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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

RUSA 2000K Medal

Randonneurs USA members who ride at least 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, or 5,000K in qualifying events during a calendar year receive a medal. I rode 2,342K this year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Marshfield Mash 112K Permanent Populaire

A new Permanent Populaire has been approved by Randonneurs USA. The Marshfield Mash 112K starts at the Kum & Go across from Sam's on East Sunshine, heads southeast to Rogersville and then northeast to Marshfield. It is an out-and-back. Let me know if you want to ride it. You must be a member of RUSA to ride.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Frozen Apple Butter

I went to Baxter Springs again on Saturday, December 5, to ride the Apple Butter 200K permanent with Nancy and Mike Myers. We started the ride at 7:00AM and 24 degrees. The high for the day was only about 42 degrees, so we were bundled up all day. I started with four layers (all long sleeve): a silk T, a synthetic T, a smartwool jersey and a cotton jacket. I removed the synthetic T in Sarcoxie and my helmet cover in Mt. Vernon. I was a little chilled on the return after the sun went down. This was the first 200K I have ridden where I never really sweated. On the way to Mt Vernon, we had a little bit of a push from the 12 to 20 mph wind that started out from the south but then shifted to the SSW. Fortunately, it shifted back to the south as the afternoon progressed so that we did not have to push against it all the way back to Baxter Springs. The skies were mostly clear all day, which helped make for a relatively pleasant ride in the cold. I did not take many pictures because it is too hard to handle the camera while riding with my winter gloves.

Congratulations to Nancy and Mike for completing a 200K, or further, each month over the past 12 months, qualifying them for RUSA's R-12 award. I am now halfway to the R-12.

At the control in Mount Vernon

Black Friday on the Frisco Highline Trail

I am a little late on this post. Rae, Doug, Tom and I rode up to Bolivar on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We rode the Frisco Highline Trail to Bolivar and a combination of the trail and road on the way back. I hope to establish a RUSA permanent populaire on the route, and the ride provided mileage and feet of climb for the application.

We left the Kearney Street trailhead at 8:00AM when the temperature was predicted to be just above freezing. We started out on packed gravel until about half way to Willard where we hit the new pavement that has lately raised some controversy with the running community. The pavement continues through Willard where it changes back to packed gravel. We saw a bald eagle in a field near the trail between Willard and Walnut Grove. It flew off when we came close.

After the Willard Trailhead, the quality of the trail surface is not as good. There are a number of locations where the trail has washed out in the past, so the surface is not packed. There was only one little place where we actually had to dismount because of a washout, which was pretty good considering I was only running 28mm tires. The trail did not match up well with some of the bridge surfaces, and we had to dismount rather than risk a pinch flat. We rode and carried the bikes across Missouri Highway 13 rather than take the streets into town. On the north side of Highway 13, the trail turns into a single track for about 1/2 mile. We arrived at the trailhead about 11:00AM. Total climb was 1,030 feet.

We had a late breakfast at Norma's Restaurant on East Maupin. The pancakes were so big they almost hung over the edge of the plates.

We rode the trail back south to U Highway where we took to the road. We stopped at Bolton's General Store on BB Highway, and got back on the trail in Willard. Total feet of climb for the return was 1,630 feet. Most of the additional climbing was on the hill coming into Morrisville and the climb out of the Little Sac River valley.

The ride was a much better way
than shopping to spend Black Friday. We hope to make it an annual tradition.

Heading out from the Kearney Street trailhead

Walnut Grove trailhead

Doug on the Little Sac River bridge

Passing under the trail on the ride back

Monday, November 2, 2009

Apple Butter 200K

Yesterday was another great day to ride a 200K. I joined Nancy and Mike Myers for the inaugural run of their Apple Butter 200K permanent from Baxter Springs, KS, to Mt. Vernon, MO. Mt. Vernon has an annual apple butter festival. With the change from daylight savings time, we planned to leave at 6:30AM. We ran into a glitch when the first control was not open, but we were able to get a gas receipt. The time switch was a problem at several of the controls because their cash register clocks had not been reset. The temperature at the start was 48 degrees, slightly warmer than predicted, and the wind was out of the south. The route goes right through Joplin on 20th Street, but traffic was light both outbound and inbound. It probably helped that it was a Sunday. The temperature was close to 60 degrees when we got to the second control in Sarcoxie, MO, so we shed most of our outerwear. The south wind held until we started back from Mt. Vernon when it shifted to the southwest. It was stronger than predicted, at 14 to 19 miles per hour. To keep up with the low-profile recumbent, I drafted quite a bit on the way back. An interesting feature of the route is that there is a significant hill as you enter almost every city or town. There is a fair amount of climbing on the route. Overall, I measured 4,500 feet, and at the turnaround in Mt. Vernon, it was 2,130 feet. This gets me through five of the 12 months I need for the RUSA R-12 award. Nancy and Mike will have 12 months when they complete a 200K in December.

Sunrise in Galena

Nancy & Mike outbound

Getting ready to leave Mt. Vernon

The wind shifted to the southwest

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2010 Southwest Missouri Brevets

The Southwest Missouri brevets will again be run through the St. Louis region for 2010. The 200K brevet is on March 20, 2010 and the 300K on April 17, 2010. Both brevets will start in Springfield and follow the same routes as last year. Both events are sanctioned by Audax Club Parisien (ACP). Additional brevets can be found on the RUSA web site.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

To Err Again

John Dilsaver and I had planned to ride the Route 66 & Cooky's Pie Permanent on Saturday, but John was not feeling well. Mike and Nancy Myers were riding the To Err is Humansville Permanent, so I decided to ride with them with some apprehension. The Myers ride a recumbent tandem and I have not been riding much, so I was not sure I could keep up with them. We left Strafford at 7:00 AM with the temperature a chilly 34 degrees but no wind. We hit the first control in Buffalo just after 9:00 AM. The wind began to blow out of the southwest at 6-8 miles per hour, but we made good time to Humansville, getting to the control right at noon. The temperature had warmed to a toasty 60 degrees, and the wind picked up to about 14 miles per hour giving us a good push back to Buffalo. Unfortunately, it shifted out of the south as we were leaving Buffalo and I began to tire. The Myers built a lead on me, although they stopped once because they were unsure of a turn. They were soon ahead of me again and were topping the route's biggest and steepest hill on Farm Road 223 as I came off of MO 125. I pulled into the Travel America in Strafford at 5:45 PM, 15 minutes after the Myers. The constant hills helped me generally stay with the Myers because while they were faster on the flats and downhills, I was able to catch up on the climbs. My higher profile into the wind contributed to my slower pace on the last leg south out of Buffalo. I am glad I went because it preserves my string of 200K rides in pursuit of the RUSA R-12 award.

Nancy & Mike Myers

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Winter Riding in October

It is already getting too cold for most cyclists to ride in this area. Doug, Rae, Tom, Neil and I headed out this morning at 7:30AM for pancakes at the VFW in Strafford. The temperature was about 40 degrees, and it had rained during the night, so the roads were wet. It looked like the sun was going to breakout on the way to Strafford, but more clouds moved in while we were eating breakfast. As usual, the vets bent over backwards to make sure we got enough pancakes, juice and coffee. We left the VFW just after 9:00AM for Fair Grove, We were going to turn back towards Springfield short of Fair Grove, but we missed the turn and headed on into town rather than backtrack. We had a tailwind on the way back to Springfield, so we made good time. The County paved several of the farm roads this past summer, making for a smooth ride. The sun never came out, but then it never rained either. Hopefully, we will see a warming trend soon. John and I still have a 200K permanent to ride this month.

Kum & Go in Fair Grove

Monday, September 7, 2009

To Err is Humansville 205K

John Dilsaver and I rode this permanent on Saturday. It is the toughest local permanent with 8,930 feet of climb. Fortunately, we picked a great day to ride. It was mostly overcast with no wind. We managed to avoid the rain that was predicted. It was a pretty unremarkable ride. We were chased by a few dogs and saw historic buildings; Texas longhorns; mules; great blue herons as we crossed Pomme de Terre Lake; a bevy of quail in the road and lots of goldfinches feeding along the road. As we were pulling into Humansville on Business MO Highway 13, a couple of ambulances came screaming the other way. When we got into town, we saw a van that had slammed into a telephone pole. We heard later at Nana's Country Cafe that the driver was a local and had a heart attack. Nana's was decorated with a John Deer theme.

John at the 6:00AM start

Control in Buffalo

We saw mules

Lunch stop in Humansville

We saw Texas longhorns, but they stampeded
away when they saw the camera

Log one-room schoolhouse just north of
Fair Grove in Dallas County

Log cabin next to the school house

W.C. Potter House (circa 1888) north of
Fair Grove on FR 221

Monday, August 31, 2009

Flint Hills 225K Permanent

John Dilsaver and I drove out to Council Grove, KS, on Friday to ride the permanent on Saturday with Spencer Klaassen, Kent Fulton, Jack Romans, Arlys Minear and Brian Bettis from the KC area. The route is an out-and-back to El Dorado primarily on KS Highway 177. We met up with everyone, except Kent, a little after 8PM at the Corp of Engineers campground along the lake north of town. It took a while to get to sleep with the bright moon shining down and the occasional vehicle roaring down the highway about 1/4-mile to the east. I was concerned about mosquitoes because we were right on the lake and they have been so bad in Springfield, but they were not a problem.

We were up by 5AM and headed into town to the start at the Short Stop c-store. Kent arrived shortly after we got there, and we were soon off into the dark.

The route took us through the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve just north of Cottonwood Falls. There was a large stone house and barn that now serve as the visitor center. On the way back, we saw quite a few visitors.

With a slight tailwind, we made good time and arrived at the control in El Dorado at about 10:30AM. The only delay along the way was when Spencer had a blow out in Cassoday and had to replace his tube and tire. Most of the group bought lunch at a Dillon's grocery store in El Dorado, while I went across the street to Taco Bell and John started back straight from the control because he did not want to tighten up during lunch.

The ride back took a little longer. The headwind picked up to 12 miles per hour with gusts to 20. We rode in a pace line, but I started to slow down, which I typically do after lunch. My rear tire also began to go flat just south of Cassoday (a popular place for tire problems). I pumped it up a bit and eased into town. The tire was in pretty bad shape. The thread was thin, and there was a groove down to the casing along one side as if something had rubbed against it. Fortunately, Brian had a spare tire to replace it, and we were back on our way. I was riding better with a fully-inflated tire, but I began to feel extremely sleepy after we left Cottonwood Falls. This is a re-occurring problem that I have not been able to solve. We got a little strung out towards the end, and I rode into the Council Grove control with Brian and Arlys about 5:30PM. We had a good dinner with the group at the Hays House restaurant before driving back to Springfield.

Overall it was a great ride. We got to see some different scenery and ride with a great group of randonneurs who worked together to make the ride successful.

Getting ready to ride

Heading out of town in the dark

One of 3 Rivendells on the ride

Stone one-room school house

Stone barn at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Cottonwood Falls

Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls

Me, John and Arlys taken by Spencer

Lunch outside the Dillon's in El Dorado

Pace line against the wind on the return

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Pie is the Prize

On Saturday, John Dilsaver and I were back out on the Mother Road (Route 66) riding west to Golden City for pie at Cooky's. Actually, only about 11 miles of the Route 66 & Cooky's Pie 206K permanent are on old Route 66. We headed out about 5AM with a slight south wind. Since I set up the route in 2007, Springfield built a new airport terminal and the route goes right by the entrance at a new roundabout. I was concerned about the amount of airport traffic we might encounter, but there was no problem that early in the morning, and the afternoon traffic was not bad either.

We were not really pushing the pace, and we made it to the first control in Miller (37.5 miles, 1,910 feet of total climb) just before 8AM. With the wind at our back most of the way, we reached Golden City (64.4 miles, 2,820 feet of total climb) just before 10AM, and Cooky's was still serving breakfast. Cooky's is a popular stop for riders on the Trans-American bike route, but the 10 or so riders eating breakfast this time were all from Mt. Vernon, about 35 miles southeast of Golden City.

We left Cooky's about 11AM. The south wind had picked up (23 mph with gusts to 28 mph), and it seemed a lot warmer. The wind hammered us on the south legs back to Miller (5,520 feet of total climb). The same clerk who had validated our permanent cards was still there. She told John that the Mt. Vernon group had come through earlier, but they did not have cards. We wondered if she had asked for their cards, and we invented stories we should have told her like: only card-carrying cyclists are real cyclists; or that we were on release for good behavior from the Green County jail, but the ankle bracelets did not transmit that far, so we needed to document where we had been.

The route is pretty much east-west after Miller, but we were both pretty tired from fighting the headwinds. Fortunately, we had good cloud cover from M Highway (98 miles) on into Springfield, so the temperature did not continue to climb. At about M Highway, I also began to get extremely sleepy. I finally stopped to take a caffeine pill, which began to kick in about the time we stopped at a church in Elwood (9 miles from the finish) to fill our water bottles. We made it back into Springfield shortly after 5PM (5,250 feet of total climb). John and I were both surprised there is that much climbing in comparison to the Munger Moss Route 66 200K we rode July 31, but there are some good hills on the east half of this route.

Golden City

John's half-eaten blueberry pie

My Dutch apple pie

New Roundabout at the Springfield Regional Airport entrance

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Riding the Mother Road

I took off from work on Friday so I could ride the Munger Moss Route 66 200K permanent with John Dilsaver. This was the first time the permanent had been ridden. The route follows old Route 66 from Strafford, MO, east to the Oasis Truck Stop near Richland, MO. It was a great day to ride. The skies were clear, there was little wind and the maximum temperature was only 79 degrees. We took our time along the route and stopped often to take pictures. There are still a number of landmarks from the halcyon days of Route 66. The Munger Moss Motel, in Lebanon, is still in operation. I had hoped to have lunch at Wrink's Market on the return, but it is closed "until further notice". Wrink's was a fixture on the Road since June 10, 1950, when it opened. It closed March 16, 2005, when longtime operator, Glenn Wrinkle, died. Terry Wrinkle, Glenn's son, re-opened the store in July 2007, but apparently was not able to make a go of it.

For the most part, there was not much traffic along the route except on the return in Lebanon and on CC highway between Conway and Marshfield. I was concerned about the route through Lebanon because the road is being expanded to 4 lanes. There was no construction on Friday, but there are still a couple of 2-lane sections were we backed up traffic. There were quite a few trucks westbound on CC, which may have been an indication of traffic problems on I-44. As expected in the Ozarks, we were also chased by a couple of dogs.

On the ride out, we talked to a couple of old timers at Hannah's General Store, which is the control in Conway. They were back there for lunch when we stopped again, and they would not believe we had ridden to Richland and back so quickly until I showed them the receipt from the Oasis Truck Stop.

Tom Barnett loaned me his altimeter for the ride, and the total amount of climbing was 6,920 feet. The climb was about 3,190 feet outbound and 3,730 feet inbound. Most of the route is rolling hills, but there a few good hills westbound into Lebanon, Marshfield and Northview. I really enjoyed the route because of the scenery and the variation of small town and rural riding.

John in front of the route's namesake

Me coming off the Gasconade River bridge
(a triple truss)

Home-made pie and fried chicken are long gone

Wrink's is closed again

Upper reaches of the Niangua River

John climbing the Northview hill on OO Highway,
the last climb of the day

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June & July Ride Roundup

Rode a lot of miles in June and went on vacation for 2 weeks in July, so I had little time to work on the Blog.

Nixa St. John's Clinic Ride on June 6

Tom and I rode the 70-mile route out to Aurora and back. It was a pretty challenging ride. Fortunately, we had a tailwind for the big hills on the way back. The ride was free and the support was great!

Tom Leaving a Rest Stop

Edwardsville, IL, 600K on June 13
I went up to Edwardsville with Judy, and we stayed at a motel close enough to the start so I could ride over while she slept in. The ride went pretty well until after we left Belle Rive. I became extremely sleepy and began taking some caffeine pills to stay awake. I was riding with John Jost, Dennis Smith and Scott Thompson, but I could not keep up with them as we left Thompsonville. I caught up with them just as they were about to leave Creal Springs. They waited while I bought a bottle of chocolate milk. We rode six miles of big hills to the bike path that would take us to Vienna. It was almost dark as we started down the bike path, and it seemed like it took forever to ride the 15 miles of gravel trail sprinkled with twigs. I stopped a couple of times to get a drink because it was too difficult to try to drink while riding. I was exhausted when I pulled into the motel about 10:00PM, and went to bed after a shower and part of a salad from MacDonald's. Unfortunately, I had stopped taking electrolyte tablets on the trail, and I woke up with severe cramps. I took a couple tablets and went back to sleep. When the alarm went off at 2:00AM, I turned it off and laid there with the intent of getting up, but I went back to sleep. Judy woke me up again at 2:30AM, and I went down to the motel lobby, where John, Dennis and Scott were ready to go. I told them, I just didn't have it in me to go on, and I went back to bed. I think the problem was that I had not gotten enough sleep going into the ride. For a variety of reasons, I only got about 5-6 hours of sleep the three nights before the ride.

John Jost giving instructions at the 4:00AM start

Dennis Smith and John outside Breese

Dennis and me on the Loafers Bench near Bluford

Scott Thompson, Dennis and John at Wilkey's Cafe in Belle Rive

Edwardsville, IL, 600K on June 27

I went back up to Edwardsville to try the 600K again. I made sure I had plenty of rest, but no other riders showed up because of the predicted high temperatures, so I just rode a 106 miles with John Jost, the RBA, and headed home. I tried using Sustained Energy to keep me going and it was working pretty well until about the last 30 miles when I began to feel bloated. I ate a sandwich when we stopped in New Baden, so that may have contributed. I have tried Spiz and Perpetuem in the past, and I always became sick to my stomach after a few bottles. I am going to try a lower concentration of Sustained Energy, and if that does not work, go back to solid food and chocolate milk, which worked well for the 210 miles of the earlier 600K I rode.

I spent Friday night at The Innkeeper Motel in
Hamlin, IL, and even the motel had a garden.

MS Pancake Ride on July 25
Tom and I rode the 52-mile route. I rode 12 miles to the start in Battlefield. It looked like a rain cell was moving in, so Tom and I left about 15 minutes before the ride was suppose to start. It started raining, with some lightning, shortly after we left, and we were some of the first riders to arrive at the pancake breakfast in Republic (10 miles). One of the staff told us that they had held up the riders at the start because of the weather and told the riders they could drive to the breakfast if they preferred. We continued on as more people started showing up in cars and on bikes. It pretty much stopped raining after the third rest stop, and we saw very few riders along the route. It appears most riders either did not ride or they rode the 30-mile route. We made it back to Battlefield about 10:30AM. I got a free massage and chiropractic adjustment, before riding the 12 miles home. Unfortunately, it started raining again couple miles from the house.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tokyo's Robotic Bike Parking

Not something we will see in Springfield anytime soon, but it is a cool idea. To deal with overflowing bike garages, the Tokyo subway system has spent $67 million on an underground bike garage managed and operated by a robot. With the swipe of a card, robotic arms grab bikes and place them in a spot underground. At the end of the day, the robot retrieves bikes in a matter of seconds.

The high-tech service is $18 a month for any of the 700,000 or so Japanese transit riders who bike to train stations daily. No need for locks or worries.

The robot garages are nearly full every day and neighborhood biking has spiked 20 percent since they were installed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Springfield, MO, Ride of Silence

Twelve cyclists rode the 13-mile route through central Springfield. Dave Christiano, the ride leader, read the Ride of Silence... poem prior to the ride. Coy Hart provided SAG, which fortunately was not needed.

The Ride of Silence...

Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight's ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride

- Mike Murgas

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Edwardsville, IL, 400K Brevet

The 400K was this past weekend. I almost had as much trouble getting to the ride as I had completing it. I was set to head out of Springfield about noon when I stopped to fill the tank of my truck. I pulled up to the pump, put my foot on the brake and turned off the key. The brake pedal went all the way to the floor. I started the motor and pumped the pedal a couple times, but it would not come back up. I got out of the truck, and there was brake fluid splattered on the front left tire. Fortunately, the gas station is also where I get my truck serviced. It turned out that the front brake line had rusted through. They put a mechanic to work on it right after he returned from lunch, and I was able to get on the road a little after 4:00 PM. The drive was uneventful until I slammed into the back of a storm front just after I crossed the Mississippi River east of downtown St. Louis. It was a deluge, and I got in a line of cars in the right lane of the interstate that was doing about 40 mph. I could see pretty well at that speed except when a truck would roar by in the right lane at 65 mph. I finally got to Hamel, IL, a little after 8:00 PM, and checked into The Innkeeper Motel.

I asked for a 3:30 AM wake-up call, which never came, but I also had my alarm set, which did go off. I got to the ride start in Edwardsville about 4:30 AM for the 5:00 AM start. There were about a dozen riders with about 10 riding the 400K. There were also 200K and 300K events starting at the same time. The 400K route is basically a figure eight (Map).

The weather was great at the start: about 67 degrees and a west wind at about 5 miles an hour. The favorable wind helped us get to the first control in Breese (51 miles, marker 21) about 8:20 AM. By that time, the wind had shifted to the WNW and picked up to about 20 mph with gusts to 25 mph. We had to ride through some water in a low area just southwest of Breese. I was riding with John Jost, the RBA, and his tire began to get a little soft about halfway to the next control in Okawville. We stopped a few times to pump it up, and he changed the tube in Okawville (78 miles, marker 33).

We next took a short break at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cemetery where we viewed the cyclist's grave stone. We stopped in Pinckneyville (marker 52) for lunch at Subway. Two other riders stopped and told us that they had been chased by a dog that was unfortunately hit by a car and killed.

We enjoyed the tailwind until a few miles east of the control in Ava (150 miles, marker 58) when we began heading west again. This part of the ride also had the steepest hills. We reached Sparta (177 miles, marker 63) around 7:30 PM. I forget the exact time, but we turned on our lights less than an hour later.

At sunset, the north wind dropped off to about 5 mph, and the temperature also began to fall. We passed a bank sign that displayed 45 degrees. We made one last stop in New Baden (216 miles) to get some hot chocolate and warm up a bit. We ended up staying about an hour. I was cold as soon as we started riding again. The temperature was about 49 degrees, but the dew point was about 39 degrees, so it seemed colder. Part of the problem was that I forgot my cycling cap, so the cold wind was blowing through the vents of my helmet. Fortunately, I did have a wool sweat band to cover my ears. If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have put a couple of paper towels in my helmet before we left the c-store.

We pulled into the final control in Edwardsville at 3:01 AM. After checking in, I loaded the bike in the back of the truck, climbed in the cab with a blanket and slept about four hours before driving home.

At the start

Breese control

That was not here last weekend

The RBA always goes first

RBAs get flats too

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cemetery

The cyclist's grave stone