Making the pilgrimage to Cleveland was like cycling through all four seasons in a week. April in Michigan and Ohio is changeable but you really can't appreciate how changeable until you live outdoors on a daily basis. I started in a freak snowstorm, went home and restarted the next morning. The weather changed to unseasonably warm and beautiful,
the weather was the the most challenging of any trip I have taken. I finished the quest and, no, I didn't have tickets to a Cavalier's game. Nothing trivial here.
It was a pilgrimage to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As I said originally, I have done sillier shit, but I endured snowstorms, freezing rain, single digit temperatures and freezing rain
to come home with a fucking t-shirt!
The springtime became a typical renewal of enthusiasm for the "real" bikers who forsake their wind trainers and succumbed to the temptations of daylight savings time. The club rides resumed in earnest and continued with fever until June 7th happened.
The tragedy nobody in the world conceived. Nine cyclists run down by a drugged up loser in a borrowed pickup truck. 5 dead and the others critically injured. The driver faces trial for five counts of 2nd degree murder. I spent the following week riding and answering calls from people all over the world expressing their condolence and concerns.
Even Lance Armstrong offered his notoriety to help publicize the tragedy by coming to help "finish the ride" with a group a week later. It's a day nobody wants to remember but will never forget. It makes us all aware how vulnerable we are to choices others make.
I was traveling the country side on a previously scheduled trip where I was talking about it constantly; either on the phone with callers, answering e-mails or discussing it with people I met on the road. The rest of June was a flourish of activity and fundraising.
The club donated all proceeds from our annual charity tour to the victims and their families.
At the end of June there was reason for another journey. Returning to my college haunts in Kansas City for a conference was a good excuse to ride the legendary Katy Trail across Missouri. I was able to have a reunion dinner with one of my former classmates and his wife. That was a wonderful evening. Another special treat was stumbling into my first experience with a Critical Mass ride.
There were about 300 of us riding about the shopping and tourist areas of Westport, The Plaza and Brookside areas, taking over the streets for blocks until we paused for a break
at one of Kansas City's famous fountains. After a few days
As trails go, the Katy is one of the better I have seen. Winding through the Ozarks and along the Missouri river it was a trip you can make as quickly or as leisurely as you please. A network of cottage businesses have developed to service the traffic from the trail system, accommodations are easy to find and the country side is scenic and rich in historical significance.
It was hot, and the shelter of the trail was a welcome relief from the city streets.
I was never really alone although some of my company was less than sociable. No, those are not dogs but baby bulls and I was between them and their mother who was wiley enough to find her way into the woods. It was one way to get the heart rate up while off the bike.
After a few days and some more luxurious scenery along the Missouri, I found my way to downtown
St Louis for another train ride home.
Being a well known eccentric I became an esteemed member of the Citizen's Advisory Committeeto the local Transportation Committee last year. July afforded an invitation to the regional Transportation Planners Conference. Does that sound like a party or what? Well it's not, but fighting the nap jerks was not all that was accomplished.
The goal is in sight!
In August I found an adventurous advantage to the Hunqapillar. A bike like that gave me the means to dispense with planning routes.
Using all purpose 29er tires I finally learned the freedom of truly open road touring. Granted, I was in Western Michigan and very familiar territory, but riding along I just pointed myself in the direction of my next stop and took whatever road looked interesting. Occasionally, I glanced at the GPS on Google Maps,
but had no qualms about heading down an unfamiliar road as long as it was in the right direction. It's a new form of freedom I am going to develop in the coming year.
September brought about the end of the "season" as most cyclists view it. We lucked out and had a perfect day for our annual anniversary ride for the local club.
In October I enjoyed another gravel run through the idyllic forests of Yankee Springs at the Barry Roubaix Grand Fondo. And the fall marched forward into the advocacy season when the club managed to push our local administrators into adopting minimum 5' passing ordinances. That was a great step forward
and I discovered the excellent documentary "Bikes vs. Cars" on Netflix.Watch it.
I finally found the the tatoo I'd been waiting all my life to define me. It was a good year, but one best left behind after the murders and the most embarrassing presidential election in the history of the American experiment. Time to put it behind us and move on.