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

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sheila's Place in Fair Grove

The Red Ribbon Ride was this past Saturday, but it did not start until 8:30AM and some of us needed to be back by noon. So, Rae, Doug, Tom and I rode to Fair Grove and had a late breakfast at Sheila's Place. Sheila's is on the west side of US65. just north of CC Hwy. We left Doug and Rae's at 7:00AM, and I was back home by 11:40, even though service was a little slow at Sheila's. It was about 46 miles round trip.

Downtown Fair Grove
Sign on the door says "Keep Out"

Minor adjustments after breakfast

Fellows Lake

Monday, May 12, 2008

Kansas City 400K

Eight riders left Grandview shortly after 5:00AM into a wind that was blowing out of the ESE at about five mph. The temperature was about 52 degrees. The 400K generally runs east through Lees Summit Greenwood, Lone Jack, south to Strasburg, east to Holden, Warrensburg, Sedalia, and finally southwest to Windsor, which is the turnaround.

Two riders pulled ahead and were at the Holden control (49 miles) at 8:15AM when I arrived with three other riders. Five of us left about 15 minutes later into a ESE wind that was blowing about 10 mph. I was able to hang with them for a few miles, but the last I saw of them until Windsor was when they were climbing the hill about a mile ahead of me just before the turn to the northeast on BB Hwy. I stopped at the turn to take off my jacket because the temperature had climbed a few degrees and I was working hard riding on my own.

I rolled into the Casey's in Sedalia (99 miles) at about 12:40PM for a brief stop before heading on to Windsor. The clerk told me the lead riders were about 20-30 minutes ahead. I ran into a cold hard rain storm on B Hwy about three miles north of Hwy 52. The road was pockmarked with small potholes that were almost impossible to see in the rain making for a rough ride. The rain only lasted about ten minutes. I kept expecting the lead riders to come charging towards me on their return, but they were still in Windsor (125 miles) when I arrived about 2:00PM. I had planned to eat something substantial in Windsor, but they said we could eat in Sedalia if I wanted to ride with them. I bought bottles of chocolate milk and water at the Casey's, and we headed out again. After about six miles I fell behind and that was the last I saw of them. I probably should have eaten in Windsor like I had planned because I was losing energy fast. Just north of Green Ridge, I passed the last rider heading out to Windsor. She was at least an hour behind me.

In Sedalia, I looked for the lead riders at the fast food restaurants along US 65 and finally stopped to eat at the last one at Y Hwy where I needed to turn west again. I rode into the control at Casey's about 5:45PM. The clerk told me the lead riders were about 15 minutes ahead of me and he did not think the would make Warrensburg before the cold front hit. The wind was now out of the south at about 10 mph. The temperature was about 62 degrees. I took off for Warrensburg hoping the clerk was wrong about the cold front.

I slammed into the front coming down the hill at Knob Noster at about 7:30PM. Fortunately the lightning was to the north of me. I continued to ride for about 10 minutes until I found a building with a covered porch to duck under. A couple of drivers slowed as they passed me on the road in the rain and asked if I needed a ride. Since I had not given up yet, I said no. After the rain subsided, I rode to the Casey's on Hwy 13, and the clerk told me the lead riders were about 30 minutes ahead of me. Since I was soaking wet from the storm, the west wind was picking up (20 mph with gusts up to 50 mph) and the temperature was dropping, I decided to check into a motel with the idea of getting up at 2:00AM and trying to ride in before 8:00AM. My gore-tex socks each had about a cup of water in them when I dumped them at the motel. I don't know how that much water got in them, but it wasn't leaking out.

At 2:00AM, my clothes were still damp, it was still cold (45 degrees) and the wind was still blowing out of the west (25 mph with gusts to 40 mph), so I went back to bed. I called Bob Burns, the RBA, just before 8:00AM to tell him where I was. He said he could not pick me up then, but could later in the morning. I told him I would call him about 11:00AM and let him know my status. We also laid out a shorter route that basically had me ride most of the way back to Grandview on MO 58.

I left the motel at 9:00AM. The sun was out, but the wind was out of the WNW at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. I headed west out of Warrensburg on Division Rd. It shorten the ride by several miles, but there was about a 3-mile climb up a hill to MO 58. The 4-mile ride south on MO 58 with the wind somewhat at my back made up for it. I made it to Holden a little before 11:00AM and had a pizza at the Subway before calling Bob. Bob picked me up a little after noon and drove me back. I am glad he did because there seemed to be a lot of traffic of MO58 in Raymore and Belton. Thanks Bob!

Three riders completed the brevet. Two abandoned in Lone Jack, and the rider behind me abandoned in Holden.

As I noted above, I probably should not have tried to ride back to Sedalia with the lead riders because I was pretty low on energy after riding through the storm heading into Windsor. I also should have ridden into Knob Noster and found shelter before the front hit. If I had been dry, I might have been able to continue on. I thought about waiting for the woman rider behind me when I was in Warrensburg, but I had no idea if she was still riding. Also, I could miss her in the dark if she rode by quickly and I was not paying attention. Each ride teaches me something to use the next time similar situations occur.

Riding east at dawn towards Holden

Casey's in Holden, MO

Antique car on road to Sedalia

Windsor, MO

Division Road looking east to Warrensburg

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dogwood Metric Century

This annual Springbike Bicycle Club ride is always held on the first weekend in May. This year and last, the ride has been on a new route starting in Republic on Saturday. The old route started in Sparta on Sunday and was much more challenging. The route was changed because of the increased traffic on the roads.

This year saw a good turn out even though the day started cold, cloudy and windy. Although there was some sprinkles on the drive to Republic, it never rained on the ride. The wind was another issue. It blew out of the west to northwest at 12 to 18 mph the entire ride. The route generally goes southwest to Billings, west to Aurora, northwest to Mt. Vernon, east to Billings and then back to Republic. So the wind gave us a great push on the return. There were rest stops in each of the communities.

I met Doug and Tom at the sign-in at 7:00AM, and we started a little early because we were cold. I rode my new commuter/shopping bike since the ride is short and relatively flat. The bike worked great considering it is set up for short commutes and shopping. I had a little problem with the shifting, but that was fixed after I adjusted the cable, which had stretched, at the rest stop in Mt. Vernon. I also tightened up the chain. I rode with MKS sneaker pedals and Keen-type sandals, rather than my normal crank pedals and Shimano-cleated sandals. The MKS pedals and the sandals have plenty of grip, and I had no problems with slipping. The lack of different positions on the albatross handle bar was uncomfortable after about 30 miles. I would not want to ride more than 100K with this handle bar setup.

We were back in Republic at 12:30PM for the cookout. Thanks to Bill Hill and everyone else involved in organizing and supporting the ride!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Commuter/Shopping Bike

Last night, I finished building up a new commuter/shopping bike on a steel Fuji Sagres frame that I used for my first randonneuring bike when I bought the frame about four years ago from Queen City Cycles. I replaced the Fuji with a new Rivendell Canti-Rom three years ago. I don't know the age of the Fuji frame.

I stripped the paint from the frame and had it powdercoated clear. Rather than a crystal-clear coat, it came out a soft steel gray with tan highlights where solder is exposed. The highlights are visible on the fork in the image of the head tube. I had put Boeshield in the frame when I first built it up for randonneuring, and the Boeshield may have had an effect on the powdercoat when it was heated.

The drive train is a Shimano 105 crank driving a Shimano Nexus 8-speed red band hub. The shifting on the hub is quite smooth, although the jump between the gears seems greater than my normal 7-speed freewheel.

The Nitto Abatross bar has shellacked cork grips. I put a Pletscher rack and a large Wald basket on the rear for shopping trips. The headlight is a Cateye EL-300 for those winter-evening commutes. I live less than a mile from work, so my commute is pretty quick and I can wear my work clothes. With the more upright riding position than my former commuter bike with drop bars, I will really be styling in my sports coat and tie.