But I am just a pilgrim on this road, boys
Until I see you fare thee well
-Steve Earle, Pilgrim

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cyclist Special

Here is a two-part YouTube video about cycling in England in 1955. Great stuff.

Part 1

Part 2

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Bird's Eye View of Springfield & Greene County

Next time you are planning to bike ride in a new part of Springfield or Greene County, check out your route at Live Search Maps. Zoom into a location in Greene County until the "Bird's eye" selection is live on the menu bar above the map. Click on "Bird's eye" to see the aerial photo of your location. You can rotate the image using the tools on the left. These images were shot in June 2007 and appear to be available for all of Greene County plus 2 or 3 miles beyond the county line.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Biking to Billings

We (Rae, Doug, Ron and Ralph) rode to Billings today, about 53 miles (round trip). It was cold and cloudy at the 9:00 AM start. The roads were wet; not from rain, but high humidity. This is one of our flatter routes; a good choice since we have not been out much. The wind was also generally out of the southwest, and we wanted the push back. The sun began to break out as we left Springfield and entered Republic. We stopped for a second breakfast at Petro's Family Restaurant in Billings. The food is good, but as usual a lot of heavy smokers were there. Everyone ordered a short stack of regular pancakes, until I ordered the cinnamon raisin pancakes. The waitress gushed how they were her favorite, so Doug and Ron changed their orders. Rae stuck with the regular pancakes because she eats them with peanut butter rather than syrup. The pancakes were good; they have an unusual creamy texture. When we left Petro's, we headed south through Billings and then turned east. The wind seemed to have shifted more from the west, but we still got a good push on the ride back.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Short Sunday Ride

I did not setup a group ride this Saturday morning because it was too cold, so I went to spin class at St. John's with Doug and Rae. It was cold again today (34 degrees), but I headed out this afternoon because the sun was shining. I rode Jefferson to Madison to Holland; swung east to Phelps Grove Park; back to Holland southbound to the South Creek Greenway; out to the end of the greenway and back, about 19 miles. Not much distance, but it was on the road and not the trainer. I stopped at the Fred May Plaza just west of where Holland intersects the greenway. Fred was the former Springfield planning director and helped establish the greenways.

I did not ride on the greenway the entire distance. I don't like the greenway street crossings at Grant and Fort, so I ride on Sunset. There are two traffic lanes and a parking lane with few parked cars, which allow plenty of passing room for cars, although traffic was light today. There was only one jogger on the greenway east of Close Memorial Park. Someone had put a red shawl on the statue of Anne Case Drummond in the park, and there was a man keeping her company as he fed the ducks.

There were more joggers and dog walkers west of the the park, and I almost ran into a jogger who was on the right but cut across on the left at a curve. I had yelled, "On the left", but the volume on his ipod was too loud. He realized his error when I came by on his right and yelled an apology. This segment of the greenway is only six miles long. There is another paved segment further south that will be connected in the future. I don't know if the trail off the end of this paved section connects or not. It was getting late, so I headed home.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

To Spin or Not to Spin...

Today's weather forecast was kind of iffy (32 degrees at 8:30AM and 20% chance of rain), but we decided to ride rather than go spin for an hour at St. John's, particularly since the seven-day forecast is for colder weather. It was actually 35 degrees when I left the house, so we were already ahead of the curve. Doug, Rae, Tom and Ron were already downtown when I rode up, and we headed out to Ash Grove (50 miles round trip).

The ride out was uneventful; we were chased by a couple of dogs and saw a flock of turkeys running across a field. Unfortunately, they were too far away for a picture.

We made good time to Ash Grove. Ash Grove's main claim to fame is that Nathan Boone, the son of Daniel Boone, homesteaded nearby. We stopped at Willy B's for second breakfast.

We bundled up again for the ride back because it was still only about 38 degrees. There was a light wind generally out of the southwest, so we had a little push on the way back.

The return route crosses the Frisco Highline Trail on the east side of Willard. The Highline is a 35+ mile Rail-to-Trail that connects Springfield to Bolivar. It was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 2006, by the National Park Service. There was no one to be seen in either direction on the trail. Must have been too cold.

Overall it was a great ride. A hazy sun broke through for the ride back, there was no rain and we didn't have to go to spin.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Morning Rides

I ride my bike to work most days but it is only 0.8 miles, so I try to ride before work twice a week when the weather is good (above freezing and no precipitation). I ride a 16-mile loop generally from Commercial Street on the north, Barnes Avenue on the east, Sunset Street on the south and Weaver Avenue on the west. This morning it was 62 degrees and the predicted rain seemed distant, so I headed out about 5:30AM.

Scattered clouds were chasing across the sky as the wind was blowing about 18 mph out of the south, and I could see a planet in the eastern sky that I assume was Venus. The roads were wet, either from earlier rain or just the high humidity; perfect weather for fenders.

For visibility, I have dynamo-driven dual headlights; dual taillights, a reflective vest, ankle bands and wheel strips; and reflective stickers on my helmet. While I am clearly visible, I have to be careful of approaching cars turning in front of me. I think a combination of my speed and a lack of depth perception gives some drivers the impression they have plenty of distance to make the turn. Actually, at this time of the morning there is little traffic to worry about. The major conflict locations are the Kraft plant entrance on Barnes and St. John's Hospital along Fremont and Seminole.

I can ride the loop in about an hour. My best average speed has been 17 mph. I can do that speed on the summer days when there is no wind. I slow down when it gets dark, especially with the wind and wet roads. Today, I was able to average 15.4 mph because I caught a couple of traffic signals where I often have to slow and stop.

Hopefully, there will be many more morning rides this winter. Last winter, there was not much riding during January because of a major ice storm.

Dave Moulton and Maynard both have a good dialogue going about bikes in traffic. Check them out under LINKS.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

First Ride of the Year

The weather warmed up today (about 42 degrees at the start), and we (Ralph, Doug, Rae, Tom, Neil, Ron and Dave) rode from downtown Springfield to Stafford and Turners Station before returning to Springfield. We try to ride to Strafford (17 miles) at least once a month because the VFW has pancake breakfasts the first and third Saturdays for $3. You can also get biscuits and gravy. They are only open from 7-9AM, so it is difficult to get there in the winter when it is still dark and really cold at the start. Today, we left at 7:30, but had two flats before we even left Springfield. We cut the route short, but got to the VFW about 9:10. Fortunately the grill was still hot, so the vets whipped up some more batter, and we fueled up for the ride to Turners Station. It was well worth their effort because we each left at least $5.

Strafford, MO, VFW

The ride south to Turners Station (19 miles) has some good hills because it crosses the James River. The south wind (23 mph) made it more difficult today. Turners is a former rail stop that was founded in 1889. It is still the post office and general store. You can also get deli sandwiches if you need a quick meal.

Turners Station, MO

We made it back downtown around noon with the sun starting to break out. The temperature was in the high 60's in the afternoon, and they are predicting record breaking highs for tomorrow.