Thursday, December 24, 2015

My First Metric Century (over 100K) Ride

I had it in my mind that I really wanted to do a metric century ride before the end of 2015 and in light of having some time on my hands decided to go for it.  Tuesday was supposed to be a nice day and about 55 degrees.  But I should know better - in Kansas that could mean that the nice weather doesn't show up until today for instance.  Regardless I had been doing so much to get ready that I just wanted to get this thing done.  It felt like the universe was conspiring against me, but the reality is that I am often my own worst enemy.

The night before the ride I decided I needed to prep my bike.  Word to the wise, don't wait till the night before to prep.  This needs to be done several days in advance.  I had gotten a flat over the weekend ride and needed to have that addressed so I ran up to my LBS and they got me squared away.  When I got home I decided to switch out my handlebars to something better suited for the long ride.  I've done this a ton of times with no issues but Monday night was the exception.  I was almost done when I noticed a gap in the head tube that needed to be addressed.  As I tore everything back apart I accidentally forgot to hold something in place and POW!  I had pieces everywhere.  I tried for about 10 minutes to fix it but had no idea what order everything went in.  I grabbed a zip-lock and put all the loose parts in it, threw the bike on the carrier and raced to my bike shop. Thankfully the guys put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Somewhere in the craziness of trips to the bike shop and working on my bike I put my wallet in one of my tool box drawers.  Well the morning of the ride I couldn't find my wallet!  Panic city!  I retraced steps, drove to stores I went the night before and just flat out panicked.  Well about 45 minutes later I found the wallet (after looking in the freezer and all kinds of other unlikely places). At this point I was dangerously close to the start time for my ride.  The ride I planned to do was an RUSA ride and is therefore timed.  You have to declare a start time in advance and whether you start on time or not, the clock starts right at your declared start time.  I decided to go for it and try to make it up in the ride.  I started about 20 minutes late, but in the end it wouldn't have mattered if I had started on time as it took me an hour longer than the allotted time to complete the ride.  You get 7 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 68 mile ride and it took me right at 8 hours.  I'm not mad for not finishing in time.  I'm proud of myself for finishing!  It was both a great ride and a grueling ride. I won't bore anyone with to many details.  I'll just give a few highlights and some musings I had along the way.

The ride is called LeLoup de Loop and starts in Olathe and takes you through Gardener, Edgerton, Wellsville, Baldwin City and Vinland before looping back through Gardener and then back to the start in Olathe.  My trip log showed it at 69 miles and I burned over 8,000 calories along the journey. The scenery was spectacular and I wish I could have taken a little more time to stop and take pictures along the way but for so long there was a chance I was going to make it in time so I pushed ahead. The weather never really warmed up to the point I had expected, but it was still decent weather.  The tough part was the WIND!!!  Every time I was going south I was fighting a headwind.  All this wind really got me thinking.

Wind is such a powerful force.  In my case it was trying to work against me to keep me from achieving my goal.  We often have forces that try to keep us from achieving something great.  It could be other people who just don't think a task is worth doing, or maybe they just don't think YOU can do it.  If I had turned around to have the wind at my back it would have been way easier than going on but I would have ended up back where I had started and would not have completed my task. Each uncompleted task makes it easier to give up in the future.  Before you know it, you aren't even trying anymore!

I'd like to drive the route sometime, or leave much earlier and cycle it again at a much slower pace.  I saw some great scenery and really wished I had taken time for pictures.  Maybe the take away is that life doesn't always have to be a race.  Stop and smell the roses.  Take the pictures.  Enjoy the surroundings.  While I plan to do more rides like this I also plan to make more time for all the above.

With all other rides I've done this year, I'm now about 54 miles away from having ridden 1,000 miles in 2015.  I will achieve this goal!  Merry Christmas to all and get out there and do whatever you are being inspired to do!

Friday, December 11, 2015


Inspiration is so important in everyday life.  It takes something to get you up each morning to make the slog to work.  Something that makes the efforts of doing things you kinda don’t really want to do (if we are being perfectly honest) so you can do what you want to do with your own time.  I’ve had jobs I truly loved.  I hope to have another one of those in the near future.  But in the meantime I want to do something special with some of the time I have been given by way of this lay off.  The first thing that comes to mind is to bike as much as possible.  I had already committed to riding my bike every single day for the next year.  Come rain or shine, sleet or snow I plan to ride.  Then I started watching some cycling movies.  I’ve recently watched Inspired to Ride, Ride the Divide and Reveal the Path.  All are cycling movies that emphasize long distance cycling and for the budding cyclist in me they are dangerously infectious. 

A friend that also rides has convinced me to explore Randonneuring.  Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling.  I looked into it and am totally on board with it.  I plan to ride my first randonneuring route early in the new year.  The one I selected is a 110k loop in North East Kansas.

Another ride I’ve been inspired to do is the Rocheport Roubaix which is a bike trail race on January 31st.  You heard that right, January 31st, otherwise known as the dead of winter.  I am still trying to decide between the 30, 50 or 67 mile options, but regardless this is something I really want to do and am currently training as if I am already registered. 

I've got at least one more very lofty goal but want to keep that one a secret for now. But I promise it is a big one!

I ride to get physically fit, but I also need to stay physically fit to ride.  These things go hand in hand. It kind of reminds me of when I got my first job and my first car.  I would drive to work, and I had to work to drive.  

So I will continue to look for inspiration to ride and I will continue to ride to inspire.  

I’ve got some work to do, both on and off my bike.  But I’ve found my inspiration through the movies I’ve been watching, the love I’ve gained for cycling, my classic love of adventure and the outdoors and just my sheer optimism that I can do what many would deem impossible.  The inspiration to do these rides is also helping me to stay motivated in areas related to my physical health (diabetic health and weight loss).  Wish me luck and watch for me as I get to work to achieve these goals.   

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Sometimes you need to take the detour, sometimes you have no choice.

Today life presented a detour to me.  I received the news that I was let go from Sprint (again).  My last day is next Friday and it is a bittersweet moment for me.  I have struggled to know my place here ever since they laid off my entire team last year.  I came back after about 5 months as they needed someone to work through some of the transition that was incomplete when they let my team go.  It was easy to come back to Sprint.  I love so many of my coworkers and after 23 years here things got pretty comfortable.  I’ve been pondering a whole career change ever since I came back and it looks as if I get to give that idea a try.

Once they told me about my being let go, they said I could go home early and take some time to think about things.  Well of course to me that meant only one thing, bike riding time.  I got home and ate a quick lunch and started preparing to ride.  I thought a few times about loading the bike on the Jeep so I could go do a different trail and almost talked myself out of it.  I knew riding from home could add an hour of precious bike riding time, but I felt drawn to ride the Gary Haller Trail rather than the tried and true Indian Creek Trail.  Finally I decided I must follow the urging and packed the bike to the Gary Haller Trail. 

I started riding and it’s amazing what riding can do for me.  It really clears my head and gets my mind working in a higher level kind of way.  I was clipping along nicely when I came to this:

Talk about a detour!

I immediately thought about how this forced detour paralleled my current situation.  The detour was not optional.  To continue going forward without paying heed to the detour would mean destruction (or at least a great deal of pain).  As I rode past this obstacle on the detour path I noticed that the path was not all smooth and comfortable (as the bike trail was).  It was on gravel and was bumpy and filled with potholes.  But in a matter of feet I was back on the path and moving quickly and comfortably again.  Another parallel struck me.  Detours are sometimes bumpy and not as comfortable.  They can be tough and painful, but in the end they can also be lifesaving.  And once you get past them you can start moving again.

I know that in the end this detour will be a good thing.  It gives me a chance to think about what I want to do for the next 20 years or so.  It gives me a chance to take care of things that I always say I would do if I had more time to do them.  It gives me time to take care of myself and my family. 

Last year when I got laid off I commemorated the occasion with this tattoo:

The translation  for this is – Never look back, continue going forward on your journey.  I need to remember why I got this tattoo as I move forward. 

In the meantime, I foresee even more riding as I will have some free time on my hands.  Hopefully I will be able to share more thoughts that come to me on my rides.  One thing that helps me is that I am a positive thinker.  I'm always looking for the silver lining.  I know I can and will find it!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Fall

The last few rides I've taken I've been noticing the beauty of Fall.  The leaves are almost done falling and the colors they have provided are one of the many things I love about cycling the trails around my house.

As I was riding this weekend I was struck with a parallel of Fall the season and what it is like for someone to fall because of something happening to them in their life.

Towards the end of Fall the leaves are gone from the trees.  One thing I noticed is that because of Fall I can see through the trees.  I can see things that are 15 feet off the trail that I did not notice all Summer long.  I can also often see further up the trail and even see around corners better.  It gives me more time to react to oncoming obstacles.

Compare that to someone having fallen in some way in their life.  Maybe because of a family crisis or a job related problem.  Something that causes one to really feel down and defeated.  Depressed and beaten.  When I've been in those places I've noticed that my outlook on things shifts or changes.  In some cases I become more careful, in other ways more free spirited.  Usually the opposite of however I acted before the fall.  After I've fallen I've noticed that I see things I did not see previously.  So many times I suddenly see the bigger picture.  I get meaning out of the sadness or pain.  I can see further down the road to where I am going and I make corrections to ensure I don't fall again, or least I don't fall as hard.

One thing I truly love is the fact that after the Fall there will eventually be another Spring.  A reminder that whatever I'm going through now will not last forever.  New life and renewal is just around the corner.  Using the learning of a fall will better prepare me for a new start.