Thursday, June 30, 2011


 Beth and Sandy hold the rap meeting

Today, Karen and I drove over to Beth's house in Boulder for the pre ride meeting. It was good to see old friends and meet some new ones. (John's wife will be riding with us. Rick brought a friend, etc. More about that later.)

Steve, Bill, Dan, and John reunite after their Natchez Trace Parkway ride in May

Beth and Sandy have organized this ride for us and have obviously put a lot of effort into it, based on our discussion tonight. After having rap, we had a nice cookout to cap off the evening.

Riders attend the rap meeting

Luggage load is at 7:00AM at Beth's house tomorrow morning. We'll ride as a group for 13 miles before hitting the first climb on the way to Estes Park. Now, it is time for a good nights sleep and to get fully hydrated, as we climb to over 9,000 feet tomorrow.

Bill and Leo at rap

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Colorado Springs

Welcome to Colorado

I went for a nice out and back 20 mile cycle in Goodland, Kansas this morning. A tailwind going out and a headwind coming back. The ABB ride to Pierre, SD came to mind when returning. I have not ridden into as stiff a headwind since that day in South Dakota last year. In any event, it was a nice opening to a great day.

The Cog Railway, approaching the summit of Pikes Peak 

After showering and breakfast, we entered Colorado, drove to Colorado Springs, and took the cog railway to the summit of Pikes Peak at 14,110 feet. It was 53 degrees at the summit. A nice change from the weather we've had recently down south.

Summit of Pikes Peak

The day ended with an outdoor jacuzzi with views of Pikes Peak.

Well,  we made it to Colorado. Tomorrow, we drive to Beth's house in Boulder for the pre ride meeting. Then, on Friday we cycle 59 miles to Estes Park to get the ride started.
Today's ride:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The ride to Colorado

Yesterday, Karen and I began the drive to Colorado for the ABB Colorado reunion ride. Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois passed quickly. Before we knew it, we were driving through St. Louis into Missouri. We made it to Columbia, MO before calling it a day.

The Rocheport trailhead 

This morning we had a quick 12 mile drive to Rocheport where I was able to take a short bike ride on the Katy Trail.  This is a 225 mile rails to trails project, extending from St. Charles to Clinton. The surface is crushed limestone, or similar to the Elroy-Sparta Trail for those of you who have ridden the latter in Wisconsin. Anyway, I got in a nice ride along the Missouri River on the stretch of bike trail that is supposed to be the most scenic of the entire trail. The Missouri River is in flood stage here and was within one foot of flooding the trail just west of town. In fact, there is a section of trail in the town that has been sandbagged. I understand the river is supposed to crest here later this week, so hopefully there will be no damage to the trail. Ironically though, it was a flood washing out eight miles of surface that was the last straw causing the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad to cease operations in 1986, and leading to the current Katy Trail State Park.

The trail south of Rocheport with the I-70 bridge crossing the Missouri River

I would recommend the Katy Trail for anyone interested in a point to point, flat, scenic, dirt/crushed limestone surfaced ride. There are many bed and breakfasts, and camping opportunities along the entire trail, and plenty of restrooms and restaurants. Perhaps I'll have to come back and cycle the entire trail some day.

After cycling this morning, it was time to hit the road again, driving through the rest of Missouri and substantially all of Kansas today. Kansas is a wide state, taking about 420 miles to drive end to end. Our day finished in Goodland, KS in the mountain time zone. Tomorrow we will reach the Colorado Springs/Denver area, needing to be in Boulder on Thursday afternoon.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

NTP Day 7

A final 36 miles on the NTP today, to the northern terminus, and our ride is over.

 Howard and Shirley

I thought a bit about our last day's ride to Portsmouth last year as today we cycled the last few miles to our vehicles. Everyone pretty much stuck close together as we enjoyed each others company for the last time. I know I will see Steve and Leo in a few weeks in Colorado. And I'm sure I will ride with Jeff again. But who knows if I will see and ride with Baltimore Mark, Ellen, Rod, Howard, Shirley, Alex, and Helen again.

Crossing the bridge at Birdsong Hollow

At the finish, we rode into the parking lot, loaded our bikes on our cars for the last time, and changed clothes. A quick good by was shared by everyone and then it was time to leave. Karen and I dropped Howard and Shirley off at a Hertz location in Franklin, and we drove back to Big Canoe, arriving home about 4:15PM. How quickly we went back into the daily routine of cycling and how quickly we go back to our regular routine at home.

Double arched Birdsong Hollow Bridge

There is another ABB reunion ride this year though. Beth and Sandy have organized a ride in Colorado, starting on June 30.  Karen and I will start for Boulder on June 27th and we look forward to seeing other ABB riders in a few weeks.

Mark, Jeff, and Joe

Thanks to everyone who joined us on the NTP. I hope you all had a good time. The ride seemed to come off as planned. There were no significant glitches, we had no injuries, no flat tires, and no major mechanical problems. That's about as good as one could hope for. Thanks also to Karen and to Aila Douglas for spending a whole week with us, driving the vehicles and setting up SAG stops for eleven hot, thirsty, sweaty cyclists. And thanks to Jeff Douglas for co organizing the ride, buying the supplies, figuring out the logistics, checking my work, and handling the role of mechanic. The ride could not have happened without Jeff, Aila, and Karen.

Final picture at the northern terminus of the NTP

Next, a few weeks of hill training are in order. Then it is on to Colorado for eight days of cycling, five mountain passes, three of them over 12,000 feet, and over 25,000 total feet of climbing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

NTP Day 6

Group photo at the state line

Another nice day. Today, we cycled from just south of the Alabama/Tennessee border to TN 50, about 69 miles.

 Group photo with Aila and Karen

The day started with many pictures at the state line, since this would be the last time we were all together. (Alex and Helen leave for home after today's ride.) After stops at a section of the Old Trace, we had a nice SAG stop at Glenrock Branch, where there was a babbling brook and some large boulders to sit on.

About 18 miles into today's ride

Then, we cycled on a 2.5 mile section of the Old Trace that follows the original route of the NT.

Old Trace Drive

Next was a stop at the Meriwether Lewis grave site. Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame) was walking the trace when he died here in 1809. It is unknown whether he committed suicide or was murdered.

We are running out of miles to cycle

Then, we stopped at Fall Hollow, where there were several waterfalls. By this time it was midday and hot. So Jeff, Leo, Alex, and I decided to go underneath the falls to cool off. Below is Leo, getting relief from the hot weather.

Finally, we ended the ride at Gordon house, MP 408. Only 36 miles of the NTP remain for tomorrow. After putting our bikes on our bike racks. It was time to drive to the hotel in Columbia, where it was time to say goodbye to Alex and Helen.  Everyone was glad they were able to join us. We'll miss them tomorrow.

End of day

As much as we hated to say goodbye, the ride still goes on for one more day before we scatter for home. The day ended with a trip to Baskin Robbins. Cycling and ice cream go together, don't they?

It's always a good time for ice cream

Thursday, June 9, 2011

NTP Day 5 - Florence, Alabama

Joe, Steve, Alex, and Helen on the porch of Elvis Presley's boyhood home

Another hot day in the upper 90's, 79 miles of cycling, and we finally crossed the state line into Alabama.

 Karen Schroeder and Aila Douglas. Thank you for supporting us!

This morning before the regular ride, Ellen, Jeff, Alex, Steve, and I cycled through Tupelo to Elvis Presley's boyhood home. It was worth the extra six miles and we got to see his home, the car he moved to Memphis in, and a bunch of history about his life.

Alex, Baltimore Mark, Joe, and Jeff at the state line

Then, it was on to the NTP for a lengthy days ride to Florence. Among the sites we saw were: Confederate soldier grave sites, Indian mounds, Cave Spring, and two overlooks. A nice day with my ABB friends. The trip is quickly coming to an end as we have only 66 miles tomorrow and 36 miles on Saturday.  Helen and Alex will leave us after tomorrow's ride and then we all separate on Saturday at the northern terminus to the NTP at milepost 444. I think everyone has been having a good time and there is discussion about wanting to have another east coast reunion ride next year.

Cycling the last few miles to the car

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NTP Day 4 - VIP visitors today

A surprise SAG stop!

What a great day! Slightly milder temperatures, beautiful flat smooth roads, and a surprise visit from ABB's Mike, Barb, and Karen.

 Group photo with Barb, Mike, and Karen

Our ride today was supposed to be 60 miles from Starkville to Tupelo. But the first ten miles of the NTP were closed due to tornado damage, so we had to reroute to the other side of the closure. Temperatures did not reach the high 90's for a change, and everyone was done by 12:30PM with the shorter mileage.

The NTP was closed from MP 204 to 214

Halfway to Nashville

About seven miles south of the hotel, I was cycling down the NTP when I saw Ellen ahead, stopped on the side of the road talking to three local people with a van. As I got closer, I saw that two of the three locals had matching outfits. That's when the light bulb went off. A visit from ABB's Mike, Barb, and Karen!  Today, they left Montgomery on the slow ride out to Astoria for the 2011 North ride. It so happened they had to pass through Tupelo in the middle of the day, and were kind enough to stop and say hello. After a visit on the roads, they joined us at lunch next to the hotel before they had to leave and drive further west.  It was kind of weird having the ABB van pass us on the way to the hotel. According to Mike, the North ride will have three vans and no box truck this year. Instead, they will use trailers behind the vans for supplies, bikes, and luggage. Mike, Barb, and Karen, thanks so much for taking the time to visit us.

Rod on the Old Trace

We also saw some bikers headed from Alabama to California on bamboo bikes. We stopped and talked to them for a while and had a look at their bikes, which they claim give them a good ride.  You can see more about them here:

Well, Day 4 is in the books. Tomorrow, we cycle 75 miles from the Tupelo hotel to Florence, AL. There is a lot of history to see tomorrow, so it should be another exciting day.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NTP Day 3

The Gang of four

A great day on the NTP today.  We got an early start and it did not get hot until we were almost finished, at a bit after 12:00 noon. Our ride was 62 miles up to milepost 204 near Starkville.

 Overlook at Jeff Busby

The route was very flat in the morning. I showed about 50 feet of total ascent over the first 30 miles. Then, the road started to roll a bit, inclusive of a side trip at the Jeff Busby picnic area up to a pretty overlook. For the day, we only had about 1400 feet of total ascent. I was sweeping the course and Jeff, Alex, Rod, and Baltimore Mark were kind enough to wait for me so we could all ride to the finish together. I like this "sweeping" business. One has a nice enjoyable pace where you can enjoy the countryside and listen to the birds chirping, but without the guilt of the lower average mile per hour pace.

A section of the Old Trace

As we got closer to US82 near Starkville, more and more trees were downed from the recent tornadoes. Our choice of US 82 as the endpoint of today's ride turned out to be a good one since the NTP is closed from MP 204 to 214 so the downed trees can be cleared from the parkway. Tomorrow, we will drive directly to the other end of the closure to begin our ride towards Tupelo. Each day's ride has been better than the previous day. Let's hope it stays that way. 50 easy miles to Tupelo, and we get to cycle directly to the hotel instead of car pooling. The NTP road itself has been fantastic. Smooth, no potholes, and little traffic (except for the Jackson area).

Monday, June 6, 2011

NTP Day 2

Sunrise at the start of the ride

Another hot day.  Breakfast at 5AM and we left for the NTP a half hour later. An earlier start and slightly shorter day helped everyone get finished by noontime. Today, four of the Geldings had their own reunion ride. Baltimore Mark, Jeff, Alex, and I got to ride all afternoon as we swept the course.  It was great to ride in a pace line with them, though we did miss Toronto Mark and Dave's company. We pretended like they were there, drafting in the back of the line.

 Our Sag stop, overlooking the reservoir. Almost as good as ABB.

Dan, Bill, John S. (LBJ), and Steve did this ride a month ago and the information provided by Dan has helped during our ride. Basically, this is a 444 mile ride in a national park with smooth road and 99% courteous drivers. The one exception is a 4 mile stretch near I-55 where the NTP is used as a cut through for morning commuting. There is water and restrooms along the parkway, but at sporadic locations that would require you to leave the parkway, were it not for a SAG vehicle. There is no commercial traffic, stores, or gas stations of any kind along the way. For these you must exit at a town. Kind of like a wide, paved Appalachian trail for cyclists.
A Gelding reunion

Tomorrow we cycle up to Starkville at the junction with US82. At that point the parkway is currently closed for ten miles because of tornado damage. I am looking forward to another good day tomorrow.

The ABB Jeff's Sag Wagon

Sunday, June 5, 2011

NTP Day 1 - It is hot

 Group photo

Today we rode 68 miles from our Natchez hotel to the MS 27 junction at milepost 66. Jeff's Garmin reached 103 degrees at one point and it had to be in the mid 90's while we were riding. While the heat did not bother me much, it took a toll on some of the riders. We had several of them patting their helmets, asking for ice and water late in the day.

Alex and Joe

After a group photo at the start of the trace, everyone was off at their own pace. We saw sections of the old trace, Emerald Mound (second largest temple mound in the USA at 8 acres), Mount Locust inn (last existing inn on the Trace, dating to the early 1800's), and Mangum Mound. Thanks goes to Karen and Aila for setting up a SAG stop in a 37 mile section without water, and then supplying ice and water on the drive to the finish point. Bad news was a fairly long drive to our hotel in Jackson at end of day. Good news is we stay at the hotel for two nights, so no need to pack luggage tomorrow.

Leo and Joe

Looks like another hot day again tomorrow. Breakfast is at 5AM so we can get an early start on a 68 mile section.

Come join Alex and Leo during the ride today:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

NTP Day 0 - We're in Natchez

After a nine hour drive from North Georgia, Karen and I arrived in Natchez just before noon. Jeff and Aila met up with Howard and Shirley in Baton Rouge and the four of them arrived at the hotel shortly thereafter. Steve was already here, arriving yesterday after cycling down from Vicksburg. We spent the afternoon touring some antebellum houses and the downtown Natchez area along the Mississippi River.

Later, Jeff and I picked Ellen and Rod up at the bus station, taking them to the bike shop where their boxes were shipped ahead to Nashville. Jeff did a nice job assembling Ellen's bike. Rod has a spiffy new Pinarello machine.  Baltimore Mark, Helen, Alex, and Leo arrived around 5 PM, driving down from Nashville. After a meeting at 6 PM to discuss the logistics of the ride, it was off to dinner at the Kings Tavern, the oldest building in Natchez, dating to before 1789 and on the Old Trace. This is where people came ashore for the long homeward journey by land towards Nashville.

We have eleven cyclists and thirteen people total with three vehicles. Karen and Aila will SAG two vehicles and we'll share the duties on the third. Breakfast tomorrow is at 6A M and we plan on an early start, as temperatures will be in the mid 90's with high humidity.

It was great to see everyone again. Everyone looks good. We had some great laughs at dinner and I had tears in my eyes several times. All you other ABB'ers, we were talking about you, the staff, the good times, and the funny times. I haven't laughed this hard since last September. We do miss you though.

Tomorrow is a 68 mile ride from the hotel to the NTP junction with MS 27 at MP 66. I hope the luggage and thirteen people fit in three cars. We'll know tomorrow afternoon.