Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fasting, Sacrifice and Resolve


Sometimes I get an idea or obsession in my noggin that I cannot remove.  Stay on target, use the Force, Luke.  When I first saw the bike photographed on top of this paragraph, I had to have it.  When I first saw Mary, I had to have her.  Thank God I never lost her.  Right now my obsession is in losing weight.  Carbohydrates are my enemy, my poison.

I agreed to attend Christ Renews His Parish weekend mainly to get people at my Church off my ass about not attending one so far.  Not really a bad thing for it gives me a chance to meet people and better know people at my parish.  Praises about the food have been particularly loud.  A pampered feast I was told.

My mileage goals would have been met and I probably could use a good soul searching weekend off the bike and in an environment without the temptations of those pagans I know and love dearly.  So I agreed to go.

Then I decided to lose weight.  Carbs, booze and soda were declared verboten.  Despite a few cookies during the first week and an occasional soda during a significant bike ride and the 3 beers I had in a period of several hours and 30 miles, I  have remained on this diet with the one minded determination of the terminator.  And I have seen great results.  I have lost over 11 pounds.

Then the reality of this weekend hit me.  Not only will my riding (exercise) will be nil, I will probably be fed everything I have denied myself for three weeks.  I emailed the CHRP Team

"Hate to be a ....female dog, but I was wondering if a carb free meal option would be available.  No big deal I can always have plenty of meat and no carb items prepared for myself.  I do not eat bread, pasta, potatoes, fruit and rice.  Basically I eat meat and veggies.  Been avoiding carbs, beer and pop since last Tuesday and plan to break said fast on Thanksgiving.  Then I plan to resume until Christmas.  Lost 7 lbs since last Friday.

Chris Guevara"
 
He replied
"No problem 

We can do this

Bill "
 
Cool.  No worries.  I was set.  Not only was the diet issue resolved, I managed to get 700+ miles for October, a new record, 100 miles for the week, my weekly goal that I have met every week since Christmas.  I did need a weekend off the bike because my left quad has been bothering me.  Time to rest, relax, get to know The Lord a bit better and make friends with non-pagans.  Win Win.
 
Enter the Bicycle Factor
 
I started the year commuting on my Trek FX 3.5 as seen here
 
 
But Red has carried me to and fro work during 4 Iowa winters and has been placed in the "needs repair" stable.  On St Patrick's Day I purchase the Giant Via Raw as a commuter replacement.
 
 
Yeah, the rear wheel needs to be pulled back to eliminate chain slack.



I put over 2700 miles on this single speed until it was time to rest it and think about what it will be like for winter.  Thus, the 520 re-entered service.  Sitting in the basement all year waiting for me to put new tires on it.
 
I did that for my BirthDay Ride north toward the Trestle.  And after that weekend I used the 520 for commuting.  I took the bags off the Giant. Thank God I did.
 
Today I woke up about dawn.  I wanted up early so I could hit Tacoapocalpse at Farmers Market.  But it was after 7am and I had to be at Church by 8am.  I showered, dress and grabbed the Giant.  No time for tacos. 
 
Half way through taking the long way to Church I realized that I left my lock at home.  I thought it would be safe on Holy Ground.  I parked the bike inside a court yard between the school and the old convent.  The bike was invisiible from the road and parking lot.  The place was a beehive of activity.
 
Once inside I saw that they did not understand my diet demands.  No problem.  I have plenty of stored energy to burn.  I drank about 10 cups of coffee and 6 bottles of water. 
 
About noon I stepped outside with the smokers and chatted with them.  It was time for lunch anyway.  I walked past the court yard and peeked in.  My bike was gone!  I walked around the school.  No where was my steed.  I walked into Parish Hall and told those in charge of the weekend.  I alos glanced at the lunch they had prepared.  Sandwiches.
 
Now I was double pissed.  Stolen bike and poisen food.  "Aren't you going to eat?" someone asked.  Someone who spent time preparing the meal.  Fuck no was my first thought but I kept cool and said that I could not eat that and that I needed back in the school to get my cellphone.  I obeyed the rquest to shut the bastard down and left it in my jacket pocket.  I needed it now.  I had to get someone to unlock the door.  Someone said they'd call the police.  I asked about the cameras and who had access to the computers so I could watch my bike get stolen.  They said they'd call.
 
My stupid assumption was that a homeless vagarant walked through and ripped off my bike.  I made calls and texted photos.  People finished lunch and went back inside.  I stayed outside torn between going through the homeless camps and returning to the retreat.  I called the police and was transfered to a machine where I left a message.
 
Reporting a stolen bike to the cops is almost worthless.  They will not look for it.  The only way a stolen bike is ever returned to its owner is if it is abandoned, the rightful owner finds the bike at the thief's house or buys it at a pawn shop.  I am fucked.
 
Someone eventually came out to see me.  We discussed the cameras and he was able to call Dr Cordaro, the principal of St Anthony's School.  the Good Doc came over and we viewed the video.  Got great shots of the theif walking into the building and using the side door to the court yard and riding off on my bike.
 
Sounds good.  Right.  Unless the cops recognize his face no arrest and return of my bike will be made.  At least I can post his ugly mug all over the neighborhood.
 
We drove around up and down alleys, no joy, no bike.
 
I returned to the retreat, no anger anymore.  Drank more coffee and water and hoped that dinner would be edible to me.
 
I was the first to confession.  Usually I pick a priest that does not know me so he won't recognize me afterwards.  I went straight to Msgr Chido, Pasot of St A's.  This was the first opportunity to talk to the person in charge of the Church.  Weird, "please forgive me for x y and z and by the way someone walked through the school doors and stoled my bike"  He said the Church's insurance may pay for it and wants to talk to me about it.  I told him everything.  If someone is so brazen to walk right in and steal a bike maybe this person has been here before.
 
Dinner was fajitas, rice and beans and cake.  But someone said they had a plain piece of chicken for me. it was a breast and a wing.  The celery I refused earlier was also on the plate.  Damn, I lived on coffee all day.  I poured salsa on the bird, extra flavor.
 
Lost a bike but maintained my diet, perhaps saved my soul.  The dud that called Cordaro and drove me around was interesting.  A normal guy with all the weaknesses of life, booze, drugs sex.  He said maybe an evil spirit sent the theif there to distract me or prevent me from attending the retreat.  Things happen for a reason he said.  Maybe. 
 
That or a thieving shithead looked for easy pickings and my stupidity (leaving the bike unlocked) did it.  Not an expensive bike.  $400 with another $150 invested.  I could turn to anger and hatred, the thief is of different origin than I am.  I just want my bike back.
 
Nothing is safe.  Nowhere is sacred or safe.  Criminals are everywhere.  No one is immune. 
 
Except for the few swear words here in blogland I am in a State of Grace, forgiven of my sins.  I heard some testimonies from people today that make me look like a saint and my life like a holiday.  I am not nor is my life,  just down a replaceable bike, nothing more nothing less.  I have my wife, children, job, health and the passion to avoid carbs.
 
Amen
 
 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mirrors


I think I had my 1st cycling mirror 15 or 20 years ago.  It stuck on to the helmet or glasses.  Whenever I took my helmet off or my glasses off I had to readjust it.  It broke.  Don't recall how well it worked.  Must have sucked because after it broke I went 15 or 20 years without one.

So I found one that fell off a bike.  Kinda nifty.  Fits onto the bars, drops, and is secured by a velcro strap.  Incredible adjustablility.  Easy to swap to different bikes.  Thought I was lucky.

First major use was my ride to Dallas Center.  I placed it on the tandem.  Major issue was that I never used it.  guess that it was so new that I forgot that it was there.  It took some time to start using it.

Next issue is the "objects apear smaller."  I am talking about "objects appear so damn small that you will not see them until they are right up your ass" smaller.  Seriously, even semi-trucks are invisible until they are right on me.  Piece of shit.

The one and only advantage---get ready---night riding.  The mirror does a good job reporting the presence of car lights behind me.  That is its only value.

So if you know anyone who lost a mirror on the kybo bridge in Water Works park, let them know I found it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some Distant Memory of a Ride on Thanksgiving Day


CranksGiving 2009

“A real cowboy would ride that horse to Madrid (pronounced Mad Rid in Iowa),” an older Lacona local said to another in a Thanksgiving Day meeting at the only gas station/convenience store open in that town of 360.  “Shoot, I’d wouldn’t git there til late evening,” the horseman replied.  My son Quin and I just stumbled into this conversation while taking a break from riding our own horses, one of steel the other aluminum—Trek 520 and an older Cannondale “criterium” series touring beast.  We were 42 miles into what I estimated to be a tad bit over a century ride on our to my mother’s house on Thanksgiving Day.  All we wanted here was some food and drink and a place to sit and read the map.  Both tables were occupied so we settled for the countertop that held the microwave and condiments.

This ride was a stupid idea that passed through my head three days prior during the funk of impending holiday gloom.  I was expect and require to travel by car with my family to my mother’s house where I would spend three days surrounded by my Mortal Enemies—mother, sister, and wife (do not tell the latter as she really is my best friend and biking partner).  There would be absolutely nothing to do except hear what a failure I am and how the Great Apollo Obama was reversing the carnage of the Evil Bushinator.  The kids would covet the television and the computer and I would be forced to retreat to a book since the latest issue of Bicycle Times was read months prior to this.  I seldom get four days off in a row and I needed to do something.  So why not ride ye olde 520 from Des Moines to Ottumwa, Iowa?

Last year I set a new annual mileage record for myself.  Nearly 4700 miles.  Almost 800 more miles than the existing record set back in 1999.  2009 would not be a record breaker.  No big 90 milers on the LeMond like last year.  I cannot remember my last century without digging out the bike logs.  I spent to weeks in New Mexico backpacking in the Rookies with my oldest son Joe and our Scout Crew.  Training and the trip itself took away at least 600 potential miles.  We also moved which disrupted biking.  And for some reason my wife and I never did any significant rides on the weekend.  I think my longest ride of the year was 40 miles and that seemed to be a long, long time ago.  My new 2 mile commute could be stretched some but by autumn the rain set in and the weight I lost for Philmont was slowly creeping back.  I needed something.

The route Quin and I would take was very familiar to us.  All but 17 miles have been ridden several times or at least once in recent years.  The first 22 could be ridden before sunrise.  Just a mere 11 miles to Carlisle from our house, lonely empty back roads without hills.  A Casey’s General Store would await us for breakfast.  A conversation a coworker from that town confirmed that the convenience store would open at 530 am.  Another 10 miles to Milo where another Casey’s would have a couple of Mountain Dews to replenish our sugar supply.  And yet another 10 to Lacona where a convenience store would hopefully be open before the big 30 mile stretch to Bussey, Iowa.  We could opt to stop in Melcher-Dallas, perhaps almost half way to Bussey, but that would require riding about a mile off route.  There is a convenience store in Bussey with tables which would make a good place to rest and study the map again.  13 miles to US 63 and perhaps 2 or 3 miles on that 4 lane to Eddyville before the final push.  Desiring to stay off main roads we would take a county road into Kirkville and then swing south into Ottumwa.  This would add 6 miles or so but would be “safer” than a shoulder on a 4 lane highway.

We have made the Carlisle/Indianola ride for years.  It offers us a good 40 miler.  Last year we used this on our family bike vacation to southern Iowa.  That vacation led us to use the next section of the route, Indianola to Lacona.  Mild rolling hills but a fast one at that S23 is one of my favorite roads.  I have had the pleasure of exploring it on my racing bikes as well and would have preferred to take them if it was seasonable.  Ragbrai has used this route in the past including this year.  In the restroom of the Irish bar in Lacona you can find a wall full of photos from when Ragbrai has visited.  This town is also home to Rudy’s Rendevous, a place famous for its food and attracting bikers but constantly for sale.

In recent years we normally continue south to Chariton but this time we need to turn east to get to Bussey.  The Bussey/Lacona run had been made once, last year, from east to west.  G76 is populated by hills and rolling hills.  The two towns in between would not be much use to us.  Melcher-Dallas is two close to Lacona to justify stopping and there is nothing in Attica except Kin Folks Family Restaurant which probably would be closed.

Bussey to Eddyville would be our last bicycle familiar road.  Mary and I broke our first chain on our tandem on the last hill west of Bussey during 2000’s Ragbrai.  13 miles of hills descending and climbing from the Des Moines River valley marks G71.  Last summer my oldest son Joe appeared to be suffering a heat stroke on this road.  Not the best memories but lessons were learned and nobody dies from heat exhaustion in November in Iowa.

Eddyville to Ottumwa would be the virgin route, the last full measure.  In an automobile one would simply take US 63 all the way.  But we would be on bicycles.  Kirkville, population 214, would be the safe bet.  But the town and the road to it are an unknown gambit and a bit out of the way and we would still need to tango with 63 to get into Ottumwa.

I presented this plan to Quin first, since he of all my children would most likely agree and want to ride along with me.  Mary would be the one that would have to grant us permission.  Prospects were dim, however, as not only would she have the responsibility of herding the rest of our children and our dog there but had to put up with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, both of which would most likely be pissed off that I elected to fook off and play on a High Holiday.   My mother has not been doing well since my father passed away a decade ago.  Health wise she is ok for an obese diabetic but she constantly falls down and injures her limbs.  In her quest for post-spousal happiness she purchases untrainable dogs that destroy her house.  Patty, my only sibling, had to visit her the previous weekend to clean the house.  Although Patty is an aspiring biker I felt her efforts in producing Thanksgiving at our childhood home would demand my complete compliance.  Yes, the potential for F-Bombs were in the air.

I brought up the subject on Tuesday.  To my surprise Mary consented.  “I will give you until 2 o clock to get there,” she left as the only responsibility on my part.  “No problem, I am estimating 7 hours of ride time.”  Mary would purchase six Powerbars and two tubes for the journey.  She is the best.  I texted Patty on Wednesday morning asking her to bring my Saris bike rack for the trip home.  She agreed probably since it is appears permanently attached to her Honda.  Permission granted from the OKW.  Time to prep bikes.

I would ride a 1991 purple Trek 520.  Since the weather turned cold and wet Mary had been using it for her 20+ mile commute.  Quin would be on a black Cannondale giving to us by Mark Greiger of Team DieHard on the condition that I would not strip it down to make a single speed/fixie and keep it rolling as a touring bike.  This would be the third Cannondale given or sold to me by friends.  Che’s Cannondale Sanctuary—I have two others, total of five, I purchased myself.  I had to provide the wheels which was not a problem.  For some reason I have a surplus of Hyperglide 7-speed bikes.  I like it when bikes are compatible.  Both bikes had new tape on the bars and new tires.  The Can o Ale sporting a cheap pair of Bontrager H2 700x35s and the 520 the narrow 700x35 Kenda Pro knobbies (these cannot be 35s) on my cross bike wheels (Mary had a flat last week and it was easier to swap wheels than fix a flat—what did I tell you about compatibility?  After all it is November and could snow.  All Quin and and I had to do was air up the tires, add lights and pack.

November in Iowa could be many things.  We were married the Saturday after Thanksgiving 19 years ago it was near 70.  I remember driving home two weeks before Turkey Day at 40 mph on snow and ice covered highways.  Last year it waited until Wednesday afternoon to drop 3 inches of sloppy slushy snow for the trip to Ottumwa.  This year was different.  Although not warm by any standard it would be dry with a strong NW wind, just the sort of favorable wind that would push us along our way.  The forecasted temperature would range from 35 to 40F with a sunny afternoon.  Despite Wednesday’s rain I felt that the wind and falling temp would dry the roads by 5 am.  I was right.

For lights I used my trustworthy Turbocat Stealth Plus Secret Weapon set up with the Macho battery.  Sure, it’s outdated tech but it is bright and has a long runtime.  Multiple Cateye AA flashers on the handlebars for extra attention grabbing device.

I wore a pair of Smart Wool Hiking socks with a pair of Sock Guy biking socks as an inner layer.  BellWeather thick tights for my legs, Pearl Izumi biking shorts underneath.  Top layer was a long sleeve Cannondale cotton blend jersey with a generic poly-pro shirt above, a Trek rain jacket for outer shell.  On me noggin I donned a Pearl Izumi balaclava and a winter stocking hat.  My favorite pair of pearl Izumi gloves to keep my hands warm and face snot free.  This worked.  Although we had some minor sweat whenever we stopped we were very cold whenever we got back on the bikes.  This brought a new appreciation for hills.  Busting ass us a hill is a great way to warm up when you are poorly dressed in near freezing temperatures.

The alarm was set at 430 am.  This would give us ample time to get out the door and to Indianola by sunrise.  We left about 515 am.  The road out of town was quiet, only a few commuters in their cars venturing out and a cop either napping or hunting speeders.  Not a dog barking or raccoon digging for trash.  We got to Carlisle easily but one of my flashers had fallen off.  It was a flasher I had found on the Trestle to Trestle Train in Johnston.  I hope another biker found it.

We encountered a pedestrian walking his dog at the beginning of the Summerset Trail.  He warned us that the bridges could be icy, something I did not take into consideration.  And sure enough we has right.  This trail has about 7 bridges so we applied caution.  A little bit pasted the halfway point we encountered another person.  The darkness concealed his true form.  At first I thought it was another dog walker.  But soon he appeared to be wearing a backpack so I thought he was a homeless person lost.  But as we approached we realized that he was a bow hunter on the way to his tree stand or ambush point.  His bow was not ready and we exchanged greetings and he complimented our lights.  Everyone celebrates this holiday in their own way.  I was thinking that some people might be upset to see such a person and just as I was about to utter that thought to Quin two big ass deer leaped out the trail before us.  Personally I am glad that someone is willing to thin the herd around the trail.  I silently wished him luck.

The sun was almost up when we reached Indianola.  Quin expressed a need to adjust his seat height and layers.  Having shed the balaclava at Carlisle I needed to add a pair of booties since my feet were not warming up.  We planned to stop at the restroom and shelter at the end of the trail and the beginning of the McVay Trail, a small trail that leads to state highway 92 our next destination.  The sign said the restrooms were closed until April 15 so I had to pee outside.  How long will it take society to answer the needs of bicyclists?  Oh well it’s not like I have not pissed outside before.

Highway 92 was basically deserted for the 3 miles we rode on it.  We did get passed by one semi that was hauling rocks and dust.  We later would see that truck dump its load at a farm.  He must have been a relative of that farmer to be willing to work at 7 am on Turkey Day.  It’s still the economy, Stupid.  S23 is a nice winding road with a few hills.  Someone out here must grow and sell strawberries as their barn is painted in such fashion.  Last year Joe broke one of the bolts holding the rack on my Trek 7.5 FX while following me off road.  I saw the intersection where I repaired it.  This time no horses to stare at us and we did not stop.  Other than memories no other events interrupted the journey into Milo, population 839.  This would be our second Casey’s stop.  We each had a Mountain Dew and a banana to the amusement of the locals.  When informed of our intentions I think they laughed.  One hill out of town then several peaceful flat miles until the hills before Lacona.

Quin saw the water tower first and asked what town it was for.  Ah, the first land mark of Lacona.  We needed to stop here not because we were tire but because we had a 30 mile stretch afterward, about three times the distance we had encountered thus far.  Lacona brought back memories.  Mary managed to stick her foot into the front wheel of the 520 and crashed in front of the store.  She was quite out of it and a local paramedic was almost to the point of calling in the ambulance.  Could have been the sun as it was a hot day.  Today we made sure that the bikes had only two contact points with the road—the tires.

I was disappointed that both tables were occupied when we entered but then again sitting down may have delayed us.  We split a Deli Express ham sandwich, out second of the day, and each had a soda and bag of chips.  No fruit here.  Just horse talk.

G76 was our new road.  Straight east with a cross/tail wind and hills for our comfort.  As usual, I texted Mary and my friends on our progress.  Mary never replied but my friends gave us encouragement.  G76 contains two towns on our route, neither of which we used.  I did find the graffiti funny when we stopped to text on a bridge outside of Melcher-Dallas.  “Melcher is full of inbred animal fuckers” or something like that.  Knowing a few people from there I could not help but laugh.

Attica was the next town.  Unfortunately we had to turn north for a few miles directly into the wind.  It is so queer how you never really notice a tail wind until you turn into it and feel its full wrath.  I stopped once or twice to let Quin catch up but in the end decided to get to the turn and wait.  It must have been eating time as we entered town as I noticed several men exiting a home seeking shelter on the south wall.  After dinner smokers, the new discriminated group.  We exchanged turkey Day greetings.

State highway 5 was our next road.  Just a few miles of this recently repaved blacktop with rumble strips totally hogging up the shoulder.  Let’s add a million cars and minivans on this narrow road to really make it fun.  I hate it when they put rumble strips on the shoulder of the road.  If falling asleep is such an issue why not have the damn strips over the entire road?  Thankfully G71 appeared quickly.  We did have one stop on 5 to consult the map and eat a Powerbar.  I carried a Sportsman Atlas.  This contains a map of every county showing every road and dirt path known to man.  Much better than state issued maps.  The powerbars were frozen despite been held in my jersey’s back pocket.  I had to put one in my gloves to thaw it out.  Yes, 36F aint Powerbar friendly.

As mentioned before G71 is full of memories.  Ragbrai used this road in 2000.  Mary and I used the restrooms at Twin Cedars High School, home of the Twin Cedars Sabers.  Twin Cedars Sabers, say that three times real fast after a few pints of Fat Tire.  We also busted a chain on a tandem on the last hill into Bussey.  What a long shameful walk.  The store in Bussey was open.  No fruit, just Gatorade and chips.  Need salt even in winter.  It seemed really cold when we got back on the bikes.  But God provided hills for us to warm up on.  I knew the first bit would be hilly and then it would settle down as we hit the river valley. 

Quin was getting a tad bit cranky about hills and my thighs were beginning to bark.  We were 70+ miles into this.  This was the longest ride we had done all year.  Although I ride every day I was lucky to get 20 miles in one day.  Fatigue setting in, time running out.  30 miles to go and there’s a thanksgiving meal waiting for us.  Just 30 more miles to go.  Just two ours on the right bike and right conditions and right fitness.  Not today, Jack, we be averaging 12 on these hills.  Focus.  Panzers east!  No quitting now.

US highway 63 I predicted would be the busiest.  It was not as bad as 5.  The extra lanes allowed cars to scoot over.  The shoulder was wide enough and they thoughtfully left us about 18 inches of shoulder without rumbles.  Perfect for those bikers accustomed to riding in traffic.  Some parts had rumbles on the highway itself before the shoulder.  Protection!  As we entered Eddyville I saw our turn to Kirkville.  Nice fresh blacktop with a steep hill.  At 85 miles I do not want hills.  I want flat direct route.  We refueled at a BP and listened to the cashier talk about her families goats escaping the farm.  Southern Iowa at its finest.  I texted everyone that we were embarking on the final stretch but the lack of cell phone service delayed that transmission.

The sign said 14 miles to Ottumwa.  It was 8 miles to Kirkville than another 3 back to 63 and a few more to the Ottumwa turn off.  It was 255 pm.  We were an hour late and I signed off the text with “bon appetite”.  We were now fighting the advent of sunset.  Turn the flashers back on.  I asked Quin for his opinion.  14 miles on 63, no guarantee on the quality of the shoulder.  Flat, maybe two hills.  Kirkville is out of the way and of an unknown quality without support.  He consented to using 63.

About 6 miles later and just past the intersection that the Kirkville route would have taken us (11 miles so we saved 5) Mary called.  My text had not arrived  told her we had maybe 9 miles left to the house.  We continued and the phone rang again.  I ignored it.  No talking on cell phones while biking on US highways. 

At last we reached Exit 42 and consulted the map.  I was vaguely familar with the road but it had been decades.  Take the northwest residential rout in to town.  The map said take 138th or 135th to Sycamore Avenue.  We opted for the later.  No one told the mapmaker that 135th had been reverted back to farmland.  We found out an hour later.   Reverse course and ride up a hill in the headwind.  We saw the “Road Closed” sigh.  Those bastards!  The rest of the way was smooth.   Just another haunting of memories.  It’s not like I could tell my 14 year old son that we used to have keggers here or smoked dope there.  Keep it in your head and pedal onward.

When we finally reached home in the last rays of the sun I heard the electric knife.  I was hoping that it was the vacuum and they ate hours ago.  It was after 4pm.  Dora, my 8 year old greeted us with a camera.  I saw Mary carving the turkey with an electric knife, my job.  But nobody was visibly upset with our adventure and tardiness.  My 87 year old grandmother said that she worried about us.  I asked her if she said a rosary for us.  She said no to which I replied that she mot have been really worried.  Later I learned that my mother thought that I might have a heart attack riding that far.  Sore ass and legs yes, heart attack on a November century ride, no.

We had time to shower and dress before the meal.  I said grace, the standard Catholic prayer with the added line “do not wait for my dumb ass if I ever attempt this again.  Mission accomplished.  Maybe if it is a little warmer and I can take a faster bike.  Then again…



 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dallas Center

 Anyone up for a ride to the Raccoon Trail to take the new section and loop back? Start early Saturday morning.--FB post Oct 18th, 839 am via mobile

Eric Crabb Without booze?
October 18 at 8:44am ·
  • Kelly Barnett How early?
    October 18 at 8:44am ·

  • Christopher R Guevara ‎8 or 9 start. @Crabb, you can drink. If only there was a carb free way to put life into perspective safely
    October 18 at 9:41am ·

  • Sam Auen again, I would love to join in, but 2 more farmers markets. then it is back in saturday group ride mode.
    October 18 at 10:09am ·

  • Christopher R Guevara Be there in spirit
    October 18 at 10:26am ·

  • Craig Lien Can we go to Dallas Center?
    October 18 at 11:59am ·

  • Christopher R Guevara Waukee dallas center, the new trail part.
    October 18 at 12:31pm ·

  • Teena Shineflew McIntire Yeah We might be up for going to Dallas Center. FUN! What time do you leave?
    October 18 at 4:58pm ·

  • Christopher R Guevara I'd like to get rolling by 8 or 9am.
    October 18 at 5:40pm ·

  • Stephanie Shearer ‎" If only there was a carb free way to put life into perspective safely" - like! :)
    October 18 at 5:41pm ·



  • The text began later but Saturday's were paricularly good

    706 am--"I'm riding with where you meeting Brad and Teena at? text 1
    Replied at the beginning of The Missing Link and walnut Creek Trails
    735 am--"I don't Know where that is I need an extra seat you have one?"

    Strange request, but Craig had one and plenty of time to put it on by the time we got rolling.

    Teena's were more interesting:
    808am--"I think we are going to leave a little later.  Up late due young 2point Buck getting hit and was pretty banged up, then police shot him in my neighbor's yard and then gave it to him to process."

    Not that Mary and I were moving quickly.  My damn left leg was killing me at the knee again.  Woke up Friday and it felt like I slept on it wrong and cut off circulation.  My commute to work was fine, strong and fast.  But as the day wore on the leg got worse.  I almost could not get my shoe on because I could not bend my leg.  The first pedal stroke home was a FAIL.  I could not.  Had to get a run for it and "worm the bastard up."  I have been walking like an old wounded man.  Good time to take the tandem out.

    I chose our Cannondale tandem.  No racks, no bags and tires too narrow for a tandem.  700x25s I purchased for the Iowa Games.  Fast.  But today slow due to my bum leg.  The bike was last ridden on Memorial Day.  Tires were very low and the wheels were covered with spider webs.  Not a way to treat the pride of the fleet!  Our Fisher tandem was the two seater of choice this year for its racks and Ragbrai self containing ability.  I pumped the tires up and thought about hosing it off.

    I told everyone that 830 am was the launch time.  The sun barely makes its presence known until after 7am so we slept longer than we should have.  I needed a high protein breakfast of eggs and sausage.  We were behind time.

    I added the Cyclosound stereo to the bike.  Since my iPod is dead I used a Droid that my son gave me.  Tuneage is always good.

    texting continued:
    828am--"I'm heading to front row Will switch seat there"  Craig was able to go home and get a different saddle.  Apparently he broke the rails on his Brooks and purchased a Selle leather saddle for the wait on Brooks.  This one broke in the same spot.  So today he had to sport a "gel saddle for fat asses that are not used to bike riding.

    Craig Lein's 520 with new saddle

    We were almost ready.  Because of my leg I had to ride the tandem by myself to warm up.  Very very painful to ride a tandem with a leg that cannot complete a full pedal stroke.  I rode around the block a few times until I felt comfortable with Mary on back.  I do not know when we actually left.  I remember seeing 838 on a clock.  Craig texted us at 852 and I am not sure if we left by then.

    Teena soon texted at 904am--"Fixing breakfast."  guess we will not see them as we were at least a mile into the ride.

    We met Craig along the trail at the car wash across from Grand McDonalds.  He was sitting there chilling.  Anders Olson happened to be there too, walking to work.  he needs to fix his bikes but I applaud him for walking to work instead of driving.  With Craig with us we ventured further.

    The Clive Greenbelt is either loved or hated.  My friends hate how it winds and the possibility of colliding with other trail users.  But I like to push my luck and speed through here.  Averaging 16mph is thrilling.  Keith from Bike World once tried to average 20 mph!  Crazy!

    I handed Mary the phone after we exited the tunnel under Hickman Rd at 1013am.  "Text My Number '13.4'"  This was to mark the distance from our house to the beginning of the boring climb up Hickman Rd to Waukee.  Stokers are good for that shit.  "Hey Baby, handle it so's I can concentrate on keeping the bike moving upright."  Thanx!  She also handled the incoming text and volume control on the stereo.

    941am--"We are getting bikes out"  Teena and Brad
    949am--"Rolling" Teena and Brad.

    We barely missed them.  They were taking the trail from QT to N Valley Dr and Walnut Creek Trail.  Close.

    The ride to Waukee was dull except for conversation.  I hate these trails built on the side of highways but they are needed and useful.  Average age of bicyclists that we encountered was 80.  I forgot to stop at Walgreen's to pick up Aleve but this far into the game my leg was working more than it was barking.

    We stopped at the intersection by the old trail head.  Mary had to use the kybo, Craig had to play Foursquare and I needed a moment for safety.  Got here in one piece but took an opportunity to sort things out.


    The new trail is paved with concrete.  the first few 10ths of a mile were completed last year.  Unfortunately, when they completed the rest, concrete dropped off the construction equipment and left debris on the old section.  the west side of the trail seems cleaner. 

    I feared that this would be a trail cut through the middle of a cornfield but was pleasantly surprised to see trees and bushes on both sides of the trail.  Some wind protection and something more to look at.

    Intersections interrupt the flow.  They curve to make people slow down and stop.  All intersections were dug out for flood control and culverts were added.  Trail is paved over gravel roads.  Nice touches although I prefer to keep it straight.  Oh well, this may save lives.

    We wanted to find a place to sit down and watch the Hawkeyes play Indiana.  As we rolled in, admiring the nice homes and lack of ghetto, we spotted an man riding with his son.  "Excuse me, sir, Is there an establishment in town?"  he affirmed our desire and told us to continue on the trail.  We found the Blue Moon Tavern or lounge right off the trail in downtown.

    Nice bar with restaurant on the other side.  Opens at 11 on Saturdays and serves food til 2pm.  I had a grill chicken breast on a salad with lots of Tabasco sauce and a basal mic vinaigrette.  Craig had a prime rib sandwich and Mary some sort of wrap.  PBR tallboys were the drink of choice for my companions, I elected for Diet Mountain Dew and water.  One note of complaint, the soda machine needs to be cleaned.  It tasted like shit.

    As we ate and finished we watched the Hawks beat the crap out of Indiana.  Teen and Brad arrived about 45 minutes after we arrived.  Good to meet up.  After eating and drinks they left to go to a friend's house in DC.  We were not more than 2 minutes behind them leaving the bar and were amazed that they got away so quickly.  It was like they vanished.  guess we take our time and fuck around too much mounting our spoked stallions.

    Leaving we noticed families out for rides on the trail.  Good to see.  I did another saftey check and photos were taken.  The ride back was uneventful  we all agreed to do this again.  Clocking in at 24 miles or so this is the same distance as Polk City and much easier.  It is about the same distance as Cumming.  No lean to which is a bummer.

    We stopped at Caseys in Waukee for Busch Light.  And then we stopped under I-80/35 for a beer break.  I broke my diet beer fast and had one.  Tasted great.  Here Craig located Kelly and others.  they were at Capital Pub and Hotdog.  We told them we would meet them at Water Works.  From the our location we could be in Cumming in an hour.

    The greenbelt was ok.  Kinda like skiing with all the switchbacks.  Trouble occurred on the Walnut trail near McDonalds.  Although we worked out a system where Craig would drop back one time he was in the middle of the trail when we crossed a bridge with an oncoming biker.  The old man yelled at Craig, who was clearly in the wrong, but that bastard should nopt have been riding so fast into a curve that obscures the view.  "RIDE ON THE RIGHT" he yelled.  we laughed and later told him that the triathlon was over.  we should have told him to fuck off.  Not worth capitalizing fuck off.  But the appropriate response for assholes who ride too fast and hate fun.  Chill out.

    At the bridge in Water Works we stopped for a beer.  as soon as we cracked open our Busch Lights a woman and her daughter and a friend appeared for photos.  I have seen many people hog the bridge for photos this season.  I think the scenery is blah, not enough color, but I guess the natural back drop is desired.  We offered to move but they said it was not necessary.  they were nice.  We took our own photos.


    Craig's mobile device indicated that our friends had moved 3 blocks to the Locust Tap so we headed there.  Kelly, Abby, Brad and Calle ans Jon Cox.  Sam Aeun later appear, walked into the tap and the barkeep threw him a PBR.  I had a Hamms, tasted like shit.  Can't go wrong with Bushlight. 

    Notice that no one used the bike rack?


    Interesting that he allowed drinking outside.  As he should.  Too beautiful day to be wasted in a shithole.  Days like this are a precious resource that we unfortunately possess too few of until Spring.

    We  did not stay long, Just a mile to our house or so, started dinner, then rode to Fareway for boneless pork rib meat.  It was dark when we left the store.

    52 miles to Dallas Center and back.  Felt like 20.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    A Beautiful Autumn Day and Ride to Cumming

    Behind the altar at Cumming, St John's Cemetery

    Needed 23 miles.  Needed to ride anyway.  Posting lewd videos of Turbonegro on Face Book.  Road bike action.  The Versailles was the only operating bicycle of that category.

    Breakfast was before Church, perhaps between 840 and 915am.  Scrambled eggs and ground pork sausage, turkey bacon on the side.  I had two servings of the egg/sausage mix and a significant amount of bacon.  Only 1 lb of bacon shared among 4 people.  This was the only food I ate until after 6pm.  Iced tea to wash it down with.

    Called Brad Overholser after Church, maybe 11:18.  He said to meet at Mullets at 1pm.  So I played on the computer til then.  And he was late which gave me a chance to drink some water at Mullets.  Not drinking enough of it at home on the weekend.

    Yellow Cannondale jersey with underarmor.  Pearl Izumi shorts.  Had to wear fanny packs because there were no bags and limited pocket space.

    Windy.  Marathon cleaning up.  Saw Stratford at tail end of sweeping course in Water Works.  Even Mullets was cleaned up after last night's Oakley Night Cap.

    Old folks on hybrids.  Friendly. No people issues.  No one running us down.  No ON YOUR LEFTs.

    Did not recognize a soul at the Tap.  Even the bartender was unknown to me.  Drank one can of Diet Dew.  First soda since Monday.  Brad had a PBR tall boy.  Visited the cemetery.  The wind was calm here. 


    We paid our respects to the departed, tried not to desecrate.  There is a woman buried in 1900 whose husband is missing or still alive since 1821.  The statue of our Lord looks poorly painted in real life but this photo makes Him look 1000x better.

    The ride back was nice.  Colorful.  Crowded, too.  had to bust a move around an older crowd.  One guy looked to be 90 years old.  On a black bike, slumped over he rode strong, all slumped over staring at his front wheel.  Very fragile looking when he mounted his spoken stallion but a strong rider on a windy day.  We passed him before the Safety Shack but never saw him again.

    Long time spent at said roofed picnic table.  The area needs some TCL.  Many airplane bottles of booze, black writing on the wood.  Noticed how well made the path to the pisser was.  Much use this year.



    We looped Water Works backside on return.  Camera could not do it justice.  No, phone camera sucked.  Asian family gathering in back.  Always a car somewhere.



    So after 30 miles I got home.  Brad went to Mullets.  Mary had dinner almost ready.  A wonderful stir fry of green and red cabbage, carrots, red peppers and breakfast pork sausage.  I liberally applied Franks Hot Sauce (cayenne pepper) on mine.  Delicious!  thank you, Honey Bunny.  I was starving.  Had not eaten since 9am.  3 lbs lighter than I weighed after breakfast.

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    A Trestle Too Far


    Yeah, I am going to rip off and bastardize Corneilus Ryan's novel.  I will even spell his name wrong.  What were his parents thinking when they gave him that moniker?

    I extremely dislike the over use of the word "trestle".  High trestle, low trestle.  They named a trail after a trestle that no longer exists!  What is refered to as THE TRESTLE is not a trestle.  It is a bridge, a former rail bridge, not a trestle.  But I was not consulted.


    
    memorial of the bridge in Arnhem
    
    So this story begins the moment God said to his angels, "watch this!" and the Big Bang went off and the universe formed.  Fast forward some 2000 years after they nailed his son to a tree and we are at September 30th, 2011 AD.  (Common Error)

    The Initiating Point was the Triangle Tap.  I have lived in Iowa all my life and there are certain sections of this State that are not Iowa.  The Hy Vee on MLK is one such spot.  It is a generic urban hell.  However, Busch Light was $13.99 a case, cold, and PFG frowns upon people parking bicycles with leaky coolers full of booze in the warehouse so I had to purchase said refreshment as close as possible to the Initiating Point. And while Brad and I pack our new wares outside on our bikes there was a "bitch betta hab my money moment" a few doors down.  Generic Urban Hell.  Much anger here.  It is Friday, relax!

    With beer, ice and vodka stowed we went around the building to the Tap.  Brad got carded.  35 years old and ID is at home.  However, the younger bartender thought he was of age and I vouched.  The older one washed her hands clean of us and soon we had Absolute Citron shots and a pair of Boulevard Wheat.  And to further help them out we ordered brats, paid the extra 50 cents for kraut, and ate them on stale buns.  TT not known for fine dining.

    Craig, Kelly and Abby were the first to arrive.  The latter two were planning to drive up north somewhere and intercept us.  Amy Reynolds stopped by to wish us off and safe journey.  Mary was next then Chris Mace, who had his birthday the day prior.  Brad and Liz were the final additions to this pack of baggers.  We stayed there until there was almost 20 minutes of daylight left.  36 miles can be covered in the dark quite well.  We all had lights.

    Graham met us on the InterUrban trail bridge over the Des Moines River.  This was our first stop, perhaps .5 mile from the Tap.  It is a trestle.  Everyone did a swig or 3 of Mace's Fireball.  Probably a 3 beer beer stop.  Graham had to work in the morning so he would only ride with us part of the way.  Amy rode with us here before returning home.

    It was dark before we reached Sycamore Access.  Mary, Mace and Graham set a fast pace and the rest of us fucked it off.  Time for another break.  had to make sure everyone was ok.  Once again, a two or three beer stop.

    My venture from here to the top of the dam was interesting.  When I approached the climb, I call this part of the trail, The Wall, I decided to put ye olde 520 in granny.  After all, I was carrying a tent, sleeping bag, spare batteries, some of those batteries heavy lead acid types, the case of beer and 8 lbs of ice, tools and enough clothing for a Winter Survival ride.  Most of this shit I did not use.  I never changed batteries or dipped into my "warm" clothing.

    So I pushed the down tube shifter forward to place the chain into the 28T chain ring.  The damn thing slipped off and I lack sufficient speed to contiune forward momentum.  The bike tipped over to the left and I tumbled off the side of the trail.  Brad Overhauser was with me, everyone elese was ahead.  laughing, I got up and looked at the bike.  IT WAS PERFECTLY UPSIDE DOWN!!!  It looked like I placed it there.  guess it was too heavy to continue rolling over.  My immediate concern was that all my shit had fallen out.  This was not the case but a Busch Light can was punctured and I smelled Red Bull for the rest of the journey.  I never found the pierced can of RB.  Got the bike up, put the chain back on and climbed the wall.

    I was expecting everyone to be in front of the Visitor Center, where we could sit on the guard rail, but they waited at the kiosk between the downhill/climb and the VC.  Another beer break and discussion of the next leg.  This is where Graham and Chris turned around.  Chris gave the Fireball to Mary.  I do not think we touched it again that night.

    Since time was a precious resource that we did not possess much of I suggested at the beginning that we take the highway into Polk City instead of the winding trail.  A straight shot from the Visitor Center and if everyone stuck together we would be safe.  The lights on The Bridge shut off at midnight.  Most of the ride would be without daylight and speed on dark trails lowers.  Now was the time for a unanimous decision.  It was achieved.

    Traffic was not too bad.  No honking or close calls.  One stop to regroup.  I do not think beer was part of this break.  My headlamp was missing and I think I used this ans an opportunity to dig through my bags to find it.  Well, I could have done done that at any stop.  My point is that I am uncomfortable without a light on top of my head or on my forehead during nocturnal riding..

    At last we entered into the metropolis of Polk City.  We parked our steeds at Dottie's Landmark and ordered beer and food.  Nice to have a seat and drink something not from a cooler in a bicycle pannier.  Blue Moon was my choice.  Everthing else was the basic American lager/pilsner fare.

    Davis, Kelly and Abbey joined us here.  There was a plan or an intention that those that could not ride all the way with us would start closer to The Bridge and meet us somewhere.  I suggested at the Oasis since it would probably be 24 miles from the Triangle Tap.  But heavy bikes and group dynamics (beer) tend to reduce mileage.  I think I got 20 text from people asking me where we were and when we would get there.  Davis was the only one that understood.  She knew how to iintercept.  Not that the others could not, some of them had to work the next day and had limited time and assumed that we would follow a schedule and reach our goal.  I apologize to my sister Patty, Teena and Brad and others that thought I would be able to complete this mission successfully.  A Trestle too far.

    This is where my long day and alcohol consumption caught up with me.  My alarm goes off at 415 am, not that I get out of bed at that time, mind you, but I shut the bastard off and turn on the radio and light and lay back down until I hear the weather.  I worked from 630am until nearly 3pm, the last hour at my slow ass pace.  Sudafed, caffeine and adrenaline coursed through my veins all day until 3 pm.  Now it was approaching 1130 pm and seeing The Bridge in blue lighted glory was not going to happen.  A place to lay me weary bones down for the night was my new plan.


    Brad O and I and few others outside Dottie's. 

    I was the first to leave Dottie's.  Mary said i took off like "a bat out of hell" but I doubt it.  We were all getting ready to leave, I was the first to shove off.  2 miles to the Oasis.  Brad O and I rode there together.  I sat on the table, yoga style since it was cold.  Mary arrived and we split a beer.  I may have had one sip.  Then I pitched my case for setting up camp.

    This would be a great place to spend the night.  But everyone said no.  Stupid idea.  John Q Law and the inevitable trail users early in the morning.  The next 5 miles were painful.  I wanted to sleep.  I needed to sleep.  Not only no room at the inn, no inn at all.  I always hated this stretch of trail anyway.  First, since I have ridden the neighboring county road for years my first thought was that this stretch of trail was unnecessary.  Second, that damn 30 mile headwind Mary and I battled on the tandem a few months ago was still a fresh awful memory that does not endear me to this place.  Third, no where to pull over and nap.  5 miles of non-stop forward miserable progress.  However, by the time I reached Sheldahl I was a bit better.  A mile or so to Slater and Davis' house.

    Apparently, I got to the couch, took off my sandals and fell asleep sitting up.  Everyone else went to the take Down Bar.  Sausage Fest they reported to me the next day.  they closed it, not much of feat given that we got to town at 1am, but glorious anyway.

    I awoke with a desire for water.  Mary was on the sectional next to me.  Various sleeping bags in the room.  Wandering outside I could not find my bike nor Mary's.  In the garage but I was too weak to fight with or easily open the door.  The possible noise frightened me.  There was a smoldering log, apparently there was a fire.  Two empty and two unopenned cans of Busch Light and a discarded pack of American Spirit smokes was further evidence.

    Re-entering the house I was not willing to tear up the kitchen for a glass of water.  I went back to the couch and got closer to Mary and listened to everyone else snore.  Eventually we all roared back to life.  Davis made pancakes and we stumbled back to our bicycles and parted ways.  Thank you for being a wonderful host!

    The ride back was beautiful.  Autumn colors just beginning.  The prarie section of the NST was outstanding.  We literally were surrounded by a sea of wild sunflowers.  Mary's purple jersey really went well with the scenery.  But I was slow on the jump and failed to film this coasting action and Mary was unwilling to ride back up so I could use the camera.  Kramer and Walter beat us to the punch in videotaping this and posting it on Face Book.

    It was a good birthday, a great one!  I was able to spend it with Mary and our friends doing what we enjoy.  A heartfelt thank you to all that participated, whether you rode with us or waited in vain.  Next year the Bridge will be occupied!