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

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