Saturday, May 22, 2010

feels like summer

Sunny and 84 degrees, that's more like it! This is the kind of day on which I like to ride. Except for the wind. I told myself I wasn't going to complain about the wind today, but come on! 25-35 mph, very gusty, up to 40mph. It's coming straight out of the south making the ride south slow, east or west hard to stay upright, and straight north just plain fun. It's making the flags look like this:
I put in about 42 miles, the first 30 feeling like work, but the last 12, a joy. The wind was so strong that even birds took to the ground.
Two weeks from today I'll be on the first full day of BAK. But the scheduled "full" day is only 36 miles. I've been through Colby, KS, and it seems nice, but I don't know if I need to get there by lunch and have the rest of the day for "sightseeing". So, I may ride the 18 miles from Goodland to the Colorado border for the "official" start there on Friday night, and perhaps ride there again Saturday morning and do it all again. Either way, I'll be able to say "we're touring".

Friday, May 14, 2010

up to the country

No bears like you might see in the north woods, but I get to see some livestock on my rides in the country.
These guys were better subjects:
 One of the benefits of riding in the relatively flat, wide-open spaces of the midwest is the ability to see a water tower from several miles away. It's hard to see in this picture, but it's a little to the right of the red barn.
When you're hoping for the next town for a rest stop, you see this and even though you may be several minutes away, the light is at the end of the tunnel.
I didn't take a picture of the cattle, but I liked their sign. Three weeks from today my lovely wife is driving me across Kansas for the start of BAK. Then she will take her time getting back, and look for a gold mine of antiques and collectibles along the way. Today was cool for mid-May in KS, but still good for about 35 miles.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

pick up sticks, ride fourty-six

I spent the morning working in the yard, had a little lunch, and jumped on the bike. I headed south and thought I would probably do a little loop of about 20 miles, but I got to my turn-around spot, turned east and just kept riding. I rode some roads I hadn't been on in a long time, and a section of one I had never seen. Sometimes I like grabbing a couple bottles, my cell phone and Road ID, and just going. It makes me think that if I can ride that far on a whim, I shouldn't have any trouble humping my way across Kansas.
One town I rode through for the first time was Bucyrus. And for a short time I was on the Potawatomi Trail of Death. Not one of America's finest hours. And certainly not as catchy of a name for a road trip as say, Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway. But, there it was.
I don't use headphones when I ride. I know some people love listening to music, podcasts, or what ever when they ride, but I feel safer hearing what's around me. One of the benefits of this is time to think. I think about the rides that I have planned, and remember the ones I have done. For some reason today I thought about some of the people I've met on bike tours. Dwayne from Brookings had his tent near ours one night during the TdK. He hung up a clothesline and let us know it was communal. We walked to the Lutheran church for a spaghetti feed with Dwayne. A couple years later I ran into him in the middle of nowhere when we were two of about seven riders to finish the century loop on a day when the wind was at it's worst. The next day coming out of a c-store I felt a jab in my arm, and it was Dwayne giving me a smile and a thumbs-up in acknowledgment of our feat.   
Then in Colorado I was riding alone in the rain from Twin Lakes to Leadville, the end of a century day that  included Independence Pass. After the main climb of the day the two percent incline to Leadville was minute, yet irritating. I passed another rider and said hello. Several minutes later, not knowing he was still behind me, I shifted to a higher gear and stood up to gain some speed. I heard a pitiful voice saying "Don't leave me". So I slowed down and we did the last 10 miles into Leadville together. At the high school I introduced myself, and he said "I'm Sasha, from Russia". Detante that!

Monday, May 3, 2010

slow ride

Alright, I'm a slow rider, and that's OK. I love to ride, and I love to do bike tours. The fact that I'm not a "hammerhead" is fine with me. I don't really train, except to ride as much as I can. I occasionally will do some intervals to try to help me ride at my peak for a longer time, but mostly I just ride. When I'm on a tour I just want to be able to keep a good pace, and do it for as long as it takes to get to the next town. And I'm fine with stopping to rest, take pictures, and re-fuel. So it really doesn't bother me to not be among the first to finish the ride. I don't think I'd like to be the last, but I'm comfortable with the rest of the pack.
I've done some rides that not every cyclist would be able to do, especially in the mountains of Colorado. Hopefully I'll be able to add Trail Ridge Road and Mt Evans to that list of rides. That's why I try to push myself to ride a little farther, a little faster. To be able to say "that was one of the hardest things I've ever done and I did it!"                                                                                                                                          
The Biking Across Kansas tour is a little more than four weeks away, and while I'm sure it will present some challenges, I'm looking at it as more of a warm-up for CRMBT. From what I've heard about BAK it's geared more towards the social aspect of 800 people slowly working their way across the state. I'll be happy to add another state to the list of those I've toured, and I'll have an entire week of riding, eating, laughing, and gathering stories to tell.