easy to just not bother trying. I got more deeply entrenched inside my own head.
...here we are again... the weather becomes warmer, the skies lighter for longer, and the weight that had come on starts to interfere. This is all good, because - clearly - I've needed to learn how to become SELF-accountable for such things. And, yes, this entire time there have indeed been other perm route owners out there to request rides from, including the personal routes of our own perm's coordinator - but, the damage had been done and nothing about my personal situation with turmoil and change was going to allow me to ride. All of the uncertainty, the fact I'd been responsible for my own routes simply became another thing that created a convenient excuse. There ya have it... what I said I didn't want to get into in the previous post, looks like it played out here anyways, for better or worse. I'm okay with that, because - now, finally - I'm riding again, and loving it.
...and "Top Gear" as we knew it is ever-closer to debuting on Amazon Prime sometime this coming summer. Hallelujah!
Compared to a couple months ago when I'd attempted the Border Patrol Express and came up short, this time out was quite enjoyable. For being sick for nearly a month, I was at least able to stand up and climb without feeling like I'd been weighted down with a leaden vest. My average wasn't fast, I took some short on-route breaks, and I probably hung out at the control for too long - but, what else is new? I enjoyed the day, ignored the clock, and focused on finishing without over-doing anything.
The gravel section comprising the middle of the route was a blast, and despite the headwind on the trip south I managed to make the control in great time. Upon arriving, I mixed up my Cyto-carb and Skratch Labs carloie-booster, to help compensate for traditionally-low control calorie uptake, packed away the morning's layers, and popped in the FM radio earbud for the trip north. I looked forward to the tailwind that had been promised all morning, and enjoyed eating up the gravel miles while playfully dodging chuck-holes.
New tires? Yeah, I decided to try some new tires for a few reasons - but, flat frequency had become an unfortunate and frustrating self-talk topic of discussion, and I ultimately began to argue with myself on the real reasons I'd basically been paying more money for less technology. Now, I'm not going to start getting into a full review mode here, and I'm certainly not going to waste time bashing a product for what had clearly just been a string of poor luck on my part experienced while riding on the litter-strewn streets and trails of late-winter Johnson County, KS. Whatever tires I'd been running before are not "junk", nor are they over-priced, nor are they deserving of "one star" above a hastily-written and poorly-spelled "review" on some webpage or another. I don't do that. Tires, chain lube, brake pads, athletic clothing; all of these things' performances and their consumer's perspectives are heavily influenced by uncontrollable variables which directly color how their performance is interpreted - unlike, say, a digital camera (e.g., it either takes quality photos or it doesn't, all things being equal is well within a photographer's control).
Conversely, boo on me for letting these variables get the best of me... but, so far I'm quite pleased with my new tire choice. I'm not quite ready to jump over to tubeless on the road bike (maybe the next wheel rebuild will mark a decision opportunity there), so they're still the traditional inner-tube and clincher arrangement - but, they do have a modest flat protection belt included, are cheaper per tire, and are locally-available at my fave LBS . . . no more mail order, at least for tires. From Specialized, I took my positive experiences from the Espoir model I'd run for a while a few years back and decided to try a pair of the Roubaix Pro model; but, in a "dude-approved" 700x28 size. They fit well, mount easily, are well-made, have a nearly non-existent tread, and despite the addition of the flat protection belt they feel supple, it feels like they roll fast, and they iron out the pavement/gravel/asphalt surfaces quite nicely... dare I say, better than those tires which they've replaced. Time will tell, as we're only inside the first couple of hundred miles . . . but I'm pleased thus far.
More to come on that subject.
Songs in my head? Sure, why not!
Before the FM radio came on after leaving the halfway marker, I've had a few of my faves from my local fave radio station circling in my mind as the miles rolled under.
M.Ward - "Confession"
The Record Company - "Off the Ground"
Cold War Kids - "First"
Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop - "Every Songbird Says"
These songs, especially the uplifting, motivational, and hopeful tunes, seem to propel me further down the long, long road and keep the darker voices from being heard. It really depends on my mood, but I like to think the tone of the tracks in my head on these journeys often become indicative of where I'm headed... not of where I've been, and certainly not of the mistakes I might have made. As I re-listen to these now, through good headphones originating from lossless files... I feel good, and I feel hopeful.
My next step involves a 200k later this week - solo again, just to gauge progress and make determinations on whether or not I can join the KCUC series already in progress at the Oak Grove 400km event. I'm not crossing my fingers, because luck is not a factor. I'll have to wait and find out if it's indeed the right thing to do.
. . . but, I can always turn around. While I realize I recently mentioned that this concept, to me, somehow seems "wrong", well... since when is riding a bicycle, no matter for how long or short, ever "wrong"? This time of year, with birds singing and sunbeams tickling my forearms... why worry?
See you out there...
April 8, 2016
My previous post probably has a lot of folks assuming many things about me beyond what the post actually describes. I can imagine these culminating into a picture of an unshaven version of me wearing all wool, including shorts with genuine leather chamois, turn-of-the-last-century eyeglasses, suspenders, and riding a bone-shaker with oil lamps front and rear, because - dangit - that's how it's supposed to be done! Well, not really... I'm not a knuckle-dragger about everything. The backbone of that piece should have taken readers down a road of preparedness and redundancy, not to have them shun every gadget and convenience available to the modern cyclist.
But, be it a cost concern, a reliability or field repair-ability concern, or simply an aesthetic concern, any cyclist can ride satisfied these days. It's the continuous mix of old school and new school that keeps a lot of our diverse cycling market alive and well, even well into the 21st Century. I dig that. I can get modern parts that LOOK retro, but have benefited from lots of technical advancement compared to their decades-old cousins. Chain-rings, down-tube shifters, pedals, whatever... "they" probably make that.
Reminds me, I need to order up one of these babies:
|www.spurcycle.com I am not a|
paid or compensated spokesperson - I just like this bell
The real-deal is overpriced, you argue? Ehhh, for American-made quality and a modern take on an age-old concept? To help a start-up? What's "price", anyways? And, heck, it sounds good... 'scuse me while I dust off my vinyl and clean the volume potentiometer in my vintage '60's stereophonic amplifier... but sound & quality matter.
SO.... what are you doing, dude?
No it's not a burning question, and goodness knows there are bigger problems facing our nation right now. Prepare to vote, people. PLEASE.
Now, the WTF section....
Exactly... WTF, indeed.
Personally, I haven't been the same since Top Gear stopped airing on the BBC. I blame Jeremy Clarkson... ... you know, no, no, no ...I can't blame Jezzah. Honestly, I woulda socked the guy, too. C'mon, dude, did you think you were catering to Wolf Blitzer or someone? Good LORD, man. Anyhoo...
I've had a few people reach out to me about this blog, my state of mind, and why I haven't logged any "credit" miles since August. Yeah... August. I can't believe it. Time does fly.
Well; I've learned to keep things a little shorter so I won't drag this out into one of those old school "woe to me" posts where I question everything, create drama, and wax on about the champions of old. Sometimes, the truth is enough - and it really makes it easier to just get past this already. We have stuff to accomplish, right? Who READS anymore, right? Yeesh... brace yourself for the new video-blog format, coming to a YouTube channel nowhere... like I got time for THAT.
SO, I'm not going to wax philosophical and get all "weird" - I haven't ridden a 200k since August of 2015. My total mileage for March is about 140. Pathetic... sure, whatever. Not much can be changed about it, but, I'm officially done being and feeling "done." That's enough of that.
Most of it is bad timing. I wanted to be ready for this season. Unfortunately, the annual illness that usually socks me pretty good decided to show up in late March instead of January like usual... and I finally completed round 2 of antibiotics earlier this week, and finally stopped coughing like a 1840's coal miner a few days ago as well... plus, the neon-green silicone-consistency goobers I've been hacking up have abated. All told, I'm grossly under-trained, under-prepared, and pretty embarrassed about it. Showing up at tomorrow's 300k just isn't going to happen, which is hard to do because it's the return of one of my FAVORITE all-time routes; home to the worst day I've had on the bike, as well as some of the best days I've had on the bike. Yeah, I could call it a training ride and just turn around... but, I don't show up at RUSA events planning to turn around. It just seems ... wrong, somehow. When I show up, I want to KNOW that I'm going to finish - and right now, I can't say that.
Yes... challenges HAVE to have some element of doubt around them. Some amount of unknown... otherwise, it's NOT a challenge. Yes, I need some challenges. I've missed the DK sign-ups for 2016, but instead of whining about it, I jumped on a personal bandwagon and signed up for the Pirate Cycling League's Gravel-Worlds event in August. I bought a gravel bike, so I might as well use it for something besides winter-time riding and single-track, right? Challenge accepted. The 600K? Yeah, I still want to do it... but, I need to finish the 400k on 4/30, and finish with some personal respect to know that I can actually salvage this season without the "shorter" rides included.
I've got 20 days from this weekend until the 400k weekend on 4/30. The plan:
I will ride a 200k on Sunday to assess where I am.
I'll call that "basecamp"... once at basecamp, I'll acclimate with some focused, extended commutes, some gravel, some thrash, some speed... AND some tailored rest and stretching. Ten days later, on or around 4/20, I'll ride another 200k for conditioning. Then, more focused rides, commutes, whatever-you-wanna-call-em... making sure my body is up to these tasks, and not over-doing it... and then, 4/30, "summit" at the KCUC 400k.
That should at least improve where I am, even if it doesn't fully prepare me to excel at the 400k, it will be a far-cry better than - almost literally - crawling out of bed and dusting off the bike to try a very hilly 300k tomorrow. THAT, I feel, would be a recipe for injury... and while starting right off with a 200k isn't exactly "ramping up", it's safer to do it closer to home if nothing else, just in case something bad really DOES happen.
This isn't over, and I'm certainly not "done."
I just fell down.
You know what we do when we fall down?
We get back up.
After all, "Top Gear" - or whatever they'll call the reboot - is gonna be on Amazon Prime soon. I mean . . . how hard can it possibly be?
February 14, 2016
Yes, in my opinion sometimes for worse... I will not begrudge anyone for exploring the outer limits of what is technologically possible when it comes to bicycling long distances; however, there is something to be said about ye olde printed maps and situational awareness. The undertone herein should be redundancy, and many folks I ride with already adopt this method. While GPS is terrific, while generator hubs, power converters and chargers, jump batteries, LTE tower coverage and other niceties have indeed come a LONG way, just in the last three years, always - always - keep a printed copy of a paper map of your route, and a print-out of the cue sheet safe and sealed in a water-tight bag of some kind. Even if it remains deeply stuffed into a saddle bag or repair kit, never to be seen, you still have it if you need it.
OK, the above personalised disclaimer aside - I often marvel in amazement (and, yes, frustration about that which I cannot afford at the moment) at the constant flow of technological wizardry thrust forth for cyclists to absorb. The engineering opportunities to solve specific problems are as old as bicycling itself. I have been riding long enough to have witnessed the beginnings of what we enjoy today, and it's staggering how quickly some of these marvels have emerged. Generator lighting, well --- that's been around the block more than a few times. My father's '68 Schwinn Varsity, with Schwinn-Approved tire-driven generator is testament to that, and any quick web search of 1950's Euro-rando will show earlier iterations... surely, the design goes back even further; and I'm quite certain evidence exists of oil-lanterns affixed to turn-of-the-last-century boneshakers. Sundown has often been a barrier to adventure, and bicyclists have been lighting their way for the better part of a century, certainly ... but, the efficiency... the power... the last 10 years have seen a watershed movement in LED lighting, generator efficiency, and the harnessing of power. It's remarkable; almost amazing:
I pull my father's bicycle down from the rafters, engage the tire roller of the bottle generator, and give the wheel a purposeful spin... and nothing. Nothing but a quick "whirrr" and the wheel comes to a halt. Even in a darkened garage, one would swear this 60-year-old relic of filament wire and heavy magnets was long broken, as not even a hint of electricity makes itself seen across the tungsten deep inside the thick glass light bulb. But, mounting the bicycle and rolling down the street - though one would swear the brakes had been dragging - the eager, yellowish light of the sealed beam arcs to life once enough speed is generated. Six volts... three watts... but, oh, OH so narrow, dim, and wavering is the beam lighting my way. At one point, this was the state-of-the-art.
Returning to the garage, I pull down the Kogswell - the generator hub consequently set into motion simply from the slight rub of tire against ceiling hook as I lower the bicycle to the ground for a comparison. There's no need. Just the gentle, 2 or 3 mph equivalent spin of the front wheel as I move it through the air is enough to emit a couple of startling pulses from the LED headlight and taillight. A gentle spin of the elevated front wheel, and both lights leap into life, illuminating the entire inside of the garage for a few moments in a combination blue-red glow. Amazing. The night, for many years now, isn't something for which to be prepared... not something through-which to "survive" until dawn, but instead something to look forward to... a chance to play.
I've been riding long enough to have witnessed this rapid march forward, to the point where bicycle generators produce power-to-spare at efficiency levels that few cyclists would even register while rolling along the open road. I've regaled many a-rider with this personal tale, and I'll echo it here, again: Back in roughly 1999-2000, when I first began actively riding my bicycle to and from work, I didn't use a front light. For a long time, I didn't bother using a taillight. At that time, the ubiquitous red LED taillight we all take for granted today was still in its infancy. Peter White Cycles, my source for the latest and greatest in generator lighting in the US, had only recently emerged on the World Wide Web as a seller of generator systems, but many of the taillights still used halogen bulbs behind red lenses. The first LED taillights - not even mentioning headlights - were battery hogs & costly. I once had an early Cateye offering (them, for me, representing the most-trusted name in bicycle electronics) that ran on two AAA batteries, with a run-time of 5 hours... on flashing mode. I mean, wow.
Headlights? Puh-leez. Unless you were a racer, or just had money to burn, real headlights were out of reach for most folks... at least, the circles I ran in had it seem that way. Most early efforts were effective, but required heavy batteries that would occupy an entire bottle cage - and would still only run for a few hours at most. I originally purchased, from Peter White actually, Cateye's Micro Halogen headlight, a small miracle with a very tiny halogen bulb (like the Maglite flashlights used) and a great reflector design. This little light, which was a great price, small, portable, and ran on normal AA batteries, was a game changer for me. A lot of rando guys used to run these, even though they only would last for maybe 4 hours on a set of 4 AA cells.... in the days before AA rechargables were really affordable or effective yet. I know, personally, my short commutes would result in needing a new pack of AAs every week.
Still, this was a GREAT light... today, with generator hubs and super-efficient bottle generators, lights like this are all but obsolete... despite, honestly, still being effective and producing light you can ride with.
Fast forward to today, LED generator-powered headlights are throwing more light on the road than quality LED battery headlights were capable of only a few years ago. The technology is advancing so quickly, I'm not even going to put any statistics here in print... they'd be out of date by the time you'd read them.
Why am I going into all this? Hell, I dunno.
Hey, a radio!
Oh yeah.... THAT'S what I was gonna talk about . . .
|They got it right, kept it right, and we can still buy them!|
Nothing, and I'd be willing to debate this, empowered people and nations of people moreso than the transistor radio. Yes... the newspaper was effectively "first" when it comes to the dissemination of information, but, I would offer that literacy has often been outpaced by the written word, sadly. While newspapers and such were "the source", it wasn't until the literacy barrier was broken by the return of the spoken word... and, by return think back to your barkers, your town heralds of old, shouting out a King's proclamation, or announcing noteworthy happenings in the town squares of centuries-past. The RADIO brought this back, and the portable transistor radio brought it out of the living room and onto the streets, and to the masses.
Now, still, this isn't what I'm on about... not yet...
Music is not "news"... but, somewhere along the lines, just in the last decade or so, music's portability has taken the place of the radio's portability. Granted, there is nothing sadder in my opinion as a music lover than the state of modern commercial radio in a post-MP3 world. THAT aside, the "DJ" (even if it's a big corporate computer on "shuffle") is far better, far more sustainable, far more listenable than one's own collection of digital files on repeat. Where once we simply turned a knob, and with that satisfying, mechanical "click", a steady stream of continuous music, talk, chat, advert, noise... well, now, we are reduced to being our own "DJ", curating and collecting our own files and downloading them onto innocuous little MP3 cubes and sticks and gadgets for our entertainment. Long live the American radio disc jockey, say I. Radio is not only relevant, still, it's the future. The concept of "radio" is not only evident on nearly every formerly-music-marketplace-only service like iTunes and Google Play, it's evident across every traditional broadcast's webpage... the streaming option. Yeah, that's still "broadcasting" in the dictionary sense... but, over-the-airwaves radio? Yes... it still very much has its place. The ballgame, the newstalk or call-in radio show... the original "social media". Long may it reign...
no, really, are you going to talk about something - or is this post completely random??
Hey, I'll get to it...!
While I do ride with one of those (above) little miracles, with one less earbud attached than shown, ... I've had less and less time to do what the music industry used to do FOR us, and that's come up with interesting playlists that I won't grow tired of during long, long bike rides. Granted, the last few trips out on the bike, I haven't needed tunes at ALL, which is a good thing -- but, for the mental excuse eliminator, for me, nothing quite tops music when it comes to just keeping the ole negativity at-bay and maintaining a good pedaling cadence. Sometimes, I need it. But, do I have to work so hard for it?
Last season, I became enamored with radio once more while riding alongside Steven W. during the Iowa 400k. The KC Royals were marching onward toward another great season of baseball, and while the sun began to set on a lonely and quiet stretch of highway, Steven's radio was switched on to invite the soothing play-by-play tones of Denny Matthews along for our bike ride. The hours FLEW past as the Royals played ball, and the trio of me, Steven and Josh ate up the long miles of road back to Liberty, MO.
Man, why don't I do that more often???
Further, there was nothing to think about, no skip or replay buttons, no decisions to make... just "click"... and boom, radio.
Hell, even if I couldn't care for the song being played or the topic being discussed, that's what the tuning dial is for, right? No matter what, it's better - FAR better - than becoming mired in one's own thoughts of dread and "what if" when the ride might enter a dip in emotion. It happens.
Roughly twice the height of the average MP3 player, the tiny AM/FM radio is alive and well in the marketplace. I've opted for the little Sony gem on the left from the shot above, pulled from a backpacking website. The Sangean has a few more features, like digital tuning and presets, but, the sheer size and simplicity of the Sony proved more attractive to me. I can't wait to lend an ear to whatever I happen to across the dial when I commute and rando this year. Running on a single AAA battery, I don't even have to worry about carrying along a charging cable for my MP3 player anymore - nor do I have to spend the random hour here and there updating my playlists... again... In those two regards, this little radio is already saving me time and hassle. Just pop it into the rando-bag, and go. What a concept!
Yeah, this post is pretty darn random, maybe; but, my point is specific. Keep things SIMPLE, above all else. GPS, smartphone apps, fancy multi-function watches that are all the rage nowadays; don't get me wrong - I *love* technology. I love the technology that have some to the bike, but, I caution everyone I talk to on the subject... keep it simple. There is a time and a place, and sometimes I'm not sure long distance bicycling is "the place" for some of these innovations. That's probably just me exercising the survivalist rant inside, as many a GPS user I know has enjoyed countless 200 and 300k rides without a single incident. But, keep that paper map. Tuck it away. I know at least one or two riders I frequently join on adventures who do this - and, while I've never had to watch them pull out that map or cue sheet, it's there. Just in case. Like those self-adhesive tire boots I bought ten years ago and have never had to use... they're not there to play with, they are there just in case. Give me a good, solar-powered analog wrist-watch and a printed cue, and I'm good to go, however. I don't have to upload anything, cross-check anything, wonder, worry, or fuss. I don't have to charge it up, sync it up, or load it up. My printed map won't suddenly change from central Missouri, to the central Atlantic Ocean, and paper doesn't ever ever need to reboot. My little AM/FM wonder, yes, will occasionally need a new battery... after a month or so of sporadic use... but, those batteries are sold ... and dare I use this term... EVERYWHERE. Granted, there is an AC outlet everywhere, too... but, when my device drops dead, not only is it not a ride-stopper, I don't have to remain lashed to a wall while my power source is replenished. I pop in a new cell, and leave.
Feel free to tear these arguments apart when you consider solar trickle chargers, jump-batteries (power banks, whatever you wanna call 'em), and - bada-bing - generator-powered charging systems... which are now widely available for around $75. Yeah, yeah... I know... my old, knuckle-dragging ways are holding less and less water with each passing month of technological advancement, I'll grant you that. I'm okay with it, really I am, and - my final assessment is "to each his own". For me? It's not about the money, or the perceived hassles (of which there are only a few, honestly). For me, it's just simpler... like a steel framed bicycle. Yeah, materials have come a long way, and anything can ride like anything you want it to... even aluminum... but, I just choose cheaper, more honest, simpler materials. I like it this way. I have enough gadgets at work... maybe consider, bicycling is my time to get the heck away from that stuff, eh? When I'm nose-deep in a good, scenic 400km ride, I don't give a rat's backside what "KML" even stands for.
I want my navigation, my bicycles, my baggage, my electronics, my inner-tubes and my entertainment the same way, thank you. Thank you very, very much.
See you out there . . .
ADDENDUM: added 2/15/2016
An offline conversation resulted in some valid thoughts and concerns on this subject, so I felt it appropriate to add a few lines here to accompany my original thoughts above:
Music on the bike.... safe?
We started talking about the use of Bluetooth speakers on the handlebars, and generally - open-air speakers versus earbuds, and the safety concerns therein. So, it must be noted;
January 19, 2016
January 11, 2016
Surely as the registration window opened - and, as it turns out, quickly closed - the adjacent forums and email lists, silent for months, began to buzz with proclamations of new goals, aspirations, and stories from years past. What for, one might ask? Isn't it just a ride? Video, blog-post, photos have come close while in concert with one another; yet, short of the actual experience ... which, I still do not have (at this writing) ...no amount of words or photos can truly convey what I'm on about here, what I've only yet witnessed from the seat of the support car. I have so much to say, though none of it adequate.
As the Dirty Kanza "registration weekend" closes out and we all return to work for another dreary Monday, there's little doubt as to the nature of our daydreams. Conference calls, mundanity, and chilly weather.. who could be blamed for thinking ahead to June, for planning, and for dreaming?
December 28, 2015
December 26, 2015
"Reviews of all things touring, commuting and lifestyle related for the discerning cyclists with a mildly sardonic tone".
Oh, yeah... and riding, eh?
Gotta go . . .
December 12, 2015
It's all over the internet, and I don't know if it's urban legend or just a good architectural parable; but when I first heard it recounted by my lifelong friend, the Crowbar, it stuck firmly in my head ... especially when visiting a locale which has clearly never heard of it.
I've enjoyed this analogy in the past when trying to relate design philosophy to folks at work, especially:
I can't recall the name of the college campus, but, the story goes that the buildings were all originally built with NO pathways between them; just open grass between the parking lots and each dorm and/or classroom or lecture hall. Over the first year of operation, the students and teachers would do what anyone would do in an undefined space: they walked to and from each building along the shortest route, or the routes that made the most sense - diagonals, curving around terrain, etc. After this first year, the trodden pathways across each of the grass areas took shape. Only then did the design team return to lay down the paved walkways, using the exact routes that had been worn into the grass. Those who newly attended in the years afterwards would consistently comment on the genius and efficiency the layout of the campus provided, and how fast and easy navigation became compared to the usual array of 90° angles and grid-style walkways-to-nowhere.
I always look for this echoed in ride behavior; if riders are always hitting a control and then rapidly leaving for "whatever" on the other side of town, it's a chance to consider a positive change. When designing routes, try to keep this in mind. Not only will it likely prevent you from worrying about shortcuts, it will provide the sort of natural flow which riders will naturally be drawn to follow; which presents fewer opportunities for anyone to become lost. At least, that's the hope... and, ultimately it's just my opinion, and definitely not a criticism of others.
Here in the KC area, the grid system reigns... other cities once visited, while initially conveying to a "grid veteran" a sense of confusion and poor design, they ultimately reveal the same patterns one would naturally take if no roads had been in place: the roads go almost directly to wherever it is they are headed, instead of drawing squares around them and boxing everything in. Dallas and its surroundings, for example - an area I've bashed in the past, yet has one of the most active and successful randonneuring scenes in the world - if you're in Waco and you want to head to Tyler, the roads to get there create a straight-shot, almost the same route one would take in an airplane. Two similarly spaced towns in KC, one follows roads along a strict staircase of 90° turns; one has to get creative and make their own diagonal path. Now, in neither area would one put a good rando route on the exact roads most cars would be using, but many of the old farm roads follow the same rules as the main roads in each respective area, too. It's interesting, traveling from place to place, discovering how a region has been navigated over time. I'm not saying KC is somehow doomed because of the old farm section road plan, but only that one need venture farther afield to get to the good stuff.
True, this doesn't work everywhere. Near rivers, mountains and railroad lines, however, the natural flow and sense of destination the direct, curvy roads often invoke also make for some of the best bicycling experiences. The low resistance of the old country road, county highway, or original U.S. route system are all great examples. The way original railroad alignments arc gently across huge expanses of prairie - no wonder rail trails, or highways alongside them, are so popular! No wonder the Flint Hills 225km route creates such a strong mental picture once one has ridden it. Powerful stuff.
While I'd often sought out routes beginning close to home for my own convenience, now I've begun to look outward to the places still small enough to evidence the long, open stretches of long distance cycling perfection. I can't wait to spread out and ride some new territory next spring, and explore that flow. It's sorta like lightning during a thunderstorm: the path of least resistance doesn't seem to have a pattern or purpose at all ... but, it's undeniably beautiful, powerful, and intriguing. Those are the roads for me. As I take pen to map once again this winter looking for the next great route, all of this flurries around in my head - and then I look out the window, and dream of these faraway roads traced only as thin gray and blue lines. I slowly drag the pencil across the page from one town to the next and see the long, flowing printed lines underneath... There. That one.
Let's ride that one...
And it begins.
Stay rando, my friends.
November 15, 2015
There ARE good people out there!
Prior to the ride I had asked, and was approved, to ride some bonus miles during the 200+km permanent. Permission was granted based on me both staying under the time limit and exiting/returning to the course at the same location.
It was cooler that morning when I'd left home, and I'd thought about adding a bag to my bike to store extra layers. Ultimately I decided I could just put my arm warmers, cap and vest in my jersey pockets. I rode my gravel-ready Salsa Fargo, and after checking in at the Pleasanton control I headed off course and rode some good bonus gravel miles. At my furthest point south, I stopped near Prescott and took off the last of my cool-weather gear, repacked my pockets and proceeded to head back north. I re-entered the course in Pleasanton and began the ride on toward La Cygne.
When I got to the Casey’s Control in La Cygne. I grabbed some pizza, a cold bottle of Gatorade and all the usual stuff. Piling it all on the counter, I reached into my pockets for money. What a surprise and shock it was to find I had NONE! No Money, No Route Card, No receipts, NO ID, No Credit card. The Ziploc bag which contained all of that important stuff was gone! Fortunately the good people at Casey’s helped me out and took good care of me. But I still had NO money, Nothing!
I left the Casey's befuddled about my lost card and cash. Without that route card my ride wouldn’t officially count. Without my cash it might make it a bit harder to ride home. I thought to myself, I knew I had everything at the farthest south turn-around. Trying to think back, I'd thought I’d maybe reached back into my pockets, maybe once, only about 10 miles back from LaCygne. I'd convinced myself I must had lost that bag at that point! Resolve bolstered, I decided to ride my route backwards and find my stuff before riding back home.
Unfortunately, I never found my Ziploc, and, finally I had to abort looking and head home. Empty handed. By then I'd assumed my stuff was blowing who-knows-where on the wind, never to be seen again!
I rode back to LaCygne and remained on course back to Olathe... not that sticking to the course matter much at that point. When I ride the Fargo on that loop I don't normally need to stop after LaCygne... but, that's mainly because when I know I have case, I know I can stop anytime I need to and get anything I want.
Of course, when I don't have any money all I can think about is all the stuff I want but can't have! It made for a long ride home! ...forget the fact I'd blown my September 200K! Sure, I had a good 200 mile training ride, but I was not a happy camper!
Since this had all happened on a Sunday, I elected to officially get my 200K in by taking off early on Tuesday afternoon and departing for a 3:30pm start. I enjoyed a nice evening ride, well past my normal bed time... but I got my September 200K on the books! whew
- Don't wait till the end of the month to ride your 200K! (If it hadn't been for a cancelled customer meeting I would have been out of town and would have lost my hard-earned R-12 in the process.)
- Don't keep all your eggs in one Ziploc!
- Pay attention to your stuff!
Keep the important stuff in a zipped pocket, in the seat-bag, or otherwise stashed away ... ANYwhere other than back pockets that you might be getting in and out of all day. Just pulling out a cue sheet or a snack might seem easy enough, but you can never know if something stuck to it, or if a gloved-hand accidentally grabbed onto something else in the process.
I thought that was the end of this story. . .
. . . but, there are actually Good People out there!
First the Good Folks at Casey’s gave me anything I'd needed, as I stood at the counter emptying my pockets all over the place. There I stood, not a penny in hand! Yet, they still helped me! This is the payback of always being polite and appreciative of our hosts along the route.... yes, even if they have no idea what they're hosting. The attitude we put out there could pay us back someday!
A bit later, life going on as usual, I arrive home from a week of being out of town. My wife does a great job while I'm gone, taking care of many things! One of them, of course, being the mail. She takes care of the important mail, gets rid of the junk mail, sorts the work stuff and leaves me the few fun/personal items I occasionally get. Upon examining this, and to my surprise and amazement, I have waiting for me a nice hand-written note, my route card, cash, credit card, ID and receipts... everything I lost on that Sunday ride!
This Great American found my Ziploc while walking along a gravel road not far from his home. He'd not only found it, but took the time to write me a note and mail all my stuff back to me! Yes, indeed, there really are GREAT People out there!
God Bless this Country and all the Good People that make it Great!
|Keep 'em rollin'! Yeah, that's not John... but, hey, every post needs at least one photo.|