Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tour De Revs!

Three Lutheran Reverends, One Bike (made of bamboo!), 100 days and 13,000 miles.  This is a bicycle tour worth seeing.

From one of the people helping with the TDR:
"I'm leading three guys on a bamboo bike from Gardner to Western Lenexa Wednesday. www.tourderevs.org. We are leaving King of Kings Lutheran Church in Gardner at four."

I figured I would pass it along. Doing some research, it looks like the Lenexa stop will be at Kaw Prairie Community Church, 9421 Meadowview Drive. ETA: 5:30. If you're in the area, check them out in Gardner or Lenexa tomorrow (Wednesday, July 29)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Photo Dump: One Tone Paceline 2009

If you're on Dial-up, just go take a coffee break or something. Come back in 5 minutes. Then this page might be loaded all the way. I took well over 100 photos on this trip, and have tried to narrow them down to something manageable for this post.

Let me preface this by saying that each and every participant on this ride made it as great as it was. ALL the riders are to be thanked for this event! All I did was spam some people on some mailing lists and make some suggestions on the route. The final route, the date (and thus the perfect weather), the meeting points, the rest stops and pretty much every little detail of this ride came from the group.

Good conversations happened between diverse groups of people who've never met before. I saw instant rapport form that honestly transcends having bicycling in common; these were just very friendly folks that happened to have all found themselves on loaded bicycles at the time. To each and every one of you: THANKS!

I rolled out at about 11:15 to meet up with the first group of riders at Lenexa Senior Center. I wasn't expecting to find Jason pulling a kiddie trailer, but there it was. This was my first clue that awesome things were about to happen.

Amnee, Jason, Carol and John ready to go. We talked for a bit and admired the rigs.

Jason's Gary Fisher. I hadn't seen this yet. Nexus-8 equipped.

Carol's Jamis Coda carrying the wide, light things.

Rolling out down KC Road


The Lenexa Group

Price Chopper in Olathe


The Bikes. We had 10 riders at this point. Tim, Chris, Gene, Randy, Keith, Amnee, Jason, John, Carol and myelf.

Gene's Burley Trailer. Not nearly full.

Being pulled by a nice Trek XO2

Randy of KansasCyclist

Holding to the right to let the car behind us pass. The entire trip, our group held up MANY motorists. Surprisingly, all were courteous except for one while we rode through the park later on.

As we wove through the country roads that connected disjointed suburbs, we would also get several roadside cheers, looks of awe, and double-takes from other cyclists. I've got to say it was awesome seeing this many loaded bikes all at one time, even from within this One Ton Paceline.

Down Old KC Road, I hit the descent HARD to catch the video of most of the group riding past.

We stopped at Lake & Dale before the arduous death-slog to the park. There, we topped off water bottles, picked up some refreshments (i.e. beer and candy bars) and moved along.

Hillsdale Lake

The arrival.

About an hour after we showed up to the camp, Darius showed up. He was coming from further West than any of us and got a late start due to things back at home. His shelter was one of the more peculiar things I've seen. He hung a mosquito net from inside this cover, and used a camp pad on a sheet of plastic. Lightweight, versatile and very functional. I like it.

Chow Time!

Let me interject for a moment. When I say we had a diverse group of people, you can see I wasn't talking about skin color. Let's face it. Most of us were slightly (or in my case not-so-slightly) pudgy white folks. The diversity really shows when you start talking about our ideals and philosophy for a camping trip like this. And there were very few things more diverse than what we all brought to eat and how we decided to prepare it.

Dehydrated fruits and veggies, freeze-dried meals, military and civilian Meal-Ready-to-Eat type stuff, CLIF bars/snacks, cook-at-camp burritos, and sandwiches were consumed. Light-and-Expensive backpacking cooking systems, home-made stoves, fondue heaters, and in some cases no cooking at all were all well-represented.

Someone brought SPAM! I didn't eat it, but I was cheesing for the camera.

MRE for Chris.

Gene's JetBoil. It brought two cups of water to a rolling boil in under one minute. Yes, really.

Some of the crew at the feeding trough.

Gene's Solar Charger. It's worth mentioning that Gene's cool toys are also used to help educate children about the outdoors including backpacking classes through the OEL.

BOIL, Damn you! One highlight I'm sure will stick in everyone's head is sitting around the picnic table (which wasn't level by any means) while my stove fell over, spilling flaming Everclear all over the place. Fortunately, we got the flames put out before anyone or anything got hurt. Note: my little pot stand needs to go away. I set it on the ground after that. It boiled water plenty fast, but after watching Gene's JetBoil do the same thing in about 45 seconds (yes, really) 5 minutes seemed like an eternity.

Keith, tweaking the centering screw on his Kogswell. If anything is a millimeter out of adjustment, he notices. Again, my Park MTB-3 gets used on someone else's bike :P

As the sun started going down, Gene and I fished near the boat ramp. I caught nothing, but Gene managed to wrangle in a few bluegill -- likely enough fish to feed a few of us back at camp. They all made it safely back into the water. I was really thinking about holding on to one to fry up, though. Meanwhile, Keith and Randy rode around the lake, exploring old bridges, cemeteries and buildings. Others did their own thing as well. I'm not too sure what else transpired while we were fishing.

Roasting marshmallows after dark.

Crescent Moon

Long exposures of base camp

I crashed out a little after 10pm. My little radio had gotten almost two full days of sunlight to charge its little 350 mAh NiMH cell. I'm sure it was as charged as it was going to get. To drown out the loud country music being pumped by our camp neighbors, I tuned into a favorite radio show of mine, DJ C-Vaughn's Liquid Buzz. This show is mostly breakbeat stuff. Not exactly good sleeping music. It was playing quietly enough to not disturb anyone else, but loud enough to take my mind off of the hideous country music. I woke up just in time to hear the 3:00 AM hourly Station ID sweeper. Surprised it'd been playing for 3 hours, I turned it off and went back to sleep.

When I woke up a little before 7:00, some people were already almost packed. Others were still sleeping.

Slowly but surely, breakfast came out.

Darius and I tried our own different method of coffee. I think he'll agree I won that battle with the coffee press. :)

My breakfast: re-constituted eggs with bacon (tastier than you might imagine) and coffee.

Randy, who seems to be reviewing a map of Hillsdale State Park, and Gene.

At about 8:00, we had all gotten most of our gear packed away and were ready to head out.

Shadow Panda.

People fishing in one of the streams near the lake

I caught Randy taking a photo over his shoulder.

We stopped at Price Chopper in Spring Hill for "breakfast" -- I thought most of us already ate?!

Randy and I sat outside and talked a while, reflecting on the ride, and discussing a possible better route than Webster to get back home through Spring Hill.

Keith decided to torment Randy and I with the scrambled egg smell. They did smell better than the ones I re-hydrated back at camp.

We cut over to Woodland

They don't call it the scenic route for nothing.

The quaint old downtown district reminds me of old-town Lenexa. According to Randy, most of the shops are no longer used at all.

And just like that, we were back among the soybean crops, tooling north toward what is left of Ocheltree. These days, Ocheltree's all but lost. Little remains of it aside from a few houses stuck under the new rail bypass bridge on 199th street. As America's transportation infrastructure shifted from rail to interstate highways, villages such as Ocheltree -- which at one time fared quite well -- fell to shambles.

We happened across what appeared to be a funeral procession for a fallen motorcyclist once we hit Ridgeview and 175th. Hundreds of motorcycles with a police escort passed by. I didn't get any photos of that. It was memorable, though.

Along Ridgeview, it's interesting to watch the signs of returning to suburbia -- as well as suburbia's mostly failed attempt to sprawl a bit more. The banner for The Estates at Wolf Creek declares "NEW HOMES" and clearly there is some stunted development going on. Plots of land that appear to have been bulldozed then left to sit dormant. Perhaps 191st Street is just a bit out of the way for people looking for homes -- unless, of course, they're coming from even further south.

Ever so slowly, street lights and sidewalks appear as the street numbers get lower. CommuterDude gets a raging case of barn fever -- the phenomenon of gradually picking up speed the closer you are to home. Jason and the full trailer took chase as Keith flew past Amnee. A little friendly (and fully-loaded) competition.

The newish railway overpass on Ridgeview. Interesting decor.

One by one, the participants peeled off to go to their homes. First Randy, then Keith, then Gene as the remaining five of us -- the original group that left Lenexa Senior Center -- beared northeast on KC Road, riddled with blighted rail crossings galore. Tires beware!

I'm amazed, frankly. No mechanical issues at all. Most of us have never done anything like this, and this was only my second crack at it. I can still stand to revise my methods. Everyone was pushed outside their comfort zone, and at the same time everyone seemed to be amped up about future trips along the same lines. I have some good advice and some brilliant ideas for some trips in the future. And rest assured: we will do this again!

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