Contact Me

     Bicycle Tour 2003 page 2 ...

September 3, 2003

Okay, I confess.  I bugged out of work early today.  I’m guilty! 

I’d like to assert that this was the first in a series of planned training rides.  But of course, the truth is, it was merely a response to an impulse.  I was home from work around 4:30, and after changing clothes, was on the bike by 5:00 or so.  After a brief stint on 45 Highway in Parkville during the height of rush hour traffic (file this under “Bad Ideas”), I was off the beaten path, headed north on Graden Road.  I had never been down this road before, but I knew that it generally leads to the southwest end of Weatherby Lake.  What I did NOT know is that the route consists of some very challenging hills.  On the other hand, EVERY route from my house leads to challenging hills.  Perhaps I need merely to reconsider what I define as “challenging”! 

After a little zig-zag around Weatherby, I came to Barry Road.  With the opening a couple years ago of the new 152 highway, this is a relatively unused stretch of Barry Road.  I intersected the road near the old Grass Pad nursery, and headed west from there.  There’s not much shoulder here, but with relatively little traffic, there was plenty of space to ride.  In only a mile or so, Barry intersects with Highway K (Union Chapel / Hampton Road).  Turning north, I crossed under 152 Highway, and on to a poorly maintained blacktop.  In another mile or so, the road takes you to Tiffany Springs Park, which consists mostly of several large athletic fields. 

I wasn’t aware that these fields existed; after spotting the park on the map, I had imagined it to be acres of rolling hills, picnic tables, and forest.  Instead, I found large parking lots and a lot of dirt.  I was dismayed to discover that there is no drinking water in the park.  (File this artifact under “Not Good”).  After riding about surveying the park, I actually rode a couple miles further north on Hampton Road, hopeful that maybe the northern end of the park would have water.  No deal. 

With ten miles on the odometer, I executed a U-turn and headed back for home.  I had just marked the halfway point of my day’s journey… with less than half of my water remaining.  It wasn’t long before I realized that my water wasn’t the ONLY thing I would have to stretch.  My stamina was waning as well.  I confess, on the last few hills I resorted to walking the bike rather than riding.  It’s not necessarily easier to do so, but it does seem to use different muscles, while simultaneously allowing my tender buttocks a reprieve. 

I arrived home around 7:30, having completed just less than 20 miles.  I can accurately and appropriately say that at this stage of my physical condition, this is beyond my limit.  I have a great deal of training to do before I tackle a 60 mile “Day One” for my tour.  Aging is Hell. 


September 7, 2003

“The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”.  Karl Marx. 

Hey, just as long as it’s PAVED.  Because gravel really sucks on a road bike. 

I set off this afternoon with the intention of completing a two hour ride, hopefully with a decent 10 mile an hour speed average.  That’s about the most I can hope for with the somewhat hilly terrain surrounding my house.  After coping with a reluctant and unmotivated pair of legs through the first two miles, I decided I’d stop off at Dan’s house for a visit.  Who needs painful training when you can socialize? 

Dan and Madeline were hard at work, preparing an ambitious gourmet meal for the evening’s visitors.  Dan’s house is the only place I can think of where one can find such an eclectic menu:  Elk roast, stuffed butternut squash, and beer bread.  Madeline gets credit for the beer bread!  I was amused at the contrast between Dan’s kitchen table, and my own:  Mine is typically strewn with abandoned McDonald’s packaging; Dan’s is entirely covered with what appears to be half the sales at Saturday’s Farmer’s Market.  What the hell is that green leafy stuff? 

After a very pleasant visit (and some speculation about which was the butternut and which was the spaghetti squash), I set off on my return ride.  Returning home from nearly any local ride is always a challenge, as the last two miles or so is pretty much all uphill.  Even more so from Dan’s house, especially since I elected to take the route which avoids downtown Parkville.  This route has a couple of very steep hills, which had me off the bike and walking.  These are no challenge for a mountain bike, but my road bike simply isn’t geared for this sort of thing.  Each time I encounter such a hill, I am thinking about what it will be like to climb even milder hills with a set of panniers (saddlebags) packed with 40 or 50 pounds of gear.  I can only hope that I myself will be a few pounds lighter by the time this occurs!  Let’s see… 220 pounds plus 40 pounds of gear is…  WAY TOO MUCH to be hauling up steep hills. 

A while back, over my lunch hour, I visited the BikeSource in Overland Park.  The hyped-up grunge dude (who I am guessing works on commission) spotted me, and went right to work on selling me a bike.  He was not dissuaded when I told him that I already HAD a bike.  He extoled the virtues of the latest mountain bikes for several minutes, until I told him that I only ride ROAD bikes.  Without missing a beat, he moved to the RACING bikes and continued his recitation of manufacturers’ brochure copy.  “Feel how LIGHT this bike is!” 

Titanium frame, carbon composite fork and wheels, all super lightweight components.  I could lift it easily with two fingers.  It was $3500.  Now he’s showing me a cross-section mock-up of the bike frame.  “See how it’s thicker here where it counts, but thinner in the middle?  They shaved a full TWO POUNDS off of the bike’s total weight compared to last year’s model!”.   Typical bike store rhetoric.  “Last year’s model is passé!  You HAVE to have this years new and improved model!”.  Come to think of it, that’s typical marketing rhetoric for a great MANY products.  I contemplated this remarkable bicycle for a moment before replying to the salesdude. 

Finally, I said:  “Uh, gee… I’m about forty pounds overweight, and struggling like heck to get some exercise and lose a few pounds.  If I really wanted to shave two pounds off the weight of my bicycle load, wouldn’t it just make more sense to cut out the ice cream?”.  Stunned silence.  I did try to salvage the conversation by explaining that I’m just a middle-aged fat boy who is really far more interested in some modest bike touring, with a load of gear (gee, that’s sure gonna negate the two pounds, eh?).  Judging by the blank stare, I had doubts that Extreme Bike Boy had ever even HEARD of bike touring.  He muttered something about carbon fiber and aluminum, and wandered off.  I don’t think I’ll be bothered too much by sales dudes in the bike store again.  I am hopeful that I won’t ever need to actually BUY anything, since I doubt I’ll be able to get waited on.  Admittedly, the hi-tech bike is very cool.  But unless you’re Lance Armstrong, what’s the point?  Three grand for a bicycle?  Get real. 

Extreme Bike Boy should know that there are three or four different versions of road bikes.  There are racing bikes, as he was trying to sell me.  Wouldn’t I look great with shaved legs, lycra tights, and a beer gut?  Then there are road bikes – narrow tires, lightweight but strong frames, spartan appointments.  Touring bikes are beefy versions of road bikes – stronger frames, brazed-on eyelets for racks and packs, wider tires, lower gearing for hauling weight uphill.  Also sometimes classified as “road” are the hybrid bikes, which share many similarities with the touring bikes.  Hybrids often have comfier, wider seats (which frankly impede the pedaling stroke), straight bar handlebars, and a more upright riding position…  somewhat similar to a mountain bike in some regards. 

Ride on, dude.


September 9, 2003

I am a person who, upon waking in the night, typically has a very hard time going back to sleep.  So when I awoke at 4:00 AM today, I had plenty of time to lay in bed and contemplate how much better I’d feel all day if I got up and took a bike ride.  The call of hardening arteries finally got the best of me around 5 o’clock, and I slipped on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt.  The trip to downtown Parkville and back is a mere five miles.  Not exactly a marathon road tour, but the continuous ascent on the return trip makes for a nice workout.  For the record, I definitely feel better all day if I exercise in the morning.  Except for the PAIN part.

Copyright 2009 Brian A. Moffet