The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer

I bought 75 ft of western cedar garland to decorate our house this year, and a had quite a bit left over.  So the natural thing to do was decorate my bike.  And as I’m wont to do, I took this idea and went waaaaayyy overboard.  My bicycle now has garland, battery operated string of lights, and ornaments – on both the front and the back.

Behold:

Added benefit: the lights increase my visibility at night!

Have a Merry Christmas and/or a Happy Hanukkah everyone!

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Snowy Road: Owned!

I hate to admit it, but I lived (with a bike) in Kansas City through the whole winter last year, and have I never rode in the snow until this week.  On Tuesday I woke up to about a half an inch of snow on the ground.

Last winter I was living at my dad’s, next door to my grandparents, so I didn’t really have anywhere I needed to go in a hurry when it was snowy out.  The few times I did go somewhere, I just walked.  This winter, I live 6 blocks away from my grandmother, and am working at a cafe 2 blocks away.  The idea of walking 6 blocks to my grandma’s, then over to the cafe just sounded like it would take too long, so biking it was!

Biking on snow-packed (though not a whole lot) streets wasn’t so bad as long as I was slow and deliberate, much like driving.  I really don’t know what I was so scared of last winter.  This winter’s bicycling slogan: Bring it, snow!

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An Open Letter to Drivers

Dear Drivers of Johnson County,

I know, you’re very nervous being around bicyclists.  They are unfamiliar to you, foreign.  And you have probably not ridden a bike since you were kid, so you don’t really know what it’s like to be a bicyclist.

So let me give you a bit of advice: be consistent.  Be predictable.  Don’t stop in the middle of the street to let me go ahead when I’m the one with the stop signs.  And for the love of god, USE YOUR BLINKERS. Not just for bicyclists, but for your fellow drivers as well.

In return, I will be predictable as well.  I will heed stop signs (at least to the point of yielding and pretending to stop if you are around).  I will signal using arm commands, unless it isn’t safe for me to do so (those same arms are connected to the hands that have to both steer and stop my bike, so sometimes they are a bit busy).

We can co-exist, we both just have to do our part!

xoxo
Carolyn

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Contemplating My Existence at Traffic Lights

Much like the philosophical question, “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”, if I approach a traffic light on my bicycle and it doesn’t register my presence, do I exist?  Not in Mission, KS, I don’t.

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Fun with Animated GIFS

I just made an animated GIF for my sister’s boyfriend, and I love it!  Oh, the possibilities.

You may have to click it to get it to animate, I’m still working this thing out.

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I WILL ride my bike this winter I WILL ride my bike this winter

Summer is over, (hopefully) the heat is through, time to start bicycling more!

I’ve bought my knee-high socks, and already have my wind-proof gloves.  Bring it on!

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Bicycling the Katy Trail

whew.  WHEW. I’ve got to admit it, bicycling the Katy Trail was a bit harder than I anticipated.  Granted, Jacob and I were on heavy hybrid cruisers, and everyone else was on lightweight, racing or cyclecross bikes, and it did rain so the sandy gravel was sticky to ride on.  But the trail is flat as (though it felt like we were always going up a gradual hill), it’s peaceful, and nice to be able to bicycle next to someone without a fear of cars.

Jacob and I took the bus to Union Station, then Amtrak to Jefferson City.  It was nerve-wracking watching our bikes bounce on the bike-rack on the front of the bus, especially on the highway!

katy trail

Putting a bike on Amtrak (at least on the Missouri River Runner line) was super easy- just remember to get a reservation (it cost $10 to bring the bike on board).

katy trail missouri river runner

We stayed at the Cliff Manor Bed & Breakfast in Jefferson City on the first night.  Tom, the innkeeper is such a nice guy, the house is really well kept, and it’s right by the trailhead. He also recommended we go to Paddy Malone’s bar for food, and gave us free drink vouchers!  His recommendation was spot on – Paddy’s has the best burgers and fried portobello mushrooms!

We set off towards Rocheport, about 40 miles west/northwest on the trail.  In the morning it was sunny and pretty cool. Getting out of Jeff City, you take a bridge over the Missouri River that has a special separated lane for bicycles and pedestrians on the side, and a MASSIVE ramp down.  Since we were doing a round trip, that meant a massive ramp UP later on.

missouri river

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day started off beautifully, no clouds, good weather.  Getting on the trail was awesome!  It is flat as though, so you are pedaling the entire time- a great cardio workout.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got about 2/3rds there when it started raining HARD.  We made it to a shelter, where we tried to dry off and waited for the rain to pass.  After an hour or so of waiting, we just bit the bullet and finished the ride in the rain.  I was SO ready to be done.  My butt hurt and I was soaking wet.  …And I left Jacob behind because he was going so low.  Bad wife.

My other siblings met up with us in Rocheport.  Jacob, Michael, and I stayed at the Yates House Bed and Breakfast.  It was fancier than almost anywhere I’ve stayed, and had the BEST breakfast.  (We also paid more than almost anywhere we’ve stayed.) We went to Les Bourgeois Winery for dinner.  Their wines were ok (come on, it’s Missouri), and some of the food was fantastic.  Some it was pretty horrible, especially for the prices we were paying.  Jacob’s pasta was tasteless and overcooked.  Jeff’s risotto was tasteless and undercooked.  My steak was fantastic (and I usually don’t much like steak). It had great atmosphere though!

The next morning, we biked a little around Rocheport, then headed back on the Katy Trail to Jefferson City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This day was bright and sunny, which ended up being just as hard as the rain.  It got so hot, with a hot breeze in our face, it just wore us out!  We stopped halfway at a camp or something along the Missouri River that had Thai take-out served out of an RV!  In the middle of Missouri!  It was actually pretty good, though odd noodles and lots of pepper.

When we got to Jefferson City (after going up the massive ramp), we just wanted to go to our B&B and relax.  Unfortunately the Cliff Manor only had enough room for my sister and her boyfriend and my brother Matthew and his wife, so Jacob, Michael and I booked in at another B&B, the Briar Rose.

The Briar Rose is in not a great part of town, is further away from the trailhead, and requires going up and down several massive hills to get there.  By the last hill, we just gave up and walked our bikes.  We were so tired.  Otherwise, it is a nice enough B&B, though it definitely takes the ‘Grandma’s antiques’ approach to decorating.

We had pizza downtown (where most everything was shutdown for the weekend, including the traffic lights), then went back to Paddy’s for more drinks and fried things.

The next morning my brothers and Jen (Matt’s wife) set back on the trail to Rocheport to get some more bicycling in (since they had come a day later) and to get their car.  Jacob and I were so tired, (as well as had a bunch of milk glass that I bought to carry home) Keli and Jeff came over with their car and drove our stuff over to near the train station while we bicycled up the hill.  They took off for Chicago, and Jacob and I waited for the train while I managed to pack 8 pieces of milk glass vases, etc onto our bikes!

We took Amtrak back to KC, where my mom picked us up from the station (since the Johnson County buses don’t run on the weekend.  Don’t even get me started on that).  My brothers and Jen got to the Amtrak station at almost the same time we did- meaning the bicycled 40 miles and drove 2 hours in the same time it took us to wait in Jeff City and take the train.  Ah well.

I highly recommend doing this section of the Katy Trail- Jeff City and Rocheport are both great bases for staying the night, the trail is beautiful in this section. I also really liked taking Amtrak.  It was super easy, and we didn’t have to mess with getting back to a car.

I took the train back from St Louis the other weekend, and two bicyclists got on in Sedalia.  Apparently they took the train to Jefferson City on Friday night, rode to Rocheport on Saturday, then rode to Sedalia on Sunday to catch the afternoon train.  This sounds like a great way to do the trail on a weekend!

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