Archive for October 2009

Boo! Or, what was I thinking?

October 31, 2009

Pam made a quick run to KC with her sister, so I was left to amuse myself this afternoon.  I worked on a cedar chest I’m rehabbing for Libby for a while, then couldn’t stand it any longer and went for a bike ride. 

I knew before I started that the wind would be a factor on the way home, but it was too pretty and I had too much time on my hands to care!  It didn’t take long, however to realize that my legs were in pretty sad shape from running three days in a row already.  In spite of that, the ride out to Rogersville was pretty fun because of the NW wind.  I just played sailboat and let it push me along at a good clip.  In fact, my average speed on the way out there was 16.9 mph, as opposed to the 13.0 on the way back…but more on that in a second.

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As I approached the Logan Rogersville high school, I encountered this:

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It didn’t surprise me, given the amount of rain we had this week, and I’ve actually ridden through quite a bit more water on the road at this spot several other times.  Since it was only a couple of inches deep, I just rode carefully and safely navigated it.

Once I made my turnaround at Rogersville, things went downhill fast.  I was now feeling the full force of the wind, and my legs were toast.  Each revolution of the pedals was a hard-earned victory, and I just put my head down and pedaled without too much thought.  Sometimes that’s  the best way for me to get through a tough ride…but today it was my downfall.

I did score a minor victory on this stretch of road:

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Never pass up a tool that someone has lost!

As I approached Mentor church, I realized that if there was water on the road out by the high school, the big bowl heading into the river valley would probably be under water as well, and it’s likely there will be at least a foot of water on the road.  Crap!  I rode past the turnoff that would take me around it several miles ago.  Faced with the prospect of back-tracking, I decided to just go on and cross the river at Lake Springfield.  I could then take the Greenways Trail over to the outer road and be home free.  I figured it would be just about the same mileage as back-tracking, but at least I wouldn’t be going backward part of the time. 

009 As I crossed the bridge, it looked like a good plan to me…then I saw the sign indicating that the trail was closed at Highway 60 for road construction…and I knew that it was also closed at Highway 65 for the same stinking construction.  Now I was looking at an even longer back-track.  But, wait a minute…what’s that?

010 Its a mileage marker for the Springfield Marathon in the morning.  I read in the paper that MODOT had laid down a temporary trail for the runners.  It wouldn’t be paved, but I should be able to get through!    It was just a few hundred yards around to the construction site.  I had to get off and walk over the boulder field, but it was only about a hundred feet or so.  Maybe this won’t be so bad.

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Then I encountered this…

012 Flood debris over the trail.  Boy those runners are gonna love this mess in the morning.  I gingerly carried my bike over it and continued on…to find a pool of water six inches deep over the trail.  I had no choice but to ride through it.  Not a fun experience, but I knew I should be getting out of the wooded section soon.  After that, I thought it would probably be OK…..until I saw this horrifying sight:

013 Yep…that’s deep mud followed by a really nasty boulder-sized trail surface.  Those aren’t my tracks, so I wasn’t the first fool to be down there today.  I walked the bike through (should have carried it) and emerged a muddy mess on the gravel.  When I did, I could see that I had at least a half-mile to walk before I could get back on anything solid. 

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The picture above is looking back after I finally got to the pavement again.  What a nasty stretch!  I found out later that the Marathon has been rerouted to avoid this mess!  Good for them.

I got home with a shade over 29 miles on the bike.  The first thing I did was grab the hose and clean the mud off both my bike and my feet.  By the time I got home, the little gremlins were coming out, but I felt like they had been with me for while!

God bless….

TW

Back in the saddle – Friday Edition and a bike maintenance tip.

October 30, 2009

Driving home in the rain last night I was frustrated.  You see, I had to drive to work two stinking days in a row!  I’m tired of that Jeep!  Actually, for the last week I’ve been in it a lot.  I changed the oil on it 8/14, and since that point I’ve put approximately 880 miles on it.  I know at least 350 of them were the trip to Rocheport, and it got driven pretty heavily the two days I was off work prior to the weekend.  I think I probably put about half of those 880 milies on in the last week, so I was just getting tired of it!  Compound that with the extremely wet roads yesterday, the wind, the extra couple of miles over to Dad’s house and driving down Kearney Street at 5:00 and I was so happy to get back on the bike this morning for the commute to the fitness center and work.

The trip home was actually one that I wasn’t looking forward to because the wind was howling.  When I ran with the group at lunch, it was straight out of the south, which meant I would have a rough time of it.  Luckily, by the time I left this afternoon, it had shifted to the west, which actually made much of the ride home a lot of fun!

To get myself in the cycling mood, I went down last night and cleaned the KATY Trail off the bikes we used Monday and Tuesday and change the flat tire that I came home with on mine.  They were a mess, but it actually came off a lot easier than I expected.  My original intention was to use a bucket and sponge, but when I moved one in preparation for cleaning,  I realized that the dirt and mud was caked on and dried, so it was actually easier to wipe off with a dry cloth than it would have been with a sponge.  I just had to be careful not to scratch the paint with pieces of grit.  After I got all the junk off, I went back over each one with Pledge to put a little coat of wax on them, then cleaned and lubed the chains.  They’re all pretty again…until the next time!

Hey, that reminds me….did you know that Pledge furniture polish is an awesome bike cleaner?  If not, you ought to try it some time.  I use the spray cans, and it’s usually a pretty quick process to clean up a bike pretty nicely.  I just spray a rag and use that to wipe down the bike.  When you’ve finished, you can tell it leaves a light coat of wax as a protectant. 

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The best bike cleaner available!

God bless….

TW

Katy Trail Mini Vacation

October 28, 2009

Well, what do you do when you drive 3 1/2 hours to ride your bike and the weather turns cold, damp, and cloudy?  You ride, of course!

Our reward to ourselves for getting the eldest married off this past weekend was a two day stay in Rocheport, MO.  We took the bikes with the intention of spending a couple of leisurely days meandering up and down the Katy Trail.  We had an absolutely gorgeous day for the wedding, so we weren’t too disappointed to have it rain the day after.  It started raining on us just outside of Springfield, and rained the entire rest of the day.  With rain in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday, we went with the attitude that we would ride if we could and if it was too nasty, we wouldn’t sweat it but enjoy ourselves anyway.

We awoke Monday to a cold, gray, drizzly, cloudy day with the temperatures hovering right around 45 degrees.  We lounged around the Schoolhouse Bed and Breakfast for a good part of the morning, then decided we would venture outside and see how if the weather was as dreary as it looked.  It was….

032 We mounted up with a tentative goal of riding into Columbia for a late lunch.  As we headed up the trail, we found it in surprisingly good condition in spite of the rain the day before.  The last time we rode that section of the trail was in 2003, so we stopped often between Rocheport and McBain to re-familiarize ourselves with the sights of the trail.  At McBain, we turned north on the MKT Spur toward Columbia.  This trail wasn’t in nearly as good of a condition as the main KATY.  We encountered soft gravel, mud and muck, and a lot more people as we got closer to town.

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After grabbing some lunch, we stopped at the Chocolate Factory for some nourishment, then headed back toward Rocheport at a leisurely pace.  We were in awe of how beautiful the trees along the cliffs between Rocheport and McBain were.  When you could see up a draw into the hillside, the hickory trees were fabulous looking! 

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It was nearly dusk by the time we made it back to Rocheport.  At about that time, we noticed the skies trying to clear back to the southwest, so we had high hopes that Tuesday would be a little nicer.  We stayed comfortable enough, but it was really a dreary day! 

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Tuesday morning didn’t dawn any better than Monday did.  Our plan for the day was to ride to Booneville for lunch before heading back to Springfield.  We had hardly passed through the tunnel at Rocheport when it started sprinkling on us.  We continued on for another couple of miles, then I called for a radar check before we got completely out of cell phone range.  I didn’t want to get several miles out and get soaked as cool as it was.  Unfortunately, radar didn’t show anything very conclusive, so I suggested that we should probably just turn around and go back.

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Trooper that she is, Pam didn’t want to give up.  In her words, “we’ve been miserable before!”, so we continued on our way in the light rain.  Fortunately, the rain didn’t really get any heavier, but it never really went away all day. 

Just east of Rocheport, the trail moves away from the face of the bluff, so the riding isn’t quite as pretty as it is in the other direction, but there are a few places where you can see the forested hillsides to the north. 

After about 13 miles, we crossed the big bridge into Booneville and stopped for lunch at the Riverside Diner.  Afterward, we remarked at how unremarkable most of the local hole-in-the-wall diners really are.  They fill you up, but that’s about it! 

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As we started the return trip, Pam enjoyed the long down-hill coast off the bridge.  After all, it had already been 50 miles since the last time we got to stop pedaling! 

We could tell that the temperature was starting to drop.  In our hurry to get out of town on Sunday, I forgot our ear covers, so we just had to deal with it.  Next time I’ll plan a little better.

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We pulled back into Rocheport at 3:00 PM, which was exactly on the schedule we were shooting for.  We quickly loaded up our bikes, changed clothes and hit the road just as the rain started in earnest again.  It stayed with us for the first 100 miles of the return trip. 

In all, we rode 37.6 miles on Monday and a tad over 27 on Tuesday.  That’s quite enough for the weather conditions, the trail, and the bikes we were riding!

It was great to get away with my favorite playmate.  We had a good time in spite of the weather!

God bless…

TW

Falling into a rut

October 22, 2009

Well……..

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Morning sky from the fitness center...just moments after a purely spectacular sunrise.

This week feels like a rut.  Not in a bad sort of way, but just in a rutty sort of way.  And for the first three days, it seems like I’m stuck in it as far as biking goes.  Until today, the sun has been out and it’s been warm, but that sunny warmth came with a strong wind from the southeast. 

The morning commutes this week have been characterized by darkness, a nice tail wind that makes a hard ride pretty effortless, and more bike commuter sightings than usual.  The evening rides, on the other hand have seen more traffic than seems normal, pleasant fall temperatures, quad-busting headwinds and drivers that don’t seem to have a clue.  The one pleasant aspect of those evening commutes is that the fall color seems to be nearly at it’s peak in the older part of town and the low-in-the-sky evening sun Monday and Tuesday just makes those colors pop!

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On Walnut Street

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The new BKD complex

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Another Walnut Street

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South Fremont

 

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Looking north on Fremont

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Bennett Street

 

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A block from home

   

We’re officially on vacation now until after the wedding.  On Sunday, Pam and I are going to skip off to Rocheport for a couple of days to doodle around on the Katy Trail, so have a great weekend!

 God bless….

TW

Sunday Fun Ride

October 18, 2009

After what seems like a month of Sunday’s, I got out today for a ride with no destination in mind.  The sun is finally out, and with a high in the upper 50’s, I decided I should ride today because next weekend is definitely not going to be an option because of THE WEDDING!

As I crossed the river and headed out toward Mentor, I noticed that the fall colors that are so dominating in town aren’t particularly pretty as you get into the country.   Almost everything was still green, or looking like it was going to just turn brown.

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It didn’t take long for me to notice that there was a migration of wooly-worm caterpillars going on.  I’m sure the local old-timers will tell you that it probably means something like a nasty winter coming on, but what was really interesting to me was that of the hundreds I saw, all but one were heading east.  What’s up with that?  Actually, a lot of them weren’t making it to their destination, but ending up squashed on the road. 

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At Mentor, I turned back to the west, went past the golf course and looped past Evans Road to get to County Line Road.  My original intent was to take it out to Rogersville, but as I passed Finbrooke Road, I looked down it and saw the canopy of trees hanging over the road and decided to go that way instead.

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I don’t usually go that way because there are a couple of badly washed-0ut places where the road is just gravel and it’s kind of rough for a road bike, but today I  decided to be different!  I can usually never pass this road without remembering the horrible experience we had at Camp Finbrooke when Libby was in the first grade.  She had the huge head of long blonde curly hair, and when we picked her up after a week of Girl Scout camp, that hair was still in the same braided pony tail we left her in.  After swimming, camping, playing, and not showering for a week, it took forever to get that tangled mess of hair undone and clean.  We vowed never to let her go to Girl Scout camp again! 

After  turning toward Rogersville on Highway U, it wasn’t long before I passed the Elm Grove Church.  For some reason, I like this little country church that was established almost 120 years ago.  The congregation takes pride in their building and grounds, and it shows. 

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I took a pit stop at Rogersville and noted that I had 20 miles on my bike.  At that point, it was starting to get late so I headed home by the straightest route.  I hadn’t really intended to, but I knew that I would have around 34 miles by the time I got home.

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I love commuting, but it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to get out on the road and just ride for fun.  It really felt good to push hard, and even though there was a little wind, I managed to finish the 34 miles with an average speed of 16.9 mph.  I thought that wasn’t too bad considering that I’ve basically been doing 9 mile rides and nothing else for the past 5 weeks or so.

Here’s the GPS link from today.

Hope your weekend was as good as mine!  God bless….

TW


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