Riding to work – 11th and Grand. I hop up on the sidewalk to avoid the bus convoy bearing down upon me. Ride through the bus stop and a dude calls to me:
“Hey, you gotta tube?”
I stop. Dismount. “Yes I do. You good to change it?”
“Oh yeah. I don’t know how it got flat.”
I look at the tire. “Oh man, these tires are worn well thin.”
“I ride the shit out of it.”
It’s a decent bike and I say so.
“Man, they got this real nice Schwinn down at the pawn shop for $99.”
“You gonna buy it?”
“I’d like to.”
I’m looking at his tire again.
“We can’t change this. You don’t have quick release wheels and I don’t have any tools except for this tire tool.”
“Helps you get the tire off the wheel.”
“Maybe 5 bucks…”
“I’m gonna get me one of those.”
“Get a wrench too so you can change out these tubes when you catch a flat.” Another set of buses roll up. “There’s a bike shop down in the River Market. They should have tools.”
“I gotta catch this bus to Prospect.”
I hand him the tube. “Take this. Save you some cash.”
“God bless you, man. What’s your name?”
“Jason.” We shake hands.
“God bless you, man.”
Never underestimate the friendly power of a spare inner tube.
Ladies and gents, allow me to introduce you to my new road bike, Amelia:
She joins my single-speed commuter, Ginger:
(Ginger was born in 1994, folks, so show her some love. She’s been to Tsali and back. She’s fallen off the back of my Honda CRX while driving down Clinton Parkway. Quite frankly, she’s probably the reason I staved off a full-blown diabetic coma for so long. Don’t worry, Ginger. Amelia is not your replacement. She’s just here to provide a different kind of ride.)
and my M4 mountain bike, Betty:
as having the fortune of being trapped under my sweaty groin for hours at a time.
Amelia’s an early birthday gift from my beautiful wife. Happy, crank-filled days ahead…
This doesn’t surprise me at all. We are not a bike-friendly town. We’re not a pedestrian-friendly town. Perhaps this will change as time goes on and gas prices continue to rise. Perhaps all the paved trails will one day connect WyCo Lake to Longview. Perhaps we’ll see close tight the gaping maws of the gnarly grates that threaten skinny tires from the street gutters.
In the meantime, though, we just have to keep on riding and talking to folks about why we ride, letting them know bicycles are a safe, efficient, and cheap way to move about the city. Plus it makes your legs, arse, and abs strong like bull.
Did you hear that Sicko got leaked to the internets? I bet if you did a search using the google you’d find yourself a copy. (I am stoked to see it, having worked for years in insurance.)
riding home yesterday, at around 6th and armstrong, i biked upon a dude who seemed distressed and a little out of it.
he flagged me over and he was obviously flustered and agitated.
“can you please help me?” he asked, running his fingers through his hair.
“i can try,” i replied, dismounting.
“can you tell me how to get to 36th and parallel from here? i just got out of jail from a parking ticket and they won’t give me back my money or my cigarettes until tomorrow. i’ve asked about 4 different people for directions and everyone’s told me something different. i’m all turned around and confused and pissed.”
“oh sure. head this way (pointing west on armstrong) until you hit a city park. walk through the park and just keep heading west until you hit 18th street. then head north on 18th until you hit parallel. then head east again.”
“i just came from that way.”
“it’s a long walk.”
“you got any cigarettes?” he says to the man bicycling up a hill.
“all right, man. you sound like you know what you’re talking about.”
“i know how to get to 36th and parallel from here.”
here’s my route. you can click it to go to the interactive page.
ro’s got 5 teeth. two on the bottom. 3 up top. missing one front tooth. kinda looks like a hillbilly vampire when he smiles. he’s getting real close to walking. he can’t yet recite hamlet’s soliloquy, but i’ll be sure to let you know when that happens.
Has anyone yet in KC blogged about this? Probably, as much of this is related to Bay Area hip-hop and we know how tight KC and Bay Area rappers were before Mac Dre and Fat Tone got into it. But, seeing as how I haven’t lived in the Bay Area for 15 years and have no real reason to keep my ear to the curb about Bay Area rap trends this is news to me. Perhaps what I’m about to share will come as news to you as well.
My second job is swell. I listen to modern rock radio stations across the country and manually ID songs that the company’s robust computer system can’t figure out. Half of the time this equals to telling the computer that what it can’t figure out is just a bunch of DJ blabber. The other half of the time is actually spent listening to new songs and figuring out what they are and who sings ’em. So, it’s like Name That Tune for hipsters (although I’m no hipster and apparently neither is anyone in New Orleans because their modern rock station is more or less an 80s metal station, which would make you think New Orleans would be crawling with hipsters as hipster metal is all the rage these days). I digress.
In CA, there are more than a few stations that play a fair amount of rap mixed in with their mod rock. Well, last week, one rap song in particular kept coming up. I suppose it’s relatively new to the radio and not yet in the computer. So, I heard the song, in bits and pieces, 50 or more times. Now this rap song wasn’t all that remarkable save one thing: it sampled Ray Parker, Jr.’s ‘Ghostbusters’. The name of track: ‘Ghost Ride It’.
If I’d heard the song once, I probably wouldn’t thought much about it…but like I said, it was getting some mad radio play and when you’re that saturated with a song it can’t help getting stuck in your head. Some of the lyrics sparked my curiosity. They had to do with “ghost riding.” When I was growing up, we ghost-rided our bikes all the time. You’d pedal full speed, hit a ramp and then let the bike go crazy while you fall to the ground. I knew the rappers on this song weren’t rapping about bicycles. I had to know what “ghost riding da whip” was.
Well, a quick visit to youtube enlightened me.
And now, I’ll share my new-found knowledge with those of you who have no idea about this retarded phenomenon sweeping the coasts.
This is a prime example, representative of what ghost riding da whip is all about:
And if it isn’t painfully obvious already, here’s why ghost riding da whip is retarded:
Just for the heck of it, while we’re talking about retardation, it isn’t really ghost riding da whip but…
This is the kind of thing that makes you dread being a parent.
The KC Metro has a ton of mountain bike trails – and there are tons of informative sites that cover that system of trails.There don’t seem to be, however, any that provide photos.
This series hopes to remedy that.
Shawnee Mission Park
Experience Level: Intermediate
Elevation Changes: Minimal
Here’s a map to Shawnee Mission Park so you can find your way. When you enter the park, take a left and follow the main road around until you see some tennis courts on your left. Park across the street from the tennis court. Look north, and you’ll see something akin to this:
Ride the path up to the woods and there you will find a trailhead proper:
The trails here are undergoing some much needed (and much appreciated) overhauling. As such, there is not yet an established flow for trail traffic. This post uses green arrows to show the loop I usually take while riding. The loop is roughly 3 miles long and takes about 20 minutes to ride. The trail vacillates between smooth (“butta”), hard-packed singletrack and rather technical rock-strewn climbs and downhills.
Many portions of the trail also feature plenty of exposed root systems to manuver.
My loop is to generally ride clockwise. (There are exceptions that I will note.)
This trail is fun, fast and furious if you’re a competent rider. If you’re a novice, the trail is probably too technical for your enjoyment (but keep at it!).
At close to the half-way mark, the trail turns to almost complete rock.
To the left, there is a steep, rocky downhill which leads to the main road looping Shawnee Mission Park. But we’re not ready to leave this gnarlyness quite yet. We’ve got this to look forward to:
After the rocky mess at the west end of the trail comes three loose-rock-covered switchbacks in a row, which I fondly dubbed “The Three Amigos”.
Shawnee Mission Park is loaded with deer. During my brief afternoon ride I came across six. I tried to get photos, but they wouldn’t heed my hunter’s call. It’s a fun kinda freaky to come barreling around a corner into a bunch of grazing deer. Just watch out for Wendigo.
After The Three Amigos, there’s a slight, steady incline toward the northwest corner of the trail system. In this corner, you’ll find the trail branches.
This is where I break with the clock-wise flow and instead head up to a slightly higher point. This section of trail wasn’t weed-eated when I visited so I’m uncertain if those maintaining the trail plan to abandon it in the future.
Nevertheless, the riding is much the same: some smooth, some root, some rock.
Then, the crossroads.
A left turn takes you back to last trail branch. I don’t remember where a right turn takes you (perhaps the second branch?). I prefer straight, over a small piles of logs.
The path straight leads to a quick, slight descent over many exposed root systems.
More fast fun…then comes one of two major ascents up nasty rock hills. Both ascents feature either a path directly up the hill or an indirect path up. Even the indirect paths are challenging. The first uphill, I take.
And get some support from the Aether.
A bit more cranking, through another branch.
Then the other major ascent (or descent if you’re coming from the opposite direction).
No support from above exists for this climb. And, like I said, even the alternate route is a bitch.
(I spent the spring and summer of 1998 learning to navigate both of these hills. I did it then – and I will do it again, OHHH Yes!) Until then, just walk the hill, then re-mount and follow the trail back around to the trailhead. You can really build up some speed on this last leg, so get cranking!
Shawnee Mission Park is a great ride and getting better all the time, thanks to the efforts of Earthriders. The trails are challenging enough for a decent rider and short enough to be enjoyed as a pre-work dirt breakfast.