Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 Tour de BBQ ride report (THANK YOU!)

THANK YOU to all my donors! Together we raised more than $1,400 to help fund juvenile cancer support in the Kansas City Area!

I gotta tell you, this may have been one of the toughest Tour de BBQ rides for me yet! I did the full 62 miler, but it wasn’t the distance (I do a 62-mile route every year – a few years ago I rode the 15 miles from my house to the start line and the 15 back for a 90+ day). Nor was it the temperature (a few years ago it didn’t crack 50 and rained). Nope, this time it was….a spider. 2 weeks before the ride, I got a spider bite. On my right, um, cheek. It got infected. (Side note: DO NOT Google infected spider bite! Some things can’t be unseen!)
So I was off the bike for a while leading up to the ride. And as you likely know, I was travelling for work this summer. A lot. So travel =weight gain + lack of riding = poor fitness. Travel + spider bite = worse fitness. Worse fitness + 85 degree temps = cramps. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This year’s ride was a new route, with a new start/stop at PrairieFire instead of the downtown Power & Light District. It was also a good 45-minute to an hour drive from my house. The long-route riders left the Start at 7:15. I made it to the venue at 7:20. By the time I got my registration packet, got the bike set up, and got my gear on and made it to the start, it was 7:45 am. I literally was the last person to leave for the 62 mile route.
But that’s OK – it’s not a race, it’s a ride. So in that spirit, I had fun. I skipped the first pit stop at Dickey’s because A) it was Dickey’s BBQ, which is OK, but it’s not my thing, and B)it was closed already.

Before I got to the second stop (Zarda’s) I would have 2 more unscheduled stops. The first was to help a guy who had a flat on his rear tire. He thought the sidewall was bad, so we spent some time checking it over and suggesting if it was a bad sidewall, a dollar bill folded over makes a great emergency sidewall casing. But it turns out it was just a puncture. But throughout the rest of the day, he was gingerly riding that tire. He thought about keeping it low on air pressure, but I warned him that might do more harm than good – low pressure leads to sidewall flex, and if he’s already concerned about a weak sidewall, that’s the last thing he wants.
Unscheduled stop #2 was for a poor guy named Patrick that had gotten his derailleur DESTROYED by a stick. It was bent in about 6 different ways that I had never seen before. He said he was going to wait for his wife to get him; I suggested we remove the derailleur (which was tough to do on something so mangled) and turn his bike into a single-speed. It would mean he couldn’t change gears, but at least he’d be rolling. He agreed, and we got him back up and going. Of course, we met his wife a few minutes after we started back up again (and I think she shot him the evil eye since he never did swap out bikes), but at least he had an option.

After Zarda’s, it was Johnny’s and RJ’s, but not before what I considered the longest, toughest climb of the day. Patrick was taking this 7-12% grade (at least ¾-mile long, if not longer) in one gear, so out of sympathy, I did too (although I think mine was a gear easier). Then you look at the elevation map below and say things like “wait a second, it’s not rated as a climb?” and “that next climb was rated a Cat 5?” and “the Tour De France is nothing by Cat 2 and 1’s” and “I don’t think I EVER want to ride a HC climb!”

After RJ’s, I picked up yet another group; this time, one of them was having problems with her rear wheel coming out of alignment when she took a fast corner. She had a triathlon bike with horizontal dropouts, so aligning the wheel with the frame is a pain. (The horizontal dropouts let you tuck the wheel in closer to the seatpost for better aerodynamics). Once we got her up and going, her group and mine started getting a little bigger. It was fun to meet new folks, some of whom were there on a whim (Though why they chose the 62-miler is beyond me; I think they were trying to do the 30 miler and got on the wrong course? Who knows.)
By the time we got to Rosedale BBQ on Southwest Boulevard, and then climbed another long hill to get to the Plaza and Jack Stack, I was a good hour + behind schedule. So I bid adieu to my collection (they were now past the halfway point and we had caught up with plenty of other riders), and got going faster than the 12-14 mph I was averaging, up to my usual 17-20 mph. But by this time, the sun was starting to come out, the temps were warming up, and I had forgotten to keep drinking water. By the time I got to BB’s Lawnside, I was starting to feel the heat. (p.s. what was up with BB’s not offering BBQ, only coleslaw and rolls?) When we got to Murray’s, I was starting to cramp up to the point I didn’t want to straighten my leg fully or it would seize up. And the spider bite? Man, it was itching.

When I got back to PrairieFire at about 1:30 PM, I was ready to give my post-ride drink tickets away and head home. Which is what I did. All in all, though, it was a perfect day for a long bike ride. And at the end of it, even though I was a little cramped up, it was worth it. Even the spider bite was insignificant, compared to the reason I was riding. On March 31, Lisa’s uncle Jim Berry lost his fight with cancer after 11 years. 6 weeks later, on May 25, we lost Lisa’s mom Karen Mall, after her 4 year fight with cancer and other illness. And while the Tour de BBQ supports juvenile cancer care, to me, it’s about giving hope to the friends and families of those fighting their own battles. Thank you again for your support over these last few years…I just want you to know how deeply I appreciate it. THANK YOU.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Tour De BBQ Ride Report

Mile 0: I left my house at 5:30 AM. It was 45° out – chilly, but luckily not damp. I packed sparingly, knowing I would regret not having more cold-weather gear, but then I’d have to lug it around later. I would be riding up a lot of hills, so unneeded cargo was unnecessary weight.
As I left my house and rode along Barry Road and North Oak Trafficway, I noticed how different it was without all the traffic. Some of the steeper downhill sections were a little scary in the blackness of night – especially with missing streetlights. Even with a front flasher, it was so dark, I prayed I wouldn’t hit a pothole or something worse. Luckily, I only had to dodge a broken water main – no need for early morning cold showers.
Heading into downtown, it seemed like the Heart of Americas Bridge would never end – it just kept going uphill. It’s also an on/off ramp for the I-35/I-70 freeways, so I had to be extra cautious with the traffic. Just as I crossed into downtown I got to see my first wildlife of the day – a possum, just shambling along in the middle of the street. I tried to shoo him along, but he clearly had his own pace and was going to stick to it. After a few more exercises in patience waiting on yet more streetlights, I arrived at the BCS offices at 6:15 to meet up with my group.

Mile 14: After being greeted with a ridiculously strong Bloody Mary by Curt, I met the rest of our team: Leigh Ann, Big Jeff, Little Jeff, Courtney and Brandon, and our last-minute addition, our SAG driver Jeremy. We all only met Jeremy just that day, so big kudos to him for agreeing to do this crazy early event with us! (of course, had I known we’d have a SAG, I would have brought that extra gear after all!) After some last-minute prep, we headed over to the start area about a quarter-mile away.

Mile 15: We were riding the 62+ mile route, and eager to get going. There was a very chilly breeze by this time, and even with my 15-mile warmup ride, I was starting to get cold, too. They released us in waves of ~100, starting at 7:00. Our team got split in half by the organizers, so Curt sweet-talked one of them into letting us jump around the barrier when the main guy wasn’t looking. We all left in the second wave, right around 7:10 AM. It was very cool going through downtown, mid-town, and along the plaza with about 150-200 other riders at the same time. (There were about 3,000 total riding 15-, 30- and 62-mile courses!)
Mile 25: Ten miles into the course, we got to our first stop. Smokestack BBQ had wings and beans. The wings were great, especially because they were hot from the cooker. Didn’t have the beans. Some of us considered going into Goodwill store next door for extra clothes, but it wasn’t open yet. And the sun was starting to come out and warm us up. Most of our group were seasoned RAGBRAI riders, so Coors Light was passed out. It was like drinking barley pop – no taste, and the alcohol burned off in the first 5 minutes of pedaling.

Mile 33: Eight miles and a couple of very fast (and cold) downhills and a couple of long, hard uphills, with a healthy dose of stoplights and traffic, we got to the next stop. Now, technically, SPIN! Pizza isn’t a BBQ joint, but they are a major sponsor, so they got a pass. They had a variety of gelato, and I had the last white chocolate raspberry gelato – delicious.

Mile 42: About 9 miles, and one really long climb later, we got to the original location of one of my favorite BBQ places – Fiorella’s Jack Stack, or just Jack’s Stack. There are widely known for their brisket, so I was a little disappointed to see that they offered sausage as their sample. But the first bite banished that thought. It was terrific and I could have eaten about 4 more plates. But I didn’t want to overdo it, considering there was a lot more riding to do. There’s nothing good that can come from an upset stomach on this ride.

Mile 42.5: Jeremy was waiting for us at the parking lot of Jack’s Stack, but most of the group stopped about a ¼ mile short at RJ’s Lounge. In fact, just about all the riders stopped there. I told Jeremy to meet us here, where I had a particularly strong lager from one of the local breweries. Tasted like a Sam Adams, but better. Wish I could remember what it was. Curt took a wrong turn and missed both Jack’s Stack and here. We made sure to let him know what he missed.

Mile 51: The rest stops were spaced out pretty well. Our next was Gates BBQ (home of “HI! MAY I HELP YOU!?!”). It isn’t on the top of my list of BBQ faves, but they are a KC institution. I had 2 sandwiches – one beef (with a lot of sauce) and one turkey (with just the right amount of Gates sauce – next to none). It was 11:15 or so, so we stopped a little longer here and enjoyed another Coors. Jeremy was certainly earning his keep. I called home to tell Lisa how we were progressing and have her record the MSU/OSU game – it was clear I wouldn’t be home by the 2:30 kickoff. Mile 59: I had been holding off on the BBQ sampling because I was most excited for our next stop - Oklahoma Joes. This is by far my favorite BBQ in all of Kansas City. I’m still unclear as to why it’s “Oklahoma” Joes since it has its origins here in KC. Anyway, we stopped at the original location – a gas station. Yes, the best BBQ in the world is served in what looks like one of the last places you’d go. Unfortunately, the riders doing the 15- and the 30-mile routes also stopped here. The lines were ridiculously long, and my hopes of having multiple chopped beef brisket sandwiches were dashed. I could have only one. I will avenge my loss!
Mile 67: After Oklahoma Joes, us 62-milers split off again from the other routes. This whole area was probably the toughest section of the day – and one of the hardest routes I’ve ever ridden. Long, hard, steep climbs. Chewed up pavement. Glass. Something that appeared to be a shanty town. Crazy fast dangerous descents – I saw 1-2 riders that went off the road. I hit a water main cover at 30+ mph and had my handlebars move down by an inch. When we got to RJ’s Bob-Be-Que, most of us were questioning the sanity of pressing on. RJ’s had a pulled pork sandwich with a sweet sauce with an apple-like tanginess. It was one of the most unique sauces I’ve had. They also had a patio, where we sat with Jeremy and said “job well done” to Courtney – she was abandoning after 50+plus miles on very little training on one of the tougher rides any of us had done. I knew there would be hills, but not like this. You were either coasting or climbing, and definitely more of the latter.

Mile 70: Luckily, the next rest stop, Johnny’s BBQ, was only another 3 miles. We didn’t stay for long, since we were clearly one of the slower groups (those long “rest” stops). I’m not sure what I had, either shredded beef or pork, but it was tasty. The sauce was a little sweet again, but didn’t have that apple flavor RJ’s had.
Mile 73: After the only halfway decent long, fast descent, I came up to a set of railroad tracks…and promptly waited for two long trains to pull through. Surprisingly, none of the group was with me, even after waiting, so I rode up to the next stop - Woodyard BBQ. I think they had been serving chicken (the quarters they were pulling out of their wood-fired brick smokers looked and smelled awesome), but all I got was a beef hot dog with some very hot BBQ sauce. It was a unique place – basically a house and a shed that were converted into a restaurant. I definitely want to go back there, just not during the summer, since it’s all outdoor seating. Oh, and it turned out that someone in our group got a flat, so we didn’t start for the last stretch until close to 2:30.

Mile 78: The home stretch was a long, slight uphill, winding up to Southwest Boulevard, where we passed door-to-door Mexican restaurants and shops. I was feeling the burn from all the climbs and just wanted to finish. We got to the Finish area in the KC Power & Light District just in time to hear the post-ride entertainment’s last song. I signed a banner and we stood around for a few minutes talking about the ride. I wanted to stay longer, but there was another 15 miles to go. I was going to be pushing 100 miles, and considered doing an extra lap or two around the flats of the downtown airport to get there, but it was too late in the day – and I was in no shape. I got my dropped stuff from Jeremy (if you have a SAG, use it!) and started home.
Mile 81: I crossed back over the Heart of Americas Bridge (luckily, it sloped downhill this time!), rode through Northtown, and began the longest climb of the day – 10 miles with 1400+ feet of climbing. It was brutal, with 6-10% slopes. My legs ached. My knees hurt. But this is also where I got to ride with my thoughts the most, since I didn’t have other riders or stoplights to interrupt me. I thought about why I was riding: For my grandmother Dorothy, and the pain she went through a year ago, first with lung cancer in the fall, then with brain cancer in the winter, passing away in January. For my wife’s grandmother Gertrude, who had breast cancer and a mastectomy. For Lisa’s Aunt Shirley, whom we watched succumb to cancer 2 years ago. And for our uncles, who are still with us and whom we respect very much. The whole day, I didn’t want to compare any pain I might feel with what they went through. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to go through chemo and radiation treatments. And when I hit that last wall of a hill at a measly 4-5 mph, I figured I’d better not stop or complain.

Mile 91.7: I was very happy to see my house after almost 92 miles and nearly 11 hours. But I was even happier about the generosity of my co-workers, friends, and family, who helped me raise more than $1250 – a thousand dollars more than my $250 goal! To all that supported me on this ride, your response means a lot to me.

Ride Total: 91.7 Miles, 6800+ Feet Climbing, 6:30 Hours Bike Time, 14.1 mph Average Speed

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tour de BBQ - October 1

I will be riding in the 3rd Annual Tour De BBQ on Oct 1. I will be riding 90+ miles to help raise funds for cancer research. My grandmother passed away earlier this year as a result of brain cancer, and I will be riding in her memory, as we all for my wife's grandmother and our surviving uncles Jim and Mark.

Please consider donating to this cause:

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 stuff

In case anyone reads this, I didn't do much this year. 1 Tri - the KC Corporate Challenge. Swam slower than last Year, Biked slower, too. But ran faster - in fact, fast enough to set a new PR! 62:30 for 587 yds Swimming, 9 miles Biking, and 2.4 miles running. Next year I hope to break the 1-hour mark.

Reasons for not doing much this year? Bathroom remodel is at the top of the list. stripped it down to the studs and subfloor, and rebuilt it - new insulation, new wiring, new plumbing - it took me 2 days to play with the copper lines to move them to accomodate the fixture and the waterlines to the washing machine. they share the same cubic foot of space. not fun at all - tiling, and best of all, a marine radio and 23" HDTV behind a 2-way mirror for Lisa to watch while he takes a whirlpool bath. (I must admit I like watching sportscenter when I take a shower after my morning run.)

Well, that's all for now. I'm hoping to return to form next year - I'm already starting to figure what I want to do.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2 down, 2 to go

not so good at keeping up, am I?
well, here's what happened:
Tri #1: like an idiot, decided that a 40+ mile ride the day before would be OK. turns out, it wasn't - Goal time was under 60 minutes for 587 yds swimming, 9 miles biking, and 2.4 miles running. But the lactic acid was still so much in my legs from the long ride the day before that I was gasping for air on the swim, and every time I breathed, I slowed down a little more. I was a little dizzy getting out of the water for the bike, and just didn't have the hill-climbing ability I should have had. Then, on the run, had to stop and walk because again, I got dizzy. Such a weird feeling. But I still set a new time record - 1:06, beating last year's time by...20 seconds.

Tri#2: Having learned my lesson about working out the day before, I was excited to take on a new challenge - new course, new competitors. I had never seen the 547yd/11.4mi/3.1mi course or the lake or any of the area before (I never go over to Lawrence, KS, much less south of it). Predicted heat index for the day was to be about 107. It was 85 degrees already at 4 in the morning when I left my house.
Got to the transition zone, got set up, and went for a light warm-up run. Everything was feeling good. Then I got in the water. Holy hot tub Batman! The water temperature was about 90 degrees - it was warmer than the air. the start zone was getting churned up and bringing cold water up, but once the swim started, it was hot, hot, hot! Time was a little slower, but felt good (other than the water temp).

The Bike course was hilly - everyone was talking about how challenging it was prior to the race. I figured I'd be facing some difficulty, but having dropped 20 pounds this year, and gotten stronger and faster on the climbs near my house, I was excited. Turns out, yes it was hilly, but I managed to turn in the 13th fastest bike time overall...not an easy task for a clydesdale! (Yes, I race in that category). In fact, I think the reduced visibility from the twists and turns of the road at the beginning of the course slowed me down a little more, just because I couldn't see what was up ahead.
Then came the run. Oh, how I suffered. I've been running a crazy hilly 5k distance every other day in less than 26 minutes. But the heat was too much. I had hoped for a run time of about 27 minutes. I took 33. I just couldn't cool down - my legs were fine, but my cardiovascular system was screaming at me. The first mile took me almost 13 minutes! Not until I got to an aid station and poured about 5 gatorade cups of ice-cold water on me did I begin to feel better. I crossed the line and immediately jumped into the ice bath they had set up under the Oakley tent. Final time for the race was 1:22 - goal time was 1:10.

Next race is August 22. Luckily, I've done the course before, though a longer distance. Distances are 528/11.75/3, with a goal time of 1:12. Let's just hope it's a tad cooler.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy July

wow - I suck at posting. Anyway, Happy July. 1st tri down, 3 more to go. Lessons learned from this year's first tri?? Don't go for a 45 mile bike ride the day before. Found out that all that lactic acid doesn't go away as fast as you think it does, and then you're in the middle of the lake, and starving for oxygen to breakdown the lactic acid, and when you do get out of the water (20% slower than you wanted to because you were swimming crooked) your legs are all shades of wonky, you have no juice in them for the climbs on the bike, and when you do get to the run, you get dizzy and feel like you are walking/running sideways. As in, "I-should-have-had-a-V8" kind of sideways.
Anyway, still managed to post a PR, albeit by only 20 seconds, not the 7-8 minutes I was hoping for.
Oh, and on a recovery run the next day, I blew out my Nike Frees that I had been REALLY digging on for runs. crap. They don't even make them like I want anymore. Now I have to find a new shoe? This sucks.
Anyway, I'll try to post again after my next tri on July 20!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

first race complete!

Had my first race this weekend - and it was on a NASCAR track of all places! Yep, had a 3-mile time trial on the skirt/apron of the Kansas Speedway - 2 laps, no excuses. I was excited for it since I thought the flat terrain (instead of hills) would suit me. While I didn't go as fast as I wanted, I still did pretty good - 7th overall in my age group, which incidentally, is the fastest age group of them all. I won my division - 45 seconds ahead of the guy that came in second.

Oddly enough, the 2 guys immediately in front of me placed 2nd and 3rd overall in the age group, so when they were reading out times, I heard their times, then mine, and thought I had done miserably (although I was secretly hoping to be in the top 5, if not medal). And the difference between places 4-8 was a total of 8 seconds...grrr!

I guess that just means I have a new target for next year!!!

Like this, but with bikes. Start and finish on pit road. Oh, and nobody was in the stands :(