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

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cold, Wet Ride; Hot Pancakes

The Ladies' Auxiliary cooks pancakes at the VFW in Strafford on the 5th Saturday of the month. Since it only happens a few times a year, the weather has to be really harsh to call off the ride. It was about 44 degrees, but not raining, when I left the house. It started to sprinkle when Rae, Doug and Tom met me downtown at 7:30AM. We had to be at the VFW before it closed at 9:00, so we headed east into the headwind (about 11 mph) that made the rain seem more intense. The rain stopped outside of Springfield, but picked up again just outside Strafford. When we crossed MO744, we passed a stream of runners and walkers doing a 5K. As usual the pancakes were great. For some reason the women make better pancakes than the men who cook them the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. Since it looked like we were going to get more rain, we decided to head back to Springfield after breakfast. The rain started again after we crossed I-44, but with the wind at our backs it was not bad. Instead of a 50-mile ride, I only did about 33 miles. More than enough in the cold and rain.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Spirit was Willing, but the Flèche was Weak

We put together a team (Emily, Hunter, John and myself with Rudy in support) to ride a Flèche from Springfield to Grain Valley, just east of Kansas City. The 237 miles had to be ridden in 24 hours. The intermediate checkpoints were Miller, Golden City, Nevada, Holden, and Greenwood.

We left Springfield at noon on Friday into a headwind that wore on us most of the ride as it swung from the west to the north. We were little late getting to Golden City, in part due to a flat the John had about 10 miles out. Emily also dropped out prior to Golden City. Dinner took some more time, but we began to make it up on the road to Nevada until we hit a gravel section just south of town. We had ridden four miles up MO 71 to avoid a gravel section between DD Hwy and E Hwy in Vernon County. We made good speed on the wide, smooth shoulder, and there was not much traffic that late at night. When we got to E Hwy, the map was not correct because E Hwy only went east and we were heading west. The road to the west was paved, so we kept going and hit gravel after a few hundred feet. The gravel was not too bad, but after two miles we came to a road closed sign. Fortunately there was a road to the north and it was paved. We made it into Nevada about an hour behind schedule, so we actually lost ground we had started to make up.

We were also a little slow getting out of Nevada (12:30AM), and we hit more gravel, that we were expecting, before we got to M Hwy that would take us northeast toward Holden. While M Hwy is flat, we were not keeping up a speed to make it to Grain Valley on time. The wind had picked up from the north again, and it was getting colder. Just before 3AM and after 140 miles, we decided to abandon and called Rudy. Fortunately he was only about 1/2 hour away. Everyone was really chilled, so John wrapped up in a space blanket, and Hunter and I took turns in his bivey bag until Rudy arrived.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Ride to Ash Grove

Since the Flèche to Grain Valley is coming up next Friday, it's time to start tapering and we (Tom, Doug, Rae, Ron, Dave, John and I) rode the relatively flat route out to Ash Grove for lunch. It was clear and about 38 degrees when we left at 10AM with a good wind out of the east to push us along. The planes were using the northwest runway because of the wind. The clouds rolled in while we were having lunch at Willy B's, and the temperature had only climbed to about 44 degrees when we left. We stopped not far outside of Ash Grove to call the owner of a dog that had been killed. The owner's name and telephone number were on the collar. The sun broke out again as we approached Springfield, and Rae's shadow raced along side her.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Commuting Year Round

You don't have to quit riding in the winter.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Pleasant Ride to Pleasant Hope

Rae, Doug, Tom, John and I headed north to Pleasant Hope late this morning. The weather was mostly sunny, in the mid-40s at the start and high-50s by the end. The route north took us across Fellows Lake, where there are facilities for a quick stop. There was still snow along the northern slopes. We stopped for lunch at the Junction Grill in Pleasant Hope on the northwest corner of MO 215 and H Hwy. The route south crossed McDaniel Lake, and by 3:00PM the fishermen were out in force on the bridge. The water level of the lakes is higher then I have seen it in a long time. We were chased by a number of dogs who were also ready to get out for a spring run. Other than the dogs, it was a pleasant 50-mile ride.