October Biking Extravaganza! Trains everywhere!

It’s a rarity when in mid October you get the chance to spend your entire weekend cycling and hanging out with friends, but that’s what I and several others got to do.  Let’s recap!


It was a cold, wet, Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop several of the crew from getting their butts up WAY too early to head down to Overland Park and checkout the REI garage sale.   Derek Rowland put his insomnia to good and was in line before I even woke up that day.   I had spent Friday night drinking around a fire pit with some friends, and had no intention being anywhere before 8:00am.  Eventually Tara, Neil, Treadwell, and Karin joined Derek in various states of caffeinated consciousness, and braved the rain to hunt for some good, returned, gear at REI.  Some items found.  Money was spent.  After their hunt, there were trips to Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken, along with Revolve KC and 816 to get parts for Karin’s new bike build.


Tara, Timber, Dirty Nancy, Brad, and I met up at Velo Garage somewhere around 12:30 pm.  We had a couple beers, and went out for a good 25 mile route with some decent hills to climb.   We headed back south across the river, then up Beardsley road and down to Southwest Boulivard.   We road the length of the Blvd in order to get down to the Shawnee Heights neighborhood were we got stuck behind, not one, but TWO trains.   The first was mid crossing right when we go there, we waited for it, had the gates go up, and started to get our bikes moving, when the gates started coming down again.   Maybe 1 or 2 cars both ways made it through.  Well except for that one idiot who ran the crossing after the gates were down.  We were forced to sit and wait out the second train.  Luckily that train had a decent pace going.

Pulling up to the crossing was also right when my rear tire punctured!   I run tubeless, and Timber and Tara were riding behind me, so they both got a face full of white goo as the wheel spun around.  Just another weekend for them I guess.   Oh wait, this time it was sealant.   My little racoon mascot got soaked as well.  He’ll need a good cleaning.   Luckily the tire sealed itself up after 2 rotations or so.   Once we got through the crossing, the sealant failed for another rotation or two, but then the tire sealed up again and pretty much held for the rest of the ride.

From there we ended up climbed that great hill up to Sauer Castle, cruised the rollers up on Shawnee Rd, and then headed back down towards Southwest Boulivard where that new Carvana tower is and…  GOT STUCK BEHIND ANOTHER TRAIN!  Ugh..  I’m beginning to feel like I’m bad luck when it comes to train crossings.

After the crossing we headed up the climb on Roanoke Rd, up through Roanoke Park, and eventually  across town on Linwood over to Gilham, and made our way down to Brewery Emperial, our mid ride beer stop.  There were pretzels, maybe some sausage (Dirty Nancy ordered that, of course), and some good ales.   We refreshed, we crossed over to the Paseo, hit Cliff Drive, the Goose Neck, and then  descended down into the eat bottoms.  Nancy and Brad left us as we got into the Columbus Park / Rivermarket area to go hit up an Oktoberfest Celebration and later dance the night away.  Timber also took off there to go meet up with Bryn on a secret mystery date he had planned for that evening.   Tara and I crossed back over to Velo, my tire starting to get pretty damn low, to finish out the ride with a couple of beers before we called it a day.   It was a good ride: 25 miles with about 1200 feet of climb.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain Calories Burned

I of coarse went home, tried to find the puncture, couldn’t, aired the tire back up to my preferred pressure, and figured it’d be good to go for the next day.


Well, I woke up rearing to go, cause it was a GRAVEL Day!  More importantly, it was a ride that I didn’t have to organize!  I was just going to be along for the fun on this one, as Karin took the lead in “almost” organizing :).  I got up to take my dog out and was so happy, as I was walking by the front door, to notice that my rear tire was now flat!  Ugh..  I guess the sealant didn’t fully seal the tire up after all.  I could have spent the time trying to find the leak, patch it, and get it all back and ready to go before our 9:00 am meet time, but I decided I didn’t want to waste the time, and I had an extra tire ready to go.  So, after feeding Mouse, I pulled a quick tire change.  I got geared up, and got all the way down to Olathe pretty much on time.  Ok, Maybe I was a few minutes late.

We met up a fun restaurant called Foody’s.  As I entered a kind gentleman host approached me.  I saw the table with our crew and told the gentleman I was going to join them.  He immediately asked, “Would you like to start off with what they are starting off with?”  I asked, “What are they starting off with?”

“Bailey’s and Coffee”


He smiled and said it’d be right out and I went over to join the crew.  It was a damn fine Bailey’s and Coffee too.

So who was the Crew?  Tara, Karin, and Treadwell Jones were already there.  Neal joined us shortly there after, after having to make a turn around on the way down to go get his forgotten helmet, and the 5 of us  had a great breakfast.  Nancy and Brad showed up as we were finishing our breakfast, and then Captain America, Steve Rodgers said, “To Hell with all the damn house work!” and showed up to have a little fun in the rocks.  Finally, to complete the crew, Lynne showed up right around 10:00 am for our little morning fun ride.

Sometime after 10:00 we finally hit the road and headed south towards Gravel!  We road through a couple miles of pavement in what was probably one of the best peloton line’s we’ve ever had, Karin pulled most of it and we were  averaging close to 15 mph into the wind.  Nicely done Karin.   We then hit our first bit of gravel which was, honestly, kind of a rough.  Try to ride outside of the wheel ruts, and you’re in for a bad time.   The rough spot only lasted about a mile though, then we took our first stop and took time to adjust our layers for the day.  It definitely was a bit chilly, but once we got moving, full finger gloves, outer jackets, these things needed to come off.

After that we got on to some pretty firmly packed gravel/dirt.   Again, despite the head wind, we were keeping a decent pace, averaging around 13.5 mph.  There were several other groups out on the gravel as well.  One of which recognized those in our crew that road Lap the Lakes as “The fireball shots guys.”   Team Bad Decisions infamy grows.

We continued our ride south until we got to Hwy 68, and road along the tight shoulder there for a couple miles in order to get to the Louisburg Cider Mill.  I had heard of this place before, but had no idea how larger this place was.  Specially for their Fall, pumpkin patch setup.   Pumpkin Patch, Corn Maze, Food Trucks, Stage, Cider, Homemade Donuts, and a GIGANTIC inflatable bouncy pillow.  I’d say bounce house, but there were no walls.   Just a giant pillow that had to be 5-6feet tall that they were letting kids jump on.   I was honestly surprised not to see kids getting bounced off the thing.   Anyway, the place was packed, and traffic on the highway trying to get into the place was so backed up, that they had Sheriff’s patrol there helping to direct and get cars into and out of the parking lot.  We wound our way through all the instragram models there for their “Fall Country Weekend” posts to get some Cider and some donuts.  It’s completely possible that a flask of fireball made its way around the group enhancing the cider some.

We then caught up with Timber and Bryn who drove down to meet up with us and also get their Halloween pumpkins and their own instagram photos at the Cider Mill.   Then, Jeff W. arrived down at the Mill with Addie in tow and a cooler full of beverages.  Sodas.  With Koozies to ensure we weren’t promoting any particular brand of Soda.  That’s our story.  Soda.  Team Bad Decisions will except sponsorship, but none of these sodas were from sponsored brands.  So, we covered them so as to not influence the young ones who saw us and obviously thought we were awesome for biking down there.

After our brews sodas, Lynne said her farewells in order to ride back with Jeff and Addie as they had get Addie back north to hand-off with Addie’s mother.  Thusly, Lynne had to sadly miss the part of the ride where we finally had the wind to our back and were able to KICK IT!

Before we took off from the Mill though, the Timmie’s recommended a winery that was only a couple miles away, and the turn off was on our route back.   After doing some quick math to ensure we could make it back to our cars before we lost daylight, we gladly agreed to the plan.   So we headed a bit further south to Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery.   A quaint little winery out in the middle of God’s country that had some decent musicians playing an acoustic set, several awesome dogs running about, and gave us an opportunity to try an amazing SANGRIA SLUSHY!   Yeah…  Move over 7eleven.  Big Gulp this!

For the ride back, we decided to just take the reverse of the route we took getting out there.   This got the group off of Hwy 68 as quick as possible which was good because that shoulder was pretty tight.  Odd feeling when your on a 3 foot paved shoulder and a big rig pulling a 53 foot trailer passes you.   The ride back was tons of fun.   Here’s a few highlights.

  • Captain America almost got run over pulling a U-Turn to go get a beach ball on the side of the road
  • Tara an Captain tried to play a game of “Keep the Beach Ball Going” while on bikes.
  • From one the places we stopped we were able to see a great view the country side and ANOTHER FREAKING TRAIN coming our way and threatening to block our path yet again!   When had a bit of an uphill race questioning if we would be able to beat the train too the crossing.  Luckily we were able to beat it.
  • Plucky (Karin) threw in her earbuds and began to kill it!  I tried my best to keep pace with her or at least stay within “striking” distance, and we were making some good time.  I’d have been proud of myself for keeping that pace on pavement.

We wound our way back to Foody’s, found our cars, and completed a fun 45 mile ride with close to 2000 ft of climb. Nancy and Brad said farewell and then Karin, Treadwell, Tara, Neal, Steve, and I headed to the nearby Peanut bar for a few post ride drinks and appetizers.  Honestly it was a great day’s ride.  Karin said it wasn’t really organized, but I don’t know what more organizing could have done.  We had a basic route to work with, a meeting location and departure time, and enough flexibility to let our group be ourselves, which seems essential for Team Bad Decisions.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain Calories Burned

Post ride thought?   It doesn’t matter if its fall you pale bastard.  Put some sunblock on your face you moron.

Here’s some Pics from the weekend.



Lap the Lakes 2019

When you’re yearning to ride some sweet Kansas gravel, where else to go than Emporia, Kansas? Thanks to the Jones Brain Trust (mostly Karin), we made tentative plans a few months ago to ride in the Lap the Lakes Gravel Grinder race in mid-October. Somewhat uncharacteristically, I registered before the deadline, committing myself to the joy and, possibly, suffering that comes with riding 100km (appr. 62 miles) of gravel. Also registered? Karin, Treadwell, Derek, Neal and Jeff W. 

Jeff and I arrived early Friday evening to the Airbnb Karin had reserved for the weekend and the entire group enjoyed a lovely family dinner of Karin’s famous spaghetti gravy and meatballs, salad, garlic bread and…three bottles of wine. After some last minute bicycle futzing and layer strategizing, we went to bed early enough to get a solid 7 hours of sleep. Good Decisions: 1 | Bad Decisions: 0 

6 a.m. came very, very quickly. Fortunately for anyone who neglected to set an alarm, there was a train rolling through town just a few blocks away, blasting its horn exactly the way a train should when passing through town. Also good:  Jeff scheduled the coffee maker to start brewing at 6 so we had hot, fresh coffee waiting when everyone got up! After a delicious eggs/bacon/oatmeal/fresh fruit breakfast, everyone layered, loaded up their gear, and headed out to ride. It was a beautifully crisp 30 degrees out. 

It was a little chilly.

We rode the short distance to the start of the race on Commercial St. in front of Mulready’s and Gravel City Adventure, where most race participants were already gathered. After a brief safety and information announcement from the race organizer and a nip from the steel banana, we followed the Emporia PD escort a short distance out of town to the main event: gravel. It was still very cold. I kept removing my gloves to mess with a borrowed Garmin 830 only to later realize that my gloves are touchscreen compatible and I didn’t need to remove them at all. Good Decisions: 1 | Bad Decisions: 1

The first ten or so miles were glorious. The chilly, sunshine-y fall morning was refreshing af compared to the oppressive heat and humidity of summer. Everyone had the appropriate layers to be comfortable and not overly warm or sweaty while moving. Around mile 12 or 13, we stopped for a beer and some pulls of whiskey, which I’m told is a very normal 9 a.m. activity. While we were stopped, the race organizer, who is also a member of the Emporia PD, drove past us in the SAG vehicle. We may or may not have offered him beer and whiskey. Good Decisions: 1 | Bad Decisions: 2 

I was getting cold standing around so I rode ahead. The next segment of the ride was beautiful — plenty of Konza Prairie vistas and undulating terrain. As I approached Lake Kahola, I saw signs for the the KOM/QOM challenge and shortly thereafter a couple 200km riders blew past me like I was standing still. One of them was on a single speed. Jeff caught up to me at the top of the hill and we rode down to the checkpoint together. For those who did Lunar Kanza this year – the KOM/QOM challenge was the reverse of the one for Lunar…we came at the hill from the opposite direction. 

Checkpoint 1 was a great opportunity to drink some water (and beer) and have a snack. We probably overstayed our welcome, but the volunteer did tell us we were the most entertaining group she’d encountered, so. Good Decisions: 1 | Bad Decisions: 3 

We moved on after a refuel and some shenanigans. At this point, we were absolutely the very last 100km riders and 100% okay with it. The weather was ideal and only getting warmer. We shed layers as we rode, stopping periodically to remove arm warmers, jackets, buffs and gloves that had been essential in the morning but were becoming bothersome under the cloudless, radiant sky. At one de-layering/beer stop, Neal noticed that his rear tire was low and paused to deal with it while the rest of us admired the landscape and took pulls of whiskey. A few minutes later, Neal realized the temporary fix would not hold for the next 35 miles, so we took a little gravel sabbatical that included snacks, hydration and documenting the experience. There was Fireball and beef jerky. We came to the conclusion that the 5 Second Rule definitely applies to rural gravel/dirt roads in Kansas. Good Decisions: 1 | Bad Decisions: 4

Sorry, Neal!

A short while after our sabbatical, we arrived at checkpoint 2, where the lovely volunteers were similarly amused by our approach to what was supposed to be a race. Having finished far too much whiskey and far too many beers, we took our time at this point to eat a proper meal of sandwiches, dried mango and pretty much anything else we had with us. Refueling was good and necessary; we still had about 20 miles to ride. Added challenge: the next 20 miles were into a strong (19 mph) and gusting (up to 30 mph) head and cross wind.

Checkpoint 2: Clearly pre-headwind

I really hate strong winds. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun – it was just Type II fun. The kind of fun I can enjoy and relish now that it’s over and I conquered it and didn’t quit. Oh, there was also a small water crossing, which was an unexpected surprise. You can watch Karen’s version here (language very NSFW, but highly recommend watching with the sound on):

The last 20 miles were definitely the hardest mentally. We were fighting the wind the entire time and everyone was pretty tired. For four of the six of us, it was our longest gravel ride to date. All of my gratitude to Karin for repeatedly telling me I was fine and that we were actually going to make it back to Emporia. We did, eventually, and it felt great. Even going up the hill at the end (very slowly) that apparently every ride from Emporia includes felt great. When we crossed the finish line (there was a real finish line!!), the race organizer confirmed that we were the last of the 100km riders to finish. We didn’t win the race, but we certainly won the party. Good Decisions: 2 | Bad Decisions: 4

Post-ride, we headed to Gravel City Adventure (duh). The kind gentleman manning the shop offered us beer, which we graciously accepted. Much, much later, Neal’s bed broke and my back tire developed a flat.  Overall, a great weekend and 70 miles of gravel done and dusted.

Random Thoughts:

  • There was a lot of impromptu singing/rapping on this ride: Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer // Neal’s Tire Needs Some Air; The Clash/Grateful Dead classic I Fought the Law // I Fought the Wind. You get the idea.
  • We finished just ahead of the first 200km finishers. Full results here.
  • Everyone’s favorite: photos!

Final Score:
Good Decisions: 2
Bad Decisions: 4

A Warm Kentucky Hug!

It’s been a minute, so I guess it’s time for me to finally recap our weekend in Kentucky for the  Bourbon Country Burn.  For those that may have forgotten, or who joined us during this past summer season, last year two members of our team got married in October; Megan and Jeff Boos.   At around the same time, I learned from Derek Nelson (member of Team Good Beer and a good friend) about this ride in Kentucky that combines cycling with bourbon tasting, which I thought sounded awesome.  Several of us on Team Bad Decisions discussed it and chipped in together to give Megan and Jeff  their registration into the Bourbon Country Burn as a wedding gift.   From the moment they said, “I do,” we knew this trip was on.

So who went?  Well, obviously Megan and Jeff were there, but also Craig Miller and myself.  We also met up with Derek and Cori Nelson while down there who road with Team Good Beer.  Mark Scrivner and Dan Cunningham from the Velo Garage Thirsty Thursday Ride were also there (psst..  Mark had a pretty nasty fall on day 2.  Ask him about it.   Crazy ass hill that we all descended and he blew a tire).

Megan, Jeff, Craig and I got up SUPER early on a Thursday morning, and car pooled out the Lawrence KS to pick up the RV we rented for this trip.  The way this ride worked was, there was a base camp setup at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground in Lexington Kentucky.  Each day, you’d set out from there, and then return back to the main base campsite every night.  An RV was perfect because they had dedicated RV spaces that we could plug into for electric and water.  I’m now a convert.  RV camping is awesome.  Not that I’ll never primitive tent camp again, but man is RV camping easier.   Anyway, we picked up our RV in Lawrence.  That took a little longer than we’d expected, but it’s probably good that everyone got the tour of the RV and learned all of its functions.   The one we got was pretty damn similar to the RV took to RAGBRAI.

We hit the road!  Then drove that road… then drove it some more, then drove some more.  If you’re unaware, it’s a pretty long trip to Lexington, plus there’s a timezone change.  So despite the fact that we left our houses at 5:30 am, we didn’t get to Lexington until around 9:30 pm eastern time.   Also, when we got there we guessed, that we may have hit a skunk somewhere along the way cause…  Wooo…!   Luckily the smell only lingered for a couple hours.  We parked, setup camp, had a beer or 2, and then finally went to bed to get ready for the next day.


We awoke in our awesome RV.   We got ready and discussed what we wanted to do.  The organizers of this ride offered riders options every day.   There always was a Short, Medium, and Long route, and on a couple days, they added a couple more routes in.   On Friday and Saturday, there was a casual route that was only 22 miles long.   Saturday, there was also an optional Century route.  We’ll get to Saturday in due time though.   Each route had slight differences in what distilleries you’d ride by.   On Friday, the Long route offered 2 distilleries, whereas the medium and short route didn’t offer any.   However!  The casual route offered 2 in downtown Lexington.   Since it was our first day, we didn’t feel like putting in 70+ mile and 4500+ feet of climb, and we were giving high value to seeing distilleries, we decided to start with the Casual route.   This route was an out and back route on a dedicated bike path from the Horse Park into downtown Lexington.  About 11 miles each way.   The trail was in fantastic shape.   At first as we were riding though, we were thinking we might be the only people that decided to take the casual route that day, because we didn’t see ANYBODY.   Turns out though, we were just late starters.   As we road on, we eventually started catching up to other Bourbon Burn riders who had made a similar choice.   There we started the usual chat and banter that accompanies such events.   This is where we first learned about a plan that we would put into action on Saturday!   Eventually we stopped at our first Distillery.  It was about 10:00am Kentucky time if your keeping score.  Bluegrass Distillery.   This is a local distillery that you’re not going to be able to find in many places outside of the Lexington area.   They had 3 or 4 whiskey’s for us to try right away (free).  The ones I remember are an apple cider based whiskey,  their small batch barrel strength bourbon, and their Rye whiskey.  As you progressed down their sampler, the proof of their liquor went up.  Very nice <wink wink>.   It was here that I bought my first bottle.   If you bought a bottle of their small batch reserved bourbon, you got to fill and label the bottle yourself straight from the oak barrel.  So of coarse I did that!   The organizers of the ride were also smart in that they organized a Sherpa service.  Any bottles you bought at the sponsored distilleries, could be left there, collected, and would be delivered to the base camp for you.  No need to ride with several bottles of whiskey on your bike!

From Bluegrass we hopped back onto our bikes and headed deeper into downtown and quickly got to a company that was both brewery and distillery:  Lexington Brew Co and Town Branch Distillery.   When we got there, we’d just missed our opportunity to join a group for the full tour, which would have included the brewery and the distillery, but were told that if we waited a few we could join for the distillery half.   Otherwise we’d have to wait over an hour to take the full tour.  So we sat back and had a beer as we waited.   Then we joined the group for the distillery tour.  Interesting that this place uses the same wart that they use for their beer to distill down for their whiskey as well.  they had pipes running from the brewery to the distillery to transport the wart.  Town Branch had a pretty nice setup and we learned several things about the distilling… and the tasting process.    That warm burn you get down your throat and chest when you drink whiskey?   They call that the “Kentucky Hug!”   We like that.   Our tasting guide also taught us about the “Kentucky Chew,” which is a way to taste/drink Ryes and other hot, high ABV whiskeys without having an overpowering/uncomfortable Kentucky Hug.  Ask me and I’ll show you some time.  It’s pretty cool.  Town Branch had several whiskeys to try, along with a Rum, a Gin, and something of their own creation called the Sundown.   It’s Bourbon mixed with coffee, brown sugar, and a few other things.  When mixed with hot water and heavy cream, it makes a delicious desert drink.   I may have gotten a bottle 🙂   actually, I bought three different bottles from that place.

After that, as we road our way back across Lexington, we came upon a restaurant called the Country Club smoke house.  It was lunch time, so we figured we’d stop for a bite.   They had smoked chicken wings that offered an option of sauced or dry rubbed.   I figured I’d take it easy on myself, go the less spicy route and take the dry rubbed.    I was wrong!  I don’t know their exact dry rub recipe, but it sure as hell wasn’t the lesser option.   Those suckers had some heat.  Full on sinus opening, sweating, coughing heat.  They were good though.  I was just unprepared.

We got back to base camp eventually and got cleaned up and ready for the evening.   At base camp that night, they had a full catered pasta meal.  Not the greatest pasta, but pretty good for catering to about 1000 people.  After that, the bourbon tastings and music began.   They had several good bluegrass bands play which were fun just to have going in the back ground as we made our way to several bourbon companies tasting tents.   We each got a punch card for each evening that entitled us to four, 1/2 oz. tastings and 1 beer.   At first I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to taste everything, and that it wouldn’t be enough.   I was wrong.   1.  None of the tasting tents were only pouring 1/2 oz pours.   They were all full 1 oz. shots.  So you got a good portion.  2, thanks to us being to nice and friendly, talking to other riders, making friends along the way, several people kept giving us their unused punch cards.   By the end of the evening, we’d all been able to try every liquor that was there to be tasted, had had a couple beers, and had extra beers that we were able to take back to the RV and put in our fridge.   We had a good time :).


So, I mentioned that someone gave us a great idea about how to go about Saturdays routes.   There were 3 options that offered the possibility of stopping by distilleries.   The Medium and Long routes had 1 potential distillery stop; Woodford Rerserve.   The Century had 2 with an optional un-sponsored 3rd; Woodford, Four Roses, and Wild Turkey was along the way, but there would be no SAG or Sherpa service there.  The Medium Long, and Century all passed through the town of Versailles Kentucky on the way to the Distilleries and then came back through on the way back.  What was recommended was to load up your car, drive to Versailles, ride the Century route from there to all the distilleries, and then call it a day when you got back to Versailles.  This sounded like a fantastic way to approach the day.   We had to do it with an RV and not a car, but we made it work.   We disconnected from the shore, loaded up and drove out to Versailles first thing in the morning.  There we parked in a Kroger parking lot and hit the road.  The back country roads the route took us on where absolutely gorgeous.  Amazing horse farms at first, and then we started getting into the Kentucky River Valley area where the rollers began to get a little steeper and more frequent, but the scenery was amazing.  It was a cool morning, and our legs were fresh.  It was a fantastic start to the day.   We were also well ahead of the rest of the riders, but as you can expect, that didn’t last long.   We were stopped on the side of the road to take pics of an amazing barn, when the first pace line of riders out doing the full century road past.  I’m sure they were asking themselves, “how did these jokers get out here before us?”  Then there was a woosh as they road past and were gone.  We got back on our bikes and road on.   At about mile 9-10 we reached Woodford Reserve.  We stopped at the SAG Stop to replenish our water bottles and have some snacks, then we went up into the WR visitors center.  There we signed up for one of their tastings, visit the gift shop, and generally looked around for a bit.  It’s a really nice/classy place.  Well done.  At the tasting, we got to try their Straight Bourbon, their double oaked bourbon (bourbon that goes through a second aging in a heavier charred oak barrel), and their Rye.   We got to teach several of other riders and guest about how to do the Kentucky chew.  Megan was later stopped by some of the other ladies in the tasting and thanked.  After the tasting, I purchased the a bottle of Woodford Reserve Rye with “Team Bad Decisions 2019!” etched into the glass bottle.   Super cool.  Looking forward to sharing it with you all.

One of the things that amazed me while we were there, was the number of cyclist that didn’t stop!  Or, only stopped for a quick SAG break and road right through.   These are the century riders of coarse.   Here we’ve got a route, specifically designed to take you to these awesome venues, and they ride right though.  I’ve mentioned to several of you that I’ve learned to love the motto, “smiles over miles” when it comes to cycling.  I must not forget that there are still those that feel “smiles come from miles.”   Different philosophies I guess, but I definitely like mine better.  Less misery in-between.

So we took off again from W.R. and got back at it.   This is were the hills began to really show up.  My new Garmin (thanks Derek) has a hill profile feature that will show you the  hill, how many feet of ascent are left, and how many miles of road are left as you go about your climb.  It also color codes the hill by gradiant so that you can see how difficult the climb is going to be.  You know you’re in for it when that pops up, you see 450 ft of climb over the next 1.25 miles and most of the profile is either Red or Darker Red.  Wow…   Some of the harder climbs I’ve ever done, I did on this day.  There were several of them.   After a few descents into and climbs back out of the Kentucky River valley, we gather up as a group and took stock of what was ahead.  If we attempted to stick to the Century Loop, there was going to be about 2000 ft of climbing that we’d have to do to get to Four Roses and Wild Turkey over about a 15 mile out and back strech.  Did we think we’d survive that, or should we cut those distilleries out and stick to an altered route that was part of the century, but lacked those 15 miles?   It probably was doable, but I’m pretty glad we didn’t.  I think we’d have been miserable.

There was one problem with the altered route we took though.  We failed to see that we were also cutting out a few SAG stops with our altered route.  We ended up having to stop in a nice lady’s yard at the top of one of the many climbs  and ask if we could refill our water bottles, as we were bone dry.  Luckily…. she’d just purchased a new water faucet for her kitchen and was happy to show it off!   We all thought it was a very nice faucet and thanked her kindly.   She also gave us a few hints on other places coming up we could stop if needed.   Eventually we made our way back to Versailles.   There we found a restaurant, Ricardo’s Grill and Pub, that was offering a special to riders on the Bourbon Burn.  We had some fried pickles, fried banana peppers, some amazing burgers, and a few cold beers to finish off our ride.   We then trekked back to our RV, loaded up, and drove back to base camp.

That night at base camp, they had brought in several food truck vendors for our evening meal.  For those that got their food early, it was fantastic.  Those that waited until later in the evening ran into problems with the food trucks running out of food.  We were in the middle.  What we really wanted was gone, or had incredibly long lines for, but we were able to get some papa John’s pizza.  Not the best, but hey..  we didn’t care.  We needed carbs.    Once again there were several great bourbons available for us to taste that night and more bluegrass music to listen too.   One of Jeff’s old friends who now lives in the Cincinnati area was able to drive down to Lexington and join us for the evening at base camp.  Once again people were handing us their unused punch cards, because we look like friendly people who like bourbon, and the pours were still full 1 oz. pours,  so there was more than enough bourbon and beer to go around.   After the tasting we all hung out, outside the RV on our lawn chairs, talking, listening to baseball, and having a fine end to our evening.


Sunday morning we got up, a little soar from the day before, and hit the road for the Medium route, which was a 48 mile route that took us to 1 distillery:  Hartfield & Co in Paris Kentucky.   This morning’s route took us through some beautiful rolling farmland along horse farms.  We even came upon one where the horses had all come to the fence line to see what was going on, so of coarse we stopped for pictures.  Paris was about 20 miles into the route and was our second SAG stop of the day.   While at Hartfield and Co, we got to taste several of their liquors.  They had rums, tequilas, bourbons, and interestingly an Oktoberfest whiskey that started from a Wart that a local brewery used for their Oktoberfest beer.  They just distilled it down to a whiskey that was pretty interesting.  I picked up a bottle of their bourbon though cause… well that’s what I was there for.

After that stop, we started heading south into a bit of a head wind.  It added a decent amount of difficulty and I pulled away from the rest of the group, which was good because they weren’t around to see me pull into the final SAG stop.   It was in the parking lot of a little country store/restaurant at the corner of two county highways called the Windy Corner Market.   They’d just put down a new layer of gravel on the parking lot, and I wasn’t paying attention as I pulled in and turned a bit too hard.  My front wheel dug into the gravel, slid out, and down I went.   Came out relatively unscathed though.  I was pretty dusty, and sprained my wrist a little bit, but I’ll take it cause it could have gone a lot worse.   It was then that I discovered that the crash detection feature on my Garmin does indeed work!  It was trying to text Megan and Jeff to let them know I’d fallen.   Now the blue tooth connection with my iphone had somehow gotten disconnected, so it couldn’t send the text, but it was cool to know that it was trying and that it did accurately detect the crash.    So I hung out and waited a good while for Megan, Jeff, and Craig to show up, which was good cause I needed to get cleaned up some.  When the group finally caught up, we went into the Market and all had some fantastic Po-boy sandwiches, which was their specialty.

For the rest of the ride, I made a good push to finish out as strong as i could, which with the wind, and my slightly sprained wrist was harder than expected.  Still, I feel I finished strong.  We got back, had a couple celebratory beers, and then got cleaned up.

That evening, we decided to Uber to downtown Lexington and see what they had to offer.   Our first choice for a restaurant was pretty booked, so we had to wonder around some, but found another place that was more of a latin american place and advertised, “The best Margaritas in Lexington.”   Well..  Let’s find out.  Yep!  Pretty good.  Honestly it was nice to get a bit of a break from all the bourbon.  The margaritas and other various beach style drinks were a nice change of pace.  Craig had one made with beat juice, which I think he’s insane for getting, but oh well.  We had some terrific tacos, tamales, guac, chirizo enhanced queso dip, and some empanadas.  The food was amazing and we were all in good spirits.  On the Uber back to the camp site, we had a bit of an adventure trying to get our driver to stop so that we could pick up a bag of ice for our coolers and for cocktails back at the campsite, but a phone call to one of Craig’s friends who speaks fluent Spanish was able to ensure that we got what we needed.

That night, we prepped our campsite and RV for an early departure, then we toasted to our weekend with some tasty old fashioneds, chit chatted for a bit, and then hit the hay for an EARLY (5:00 am) departure the next day to drive back to KC.

Now some of you from the RAGBRAI trip may be thinking, those jerks got through the trip without any problem with their RV!  Don’t speak too soon.   for the most part, it was uneventful.   We popped the breaker to the AC at one point and had to figure out why the AC wasn’t working, and we discovered a couple points of per-existing damage to the RV while we were on the road, but for the most part, yeah… It went really well.    UNTIL……

We made it all the way back to the KC area and decided that instead of taking the RV out to Lawrence, unloading it, reloading our vehicles that we left there, and driving back to KC to unload again, that we would just unload and clean in KC before returning the RV.  As we pulled up to Jeff and Megan’s house in Waldo, we clipped a tree along the side of the road.   The damage was minor.  The awning caught the trunk of the tree and tore a little.   We were able to push and lean the RV away from the tree so that we could drive the RV away without any more damage, but about an 8″ tear remained in the awning fabric.  Ugh…   So we’re waiting to hear what that’s going to cost us.  We just can’t win when we rent RVs, but that’s part of the game I guess.  I’m pretty sure the security deposit will cover this one too.  Man…

Anyway!  It was a fantastic trip.   That ride is super well organized.  Which is really amazing considering that this is only it’s third year.   Everything about it; the registration, the camp setup, food, tastings, route, SAG Stops, Swag, Sherpa service, and information; was well run.  You can tell that the organizers have participated in quite a few rides and knew what they wanted when the started.  They say that they don’t intent to grow the Kentucky Bourbon Country Burn any more.   They’ve reached the size they want and don’t want it any bigger.  Which is cool.  It’s a fun vibe and I could see that if it got much bigger, there would be a whole new mess of problems to address and it couldn’t be run quite as tight as it is now.   For now, it’s a premium event for people who love cycling, love Bourbon, and don’t mind it’s premium nature.   They did, however, say that they were considering creating a different ride to do something similar, but this time in Tennessee.  Get your Tennessee Whiskey face on!  Their level of organization does inspire me and make me think that we could pull something similarly well organized.  Maybe not something quite so big, but I think it’d be cool if TBD setup it’s own regularly scheduled biking event.  Some may have heard me mention another ride that we learned about that’s got a fun twist: The Tour de Donut in Troy Ohio.   We may try to organize something similar.  Stay Tuned!



This past weekend was the annual Tour de BBQ ride to raise money for Children’s Mercy and KU Med’s work to treat pediatric cancer, and Team Bad Decisions had a good turn out.  We also picked up some additional friends for the ride!  Nancy F., Drew, Megan B., Jeff B., Craig, Tara, Robert, Keith T, Chris B., Regina W., Joseph B., and I all took to the 35 mile route.  Though I didn’t stick around at the end long enough to see her finish, Karin Jones also was out on the 62 mile route.  It was a nice day to be out on the bike.

The 35 mile route took off from the Prariefire shopping center in Overland Park somewhere around 8:30 in the morning.  They let groups out in waves to keep our disruption to traffic minimal.  As would be expected, we were not in the first wave 🙂   We took off at a nice leisurely pace in the second wave and made our way through OP to Burnt Ends BBQ near Metcalf and 119th.  There they had a pretty good Breakfast Burrito with Pulled Pork mixed into it for us to munch on.  From there we took off on the next leg, and the group spread out pretty well up until we got to the next stop.

Chris B, Keith T., and I kicked out with a pretty decent pace and pushed ahead, pretty much catching up with the first wave of riders by the time we got to BB’s Lawn side BBQ in KCMO down off of 85th St.  We were all welcomed by a pretty lively group of volunteers serving Jambalaya mixed with BBQ Sausage.  We also quickly found that their bar was open and that they had a special going on with PBR buckets (That’s Pabts Blue Ribon for the uneducated).   So we grabbed one and waited for the rest to show up on their shaded deck.  Tara, Robert, Nancy, Drew, Joseph, and Regina were the next group to show up.  They had gone off route and ended up taking the Trolley trail down to BB’s.  They too picked up a couple buckets of PBR.   Megan, Jeff, and Craig brought up the rear gaurd and joined us, though they missed the update about PBR buckets and bought themselves some fancy, highfalutin beers.  By the time we finished up all our beers, we were pretty much at the back of the second wave of riders again.  We didn’t care.  We were there for the fun of it, and we had a short cut, or at least we thought we did.

The majority of the crew left BB’s, and immediately went off route to try to cut over to the Indian Creek Trail.  That, we knew, would take us down to Blue River Rd, get us within a couple miles of the next stop (Jack Stack’s BBQ in Martin City), and all without having to climb all the nasty hills that the main route took up Wornall.  We thought we were being clever.   Somehow, Chris Bobal didn’t get the memo that we were going off route and we got separated.  He ended up sticking to the main route.  So the rest of us started making are way east on 85th and then wanted to head south on Blue River Rd, but we found ourselves blocked by a train.  If this becomes a regular thing on our rides, I may have to start rethinking my bike routes.   Anyway, the train came to a stop, blocking the crossing, so we decided to send Robert out on his big fancy mountain bike  to see if he could see how far away the end of the train was and if we could get around it.   He came back pretty quickly stating that the end of the train was just a ways down and we could easily get around it.  Those of us with road bikes picked up our bikes and started walking down the second rail line to go around.  We then got to the point that Robert thought was the end of the train, only to learn that it wasn’t the end, they had just hooked up a couple engines in the middle of the train.  We had no idea how long the full train was, but this was a bad sign.  Then we heard a train whistle and discovered that another train was coming down the track we’d been walking on.   Ugh..   So we all huffed it back to the crossing.   There was a little moment of tension from Megan as she feared for her new husbands life, as he was further down the rail than she was, but in the end, the second train was moving pretty slowly and we all made it back safely.   So then we had to take a detour to find a way around the train.   We did, but it also added about 4 miles on to our route.  Urg… not what I was hoping for, but Indian Creek trail is a really nice trail, so it was a good ride.  Chris B. ended up getting to Jack Stack’s about a 1/2 hour before us.   He waited a bit, but eventually road on with out us and finished out his ride.

Oh!  Right as we got on to Indian Creek Trail, Nancy failed to have enough speed as we had to  make a 1 ft. traversal across grass from a parking lot to the trail.  She, and her brand new bike, took a spill.   Nancy got away with just a scraped up knee, but more importantly, her bike was mostly OK.  Mostly because her front disc breaks must have shifted and were now squeaking as she road.  Nothing looked too serious though.  At Jack Stack’s we got her cleaned up a little, and tried a little bike surgery to get rid of the squeak, with mild success.  It was still squeaking some, but the wheel was spinning and she could finish the day out.

The nice thing about Jack Stacks is, It’s RIGHT NEXT to Martin City Brew Co.  We we had to make a stop there, right?  So we did!   We held to a single round, but it was a good time.  After recharging our batteries with beer, we took off for the short 3 to 4 mile jaunt back over to Prairiefire.  There we were greeted with some more free BBQ, some free Goose Island IPA, or Michelob Ultras, and a cool place in the shade to stand around and joke around for a while.  All in all a fantastic day.

Upcoming Rides

Pedal N Pub – Saturday Sept. 14th

Why not get out Saturday evening if you haven’t got anything better to do and mix our favorite hobbies, biking and drinking?   Do be careful though.  I’m not advocating biking while intoxicated.  Know your limits.  Details in the link above.

Sunday Gravel Day – Sunday Sept 15th

If you can’t make Pedal in Pub, or if you can and have the fortitude to get up the next morning and go for a ride, why not join for a little gravel riding.  Route is still to be determined, but I hope to keep it short enough that we’ll be back in time for the Chief’s game.

Now Pics!


2 weeks of Rides to Report

I took a bit of a nap last week, and ended up not writing up about our cycling adventures, so now I’ve got 2 weeks worth or rides to report on.   Let’s see what I can remember!

Past Rides!

Summer Breeze (Aug 25th)

While meeting up for a Royals vs. Cardinals baseball game, it was decided that Megan, Jeff, and I needed to really kick it in gear and get some good training rides in prior to our Bourbon Country Burn ride in late September.   So we agreed that it’d probably be a good idea to sign up to ride the Summer Breeze ride and get 30+ miles in.   So we did!

Megan, Jeff, Craig Miller, and I also met up with Chris Bobal, the husband of a member or my book club, on a cloudy drizzly Sunday morning.  Chris had been riding regularly for several years, but never anything much more than 20 miles.  This was going to be his longest ride ever and he was a bit worried.  He had no reason to be.  Chris was more than ready.  We’d been watching the weather all weekend, and it didn’t look great, but it looked like there was a chance we could get the ride in, so we hit the road!   The 36 mile route we signed up for was very similar to the 50+ mile route that we took the year before.  It looped around Long View Lake, took us south into Raymore, to our first stop.   Things were going well on this leg of the trip, right up until mile 12.   Then the drizzling started.   Luckily for me, mother nature called at about this same time, and Chris Bobal and I pulled over at a CVS so that I could use their restroom.   We tried to wave down Megan, Jeff, and Craig as they road past, but were unsuccessful.  They road on.  It seems that while I was using the facilities, the wave of rain really came through, and dumped a good amount of water on the ride.  I, for the most part, missed it.   Ahhh Shucks!  Chris and I got back on our bikes and began trying to catch up.   We finally caught up at the Raymore Recreational Park (our first stop) and found a drenched Megan, Jeff, and Craig waiting.  Chris and I were a little wet, mostly just our shoes and socks as water splashed up through our cleats.

While at the stop, we pulled up the weather map and took a look at what was coming.   There was a good wall of rain on its way in.  Estimating its arrival, and our current pace, it looked like if we went the full 36 mile route, we’d be smack dab in the middle of the rain, however, if we cut it short and took the 27 mile route (the routes diverted right at this stop) we might be able to make it back to the beginning before the heavy rain got to us.  We made the call and took the shorter route.  Smiles before miles!

The rest stop was a little after mile 16.   A little after mile 18, Chris and I pulled over at an intersection to wait for Megan, Jeff, and Craig.  We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and then 2 older, very out of shape individuals whom we passed almost immediately as we left the rest stop went by, and then we waited some more.  Finally we spotted the 3 coming up the road.  They claimed they stopped to help someone out who had a flat.  We’ll believe them…   this time.

So we took off again, and I told Chris that since we were going a shorter route, I really wanted to pick the pace up to the end so that I got some sort of workout it.  Christ agreed and said he’d do his best to keep up, but not to worry if he fell behind.   So we kicked it up!  For pretty much the final 8 miles I was going at the hardest pace I could go for that distance.  Chris, well he was able to keep up, and was right there with me the whole time.  Like I said, he could ride.  Once we got back to the start area, on a whim, I decided to start a stop watch to see how far ahead we had gotten from the rest of the group.   I guessed we’d have about 10 minutes on the, and I was right.  A little after 10 minutes later, Jeff, Megan, and Craig pulled in.   There, we sat under a dry tent as the rain started to come in.  We had some pizza and salad, and enjoyed a couple rounds of beer, as we are known to do after a ride.  A good ride.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain Calories Burned

Bourbon Burn Training (Sept 2)

This time Megan, Jeff, Craig, and I met up on a gorgeous Labor Day morning.  We gathered at Opera House Coffee in the River Market, where we spent a good 30-45 minutes drinking coffee and, as Megan would describe it, chit chatting.  From there we headed east over to cliff drive.  I wanted to go for a PR up the connector trail climb, but was unaware of where the segment actually started.  At the base of the connector, I stopped to make sure the group knew where the turn was.  little did I know the clock was running.  Grah!  So I didn’t get that PR, but I did get several others on the day.  We road what used to be a pretty typical Velo Thirsty Thursday ride route before the sink hole opened up in the East Bottoms.   We road it anyway and found a way to navigate around the construction.   Up on cliff drive, it was shady, cool, and a nice ride.  We then turned up Gladstone, and spent a little time checking out the Kansas City Museum and the Amazing houses to the north of it.  After that, we bombed down Chestnut down into the East Bottoms, where Megan had the brilliant idea to go see if the Rieger Distillery was open.  IT WAS!  So we stopped in to check out there amazing space, and since we were training for the Bourbon Country Burn, we might as well have a whiskey drink while we were there, right?

After our drink, and subsequent slide down the AMAZING TWISTY SLIDE at the Rieger, we headed back up to the River Market and then North across the HOA bridge, through NKC, and then over and up the Line Creek Trail.   We rested a bit up at Barry Rd, then made the return trip back the same way.  Then we stopped at Strange Day’s Brewery in the River Market for a post ride drink….  Just in time for the Monday Strange Days Ride!   Megan, Jeff, and Craig called it quits after the 32 that we’d put in, but I stuck around.  Lynne, Jeff W., Nancy, Derek R., Tara, Robert, Neal and Emily from the Ragbrai team, along with several others who we commonly see out all showed up for a pre-ride drink, and then we went out on a little 14 mile route through KCK.  We went through a cool historic area with ties to the Underground Railroad, and then back through an unexpected gravel route along the railroad tracks, as our crossing was blocked by a train that wasn’t going anywhere fast.

I finished the day with a couple more beers at Strange Days, and 46 miles in the books.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain Calories Burned

Upcoming Rides

Tour De BBQ – Saturday Sept 7th

Team Bad Decisions is riding the 35 mile route.  Come join this Saturday for a fun ride with some good BBQ.   Checkout the above link for details about the ride and registering.   The 35 mile route stages at 8:00 am and departs at 8:30.  If you’re not going to get to one of the pre ride packet pickups, be sure to get there a bit earlier to pick up your packet.


No Time like the present to ride

So, Ragbrai is now officially 3 weeks behind us.   It’s time to stop resting and recovering, and get back to what we all love doing, cycling regularly.  This is equally important for those of us that have rides coming up in the near future that may require a little conditioning to complete.  So that’s what we did this weekend.

Scott Timme, Megan Boos, Jeff Boos, and I got out for a great ride this past Sunday.  We were able to enjoy the weather, and to begin building up our endurance to prep for the Bourbon Country Burn at the end of September.   So we got out and did about 32 miles.  I drew up a route that took us from McClain’s, all the way down south the Martin City Brew Company (for a mid ride beer), then back north through Swope Park where we considered going to the ethnic enrichment festival for food, but instead decided to cut that out due to time, and just head back to Bier Station for some beers and a little food at the end.  I may have thrown some good hills in that route too.  It was a pretty fun route, despite having several of the roads closed due to construction, or just being in a flood plane.   Here’s the route we took.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain Calories Burned

As an added note, I’d like to let you all know that Scott, Timber, Timme lived up to his nickname.   I had a wonderful laugh as I watched him try to take his bike off road at a very slow speed, where his front wheel dropped into some mud and stopped. That’s when Timber did an endo up and over his handlebars.  Luckily it was soft ground, and he didn’t get hurt.  I’d say nothing but his pride was hurt, but we all know he doesn’t have much of that at this point anyway.

Upcoming Rides

Summer Breeze – Aug 25th

Several of us have decided to register for the Summer Breeze ride this upcoming Sunday.   I added the event to our Rides page and can be found in the Link above.  Come and Join us!  Challenge yourself.   It’ll be a good/warm ride.

Tour de BBQ – Sept 7

Another ride that Team Bad Decisions commonly makes an appearance at.   We typically role the 35 mile route.  Info above.  Sign up and join us.

Sunday Ride: Aug 2019

A Ragbai Recounting

It’s taken a bit, but it’s time to recount our annual trip through Iowa.  Here we go.

Let’s Meet the Team!

We had the largest team we’ve ever had this year.  Full Week Riders:  Robert Knapp, Tara Norwood, Steve Rogers, Neal Fox, Nancy Fisch, Derek Rowland, Michael Lesko, Treadwell Jones, and myself.    Partail Week Riders:  Lynne Chiu, Jeff Wirken, Amy Davis, Nick Farsace, Scott and Bryn Timme.   I called myself a full week rider, but honestly, I wasn’t there at the beginning of day 1 due to a family wedding the night before.   I met the team mid way through the day and finished it out with them.

Lynne and Jeff Road with us the First 3 days or the ride.  In Indianola, they departed to start another adventure in Alaska, while Nick and Amy joined us that evening and finished out the week with us.  Scott and Bryn Joined us Thursday Night in Fiarfield and finished out the week.

Let us not forget our fantastic driver too.   Amanda Sutton, from Wyoming, but who is moving to Colorado and has been seeing Michael Lesko, agreed to be our driver.  She was absolutely amazing on the trip, and went well above and beyond to help get us through the week.  Thanks again Amanda!

We had one other addition to the team, mid week.  Emily Johnston is a new friend we met along the way.   Well, actually, Neal met her on Day 1, turned on the Neal charm, and by about midway through the week, Emily had pretty  much joined our group full time.   Emily’s an Indianapolis native, who lives and teaches English in Spain and is/was back in the States for the summer.

Ugh The Heat!  Oh.. wait?

Saturday, for the trip up to Council Bluffs Iowa, and the first night of the Expo, it was brutally hot.  Back here in KC, I saw 105.  Not sure what it got up to in CB, but I’m certain it wasn’t comfortable.  There are some major health concerns about trying to pull a major long distance ride in that kind of heat, and then do it repeatedly for a week.  Luckily…  That was the last night of the heat.  Storms and rain came in that night and the next morning.   Luckily, it broke the heat wave.  Sadly, it meant the group had to wake up to a wet camp, get prepped, get on the road, and ride through the rain most of the morning.  I didn’t exactly hear reports of it being a “warm” rain.  By the time I finally got up to Iowa, and met up with them near Avoca Iowa (the daily meetup town) several members were quite drenched and cold.  Me…   I was fine.  Got drizzled on some, but finished out the rest of the ride comfortably.  It was cloudy and drizzly, but otherwise comfortable from mid day on.   Several members of the team even went as far as to ride the Gravel Loop on the first day.  Adding a mud filled 18.2 extra miles.  Apparently the route was pretty well pack gravel and wasn’t too difficult to navigate.  It did gum up some derailleurs, but otherwise fine.   Michael hit the road like a bat out of hell in the morning, and I’m pretty sure he was done with the ride before I even started.  When we got into town, we met up with Michael and Amanda at a small hole-in-the-wall burger joint called “Oinker’s grill and pub.”   Had some fantastic burgers, and then rode out to our Host Family’s farm which was just a couple miles out of town.  We had a beautiful front lawn to setup camp in.  They got us access to a couple showers in their home, along with getting us power and water to setup our own camp shower (more on this later).

And then there was light!

I don’t know if we could have woken up to a nicer morning the next morning.  The air was cool and crisp, the sun was shining, and our host provided us a nice spread for breakfast.  The road was calling out, “Now…  This is what a RAGBRAI day is supposed to be like,” and the road was right.  It was a gorgeous day to ride.  Well, there was a slight headwind for the majority of the day, but, everything else about the day was gorgeous.  We ate Bacon on a Stick.  We found our first water slide of the week.  We drank fine Craft Beers.  We drained a couple flasks of Fireball and Bourbon.  We took our time.  Got pushed out of Earlham by the Sheriff’s Department, but generally had a great day’s ride into Winterset, where we had another fantastic host in town.  Jim Pottlebaum hooked us up with showers, had drinks and snacks (Peanut M&Ms) available to us, and was just an incredibly nice guy.  That night we sat around in Jim’s backyard, eating Sandwiches, doing bike repairs, and having a nice relaxing evening.

Bring on the Horde!

So people who’ve done a lot of RAGBRAIs know that on average, you see about 17,000-22,000 riders a day.   It fluctuates day to day.  Usually more closer to the weekends, but a lot of Iowa residents enjoy just riding for a day or 2, and that can cause the numbers to bounce.   Well, our Tuesday ride was a small 40 mile day, and ended in Indianola, which is a suburb of Des Moines.   Short ride, coupled with close to a major city had an effect.   I’m not sure what the official numbers were, but it was A LOT.  If I had a guess, I’d say it was 30,000-35,000 on the day.  Having that many people join for the day, made for an interesting ride.  Getting out of town was difficult.  As we were leaving there was a lot of traffic coming into town (and of coarse they were all carrying bikes) and it slowed us down a lot.  10-12 mph max and all tightly packed.  Once we got off the main highway into town, though, it opened up and got much better.  Then we got to the first Beer Stop.  Wow!   I had to get off the bike and walk about a 1/4 mile just to get to the beer tent.  The road was PACKED.  Needless to say, the beer tent ran out of beer (after we got ours thankfully).  Crazy numbers of people.   We later stopped at a stop that was a pumpkin patch/Christmas tree farm(?), and that place was amazing.   They had a pumpkin Cannon.  A crazy tractor that could be powered by 10 people pedaling, and some crazy contraption that looked like 2 tri-cycles welded together side by side, with no steering capability except for one side to pedal faster than the other, and casters for rear wheels which caused you to spin out of control once your turn got too intense.   Later on in the day, Lynne, Jeff, Robert, Steve, and others found a free beer party towards the end that gave out the finest of Natural Light products and a wonderful video of Steve with a Megaphone.  If you’ve not seen it.  Ask someone.  Give a man several free beers and a megaphone and just wait and see what happens.

The Long Grind

Day 4 was the longest day of RAGBRAI.  Emotionally, you’re into the grind of RAGBRAI at this point as well.  Rolling from Indianola all the way down south to Centerville was 84.3 original miles, with an option to take the Karras loop and gain 32.3 miles for a total of 116-118 miles.  It was also the hilliest day of the ride, and a lot of those hills were front loaded towards the start of the ride.  We road together pretty much for the first 16 miles to the breakfast town, but at that point the group self divided up.  Michael Lesko, Steve Rogers, and I had a desire to make an attempt at the optional Karras Loop.   Knowing we also wanted full support for the full ride, we kept a decent pace going and we progressed through the day.  We rolled through several of the stop towns, only stopping when we needed to refill water, re-apply sunblock, or grab a bite to eat.  On the flats, we were averaging 19-22 mph most of the day.   By the time we got to the first Back pocket Beer stop of the day at around mile 50, I figured we were an hour to an hour and a half ahead of the next person in our group.  Then my jaw hit the dirt.  I was about 1/2 way through my beer, when I turn and see Nancy Fisch walking up with the biggest smile on her face.  “I’m killing it today guys,” she said.  Yeah…  I should say so.  Steve, Michael, and I had be working as a group, pace lining and sharing the workload of pulling into the wind.  Nancy was doing this solo.   Wow!  Nancy said she had been training hard to get ready for RAGBRAI.   Well, here’s your proof.  Way to go Nancy!

Steve, Michael and I hit the road again and were off for the Loop, however, the heat was also on the way up.  Michael was demoing a Bianchi bike that day, and didn’t realize that the cranks were shorter than his bike’s cranks, this started leading to knee pain.  As we got closer to the turn off for the optional loop, the options made their case.  Karras Loop:  You can claim a marginal amount of glory, by suffering for another 50 miles, but may not have full support unless you maintain a 16 mph pace.  Main Route:   You can be done in 14 miles, still claim a rough 84 mile day, relax and have a beer on the way home too… plus some ice cream.   I’m not ashamed to say, we took the path to beer and ice cream.  Robert though…  He was a champ!   Later in the day Robert jumped onto the Optional Loop (even sneaking around sheriff’s department officers who were trying to stop people from taking the optional loop at that point).   He did the full 118 on the day, without support, and didn’t get in until around 8:30 in the evening.  Sadly no patch was available for him, but we’ll given him a mental patch.

Marvelous Outdoor showers!

So, this night in Centerville was a night that I had put some prep into.  I knew that our host was going to be hosting around 150 cyclist, and wasn’t giving access inside to her bathrooms for showers (or even toilets).  Still, we were thankful that she did give us access to a hose, and electricity for us to recharge our stuff with.  I took this into account while planning.  Prior to RAGBRAI, I purchased a propane fueled, on demand water heater/shower.   Attach a hose, a propane tank, install a couple D cell batteries, and you’ve got instant hot water.   Robert owns a really nice camping shower tent.  Combining these two things together, and we set ourselves up pretty nicely.  Sure, it’s a little weird showering in a tent, less than 10ft away from the road, but we’re all in this together, and it actually felt fantastic.   Of all the showers that I took that week, ( 2 indoors, 1 in an RV, and 3 in an outdoor shower) by the end of the week, I had grown to prefer to outdoor shower.  It’s nice and refreshing.  Specially when a cool breeze comes through the tent.   I’m sold on the outdoor popup shower setup.   It’ll make its return for other cycling events to be sure.

You drained what?..

Our 5th day on the ride was…. memorable.   1st, it was pretty humid out, which wasn’t the most enjoyable, but still fun was out there to be had.   My day started with a broken shifter.  Damn thing just stopped working.  I had to stand in line for about 45 minutes to get it worked on.  There we discovered a screw jammed into the mechanics.  We’re not sure where the screw came from, but after removing it, the shifter started working again.   I’m sure it’ll explode at some point.  So my morning was spent hustling it to catch back up with the group, which thankfully I was able to do by the second stop town of the day.   There were more water slides, (VIP parties for Neal and Emily) more Back Pocket Brewery Beer tents, and an invitation to some free beer at an impromptu stop setup by Team Good Beer!

After having several discussions with local Sheriffs departments over the years, Good Beer decided not to provide their typical daily beer stops as they had in years past, but…  they were still sitting on tons of beer that they needed to get rid of before the end of the week.   We graciously agreed to help them out.  Right before their stop, though, there were signs setup for another impromptu party hosted by team Lizard.  Several of us pulled over, saw the signs, but didn’t see any free beer and decided to roll on.  Others..  they went down the gravel road further and found what could only be described as… an EPIC party.   Those of us that met up at the Good Beer stop, had tons of fun, drank some fantastic beer, and went on to our host families place which was actually only about a mile down the road after the beer was gone.   Those that found the Lizard party…  well they arrived much later, and in quite a good mood.   “Guys…  Treadwell and I drained a cock!”   Wait?!   What was that, Nancy?  Turns out they had a beer bong shaped like a rooster, or something to that effect.   The party had a pool connected to a lake, lots of people swimming in various states of dress, and was apparently more of an “old school” RAGBRAI party.   Living up to some of the craziness that was used to describe RAGBRAI in years past before they took on a more family friendly approach.

That evening, our host had setup a fire pit, and we spent the evening hanging out with members of Team Alma out of Milwaukee.   What a great bunch of people they were.   Apparently we also camped with them the 1st night in Council Bluffs.  The Alma Center is a group that helps teach the men in abusive relationships how to deal with their anger, and help give them an understanding of why they got into the state they were in when they turned to violence, in hopes that by seeing that path, they can learn how to get off of that path towards violence and resolve their problems in more constructive ways.  They’re fantastic cooks, great conversationalist, and generally very pleasant people.  Scott and Bryn finally arrived later in the evening, and we stayed up around the fire talking, until a little rain showed up and we scrambled to get dry stuff in tents and get ourselves to bed.

“I love drunk people…  specially when I’m one of them”

Friday’s ride.   Fairfield to Burlington.  Yeah..  It was continuing to get hotter throughout the week, but still, a good day.   Midway through the day we found what was being advertised as, “A Farm Party!”   They had a nice shade tent setup, food, pie, and beer to sell, and a TERRIFIC water slide that helped cool everyone off.  The day was originally only supposed to be 65 miles.  Well, for us, our host the night before were on the west side of Fairfield, and it added a couple of miles.  Our host in Burlington, were 8 miles to the south of Burlington, so by the time we were done, we were up in the 80s in terms of total mileage.   At first some were pretty upset about this distance when we finally arrived at our hosts’ place (Nancy…  have a cookie…).   But then we got to meet our hosts, Ann March and Mike Crowner.   These two were absolutely fantastic and completely turned the evening around.   1st, their property was beautiful.   Had a great Gazebo made out of an old grain bin, and an awesome fire pit.  They had their own outdoor shower setup for us, a Kybo, as well as giving us access to their bathroom inside for showers and whatever.   Ann, cooked us up a fantastic dinner of Made Right Sandwiches, cheesy potatoes, pasta salad, and other things I’m sure I’m forgetting.  Mike, well he found out we’d been drinking a lot of Fireball on the trip, so he made sure we had a handle of Fireball ready to go for the evening, along with 2 bottles of Blanton’s Bourbon, and some Bullet Rye/Bourbon blend.  Mike and Ann are the type of people that love hosting parties and having a fun time.   The title of this chapter?.. Yeah…  That was a quote from Mike, giggling as he said it.  They even invited a couple of their friends over to come and party it up with us.  One was a massage therapist.  Yeah…  I got a free massage out of the deal.  We all agreed, they were the best hosts of the week.

Farewell RAGBRAI, until we meet again.

So the next morning was a slow start.  Still, our host Ann cooked us a fantastic breakfast, and we didn’t mind the slow start.  Because our host were aware of how far they were out of town, they offered to help out.  They had just purchased an airport shuttle that Ann intended to use for her new pet care business she was starting.   They offered to load us up in the shuttle and drive us into town.   Well, because of our late start, they actually drove us to the 1st stop town on the route for the day.   We were back on the route and in good order by 9:00 am.

This days route was a little odd.  Usually we ride west to east.   However, because Keokuk is west and South of Burlington, we ended up having to backtrack most of the day.  This was met with a pretty stiff headwind out of the south west.  Pretty much in our face all day.   This could have sucked, accept, we all decided to work as a team and spent most of the day in a team pace line.   We also were all wearing our team Jerseys for the day, so it looked pretty awesome.  Several of the team got to experience what it’s like to work with a team and get the relief from the wind.  We also worked on the proper way to rotate and take turns leading the pace line.   We had a pretty good thing going.  We weren’t going fast (12-14 mph) but we were steady.  This lead to several people jumping on to our line.   I pulled away for a bit to talk to the corn for a minute (take a leak) and was able to get a good look at the size of our line.   We had a good 30 people in it, chugging along.   Nicely done team!

Before we left that morning, we talked to Amanda (our driver) and convinced her that she really needed to come see one of the meeting towns and get a  full RAGBRAI experience.   We’re glad she did!   We got to Donnellson (the meeting town).   They had setup the majorities of their festivities at a Dirt Track race track, but to get to it, we had to weave through the town a bit.  That was awesome, because they had people out on the streets cheering us in, hitting us with water guns, hoses, and buckets full of cold water.   When we got to the race track, we found Amanda waiting for us in the shade with some Cuties oranges.   We then set out to see what Donnellson had setup for us.   That’s when we found…   THE REDNECK POOL!    They had used a backhoe to dig out a hole that was probably 4.5 feet deep, 30-40 feet long, and 15-20 feet wide.  They then covered that hole with a tarp and filled it with water.   The dirt from the dig, they’d piled up next to the pool, covered that with a tarp, and set it up as a water slide down into the pool.   Dear lord did that pool feel great.   It was a warm day, we were sore and tired, and the water was cool and refreshing.  It was there, that several said, “I’m not going anywhere.”   The sheriffs started showing up to shutdown the stop town and force riders along the route, but we agreed as a group that our driver was there, we were feeling great, we’d crossed Iowa already getting to Burlington, so why not just chill out here, celebrate our week, and call it a day.   It was agreed upon.  Once we got done in the pool, we found showers in one of the Race Tracks bathrooms.   We washed up, loaded up the RV, and then finished our ride to Keokuk in our RV.

In Keokuk, we found a cool Sports Pub that had some decent pizza.  We drank some beer, had some pizza, maybe a shot of fireball or two, and relived our week.   Karin Jones (Treadwell’s wife) met us there and joined in the retelling.   Finally, Scott, Bryn, Amy, and Nick went off to their vehicles, Treadwell and Karin, loaded up to enjoy the rest of their weekend on the East side of Missouri, and the rest of us loaded back into the RV and began our drive home.  A fantastic week to be sure.

What else?

Well lots of stuff to be honest, but there’s only so much typing I can do.   Have a memory from the week that I left out?  Leave a comment and share with everyone.

Photo Dump

Just a couple from the week.

Ragbrai Tips

Good morning team!

I thought I would send out a couple tips and things that I have learned along my Ragbrai adventures for some of our new members. For those of you that have done Ragbrai before or are not joining us this year please add any tips that I might be missing!

One of the first things is the Expo will be overwhelming. You will never see more bikes, bike gear, and people riding bikes in one place. It is such a fun experience and chance for you to check out new gear, latest bikes from every known manufacturer, and you can even set up to test out a new bike during the ride for a day. Have fun and look at everything.

Sunday morning when we get up and are ready to start the ride you will definitely feel excited and ready. It’s important to remember that you have a full week of riding ahead of you, and not to rush. It can be easy to feel the need to go fast and not stop a lot. This is the time to relax and stop at everything that looks fun. Whether this is a slip and slide, bath tub races, cow patty throwing, etc. I actually made a bad decision last year and didn’t want to get wet at one of the best stops we had during the ride on Wednesday. There was a farm setup  with a zipline  into a pool and a Big Blob  that you could be launched off, Scott and Jared wanted me to get onto the blob and jump off the platform and launch me into the pond. It would have been awesome and I decided not to do it. I still regret that! Our goal for our team is to have fun, enjoy some beverages, and explore these little towns. Every time you see something that looks fun stop and wait for the team to join!

Here are some things on the ride I found specific to Ragbrai.  The mornings will be crowded and this is one of the more frequent time of the day that crashes happen. You need to be comfortable being surrounded on all sides with people on bicycles no more than a foot away from you. Some of these riders may not be as experienced, they could just be someone who picked up their bike and is riding to the next town because they wanted to join. This maybe slow and a great time to have conversations with people next to you. The next thing is that train tracks are a place where a lot of crashes happen, especially if it is raining. There are medical support vehicles that ride with us. Normally a couple of medics on motorcycles and an ambulance. You will hear and see these guys often, make sure to wave and say thank you.

Get comfortable with the word Rumble. These are rivets in the road that approach an intersection. Every time you come up along one it is customary to either yell the word rumble or to gesture with your hand that there is something in the road up ahead to people behind you. You will find that people love to shout this word although riding across one surprised is definitely not comfortable.

A big challenge on the ride is to actually try and stop to join your friend’s or for a place you want to check out. You will be surrounded by cyclists, once you decide you want to stop move yourself to the right and then say bike off. You can also say bike off right. Unless it’s unavoidable or there’s just a large enough gap I would not suggest trying to get off of the road on the left side. Similar to group rides that you may have done already and driving, the left side of the road is typically reserved for people that are a faster pace than you. You will often see people in a Peloton formation to help draft or to pass so that they can get ahead of the group. Needless to say this will be Michael yelling out on your left until he’s hoarse again. Once you decide to ride again after stopping wait for a pause in the road and yell bike on to indicate that you are joining.

If you are not familiar with a Peloton formation it is a great tool that can be used on a really windy day. A lot of teams will ride together in this formation not just to help draft each other but also so that they can make sure that they stay together. This is a move where you ride behind a cyclist and will draft off of their air movement. This can literally save you on a day when you are struggling. For example: the day after my century Brandon long and his friend drafted me into one of the towns that we stopped at. It was extremely windy and I was very tired. At one point because they were letting me draft off of them we were going 27 miles per hour and I never would have thought I could do that one day after a century ride. We noticed last year that some of the teams actually became annoyed or angry with us if we jumped on with them without asking. This is pretty abnormal for Ragbrai, but it’s something to consider.

I am sure this is repetitive for most of you, but I didn’t know any of this my first year and I thought this could help.


On the bright side, my Jersey has very few wrinkles

Kinda of steamy out there this weekend.

I know some of us got out in it.  Those of you training for Ragbrai, don’t forget that you do need to get some training during the heat.  You need to learn how to take care of yourself so that you can be out in that kind of heat all day long.  Bring extra water bottles.  Poor water over your head occasionally. Be sure to stop and cool off in the shade occasionally, and don’t forget to replenish those electrolytes.  If you don’t have anything yet, consider getting something.   I’ve used several different drink mixes, gels, other things, but  honestly I’ve found that electrolyte replenishing pills work the best for me.  If you’re looking for specific suggestions, I’m more than willing to share what I use, but everybody’s different.  Get out in the heat.  Try different things.  See how you feel and figure out what you need to consume to be able to keep moving forward.

Towards the end of a hot day, you’re probably going to want some sort of energy chew-able or something similar to give you a boost to make those last few miles.   On my second ragbrai, I pulled over with about 10 miles to go on our longest/hilliest day. I thought I was about done for.   Then I remembered that my buddy Brandon had given me a pack a energy chews the day before.  I had just haphazardly threw them into my bag thinking I’d never use them.  I tore into them like a ravenous beast.  Those things saved me that day.   After eating them and then chilling out for about 10 minutes, I was able to make a really strong push, and picked up my pace those final 10 miles.  Then when we got to camp, I still had plenty of energy for setting up camp and felt pretty good the rest of the evening.  Ever since then, I’ve always had at least one packet of those things on me when I ride.

Another note about Ragbrai.  Nuun has sponsored it the last few years, and they’ve typically had a tent out along the route each day. They’ve allowed you to fill your water bottles with their energy drink for free.  Take advantage if you like Nuun, but I recommend you not fill all of your water bottles up.  Always keep one as pure water so that you’ve got something to poor over your head should you need to cool down.  Otherwise you’ll be sticky, and that’s no fun.   Honestly, the key to dealing with heat, is proper consumption.  Keep drinking water, keep replenishing electrolytes, keep consuming calories.  That’s why you need to get out and train, so you can teach yourself to keep consuming in these conditions.  I know that it can be hard to want to eat in the heat or while working out.  You feel sick to your stomach, but you’ve got to.  Finding the things that you can tolerate to eat while working out is key, and there are tons of alternatives out there.

Upcoming Rides

4th of July Ride

Nothing official here, but it looks like we’re going to try to get a good group together to ride on the 4th.  We’d like to get 50+ miles in.  Stay tuned to the Slack Channel for more info.

NO BBBR this month.

The second weekend of the month is our typical BBBR weekend, but that’s going to be a busy weekend this month.   Scott and Bryn are getting married and it’s the weekend of the Lunar Kanza ride.   We’ll be doing that.

Lunar Kanza – Saturday July 13th.

An evening under the moon, riding through the flint hills of Kansas.  It’s pretty cool.   Let us know if you’re planning to join.  We intend to drive there Saturday during the day, do the ride.   Camp out over night, and then come back Sunday.  Registration details can be found in the link above.

Seriously Real Training Now..

This past Saturday was our monthly BBBR ride, and several were able to get out and join us at some point along the day (despite our late start).  Our morning group finally hit the road somewhere in between 10-10:30.  You know… coffee, food, messing with water bottle cages, these things take time.  Ultimately, Tara, Robert, Neal, Derek R., Timber, and I finally hit the road.  I wanted to make sure it was a good training route, so I aimed for a route that was decently hilly.  We went up to Cliff Drive, via the connector, then road up the Goose Neck, then we crossed the river on Chouteau, hit Parvin, and took that West until we got to Briarcliff.  Parvin’s got some decent rolling hills and turns into Briarcliff Parkway, which also has some great rolling hills.  We crossed the river again down by Argosy’s, rolled through KCK, saw a cool little Car Show that we causally rolled through, then up through the west bottoms and on to Strange Days brewing in the River market.  There Timber had to bail on us, but we pickeup up Lynne, Jeff W., and Addie; along with Delvin, a friend from the Velo Garage rides that just happened to also be at Strange Days.

After a couple refreshing beers, we hit the road and headed out for a south loop.   We road over to the Paseo, then down through Hyde Park and then into Brookside, where we hit up BKS artisan ales.  They’ve got some tasty brews.  Check them out.  Then we rolled south to KC Bier Co where we had a little food and some more bevs.  Saddly I had an evening event to get to (which was also at KC Bier Co) so I had to ride from their directy back downtown and ended my ride, but the rest of the crew continued on as they should.  After fixing a flat, it looks like the crew road on the Brewery Emperial for some more bevs before calling it a day.  Ride. Drink.   Ride some more, and Drink.   This is how you get ready for Ragbrai!

Here’s my route, which probably isn’t too different than the others routes on the south loop.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain Calories Burned

Despite the warmth, it was a good day of riding.   See Pics Below

Upcoming Rides

Ride to Boulivardia – Saturday June 15th

Details can be found in the link above.  If you’ve not registered for this ride yet, NOW is the time to do it.  Look forward to seeing you out Saturday Morning.

KC Night Glow Ride – Saturday June 21st.

Details in the link.  No registration needed.  Just grab your bikes, your lights, and lets get out and ride.  Road this last year and it was a good time.  Join us!

Lunar Kanza – July 1th

A terrific event that you should go register for NOW!  Current plans are to go down, ride, and then camp that night down in Emporia and come back on Sunday.  Get your Gravel Ready Bike setup and come join us.

Now..  Pics!