Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tour De BBQ Ride report 2011.

I am returning from a great birthday weekend in Kansas City and an even better ride; though not quite what I expected.

First, I want to give props to the $34.99 Allen Bike Rack. It carried my GT from Dallas to Kansas City at very high speeds and was as solid as a rock the entire way. Kudos to you, cheap bike rack. 

I spent the afternoon before the Tour riding around with Dad in his cool little sportscar, trying to pre-ride the route. However, whoever wrote the directions (cough) filled them full of crazy pre-directions - things like "Head straight towards Buena Vista Street" - Buena Vista street would have nothing to do with the next direction, which might be "Turn Left on W 192nd Terrace", or might have been "Turn Left" and nothing more. Needless to say, we ended up doing lots of U Turns in the car. We made it most of the route and decided that maybe our time could be better spent drinking beer on the patio, and we were right. 

The morning of the Tour De BBQ dawned cold - like 40 degrees. For those of you (maybe one) who live in Kansas City and read this blog, this is not cold. For me, it's pretty chilly. Dad and I loaded the bike up and away we went to the Power and Light district for the start. I unloaded my bike, hopped on, and realized that I had left my phone on the endtable in my room. I went ahead and borrowed Dad's phone so I would have a camera. However, it is a Blackberry and the photos it takes are pretty bad. Sorry, dear readers. 

Blurry me at 6:45 am. It's blurry because I am shivering. 

So there I was, freezing my ass off at the start of the tour, and since I was early, I went ahead and rode off with the VIP's at 7am - there wasn't much separation of the VIP's, so a bunch of us NIP's started at the same  time. I ended up in a slower group of the 60 milers, and in fact there was a guy on a mountain bike in our group with us. While I have admiration for a guy that can keep up with a bunch of road bikes while riding a mountain bike, he did lag on the uphills. This became a problem, as we would ride down the hills (which were plentiful) as a group, but he would lose his momentum going back up much earlier than those of us on road bikes. Inevitably he would have worked himself to the middle of the pack and we would all have to slow down in order to go around him. As with all traffic though, someone always gets stuck behind the slower guy while everyone else passed. That happened to me a couple of times, and let me tell you, it was an energy killer on the hills. We all made it to the first rest stop/bbq joint across the street from Smokestack BBQ where they were serving us wings and beans. I am not a big chicken wing fan, but I love some beans, so I got my little plate of beans (at 7:45 in the AM) and sat and waited for the mountain bike to leave. When I thought he had, I hopped on the bike and headed out again - only to encounter him on the next hill. Cursing to myself, I powered my way past him, and got stuck at a light, where he caught up to me again. 

The Tour De BBQ is an "urban" type ride, so at this point we were rolling through lots of residential very shaded streets, and I was just not warming up, despite being 11 or 12 miles in. I spent the next two hills trying to fight my way around the weavingest mountain bike rider in the world, shivering like a chihuahua. I decided that since it was my birthday anyway I was going to give myself the gift of turning at the 35 mile separation point; strangely enough, as I crested the hill behind my mountain biking albatross and had that thought, the sign appeared. Normally I would have fought through my thoughts of doing the shorter route, but since the sign appeared at just that moment, I assumed it was meant to be and  I took the turn. Suddenly, the ride (while still cold) was fun again. I was one of three of us who turned off early, so I rapidly became a solo rider, as I greatly prefer. However, prior to the next stop I fell in with a couple of other riders, one of whom was wearing a Tomahawk Cycling jersey. Tomahawk was Reed's club, and I had hoped I'd run into some of his friends on the ride, so obviously I was meant to do the 35. I chatted with the guy about my brother in law for a few minutes, and he reminisced about hanging out with teenaged Reed and throwing snowballs at the cars in the neighborhood with him. It was nice to talk about him, but bittersweet - I'd have much rather been riding with him and listening to the story from the other side than reminiscing. 

We split up and it was on to the next stop - who weren't ready for us. There was no food out except granola, so I took a "natural", chatted with the volunteers, and moved on after a relatively quick stop. I rode to the next stop, about 8 miles away. RJ's Bob-BQue weren't quite ready for me either, but the smell of sauce was in the air so I thought I'd wait. I poked my head in the restaurant and asked if it was too early to have a beer - and the answer was "Absolutely not - that's between you and God". 

Now this is a ride. 
Having a good relationship with the Lord, I sipped my Boulevard Wheat and watched the volunteers cut apples, oranges and granola bars for the riders that would be coming though eventually. I had them take another photo of me, ate my open faced pork sandwich (delicious) and moved on. 

Mercifully for you, I am in the shadows. 

I hopped on the bike and rode to the next stop - Johnny's Hickory House BBQ. Johnny's wasn't ready for me either, but there was already a another rider waiting on the grass. Becca told me that she had left with the first wave of 60 milers as well, and had been sitting at Johnny's waiting for food for 10 minutes already. Being a man of action, I found the manager and asked him a food ETA. He said that the organizers had told him that he didn't have to be ready until 11 am, and that he was scrambling to get ready because where there were two of us, there would soon be more. In order to calm someone down I asked him for two Boulevards and brought one to Becca to make the wait more bearable. She looked at me like I was crazy and stated that she had never had a beer at 9:30 in the morning before. I raised my glass and told her that if that were the case then she had never lived. She agreed, and we chatted about bikes and riding while we waited for the food to be prepared. They called us over to eat, we ate, and went to finish the ride. There was only one more stop for us, at Woodyard BBQ. To get to that stop, however, required a ride down a giant hill and I set my personal top speed record - 38 MPH.

Woodyard BBQ

Becca took my picture at the Woodyard, and once again we had time to kill while the food was made ready. I offered her another beer, but she politely declined after the hair raising ride. She said that when we started down the hill she had a little buzz - but by the time we hit bottom it had been replaced by terror.

Luckily one of the volunteers noticed us waiting around with nothing to do and offered to get us a little something. We agreed, and ended up with a giant plate with wings piled 6 inches high and a bowl of BBQ sauce to dip in - and these were without question the biggest wings I've ever eaten, and the best (remember - I'm not a wing guy). Soon other riders started drifting in, and gave us some bewildered looks when they picked up their little half sausages. There we sat, piles of bones on napkins in front of us, greasy faced and eating our fill. 

Becca and remains

After our feast it was on to the finish - roughly another 5 miles or so. Becca didn't keep up with me and I ended up at the finish line solo.

Official Finish Line Photo - suitable for framing

 I was one of the first people across the line, so I took everyone by surprise; there wasn't much cheering as I crossed, but I didn't ride for cheers. I rode to raise money to fight cancer, eat BBQ, and have a great time. I accomplished all of those things. I would have enjoyed the longer ride, I'm sure, but I'm hoping that if I train hard next year I can get in a faster group and stay away from the mountain bikers.

Once I hung my bike up on the racks provided, I went into the Power and Light square and had my free Boulevard beer and final BBQ sandwich of the day (provided by Famous Dave's). Dad joined me after a while and we had yet another beer (or two), talked bicycles, Grandma, and other Father/Son stuff, and eventually headed back to his house where I took a nap and just hung out with my parents and my daughter for the rest of my birthday. 

I had a great time, raised over $1200 for the University of Kansas Cancer center, and met some really nice people. I want to thank all of you that donated from the bottom of my heart. I'm very grateful for all of the generosity you all showed by supporting my cause. 

The ride itself was great, if a bit cold. I will certainly do it next year (though I will wear a jacket), and would encourage you to sign up if you are reading this blog because you googled "Tour De BBQ review" and came here. The ride was beautiful, the cause was worthy, and I know it will continue to get better as the years go on; for a third year ride it is fantastic. 

Once again, thanks to everyone for your support. I appreciate it greatly. 

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