Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kansas City 400km

Most people think that riding a bike 250 miles in a day is crazy. Driving 8 hours to do so is even worse. However, I have signed up to ride the Shenandoah 1200 kilometer ride and need to ride a 250 ride before the end of May to qualify. Unfortunately, none of the clubs in the Upper Midwest offer a 250 mile ride in time to help me. So, Kansas City here I come.

On Saturday, I showed up in Liberty, Missouri to ride the 400 kilometer brevet with the Kansas City Ultracycling gang. At sign in, I immediately recognized three guys that I have ridden with before. I had ridden with Spencer Klaasen and Jack Romans at my first ever 600 kilometer brevet, which I did in 2008 in Lincoln, Nebraska. I also knew Dan Clinkenbeard whose crazy storytelling had kept our group in stitches during the last day of the Granite Anvil 1200 kilometer brevet in 2009. Dan is famous for never, ever moving to the front of the group to take his turn pulling riders to reduce air resistance.

We started the ride just before sunrise in the darkness of a strip mall parking lot. Kansas City's RBA, Bob Burns, started the pre-ride meeting with a new-to-me practice of having everyone introduce themselves to the group. In all, there were about 15 riders lined up. With a casual, "Well, I guess you can go", we were off into the morning.

Within a couple of miles, the field had broken into several small groups. I fell into a group with Spencer, Dan C., and Rod. Following the course proved to be about as easy as possible, we simply followed US Highway 69 from the outskits of Liberty, Missouri to Davis City, Iowa.  Fortunately, Highway 69 parallels Intertate 35 so traffic was minimal for most of the route.  Although we were heading into a steady 10 mph headwind over non-stop rolling hills, we maintained a nice pace for the 72 miles to the first control in Pattonsburg, Missouri.  At Pattonsburg, we added two more riders to our group, Karen and Keith. This group of 6 would stay together for the rest of the ride. Because there were 2 Dans in the group, I was referred to as "Dan who pulls".

We averaged 14.2 miles per hour while riding and reached the turnaround at 3:35pm, a time of 9 hours and 35 minutes for first 200 kilometers. The turnaround was at a tiny post office in Davis City, Iowa. To prove that we had been there, each rider had to mail a postcard back to the ride director.

On the ride back to Liberty, the 10 mile per hour winds pushed us along nicely. The hard effort of the northbound leg was replaced by a more conversational, light-hearted spin. The only drama of the day occured when lightning started lighting up the sky as we approached Lawson, Missouri, about 20 miles from the finish. After a team meeting, and a flurry of smart phone weather research, we decided that the worst of the storms would miss us so we headed on towards Liberty. The skies opened up and we rode through steady rains for about 10 of the remaining 20 miles but we all arrived at the finish safe and sound, albeit wet. 

I finished at 1:25am for a total time of 19 hours and 25 minutes.

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