July 17, 2008

Lenexa Midnite Madness and more!

Two minutes to Midnight.... not just a good song by Iron Maiden.
this was my first time riding the Lenexa Midnite bike ride, and even though funds are tight lately, I spent the twenty bucks and headed out. After riding from Olathe to Lenexa, hanging out for a while before and after the ride and the riding home, it would end up being a pretty good day in the saddle. This, after a full week of commutes, a bike trail ride with the boy, and a few random errands. It's officially been a solid week since I gave up on the car. Well, the SECOND car, that is. More on that later. Still, I wasn't as wiped out as I figured I'd be, and a little shot of caffiene before leaving didn't hurt. Over a thousand riders showed up, kids of all ages, the youngest at six! But, mostly, it was the requisite cyclistas in their club gear, on their expensive mounts. Good stuff... intermingled with all the families and cruiser bikes, mountain bikes, tandems of all kinds, recumbents, and other bikes you don't see too often. Not since last year's MS-150 had I ridden with more people.... in fact, this ride seemed to give the MS-150 itself a run for the money for attendance...only missing it by probably half, which ain't bad for a ride who's longest loop is only 12 miles. But, the appeal is huge; cooler temps, fun pace, excellent support.
Plus a chance to ride thru the caves in Lenexa!
The ride started off the way that it should - slow. Released onto the streets in waves, I kept the pace really light, hanging with Noah, Lorin and his daughter, and a few other new faces. Like any massive ride, though, we all quickly spread out - then faded back together - then lost track of each other again. Without daylight and color recognition, it was impossible to find anyone. I could pick out sillouhettes and taillight patterns, but that was about all I could do. Look ahead... a sea of flashing red lights and glowing pedals and reflective accents. Look back, a blinding glow of bluish and white spots and flashing. Staying with any group...well, that was out of the question unless you were lucky enough to stay within a few feet of your friends the whole time.
Still, it was great fun - I talked at length with Lorin's daughter before we seperated, and after a while I had lost Noah altogether. I was passing a lot of people, and a lot of people were passing me... it was really surreal.... usually when I ride in the dark, I'm alone... not in this hurricane of activity. The pack was different every time I blinked -- weird... I reached into my pocket, and added to the ambiance by turning on some streaming audio from SomaFM. Groovy tehcno emminating from my back pocket, I eased into a cozy pace and enjoyed the sights. Soon, tho, we were on Prairie Star Parkway, headed west. The clouds faded away revealing a fresh moon, and the road stretched out straight ahead of us. Crossing intersections under complete police patrol - thanks Lenexa PD and Fire! - there was no stopping or waiting. Just like the Tour of Shawnee, but at night! As the Prairie Star laid out ahead of us, I was treated to an AWESOME view, and if I thought my camera would have done it justice I would have captured it to film. Set up like an out and back route, on one side of the road was nothing but red taillights from curb to curb... and on the other, nothing but headlights from curb to curb. the whole thing pulsating and throbbing like a giant, waving sheet of light diving downhill into the valley of Mill Creek and then back up the other side. The it was my turn to dive down into that valley...at about the time that Noah appears on my left FLYING pedals and head down into the donwhill. I shift and give chase, and we are descending at 40 MPH into the black, towards the bridge that crosses over the creek. Right about then, I manage to reel him up, and I get passed by two other cyclists, deep in a tuck -- one with pedals flaying at an incredible speed --- a fixxie.... Whoa... nice! But, the guy in back of him has a familiar face... and ear treatments.... I give chase up the following grade, to find myself riding alongside one of my co-workers from the bike store.... ah-ha!!!
Come to find out there is a whole slew of them here, and eventually Will - on his brakeless Lotus fixxie - and I catch up to Dave on his yellow Giant OCR. Surprise! Suddenly it's game on, and we three start working out a little bit. Just before the turn-around, the ride switches gears for me, and what started as a 10 MPH average joy ride was quickly turning into a miniature hammer fest. The pace quickly came up into normal road riding territory, and the chase was on to find the rest of the team. Soon we were descending down into the caves, a real treat -- but the cool conditions outside were making conditions in the caves a little "off" from normal... this should be the cool portion of the ride, but it was flip-flopped. The caves were warm and moist, and the pavement was slimed over with slick mud here and there. But, no matter... we took it easier in the corners, but mainly were hammering along and enjoying the view. It's surreal and almost creepy down here. A few more 90 degree turns at speed, and a couple of mad sprints against some "wanna race" kids... that was cool, except for the part where I got squeezed against the rock wall while passing a couple people on the left -- turned out okay, but man... risky move. Eventually, I managed to reel Dave and Will back in, and it was time for the climb up out of the caves again. Two way traffic, headlights in the face, I lost track of them briefly while climbing, but eventually bridged up. More work ahead - they were determined to catch the remaining teammates up ahead; granted we never caught sight of them, but they were "out there somewhere", and so we worked it out. Feeling slightly more warmed up, I lifted the pace a little bit, but it was too late to really do anything magical. We were beginning to run out of course, as we were already back on 99th street headed towards Santa Fe Trail Drive again.
The ride finished fast after that, and we hung out for a while before heading back out (the rest of the team eventually came in behind us, oddly - save for three really fast riders). A little jaunt back on Pflumm, our madcap group eventually made it back to BB's place for a regroup and hangout. The hour drawing late, and a full ride back to Olathe staring me in the face, it was time for me to head out, tho. I finally got home at the ridiculous hour of 2:45am... wow, what a day.
Slept good! A little bit more of a workout than I'd planned for out there in the dark, but an absolutely blast.... it's like the old Dark Side rides, but with about 70 times the people.
Highly recommended ride for 2009 - mark your calendars!

1074 riders... a new record for this event.
This was my first Lenexa Midnight Ride, and it was a treat!

Look how excited I am. Bikes and a passing train? Awesome!
Ok, maybe that's the caffiene working, since I've been caffiene-free for six weeks at least.
But, saving it for when I NEED it REALLY works, especially on brevets.

I quote Joel McHale..."Let's take some E." Glowing sticks, glowing bottles...
Cue the techno house music and twirling.

Road kills. CommuterDude...keeping the streets safe for cyclists everywhere.
Yeah, I can't take credit for this shot... but whoever did it is a freaking genius.
A LOT more roadkill on the streets of suburbia lately... open season?

Sunday ridin'.... This is one of those images I HAD to capture before it befalls the developers bulldozers. I really, honestly hope that doesn't happen. The entire area we now call 'suburbia', this open zone on the outskirts of Overland Park, is fast filling in. This tract represents one of the last untouched areas around here, likely looking much the same as it did 100 years ago, only the trees are larger. My bike is leaned up against a fence post, complete with barbed wire, overgrown with scrub and vine. My bike faces east, here only ten feet off the road at 139th near Quivira. Immediately behind me are $600,000 luxury homes that were completed only a couple years ago. From this angle, you'd think I was out in the middle of a brevet somewhere, certainly not 1/2 mile from constant four lane 45MPH traffic at 135th and Quivira. It was an extremely bright and sunny day, so the clarity of the moment is lost to the cheap digital camera built into my phone, but it's breathtakingly green and vibrant, the beans just beginning to sprout. This land stretches from Rosehill to Quivira, and from 139th to 135th.... but a quarter of it has already fallen to the rumble of development, as AMLI has built a new complex at the NE corner. There is a church also in there to the northwest. Before long, who knows... but for now, I love this little piece of land. It's refreshing to know that as crazy as this place has become in the last ten years, there are still horses, cows, corn, beans, and open fields only a few miles from my house in all directions.

I alluded earlier in this post to a car-free notion, and so-far, so-good.
At least, ONE LESS CAR.... (that reminds me of a good website).... anyways, the gas prices started to bother me when they reached about $2.00 a gallon, and I started commuting a lot more. That tension sorta eased when I sold my '76 Buick and got a litte Kia gas-miser car. For a while there, I regret that it was ttoo easy to just get into that little car and leave the bike at home, and for about a year I did just that on more than a few occasions. But, gas reached $3.00 a gallon..... and just recently $4.00 a gallon.... and the flippin' car isn't even three years old yet.
The trend here... a car that started out not even taking $20.00 to FILL now takes over $40.00 to fill.... not that I even can afford THAT anymore... I usually just toss in $15.00 and see what it gets me. Stupid. Seriously. There are people tossing $100 a week in their gas tanks lately. I'm done. That's IT. So, I talked to the wife about it, and after a LOT of convincing discussions, we finally reached an accord: if I can prove the family can survive with one car, then I can sell mine. Here we go... and tomorrow begins week number two. With two kids, and school coming up, will it be tough? Absolutely. With how last winter went, will it be hard? You bet. But, people DO make it... the Blayley's are completely car-free, as are a lot of families out there. It's what's next, and while I can't eliminate both cars - I can do my part. Even if it's nothing more than a selfish desire to save money. Think about it -- car payments, gone. gas costs, gone. Insurance, cheaper. Car tags, cheaper....plus I'd get a state refund for the tag portion that I haven't used yet since it's paid in advance. And, one less car on the roads. With any luck, I'll sell it to someone that is giving up on their SUV. All the better. Seriously, we're all headed this way eventually - the government, the auto industry, the oil companies... a solution isn't coming anytime soon, folks, and we're gonna see $5.00 per gallon in the metro. The only question is "when?".

Stay tuned ---- another run at the R-12 this weekend comes with 217km, with Ort who's in town from Texas!!! Get it ON.

1 comment:

Scabby Nut said...

Hey Commuter,
I was the guy that took the GI Joe pic. Here is a link to the series and more. Enjoy