Sunday, March 26, 2023

Houston, We Have a Problem

Photo Mar 25 2023, 9 31 13 AM



Boy what a difference a week makes, last Saturday it struggled to get much above freezing, more so if you factored in the the feels like temps. This week Saturday was already in the 40° range at the start of the ride on it's way to the mid fifties before we were done. Due to the weather last week I didn't get in the traditional birthday ride that is supposed to equal the number of miles to match the number of years old you are on my actual birthday weekend, but this Saturday cooperated and allowed us to check that off the list. The plan this week wasn't really for the birthday ride, it just worked out that way, the actual plan was a pretty flat spin out to Cortland, Nebraska and the increasingly popular Paper Moon Pastries, named after the 1973 Crime/Drama/Comedy of the same name... minus the pastries part.




Flat might sound like some people's idea of a great ride but do it for any distance and the constant pedaling, constant saddle time and monotony are enough to make you wish you had some hills to liven things up. No hills on the way out but we did come across a few wild Turkeys to give chase to, the feathered variety not the alcohol type in this case. I guess I single speed faster than ole Tom runs because he got annoyed with me after a bit and took flight, I have to say it's a little whimsical to watch a 20 lbs bird take off and attempt to look graceful while trying to maintain altitude.

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The old railroad bridge still makes for a good bridge beer stop but with the new beltway looming not too far away now the sounds and sights of the constant traffic is less ideal than it used to be. Progress they say.



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They're known for their cinnamon rolls and throw back atmosphere and dress but I tell you what, that little German Chocolate cupcake in the forefront there gave those rolls a run for their money, IMO. Generally they also have very delicious Kolaches as well, a few in our group were looking forward to them actually, but a couple of tour buses has rolled through before we got there and snatched up all the Kolaches. Tour of what I have no idea but it's great to see a small town Mom and Pop type establishment getting that kind of business. Big chains are great for implied quality and consistency when traveling but it's hard to beat the home cooked taste and feel of a local outfit.

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After a bit of a rest and a sugar high, it was time to hit the gravel for the journey back to town.

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Hit up the Roca Tavern on the spin back for a cold refreshment. I discovered a flag on the back patio area and did my best impression of a color guard waving the Big Red flag to and fro. The flag had seen better days for sure but, then again, so has the football team so I suppose it's a fitting representation of the state of things in the Husker football state.


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We jumped back on the trail after departing Roca and made quick work of the remaining miles back into town, thus ending another fun Saturday Morning Ride. Weather this week is looking like it might try to look more like winter again on a few of the days so hopefully it won't impact next weeks activities too much. Two weeks from now we are bikepacking from Marysville, Kansas to Americus, Kansas and then partaking in the Flint Hills Gravel Ride so I suppose if this week wants to misbehave so that next week can be more like spring again then let it do it's worse this week and get it out of the way.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Just Like Saturday Morning Cartoons

Photo Mar 18 2023, 8 42 10 AM

Let them eat cake! Completed another 365 days on this planet on Saturday and thanks to Doug we did have little round mini cakes to celebrate my refusal to die for yet another year.

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I was born on a Saturday many, many, many moons ago, I know this because my dad likes to remind me from time to time that I interrupted Saturday Morning cartoons. Now for those whipper snappers not in the know that seems like a trivial thing but I assure you back then it was not, cartoons ONLY happened once a week then and ONLY on Saturday mornings... so yeah, I came into this world with one strike already in the ole man's book. As it happened the day fell on a Saturday again this year, not cartoons but we did ride and that's even better.

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A lot of folks like to try to get their birthday years in miles on their birthday and I probably might have tried that too or at least in kilometers but it was a tad bit nipply and a bunch too windy for that silliness. Temps were below freezing and with that wind the feels like was downn near single digits, instead we knocked out an in town 22 mile jont to the local Rock-n-Joe's.

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A few hours after that we found ourselves on another bike of sorts in the form of a beer trolly through Group Therapy, thanks to Jackie who made the arrangements. First time I'd been on one and it was a hoot!

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I tell you what, those two hours you book for the ride go by faster than you think but the alcohol goes down quicker than you think also so they might just even out.

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Thanks to everyone who came out either in the morning or the evening to help me celebrate and a big thanks also to those who wished me happy birthday one way or another, you all made it a great day. Special thanks to Jackie for planning it all and for putting up with my nonsense 365 days out of every year, that's not an easy task let me tell you.


Friday, March 10, 2023

2023 Washington Jefferson Ride


Photo Mar 04 2023, 8 06 49 AM

Last Saturday was the annual Washington Jefferson Ride out of Hanover Kansas. Going strong since 2019 and traversing some of the best gravel and dirt roads in Washington county Kansas and Jefferson county Nebraska... and some "roads" that qualify only by name.

Photo Mar 04 2023, 7 38 57 AM

One of the great traditions of the ride is that there is always pie afterwards, always. This year Pat brought cookies to the start of the ride, guess what Pat? You've now started a new tradition and shall from this day forward be required to bring cookies to the start of every subsequent Washington Jefferson Ride for as long as they continue. And that's how traditions are started, not everybody wants them, not everybody likes them but nobody forced you to bring cookies and as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. 




Being mostly an agricultural town of around 700 people, not much goes on in Hanover these days other than the day to day droll of farm life. That wasn't always the case however, Hanover (named after Hanover, Germany)was the site of the Hollenberg Station of the Pony Express. More accurately the Hollenberg Station was there first but because of a local farm and boarding house the stop rose in popularity and spawned Hanover. The station is one of the last, if not the last, standing buildings from the Pony Express Route which aligned itself mostly with the Oregon and Mormon Trails and ran from St. Joseph, Missouri all the way to Sacramento, California. Until the first transcontinental telegraph was established in 1861 the Pony Express was the fastest way to get word west from the east, shaving 10 days off the trip. Hanover also saw many Indian tribes call it a neighbor, once upon a time the Otoe, Kaw, Kansa and Pawnee tribes all resided nearby before being rounded up and placed on reservations.

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None of that has much to do with a bicycle ride but if you stop on top of any of the many hills along the ride route and look around it's not all that hard to imagine the way things might have been when the West was still wild and fences didn't section off every inch of land.




Hills were plentiful on Saturday and came in gravel wave after gravel wave, we opted to try our luck on the newish Stormchasers, the legs weren't always happy with that choice. We opted for the 30ish mile route rather than the almost 70 mile route so at least we weren't fully crazy.


That one them 'lectric bicycles you got there?



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We weren't in a super big hurry so it wasn't too surprising when we found ourselves near the back end of the pack before too long but we did manage to catch up to and ride with a fairly large group when they stopped to share a few barley pops in a traditional bridge beer fashion. I'm not saying I coined the phrase bridge beer but I don't remember hearing it much before and it's kind of become a thing now, so if nothing else I at least helped to popularize the term around these parts anyway.


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A great thing about doing the shorter route and not being in a hurry, besides the bridge beer stops, is that you get to take in the sights a little more and folks complain less when you stop for the occasional picture.


The OG "wind turbine" stands alone in front of a more modern wind farm in the background.


Buffalo herds have long since vanished from the Great Plains but if you're really still, you're quiet and lucky you can still see the occasional herd of fat bikes rolling across the landscape.


Joe provides a full service event, even if he has to call you to tell you to hurry your ass up before he pulls chocks and rolls onto the next spot.





Remember when I said there were even a few roads that were by name only, I wasn't lying.


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Rolled into Steele City and mile 20 a bit earlier than we hoped and had a bit of a wait for the kitchen to open but they did send out the town greeter to make sure we felt welcomed. The Salty Dog is always an anticipated oasis really out in the middle of nowhere, heck the village itself only boasts a population of 47 souls. Food is good and the beer is cold though and they obviously know what they're doing to draw the folks from the surrounding communities and farms.


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Eight miles out of Steele City we came up on an Oregon Trail marker and our last SAG stop before rolling back into Hanover. Oddly there was a cooler of ice cold beverages near the foot of that maker, while I'm not saying that some Oregon Trail settler left it there in the 1800's for us to find, I'm also not saying they didn't. Either way it was a nice little treat on a dry, windy day.


Rumor has it that in some places you can still see wagon wheel ruts along the route, I personally have never seen any but that didn't keep Pat and Doug from venturing out to see if they could find any.


Found a downed tree a bit after leaving the marker, we made quick work of some of the branches in the middle of the blockade to create a bicycle sized hole where we passed bikes across one at a time until the entire group was safely on the other side. No bouts of dysentery or dead oxen from this Oregon Trail party... if you don't get the reference you obviously didn't grow up in the 80s and weren't subjected to that game in the school library. Your loss, not mine.



A few more miles down the road and we were back in civilization and the end of another great Washington Jefferson Ride.

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Photo Mar 04 2023, 1 59 52 PM

Well ALMOST done, there was still the pie to be eaten and for the second year in a row huge smoked meatballs also courtesy of the Beikmann family. See, Pat, once you introduce something you gotta see it through because we will all be looking for those cookies again next year.