May 14, 2007

Night Fever, Episode 2

Welcome to the dark side!
Friday night, the time was perfect, the temperature was perfect and the skies were clear. I still don't know where the moon was, but that's okay - we all had decent headlights, but I tell ya what the road was DARK under those trees. Yeesh. Good test of the new dual-headlamp system, however, finally getting a chance to put the new E6 secondary light through the paces - and it scored quite high. For mild cruising in a group of other riders, however, I'll probably leave it off. Until the road gets really dark or I get out by myself, or get to a fast downhill. It's ALMOST overkill, but after a little re-aiming I think it'll be okay. Seems the hot spots of each light are overlapping a bit. Still, I was lighting up roadside reflectors nearly 1/2 mile down the road at some points, and was able to take long, dark, unfamiliar downhills without touching the brakes, so there was plenty of light.

The new bag mount also worked quite well, with just barely some contact on the backs of each leg - really not bad at all, and not NEARLY as bad as what was happening on the 400K. No sharp contact - just a light brush to the back of each thigh on the downstroke -- might have to tweak it a little, but it shouldn't really be an issue. If I let out a notch on each strap, it might be perfect.

The handlebar bag, however, is gone. It's too much. After feeling a little cumbersome on this shorter ride, I think the novelty of it has worn thin - and considering how tired of fig newtons and crackers I became on the 400K, I'm no longer seeing the value of having those munchies so close at hand. The only other issue might be the cue sheet, however the 600K is a route I'm already intimately familiar with, and the cue sheet won't be neccessary - and if needed I can always reinstall the little stem clippy I was using before, which worked just as well. While it will likely someday come in handy on a tour or camping ride, for brevets where efficiency and relative speed are key, it's really too much -- and while it doesn't matter what other riders do when it comes to making my own decisions, it's notable that even the heavily loaded riders on the 400K didn't have them, and the only other person that had a handlebar bag was using it as his ONLY bag, aside from a small seatbag that carried flat & repair tools. The back pockets on a jersey are there for a reason, and since they were empty on the 400K, it's clear that the only thing the 1000gram bag is doing is replacing my back pockets. With the looming 200K of nasty hills promised on the 600K, I will thank myself.

The night ride was AWESOME, but I was tired for most of it after having time-trialed my way home from work that afternoon. It was a hard ride - but the speed work is becoming more neccessary. It'll be June before long, and it's only a few months away from the big Tejas countdown!
Tonite was not really about speed work or Tejas, however -- just a good night to get out on the bike with friends. The temperature was perfect, about 72 degrees at the start, with the last remains of twilight fading in the western sky.

The ride started quite nice -- plodding along Valley Pkwy, we saw a couple deer, including one close call SUV vs. Deer encounter. Traffic was light, and the air was perfect, just a small hint of chill in the valleys and pockets of hot air at the hilltops. The group was excellent, a who's who of heartiness on the saddle, T-Bone Burns, Badger, Juan Sunuke and your own Dude; Looking purposeful and well-equipped, we proceeded under K-10 and into the darkness of rural Johnson County.

The details of the route aren't as important as the feeling of rolling along quietly in the darkness. The headlight beams led the pack along some excellent country roads, and we were greeted by owl and rabbit, and the occasional roadside hoot from residents out enjoying the night air on a Friday night. There were two really good hills, and the stars were fantastic. Conversation flowed. Ahhh, bliss.

Then we hit Desoto. You know, sometimes I think that 83rd Street ruling is a good idea. I don't WANT to ride there. HA! In all the years and miles I've been riding, I've only had something thrown at me once. That was back in 2003 (freak, did EVERYTHING happen to you in 2003? Shut up!) at the tail end of a 400K, when some bored teens on Mission road decided to make a few high speed passes on me as I rode north through the hilly part. They had terrible aim, and eventually gave up.
Four years later, I'm in Desoto with friends - one of which is on his first EVER group ride - odd that he picked a NIGHT ride to be it: he's such a rando guy, he doesn't even know it yet. We reach our mid-point on Lexington, and it's closed. Too late in the evening, perhaps? It's barely 11pm! The liqour store lady is visibly nervouse, huddled near her doorway, phone to ear. "What's them bikers doin'?, they gonna rob me! Holy Toledo!" Geez, chill out. Bill finishes fixing his front fender, and we're off --- RIGHT when some yeahoos in a tan Saturn, clearly having a stellar Friday night with their old friend "Busch Light" (read: watery cheap crap), decide to pull up and start hollering such thought-provoking phrases like "don't you know it's dark out?", and my favorite "what da hell you doin'?"

What da hell YOU doin', foolio? Chucky Cheese close early tonite?

Of course, that's what I WANTED to say, but none of us even acknowledged them. We rode off down the road, on the way to a Phillips station that we knew would still be open. Timing is everything. Of course, hanging around would have just invited more comments, probably, but we weren't much for carin'. I needed food.
And, then, probably since we ignored their banter, they decided to follow us along the road for a bit --- as I led the pack, I didn't hear anything, no honking, no hollering, no revving engines. HEck, these nice boys I guess had actually watched a few Tour de France videos or something, and decided to play "excited fan wants to cool off his favorite bicycle rider" move, so as they rode by they doused us with a half-liter of water from a bottle. Could have been worse. I think there might have been a holler in there afterwards, as they passed by and took a right turn - but no until I got a clear shot of their license plate. Idiots. Not that the Desoto police would care, but you never know. I like THIS town about as much as I like Warrensburg. At least they were kinda enough to drop the evidence in the road for us to confirm that is was indeed just water. You can't be wasting good beer on folk like us, after all. We arrived at the Philips station, slightly cooler, and ready for a donut. Ahhh... more bliss. So this happens once every four years. I can live with that. I blame T-Bone; he said he'd been getting a lot of this kind of thing lately. thanks, man. ;)

Onward we rolled, out of town, under K-10, and onto a HORRID road that almost made the roads north of Liberty look GOOD. Quarry road, at night, uphill. WHoooo! Pothole city! After successfully navigating the asteroid field, it was relatively smooth sailing again on the return route.

Ok, there was one enthusiastic group of idiots in a big Chevy Silverado that hot-rodded past us off the highway near Prairie Star Pkwy, but hey -- it's their $6.00 they blew out the tailpipes, not mine. It was a GREAT ride, overall, even with the Desoto factor, which I'm sure is nothing more than random - unless there is some connection between the liquor store lady and those Busch-swillin' half-brain water-chuckers. Then it's a conspiracy, and it must stop. And I have to stop it.

Because I am .... Sparticus....

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