Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday Morning Group Ride to Gardner, Kansas - April 28, 2010

I had a nice ride with the Wednesday Morning Group on yesterday.  Temperatures were in the 60's and there was a strong wind, of about 18-20 MPH, directly from the south.  In looking at the weather report for today, as I write this, I don't think I would have gone out as wind is predicted this Thursday to be 30 MPH from the South with gusts up to 40 MPH!  We were buffeted a bit yesterday especially going east or west sideways to the wind but hey we are in Kansas where it is usually always windy!  So tell me why we don't build more wind power in the state rather building more coal powered plants?  Of course that is another discussion.

Ride Leader Ron Johnson led us on his new Specialized Bike that he actually build himself to Gardner, Kansas for lunch and then back to to the BikeSource at 135th Street and Neiman Road where we started. Seen in this picture is Bob and Jon coming north on South Moonlight Drive just before I-35 as we enter Gardner.

I did some research on Gardner and got the following information from the Official Website of The City of Gardner, Kansas. Gardner is named in honor of Governor Gardner of Massachusetts. Nearly all of the early settlers were Free State men and one of the first Free State conventions in the country was held in Gardner in 1858. Gardner was the first town in the State of Kansas to be raided by border ruffians from Missouri, called Bushwhackers. On October 22, 1861, Bushwhackers raided Gardner because of its support of freedom for slaves. Gardner was raided two other times between 1861 and 1863. On June 7, 1886, a petition with fifty signers was filed with the district court providing that Gardner should become an incorporated town.

From Wikipedia, Gardner was formed where the California Trail and Santa Fe Trail divided, sending travelers due west over the mountains and through Colorado and Salt Lake City toward San Francisco or through Sante Fe and Albuquerque toward Los Angeles and San Diego.  A park was build at this split in the tail, called the Gardner Junction, and we did not visit this area on the ride today so more about that another time.  Randy, a ride exploring the the California, Oregon, and Santa Fe Trails would be a nice ramble ride sometime this summer!  I see signs all the time on rides in this area as they are so much a part of the history of Kansas City and west.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat at Bob & Dee's Restaurant on North Moonlight Drive in Gardner and ate at a table outside.  Seated left to right are Larry, Lisa, Randy, Jon, Ron, and Dave.  It was a bit chilly with the wind but still nice to be outside in the sunshine.  Ron also led a discussion on aging related to diet and exercise and how so many Americans are overweight and sedentary which leads to health problems.  Of course we all laughed when a few of the riders had Bob & Dee's famous fried chicken for lunch!

Before heading back I had the waitress snap this shot of the group with Ron's new bike. From left to right are me, Larry, Dave, Lisa, Jon, Randy, and Ron.  Randy left us at this point as he had already rode north to meet the group since he lives in the southern part of Johnson County.  Randy and I do the Kansas Cyclist Podcast together and both of us had some work to do in finishing up Episode 19 later in the afternoon and evening.

We went through the New Century AirCenter from Gardner going north and with the wind at our back we made good time before turning east on 151st Street before turning on South Lakeshore Road then to Dennis Road which turns into 143rd Street.  Unfortunately, I had a blowout in my back tire on Dennis Road just after where we cross over Route 7.  Thanks to the help of Dave and all the equipment I carry for such times I was back cruising with the whole group in about 25 minutes.  The nice thing about this friendly ride is that everyone stays together and that is always important when you have equipment issues even though you don't want to put folks out in waiting.  I think we have all been there, however. The flat broke my streak of going over 14 months without one and of course I was thinking about that when filling my tires before the ride which jinked it for me I am sure!

A map of the ride can be viewed from my Garmin Connect Account and it includes to and from the start at BikeSource from my house.  Total miles were just over 44.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

JCBC 2010 Spring Classic 70 Mile - April 24, 2010

I participated in the Johnson County Bicycle Club's 2010 Spring Classic Ride held on Saturday, April 24, 2010.  When I went to bed Friday night I did not think I would be riding as the weather had been quite awful with lots of rain Friday and tornado warnings right up to 4:00am on Saturday.  After a weather check it looked like we were between fronts so I thought it would be fairly easy to get in the 70 mile route before more rain came in from the west.  For the most part I was right.

The Johnson County Bicycle Club, or JCBC as we call it, serves the Johnson County area of Kansas but I believe many from the Kansas City area of Missouri and others also join or participate.  I have been a member for several years now and I like to support their events as they are all very well organized, and the 2010 Spring Class was no exception.  JCBC also has big rides in June and August called the Lone Star Century and the Cider Mill Century respectively.  I also participate in them.

The 2010 Spring Classic had routes this year of 26, 46, or 70 miles that included the cities of Bonner Springs, DeSoto, Gardner, and Edgerton, Kansas.  The rides started and ended for all routes in Lenexa, Kansas at the corner of 95th Street and Loiret near 95th Street and I-435.  There were SAG stops every 17-18 miles that were well stocked with food and drink along with Porta Johns or bathroom facilities.

One SAG was setup at the corner of 151st Street and Gardner Road which allowed 46 mile riders a chance to stop and 70 mile riders a stop twice as the Edgerton loop started and ended here.  Pictured are volunteers Wayne Tuohig and Don Skinner.  Wayne is a past president of the JCBC and also lives on my street in Overland Park.  He participates in the Quivira Park Bike Group rides I organize, not to far from our houses starting and ending at Quivira Park at 119th Street and Quivira Road, Saturday mornings from May through October.  Don is also a avid cyclist and I know him through the church that we attend together.

The temperature at the start of the ride at 08:00am was around 62F and it was supposed to rise to around 67F.  It was very overcast and winds were only predicted to be around 8-10 MPH coming from the south east.  I spent a lot of time making the decision on whether I needed a light jacket or arm warmers but decided against both because it was fairly humid and I know I would be peddling pretty hard throughout.  It was the right decision until the very end as the rain came back sooner than predicted in the late afternoon just before noon.  Also I wore orange tinted glasses which really help with contrast on a cloudy day.

I had my camera but forgot to take a picture of the Quivira Park Bike Group Riders which included Joe, Kaleb, and Carlo.  We rode together only for a short time but there was a good amount of riders to ride with through about DeSoto where things started to thin out as we headed into the wind going south.  Up until that time I was showing speeds in the high teens and 20s.  The picture of me was taken at the SAG Stop on 151st the second time as I was headed back to the start area.

The winds, in looking at flags, seemed to me to be about 18-20 MPH, so going south was harder than I had predicted.  Once we hit Edgerton and headed north, however, it was delightful as again speeds were back up in the high teens and at times 28 MPH.  There was only one potential disaster north of Edgerton.  A group of three women were riding to the left of me in a pace line on time trail or triathlon bikes when all of a sudden a dog came at us from our right.  I did not see the dog until the last minute and the lead rider almost hit it but the dog backed down when she screamed.  I would have also been in the pile up if she would have hit the dog as we were going around 25 MPH.

The rest of the ride was uneventful except the rain started first in downtown Olathe on Kansas Road and then continued to get harder going up Woodland Road and then hardest once we turned right on Prairie Star Road which turns into 9th Street back to the start area.  There is a nice hill on this secion of Prairie Star Road but not too much fun when it is raining hard and it actually starts stinging as it hits you.  After quickly getting stowing my Trek bike and getting some dry cloths back at the car it was all worthwhile, however.

The posting of my ride is found at Daily Mile and a good map is found on my Garmin Connect Account that I uploaded from my Garmin.  Not much auto stopping of the Garmin today as I only briefly stopped twice because with the cool temperatures I could have made it with only two water bottles and the Cliff Bars and gel that I had brought along.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Trail Ride - April 17, 2010

I started out today thinking that I was going to do some road work but about a half mile out I realized that I forgot my sunglasses and circled back to the house.   Still thinking I was going to go on the road, I instead turned off Neiman Road, south of 135th Street, onto the trail that goes on the south side of St. Andrews Golf Course.  So I sat back and geared down and enjoyed the beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the low 60's and a refreshing and fairly strong east wind.

Maps of all the trails in Johnson County, Kansas are available on the Johnson County Park and Recreation District website.

The map to the left is of the Indian Creek and Tomahawk Trails and I downloaded it from the Overland Park, Kansas website in PDF format then converted to JPG for this post.  The Johnson County Park maps are more detailed but there are four different maps to download to cover the whole county.  Paper maps are also available at various locations that are detailed on their website.

The only complaint I have about the trails is that they are not marked very well so it is easy to get off on a side access trail thinking you are on the main trail.  Also not all the trails connect up very well and again better signage would help.  I use the Indian Creek Trail for Nordic Walking and Roller Skiing and generally head southwest from 119th Street and Quivira.

I worked my way over to the Tomahawk Trail in Leewood, Kansas and stopped at the Tomahawk South Park where there is a memorial to Ali Kemp, who was the 19-year old college student who was home from college the summer of 2002 working at a private neighborhood pool in Leawood.

Tragically, she was beaten to death by a stranger in the pool's pump room the afternoon of June 18, 2002 and there were no witnesses.  This was a huge case in Johnson County, Kansas as it took nearly three years to track down and convict her killer, Benjamin Appleby.  Very sad story and more information can be found at the Ali Kemp website and at The Ali Kemp Educational Foundation Facebook Page.  My wife, Carol, had pointed out the memorial on a ride we did together earlier in the year.  I believe Ali's parents were behind the memorial which also has many saying by Ali on the surrounding benches.

I next stopped by the Tomahawk Parkway Middle Pond which was right off the trail and snapped a picture of my bike.  The trail is on the right and also Tomahawk Creek is further to the right side of the trail.  I thought my podcast partner, Randy, would like this shot as a always make fun of his bike shots.

There are many areas like this all along the trail system to stop and relax and on a day like this there were some beautiful vistas.

Further down the trail, close to the Leawood Park and Aquatic Center, the Tomahawk Trail meets the Indian Creek Trail.  See the picture on the left.

At this point there is also a park bench that was donated in the memory of Don Welsh that had a plaque that I took a picture of, which can be seen in the picture below.  I tried to find some information about Don but by Google searches did not provide me anything definitive since his name is quite common.  I found it interesting that the plague read that Don did not sit around much and ran to the end.  It was a nice memorial to him as he was a runner, teacher, coach, and photographer.

Next stop was at the Leawood Park and Aquatic Center for a pit stop and then I rode along with a couple of other riders on the Indian Creek Trail back to 119th Street where I turned off to get back home.

The ride was close to 24 miles and at an average of 13.5 MPH which is short and slow for me but certainly very enjoyable.  It is also good technical training as the trail does have some nice hills and sharp turns so much different than my usual road riding.  A map of my ride can be found on my Garmin Connect Account.

It is wonderful to know Johnson County offers all these trails as they are very scenic and there are many bridges, like this one, that cross over the Indian and Tomahawk creeks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday Morning Group Ride - April 14, 2010

I went out with the Wednesday Morning Group for a nice ride this morning.  Great sunny day with temperatures in the high 60's but with a very strong southwest wind.  We decided to go into the wind to Spring Hill, Kansas which is southwest of where we start at the BikeSource on 135th and Neiman in Overland Park, Kansas.  The BikeSource is an excellent bike store that used to be located at the corner of 119th Street and Quivira in Overland Park but moved a few years ago to a larger store.  They carry high-end racing, mountain, and recreational bicycles including the whole Specialized line.  I use them quite a bit since they are close to my house.

We had a nice sized group of 9 riders but without our fearless leader, Ron Johnson, who was traveling.  Jerry Radek lead the ride which was about 35 miles.  A map of the ride can be seen on my Garmin Connect Account post and it includes the mileage to and from my house so a few miles longer.

Spring Hill is a small city of about 4,700 residents that is located in both Johnson and Miami counties.  There has been quite a population boom, however, as within a five mile radius the population size is 9,700 and that has doubled since 1990.  According to Wikipedia, in 1856, James B. Hovey named the community after a town near Mobile, Alabama.   The town was incorporated in 1857, and Hovey then served as the town’s first postmaster.  Also that year, Hovey built the first building in town, the Spring Hill Hotel. The two-story structure, also known as the “Old Traveler’s Rest” was located on the highest elevation in town.  We rode past the old downtown area but I did not have enough time to snap a picture nor could I find any good ones on line.  Next time!

We stopped at a gas station for our SAG Stop and I had a passerby take this picture of the group.  Starting on the left is Larry, Chuck, Lisa, Jerry, Jon, Jon, Jake, Ray, and me.

After our SAG we headed back to the BikeSource and it was a breeze with the wind behind us.  The group got a bit separated at times because it was so easy to go 20-25 mph effortlessly.

If you are in the Kansas City area this Wednesday morning ride, listed on the Johnson County Bike Club Ride Calendar, is a nice friendly one that takes many different routes from out into the country to Westport in the city.  They also ride year around and I join them when I can depending on my schedule.  They are listed as a medium paced ride which is about 14-16 mph.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Edward's Life Trek Ride - April 11, 2010

I decided today, that instead of speeding on my bike on one of my many routes that I have put together for the Quivira Park Bike Group, that I would ride part of a couple of routes out to Kill Creek Park past Lake Olathe and on the Twisted Sisters Hills on 135th Street.  It was a beautiful Sunday morning with temperatures at the start around 58 and at the end in the high 60's.

A number of the routes that I have go by Lake Olathe but I had never stopped and looked at the beauty of this man-made lake located in Olathe, Kansas between Santa Fe and Dennis Roads at Lakeshore Drive.  Lake Olathe includes a 208 community park that was dedicated in 1959 and has two fishing docks, one large shelter, three small picnic shelters, and a playground.  The picture was taken from Dennis Road looking North.

My next stop was at Kill Creek Park which is located on Homestead Road between De Soto and Olathe, Kansas, in western Johnson County.  The park is one of three Johnson County regional parks and it was opened in 2001.

Within the 880 acres are four picnic shelters, a swimming beach, a marina, and 17 miles of trails including hiking, mountain bike and equestrian trails and an asphalt trail for walking, hiking and bicycling.

The pictures are of the entrance to the park, above, and the view from the picnic shelter, below, that the Quivira Park Bike Group uses when we do the ride that we call the Kill Creek Park Route.

After a relaxing break at the park I headed east working my way back to 135th Street and the famed Twisted Sisters Hills.  I am not sure who coined these names but I first heard the names from Steve Mitchell who founded the Quivira Park Bike Group four years ago.  Steve has been concentrating on marathon running for the last few years so I took over the leadership of the ride.  He is going to come back this year and actually ran in the St. Louis Marathon today!

This is a picture of Twisted Sister II looking west on 135th Street between North Moonlight Road and South Cedar Niles Road.  You cannot see the bottom of the hill but it is steepest on the west side.

Between the two hills is the Prairie Center which is part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks System.  The main building is located at 26235 West 135th Street at the corner of South Cedar Niles Road.

I have passed the center many times but did not realize that it included a 300 acre tallgrass preserve with trails winding through both prairie and woodlands.  On the property there are eight ponds, which serve as wetlands for wildlife, and a small lake for fishing and water studies.  A bedrock creek provides exploration of aquatic life as well as a look back in time through the fossil remains embedded in the limestone creek bed.

Many of the native prairies, which once blanketed North America, have disappeared.  At the Prairie Center you will see, in mid-summer, many tall native grasses.  There are no public buildings, and public access is restricted to trails and a few gathering areas.  The Prairie Center is open from dawn to dusk seven days a week for trail walking or for fishing in the lake and I now have walking on these trails this summer on my to do list!

I always make fun of Randy Rasa, my partner with the Kansas Cyclist Podcast, on him not taking pictures of himself on his DirtBum Blog.  So this is my attempt to use the timer on my camera.  The picture below is taken on the East side of the Prairie Center looking south on South Cedar Niles Road.

After a brief stop at the Prairie Center I tackled Twisted Sister I which is between South Cedar Niles Road and South Wardcliff Drive.  It is also steeper on the west side and has actually two hills on the east side.

Some riders don't like the Twisted Sisters as you have to not mind going close to 40 mph downhill and then either standing up in your lowest gear or switching to a third front sprocket if you have one.  I actually like hills as it is good training for my Nordic Skiing and it's great for endurance.  The Twisted Sisters are steep but they are not long.  When the temperatures are hot they, like all hills, are much tougher.

This is a picture of Twisted Sister I looking East.  Again you can not see the bottom of the hill.  I love taking riders, who are not from the area on the hills, as most people think that Kansas is all flat.  Those of us from Eastern Kansas know otherwise!

On the ride today I came up with the blog name of Life Trek and also to keep my Garmin on Auto Pause so I can stop and smell the roses!  A map of the ride can be found on my Garmin Connect Account .  Thanks for the inspiration Randy!