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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gone West

I've been getting burned out on riding eastern JoCo, so the past couple of rides I've intentionally headed to Shawnee. While riding the hills and hollers of west Shawnee is small beer compared to the mountain passes of Colorado, it's some of the more challenging climbs and exhilarating descents available around here.

It was an unplanned route, and I know, I should know better by now. Whenever I just roll out not knowing where I'm going to go I...have so much fun.

Except there's the part that sucks, like when you're at 75th and Hedge Lane, asking a woman over the fence at a subdivision pool if the street goes through over yonder.

Because there are a lot of oubliettes in Johnson County, roads that look like they go somewhere, and all they go to is a neighborhood with one ingress and egress and you just rode in and squandered the daylight that's slipping away to find out city planners didn't plan on any through traffic.

The woman was very helpful, probably in part because she was worried about her husband who was out cycling at that very moment, and who has a track record of getting in the exact same pickle I was in: I was way out west, west of K-7, and a fair bit south (75th Street) and my car was at the Merriam Marketplace (aka Werner Park). It was past eight o'clock and the sun was sinking at an alarming pace.

I don't mind riding in the dark with other cyclists along on well-lit streets, but I did not want to be still out in the boondocks, just me and the bugs, when darkness came.

A nice gent in a black Jaguar saved me from another pointless loop when I had a choice in directions, and most helpful of all was a teenager who not only knew what connected and where, but he knew the names of the streets (the adults I inquired from used such names as 'that road where the yellow sign says you have to turn left or right').

Anyway, thanks to all who gave navigational assistance, you more than repaid the bad karma of the asshead pickup truck driver I swear moved from the center to the right to be closer to me when he passed, loud and fast, on 83rd street. He must have been from Gardner, the rest of the drivers I've ridden around in Shawnee are almost universally considerate or at least accustomed to driving around cyclists.

Anyway, I'm super-proud even if I did finish in the dark (at almost 10:00 p.m.) of this 33.4 mile trek. I drove 47th Street from Woodland to K-7 last year and decided there was no way I could take those hills. This evening, I started by saying, 'I wonder if I can take those hills.'

And when I realized Quivira Drive was leading to Holiday Drive was leading to 47th, I decided to change my frame of reference from 'I wonder if I can take those hills' to 'I'm gonna take those hills.'

I don't think I'm going to have another chance to ride until Monday, so I might as well make myself sore. And while my average was a meager 10.9 mph, and it's not the longest ride I've done, it's one of the most challenging overall courses I've taken.

Ultimate Granny Gear earned its keep this evening, but I can feel a big improvement in my stamina to crank in low gear or sprint in high. And in that last leg, I found myself standing and sprinting just to get my ass off the seat for a few, and that has to be a good sign.

By the way, don't be shy about sponsoring me for Bike MS. I have all of one donor so far, a girl I went to junior high with and haven't seen in person since. She ponied up fifty bucks and hasn't set eyes on me since Purple Rain was in the theater.

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