Monday, April 26, 2021

Dull Lights, Small Village?




The calendar may have rolled over to Spring but winter is still in the air around here or at least in the mornings and Saturday was no exception. When we set sail on the gravel in the morning the temps were in the 30° range with the wind chill and expected to get up into the 60° range by the time we were done. Dressing for 30° temperature swings is sometimes a game of do I want to be cold to start or hot at the end. I opted for a bit chilly at the start, for me riding while hot always affects me more than riding when a little colder. Plus then I don't have to figure out what to do with all the layers that get stripped off during the course of the ride.




Since I had yet to make it out to Brixstone Coffee and Bakehouse in Malcolm due to it's somewhat early hours on Saturdays, it was decided that we would leave from the Fallbrook area an hour an a half earlier than is customary to make it to the shop before it closed. Even with the early departure time we were still going to have to make sure we did not lollygag too much since the coffee shop was at about mile 25 on the route. This meant all the normal shenanigans were going to have to wait until the second part of the ride. The things we will do for a good coffee.



Brixstone was good, coffee and food was good and the service was quick considering a dozen of us invaded all at once. They even had live music going on out on the lawn to the west of the building, as a matter of fact downtown Malcolm was kind of hopping on Saturday. Live music at Brixstone, the Bookmobile was in town and Genoa Food Company bought the old Lippy's BBQ building and they were over there busily getting things ready for the May 7th soft opening. I strolled over and chatted them up a bit before we took off and it sounds like they have big plans for the building and plan to serve burgers, sandwiches and artisan pizzas along with ice cold beer. I guess they are also opening a patio area out back that I didn't even know existed and plan to rent out the top for events down the road. Hope they can make things work there as it's been decades since there was a restaurant in town prior to Lippy's brief stint in the building.

Photo Apr 24, 11 50 36 AM

Photo Apr 24, 11 42 55 AM

The spin back to Lincoln was at a much more leisurely pace and of course we had to find a suitable location for the bridge/ditch beer and what other beer would be more fitting than the apt named Ditch Beer 2021 from Kros Strain Brewing.

Quick video of Saturday's adventures.

Sunday single track on the tandem.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Woke Up To The Sound Of Pouring Rain





Weather has not been or friend over the last couple of weeks, for the second weekend in a row we had a planned ride in Kansas thwarted by liquid sunshine. No that the rides didn't take place we just opted not to drive several hours to head toward the same or slightly worse weather than what was expected right here. That doesn't even take into account the ungodly early wake up call in order to make it down to Kansas for the start of those rides, I don't mind getting up for a ride but getting up to get rained on doesn't sound like something a sane person would do voluntarily.



I kind of feel like the boy that cried wolf lately with finding someone to lead the ride in Lincoln on Saturday only to show up to said ride I wasn't supposed to be at. I don't feel that bad though, not as bad as sitting on the couch missing riding altogether so there is that to factor in as well. Since the weather wasn't stellar in Lincoln either we decided to do a little in town coffee spin. Some people might be less than excited for such a ride but since I've always been one to ride more for the social aspect than for the KOMs I like it just fine. Might actually prefer it sometimes.


Photo Apr 17, 10 30 00 AM

Just because we weren't hitting the gravel didn't mean we couldn't also get in a pretty decent ride. The rain kept most people indoors which made the paths smooth sailing so we rode down to the new connector bridge and ran into Raffey and Karla. Two new Laufs and a Canyon, so much drool was sloshed on the bridge on Saturday unsuspecting users of the trail probably wondered why it rained so much more in that particular location. With the quick-link half off the supply chain causing the usual parts flow to ghost shift on the cogs of commerce like the drum intro to Van Halen's Hot For Teacher people are starting to look for alternative places to find new bicycles. I've seen a lot more direct to consumer bikes showing up in the last few months than I have ever before. People need to feed that new bike smell addiction one way or another.

Photo Apr 17, 11 42 00 AM

Photo Apr 17, 11 45 40 AM

People are itching to get back to some form of normal, this was more than apparent when we got to Rock-n-Joe. I've not seen it this hoppining this early on a Saturday ever. We grabbed our beverage and food and saddled up to a table on the patio... unfortunately the propane heaters on the patio were all out of propane and heat that day. Patios in the chillier weather has also been on the uptick the last year which probably makes it difficult for businesses to gauge just how much propane to keep on hand so you can't really fault them. Thankfully the coffee was hot and the cheese cake sandwich fueled the shiver motor which helped you to keep warm.


Kids out playing also seems to be returning to a more normal state of affairs, not sure a wet ditch on a chilly day is the best choice of adventure but as a kid that loved to get dirty also I get the lure of an open ditch. Quick spin back to the shop and everyone scattered to warmer and drier parts.

Saturday's Ride.
Sunday's adventure.


Monday, April 12, 2021

You Gonna Eat Your Tots



40 years is a long time to be doing anything and in a business with small margins where some shop owners end up owing more than they ever make or they end up putting in ridiculously long hours just to stay afloat, it's even more impressive. Kudos to Kris, Julie and the gang for keeping the pedals turning since 1981!



This weekend was supposed to be the Trongy Trots out of Tronganoxie, KS but rain sort of put a damper on that idea. We held out hope and didn't call it until Friday but once it was apparent that the rain was going to come it was an easy call. Why drive 3 hours to ride in the rain when the weather here looked to be much better and drier.


Minnesota Joe showing off the swanky new red and black PCL jersey, ain't she purdy.




The plan on Saturday, or Plan B if you will, was to head down to Sprague for a decent 40 mile gravel spin. While it wasn't raining on Saturday we didn't miss out on the rain altogether so the roads around Lincoln were a little on the squishy side in the morning.



Of course almost any trip to Sprague wouldn't be complete without a ditch beer stop at Wendelin's corner. Doug was sporting a pineapple, raspberry, guava, mango, cherry, rhubarb sour or some crazy thing like that.




Despite the softer gravel the tailwind was pretty brisk, perhaps a bit too helpful as it turned out since we arrived in Sprague 40 minutes before the Pub was supposed to open. Not to be discouraged we sat and ate our snacks and pretended they were something tastier. To their credit, while the grill was not yet going, the guy inside did offer to let us in for a beer if we were so inclined but we all decided that outside snacks were just the thing for a windy day. Very generous offer though as we were more than casually early.





What blows you south you must fight when returning north so we practiced getting small and hiding from the wind as much as possible on the way back. Of course one might ask why would you ride with the wind at the beginning of a ride, well once again the forecast did not have the winds being that strong. I suppose with the way it's been whipping through here lately we should have expected it but we did not as we are a trusting bunch.



Back in town we did happen upon a group of people marching to bring attention to the recent uptick in violence against the Asian community in this country. I wasn't around in the 60s and wasn't old enough in the 70s to have witnessed the civil unrest then but I imagine that what we are seeing lately is probably somewhat similar to what was going on then. You can only keep doing the same wrong for so long before people start to unify in an attempt to end it.

Next weekend if all goes well some of us plan to be in Sabetha, KS riding in the Maximum Effort Century which should be a great time and might even have some great pie at the finish. I like pie.   

For your viewing pleasure a little bonus video from Sunday's ride.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Land of Happy Little Trees - Part 2


When last we left our heroes they had indulged in the fruit of the tree in the middle of the road and had picked haunted pine cones in the final resting place of the fist European settler in Audubon county, IA.




Shortly after the cemetery we split off from the main group and continued up Lark Ave. on our own. The hills really started to pick up after the split but little did we know that they would get worse after leaving Exira.




We rolled into Exira at about mile 25 and hit the local Casey's for some food and drink. Exira has the notoriety of being the first town in Audubon county, founded in 1857. It is also the birthplace of former NFL player and head coach Jack Pardee who played for the LA Rams and Washington Football Team (formerly the Redskins) before coaching the Bears, The Washington Football Team (Redskins), Chargers and Oilers. Rumor also has it that Exira puts on one heck of a 4th of July shindig if you happen to be in the area around that time.





Leaving out of Exira we encountered more of the big rollers but this time they were mated to some of the thickest, chunkiest white rock gravel I've seen in a while and it stretched on for miles. I kid you not, looking back at the route it was probably a solid 8-9 miles of chunky white rock. I lamented to Doug that the county must have one heck of a budget as I'd never seen a continuous stretch of new rock this long, ever!



After all that shake, rattle and roll it was determined that a hydration break was in order on this tiny bridge spanning the even tinier creek below.



It's probably a good thing we did stop, otherwise we might have missed out on the heaping trailer full of pig manure that went by as we were standing on the bridge and it would have been a real bummer to miss out on that.



At last we made it to Audubon and the anatomically accurate(ish) Albert the Bull. I say (ish) because while he had all the parts they looked a bit misshapen and odd looking but I suppose what do you expect from giant cement bull testes.


The town is not only home to Albert but is also the birthplace of Harold Kaufman, the physicist responsible for NASAs Ion thrusters used in the 50s and 60s for spacecraft propulsion. But wait that's not all, it is also the birthplace of none other than C.W. McCall the crooner of trucker based outlaw country songs. His biggest hit, Convoy, subsequently spawning a movie of the same name staring Ali MacGraw, Ernest Borgnine and Kris Kristofferson. If that weren't enough for one small Iowa town, it is also named after John James Audubon... yes that John James Audubon, famed ornithologist and namesake of the Audubon Society. I'm not completely sure why the it was named as it was as I don't believe there are any ties between the town and the person but then again why are any towns named after famous people. For a brief time on Saturday it was also the "home" of two sweaty, scrotum grabbing, cyclists teetering away in the city park... nothing creepy about that at all.



We jumped on the flat, boring but much appreciated T-Bone paved trail for the journey to the Plow in the Oak. While true to it's name I am not sure what I expected but was hoping for something more but nothing more than a plow stuck in an oak was to be had that day. I feel like there should have been a vendor selling "I visited the plow in the oak and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" apparel but there wasn't even that.



The ride back to Atlantic was fairly uneventful, other than a lecture from a land owner not thrilled with cyclist on his recently purchased road, and we made quick time of it since it was mostly paved trail. The food and drink at Rancho Grande were fantastic, I opted for the Chuleta Ahumada (smoked pork chop) and the "medium" 32oz margarita. Yeah, they had a 64oz if you were really thirsty but I thought better of that choice.


After dinner we loaded up the bikes and started the journey back to the Nebraska side of the border. Having spent almost 12 hours on the Iowa side, it was a full day of riding and discovery and I think we were both ready for a hot shower and to be done with pedaling for a bit. It was a fun little trip though and an area that still has lots of other bits of American left to be seen, a quick search on the Google-ator revealed at least another dozen or so things one could hit up while riding in that area. Perhaps another day.

Here is the video from the day, give it a watch if that's your sort of thing and maybe hit that like and subscribe button if you're so inclined to do so. Next week Doug and I are headed to the Tongy Trots in the Kansas City area, should be a fun little event so stay tuned for that.