Kansas City Summer 2014


Right outside our door.
Right outside our door.
Blue River Road just outside of town, goes on for miles.
Blue River Road just outside of town, goes on for miles.

Some people head for Colorado, Oregon or Maine for the summer.Not us.  With my two grandchildren living in Kansas City, MO, our choice was to embrace the heat and enjoy family. Last spring we brought our older bicycles out here, so we would be able to ride.

The Kansas City Metro Bicycle Club is quite different than the Long Island Bicycle Club we ride with in NY.

KCMBC is much more loosely structured. While many of the rides are posted on the club website, it seems an equal number are also available only through email lists.  It took us a while to get this all figured out.

Also, there seems be a big mix of ride types.  Some are the same route each week, some are announced 1-4 days before the ride by the leader and others are Show and Go.

The groups Susan and I ride with are laid back.  Our ride groups tend to average 12-14 mph over moderately hilly terrain (about 50′ of climbing per mile). While some riders will push the pace, particularly on some of the long runs on rural and country roads — others in the ride will just chill at a more moderate pace.

The ride re groups regularly and no one seems perturbed by waits of 2-5 minutes.

The rides cross back and forth between Missouri and Kansas, as KC is right on the border.  While it can get seriously hot out here, so far,  the weather has not been too bad.

Most of the rides start between 7:00 and 8:00 am however.  Club members say they do get acclimated to the heat.

Independence, M)
Independence, M)

Ride lengths can be anywhere from 30-55 miles, except the Sunday morning ride.
A common Sunday ride is a completely chill, social ride of 15-30 miles at a pace of 11-12 mph.

Another different approach is that many of the rides stop for breakfast.  Sometimes a few  riders will skip that stop and just keep going,  but most stop for a small, shared or full breakfast at a restaurant on the route.

Susan and I have Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday open for riding with family interruptions on weekends expected.

About 10 miles from downtown KC
About 10 miles from downtown KC

The other day, due to Ragbrai (across Iowa), there was  no scheduled ride, so we did our own, based on one of the club rides.  This time, however, we stopped at Starbucks for a snack. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be delis or Bagel shops out here.

On the right is a road from our club ride  last Saturday (about 52 miles and 2900′ of climbing).  As you go south from KC, major N/S roads with traffic (KC style  traffic) become two lane country roads!

Susan is really enjoying the laid back atmosphere and the shorter rides.  Of course, she realizes that we are also doing a lot more climbing.

It has been a great summer for riding.  Our KC biking buddies are every bit as warm, social and friendly as the ones on L.I.

While we are already looking forward to our next visit,  we are also looking forward to reconnecting with our biking buddies back home in late August.






Desert Cycling

Susan and I recently spent a week in Palm Desert, CA  (next door to Palm Springs) bicycling and hiking.


First stop Tri A Bike, for our rentals.  We found them to be the best price for good aluminum rentals.
As of this writing (December 2013), KHS, Cannondale or similar bicycles were $99 a week.
They also provide a saddle back with basic flat repair/replacement tools.
Carbon fiber bikes are available at a step upgrade price.

The shop seems constantly busy, but with three or four people there, we were taken care of quickly.
They will swap seats (or bring your own) and pedals to suit.
Victor, our mechanic, was completely attentive to making sure the bike fit as well as it possibly could.
Although I had several rides mapped, he took the trouble to map out one more.
It was about 50 miles, but easily shortened or lengthened from the map he gave us.

IMG_20131216_100757_801 - Copy

The Riding was interesting.

We started all our rides from our hotel, Embassy Suites in downtown Palm Desert (also a really good deal).

Many of the roads have designated bicycle lanes, though sometimes that becomes an optional shared sidewalk.
The rides are often routed to avoid those.
Where a straight run would go from bike lane to no bike lane and back again, the rides would often route you around that so you could stay on roads with bike lanes or roads with less traffic.

We rode from small city streets, to western suburban with lots of gated communities, to the edge of the desert as we left the city.

For real adventure,  head out to Coachella Nature Preserve.  That will take you through the city and out into the desert.
You can do a 45 mile loop where about 20 miles are in the middle of nowhere.


  We rode in less deserted areas.
One ride took us south then north to edge of where the desert starts,  and back home again.

  Another time we rode was south east into Indio.   While you ride past desert and sage, on this route you are always within 1/2 mile    of civilization.

All in all a different experience.

There is a bicycle club in the area, but their group rides were too fast for us.  We did get alot of info from their website, however.

How to start your ride with 15 and come back alone

  1. Dash out of the starting point about  2-3 miles faster than the maximum ride pace.  Two of your riders decide to go off at their own pace.  You may tell them you will slow down, but they won’t believe you, because they have heard that before.
  2. Tire yourself out from the above and slow down to the bottom side of the ride pace.  Three more riders decide that, at this pace, they will get home after THE GAME starts, and that is not acceptable.
  3. Add lots of hills and climbing that have been added just for the sake of climbing hills and four more riders will decide this is not for them.  You are down to six riders.
  4. Stop for a lunch break.  Invariably one or two people will not want to stop and sit for 20-40 minutes and will continue on.  Four riders left.
  5. One rider gets a flat.  It is getting late.  He or she tells you not to wait, they will get back on their own.
  6. Three miles to go and Larry leaves. He had ridden to the start from his house and is going directly back.
  7. One mile from the end of the ride YOU decide to climb that one last hill and the one person remaining with you decides you are nuts and takes the flat cutoff.

Arrive back at the start by yourself.

Just another almost successful group ride.

To be a perfect success we need one change.

#6 should have you all ride directly back to your homes (since you all rode to the start of the ride).


The Lynksey Bicycle Saga

Great Bicycles From A Company With A Whole Lot Of Attitude

Susan and I decided to go for broke!

Instead of shipping/driving one old aluminum bicycle and one new aluminum bicycle to our kids house is Missouri — we’d buy two new bicycles and ship our current (old) bicycles out.

We decided on titanium (for the the valid and invalid reasons).

We also decided on Lynskey because of the recommendations.

Lynskey Performance sells direct and through a dealer network.

My initial inquires were direct.  Feedback and response was excellent.

I then went to my LBS (local bike shop),  a Lynskey dealer to decide on the specifics and get price from him, for  two bicycles.

The price came in at $4839 per bicycle.   Knowing that three of my friends got hefty discounts from Lynskey, buying direct, I then asked for a 10% discount on the two bicycle.

My LBS said Lynskey said they could not do it.   This did not really upset me.  It is prime season and I was prepared, if necessary to wait until the fall or winter to get my discount.

In the meantime I decided to shop around on the internet.  I found several Lynskey dealers on line.

The Attitude

  1. The powers at Lynskey were instrumental in preventing me from price shopping my bicycle by getting other dealers to refuse to sell to me.  The sad part of this is that I had gotten the okay from my LBS to price shop.  They were willing to build the bikes regardless of where I bought them.
  2. After my LBS and I found a price we could both live with, the order was placed.  Part of this order was two SRAM Rival  gruppos.  Before any of this was shipped to my LBS I inquired about possibly upgrading to SRAM Force.  Lynskey would not process this request.  Various reasons I got were “we do not stock this item”, “it was a special order” and “it was an oem order”.  Even the Lynskey distributor who sold them the gruppos would not process an exchange.  Yes, I was willing to pay the difference.  Perhaps there really was a problem with what I wanted to do.  If so,  an explanation that made sense  was never forthcoming nor given as a warning when the order was first placed.
  3. On July 5, 2013,  I wrote to Mark Lynksey, explaining the above.   The last paragraph of this letter left an opening:  “My wife and I are 64 and 66, respectively.  We know that life is not always fair.  We also know that sometimes life requires compromises.  This should NOT have been one of those times.”     To date, I have not  received a reply.

The Bicycles, as originally ordered are in our possession.

I have been on four rides on my new bicycle.  Susan has been on one.  We can find no fault. They ride and handle extremely well and exceeded our expectations.  We are thoroughly enjoying our new toys.

This is not the first, nor probably the last time I will have dealings with a company with this type of attitude.

From the people I have spoken to who also own a Lynskey,  I think buying direct, online and making sure of all your components before ordering will give you the best outcome.

Or, buy a Litespeed!


Safety Posting From LIBC Ride Group

Some thoughts and observations on our rides:

Recently we have had a few rides compromised because a rider came to the ride with a bike which was not properly maintained.  It is each riders responsibility to check their bike before a club ride to ensure that it is in the proper condition.  If you want to show up with a dirty bike that’s okay.  If your tires are bald, your chain is rusty, etc. that is NOT okay. Joining a club ride on a poorly maintained bike is selfish and affects all of the other riders.

The group is larger than in previous years which has caused some logistical problems on the rides.  With a large group the ride leader can not be expected to be aware of what is transpiring in the middle or the back of the group.  The result is that the group splits and the front group has to wait for the rear group – or worse, we lose riders off the back.  Having a sweep does not necessarily solve the problem.  When a split occurs it is the primary responsibility of the rider that is losing ground to call out “Gap”. This call should then be relayed to the lead rider who should call “Slowing” and reduce the pace slightly. Once the gap has been bridged  the riders who have caught up should make sure that everyone behind them is in the group and the call “All Aboard” should be relayed to the lead rider.  He/she should then gradually increase the speed back to the normal pace. If the person who is losing ground fails to call “Gap” this can be done by any of the other riders who see this (keep an eye on your mirror to see this).

When someone gets a flat and the group stops the flat should be changed by the person in the group who is fastest and most proficient at doing so.  This is for the good of the ride and the entire group.  I CAN change a flat but watching me take 30 minutes to do it doesn’t do anybody any good.  This goes for other mechanicals too.  Some of us have great mechanical skills and others (like me) have none.  The object is to keep the ride flowing – not to punish everyone while waiting for someone to fix something that they are not good at or capable of

When passing another rider ALWAYS call out “on your left” or “on your right”.  While the general rule is to not pass on the right, situations do arise (like passing on a climb) where this happens.

If you are in the front call out hazards (“hole left”, “grate right”, etc.).  When you hear the call repeat it so that the riders behind you are aware of the hazard.

Know your capabilities.  Check the ride schedule before arriving at the lot.  If you are strong on hills but very weak on the flats consider whether a ride advertised as “flat and fast” is for you.  The same thing goes for very hilly rides.

When the group is stopping for a traffic light, stop sign, lunch, etc., make sure to drop down a few gears before stopping.  That way when we start up again you will be in an easier gear and be able to get up to speed faster.

Finally, never ride in a pace line behind someone nicknamed “Crash”.

Ken Schack

Maybe I’ll Take Photos One Day

Riding on Long Island, NY certainly different than less congested parts of the country.
The real issue is not the traffic, that can be mostly avoided.
The challenge is to find areas that are really pretty, with all the housing and development around.

It does exist.

The south shore of Nassau County (closest to NYC) has it special sections like Woodsburgh, Hewlett Harbor, Atlantic Beach, Long Beach and Point Lookout.
There is a 4.5 mile bike way down to Jones Beach.  Yes, the parkway is on one side, but the marshes and water are on the other.

Out in Suffolk County there is more semi rural and farmland, especially the North Folk. with its famous Bike, Boat, Bike sponsored by the Suffolk Bike Riders Association.
The South Fork hosts the annual Tour of the Hamptons by the Massapequa Park Bicycle Club.

Northern Nassau County and North Western Suffolk County is a area of hills, mansions, marshes, beaches, long straight runs and twisty roads.

Much as I love my away trips, when I think about it, Long Island has a lot to offer a cyclist.


It’s Been Too Long

Seems like my last post was in August of 2012!  Way too long.

This has been the season of changed plans, new trips and a new bicycle.

The bicycle road trip from Long Island to Kansas City got cancelled.  A lot of things going on this summer cut into our downtime if we took the road trip.
Maybe next year.

A week at Seneca Lake with our bicycles is on the boards.  The Finger Lakes area is moderately hilly north/south and seriously hilly east/west.
Susan and I no longer seek challenge, most of  the time, so we will keep the east/west riding to a minimum.
We did some riding there last summer as well, just west of Seneca Lake.

Interesting riding in a Mennonite area.  Lots of other cyclists on the road,  but riding for transportation rather than sport.

Also going to California.  We will mostly be hiking in the Alpine area of Yosemite, but hope to get in one or two days on rental bicycles as well.

Susan and I are finding a new attitude about riding.  For me two or three times a week is fine and I will go more if the weather is nice.  For Susan twice a week is fine and she will go more if the weather is nice.  At the same time, if we miss a day on the bicycle that is okay too.  In a way it is nice not to feel driven about it all.

New bicycles will be ordered soon (the old bikes are going to the kids house in K.C.).
I am a titanium fan and Susan has become one.  By my next post,  hopefully our Lynskeys will be ordered if not actually delivered.


Biking in the USA

I have never bicycled overseas.  My friends have.  I have seen the various races on television.

So, in fairness, while I cannot compare the two from personal experience, I can and will extol the riding opportunities in the US.

I have ridden my bicycle in NY, MA, VT, ME, RI, CT, MD, PA, FL, SD, CO and OR.

I have driven my car through the above states as well as much of the Western US.

The variety of cycling opportunities in the US is incredible.

In Oregon we rode in the Columbia River Gorge.  We saw dozens more riders on the Oregon Coast Road.

In South Dakota we rode on the 109 mile long Nickelson Rail Trail (not paved).

In Colorado we rode on the paved trail between Glenwood Springs and Aspen.  We drove on roads that were  incredibly wonderful for cycling.  We saw many people cycling in Rocky Mountain National Park at altitudes over 12,000 feet!

We’ve ridden on pavement, asphalt, dirt and gravel.  Great rides and not so great rides.  Hilly, flat and rolling.

Keep the US in mind as an option for your next cycling vacation.

Smelling the Barn

My wife, Susan, and I tend to ride in the back of the group with a little extra distance between between the riders in front of us.  Too many near miss accidents and a couple of bone breaking accidents have made us more cautious and conservative.

Neither do we try to catch up if the gap widens. Since the peloton seems to dash out then slow down, or get caught at a fair amount of traffic lights, we know we catch up within a few minutes.

As a result of this refusal to dash out, catch up, power to the front and to otherwise expend unnecessary energy, by the end of the ride Susan is not particularly tired.

So, about five to eight miles from the end, she gets the ‘horse smells the barn door’ effect.  Knowing there is no longer a need to conserve strength,  she feels free to ‘go for it’.  This never fails to impress all the tired riders who can no longer dash up  hills or race off the front of the group.

Maybe something for all of us to think about.


My ‘Old’ Bicycle

Some of my bicycling buddies are encouraging me to replace my 2002 titanium Litespeed Tuscany with something new.   My wife says she has no problem if I want a new bike.

So far, however, I cannot get too excited about it.

I am no longer interested in going as fast as a I can, so shaving a few pounds off the bike is not much of a concern.

After seeing a few deaths and several cases of my friends needing their new carbon fiber frames replaced I am not too hot on carbon fiber.  I do hear the mantra that if the frame is made in the US it is more reliable, however.

I have a good titanium frame.  For a lot less that the cost of new bicycle I can replace parts as needed and get another decade from the bike.

So while I can afford a new bicycle and like new ‘toys’ much can also be said for “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”