Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Third time the charm I guess.  Pleasantly surprised that Clive's Greenbelt Trail was cleared of snow all the way to the surface.  Monday's snow was brushed away.  Today's effort was the best job I have seen on that trail in a long time.   Thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now before we all grab road bikes and rollerblades there is something I must let you know.  The ice from the previous two snow events is still on the trail.  There are significant sections of trail that are dangerously covered with ice.  Be careful.  Wear helmets.  Watch your speed.

I will say that Clive did a better job removing the latest snow than Des Moines did on the Walnut Creek and Bill Riley trails.  But remember this, the Sun's love will melt the remnants in Des Moines quicker than the ice in Clive.

Once again, thank you Clive Parks & Rec.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Significant Snow Wrong Bike

As a cyclist and full time bike commuter I am pretty in tune with the weather forecast and situation.  I am outside all the time.  5 days a week, generally, I spend 2+ hours outside biking to and fro work.  I depend on accurate weather forecasts to know how to dress and what bike to ride.  This morning it said it would be ungodly cold, below zero F, and windy.  Perhaps a flurry or two of snow but measurable snow was a day or two away.  I grabbed the Trek 520 so I could raid the grocery store on my way home.

At 4 am it was cold, 1 above 0 F, but the wind was basically calm, 3 mph from the east instead of the 30 mph from the NW.  Tailwind and reduction in windchill.  Good.  The ride to work was not bad at all.  Dress up like an astronaut and ride to the west.  Be thankful that yesterdays horrid wind has subsided.  When I checked the temperature once I arrived at work it had actually improved by 1 degree.

A few hours later I looked out the window. It was snowing.  Everyone was surprised.  Some said it was supposed to be north of Des Moines.  Nobody thought it would add up.  I was feeling anxious.  The 520 has road tires.  Kenda Kwest 700x35 slicks.  No tread, just water sipes.  As long as the snow did not add up I'd be fine.  But it added up.  By the time I got out it was already 2".  Silent white death.

My chosen route home: Clive Greenbelt.  No desire to play with cars today.  They had enough issues with each other and did not need me.  I gambled that Saturday's heat wave of 51F would have melted and evaporated the remaining snow on that trail.  Any remnants would be buried in the fresh snow but the new snow would add traction.  That's the problem when the snow plow leaves 1/2" of snow on a trail that is almost totally in the shade.  Snow and ice remain until Spring.

The last major snow was 8 days ago.  Although the city plowed the trail, leaving its customary 1/2" of snow for us to trample and turn to ice, they did not clear the turn off to the trail from the sidepath on 128th St.  Last week I rode in the snow covered grass to reach the trail.  But last week's snow is now hard and crunchy and likes to catch wheels.  Fun.

Once on the Greenbelt trail proper I began a slow journey toward Windsor Heights.  Two sets of bicycle tracks and two sets of joggers footprints to follow.  Sometimes these tracks would reveal the ice underneath.  Prospects of a long ride.  I only biffed once, landing on my side at slow speed.  Time to exit the trail ASAP.  I took the park's road out to Swanson Blvd and then took the streets all the way to 86th St.  These were clear albeit wet and dirty.  But no more crashes.

There is a sidepath on the north side of University from 86th to 73rd St.  I took that to the relief of many cars that waited behind me at the red light.  And when the path ran out I stayed on the sidewalk until I reached Windsor Heights Hy Vee.  Here is where I met Mary.  We shopped then hit the trail together.

Since the cities of Des Moines and Windsor Heights plow their trails properly the only thing I had to fight was the 2 to 3" of fresh snow.  The tires and bike performed well, even fully loaded =with groceries.  I would forget that I had tires meant for Ragbrai not BRR.  The 520 plowed nicely with the occasional bark of when I hit ice.  No crashes.  It even climbed the snow covered ice run off at Colby Park were the work on the I-235 overpass revealed poor drainage.  Sure, the rear wheel broke loose once but not swinging or swaying.  Even better was taking the trail underneath the newly reopened Grand Ave bridge.  Trail surface akin to kitty litter and a steep climb out of it.  The bike did not protest at all.

We followed tracks left by up to 5 other bikes including a fat bike or two.  But we saw only one other ride.  David Lanham was riding home from work.  We stopped and chatted.  He said that the ride was enjoyable.  I had to agree.  It was 18F outside and the wind was calm.  Fresh snow covered the ugly brown dead world below. The cheap Kenda tires were handling quite well.  Anything that would make them slip would make most not studded tire bikes slip as well.  Easy on the speed, easy on braking and watch the turns.  I made it home safely with a bike load of groceries.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


He was a larger than life figure in the Des Moines bicycling community and one of the nicest guys a person could meet.  He'd been around so long that I cannot recall when I met him.  Like the city, he was here from my beginning in Des Moines.  Short, fat, long haired, smoker, weird, drinker, add friend to this list.  His departure not only left a big hole in our subculture but served as a reminder on how precious our short time on this spinning blue marble is.  Craig was always there.  Always someone you could talk to, bum a smoke or share a beer with.  Truly a shock.  Yet perhaps a quick check out instead of a long suffering decades long struggle.

One of my last great times with him was back in February 2013.  I recently transfer to Farm Bureau in West Des Moines and taking my time finding a safe commute home from work.  Wildman was standing outside having a smoke at a bar named Bradley's on 50th St.  Spotting me he flagged me in.  Never been there before.  We must have drank for a good hour.  He told me of a great way to get home from there, the same route I use today when the trails are too snow and iced covered to ride.

I should have stopped in there again but life and responsibilities keep me away from such places occasionally.  I think I saw him last at the Big Wheel Rally t-shirt release party at Confluence Brewery.  He recently completed a kayaking adventure on the river with Squirrel.  I told him that I thought he was nuts for doing such a thing just as it was getting cold.  This trip was a mere month before he passed away.  I am glad he did it.

Life is too short to hold back.  The candle that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast.  Our world is a bit darker since he left us.  But with the right eyes one can see a light and an 8 ball jacket and a Miller Lite showing us the way.  RIP Craig.

Friday, December 20, 2013

And Now the Ice...

The snow added traction.  It only seemed to snow around Farm Bureau.

I have survived, the cold, the snow, headwinds from hell and still keep riding a bicycle to work.  So the weather placed another card on the table today.  Ice.  It started about sunset yesterday.  Mist, drizzle, falling temperatures and continued overnight.  When I woke up everything outside was coated with a layer of ice.  But I have a bike with studded tires for just such occasions!  Or do I?

The one day I needed it.  But the rear wheel on my blue Trek 920 was kaput.  Serious attention was needed.  I have ridden it to work maybe 3 times since pulling it out of storage and prepping it for winter.  I took it yesterday because the freezing drizzle was supposed to begin about noon.  Never did.  And the closer I got to home the worse the wheel acted.  What needed a simple true developed into a horrid lumpy ride and then the tire started hitting the right chainstay.  Fooked.

1996 Trek 920.  Cheap wheels but American made bicycle.

With ample time and a truing stand I could have fixed this last night.  Right.  I stopped at Court Avenue Brewing Company for a Mug Club party and then took Moscow Mules over to Johnny Brook's house to commiserate the death of a neighbor kid.  Dumb moves.  But needed.   But I did bring home a ham and a turkey for Christmas dinner.  Wheel sacrifice not in vain!

Waking up a tad bit hung over I realized the error of my ways.  So I grabbed the red Phoenix and asked it to do its magic and haul my ass to work.  Why not drive the truck?  I could have done untold thousands of dollars in damages and possibly killed someone if I drove.  On a bicycle I just look stupid.  Besides, the city starts plowing early, I gambled that they would salt the roads early, too.

My street was icy so slow and steady.  No fast moves.  Half a mile away I reached the trail by Mullets.  Completely iced up.  Cross the bridge which is the ice equivalent of running the gauntlet and reach MLK.  This road was salted and wet so I took it all the way to 15th, cut up north to Ingersoll Ave.

Ingersoll was not treated when I pedaled on it.  I don't know what pissed me off more, the lack of de-icing or my stupid self for not fixing the wheel.  Anger not only is an energy but a heat source as well!  Slow and steady.  I did see one car screw up and hit a pole on 35th by Dahls.  Yep, the $2000 mistake.

My Go To Plan on crappy winter days is to ride downtown, get on Ingersoll and take that to the McDonald's on 63rd and Grand.  But the lack of road salt on Ingersoll changed that route.  Riding downhill on Ingersoll past Polk Blvd would have been suicide.   However, and thankfully, Polk Blvd was wet not icy.  Turn right and take a left on University.  University was clear and I took it all the way to the 5400 block or the Iowa Farm Bureau campus where I work.

There was only one bad spot on this route.  The intersection, specifically, the left turn lane on University and 86th St in Clive was icy.

The Red Phoenix at work.  This 2008 Trek FX 7.5 has been my workhorse, go to bike in winter.  This year no studded tires.  Just a set of Kenda cross tires.  Notice the salt stains on the concrete.  This photo was taken before the ice storm.

Now getting home was another story.  easy to ride on crap roads at 530 am when there are not cars.  3 pm is different.  Original plan was to take westown Pkwy to 50th, a left at Bradley's and work my way to 28th, turn right to reach Ashworth and then take that to 8th, right then left to get on Grand.  This is my winter route when trails are not rideable.  But I did not feel like playing in traffic on Ashworth.  I should have.  Just did not have the heart today.  So I headed to Wal Mart via Westown and Buffalo Rd.

At first I did sidewalk action.  I marvelled at how corporate America salts and sands sidewalks (lawsuits).  But when I hit Hurd properties the sidewalks were worthless and I took to riding on the grass.  My Trek FX is good offroad.  just one crash for the day.  i crossed an intersection and hit an icy sidewalk.  Time for the street, cars be damned.

Once I reached Wal Mart I tried the trail.  Needed ice skates so i rode on the shoulder to Mcdonald then cut up the back roads to Ingersoll.  Ingersoll Ave was much better after work, even the bike lanes.  Quick stop at Ingersoll Wine&Spirits for a bottle of Bolla Valepochella (no Bolla here) and I ran into Sam Gill.  The rest of the trip home was uneventful.  I opted to ride through Court Ave to reach 4th St to avaid the pedestrian bridge which was more than likely still dangerous.

So I have a date with a truing stand.  The trails are useless without studded tires until it warms up or the sun melts the ice.  The forecast says this ain't gonna happen soon.  On the way to work I did not crash and almost had to put my foot down once.  One crash on return trip.  Kinda queer, last year we had a major snow event the same week, almost to the day.  This year ice.  I'd rather have the snow.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Winter Nights

It is still autumn but it feels like winter.  I leave before the sun rises and arrive home after it sets.  Perhaps too much of my brain is dedicated to night vision for I seem to thrive in the darkness.  Despite the miserable conditions, night riding is something I enjoy in this extreme climate.

My memories of riding in winter and the lessons they taught are permanently imprinted on my brain.  Back in the day, circa 1988, we did not have lights.  Winter was the safest time to go mountain biking at night.  There was usually snow on the ground.  White is trail, black is tree.  Hours spent in the greenbelt up in Waterloo with Ron Prunty.  Often we would increase the difficulty by adding psychotropics.  Just one thing to remember, white is trail, black is tree.  Still holds true today, the rule not the need to increase difficulty.

So my commute is now double what it was last year.  More time to reflect on it as I try to keep my mind off the body numbing coldness that fills the void as Earth's tilting denies us a longer hug from the Sun's love.  Fresh snow is the best as long as the total is less than 3" for most of my bicycles.  Fresh snow is usually accompanied by lingering clouds which not only keep the temperature a tad bit warmer, say 24F instead of 4F but also reflect back the light pollution and thus help illuminate the ride.  Sometimes while out on the trail I will shut off my lights.  Add a full moon and there is little reason to use lights unless others are riding nearby or it is time to play in traffic.

Remember the rule?  Rule #2 applies after the city plows the trail.  Black in between white is trail, all other black is tree and white is off trail.  Clearly defined borders.  Much easier to stay on the trail at night since the edge of the trail is now delineated by frozen water.  Ice is another story so I keep my lights on until familiar with the conditions.

This phenomenon is helpful at a very bad section of the Walnut Creek trail.  After Grand Ave heading north toward Center St there is a section of trail that parallels the creek.  At the place where the trail is closest to Walnut Creek there is a terrible blind spot created by a security light across the water at some sort of industrial warehouse business.  As I approach this place the light blinds me and I am forced to slow down and avert my eyes until it no longers interferes.  No matter what light set up I have I am forced to look down and keep my eyes on the edge of the trail.  During the summer everything is black.  The trail, the grass and the border between the trail and the grass.  BUT in winter with snow on the ground it is now black and white and much easier to keep the bike on the trail surface proper and avoid running off it and into trouble.

All I ask is that the temperature stay in the 20s during the coldest days/nights and a little bit of snow to help me move about in the dark.  Things improve in April.  4 more months of this bullshit.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Winter Round II 2013/14

Starts with a deep freeze then covers us with snow.  Need the snow.  Nothing better than a visual to remind us on how bad it really is.  But snow can be fun and if you live in the ice age area like I do there is not much to do about it but move to warmer climes.

Wednesday December 4th, 2013 AD, was the last time it was above freezing in Des Moines, Iowa.  39F at 430 am with dropping temperatures throughout the day.  And freezing rain.  Managed to get home ice covered without crashing.  Then every day the temperature got lower and lower and the wind from the north and west got stronger and stronger.  Saturday morning it dropped to -2F when I rode to my barber at 745 am.  The saving grace is that the wind had stopped.  Yes, I can feel the difference between -2F without wind and  12F with a 25 mph headwind.  And the lack of wind made the Big Wheel Rally a success.

Was not planning to go to the BWR.  Mary and I spent too much time battling the coldness that week.  But we made a late appearance mainly because it was almost 20F without wind.  I rode the Mongoose Beast single speed heavy fat bike.  Nothing gets me warmer than riding that thing up a hill.  This was the first time I rode that bike up a hill, Ingersoll Avenue.

The next day snow fell and piled up over 4".  Having paid a princely sum of $207.11 for the bike brand new and delivered to my house I decided that it should be tested in the snow.  About 230 pm I left the comfort of home and rode the Beast to Methodist to visit a friend in the hospital.  First time that bike saw snow.  First time I have ridden in major snow since February or March.  And the Beast performed better than I imagined.  Rolled through the big stuff with ease.  Rolled over buried curbs with a graceful bump. No sliding.  No crashes.  No emergency "abandon ship" moves.  Not bad for a cheap bike that is geared way to steep.  Have yet to swap out rear cog for something with more teeth for better acceleration and hill capability.

By the time Monday's alarm went off the snow had stopped.  We set the alarm 30 minutes earlier to give us more time to ride to work as we did not know exactly how bad the snow would make the trip worse.  I grabbed the Red Phoenix, my Trek FX 7.5 hybrid, a proven winter warrior.  The commute to work is no time for fun and games or messing around.  And when the actual temperature is 6F with headwind and a significant layer of fresh snow.it becomes a life or death situation.  That bike still has it relatively fresh knobbies from Boulevard Sports that I purchased in the Spring or perhaps late winter last year.  And since it usually sits in storage from March through September there is still pretty of tread for snow.

I opted for riding downtown to Ingersoll since the snow could have been deep in sections on the trail.  Faster to ride on freshly plowed streets than an unplowed trail.  If I was still working at 6200 Park Ave I would have taken the trail all the way to Orlandos.  But now that my commute is twice as far, speed is of the essence.  No issues.  No collisions with snow plows.  Going down Ingersoll from Polk Blvd to McDonalds seemed a bit scary but the bike handled well.  Got to keep speed in check without locking up the front brake.  I did see two bicycle commuters that morning.

When I worked downtown at PFG those that rode bikes to work in the winter would leave the salt brine at the bike rack.
I really hate riding on the streets after a snowfall.  The city dumps too much salt and sand on them because Iowans refuse to get proper tires for their cars and trucks for these conditions.  And salt and sand are the mortal enemies of metal mechanical parts.  Chains are the first to crap out.  Always get dirty and begin to rust.  Need to purchase and install rust proof chains.  And the roads are wet.  I do not want to get wet when it is 5F outside.  Clothing gets dirt too.

Look at all the salt that the bike picked up downtown, Ingersoll, Buffalo Rd and Westown Pkwy!  Good for the environment, I think not!
I took the trail home after work.  They were clear of snow.  Even Clive removed snow from the Greenbelt although they left about a half inch on the surface for some reason.  Windsor Heights did the best job but then again they have the shortest section of trail to clear.  If you look at a trail after a snowfall you realise how many people use these trails.  Failure to keep them clear in winter is depriving people of something they cherish for quality of life.

Tuesday I decided to ride the Beast to work.  Why not?  The alarm is still 1/2 hour ahead of normal.  If I average 7 mph it still will be less than 2 hours one way.  Trails are clear.  The bike is designed for crap conditions.  They only draw back is that the bike is slow and heavy.  But if I take the trail all the way to 128th St I will only have one hill to climb.  Long but not that steep.  Add three miles to the commute but avoid the big hills I normally take.  The muggles at work will think I am totally nuts.  Except for Bo G.  He rides a fat bike but not a cheap single speed fat bike.  Besides, I feel like Mongo riding that cow when I ride the Beast.

Beast at work.  Note, bike rack put away for the season.  They did this on Monday.
So I took it.  No computer on the bike requires me to use the phone app Endomondo to track miles and inform me of my slowness.  "3 miles in 21 minutes.  Lap pace 7 mph."  Trail all the way to Wal Mart as usual.  But I was beginning to worry about time.  This is taking a lot longer than I am used to.  I could feel the slowness.  I could save over 20 minutes by taking the hilly route.  Hills it was!

I got off the trail at Wally World and climbed the hill on Buffalo Rd by Dowling.  It is a two part hill with a recover grade before the second and final peak.  And just to be safer I took the the sidewalk until the final downhill.  Then crossing 22nd St there is my last hill on Westown Pkwy on my way to Valley West Mall.  Not that these hills are severe or long but on my touring bike, good weather commuter, I downshift to granny.  The FX remains in middle ring since I placed a below normal tooth count ring.  No shifting options on the Beast.  Focus on breathing.  Use the glutes.  Be grateful for the plateau.  I did it!  No standing, no walking, no crying, no swearing!  Once when the road levels off just east of the mall it's smooth biking the rest of the way to work.  I will not this, despite the fact that it was 14F to 17F (the temperature was rising during the commute thanks to warm air coming in), I was in full sweat.  The Beast has a heater--ME!  Muggles really do not understand this fact.  When you pedal a bicycle you generate heat.  When you pedal a heavy single speed bicycle up hills you generate more heat.

Wednesday Day 3 of Snow I went back to the Red Phoenix.  Had to work late.  Need a faster bike for the trip home.  I noticed it right away.  It was like the shackles were removed.  This bike felt incredibly fast compared to the Beast.  20 minutes faster same route.  

The ride home was peaceful  I left work after sunset and had the trail to myself.  Just keep moving.  Watch out for slick spots.  Feel the adrenalin shoot into and course throughout the body the one time a patch of ice grabbed the tires and pulled them unexpectedly for a microsecond.  Enjoy the Christmas lights and be grateful for all I have.  There's not much more I can do but wait this winter out.  Tweak clothing.  Tweak the route.  Keep the bicycles running.  By March it will start to improve. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jordan Creek Trail Revisited

It was a combination of boredom and detours that caused me to take the Jordan Creek Trail home from work instead of the Clive Greenbelt.  Head south on 60th/128th Street.  On map it appears to be out of the way and longer so I never used it for commuting,  But since giving it a chance I enjoy the JCT.

Sure, I may have said some bad things about this trail in the past, mainly how easy it is to get lost on it due to numerous neighborhood trails and the underpasses.  I retract those statements.  Since using this for commuting I have only made one wrong turn.  Still I recommend taking the fattest Sharpie available to make your own signs until you have it memorized.

Convenient  Several places that I need to frequent are along the JCT.  My bank, US Bank, Ace Hardware, Hy Vee and a Dahls (if I feel like I have too much money).  Let's not forget Saints West literally right off the trail.  And then Valley Junction.  Or take a left at the intersection of 60th and the trail and head west to the town center and all the commercial offerings it has to offer.   Raccoon River Park is on the trail's southern extent.

Safety  I also feel SAFER riding to the JCT on the sidepath than I do the Greenbelt.  Taking the sidepath to the Clive trail involves a lot of armleutchers who attempt to cut bikes off especially at the Walgreens.  The trail itself is safer as well because it is comparatively straight as opposed to the zig zag switchback design of the Greenbelt.  No sharp turns with surprise head ons with other bikes or pedestrians with dogs.

Friendly  Trail users seem friendlier.  This may be because there are less of them when I ride but it seems as if the pedestrians smile more often when I say hello as I pass them.  More importantly, I have yet to see a Lance wannabe training for the big race on the JCT.  This is a major hazard on many trails.  Race training is dangerous on narrow trails.

Connects with the Bill Riley Trail  This is super because I end up where I want to be and where I need to be and where I would be if I would have taken the Clive trail.

Detouring  Sure there is a major project on the JCT.  Construction crews are working on I-35 and that portion of the trail is close.  Take the sidewalk or street for 1 block.  No switchbacks up hill to get around this detour.  And the detour for the sewer project involves taking streets east of 63rd for a little bit.  Not bad despite crap pavement but this should be ending soon.  The Greenbelt route has had up to 3 detours simultaneously this year.  One of which is a major pain in the arse and dangerous.  There have been a few times that I have had cars pull out in front of me on the detour.  One even apologized and admitted that he was not looking.

I have yet to take the Jordan Creek Trail to work.  Same old fear of  losing time.  Experiments at 5 am are not good on work days.  But the more I take this path home the more I like it.

The metro is looking at a 30 plan for the area.  They worry about affordable housing for future workers.  How about expanding this trail and clearing snow off it during the winter??  Just a thought.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Round 1 2013-14

Brave.  That's the adjective I have been hearing lately.  Loading up the bike after work a woman turns toward me and smiles, "You're brave."  And after dropping off a pair of sunglasses to a fellow biker she uttered the B word again.  Courage requires risk.  But if one is prepared there is no risk.  And without risk there is no bravery.  

Years of experience and experimentation and practice eliminated the risk.  I have not been brave just prepared.  And the muggles never seem to realize that bicycling generates heat for the rider.  Not really enjoying myself except when I reach my destination.  Coffee never tastes better than after an hour+ ride in 6F weather with a 25 mph headwind.  2 days of hell so far.  Maybe in 8 days the temperature will rise above freezing.

The only saving grace is that the remnants of the previous week's snow melted before the big freeze. Riding on ice without studded tires, now that's brave or foolhardy.  You pick.

So what's it been like?  Wednesday was the last day above freezing.  Earlier in the week it was nice for December and 40F temps.  Monday and Tuesday the trail was full of bicycle commuters.  Wednesday it was warmer at 530 am than it was at 430 pm.  40F to 24F.  Then the hammer fell.  Thursday morning it was 12F with a 25 mph headwind for the commute to work.  I barely slept.  Woke up early and managed to get out the door 1/2 hour earlier than normal.  I needed the extra time.  Dressing like an astronaut is not conducive for fast riding.  The Trek 520 was the steed, had to ferry clothes to work and return with large bag of puppy food, 15 lbs.

Took a mile to warm up.  That is, to get the blood and body warm.  By mile 10 my feet were beginning to get cold.  Strange, some parts sweating, others cold.  Pedal, don't think about it.  Watch the miles click off.  I did see two bikes that morning.  Not the only one brave on Thursday.  After 8 miles the traffic lights begin and I was on a winning streak.  7 lights to obey or not.  I was 5 and 0 heading to a perfect ride, never having to put a foot down at a light controlled intersection.  Then the damn Chevy Trailbrazer wanted to make a left turn and triggered the red light for me.  Bastard!  That was light #6.  I missed number 7 as well.  When told I was brave and asked how the ride was I planned to say "The wind and the cold did not bother me but having that damn Trailblazer preventing my perfect battle with stop lights really pissed me off.

Crossing the freeway on the Westown Pkwy overpass was almost scary.  I should really take the side path but that requires crossing 4 lanes of traffic to get on it and crossing 4 lanes of traffic to make my last turn.  So I take the street proper.  The wind was horrid and the bike was blown around a bit.  had to really work to hold the line.

Friday it was colder by half, 6 above.  But the wind seemed better.  I look forward to the hills starting 8 miles into the commute with Buffalo Rd and then Westown Pkwy.  Climbing helps generate heat. No issues on Westown Pkwy,  But icicles were forming on me.  Hence the photo I took when I reached work.  Did not realize that I had one functioning nostril.  My eyelid hurt for most of the day from the weight of the ice.  Stupid, not brave.  Yet the rest of the body was ok warmthwise.  I did see the same guy in the morning biking on the Bill Riley Trail.

So I took the worst the arctic blast gave us and carried on as usual.  A little slower.  Snow forecasted so the Red FX is ready.  Need to recheck the 920 and its studded tires incase ice comes.  I was nervous since my commute is twice as long as last winter although I did it for a month or so at the tail end of winter.  I passed.  Chris 2 winter 0.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dr. Doolittle

Fritz seemed a little apprehensive of the fat bike in September 2013.

After a significant amount of time riding the same route day after day, morning after morning alone one begins to be aware of who lives where in the out of doors.  Walnut Creek is especially significant in my observations.  The section between North Valley Drive and Pal Joey's is the only place on any trail in which I have noticed eyes in the trees watching me.  Today that stretch was a zoo.

The eyes were back on a branch staring at me.  Have not seen them for some time and I wonder what species it was.  The branch was too small for a raccoon.  But are squirrels nocturnal?  Far too high for a domestic cat.  And as these thoughts bounced around in my head I came across critter #2.

There is an area of small trees and brush between the trail and the soccer field.  And there inside was another set of eyes.  My first thought that it was a cat or raccoon.  But this creature was much bigger.  A dog would have barked and/or given chase.  But a fox would have stared motionless feeling secure in the foliage.  I have not seen a fox in quite some time but it was dark and I did not stop.

Turning my head away from mystery animal as I reached the retaining wall and fence I roused up another critter.  Just a fluttering image in front of my tire trying desperately to flee from me I realized that it is too cold for bats.  19F is not bat temperature.  A moment later I IDed it as a robin.  The bird was failing to reach sufficient altitude to escape over the fence or the wall or over my head.  Caught in my lights and the sound of my knobby tires droning onward it finally hit a hard left and flew between the fence poles to the safety of Walnut Creek.  Just in time too as I was in the process of making the hard right on the detour.

No deer or skunks.  Not even a raccoon.  Just these three friends on a short stretch of trail in Des Moines.  Tomorrow there will be others, maybe.

My favorite animal is Fritz.  Here he investigates the bike after Monday's snow.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

5 Seconds Late and I Could Be Free

2 minute difference in departure time was all that it would have taken to end my life or end my 2013 riding year.  Looking at what happened 2 minutes before or after I stopped underneath the freeway makes me think that the former would have occurred.  And if I did not die how long would have I needed to wait for rescue?

The last full week of September, 2013, was a wet one for me.  Three times it rained on me, twice going to work, once on return.  My mobile phone ruined on Tuesday thanks to faulty Ziploc and faulty rain jacket.  Only a handful of times have I ever been caught in the rain on the way to work.  Maybe twice getting completely drenched.  Better to take the rain on the way home I still believe.  Shower up and wash the wet and dirty clothes.  I always study the radar and leave earlier or later if necessary.  

Thursday the 19th was the worst.  Grey skies, dark clouds.  I watched the radar all day at work.  The cells were moving from the southwest to the northeast.  Looked like the metro's defector shield was working and the precipitation would miss us as usual.  After all, all summer long the rain veered north or south of the Des Moines Metro area.  I was not worried.  One co-worker said that it would miss.  She apologized the next day.  So instead of taking off early early I stayed and completed my work trusting what I saw on radar.  Leaving 40 minutes early would have made the difference.

There was a pink cell on radar.  But the storm was still moving to the northeast.  I noticed that in the black clouds was a green area.  Always a bad sign but not heading my way as I headed down 128th toward the Clive Greenbelt.  Once on the trail I decided to stop and readjust my backpack sometime soon.  I was on the Trek 2200 and thus bagless.  Then a few sprinkles hit.  Nothing much I thought, perhaps blown this way from the ever increasing wind.  As the freeway approached I decided to stop underneath the overpass and adjust the backpack and assess the weather.  THEN SOMETHING HIT ME!  Fortunately I had sufficient speed and strength to ignore whatever that was and reach the safety of I-35/80 overpass.  Stopping in the center and turned back to look.  A small limb of a tree was now blocking the trail at the west entrance of the overpass.  That must have hit me.

Backpack off and readjusted time to look at the weather and roll on.  But that was not going to happen anytime soon.  It looked like a hurricane.  Strong wind bending trees and rain flying sideways.  All hell was breaking loose.  At some points I had to hide behind a pillar to avoid getting wet despite being in the center  of the overpass.  6 or 8 lanes above me as a roof and rain blowing in from the west.  The storm took a right turn.  Time to wait it out.  Watch the hurricane like storm from the safety of the freeway.  The view of the world outside the overpass looked akin to clothing in a dryer.  Swirling rain, trees, debris.

Quick organization of my supplies went through my head.  Dirty work attire in case it got cold.  No jacket.  No faux rain coat.  No mobile.  Plenty of cash in case I had to wait a long time and then got hungry after the storm.  Or a beer at University Pub.  Lights on the bicycle.  So I could stay warm and dry underneath the freeway for quite sometime until hunger or clear skies arrived.  I waited for what may have been 20 minutes.   When the rain and wind calmed down I heard the storm sirens.  Good timing.  Time to leave.

I was able to get to the first turn.  The trail was covered with leaves and twigs.  The 114th St bridge was narrow and would have made poor shelter.  Further on I had to stop immediately.  Down tree.  Hop off and climb over.  3 pedal strokes later another fallen tree.  Then another.  Perhaps 3 miles of  freshly felled trees and limbs.  I spent more time carrying the bike over them than riding the bike.  I appreciated the 2200's lightness.  If I would have brought the touring bike or a heavier bike my back would have been killing me.

Then it occurred to me.  If I would have left 2 minutes earlier I would have made it past the safety of the freeway overpass and the small shelter of 114th bridge and been caught in the center of the crashing trees.  If I left 2 minutes later I would not have made it to I-35/80 and been caught in the storm west of the overpass.  Some of the runners at work informed me the next day that the trail was still a disaster and they had to run elsewhere.

Inching my way to Des Moines proper I encountered another cyclist going toward where I had come from.  This was near the park.

"Slow going west," I said, "many trees down."
"Same with the east," he replied.  "Just looking to get on a street."

I thought about taking the road but decided against it.  Sirens were wailing everywhere beyond the confines of the greenbelt.  All the rain water would be heading toward the curbs and the area of the road I would be using.  If this many trees died on the trail I could not imagine what the storm left on the streets.  And the last thing any car driver needed to see and avoid was an idiot out in the street riding a bicycle during a storm.  No.  Safer here cyclocrossing trees.  We parted ways.  I told him the turn to Lincoln Ave was not that far away.

Not long later the rain picked up again and I stopped underneath 100th St. overpass.  Double wide with a split in the middle.  Sat on a rock and stared at the storm and listened to my world.  I wished I had my camera to video tape this I thought.  Kinda cool.  Deadly but cool at the same time.  I also worried about Mary who would be leaving Urbandale soon.  Maybe I stayed here for 10 minutes, leaving when the rain was reduced to acceptable levels.  I put my work shirt on since it was long sleeved and i needed the warmth layer knowing full well that it soon would be saturated with water and sand and dirt and tree shit.

The farther east I rode and climbed over fallen trees and limbs the less of them I had to surmount.  I think the last one was near 86th St in Clive.  At last I could make time.  At least the trail was not flooded.

At Colby Park I had to get on school Street to take the ever hated detour.  A woman driving a late model Chrysler van rolled down her window and asked me directions.  I rode to the passenger side for safety.  She was asking me how to get to 6th and University.  This blew my mind.  She was miles off target.  Her mascara was running down her face and she tried to wake up her passenger, who until this point was out of my sight having reclined the chair all the way and was skillfully sleeping with an open container of hooch between his legs.  Then the smell of alcohol hit me.  Booze and the smell of booze that appears in the respiration of people who have been drinking for quite some time.

"You need to get onto University and head east."
"That road is all jacked up."
"All roads will be."

I left them.  Confident that she was scared sober and would probably be boxed in by other vehicles inching their way forward to their destinations, I left them.  I think I told her to take Grand then go up 6th St downtown.  Cops have their hands full and a drunk in a black minivan could probably make it to 6th and University be being careful.  That van looked fully insured and not paid off.

First trees now drunks.  I eventually made it home and showered.  Yes, exchange one form of water falling for another.  Good night to bake a pizza.  that would warm us up.  Jumped in the F250 and drove to Papa Murphy's and got two pies.  On the way back I saw a double rainbow.  God left a rainbow as a sign to Noah that he would never kill off humanity through a flood again.  Some Pacific Islanders interpret a rainbow as God's signal that they need to drink beer.  Yes, I need to pick up some beer.  It's been a rough afternoon.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Observations of Late

1.   Road bikes are the best commuters.

Lighter, faster.  Ever have to carry a bicycle over 3 miles of downed limbs and trees?  Thursday September 19, 2013, I found myself underneath the I-35 overpass while hurricane like winds and rain wreaked havoc on the metro.  After 20 minutes it calmed down but my next 3 miles were hell.  Sometimes I could not get 5 pedal strokes in before having to dismount and climb over a dead tree or limb.  Fortunately, I was on a relatively light road bike and not my heavy touring bike or any other 20 lb+ bicycle.  Faster is good too.  Faster bikes allow for later departure times thus more sleep or more time to screw around at home looking for some lost object for 20 minutes.

2.   I have uber immunities or Always check the water bottle before use

Been using the same bottle on the Trek for over a month.  Always fill it with ice and water before leaving work.  One time I filled it with Gatorade.  Today after dumping the contents out as I made my way to the ice and water machine I by chance glanced into the bottle.  Dark spots on the bottom.  How long had they been there?  Why have I not been ill?  I grabbed a Smart Water and put the empty moldy bottle on the spare cage resolved to clean it when I am home.

3.   When the "green" light stops appearing on the Niterider charger that battery is fubar

Yes.  A battery that is only good for 30 minutes at best.  Bad time a year for it to crap out.  Hope InterState Battery has an inexpensive replacement for about $25.

4.   100 PSI in the front tire is better than 30

Not only did pumping the tire up prevent a pinch flat in waiting but improved my speed to work and back!  I really need to check it more often.

5.   I can increase my average speed even if I loop Gray's Lake

I have not looped this lake since March becaue it is overcrowded with pedestrians.  But today I weaved my way through it.  Cannot wait until December when the only people on that trail are professional runners and idiots like me.  BTW my average speed increased by .1 on that 1.9 mile stretch.  Only took the grass once!

6.   Shorts and sandals are good in the lower 50s

That time of year again.  Do I wear extra clothes in the morning or do I tough it out?  52F is not that cold and people would be willing to chop off toes for a low of 52 F come January.  Best let the body adjust for winter because the mornings have not been cold yet.

7.   Never too late for construction in Iowa

Yes the land rapers and greedheads are at it again.  This summer has plagued bicyclists (and motorists too for that matter) with never ending road construction and detours.  Today they were ripping out trees on the Missing Link.  Guess that's why there are pink markers on that trail.  Bastards.  Leave well enough alone please!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

BRAIer: Expedition Up North

Labor Day in Madrid, Iowa, is always a good time.  For some it is a celebration of working class values.  For others it is the fond farewell to summer.  Still others it is a four day drunk.  For us it is the perfect excuse to ride up from Des Moines and visit the High Trestle area.

Craig planned this trip for a long time.  Leave on Friday after work.  Stay til Monday.  Watch the Iowa game in Perry.  Catch the ISU game in Slater.  Stay at the Trestle Hotel.  A mini-Ragbrai.  BRAIer.  This sounded good to the hedonist biker inside me.  I have not visited the Trestle all year.  Nor have I bagged anywhere since Ragbrai.  This would be a perfect way to end the summer.

But as launch time quickly approached the weather became an issue, it was getting a little warm.  Other doubts filled my head as well.  I really need to stay home and fix bicycles.  I should spend more time with my family.  Fareway has my favorite meat on sale and they will be closed when I return.  The temperature was the main issue.  100F forecasted for Friday.  Never really cools down at night.  This could be dangerous.  I talked Craig down to one overnight plus pack bags for two nights.  If it was good we could linger longer.  By Thursday I was psyched to go.  Work had been crazy.  Release was necessary.  Weather be damned!

The 520s were packed Thursday evening since Friday was a work day.  I added a few new items and arrangements.  I added my seldom used TurboCat flood light for better close up night vision and its judicial battery conservation.  Normally the battery is mounted on the frame and thus steals a water bottle or reduces the size of one bottle.  This time I placed the batter in the front pannier.  awkward to turn it off and on but possible while rolling without much difficulty, just remember to keep the fingers to the right of the spokes.  Also a new portable power supply for recharging my mobile phone and my camera.  Two coolers, one internal and the other on top of the rear rack.  No tent.  Too hot for tent camping.  Mosquitos were nonexistent due to the lack of rain all summer.  Thermarest pad  and light weight LaFuma sleeping bag all I needed.  In the past two Ragbrai's I put the tent up twice.  Did not need the ballast.  Two insulated H2O bottles and a 1 liter Nalgene bottle for back up.

I filled every bottle and cooler with ice as I left work.  First stop was at Barr Bicycle.  Purchase a new kickstand and installed it in the shade.  The former kickstand busted on Ragbrai several years ago.  I had time to kill.  Stopped at Windsor Heights Hy Vee for the purchase of some cool crisp and refreshing beverages for the coolers, 6 of Busch Light and a 6 of JP's Yabba Dhabba Chai Tea Porter.  I wanted Newcastle but they did not have any in cans.  I liked the box anyway.  Seemed fitting.  My shopping also included some batteries and hygienic products that I forgot to pack.  Despite back tracking I needed a time suck as Craig had a few things to do including driving home to fetch his bike.

Our rendezvous was in Clive at the University Tap or Pub.  The former TR's has both names listed.  Located on University Ave on the same side of the street and a strip mall away from 515 Brewery, this quaint neighborhood bar has a nice selection of draft beer including Court Avenue Brewery's Pointer Brown Ale and a $2 mystery draft.  $3.75 for the CABCo.  An older crowd but the acoustics were not painful as they are in 515 or Confluence.  Yes, they have Fireball.  We sat out the heat for a half hour.

The Clive Greenbelt trail was our route out of town.  We took it to 128th St and seized a northbound lane.  As Craig put it, "the Lexus SUVs can go around us since there is no sidepath or trail."  I agreed noting that even the BMWs possess adequate horsepower to move around two loaded Trek 520s averaging 12 mph.  No one honked or threw drinks at us.

On top of the hill we noted both bad news and good news.  The good: weather will cool off tonight.  Bad: head wind from the north.  It was refreshing despite slowing us down.  At the Chicken Coop we ditched the road for the sidepath all the way into Grimes.

Grimes was the first stop.  Stevie C's.  Craig and Chad discovered this place on the 4th of July.  That is when Craig met the owner Brandon.  Brandon is a ragbrai veteran and would like to form a team based out of the bar.  Nice outdoor lounge in back although too warm to enjoy it.  Spacious bar inside.  I recommend the Garbage Can pizza.  After two pitchers and a Fireball or two we hit the road for Granger.

By the time we hit Granger and stopped at the Casey's General Store I needed Gatorade and no beer.  Craig suggested the local watering hole but knowing better I declined.  Just get to the trail ASAP was my mantra.  But now we faced the BitterSweet Road.  Although I have ridden on this road several times on the bike I was using I was not prepared for the gravel.  Could not find a line to save my life.  The cleanest line was all the way over on the left.  That would be fine if I was in the UK but in 'Merica I was at risk of a head on collision with a car or truck. Fortunately, it was late enough where cars and trucks were very few.

Apologies to Craig, I was a bitch.  The combination of low energy levels, too much beer and 700x28 road tires on a heavy bike were the cause of the issues.  I knew better but did not have time nor the desire to purchase and switch tires.  I gambled and lost.  No flat tires or wipe outs but it was a slugfest on that 8 to 10 mile stretch of gravel.  Thinking back about it, and this thought did cross my mind at the time, this was payback for Ragbrai.  I kicked Craig's ass on every road, hill and downhill.  And he threw a similar fit on the St Charles Rd, G50, on the pavement to the turn to Winterset.  Payback?  No, me bad.

Bittersweet Rd intersects the High Trestle Trail east of Woodward.  Last year we stopped here and had a beer or 3.  This year we merely coasted downhill to the Trestle Hotel.  Stopped at the concierge level and enjoyed the observation deck.  the last of the chai porters were consumed.  My back up Gatorade was chugged and some Busch Light before we went to our First Class suite at the hotel.

The stars were spectacular that night!  All that starlight travel for billions of years to reach us.  Milky Way.  Discussion of the cosmos ensued before shut eye around 3 am.

Sunrise at the Trestle is something everyone should see.  Any schmuck can drive up to Madrid or Slater and ride to the Trestle at night.  But I respect those that ride there from their homes.  More difficult.  But sunrise is Ace Difficulty Level.  The Hotel was peaceful.  Nobody disturbed us.  No cops evicted us.  You open your eyes and there it is.  Summon the strength to get up and operate a camera.  Go to the observation deck and shoot photos.  Walk down to the bridge itself and click away.  It takes real effort to do this.  Much more effort at sunrise than at night if you bike there.  Much more difficult with 3 hours of sleep after starting a ride at 102F and refueling with beer.

Hotel Trestle

Our suite.

Our view.
Craig at Concierge Level, Hotel Trestle.

The next time I stay at the Hotel Trestle I will have breakfast at Casey's in Madrid.  We entered the Flat Tire Lounge at 830 am.  No food.  Radish starts selling breakfast at 10 am.  Town & Country Cafe was closed since August 24th and slated to reopen on the 4th of September.  Although we could have had cinnamon rolls at the Labor Day celebration we chose to go back to Flat Tire and wait for burritos.  In a nutshell, we killed two hours waiting for breakfast.  Burritos were awesome but we got them 25 minutes after placing the order.

At the Oasis.  Filled bottles, drank a beer. Called Mary to set up a ride home together.

We parted company from here.  Craig was going to Perry to watch the football game.  I wanted to ride home and go to Fareway and be productive.  a shower was needed.  But most of all I missed my beautiful wife.  Let's see if she reads this.  I headed to Slater and stopped at the Oasis for water and a beer before parting the trail for Polk City and the Neal Smith Trail.  This is my favorite way home from the Trestle.  Nothing to note on this section of trail except a group of Boy Scouts were completing their Bicycling Merit Badge, 50 miler in this heat.  Also Polk City or the State wised up and partially paved the shoulder on 415 so one can bike safer to the NST entrance south of Casey's.  I appreciated this.

Another detour.  The plan was simple.  Mary ride north, I continue south.  We'd meet somewhere.  I wanted to get down the dam wall before she had to climb it.  But she zigged where she should have zagged.  That was at the Morning Star trailhead where the trail was closed due to the river taking a chunk of trail away.  I saw the roadblock on the other side, Sycamore Access and promptly took NW 66th to NW 6th and resumed the trail at Morning Star Dr.  Done this before when I failed to have a pump or new CO2 cartridge with me (free air at Casey's).  The mobile beeped from a text and than it rang.  Mary was at the Visitor Center!  She took NW 6th up to the Ankeny trail access instead of turning left on NW 66th.  traffic and better shoulder.  So I cracked open a Busch Light and waited in the shade.  Note that several bicycles went past the road block and did not return.  I assume that the river got them or that they made it to Sycamore Access.

The Mad Meatball has a bicycle theme motif for decor.

Looks like a fun ride until you discover how this beast turns.  Yes, the yellow hand bar on top of the cart.

Their icon.  As our host said, looks more determined than mad.

From here it was an easy ride home.  Lots of leaves on the ground.  If it was not so hot I would have thought it was autumn.  We had lunch at the Mad Meatball.  Located next to Capital Pub & Dog and owned by the same folks.  $4 pints, I had the fat Tire seasonal, Pumptrick.  Menu consists of meatball subs, pizza and pasta.  We plan to return, goo0d food, good selection of draft beer and close to home--within cruiser range.  I hope they succeed.  Someday this area, MLK and SE 6th will be a thriving part of the East Village.

Well not as long as it should have been but a great ride nonetheless despite my gravel issue.  Accomplished several things: broke 5000 miles for the year, tested new equipment, tested new light set up and saw the trestle finally for 2013.  And most importantly, got to ride with Craig on a ride few mortals dare.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Ever Morphing Bicyclist

Ever noticed how much your body changed ever since you started cycling?  Line them up and cyclists are easy to spot.  Easier if naked.

The first step in change is skin tone, especially for whitey.  The worst suntans.  I have pale white feet (I like socks) supported by tan legs to mid thigh then pale white upper thighs and ass.  As far as my truck goes, my children said it best, "Dad has a white t-shirt."  Late summer I sport raccoon eyes from the skin that is protected by my sunglasses.

Physical changes occur as well.  Mary and I once met a man on a ride that had a gallon plastic water jug mounted on his handlebars.  A huge straw went up to his mouth.  He said it enables him to ride all day.  When he got off the bike his back was all hunched like he had been on the bike for 30 years non-stop.  Others sport the lump on a shoulder from a broken clavicle.  Novices often have scars from crashing because they could not unclip from their SPDs or EggBeaters. Many sport a greasy tattoo from a chainring.  Those that work on bikes often have filthy fingernails.

But I discovered a new mutation in the morphing of bicyclist.  Heating and cooling.  Today it was miserable hot, 99F, and miserably humid, up to 77% at times.  The a/c in the building that I work in cannot keep up.  So I found myself sweating profusely for no other reason than the a/c sucked.  But others were not as bad as me.  I started to worry.  Am I ill?  Is something wrong with me?  Am I dying?

When I left work it was 95F and 39% humidity.  Conditions that would normally melt me on the spot.  But no.  As soon as the bike was rolling I felt good.  the breeze from moving.  I've grown so accustomed to that breeze that my body cannot regulate heat without the movement of air.  I sleep underneath a ceiling fan even when the a/c is on.  When I ride I only get hot when I stop.  And at work, unless I find that a/c sweet spot or a fan, I sweat like I am having a heart attack.

Sure, this summer has not been that bad until this week.  But I reserve the right to bitch.  Looking forward to so colder weather.  I can dress for the 50s.  And I won't sweat!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

RASDak Faces2Falls Photoblog

Moving down the road.  Somewhere between Sioux Falls and Hill City.  We opted for the freeway for better tourism and higher speed limit.  Joe's truck carried Donnie's, Tom's and Joe's bicycles.  2 are recumbents.

Still to this day do not know what these are.


Mary and me in the Badlands.

Mostly mud not rock.

Our two drivers, Aggie and Betsy Hildreth, Joe's wife and daughter.

1st group photo.  Left to right: Donnie Hildreth, Mary Guevara, Chris Guevara, Joe Hildreth, Tom Riggs.

Because we needed to carry two drivers to get our two vehicles back to Sioux Falls, the tandem had to ride on back of the van.  I much prefer bicycles inside vehicles.  Safer.  No issues this trip.

Inside the Badlands Visitor Center.

nice shot Joe!  Cannot believe I missed this opportunity.

Wall Drug

We never biked to Mt. Rushmore.  We stopped by on our way to our campsite.  The organisers of the ride asked the BIC of Mt Rushmore if we could do a group photo here.  The BIC said that we were too large of a group (less than 100 riders). 

Bicycle Gothic
Jessica.  She wrote a blog on this ride for the newspaper she works for, Chamberlain/ Oacoma Sun.  Prestine 1991 Trek 520.  I was jealous but glad I was not on it for the week.  Too fast for slow bikes.

Kasey Abbott, the person responsible for it all.  He rode every day and stopped at every town, event and food stand..

Tom's tent died during a sudden gust of wind.  It was windy that evening.  Old high profile tents tend to snap poles.

All our crap.


Pre-ride feed.  Unfortunately I grabbed too much salad.

kathy's bike.  Self contained for a day and a half.  Salsa.

Pancake breakfast Day 1.

Words of advice from the Official Wristband

South Dakota Beer Drinkers Association, I think.

Donnie and Jeff.  Jeff rode with us during TdK last year.  He just got dropped off this morning.

The Crazy Horse Memorial staff had no objections for us to do the group photo.  10 miles into Day 1.

La Machine

Helicopters around the corner.


Pringle South Dakota

Bicycle sculpture

This antelope almost got ran over by a RV.

Hot Springs, SD

At the time zone line.  Keith said the going rumor is that the number on the state sticker is the mileage to the nearest FEMA Camp.


These two just rode 100 miles and have about 10 more to go!

Preparing for the downhill.

Tim Fairchild relaxing.


Craig Rust between Donnie and Mary.  Very funny person.  Hell of a rider.  He helped us kill the FireBall during TdK last year.

Jim, Jeff and Tracy at Tim's RV.  Basically 3 parties going on at once this night on the eastern shores of the Missouri River,

The man with the safety vest was riding across the country.  As fellow bicyclist we could not help but smother him with questions.  He just wanted a shower and time to finish his Mike's hard Lemonade.

The South dakota Cattle Women were quite a good sponsor!

1957 Thunderbird painted as a memorial for veterans.

Went there for the All You Can Eat chicken and buffet.

Road Booty contest.

Tim has a turtle.

Dawn in Freeman, SD

Retired Secretary of Agriculture meets his former employee Doug.  He provided snacks at his mother's cattle ranch.

My son has the same shirt!

Wildlife in Sioux Falls

David Sunde

At the finish with a flat.

Jim and Tracy at the finish!

Video interview of Kathy explainer her crash.

never let strangers use your spy camera.

They don't know how to use it!  At The Falls, Sioux Falls, SD.

My view sans hands and forearms

Front view.