Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wrapping Up The Aborted Cross Country Tour...

"Sing your death song and die like a hero going home." ~ Tecumseh

As everyone knows who has paid attention to my website, I ended my cross country ride in Little Rock, AR.  Many factors went into that decision, but suffice it to say that the absence of fun on the ride was the key issue.  With that behind me, I'll attempt to finish up my posts about the ride with this one.

After having a ton of fun in Kansas City with my mother-in-law, Marilyn (Maril) Sullivan, I know, I know, this undermines all the mother-in-law jokes, but, hey, I had a good time.  So, Marilyn, where do you think they hid the signposts about the Battle of Westport?  We did have a hard time following the directions to locate those, so we surrendered and I took her to a microbrewery.  Now, Marilyn doesn't really care about the difference between beer and craft beer, nor does she really care about the difference between coffee and espresso.  So, in the video, she shares her thoughts about craft beer or just drinking beer in the afternoon.  Don't let her fool you.  She really had fun...seriously.  Check it out: http://youtu.be/YFpNGPyWEqQ  Here are some photos of the place, too..it's the 75th Street Brewery (http://75thstreet.com/):

Well, I didn't get her to try the beer...she thought it was too early despite me telling her that it was 10:30pm in Ireland, which should make it ok to have a beer in the U.S. at 3:30pm.  At least, I thought so, which is why I had a stout.  It was a decent stout, but I would have loved to try a few more brews or, at least, the cask condition brew, but they didn't have a cask conditioned brew on tap.  Next time...

Ok, Monday, April 13th, I headed out of Kansas City around 8:15a.m.  The day was overcast and it remained overcast all day.  This was actually a plus despite it being very humid.  On the University of Missouri Kansas City campus, there was a bike path that would take me to a road I'd use to get out of Kansas City, hopefully, without too much traffic.  The bike path, which is really an "activity path" since runners, joggers, walkers, and many others use it, was quite good.  It'd be a good place for Eileen to run when she visits her mom.  Before too long, I was out of the city and back into the countryside of Missouri.  With the wind at my back, the day was going well.  At the point where the road ended that I'd used to get out of Kansas City, I opted to use a larger highway to get to Ft. Scott.  It would be a 90 mile day, so I was looking to make it as easy as I could.  Despite the traffic and the speed limit on Rt. 69, I made good time because these types of highways have large shoulders and, when constructed, they tend to flatten out the hilly countryside, which was a plus since I wanted to get to Ft. Scott.

About 4:30pm, I arrived in Ft. Scott, where I stayed at the Cortland Hotel,  (http://www.courtlandhotel.com/), where I had stayed when I rode across country in 2010.  Ft. Scott was an important site before and during the Civil War to help deal with the cross border fighting between the Jayhawks (against slavery) and the Border Ruffians (pro-slavery), as well as the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  Frank & Cheryl Adamson are the owners and are very friendly people, who run a great hotel with very reasonable prices, too.  A few photos:
After a week off and just finishing 90 miles, these 25 stairs were a bit daunting...!
Ft. Scott has a great little downtown area that, unfortunately has many empty storefronts, which is not unusual for these towns.  Hard times economically but still thriving in their own right.  The Fort is a tourist destination and there is much more to the town of Ft. Scott than just the downtown area.
I really liked the architectural style of this building.  It was right next to the espresso shop that I went to in Ft. Scott.  Common Grounds.  Like most espresso shops, theirs tend to be "Americanized"...espressos made bigger to appeal to Americans who always like things bigger.  In every espresso shop I've gone to, the barista will say s/he knows what a ristretto shot is, but, unfortunately, they don't.  Neither did this shop's barista.  The other barista at least had the confused look on her face when I asked her that told me she did not...so, she looked at the guy standing next to her.  He said he did, but he really didn't.  It was decent coffee, but not espresso.
I stayed an extra day in Ft. Scott to reorganize my route.  This was the second time in a week that I wanted to "reorganize", which was not a good sign.  Once I realized what was up, I knew it was time to call this ride to a halt.  But, I enjoyed my day off...A few more photos:
A very comfortable room and bed...
Another view of the staricase...

On Wednesday, April 15th (tax day), I headed off to Neosho, MO, via Joplin, MO.  Now, Joplin was on my brain because that city had been hit by a tornado in 2011 that did some very serious damage to the city.  And I was going to be riding through Joplin this day.  What I didn't realize was that I was also going to be riding on Rt. 66, (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_66), a.k.a, Will Rogers Highway, The Mother Road or The Main Street of America.  Some photos:
Took this for my college roommate, Bob Roisman, whose nickname was Chico...
Well, I made it through Joplin without being tossed about by a tornado.  It was a sunny day, actually, and I headed south to Neosho, MO, where I'd spend the night.  From Joplin to Neosho, the road got very hilly.  Lots of rollers and I was not going to get into Neosho before dark, which was extremely frustrating since it would mean a short night and back on the road again tomorrow.  Many curse words later, I made it into Neosho and was not a plesant person to be around.  The only food nearby was a crappy local burger chain, but it was calories.  So, enough said about that since I'm trying to keep this clean.

In fact, for now, I'm going to end this post.  Recently, several singers have died whose songs were part of my high school experience..."Louie, Louie" and "Stand By Me".  So, in their memory, here are the two songs.  Hope you enjoy them nearly as much as I do...

And here is a photo I found online..notice the name on the rear rack...
Enjoy the ride

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sometimes, It's Just Time...

"Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are."~ Mohammed Ali
"You're dead a long time."~ Anonymous (one of the rules of trauma)

It's been a while since I posted on my website and for good reason...after considerable deliberation, I have decided to end my ride across country. The simple fact is that I am not having fun. When did this realization sink in?  Marshall, AR. Prior to that, I had reorganized my route several times, but, the night in Marshall, I realized the fact that I wasn't having fun was overpowering my desire to continue on. 

Physically and mentally, I was doing fine and really felt strong. Without the fun, however, the ride was not what I wanted.  In the future, I'll be back on the road, traveling to those battlefields or brewpubs on my bicycle, but it will be different in that I will drive from one location to another and do day rides there. I'll also do more solo rides, where I start/finish somewhere. 

So, right now, I'm at The Bill and Hillary Clinton International Airport in Little Rock, AR, and will be flying Southwest to Albuquerque this evening. Tomorrow, I'll fly back to Silver City to see my wife, Eileen, and our friends. My bike is being shipped to Silver City and will arrive there on Monday. Spokes, http://www.spokesshop.com/, is an amazing bike shop with very friendly, efficient employees, who packed my bike and got it shipped out. And they have an espresso bar! Very cool.

For now, a tune to exit this post.  George Strait doing "The Cowboy Rides Away"... http://youtu.be/4AnTe663mrY.  To all of you who read my website posts and who had faith in me, thank you.  I wish I could tell you all how much that means to me.  Until the next ride.  And I will post about the rides up to and including Little rock, AR, and will be posting pictures and videos.  Happy trails!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Topeka, Kansas City, And Bloody Kansas/Civil War Sites...

"It's like, how did Columbus discover America when the Indians were already here?  What kind of shit is that, but white people's shit." ~ Dick Gregory

Not much to do with my trip to date, but I like it because it's true.  Ok, last I left off, I was heading from Topeka, KS, to Kansas City, MO.  The trip into Kansas City was better because it was on a Sunday.  A weekday would have been much more hectic, so I was happy despite the long day into Topeka.  Of course, the wind, always a presence, good or bad, had an impact on my ride, but I got to my mother-in-law's place on Sunday around 6pm or so.  She was preparing dinner, but I was up for going out.  As the ride wore on me as I was sitting down at Marilyn's apartment (my mother-in-law, Marilyn Sullivan), I decided to sit and enjoy the dinner she was preparing for me.  Popped a bottle of red wine and slid into the gracious comfort of slight intoxication.  No better post ride treatment than some ETOH, in my humble opinion.  Beer is probably the best...ETOH, B vitamins, hydration...a dynamic combination!

My time in Kansas City was to spend a bit of down time with my mother-in-law, Marilyn Sullivan, to see some of the Bloody Kansas and Civil War sites, try some good espresso, beer, and, of course, BBQ.  
First was Lexington, MO, where Confederate General Sterling Price had invaded Missouri in 1861.  We visited the Anderson House, a wealthy local supporter of the Confederacy, whose house was occupied by the Union Army.  The Confederates used bales of hemp in order to get close to the house and take it from the Union Army.  Apparently, it changed hands numerous times and the bullet holes remain as evidence of that struggle.  Some photos:
Back Door To The Anderson House...And Our Guide.
This is made from human hair...
Room where surgery was done...note the holes in the wall.
Bullet hole in the staircase.
Entry way from the front door...
Library in Lexington, MO...
Sign on the front door of the Lexington, MO, library...Eileen needs one for the Silver City, NM, town library!

I have more photos of the house, but won't bore you with those.  Marilyn and I went to see the Steamboat Arabia museum, http://1856.com/, where the cargo, remnants of the steamboat, etc., are stored.  This was dug up by some local amateur archaeologists, just folks from two families who were interested in it.  They started searching for it in 1987.  In 1991, they opened the museum with what had been dug up by that time.  To complete the total excavation...they expect it to take at least another 30 years, which includes cleaning what they find and preserving it.  Amazing collection.  A few photos:
Shoes made from rubber...
More cargo...

Another day, we went to see Fort Osage, a fort on the Missouri to encourage trade with, and protect, the Indians (http://www.jacksongov.org/fortosage/).

One of my wishlist things was to try breweries on this trip.  So, based on the recommendation of the guide at the Anderson House in Lexington, MO, we went to Weston, MO, where the oldest brewery in the U.S. outside of the East Coast is located...oh, and we could see how people lived/worked back in the 19th century.  Well, they had a brewery, so life was pretty good, I think...

No visit to Kansas, particularly to see Bloody Kansas, is complete without seeing Lawrence, KS.  William Quantrill led the infamous raid in 1863 that resulted in the deaths of about 200 men and boys, aged between 14 and 90.  In retaliation for this raid, the Union General, Thomas Ewing, Jr., ordered the removal of about 10,000 civilians in 3 counties bordering Kansas, along with the total destruction of homes, buildings, planted fields, and livestock to prevent any of this support to get to the raiders or the Confederacy.  Hard to see anything in Lawrence today, since it's a thriving college town with a well known basketball team.  However, the original Jayhawks were a different breed altogether, as you can see...
One of the best finds in Lawrence was the Z's Divine Espresso (http://www.zsdivine.com/).
And it was divine.  Fabulous espresso...had two double espressos there.  Went to one of the two brewpubs in town, the Free State Brewery, but found the food just average and the stout I ordered was bland, and the barman didn't fill it to the top of the pint glass either, a major pet peeve of mine.
The amount you see in this "pint" is really only about 12 ounces.  Neither the barman nor the waitress did anything about this and the customer should never have to remind either a barman or a waitress what their job is.  So, Free State is off my list...not that it'll break their hearts or their cash registers.  The place is popular with the locals as the crowd indicated.

At the university in Lawrence, they have the stuffed horse, Commanche, who survived the battle of the Greasy Grass, known by whites as the Little Bighorn battle where Custer and his command were almost wiped out.
In the evenings, Marilyn and I went to see a big band group from Germany at the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts (http://www.kauffmancenter.org/?ignoremobile=y).  They were quite good and fun to listen to.  Some photos...



Near where Marilyn lives is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (http://www.nelson-atkins.org/).  We went there one gloomy day to see the American Folk Art exhibit, which was very good.  I love that stuff. No photos were allowed, but I took some outside.  There's a glass maze that Marilyn had tried before and she'd walked into one of the panels, hard enough to give herself a bloody nose!  So, she was encourging me to give it a try.  With no bloody nose, I managed to make my way through the maze.

Glass Maze at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Shuttlecock sculpture outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art..there are four of them.  Two on one side of the museum;two on the other side to make it look like a game is being played.
Next on our list of things to do, go see the musical, HAIR, well, a retrospective that included some of the orginal cast members from the first and other early productions of HAIR on Broadway.  It was very good and in a small theater on the UMKC campus near where Marilyn lives.

No visit to Kansas City is over with until the BBQ is tasted.  Based on good recommendations from my step-son, Isaac, as well as Marilyn, we headed to Joe's Kansas City.  Now, Isaac raved about this place.  Seems like it's rated one of the best in the country.  The line of people waiting to get in was snaking out the door.  It took us over an hour just to order and get a table. Yes, I'm snarky here, but no place is worth that.  And it was a short wait, according to others, since we were there before 4pm on a Saturday.  I ate BBQ at a place in Meade, KS, which is nowhere near Joe's place, reputation wise, that this place is, but, to be honest, I liked their BBQ better.  So, no more Joe's for me.  And, like the Free State Brewery, they won't care if I don't show up again.


One of the things that I love...donuts.  Cake donuts.  I know there are all kinds, but the cake donuts, plain and cinnamon are my favs.  And apparently have the most calories, too.  Who knew?  So, on my last day in Kansas City, I went to Lamars and got a dozen cake donuts, plain and cinnamon, to chow down on.  What we didn't finish then, I ate on Monday morning, the day I headed to Fort Scott, KS, on my bike.  I haven't figured out how to turn photos yet on my iPhone.  When I do, I'll come back and replace this one with one where you don't have to turn your head sideways!

A tune to exit with...some Kansas City jazz.  Lester Young and Charlie Parker doing "Embraceable You". Hope you like it...http://youtu.be/T9cZF2dOZPM Adios for now.  Off to Fort Scott, KS, where I've been before...in 2010, on my ride across county.  I stayed at the Cortland Hotel and enjoyed my time there and in Fort Scott.  Working my way towards Vicksburg, MS.  To Maril (what Marilyn would like to change her name to), enjoy the jazz I picked out and thanks for a great week in Kansas City.  I'll be back with your daughter, so we can travel to more sites, like St. Joeseph, and eat more BBQ!  I appreciated your hospitality and the conversations.