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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Probably the Last Ride of the Year

Tuesday looked to be the last great day (partly cloudy, no rain) of the year, so James Doggett and I rode the Hound Dog 124K to Aurora. It was a little chilly, and we had to bundle up. James rode his new Lynskey bicycle. It is a beautiful green color. We had a light headwind outbound which unfortunately faded shortly after we turned around. James just joined RUSA this year, and this ride was his first randonneuring event. This sub-200K ride makes 3 months in a row for me in pursuit of the new RUSA P-12 award.

James outbound

James' Lynskey

Lynskey detail

Train in Marionville

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2011 Southwest Missouri Brevets

The Southwest Missouri brevets will again be run through the St. Louis region for 2011. The 200K brevet is on Sunday, March 20, 2011, and the 300K on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Both brevets will start in Springfield and follow the same routes as 2010 with a small modification to the 300K that makes it shorter by 0.7 mile. Both events are sanctioned by Audax Club Parisien (ACP). More info on the web page.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hound Dog 124K & Cooky's

I have been a little slack blogging. Tamara Mitchell, David Nelson and I rode the Hound Dog 124K permanent on November 27. This was the inaugural ride for this permanent populaire. It was a little chilly at the start, but sunny and little wind.

Good thing it was too cold for bugs to be out

Ozark riding lawn mower in Marionville (Photo by David Nelson)

Former service station in Billings

Everyone enjoying a ride

Back in Springfield (Photo by David Nelson's camera)

Dan Pfaff and I played hooky from work on Friday, December 10, to get in our 200K for the month. We were concerned about the cold weather moving in and when it would warm up again. On Saturday, winds were up to 29 mph with gusts to 44 mph. It snowed over night. Current temperature on Sunday morning is 16.9 degrees.

Tamara rode her 200K on Thursday. R-12 tally:
Tamara-10 months
Dan-6 months
Ralph-6 months

'Tis the season

Sunset outside Springfield

First snow Saturday night

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another New Permanent Populaire

A new Permanent Populaire has been approved by RUSA. The Bolton's 115K starts and ends in Springfield with the turnaround at Bolton's General Store, north of Willard. There is an intermediate control in Fair Grove. The section between Fair Grove and Bolton's is on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. More details on my web site.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two New Permanent Populaires

Two new Permanent Populaires have been approved for Southwest Missouri by RUSA. The Taillight 134K starts in Mt. Vernon with the turnaround in Joplin. There is an intermediate control in Sarcoxie. The Hound Dog 124K starts in Springfield with the turnaround in Aurora. There is no intermediate control. There is more information on the Southwest Missouri Randonneuring web site.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

1950 Cyclocross Race

I think I will stick to randonneuring.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Marshfield Mash 112K

Yesterday, Dan and I christened this permanent. It was a great day to ride: sunny, cool and just a little wind out of the south. We saw alpacas and an elephant, as well as other animals, made from old horseshoes. The horseshoe animals were on KK at Turnbo Road. This puts me officially at 3,600K for the year and on track to ride 4,000K for the year with at least two more 200K rides to go.


Horseshoe elephant

Other horseshoe animals

Hard to see, but looks like a T Rex

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another Month, Another 200K Permanent

On Saturday, Tamara, Dan and I rode the old standby, Route 66 & Cooky's Pie, to Golden City. The route overlapped with the Springbike Fall Metric Century, and Dave Nelson took a photo of us as we passed him. It was a great Fall day to ride except for a good headwind out of the north.
R-12 tally:
Tamara-8 months
Dan-4 months
Ralph-4 months

Tamara, Ralph & Dan by Dave Nelson

Longhorns west of Miller

Golden City, MO

Wild flowers still in bloom in October

Monday, September 6, 2010

Precious Moments 202K

Last Saturday, I rode the Precious Moments 202K permanent with Tamara Mitchell and Dan Pfaff. This was the inaugural ride for Precious Moments. The weather was great with little wind and a high temperature of 76 degrees. There were plenty of hills and the usual Ozark dogs. There was very little traffic the entire route. While we had to get up early to drive to Carthage, it was worth it because the biggest hills are on the east end of the route. We were glad to get them out of the way before we were tired at the end of the ride. R-12 tally:
Tamara-7 months
Dan-3 months
Ralph-3 months

Carthage, MO, control

Leaving Carthage

More hills, F Hwy, Jasper County

Miller, MO, control

Willard, MO, control

Dade County, MM Hwy & FR 185

Crossing the Spring River into La Russell

La Russell, MO

Goss Cemetery, FR 1085, Lawrence County

Harvey Cemetery, E Hwy, Jasper County

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tom's New Bent

Rode to Fordland today with Rae, Doug and Tom. It was a lovely day to ride, although there was a brisk south wind. Tom was on his new recumbent, a Bacchetta. He has only had it a few weeks and is already speeding along on strong legs. Saw plenty of other riders, animals and nice scenery. We stopped for breakfast at the Fountain Cafe. I asked about the soda fountain, and unfortunately it is just for show.

Doug, Tom & Rae




Barn made into a house

Big spider


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fountain Cafe

On Saturday, I rode over to Fordland with Doug and Rae. We had breakfast at the Fountain Cafe. There is an old soda fountain counter at the cafe. No one ordered a soda while we were there, so it may only be for looks. The pancakes were okay, but not on our top ten list. As Doug said: "It looks more like a biscuit and gravy place". They did have a good crowd. We skipped getting our hair done at the Kurl-up & Dye, which I thought might be a joint venture with an undertaker. We did buy snickerdoodle and peanut butter cookies from the bakery next to the cafe. It was already too hot by the time we got back. I was glad we left early.

Doug at the Fountain Cafe

Kurl-up & Dye

Rae & Doug heading home

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rochester, MN, 600K Brevet

Judy and I drove up to Rochester on Friday so I could ride the 600K starting on Saturday. Judy was just going to hang out and help with the driving back to Springfield because I had to be back at work Monday afternoon. It took about 9.5 hours to get to Rochester. We had a motel room just across US 52 from the start so I could ride over with my drop bag in the morning. I was not planning to stay at the West Union motel on Saturday night, but I was hoping to be able to change my clothes and resupply. As it turned out, I also got to take a shower. We drove a few miles of the route to the edge of town; ate dinner; and went back to the motel where I loaded up the bike bags, laid out my riding clothes and went to bed.

The brevet started at 6:00. There was a total of 12 riders. We broke into two groups pretty quickly as we rode the hills out of Rochester. I was in the second group with four other riders. Two of them, Paul Osika and Michele Brougher, were planning to ride straight through. Bob Booth had a room in West Union but was not sure if he would stop to sleep. We thought Ken Priddy was planning to stop, but he apparently rode through the night ahead of us.

When we left, the sky appeared to be clearing but it soon clouded up. It looked like it could start raining at any time, but other than a little mist it never did where we were riding. It helped keep us cool until it cleared away in mid-afternoon. I was quickly reintroduced to the rumble strips that a characteristic of stop signs in the country throughout Minnesota and Iowa. I remembered them from when I rode RAGBRAI in 2003, but they continually surprised me throughout the ride. RAGBRAI started on Saturday as well. The route was through northern Iowa about 30 miles west and south of Elkader, the turnaround control. Several people in Iowa shout: “RAGBRAI!”, as we passed. Apparently, they thought we were riding RAGBRAI.

The terrain to the first control in Chatfield was rolling hills filled with cornfields. We encountered the biggest hills on the road to the second control in Rushford. They were mostly downhill, so we knew what would be in for some good climbs on the return trip. This part of Minnesota is rolling plains with deep valleys cut by the streams and rivers. Many of the towns are down along the streams and rivers, so we were usually charging downhill at 35 mph, or more, into town and then chugging back out of town at about 7 to 8 mph. Many of the roads had a seam about every 20 feet, and it was quite a bumpy ride down some of the hills. The big downhill into Rushford had some tree branches down in the road and the branches had been broken up by motor vehicles. We had to carefully pick our way through the debris as we sped down. The overnight storm that had knocked down the tree branches had also knocked out the power in Rushford, and as a result, the control was not open. There was a store across the street that was open even without power. We had our cards signed there and bought some water and other supplies.

The next control was Harmony followed by Decorah. They were having a Nordic Festival right in the middle of the route in Decorah. Ken and I rode down the alley to avoid the festivities. The others rode through the festival because Michele was looking for a drug store. I left Ken behind as we climbed the hill out of Decorah, and rode the leg to West Union on my own. I was riding slower than the earlier legs. When we headed out for Elkader, the pace was noticeably faster, but I was able to keep up. I was concerned that I would fall behind as the ride progressed, but the pace slowed after we turned around in Elkader and it got dark. Between Elkader and West Union, we passed through Gunder, home of the Gunderburger, which is made of one pound of freshly ground beef. We did not stop for a Gunderburger either time we were in town. The moon was covered by a thin layer of clouds when the sun went down, but it was shining brightly by the time we reached West Union. Michele, Bob, Paul and I took a shower at the motel in West Union, and I was able to lay down for about 45 minutes.

We got back in Decorah about the time the bars closed. There were a lot of students from Luther College milling around, and the police were out with their lights on. We were a little concerned about leaving our bikes outside while we went into the control, so I waited with them while the others got their cards signed and bought supplies. We encounter some racoons in the road as we left Decorah, and I missed running over a skunk by about a foot. It would have been a long ride back to Springfield on my bike if I had been sprayed by a skunk.

At the Cresco control, we stopped long enough to take a nap. I slept for about an hour wrapped in my emergency blanket and was woken when the compressor for the air hose came on for someone inflating their tires. The others were getting ready to leave. I was not ready to go and told them to leave without me. I was only 200K from the end and had 15.5 hours to finish, so I was not going to push it. I tried to nap a little longer, but the sun was coming up. I headed out about a half hour after the others. As I was leaving town, Kelly Hines passed me headed into town to the control. He passed me again a few miles outside of town and we rode together for a few minutes.

I stopped in Harmony for about 20 minutes even though it was not a control. At the Rushford control, I decided to take a nap, so I called Judy and told her to call me in about an hour so that I did not over sleep. I sat at a counter, put my head down and fell asleep. About 30 minutes later, one of the clerks woke me up because they were concerned I was having problems. I assured them I was fine, called Judy to tell her I was heading out and I took off. While I was chugging up the hill on MN 30 out of Rushford, there were motorcycles roaring down. The motorcycle traffic continued almost all the way to Chatfield. Every motorcycle within 500 miles of Rushford must have been on MN 30 that day. When I got to the top of the climb, I stopped to rest. Based on the USGS topo map, the climb appears to be an average of an 8% grade for about 4/5s of a mile. While I was stopped another cyclist, not riding the brevet, stopped to see if I was alright. After a few miles of rolling hills, I dove down into and climbed back out of Pilot Mound, followed by the same routine in Bucksnort.

At the Chatfield control, I had the urge for a Subway cold-cut sub on flat bread, so I called Judy and asked her to meet me at the Stewartville control with a sub. She was there when I arrived, and the sub was great, even though it was on wholewheat bread because they did not have flat bread. It helped to eat something that resembled real food. I had been consuming mostly chocolate milk and Dr. Peppers. While we were sitting in the shade away from the control, another rider came in who I believe was Richard Soderberg. He apparently never saw me, and I was not going to expend the energy to walk over to talk to him. Stewartsville was only 21 miles from the finish, and after a few more hills and a stop at the control in Byron, I pulled into the final control in Rochester at 19:15. I got a plate of pasta for dinner and ate while Judy drove south to Des Moines where we spent the night. We were back in Springfield in time for me to go to work Monday afternoon.

Finally after seven attempts, three of them this year, I finished a 600K. It might be some type of record. The biggest contributing factor to completing the ride was the moderate temperatures. The high in Rochester was 80 degrees on Saturday and 81 on Sunday. Usually, I have attempted to ride the 600K with temperatures in the low to mid-90s. Riding with a good group; the minimal winds; and riding through the night and at my own pace also helped. On other 600Ks, I have left controls just because everyone else was leaving and I paid for it later.

Michele's ride report is HERE.

At the start in Rochester

On the road to Rushford

Bob, Michele, Paul & Ken in the distance

Paul in Harmony
(Love the loon on the MN Randonneurs jersey)

Michele, Ken, Ken's wife & Bob

Nordic festival in Decorah

One of many Lutheran churches

Outbound between West Union and Elkader
Photo by Michele Brougher

Back in Minnesota

Still smiling at the end

Photo by Judy