Tour of Kansas City Gran Fondo

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Saturday was the Tour of Kansas City Gran Fondo. Linda and I had chosen to do the 100-mile route (which somehow had become the 104-mile route). Our friend, Wally, had talked us into doing this many months ago as a way to force himself to train for his half-Ironman race. We figured we hadn’t ever done a century ride, so it would be good motivation for us also. (We signed up for the Biking Across Kansas date after signing up for this ride).

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However, now Wally was sick and not with us. Paul Beuchter (a friend from the KC Symphony Chorus) was riding, but he had changed his mind from doing the 104-mile route to the 54-mile route. We probably should’ve listened to him. He had done the route the week before and realized that the route plus the heat would be hard. We decided we could do it – besides, we’d just done a century ride the week before.

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We saddled up at 7:20 for the 7:30 start. They had us lined up behind our average speed – the 14mph was the slowest one offered. We started out easy and it felt like this was going to be a great ride – slow and steady. However, the day wore on and got warmer and more humid. The SAG stops were perfectly placed and always seemed to be right when we needed one. The half PBJ sandwiches, fig newton cookies, pickles, and ice cold water with Gatorade powder was heaven-sent. The rolling hills after rolling hills after rolling hills were sent from hell. Every time I’d crest a hill, there was yet another one right after it. I believe curse words were slipping from he corner of my mouth by about mike 75.

Linda was a very strong rider for most of the ride. She’d trained hard throughout the spring and has been consistently attacking hills much harder than I have ever done. These hills were no different and she could’ve easily left me many times over. However, the heat started to take a toll on her and she started to wear out after 75 miles. We were both very tired and the hot humidity was really hurting us. We started taking frequent breaks and stopping every 3 miles in whatever shade we could find. Whenever we could catch our breath and calm our heart rate, we set out to attack the next set of rolling hills.

There were several times when the roving SAG vehicles would stop to check on us; we would just wave them on – until we started needing more water. By the 90th mile, we were beginning to be concerned that the heat would do us in. However, we kept cheering each other on and we eventually pulled in to the final run. The last few miles found me grunting with a sharp pain in my left knee. The hills and headwinds had created enough wear on my knee that every pedal stroke caused a hot-poker pain right in the middle of the joint.

We officially finished at 9 hours and 55 minutes (about 7.5 hours of actual pedaling time). This was about the time that we did the century last week – that was almost fully flat. We were cheered on by other riders that were lining the finish line. Cow bells were ringing, hands were clapping, and friends were cheering. I really wanted to celebrate, but all I could do was heave one pedal over the other to make it up the small inclined finish. Turns out, also, there was an additional 2.5 miles added in because of a “parade start” that had us do a small loop at the beginning. So – our 104-mile ride became a 106.8-mile ride!

Our final results listed me as dead last and Linda finished right before me. However, there were a lot of riders that were SAGed in and didn’t complete the ride. We, at least, can say we finished the ride.

There was a party and dinner available at the end of the ride, but we literally rode directly to the car and loaded up and went home. We were so hot and exhausted that all we could think of was a shower and air conditioning. We showered upon arriving home and immediately fell asleep on the bed – for at least an hour. So exhausted, but so proud of what we had accomplished.

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Happy Father’s Day

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Happy Father’s Day to both my father and father-in-law. Also, a cheerful wish for a wonderful day to all the other fathers.

Today was spent with family enjoying some of my favorite foods – Five Guys burger (bacon cheeseburger with mayo, tomato, grilled mushroom, jalapeƱo peppers and green peppers to be exact) for lunch AND a Kansas City Strip at Hereford House for dinner.

RIP Miss Nina

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We received word that Miss Nina (Molleson) died a couple days ago. She has been the dance teacher for the girls since they were three years old. Miss Nina had taught dance for 65 years.

She informed the girls during one of their final dance classes that she had breast cancer and was not sure if she’d be available to be teaching in the fall. It was a very sad thing to hear, but the back of the program for the spring recital commented on looking forward to seeing everyone in the fall.

The picture above was taken at the dance recital just a few weeks ago. All of these girls took from Miss Nina for most of their lives.

We will miss you, Miss Nina. Thank you for teaching our girls tap and ballet – but thank you mostly for teaching them to be young women.

One day of Biking Across Kansas

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Linda and I participated in Biking Across Kansas in 2011 after Linda had done a portion of it in 2010. Amazingly, I didn’t blog about our 2011 trip, but I guarantee our Facebook timeline is full of posts during our 2011 trip. The next 2 summers found us doing biking trips with some close friends, but our heart was aching for BAK.

The route is announced every year on Kansas Day (January 29) and the 800-person roster is filled pretty quick within a couple weeks. The route is usually a west-to-east route that goes straight across the state, around 500 or so miles. This is completed over 8 days of riding. The route this year (40th anniversary) started in the southwest corner and advanced diagonally up to the northeast corner – going through Manhattan. In fact, that particular day started in Salina and went through Fort Riley and Manhattan before ending in Wamego. Linda and I felt that this was too good of an opportunity to pass up, even if we didn’t have the time to do the whole thing.

We spent the day riding with a very good friend, Stephanie; she’s doing the whole route across the state. We left Salina at 06:30am and went through Abilene, Chapman, Junction City, Fort Riley, Manhattan, Zeandale, Waubansee, and then finally into Wamego.

We rode around Manhattan for a while, taking pictures on campus, in front of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and at St Isidore’s (where we were married). What a wonderful day.

The big news is that we completed our first Century Ride. We were sore, tired, and very hungry. We ate a wonderful pasta dinner provided by the high school wrestling team and then made our way back to Salina to pick up the other car. We finally got ourselves back home by midnight and enjoyed hot showers/baths and the comfort of our fluffy bed and soft pillows.

Here’s to all of the others that spent the night in the gym or in a tent – and still have 3 more days of riding. Sure made me think about doing it again next year.

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