December 30, 2014

Milepost 1445

It never takes me long to figure out my own way of integrating or modifying things to better suit my specific needs, and the recent Photon light purchase is no exception. Took apart one of the swivel-mount clips which came with the light, drilled a few tiny slots to accept zip-ties, and used a hunk of taillight mount rubber shim for a non-slip base. A little filing and shaping the underside and fashioning the zip ties just-so, and there you go: a perfectly-aimed night vision map light for future night rides. The quick-release feature remains intact, so battery swaps or swapping out the whole light to change colors is a snap. The existing Blackburn Flea 1.0 white headlight is at left, aimed higher to get driver's attentions and to light up reflective roadsigns for navigation. The helmet is road-ready!

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

Milepost 1445

The old rail depot at Parker, KS., heading back north after pre-riding a section of a new 200km route I'll be submitting in early 2015. Oh, yes... it's bigger, badder, and scenically wonderful! Can't wait to ride the whole thing!

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

December 29, 2014

Milepost 1445

Hey, randonneurs: the old Photon squeeze light has grown up; not in size, but in features. $15 is a lot for a tiny, U.S. quarter-sized flashlight, perhaps, but these are far and away superior to those dollar-bin lights that pop up from time to time. Waterproof, USA-made, replaceable battery, 12 colors to pick from, constant on, squeeze on/off, fully variable brightness, multiple flash modes. Comes with a magnetic swivel-head clip and lanyard. For reading cue sheets on long night rides, fixing a flat, checking roadsigns, or standing in as a backup taillight, these definitely aren't throwaway lights. Small enough to stash and forget in a seatbag, get ready for the 2015 brevets and grab one!

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

December 27, 2014

Milepost 1445

December skies: the southwest winds create wild streaking effects in the skies above Spring Hill, KS., painting an alien vista from a faraway world as the sun struggles to punch through. Winds this day gusted to over 40mph, turning my impromptu run at the Old KC Road 100k into a dichotomy of work and reward. First, leg-searing headwind work yields a whopping 9mph average, then turning north uncorks an average of 31mph. An awesome ride, and enjoying 50°F+ temps in December was the icing.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

December 22, 2014

Milepost 1445

If it hadn't been so foggy and misty, this might have turned out better. Long steady climbs heading toward Everest, MO. along highway "W" during yesterday's ride. The fuzzy blips are Steven W., Paul T. and new rider Robin. She hadn't ridden in two months, but coulda fooled us: this would be one of the last times I'd see her or Paul that day, both fast and strong.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

Milepost 1445

Glen returns the favor after I take his photo, and gets me climbing up onto the highlands of Amarugia... which is fun to say because it sounds downright Middle Earth or something. All the better with the weather, which was downright Scottish; thus completing the illusion. Great day, great weather (no really!), and great scenery. Surprisingly, I don't have much to report after this one - not sure what that means, aside from I shouldn't have waited so long to come back. Today, no real pains, no adjustments needed. No more excuses, apparently I still got it.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

December 21, 2014

Milepost 1445

Light fading, the last dozen miles back toward Martin City take place on this old road which runs behind what used to be Richards-Gebaur AFB, now a giant KCS intermodal facility. Here, right before arriving at the railroad overpass, a switching engine (probably an EMD SW1500 or a MP15AC) crosses over while shuffling containers. The sky begins to get all purplish as the suns light fades, and our headlamps come on. The cap of a great day in the saddle.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

Milepost 1445

Glen R. and I approaching the Amarugia Highlands at mile 50 on today's 202km (125 mile) timed tour.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

December 18, 2014

Yes, it's all "social"

   It shouldn't be a mystery at this point that the whole "Milepost 1445" thing is really just a cheat code for me, in the hopes that I can bring more consistent posting, more consistent content across platforms, and more exposure to the joys of commuting and randonneuring to a larger audience.  The cross-pollination started with Facebook, then Twitter, and now the ever-popular Instagram service.  You can choose to follow me on one, a couple, all, or - yes - none.  I really do hope, however, you'll stick around.  

     The content, no matter how it's provided, will have the same flavor you've come to appreciate all these years - only in easier to digest (and cook) bites.  Occasionally, however, even my own rules must be broken:  there will still be the odd "mega-post" here and there, as some of the goals I have in mind which I hope to uncork over the last half of this decade will likely require more meaty content, far beyond what Insta's 2,200 character post limit provides.  (Yeah, I've already hit it a few times... but this is a GREAT exercise for me, as a person, a speaker, and a writer.) 

     Big goals - but no big announcements.  Not until I'm trained, registered, and possibly standing at the start line.  No false drama, no huge promises to myself or anyone else.  I'm done with that malarkey.  

     Vacation!  Vacation!  Finally, vacation from work is here!  The annual hiatus!  Wheeeew, what a rough, busy, hectic, stressful year.  I wish I'd taken some photos with a bit more foresight to prove this, but, I've noticed a LOT more grey hair infiltrating my Scottish-red goatee lately.  Age and stress, anyone?  Ugh.  Best combatant, though, remains a good diet and regular exercise.  Lately, I've done neither.  

Crap, I can't even think straight.  I just tried to spell "neither" with a "gh".  I don't think that's olde English, is it?  Made-up ye olde English, perhaps...  "neighthour, my liege!"

Hazzah, you muther#$%^$@

     I digress... par usual.  

    Yeah, yeah... it's all about the social media.  (and the "bass", apparently)  I think I like the way things are progressing in that realm - but, I'd really like to see more growth.  I don't think, however, I have the time to devote toward that.  Too many other things I should be doing, and I refuse...  reFUSE... to stoop to the plaguesourcing techniques of some of the "get more likes!  Click here!" crowd.  I don't know if this multiplatforming I'm doing is the solution either, because I can't seem to get the if-this-then-(do five things) Rube Goldberg sorta routine nailed to prevent duplicate posts and general confusion from happening.  I need to get back to class at Google University and study up.  The only thing I can think of worse than bot-followers are noobs (like me) that don't know what they are doing when they suddenly blast out five of the same post.  I feel like that guy right about now, but I'm working on it.  Maybe none of this matters... I mean, I don't NEEED a zillion followers; yet, at the same time I am watching a lot more YouTube shorts lately which convince me I can do a lot better than I have been.  If more hits = more riders, then my motivation checkpoint remains valid thus far.

A December from the past, you know - back when I rode a bike.

     Finally breaking the ice in grand style this coming weekend, fresh on vacation, fresh from a return to the gym, weights, cardio ... and chock full of carbs from a still-crappy diet, THIS dude is headed outdoors, ya know.  My old lady, she's kinda funny and all about it.  The other day, I was leaning up against a lightpost and she had the nerve to tell me that she didn't believe I was even looking for a job - can you believe that?  Geez, lady.  About that time, my mouth was getting pretty dry, so I rode down to my local bar - you know, people.  

One bourbon.

One Scotch.

One beer.

George Throughgood (hey, look a "gh"!) had no idea he'd actually composed the makings of a pretty good EDM remix.  More to come on that front.

Yeah, so, 200km ride on Sunday.  Archie Bunker route.  Hey, that's the LAST route I rode, six months ago.  Nice!  Almost literally picking it up right where I left off.  I'm sure to have some interesting posts coming from that activity, so stay tuned.  

Later on, you half-crazed screaming teenage fans!  

ri-iiight, dude.... definitely.

December 17, 2014

Milepost 1445

Chain-L gets a shot for winter duty: Okay I'll bite. After reading all the interesting reviews, decided to make a totally unprompted purchase. I've been a ProGold ProLink user for 12 years with no complaints, but I'll try anything for 1,000 miles. The way I go though chains, that's nearly one application per chain! I'll report back - but, I have a feeling this sort of lube only rewards me and my fellow graduates from the OCD-U school for bicycle drivetrain cleaners.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

December 13, 2014

Milepost 1445

The Firehouse: station #2 for Johnson county's expanded "northwest consolidated fire district", which serves most of Lexington township while also being contracted for nearby Sunflower Army Ammunition plant. Located at 127th and Gardner Rd., with a newer garage building standing a few yards south. It is difficult to age this building, but one could imagine it has been part of the landscape here for quite some time. Behind the camera stands an old farmstead, perhaps quarters for early fire volunteers. While 127th crumbles into a minimum maintenance road if one heads east from here, and Gardner road is largely a dead end to the north, traffic still passes at a slow, yet consistent rate. Cut off from nearly every major throughway, a vague zigzag of backroads are the only passage between Gardner, Eudora and Desoto. Today's tour retraces an old DSR route, loaded with treasures like this one all along the way.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

Milepost 1445

West-Central JoCo: heading out toward Clearview City, KS., this is Moonlight Rd. heading north. I often head either south or north of town, but this time I headed west instead, past the rock quarries and aggregate plants, past the rail corridors, past the US highways that divide the county in two, and past the airport into that forgotten part of Johnson county where old rural flavor, horse ranches and an abandoned ammunition plant meet. Only recently have the opulent raised their dream homes, but most of the area remains as it had for decades: quiet, unassuming Kansas life. The counties biggest hills live here near Olathe lake, and the Kansas Prairie visitors center sits right between them at Cedar Niles road. Today, keen on scenery and blowing the dust out of the climbing legs, I cover them all under chilly, cloudy skies. December cycling, prairie-style.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

December 6, 2014

Milepost 1445

More metalwork: Front rack headlight bracket mark-2, before the final polish. I guess I can already see the reflections from the shop lights... maybe that's good enough for this morning, considering I now need to make three more just like it for a potential dual headlight setup. This is in AL instead of steel, so it's lighter (which doesn't matter) and the knurled locknuts will bite better when mounted (which does) - especially with the M5 drillings instead of borrowing the giant chainring bolt holes like I had on the mark 1 version. Plus, this puts the light 1cm down and forward from the current position, making it impossible for the front bag to make contact with it. Barely an issue with the existing setup, so today's work is mainly for catharsis after a hectic week. It's a small step closer to possibly offering these for sale if the interest continues... but, yeah: you can make your own easily, too. I've got riding to do, so I'll not 'waste' any more of today's rare December weather in the shop. Always feels good to get my hands busy on something other than a keyboard, though, I'd rather get the bike dirty instead.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

December 1, 2014

Milepost 1445

Flashing back to Knob Noster, February 2014, mile 115, Terry pulling the train.

from Instagram via IFTTT and Twitter @RUSAdude

November 30, 2014

The Face of Things to Come

Those who know cycling understand the feelings of a great ride don't come from the bike, the road, or the effort, but from the spirit the bike extracts from its rider.  It's difficult to describe what it feels like to the uninitiated though I've attempted to over the years, clearly paying little mind to just how long it takes.  A man of few words, I am not. 

Starting back in 2002, commuterDude focused on commuting by bicycle, then began to migrate toward long distance cycling, all while highlighting many of my personal highs and lows along the way.  I have overcome obstacles, cracked under my own pressure, emerged victorious - and then repeated.  Even though these pages have often served as confidant and sounding board, in truth the blog wasn't ever intended to be about me.  As they say, it is what it is; and so herein lay the chronicles of an everyman who found himself while floating along atop a bicycle.  Interspersed, however, hide the ride reports about which I'm most proud: rare moments when the ride took focus and the story developed effortlessly.  The goal now involves a reinvention of sorts to attempt the same sort of flavor you've come to expect from those posts, but in a much smaller space and with more consistency.

The stories, therefore, become shorter, more focused, more visual. The long rides will continue, as will the commutes; but the tales will be told

Milepost 1445

Racing sunset, son and I soaked up what might have been the last "short-sleeve" day of 2014. No filters here, just perfect lighting from a crystal clear sunset caught in the dust of frantic homeowners' last-minute leaf raking and mowing. The temps topped out at 65°F, but quickly dropped off - reminding me of RAAM duty on the high desert in Arizona where, regardless of the temperature, the suns disappearance had always been greeted with stark chills and extra layers. No residual heat in the air, each corner diving close to the waters edge greeting us with a similar chill, we ultimately emerged into the residential maze and finished the ride with headlights afire: the boy's first taste of night riding. One full loop of the trail system, and a head full of memories. -- via Instagram: -- Twitter @RUSAdude

November 23, 2014

Front Bag Testimony: fork rake & trail, headlight brackets, and sepia tone

  For the first time in almost a decade, the Kogs gets something of a make-over - at least as far as the front end is concerned.  I've been sitting on a GB25 handlebar (front) bag for a while now, and I finally decided to give mounting it a shot.  Why the hesitation?  Well, that's me thinking too much - as is often the case.  I'm not the milli-metric nut-job I once was - but, I still appreciate precision and bespoke touches.  Centering and accuracy are simply part of the landscape here, so the activity remains therapeutically perfect for me... but, for a while I struggled with changing anything at all.  All I knew was, after almost a year riding with them, that bags mounted directly to the handlebars wasn't quite cutting the mustard.

SO, let's begin;  I don't have much footage of fabbing-up the front rack and decaleur setup, unfortunately.  During the build, it completely slipped my mind!  I will, later, post some photos to social media with some of the finer touches.  It's sloppy, not exactly straight, and uses P-clamps to hold it onto the front fork legs.

(holy SPIT-TAKE... what??!  Dude, NO!

Yes, clamps.  I despise clamps.  They have their purpose, but, it was always a difficult pill to swallow, me using them as a major contributor to

November 18, 2014

Milepost 11/18

Wrapping up the photo series on fabricating headlight brackets out of old chainrings, the final product mounted and wired up. I ended up with two mirror image brackets after discovering that supporting the light from only one side invited an annoying lateral wobble. Doubling up provided the necessary bracing, and the wobble is gone, resulting in a solid headlight beam. The biggest trick was getting the light high enough to avoid too much tire shadowing and for it to be visible from the rider's left in traffic, but to still keep it low enough that the bag wouldn't block the beam or put pressure on the mount or light itself. So far, so good. I don't prefer adding a lot of complication to the bike, and this project became tough to stomach at times, adding complication and weight... But, like fenders, once mounted and forgotten, the usefulness of the front bag should quickly outweigh any previous concerns. Now, to get out out on the road to expose and fix any rattles, and we're ready for the 2015 brevet season, and the next R-12/P-12 streak!

via Instagram

Milepost 11/17

We are deep into Fall here, and the sun isn't out as much, obviously, leaving the sky far darker each morning and evening, thus making it harder to spot both motorcyclists and diehard bicyclists. This is an example of how reflective tape can help. The tape on the wheels is most effective, as it creates the image of a full disc once the bike is in motion, and also helps indicate a riders relative speed. Even if you don't want to wear the admittedly dorky reflective vest, applying reflective tape to the bike ensures you are visible to some degree, no matter what the of day you ride.

via Instagram

November 16, 2014

Digging out, but not like you think.

The first snowfall of the new season came a little early yesterday, capping off - for me - a long, arduous year.  A roller-coaster of a year.  A year of further self-discovery.  I won't get into too much of that here, but, after a month or two of sitting down and thinking - calmly - I have emerged renewed, rested, and ...  no, no... not ready.  That, for me, is probably okay.  For now.

I believe, for me personally, coming off a good streak of a few years' worth of R-12 rides perhaps warranted some rest, even with the difficulty of letting that streak go in July.  With my shoulder repaired and healed, I started with good intentions to get right back on the proverbial horse; yet, I have not returned to the bike in earnest, nor have I kept my own promises about maintaining fitness and rising above the challenge of restricted activity.  This is my personal struggle, not-so-personally outlined ad naseum throughout this blog's past.  Even having run a half-marathon (er, jogged/walked) back in late July, I'd have thought myself motivated.  It didn't last.  So, knowing how I deal with personal stress, upheavals in the office, and the financial balancing-act that comes with teenagers in the house - here I am, another blank - blank, yes, but not white and clean; more tattered and beige - canvas on which to paint my next portrait.  These are tales best left untold, at least unrecounted.

As I work toward a solution here, and to run the

October 26, 2014

Feeling good

Feels good to have a plan in place, finally, after a few months of sitting around waiting for my shoulder to be back in the game.  Although I have surely lost some fitness and some dieting discipline, printing out a waiver and marking a date on the calendar feel mighty good.  A big step in the correct direction.  Yes, back to my old habits once again... so, I'll wait and see about a few things:

Am I just going to ride?
Will I take a buncha pictures?
Will I have anything positive OR negative about the experience?

I don't know, honestly ---- but, the decision still seems appropriate.  Even if it's freezing cold outside, sitting at the keyboard for hours hammering out gigantic posts seems a little ... I dunno, like a waste of saddle-time if nothing else.  I know I'm sitting on the fence here.  It's not my intent to build up any false drama or whatever.  I just can't wait to get back out there again, maybe take some shots to remember thing by, and if nothing else perhaps take things toward equipment, rebuilding fitness, methods, madness, product reviews maybe... even if brief.  There's no plan at this point, other than to ride, smile and ENJOY IT.

Oh, speaking of reviews, I posted a teaser about getting

October 20, 2014

Milepost: 175th and Woodland

175th and Woodland, my favorite old store that hasn't been open the whole time I've known about it. Bonita Flats, KS. Construction nearby and other rustling around the property, I'm not sure this will be here in a few months time. Had to get one more pic.

via Instagram

October 17, 2014

Grand Bois Cerf long-term update

Mileage?  Uhhh... Since July's shoulder surgery (non bike related) I have not only not ridden much, I have become catastrophically lazy on the matter of mileage logging.  I have the numbers... Somewhere.... Just not logged against equipment.  However, today marks the first "natural" flat I've experienced with the GB Cerf 700x28mm road tires.  By "natural", I mean a flat caused by something run over in the natural course of riding.  I did endure a front blow-out pinch flat back in... I'll look... Yet, that was caused by the rider being a little foolish.  I suppose it still presented a good test, but it certainly wasn't a normal puncture.  Today's, by contrast, occurred "naturally", wherein I noticed the loss of air pressure after a few wallowy-feeling corners, as the rear tire's pressure dropped below safe riding levels.  I stopped, examined the tire, found nothing on first glance... So, I aired it up and rode it the last ten miles to home.  So far this evening I haven't made the time to change it out and examine things - I may wait until the morning - but, I'll report back with mileage, tread status, and thoughts.  Maybe a photo if warranted.  I'm impressed, since I've crossed the mileage when I'd normally have swapped out the Panaracer Pasela TG (now PT) tires... Yet, I still wonder about buying a pair of Pasela non - flat - protected tires, for a direct comparison.  Their price is hard to ignore compared to the "boutique-ish" GBs.  We shall see. 

Stay tuned as I wrap up this long term test with this latest flat report.  Yea!

October 12, 2014

Get to work

The realization that October is practically half over, it occurs to me that I should be back in the saddle, that PT should be over (it is), and that I am way, way behind in my plans and "training."   Last week, I hammered hard on the commute home, chasing down a couple of faster gents, finding my limits.  At my favorite hill, near 106th and Foster on the bike trail, I nearly passed out from the anaerobic effort of catching up to (within a few yards.. But out of overtaking reach) the rider I'd been chasing.  Only a few months before, I'd sat comfortably at the top of the Map my Ride standings at 46 seconds from the climb to the sound wall separating the trail from I-435.  I'm outta shape. 

Solution?  Get to work.  Literally.
Tomorrow, we ride.

October 5, 2014

Milepost: epiphany

Oh, who am I kidding? It's only once a month, and I love writing. But, new goal... 1445 Words or Less. That'll work. For now.

via Instagram

October 4, 2014

It's not goodbye.

Breaking the radio silence after a couple months away from the creative side of my keyboard, I find myself with very little to say on the subject of riding.  In large part, it comes from not really having ridden much.  What I have found interesting is the amount of free time I've seemed to already occupy in the wake of normally spending a few hours per weekend typing, proofing and cleaning up photos.  I've gotten a lot more done by not being strapped to the keyboard constantly, and that's a good thing.  Sure, much of it stemmed from a self-imposed need to post detailed ride reports to share the magic with the interwebs.  For myself, writing served to outline the mental journey involved with riding such distances, plus the therapeutic breakouts I'd often find along my way.  I don't mean to imply that I suddenly don't need the riding anymore - I don't need the writing 5,000+ words part, as I'd become accustomed to doing.
I'm already looking for unique ways to transition cleanly into a single-interface social media existence.  So far, using Instagram has forced me to use photographs to tell most of the story - and while its interface does allow more than 140 characters, I try to stick to the Twitter limit for cleaner cross-posting, which is all handled via API leveraging.  Post in one place, broadcast to many.  Not blogging the full story; yeah, it pains me a bit, but,

September 27, 2014

Guest post! The Nebraska 400k - by Glen R.

The Nebraska 400k . . .
This is one of the most simple routes to follow: a cue sheet really isn't needed; yet, at the same time it is the hardest ride I have completed yet.  The route starts and ends in the same Nebraska town of Falls City.  Look on a map near the bottom right hand point of Nebraska move slightly to the East just above the Kansas border and you'll find it.  The route heads due west using primarily highway 8.  Ten riders started the trip, Spencer, Rodney G., Gary, Greg C., Joshua, Ron A., Jack, David M., Rod H. And Me.  Nine finished: Rod H. from Omaha had a pedal problem shortly after we started the ride, and turned back.
Check point #2 is in Pawnee city.  Two of America's greatest heroes were born here: Larry the cable guy and of course Me!  It had been a really good ride so far, with a cold start about 34°, little to no wind! ...But, dark with fog mixed in.  The group stayed together up to this point a little chit chat about previous rides and what was new with each other.
It's a long slog from CP2 to CP3 which is in Fairbury.  The group broke into smaller groups along the way with Gary leading by himself.  Greg also went ahead of the group.  Greg is a very strong rider and is working on his third series of the year, that's three sets of 200, 300, 400, and 600k.  Ron and Jack, who are working on their 50 states award and

August 22, 2014

From A to Z, Everything In Between, and Whatever Lay Beyond.

They call the route "The Hell of the North", a partial homage to the legendary Paris-Roubaix race in northern France held each April, yes, somehow still apt for the generally north-south oriented Liberty-to-Albany, MO. 300k of KCUC fame.  Infamous, perhaps?

I love this route, and I really - sincerely - hope that Bob brings it back for 2015, as preparation for P-B-P.  Selfishly, I must admit... with most folks satisfied sticking to 200k for their monthly rides (me included, if I'm honest), it's really, really difficult to ride this route as a permanent unless one enjoys being alone.  Finding anyone to accompany me on this route has proved difficult in the past . . . and, it's proved difficult for me to attempt it on my own.  Mental, nothing more.  It's a route map and profile that can creep into one's head, if allowed, and it's aptly-named.  So, too, is the Ride with the Devil 200k permanent route - which passes this same intersection from the opposite direction.  It's a different slice of "hell."  Tasty... but tough.


Whichever distance, whether alone or with someone else...  it beckons.  I cannot wait until I'm cleared for riding longer distances...and, thankfully, it's a personal clearance:  I've permission from the surgeon, so it's up to me as to what I can tolerate.  Knowing what I've been through, I'm not rushing it.  That may work out fine... doing either route in the fall?  Maybe with calm conditions yielding a northern wind in the

August 18, 2014

Omaha Newspaper Heralds one of KCUC's Finest

As human interest stories go, randonneuring must reside high on the list of leisure activities overflowing with metaphors on the endurance of the human body and spirit, and the rewards of "reaching."  A regional newspaper recently caught up with KCUC member Joe Edwards for just such a story, talking about our sport and its unique challenges.  Read the article here.  Congrats, Joe!

August 17, 2014

Boredom stinks

Granted, I have plenty to occupy me - but, boredom when it comes to the bike.  I think this is what got me into trouble with the "fit phase" where I had problems.  Hide the tools... the dude is bored.

It's been an interesting 24-hours in the stable, all on the same bike - the Kogs.  Boredom first led me down a pathway which began with a dream of riding single-speed again, as I'd done successfully for several years about a decade ago.  Alas, the vertical dropouts on the Kogs presented obvious problems - but, after finding a photo online with a 'magic gear' (a combination of cog and chainring which creates perfect chain tension on a bicycle with vertical dropouts, and ideal without the use of a half-link).  After some tinkering, I found that gear - and, miracle of miracles, it happened to provide the exact same gear-inch result as my "old standby", the 42x17 (about 66") combination.  I'd successfully slayed Bob's old Liberty route and the Appleton City 400k on that ratio, without any major issues recorded.  In fact, I ended up catching and passing people.  It was magic time again!  

Then, I took her around the block.  First, the

August 12, 2014

July from the pit lane, what-the-heck is "rundonneuring", and gears... who needs 'em?

It's a good thing I did, pulling the plug on the two streaks I'd had running back in late June.  Ambitious; in the past I'd woven my plans from the most hopeful of textiles - only recently have I learned the patience necessary to weave only when practical.  'Using my head,' as it were, often seemed like some sort of excuse not to attempt a ride or event; now, (though no easier) I find myself able to make more intelligent decisions.  That doesn't always mean that will be the case, of course:  take Dirty Kanza.  I don't really have "the bike" for the job - but, that's really the only excuse, and it's still pretty shallow.  It's just a tool, after all, and most successful events don't have much to do with that part of the equation.  I'm - oddly - not worried about that bit.  But, fighting the doctors and surgeon when it comes to injury - that's nothing with which to mess.  June became July became August, and as soon as the extent of my shoulder injury revealed itself to those who had fixed it, I knew I'd made an intelligent choice.  R-12 #4, complete, it was time for a good, extended rest.  I can already see the benefits, and I know I will come back stronger without much ramp-up time.  When the

July 23, 2014

The Injustice of Speed

It happens to me at least once a year.  The need... for speed. 

"Talk to me, Goose."   Shortly after that, I find myself in the garage, starting silently at my bike and some of the old frames ​resting in the storage room.  Blast.  
Here we go again.

Stuff that hangs from my bike suddenly looks out of place, heavy, as aero as a​ fallen​ log, bulky as a bag of leaves.  Why does this happen?  Why is the bike the first place I look for speed?
I think we all do this, as cyclists, once in a while.  For me, the goal is to get out of the garage before I get the tools in my hands.  At the worst of times I had managed three complete bike builds in one weekend, the last one being the re-rebuild of the bike I'd started with.  See, Ieventually listen​ed​ to reason... b​ut only after swapping parts across three frames. 
 Exhausting... and time better spent riding, instead of thinking and lamenting.

I find myself, however, at a unique crossroads now.  The Kogswell has been static for a while now, as I've managed to calm the restlessness of the past.  The repeating cycle of winter bike projects has, meanwhile, freed up the old Trek 450 frame set​ (again)​ - which IS fast.  As I think further about my plans for Dirty Kanza next year, I begin to wonder if I'm asking too much if the Kogs...

July 10, 2014

Guest Post: Glen R. - "The Ride From Hell"

The Central Iowa 300k - a.k.a. The Ride From Hell
By Glen Rumbaugh 

Ok it wasn't that bad at all; I only listed as the Ride from Hell so you'd read it.
It was a dark and stormy morning, or so they said it would be. It did look like we would get wet Saturday when we were receiving our ride safety briefing from Iowa RBA Greg Courtney.  Yet, as we rode east out of Ames toward the dark rain clouds, the rain ultimately disappeared and, later, so would the clouds. 

The summer Iowa events are run on a single weekend, allowing riders to pick their preferred distance, and allowing those same riders to share miles with other riders doing other distances.  Twenty-two riders started: eleven doing the 200k, five for the 400km, three for the 600km, and three for the 300km.  You can see the benefit of the multi-ride instantly:  three people tackling 600km makes for a lonely day...but being able to start the ride with over seven times that number is neat.  

We all began together riding in a nice line East from the hotel. The faster riders, doing both the short ride and the longer rides soon pulled away. Some would be caught later as they burned their energy early on.  When the routes split in the town of Nevada I met a rider from Minneapolis who was also attempting the 300k.  His name was Vincent D. and he spoke with a definite Minnesotan accent. He reminded me of

Two streaks buried - for the right reasons

It bears mentioning that the shoulder surgery I underwent this week - as expected - created a welcome 'reset button' for me to press, despite some bullheaded notions about keeping a streak of streaks going.  The June visit to the Archie Bunker route marked the completion of my fourth R-12 run - but, these four were not achieved back to back, so the importance of keeping a month to month run in play sorta lost its importance a while ago anyhow.  There aren't any points for that sorta streak, even when it comes to the new Ultra R-12 prize RUSA.  I'll likely get started on run number five later this year, instead of my original plan of riding a July 200 sometime during the first three days of the month and then foolishly trying to continue it with another 200 by the end of August; and risking injury.  The personal pressure 

July 9, 2014

Reprise: A Last Chance Story (feat. Mark Jilka)

By Karen Winterhalter; 
The Last Chance at 1,200 & 1,000 kilometers
  We left at 3:00 am in the only rain Denver had seen for 2 months. I was very cautious of the white painted stripes on the road; they attract oil, and can be very slick. My goal was to get out of town without getting lost. The rain continued off and on all day for the first 250 miles. At the first checkpoint (70 miles), we were already losing people. Having a support car is not always a good thing.  See car, get in car, quit.
The front group of riders had 6 in it, and of them 4 already quit. Leaving the checkpoint, my feet were cold even with produce bags on them. I lost my balance and fell in the driveway. With blood running down my leg, I rode on knowing the rain would wash it away.
The car pulling the trailer with our drop bags in it was at the next checkpoint. I quickly got my rain pants out of my drop bag and put them on. The volunteers even made hot chocolate for us. Many of the riders bought gloves at the store. I put a grocery sack on over my new wool KC Randonneur jersey, then my rain coat and reflective vest. Ralph Rognstad and Dan Pfaff from

June 28, 2014

Multi-Ride Late Spring Wrap-up Mega-Post! (w/ June 200k report!)

It's too big!
That's what SHE said.  huuhuhuhuhhuhuhhhhuhuhuh.

I couldn't possibly keep putting off what has now become ... let's see ... at least seven rides now that at least deserve some sort of mention, and probably three that would warrant full-on posts, lavish and thick with metaphor and literary magic (right, let's not get carried away).  I had planned on waiting until my shoulder surgery to sit down and click away to publish a ton of new updates and ride reports, but, I'm told - in this instance, as well as in regard to many other 'plans' I have - that I'm fooling myself:  in fact i just tried to type one handed with my right hand, and simply the drop in words per minute has me frustrated and uninspired.  So, typing is added to the stuff that I'll likely get a break from.  So be it...

Spring is here!  Spring is here!  Life is Skittles and life is beer!  
But, there's one thing that makes life sweet for me... 
and only one thing that makes Spring complete for me...  

Riding.  Apologies to Tom Lehrer.

While I love nature, I have the unfortunate distinction of not really being able to able to nurture and control it the way - say - a professional landscaper or gardener.  Animals are one thing... plants and I sometimes have a misunderstanding.  Still, I have a few hearty flora here and there courtesy my home's old residents and the magic of deep bulbs and perennial growth patterns.  When this beauty blooms, I know the good weather is finally here to stay.  

- Family Training - 
Late May, 2014

My son is quickly growing,

June 27, 2014

A Moment for Mark, please

​It is with particular sadness I write to report the loss of one of our own, Mr. Mark Jilka, a long-time participant with our randonneuring group.  Mark had been riding southbound on the shoulder of K-177, approximately 3 miles south of Manhattan, KS., when a vehicle - also travelling south - presumably left the lane and struck him from behind.  The internet news links below contain details - I take no pleasure in posting this information, however, we felt compelled to inform the cycling public and our members as soon as possible.  Please take a few moments to remember Mark.  Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.  

June 14, 2014

An Afternoon of Awesome - a May 100k

   The battle-cry of those recently released from their daily penance inside the confines of the office.  Whatterya doin' after work?

Mowin' the grass?  Hittin' the batting cages?  Dinner with the family?  It's one of those questions I'd used to answer the same way each time; when I'd be asked several years back what my plans were:  "I'm goin' on a bike ride."  

It's not as if my life after work doesn't have meaning!  That's not what I'm on about... the home, the wife, the kids... tertiary activities like riding a bike can't possibly compare.  But, the rare treat of a post-work bike ride?  That's pretty cool if one can swing it once in a while.  To some extent, I suppose the act of riding home from work counts as "a ride," but, I'm referring to those bonus miles - the non-commute miles.  Stuff like the Tuesday Night "Taco Ride"... things like that.  Showing up with bags still stuffed with work clothes, after-work rides take on a sort-of touristy feel that I really enjoy - a feeling of true independence from

June 13, 2014

2,200 Mile Update - Grand Bois 'Cerf' 700x28c

Well, where to begin . . . If you read this post back in mid-March, you might remember that I wasn't prepared to make any gigantic claims or "OMG THIS PHONE IS AMAZING!" proclamations; but, my initial impressions had been very positive with regards to Compass Bicycle's 'Grand Bois' tires:  essentially, a great idea realized, and produced for them by the experts at Panaracer in Japan.  The idea?  Well, it's nothing new - that's for certain:  I can remember tire manufacturers claiming their triumph over this goal since the first time I opened Bicycling Magazine many years back:  a tire with the convenience of a clincher and the ride of a tubular!  Pah.  Many a non-believer was born as a result of such bold claims and subsequent let-downs.  Try as they may have, either technology or manufacturing or the need for features which would satisfy the bulk of customers (like flat-protection) would ruin the ride quality, or speed, or handling - or all three.  Back to square one.  It seemed all along that someone not-so-keen on marketing, bottom-line and gimmickry needed to come along and attack this goal; yet, therein lay some trepidation, too - which I'll cover toward the end.

 In essence, it would take many, many pages to adequately describe the physics of what I'm feeling, why it does (or doesn't) work, and what's really happening in that scant cubic inch of rubber, woven poly/cotton and air separating me and my bicycle from the pavement underneath.  I won't

June 3, 2014

Our Flint Hills Friend

A quick addendum to the Aliceville Twister ride, I wasn't fast enough - nor do I have the right camera - to catch a decent shot of one of these little guys, so I went out and grabbed an open-license stock photo from the web instead.  Upon entering the Flint Hills area, we started to see a LOT of these guys flitting about, hard at work searching out the day's catch.  Fun to watch, colorful, clever, smart, and sorta curious about us... from a safe distance, of course.  The Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher is normally found a bit further south of here, but, we are indeed right on the northern fringes of their normal territory - and the hunting was good the day we rode.  Along with the usual aviary fare of red-winged blackbirds, Meadowlarks, barn swallows, and buntings, I found this character to be the most entertaining of the day.

Again, not my photographic work here... This file is licensed under the Creative Commons

June 1, 2014

The Aliceville Twister - The May 200K!

Mile 105.

The only sound came from the roar of the constant prairie winds in my ears, punctuated occasionally by the rush of a passing car or truck.  Peering out from under the lip of my helmet, the road continued to stretch toward the unbroken horizon ahead of me.  Steven was still a tiny yellowish blip on the radar... barely.  For a few milliseconds I thought to myself, this must be what the Last Chance 1200km ride feels like.  I'm immediately aware of how much more tired I'd likely be, had it really been that event unfolding under my wheels.  Another swig of water, and the pedaling continued for what seemed like hours.  I felt like I'd never reach the highway crossing.  This IS only 200-some kilometers, right?  Had I made a horrible mathematics error?  I don't remember any of this.  Where's Josh?  Where am *I*??  


Don't take this literally... but, from a mental standpoint this particular route is a great one to get lost in.  Compared to one of

May 22, 2014

Aliceville Twister , May complete!

One more month before this latest R-12 is in the books, so I'm pretty excited.  Warm weather is here finally; yet, it's not unbearably hot, and commutes are happening as often as the schedule will allow.  Happy.

the May installment of the R-12 permanent unwrapped a new route, debuting The Aliceville Twister - a 206km jaunt out into the Flint Hills region of east-central KS, starting in Garnett, KS. and returning along the Prairie Spirit Rail Trail.  That last part, especially, possibly the most fun I've had at the end of a 200k ride... but, as I'd been warned, it's also a great way to make it a squeeze to make the last time cut-off.  Throw in 30 MPH winds (yes, 30 sustained at one point, not just gusts) and you have a tough - but rewarding - day in the saddle.  We finished with a scant 22 minutes remaining, a combination of 12+ hours of battle with the relentless plains winds, some hills, a bridge under construction, a couple wrong turns, and longer-than-normal rests at the controls to recover from it all.  Great route - but bring your steel nerves and patience!

More to come as I construct the usual ride report!
It's nice outside... get out there!

May 3, 2014

Will Cynicism Kill the Pastime?

  Coffee poured, the Android device open to my feed reader - Saturday mornings in the easy chair, watching the sun slowly illuminate the front room while I dream of faraway roads and endless miles of joy.  These are how the non-riding weekend mornings are spent.  Before I mow the grass or start the laundry, a few encouraging words from the annals of cycling blog and newsletter fill my brain with delights.

  No joy?  Really?  Well, he does have a point... I'm speaking of Bicycle Quarterly's latest post on the subject of divisions in cycling, specifically the one against racing.  I do understand this, and agree with BQ's stance; but, one key factor remained absent in the author's analysis:  doping culture.  It's unfortunate that "doping" and "racing" are inextricably intertwined, and likely will be for the foreseeable future of cycling competition, but - racing, in of itself, is not "evil."  Heck,

May 1, 2014

Bicycle to Iowa? No problem!

  One can be fairly confident of their arrival into the very niche bin of lunacy we call randonneuring when the concept of riding a bicycle to Iowa seems more exciting and far easier than driving there in an automobile.  I've personally never been more in touch with that sentiment than I've been this year, and it's only just becoming May in a couple days as I begin to write this post.  As I stood in the Perkin's parking lot Sunday morning while the sun rose, chatting with Bob, Del, and my finishing cohorts Steven and Josh, it occurred to me how good I'd been feeling.  At the tall end, our group had finished five hours later than the first - yet, mentally, it didn't matter.  The wind, finally, wasn't center-stage in
my head ... even though it had indeed been there, and had played a large part in our finishing pace.  I was bummed that we seemed to have dodged every thunderstorm; yet, still elated to have enjoyed their light-show from a safer distance.  Mainly, however, I had been a bit sad the event was NOT a 600km.  Granted, the feeling didn't originate from a lack of challenge over the previous 24-hours.  Sore, yes.  Probably in need of a short nap and a good Perkins refueling, but, a sense of being a little bummed-out washed across me while I hoisted my bike onto the roof rack for the journey home.  Something akin to "that's all?"  

This mirrors the sort of feelings I'd experienced on the drive home from the 300k just a couple weeks ago.  I'd felt a longing to continue, to stretch the envelope.  To have spent those long hours on the bike and to not be weary of the experience represents a huge progression and positive step compared to previous years' rides.  It's a terrific feeling, one I need to nurture and harvest at the correct time.  2014 may yet hold some exciting challenges - yet, I'm still not making any announcements.  Mental chips have fallen into place after several 'off' years, and it would seem I've arrived in a place where the thought of riding another 200k at the end of 400 not only seems possible, it has become something to anticipate with good spirits.  Despite a few packing challenges when it comes to the weather lately, ride preparation has unfolded more smoothly; the pangs of anxiety occasionally overcoming the foreground of my mind have fallen absent.  Even while cycling along and considering the remaining mileage, current speeds and inevitable mathematics therein, I have been - overall - attending these rides with an uncharacteristic sense of calm.  The end of a brevet is no longer accompanied by a sense of relief.  Arriving home with some pain no longer creates stress about solving it - and I haven't touched the tools for anything short of regular maintenance for some time now.  

Right about now, the music should come up and the screen should fade-in and pan across a vast scene of an open plain bisected perfectly by a well-paved section of forgotten highway - while, from out of frame behind the camera, the whoosh of a bicycle and rider swoop in and begin to grow smaller in size... the image of a lone cyclist pedaling toward a distant horizon.

This year's 400km brevet is in the books, and already stands up as the most comfortable I've been at the end of an event of such length.  Granted, I didn't finish fast -- but, I'm still not sure that was my goal to begin with.  It's easy for someone to say "oh, yeah, but I *coulda* finished in XX hours, I felt so good... " -- and, true, in saying that, I'm sorta saying the same thing.  The training of the 300k a couple weeks back, and recent, tiny bike adjustments seem to have only improved my cycling experience lately - and I held up a couple shining moments throughout the day.  

The first, I caught Gary!  Nearly twice.  Sure, this happened in the early hours of the ride - when I probably shouldn't have been trying to catch anyone - but, I am who I am.  Despite exercising a conscious decision to avoid pushing too hard on the way out of Liberty along highway H, and the early miles of US-69 out of Excelsior Springs, upon reaching the quieter section of rolling hills between Excelsior and Lawson, MO., watching Gary D. once again advance slowly up the road at a seemingly impossible pace, the temptation proved too great.  I fell in with Del G., Rod and Joe for a few miles, but, ultimately determined my default climbing cadence to be problematic for pack structure.  I then pulled out to the left and fell into my own tempo, and after a few minutes it seemed my pace and Gary's nearly matched.  I knew it wouldn't last long, however: astride his shining new rando-machine, Gary displayed spirited riding confidence as he ate up the rollers; while I took a few distant pictures - mentally noting that each one would represent the last time I'd see him all day; yet, somehow, I managed to maintain the same gap after each hill.  Feeling frisky, with the consequences of early hammering beginning to fade in importance, I shifted once, stood up to get back to cadence, and started to attempt the elusive "Gary Reel-in."  For once, it worked!  Though I can't recall exactly, somewhere just north of Lawson I grabbed Gary's wheel and hung on for a bit before dropping back into reality.  Mission accomplished - though, since it had been his first ride on the new steed, and getting used to it will only make him faster - well, I'll take it with whatever asterisks are necessary.  

With the Gary business handled, it was time to hopefully fall back into a group for the tailwind-fueled party-bus to Iowa!  I managed to chat a bit with each passing gaggle; the tandem group, then Del's group, then Spencer's - personnel exchanging back and forth all the while as everyone settled in for the long haul to the 1st control, while we cleared Kansas City's northern influence and watched a quieter highway unroll ahead of us.  The chill of the morning air had faded, the sun bathed us in warm rays, and the birds sang.  The day couldn't have been better!  

Packs formed up and fell apart here and there along the way to Cameron, MO., where I found myself glued to Gary's wheel again, somehow, on the long run-up into town.  A group of us stopped for breakfast, then journeyed further north into scenic Harrison County, full of long vistas and historic farms -- and, unfortunately, the worst pavement I've ridden in a few years.

With breakfast put away, we pedaled on to the first real control at Pattonsburg, MO.  At this point, packs became individuals again, with a few exceptions up the road, and I ended up soloing much of this leg after our train splintered north of Winston, MO. - Gary missed a crucial turn along the way, then others began to spread out after waiting - fruitlessly - for the group to reform.  The massive tailwind, at least, made it easier for individual riders to make headway - so at least the drafting opportunity wasn't missed too badly.

After Pattonsburg, and a little bit longer of a rest, Steven, Josh and I grouped up and traded conversation and sunshine, as the thunderstorms which seemed to have missed us completely had stayed well to the south.  Working together, fending off various dogs and otherwise enjoying the nearly traffic-free grandeur of the old highway, we stayed grouped-up and re-met at each control and stop for the remainder of the day - a system that worked really well as afternoon became evening, and evening became sunset.  A few scattered sprinkles, a terrific light show from mother nature - and even a couple hours of stars overhead.  The roads remained nearly abandoned from Bethany, all the way back to Liberty - though I hadn't bothered to count cars, I'd bet we'd seen less than 25.  Steven's clever radio set-up allowed us to listen to the KC Royals game, as we made the Pattonsburg control twenty-or-so minutes before the lights were turned off.  From there, calming winds, another light show, and buttery-smooth pavement.  It was a great night on the bike - magical as ever.

Though the nasty weather promised by the forecast never really panned out (probably better that way), the goal of keeping close to one another proved valuable as the day had progressed into night.  It was nice to finish with a little "umpfh" back on Highway "H" headed back into Liberty - and while I hadn't wanted to take any chances at the 400k level, it was nice to think that I probably could have uncorked a lot more than I had.  Still, I seldom end up wishing I'd traded company for speed -- regardless of my best efforts, it's a fair bet I'd still not have caught anyone, despite having had 200km to do so.  An individual rider vs. a pack of five or six; yeah, unless I got lucky, spent no time at the stops, and they chose to simultaneously slow down, maybe.  Perhaps next time out I needn't be so cautious - perhaps the time to test myself is coming along.  Combined with attempting to find other ways to trim down control times, maybe I'll get a few new PRs in the coming months.  It's a tug-of-war, however... riding fast = heads-down = no scenery = little conversation = less fun = riding fast?  Can't have both, unless everyone else gets faster at the same rate.  I should really save the speed work for the solo days, especially on routes I'm already familiar with - no chance of missing anything that way.

Bob rallies the troops, minutes before ride start with the coming sunrise lighting the sky to the east

Steven, Del G., Gary D. on highway H, heading out of Liberty into the new day

Gary's magnificent new rando-steed

Along US-69, south of Lawson, MO., Gary is already chasing invisible rabbits, Del in the foreground proving more sensible, while I grapple with how sensible to remain

Ditching sensibility for a few dozen miles, this represents one of the shots titled "the last I'd see of Gary."  Shortly after I put the camera away, my reckless side elected to give chase

Frisky chase-face

Dilapidated structure along the highway, possibly an old service station 

Glorious morning skies and full sunshine

Rodney G. leads the train into Winston, MO., while Kier, Joe and I sit in and enjoy the tailwind/draft combo - Gary is again off the front, out of frame

Would have been a better shot had I remembered my bag being in the way - sorry Kier!

Nothing but open road ahead of us!

Pattonsburg, MO., and the first control - Joe, Keir and others rest up for the push to Iowa

Just inside Harrison County, an old barn looms like a watchman

Open plains and rolling hills - Iowa must be close.  Josh working the pedals here, taking it all in on his first brevet series

A short pause further up the road, more postcard scenery

Josh and I, ham-for-the-cam

Water-tower hunting in northern Missouri

Great pavement, slowly building clouds, and wind

Run for the border!  Hitting a state line on the bike is always a big deal

Josh cutting it up in the vast Iowa countryside.  We're only a dozen miles north of Missouri, but, this stretch of road still looks "different" somehow

Thumbs up for the halfway!  Postcards dropped, it's time to face the wind - which is pulling and vibrating the metal roof on the post office, while the flag is removed - the day's lobby business complete

Yep - Amish country

Curious horse considers us as we return and inch closer to Missouri - "107 miles to Kansas City" is taken as good news, though daunting to the uninitiated

Back in Missouri, Steven, Josh and I group-up for the second half of the ride

Signed 220th Ave, near Highway Z, midway between Bethany and Eagleville, the old, original concrete slab alignment of US-69 extends for a few miles here, north and south of the new road.  While it would be a tall order, with lots of meandering, there are long stretches of the old highway alignment still in use, largely as driveways for homes that didn't move with the road.  Most of the old highway, however, was lost with the construction of I-35, nearby.

An old flood control gatehouse or pumphouse near Bethany, MO.

A reminder of the day's tailwind, we're pushed along US-136 while the clouds continue to foretell bad weather and the sun begins to dip

Sunset, north of Pattonsburg, MO.

Just a few sprinkles is all we'd feel, thunderstorms all around as we settle in for the night-shift.  Lights on, men!

I'm encouraged and confident, feeling at the top of my game again, finally.  I remain focused on my diet, my cross-training, as I still have a little work left to do before I'm truly where I'd like to be - but, the time where I can leave the family for a couple days for a bike ride still sits a couple years distant.  The real randonneuring tests at the >400km level will always be there - but, as mentioned in the last post, I must remain vigilant to stay on-form, not slip as I had before.  It's so easy to do, also... feeling justified after such a long ride to eat carelessly, when that's not what I should be doing right now.  

So, for me, this year's 400k wraps up the brevet series.  As I finish writing this, it's officially a new month - time to switch back into 200km mode.  Still, I don't plan to fool around this year:  I'm still anxious to try my hand at some of the old fave routes, like the Liberty-Albany 300k permanent with all it's climbing: after reaching the top of a ridge between Pattonsburg and Winston, MO., I could see the rhythmic flashing red beacons atop the ever-growing wind-farm to the west... right about where the Albany route sits, and that would be neat to see from a bicycle, for sure.  Not sure if that will comprise the May or June edition.  It's not a "have to", yet it remains on my list of "want to."  More evidence that I may not be quite right in the head.

Train hard... even if you don't know what you'll use it for.

After June, however, it's a dice roll:  I have a mental plan arranged; yet, I'm not guaranteed it will actually work.  June will mark the 12th and final ride of my 4th consecutive R-12 series, and my plan remains: "keep going."  However, standing firmly in my way is a surgeon waiting to fix a torn rotator cuff I wasn't aware I even had until "that odd hitch" in my left arm came up in conversation during a routine doc's appointment.  X-rays and MRIs later, it won't fix itself, and the longer I wait for surgery --- despite feeling fine and not experiencing any life-altering pain --- the worse it will get, the more involved the surgery becomes, and the longer the recovery time drags out.  Sigh.... hand-forced, fixing it before it gets worse is the right choice... and, attendant to the notes about craning my neck and such, yeah; the pain in my left shoulder likely has little to do with handlebar reach, really.  Still... I'm stubborn.  Can I (rhetorical here, of course) ride my July 200k on, say, July 1st; go under the "knouyfe" (Paul Hogan style) a week later; take the full 6-8 week advertised recovery period (even though the doc says something about being able to ride again in four months) ; and carefully maintain something resembling "form" - to get back on the bike on August 31st to get the next 200k in line?  Something tells me the craziness of maintaining a silly ride streak is    N O T   worth a repeat injury... and, yeah, she's right.  The same craziness that has me spouting things like "only 100 miles to go!" also thinks this surgery and recovery will be a cake walk, and I realize I'm probably wrong here... but I *really* don't like it when someone tells me I "can't."   Baloney!  Watch me.  I'm planning on being wrong.  So, (lo-oooong exhale) yes:  the streak will be broken.  Technically, if I wait until September with no August ride... but, maybe I should just give myself a pass on this one, and chill out.  Maybe.  Still, I may push this out - with the boy's goal of riding the MS Ride this fall, I don't want to be in a position where I can't train with him... and, really, I'd much rather miss the fall / winter rides than the summer ones which sit just around the corner.  Gettin' old ain't for the weak, apparently.  I suppose, at some distant point, I'll have to learn how to exist without the bike - but, I already know I'm not terribly good at sitting around.

Stay tuned!  No matter what happens, the tone of the posts here won't degrade into a woeful pity-party while I count the days until I can ride again.  It may be quiet, but it won't be any of THAT dribble.  In the meantime, at least two more rip-roarin' ride reports to come while I wrap up R-12 #4.

Some notes:

Relax!  While it's nice to keep the sun out of the eyes, and REALLY nice for when it's raining, a cycling cap does sorta block one's vision when the visor is down.  If one wishes to see farther down the road, however, one has to look ... well, up.  Not a biggie, but, instead of rotating my neck forward by lifting my chin, I've developed a habit of stretching and locking my elbows and hunching and rotating my shoulders forward - which, at least limited to the left side - has been resulting in over-stretching my rhomboids (I think that's what they're called: shoulder-blade region).  During the first part of the ride, with the sun behind me as we rode north, I had no issues - wearing just a simple head-cover.  Upon turning back south, I pulled out the cap... and within 40 miles the pain began.  Pain caused by repetitive motion or injury usually won't right itself during the activity which causes it - so, I'm confident this is not fit-related.  It's simply a combination of the distance, and the poor posture I'd practiced.  Once I flipped the brim upwards, thusly saving it for when it might be needed, the pain subsided.  This same pain flares up occasionally at work, or while driving - so, it is certainly nothing new.  Nice to have been able to fix it.  Oh... and yes - ibuprofen might have worked, but, taking some (for me) generally results in more pain afterwards.  I don't agree with interrupting the body's normal reaction to exercise at the risk of minimizing the performance gains one might otherwise enjoy - but, it also isn't like anyone taking the stuff is BEHIND me these days, either.  Still, if I don't HAVE to take something, I don't want to. 

Lean forward - in addition to the notes above, being "more upright" shouldn't be something I'm attempting to take literally unless I'm willing to raise my stem another 3-4 inches.  Level with the saddle, if not a tiny smidge higher, will still put me into a semi-aggressive riding posture - which is OK - and doesn't cause any discomfort, even when riding in the drops for over an hour.  Again, I need to relax, instead of craning.

Eating well means riding well!  The Bonk Breaker bars have proven terrific once again, and a short-stack of blueberry pancakes at Perkins prior to the ride made for a terrific first half to the ride.  Not exactly eating healthy, no, but it remains appropriate for the activity level at hand.  Same thing goes for M&M's of various flavors mixed in with dried fruits and nuts - a tasty trail mix that was fun to eat --- which KEPT me eating well into the ride's later hours... which is when I usually stop, resulting in a lethargic finish.  Steven and I talked about this at length for a few miles and at some of the stops - the sensation that I'm just tired of chewing.  This makes it harder and harder to continue keeping the calories topped-off when the ride extends onward - which, for me, is why the Hammer Gel works SO well in the last 25-30 miles.  Even if it only exists for insurance purposes, it tastes great, doesn't take up any real space, and works.  Part of me thinks maybe I should just bring along enough for each hour of the ride - to enjoy this boost all day, but, I don't want to return to a scenario where I start to carry 400k of nutrition along with me.  There's a happy compromise in here somewhere, though.  This ride, though, and each ride since February, have enjoyed having the Hammer Gel along for that final kick to the finish.  Along with that, a couple doses of real food helped tremendously... the aforementioned pancakes were epic, the breakfast sandwich at Burger King was awesome, and the breakfast-anytime menu at Subway completed the trifecta of my secret weapon:  if it's for breakfast, I'll probably eat it.  

There ya have it for this edition.  
Thanks for reading!

Cue music, cue sunset, see ya...