Oh well -- still, you can probably gather that the 200K plus MS-150 weekend was a success -- there were a few low spots, but really it was very good overall, a smiling experience full of good times and great riding in some weird-for-early-September weather. From Friday evening at sundown it never got above 70 degrees until about 7 miles to go to the finish line Sunday, today. Weird. Also, the cloud cover was remarkable. I've never ridden SO LONG in the summer without having to apply sunscreen. I saw my shadow for about 20 minutes on Friday evening, about 20 SECONDS Saturday, and for a little bit on Sunday, again about 7 miles from the finish. Sad thing is, I still got a mild sunburn on my neck and the area of my legs where the knickers didn't cover. That looks HOT, lemme tell ya. Nothing says "check ME out" like a couple of inflamed reddish-colored 4 inch wide rings around each, otherwise blazing white, leg. Nice. Finished the 200K at 1:56 AM Saturday AM, drove (yeah, drove) to Peculiar, MO. and attempted to sleep in the car (unsuccessfully) until about 3:45AM, afterwhich some volunteers arriving prompted me to go inside and have the locker room unlocked, showered, and hung around until pancakes were ready, and then the MS-150 party began. Oh, and they stopped calling it the MS-150, because it's really "up to" 182 miles now, if you choose the century route on day one. So, I opted that way, and made it 228 miles in 24 hours between two events. Seventeen beers and six strawberry ice-cream bars later -- ok, not really -- I had the BEST tent-sleep since RTR. Riding over a double century and being awake for 32 hours will do that. Thud, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Just a random shot from the garage, lit only by the LED nightlight that I created from spare parts. Bordom at its finest, but it helps me get ready for night rides without ruining my night vision. The pedal is a old OLD pedal from a vintage kids bike that needs to be restored. Another project for a friend. The big shadow is created by my helmet, hanging above the shot. Weird, blue, spooooky.
Cut to Grandview, MO, 4:45pm Friday afternoon. With US-71 buzzing in the background, I have unpacked the (gulp) car, and am ready to ride. I figured I'd be riding enough this weekend, so I got the car out of mothballs again. For some reason, it's not selling -- but that doesn't mean I'm giving up on the car-free thing -- but for now, it's pretty much car-free unless I'm doing a big bike event somewhere more than 25 miles from home. Variable elimination. This weekend was gonna be run pretty close to the clock, so I had to ensure that I was ready to go right at 5pm for this ride. It worked out. Here's the Trek 450, splendorous, ready for the next 300+ miles.
Note the double Pearl Izumi tailgate seatbags. My solution to carrying too much, and exactly enough. I can still carry along everything I used to have in those huge Carradice bags of a few years back, but I don't catch nearly as much wind or sway - and I don't OVERpack by consequence. Dale from Iowa on the brevet scene said it best once on a 400K -- he said the only bad thing about a big saddle bag is the desire to fill it. In retrospect, he was right. Back pockets do just fine, and if it doesn't fit, do you REALLY need it? This setup has proven very successful and minimalist. Perfect.
Me, the ultimate "before" shot. Willing, rested, fueled, and dressed for the evening temps. Summer, for the time being and ever since Gustav came to visit, has been on hold. It's currently barely 70 degrees and will drop into the mid 50's by the time I'm done. Perfect wool weather. The RUSA colours flying, and reflective gear at the ready. Time to check in at the 7-Eleven, and get this show on the road already.
On the road -- this is probably 40 minutes into the ride, on Kenneth Road. Previously, the traffic was so thick that I didn't feel safe snapping any shots. I don't know if I'll ever consider starting a permanent - especially this one - right at rush hour on a Friday. Getting out of Grandview, thru KCMO, and navigating State Line at 135th Street from Blue Ridge Road... yeah. I've gotten pretty good at this game, but holy stuff dude. This route was defintely designed to be started on a quiet weekend morning. Surprisingly, no close calls, no fingers, no garbage tossing, no honking. Correct behavior on the road benefits everyone, I really believe that. Stay to the right, look confident, and don't be stupid. Like pulling out the camera in traffic -- so, again, this is the first road shot. There are still cars behind me, tho.
As evidenced in this next shot.
Kenneth Road, on top of a ridge between 143rd and 135th streets. Nice day! Green fields, blue skies, some clouds. Nice. A little tailwind, too, I believe.
Downhill on 199th Street - and a blur of color from the thousands of sunflowers that have bloomed over the last couple days. I love this time of year!
Another great view, highlighting the very slight chance of rain that hung about all weekend. Not exactly benign cumulostratus - but not a thunderstorm, either. I'll take it. The shadows are getting longer.
South of Paola, KS., about 45 miles in I think, and the sun is getting lower. To the tune of "Going the Distance" by Cake: "The sun has gone down, and the warmers come up..."
This is one of my favorite pull-offs, too, littered with debris and sunflowers coming up thru the cracks, this is part of old Hospital Road that used to connect to Old KC Road before US-169 was moved. Off the road, and hidden, a good place to park and add layers out of sight of traffic.
From the same location, despite the dramatic forelighting that makes it look almost like afternoon in the leg warmers shot, this is only a few minutes later. The sun behind clouds, and the moon and some bright stars (maybe a planet?) coming out to play. A good one to zoom in on, IMHO. The car is turning off of Hospital Road and onto 311th street, which is where I'm standing.
Some more, sun dipping shots from Hospital Road near 343rd Street.
The Dinotte comes on, lighting the way -- I wish I hadn't jiggled the camera quite so much or this would be pretty striking, but there you have it. I still think for commuting and longer brevets and RUSA stuff, the generator lights are the way to go, especially the Schmidt hub set-up. But, for "shorter" stuff, and the occasional night ride on the "good bike", the Dinotte is superb, flawless really. Light, stupid bright (I kept getting high beams flashed at me from other cars, which tells me it could only benefit from better optics), and long lasting. It's worth every dime. This is the first generation model, notable by the green status LED on the back -- the new ones have blue. I still haven't found reason to upgrade yet -- this is plenty of light, but the new ones are even brighter. This is Hedge Lane near 367th Street, with a just-passed-me set of car taillights just ahead. It got dark FAST.
Here's an under the leg shot off the bike. A Cateye TL-600 blazing into the night attached via the rear rack mounts on the dropouts. No silly plastic clamps for the Trek 450. Not that there's anything wrong with them -- but it's a vintage Trek for gawd-sake. I couldn't brimg myself to clamp something to the gorgeous seat stays. Besides, there wasn't any room left on the seatpost due to the double seatbags. Why am I explaining this? It's bright, aimed right, and a very good taillight. Note the reflective ankle bands. My former love for reflective tape all over the bikcycle has morphed into a love for reflective stuff on me, instead. Same reason, really. It's a red Trek. Why would I put reflective tape all over it? He,he.. Bike snob, you betcha. The last hint of light barely glows in the sky.
Several miles later, at the Casey's in La Cygne, KS., my most-oft visited C-store on bike rides. On a first name basis with the girl that always seems to be working when I show up, and they know the brevet card drill without even being asked. I love this place. Again, a little shakey with the camera. I'm not acclimated to the chill of the night air lately... I'm layered up for March here, and it's still technically summer. It should be in the 70's right now, but it's about 55 instead with a slight north wind. Plus, it's wet -- and about 7 miles out from here the fog was getting thick. A good night to have good lights, and pray for light traffic -- a prayer that was being answered. A great night for a ride, but it's dark and lonely out. I enjoy a hot cup of coffee to speed away the chills and warm the soul for the ride back - this is the halfway today. I can't imagine how dark and cold it would be having to ride down to Pleasanton, which is something I'd have to do had I chosen the Border Patrol route for tonight. Pretty glad I hadn't, even though the Olathe start might have been easier.
Casey's and La Cygne at night - weird. Feels like one of Bob's 400K's! This shot was taken between trains, which were running nearly constantly north and south while I was here. Since the floods last July washed out a lot of tracks, it seems that a lot of freight is STILL behind, and the trains are nearly constant. Another good reason not to be riding Border Patrol, as the approach from the east would have resulted in a LOT of waiting. I was here for 15 minutes, tops, and I counted four trains.
This shot might look like a mistake. It's not. This is to give a slight idea how flippin' DARK it is out on these roads. I have stopped, the Dinotte is off. This is on top of a hill on Hedge Lane, looking due north towards Paola, at I believe approximately 367th Street. I'm still about eight miles away from turning into Paola on Baptiste Drive, about 8.5 as the crow flies from here. dead center in the shot is a little blink of light - and again, it's wiggly - I apologize. It's so dark, the CCD sensor on the camera is scattering light, so even on what should be a dark road surface are little pixels of white, making it look like a bunch of stars. Above the center line of the photo, however, some of those pixels ARE stars, as the clouds have moved east. The moon has already set, but it was only a sliver to begin with. It's so dark, the only reason I can see my hand in from of me is from spill light from my taillight. This is why I ride at night with a small LED light on my helmet. Try to change a flat when you can't even see your own hand. Now, with the Dinotte, that's not a really issue, since I can remove it and keep it lit while I work -- but the generator light only works when I'm moving, and even the newer LED generator lights with a standlight only stay lit for a few minutes. Helmet lights are good. Mine has a red LED that you can switch in, also, to preserve night vision - handy. Anyways, click on this and zoom in if you like. you can't even make out the road, or where the horizon line is -- but you can see Paola. I LOVE this hill, because it means I'm getting close to something. Staring off into a headlight beam for hours on end while moving, all while getting a little sleepy -- this is why rando riders sometimes hallucinate. While I didn't have it too bad tonight, it's happened, and it's weird. I stop occasionally like this, not for pictures, but to kill the lights and stretch my neck up to the stars for a little break. Marvelling at the heavens without the annoyance of light pollution is a rare treat these days as expansion around Olathe is rampant. This was a great night for it. A few minutes, and I'm back on the move.
I stuck to the business of riding, since the light conditions were SO good for pictures. He,he.
This is later on, just north of 135th Street on State Line road. Completely deserted, a complete change from hours earlier when I had to navigate this stretch amid frantic soccer moms and cubicle dads on their way here and there. I'm smiling, helmet light blazing -- smiling for the camera. The usual thing -- makes me look like I'm having a good time, which I always am while on the bike -- well, most of the time. It's not ALways easy rolling, as you all know. But still, it's 1:30 AM, and I'm about 10 miles from being done, and I'm TIRED. The Perpetuem (giving it another shot lately) was working wonderfully, as at the halfway point of the ride I was averaging 17.7 MPH. By the time I've gotten back here, into a slight north headwind and the steeper side of some of the hills, it had only dropped to about 16.8 MPH - but I was starting to get tired.
Much later in the ride, after chatting with the local police in Spring Hill -he,he- nothing BAD, just the only people that were there at the gas station when I pulled up. On the hunt for drunks on a Friday night, they had all paused for a break there, and then I pull up looking like a highway construction worker that stole a bicycle and put on tight pants. Reflective gear, etc. A real sight. We talked briefly, and I kept getting cues that the way one of them was asking questions was more to check my mental state at about ten till midnight, rather that being prompted by a genuine interest in what I was doing. As ridiculous as having ridden from Grandview to La Cygne and now being on my way back sounded, I must have passed the tests. The all just sipped coffee and watched me mix up my drinks for the next leg back to Grandview. This is always fun. I always feel a little weird yanking fresh baggies of powdered energy drink from my back pockets in front of the authorities for some reason. Too much crime drama TV, I suppose. But when I pull out a big bag of compressed drink mix and drop it to the pavement, it always reminds me of those bust scenes on Miami Vice when so-and-so drops a big fat kilo of coke on the hood of the car. Bright white powered drink mix, eh? Lemme see those hands, cyclist.
Upon reviewing the above shot, I decided to turn on the flash to get a better-lit headshot. I did, but when I extended my arm to get the shot I hit the button too early - and in that moment of time you get a very clear picture, un-posed, un-prepared, a shot that, when *I* reviewed it, made me say "holy crap, I look like...." I guess I just unplug my head and pedal, but sometimes a persons face can really tell the tale. I was having a good ride, but near the end I was getting tired and chilled, eyes were running from the cool air, and jaw was relaxed, as I stared down the road to the next turn at Blue Ridge. This is sometimes the face of randonnuering, and the best "after" shot I could hope to get of myself. I look toasted.
So ended the 200K, at 1:56am Saturday morning.
I packed up and drove to Peculiar, and parked at the start line for the MS Ride, only a few hours away.
What a difference a ten minute power nap and a long, hot shower can make -- again, horridly lit, but this is me at about 5:00AM, slappy and ready to go, mugging for the camera again. Dork.
Unfortunately, that's where most of the pictures will have to wait. My old Sony digital camera is not kind to batteries, and this was the last shot I squeezed out of it before they died, and I didn't have another set or a charger. SO, those will have to wait -- but I'm promised a LOT of shots from McJuicy and K-Man, whom were both busy with the shots during the MS Ride. I did get a few from my half-good camera phone later Sunday, however:
Bike farm at Knob Noster State Park rest stop, mile 30.
Another head shot, the subject being the porta-john line. He,he.... find a bush!
McJuicy with a mouth full of a Clif Bar. Gotcha! Note the rider number of "63" -- he's our fundraising MACHINE. This year, he did even better!
This is Anmee and Amber after arriving at the rest stop -- posing happily for the forthcoming "Girls of Team CommuterDude" calendar, available for sale this winter. The guy between them won't be on it. Kinda looks like one of those little shoulder devils, tho, doesn't he? By the way, it's a little foggy - but not as foggy as my camera would have you believe. It just sucks.
That's all I've got for now -- gettin tired again. Work tomorrow... ACK!!!!
But, a chance to slowly spin out my legs and get back into the commuting thing. WIth more pics will come more ride details from the MS ride, no doubt -- it was a GREAT ride this year!!!