Winter Cycling Gear

•December 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

With winter rapidly approaching, I had to invest in some winter riding gear. I technically needed to invest in fall riding gear as well, but thought I should get started with the winter gear as I knew this would take quite a bit of time figuring out what would be the best gear for Kansas City winter riding. I had a strong idea it would be Castelli, but wasn’t 100% sure. I’ve recently taking a liking to Capo, but once I find something I like, I stick with it and right now it’s Castelli. My search lasted for at least three weeks and I soon became torn between the Radiation 1-2-3 jacket by Castelli and the Mannaggia jacket also by Castelli; both jackets are from the Rosso Corsa line which is top of the line for Castelli. I ended up selecting the Mannaggia as the colors of the jacket matched my bike and appeared to be a bit more eye-catching, which is important in the winter as we lose daylight. I initially ordered a large which is what I’ve been wearing as far as the Castelli jerseys and bibs go, but ended up having to return it for an extra-large. The jacket was a little snug under the arms; everything else was perfect. My guess is, it’s the cut of the jacket as it’s extremely fitted and when you put a base and jersey under the jacket, it gets tight real quick; not to mention it’s Italian made and the European cuts do tend to run a little smaller. Additionally, this jacket’s cut is completely different from any other jacket they sell. It was designed after a European touring motorcycle jacket. Also, I have purchased several Castelli items and with each of those purchases have come across comments recommending buying a size up. I do not recommend that unless you like your gear on the looser side vs form-fitting.  Anyway, the XL worked out great and I’ve actually used it three times already. I can’t say enough about how well the jacket is made and how comfortable it is. It looks amazing with my bike as well. I mentioned a base layer before. I opted for Craft Pro Warm base shirt which is made in Switzerland and was originally designed for snow skiing. I will probably purchase the matching base pants for when I’m off the bike and playing in the snow with the kids. As expected, above average cycling gear is pretty expensive. Good jackets can run well over three hundred dollars and pants can get up there too. Speaking of pants, I feel I found an exceptional riding pant (bibtight) for an exceptional price. I opted for the Castelli Sorpasso bibtight. These pants are just as described; light weight, comfortable and do an amazing job of keeping you warm. I absolutely love these pants and am ecstatic that I purchased these. They also have the Progetto X2 seat pad which my bib shorts have and are by far the most comfortable seat pad I’ve tried to date.  I did buy these in a large. Note: I am 5’8” and weigh 167 pounds. You can easily fit into them if your 5’9” and 175. Any taller and you may want to go to an extra-large. I also purchased the Castelli Diluvio glove and shoe covers. These are unique in that they are both neoprene. Castelli swears by this product and I couldn’t pass them up as my hands and feet are the first to bother me on a cold day. I’ve tested the gloves a few times, but have not worn the shoe covers just yet. So far the gloves are exceptional. I’ll post more about these items as the temperature drops. I also purchased a Castelli skull-cap and Warmer balaclava. The skull-cap is right on while I can’t say the same for the balaclava. I haven’t tried the balaclava out in the cold, but have tried it on and I’m not crazy as to how it fits around my face; specifically how it covers my mouth and nose. Basically, it’s not form-fitting enough and sits about three-quarters of an inch from my nose and mouth instead of stretching across my nose, mouth and chin. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way, but not sure. If you look at the two balaclavas offered by Castelli, you’ll see that their standard balaclava seems to have a smaller opening. Not sure if the openings are actually different in size, but it appears they are from the Castelli site.  I’ll have to give the one I purchased a try once or twice before knocking it though. I also wanted to mention that a lot of the gear I mentioned is not available locally in KC. Other than the Sorpasso bibtights (Trek Store of Kansas City) and the Craft Pro Warm base shirt (Elite Cycling), I purchased everything else online. I did have to return a few of the items due to sizing issues, etc, but outside of that, I got what I wanted. Note:   if you purchase online as I often do, make sure that you become familiar with the return policy before pulling the trigger. The other bit of advice would be to make sure the company you’re purchasing from is stateside or offers two-day air at no extra charge and has a strong customer rating. I also mentioned earlier that I was purchasing my winter gear before purchasing my fall gear. Well after long deliberation, I’ve decided to pull the trigger on the Castelli Trasparente wind jersey. The reviews of this jersey are off the hook; many claiming that this jersey is Castelli’s masterpiece. I can’t wait to try this bad boy out. I went with the black and white jersey. It comes in three colors; red and white, black and white, royal blue and red.  Of course this jersey is part of Castelli’s Rosso Corsa line. Two parting notes; First, you may need to invest in a heavy-duty bibtight that allows you to ride in extremely cold or windy temperatures. These tights usually don’t come with padding and requires you to wear your summer bib shorts or something similar. I recently looked at a pair of Bontrager wind pants as they’re called and was quickly reminded of my wetsuit I used to wear water skiing in South Florida during the winter months; much thicker and considerably heavier than my winter bibs. Not sure if I’ll be riding in that cold of weather this year, but we’ll see. While looking at these tights I did come across what I think may be an invaluable find; a Bontrager long sleeve base jersey. I call it a “base” jersey as it didn’t have any rear pockets. What made it exceptional is that it had a balaclava built into the jersey. At the bottom of the sleeves are thumb loops designed to prevent the sleeves from creeping up. The thumb loops caught my attention, but I struggled with would I wear them under my gloves or over my gloves; research tells me they should be worn under the gloves. Note: Castelli recently redesigned the Trasparente by doing away with the thumb hooks. Testers of the original design complained about not being able to get their gloves on with the jersey placed over their thumbs while others complained, that the additional material covering their palms and thumb, created a slippery surface resulting in less grip. Second note; there are more than just four seasons when it comes to cycling hence the need for several different sets of clothing. The following is the list I’ve come up with: winter, winter extremely cold or windy, early spring, spring, late spring, summer, early fall, fall, and late fall. Some of your spring and fall items can be interchanged, but outside of that, you’ll need to make some room in your closet if you want to be properly clothed. Ultimately, don’t sacrifice quality to save a few dollars. You can pretty much say that about everything in life, but when it comes to cycling gear, it’s dead on. You want to be comfortable while protecting your body and you want to have as much flexibility as possible.


Lifetime Fitness Spin Class

•November 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you look back at my previous posts, you’ll quickly identify that there have been two key goals that I’ve been working toward achieving since my cycling began back in early spring: 1) to become a competent cyclist by the end of the riding season; a lofty goal as many cyclists don’t start feeling really comfortable with the sport until their second or third year of cycling and 2) to simply get into shape. I’m not sure that I’ve fully achieved the first goal and possibly not the second, but have made huge steps in the right direction. Truth be told, it’s been a tremendous amount of work and I can’t wait to see what the results are next year and who knows what year three will bring. I said work, but it’s been more fun than anything else. As this fall/winter approached, I found myself asking the question, “How do I continue to build on what I’ve achieved up to this point once riding season is over?”  The answer, spin class? Well, we’ll have to see. Actually, I’ve been attending class about two times a week and have recently increased my sessions to three times a week M,W,F and I feel just as good if not better than I have all season. I’ve never been one for the gym, but have fallen in love with spinning. There really is no comparison between spinning and cycling , but I love what spinning is doing for me and that’s at a minimum, maintaining the status quo and to some degree adding to what I’ve already accomplished. The classes vary session to session. There’s anaerobic threshold, climbing, speed and interval training to name a few. My favorite is probably the interval training, but they’re all pretty good and each more challenging than the other. I still ride on the weekends, weather willing, but it’s not enough and I feel you need to get in as close to 100 miles every week as possible in an effort to at least maintain where you left off at the end of the season. Oh, if you are interested in trying out the spin class, you can get a seven-day free pass to Lifetime by visiting with one of their sales reps. There isn’t any obligation and if you’re ok with getting a few emails about becoming a member, you may want to give it a spin. No pun intended. Lastly, membership is about $55 to $60.00 per month, which equates to about $5 per ride if you go three times a week.

Star Trac Spinner NXT

The Star Trac Spinner is the machine of choice at the Lifetime Fitness located at 135th and Metcalf

Hen House Ride – Dunn’s Cider Mill

•November 23, 2010 • 2 Comments

Sat, Oct 23, 2010 8:10 AM Central Time

I was extremely excited as this was the first time I was going to team up with the group to ride the Hen House ride. The Hen House Ride takes place every Saturday morning and commences at the Hen House in Prairie Village located at 7oth and Mission. I learned that the group will meet in the Hen House parking lot around eight o’clock. The group then chooses a destination and rides together in a pack both to the destination and back. Sometimes there may be two destinations, a shorter ride and a longer ride and the group will split into two and go their separate ways. Today’s destination was Dunn’s Cider Mill located in Belton, MO. It was approximately 15-16 miles from the Prairie Village Hen House, making the round trip about 30-35 miles; perfect for a Saturday morning.

Route Name: Dunn’s Cider Mill

Ride Info:


Avg Temperature: 69.7 °F
Min Temperature: 64.4 °F
Max Temperature: 77.0 °F

River Market Ride

•November 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Sun, Oct 17, 2010 1:54 PM Central Time

Sam and I wanted to come up with a new route and opted to head north this time, as we typically ride south to get away from the busier roads. Although we knew we were going to be on main roads with potentially a bit more traffic, we figured we could always turn back if the roads became too crowded.  After some discussion, we decided to ride to Fairway via Mission and then make our way to the river up Main through the River Market. I was very familiar with riding to Fairway on the bike, but hadn’t gone any further north and had never ridden through the plaza and definitely not downtown. Sure enough, the ride to Fairway was exceptional as it usually is and the ride to the river ended up being fantastic and one that I anticipate riding again. We ended up taking 47th/48th from Fairway through the Plaza and eventually made way to the River Market via Main. The day was a Sunday, so the traffic ended up being minimal and we were able to utilize the bus lane to avoid traffic. We had no idea how the ride was going to turn out, but were extremely glad that we decided to be a little adventurous that day. I believe this was the first ride that I got to use my new Garmin Edge 500. It looks amazing on my bike and matches perfectly. Click on the link below to view my stats.


Route Name: River  Market Ride

Ride Stats:


Avg Temperature: 76.5 °F
Min Temperature: 75.2 °F
Max Temperature: 84.2 °F

Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo

•November 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

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Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo

It’s been way too long since I last posted and now that fall is here, I will probably only post once a week. My weekday rides have turned into spin rides at Lifetime Fitness and my weekend rides, assuming the weather is cooperative during the winter will be what I post about until next riding season. I’m several weeks behind with my posts: 1) Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo, 2) the City Market ride and 3) Dunn’s Cider Mill ride. My goal is to get these posts out this week in an effort to be all caught up by my next outdoor ride. I also anticipate posting about how things are going at spin class and my adventure in selecting my winter gear; which by the way, I started researching and good winter gear is not cheap by any means. More to come on that topic.

Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo

I’m not even sure where to begin about this event as there is so much to talk about and truth be told, I haven’t stopped talking about it since the ride ended. Everything surrounding this ride was exciting and in most cases a new learning experience that will surely make me a better cyclist. My post below will touch on info about how I got my bike to the ride, the ride itself and the additional outings that my wife and I did as part of the trip. Might want to grab a snack, as this is a long one.

I decided to rent my bike container for the trip from The Wheel Cyclery, which is the same bike shop Mike and I had rented from when we took our hybrids to San Francisco earlier in the year. The cost is about $35.00 a week, which is extremely reasonable and The Wheel has a couple of different styles to choose from. The container I rented for this trip was like a big piece of Samsonite luggage. It’s pretty easy to load the bike and only requires you to remove the wheels, pedals and handlebars. You don’t have to disconnect any of the cables and the frame sits between two thick pieces of protective foam. I tie the bike off in the container so it doesn’t shift around or rub against the container walls; basically the bike is positioned in the middle of the container and cannot move. Renting the container from The Wheel was a smart choice, as the owners of the shop were extremely accommodating and helpful. Specifically, understanding about the condition of the container when I returned it, as it was not in the same condition that it was in when I picked it up. Simply stated, Southwest and TSA beat the container up pretty badly. A lock was broken off on the trip out to San Fran and a wheel was broken off on the trip home. When I called The Wheel to let them know what happened to the container, the said this is pretty typical and didn’t anticipate there being any issue. Mike was gracious enough to return the box for me as The Wheel is close to his house and the container was accepted without even a blink of the eye. With that I say, thank you to The Wheel. On a side note, I did see a couple that stayed at the same hotel as us that had their bikes in some very cool containers manufactured by SCI-CON which made me think that maybe I should invest in one. I’m going to wait for now, but will definitely set up a search on eBay.

Unfortunately my wife and I had to fly on separate flights to San Francisco as I had to spend an extra day in PA for work. The good news  is, we extended the trip a day on the back-end and made the most of it. We arrived Thursday the 7th of October and headed right to the hotel. We stayed at the St. Francis in downtown San Francisco for the front end and back-end of the trip. I put my bike together as soon as it got to the room and quickly inspected it for any damage. It looked perfect, but I still set up a pre-ride run with Sal for the next day to confirm all was good.

The morning of Friday the 8th was check in, which was located at the Finley Aquatic Center in Santa Rosa. Kim, my wife, signed up as a volunteer and was given the task of handing out pre-ordered jerseys.  She said she had a blast and met a lot of interesting people. I thought it was pretty amazing that she took the time to pitch in when she could have headed to the spa for the day. Thank you Kimber! She also got a t-shirt that I’m sure I’ll be sporting more than she will. The check in didn’t take long at all, but most importantly, I was able to buy a Gran Fondo jersey and jacket; the jersey was more expensive than the jacket. I found that funny for some reason. Anyway, Sal and I were able to get our packet without issue and were soon heading down to Daly City to meet up with his staff for lunch. You would think getting the packet without issue would be expected, but both Sal and I purchased our tickets from other registrants that couldn’t attend the ride. We each paid a $25.00 transfer fee in addition to the registration fee, but were still concerned that there might be an issue. Again, we signed in without a hitch and we were now about twenty-four hours from tackling our first mountain.

That evening, just before dark, Sal and I took the bikes out for a ride to make sure everything was in order before lining up. Everything looked good and we made the last-minute adjustments and headed to our rooms. We stayed at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park; just south of Santa Rosa. All the rooms in Santa Rosa were sold out, but our hotel was absolutely beautiful and there were many other cyclists staying there.

Ride day was finally here. It seemed like I had been waiting forever for this day to come and was both eager and nervous to get started. There was still a lot to do though before we could line up: gather the gear, mix the ride drinks, ration the supplements, place the numbers on the bikes, get to the ride and line up. Of which, finding a parking spot at the ride was my personal concern, but Sal had a little trick up his sleeve. He had ridden the route the weekend before and had parked at a grocery store down the street from the ride. One of the owners saw Sal and asked him if he was going to be riding in the Gran Fondo. The gentleman proceeded to tell Sal about a parking lot in the back where he could park on ride day without issue. Sure enough, we arrived and were able to park and get ready for the ride. I’m not exactly sure where we would have parked if Sal hadn’t found out about this lot.  It took us about thirty minutes to get ourselves and the bikes ready and once ready, we headed over to the staging area which was about a quarter of a mile away.

As we approached the starting line, we started to come upon more and more cyclists and eventually a sea of cyclists; over 6,000 to be exact. I’m not sure how long the line was, but it looked like it went on for about mile. The riders selected their place in line based on how long they anticipated the ride would take. Sal and I decided that 4.5 hours would be close and jumped in line. It’s pretty interesting how many cyclists you can get in a small area. It was pretty tight, but everyone was able to get started without issue. The ride began at 8:00 AM, but Sal and I probably didn’t start rolling until 8:15. We initially thought the ride organizers were starting a group of cyclists at a time, but the ride began as a rolling start and with so many people, it felt like you were starting and stopping.  We didn’t really get rolling until we crossed the official start line, which is also the point that the ride organizers begin tracking your time via a computer chip attached to your seat post. We were then able to lock into both pedals and start our journey.

We were finally on our way. Cyclists in front of us, behind us and next to us. It was a little crazy, but fun and it wasn’t long before the line started to spread out a little. Once we left the Finley Center, we headed right through residential neighborhoods. People lined the streets and were waving flags, cheering and even had the cow bells out. It was pretty exciting to be  part of the ride. It wasn’t too long into the ride that we came to our first bottle neck. The route took us from a four lane main road to a two lane side road that quickly became a climb. Not a significant climb, but enough where riders were slowing down creating the bottleneck. I noticed however, that if you allowed for some separation between you and the rider in front of you, you could pedal without issue and move at a decent pace. The road was pretty narrow for some time and took us further into neighborhoods and eventually some farms and vineyards. This part of the ride was beautiful and acted as a great warm up.

One vineyard in particular ran along the Russian River and was absolutely beautiful. In the distance, we could see a stream of cyclists going over the bridge as they turned into what appeared to be the woods. What I didn’t realize, was that on the other side of the bridge was the first real climb. Now, I’m not sure what most people thought about this mountain, but I was blown away. I had never done anything like this and was completely freaking out the entire time I climbed it. With every turn, seemed an eternity of more climbing. I didn’t want to slow down as I wanted to maintain my pace and get to the crest. Not once did I look behind me or stop and I worked as hard as I ever had. I was so proud of myself once I got to the top and I couldn’t help but think about how interesting the day had been to this point and started to wonder what other challenges were still ahead of us.

With every climb there is a descent and this descent was exceptional. I rode down the hill with a group of about five cyclists and was accompanied by two touring BMWs that stayed with the group the entire way. It was as if we had an escort as we weaved down the backside of the mountain. Definitely a highlight of the ride and a testament as to how well the ride was organized and managed.

At the bottom of the mountain was the first rest stop with about twenty port a potties; each with a line of about fifteen people in front of them. After going through the line, Sal and I headed to our bikes, but not before running into the Kansas City contingency. The guys seemed like they were having as much fun as Sal and I and we hung out for a few minutes and recapped the ride to this point. This stop was also the turn for the Medio. It was our time to head toward the ocean, while the riders riding the Gran headed for the mountains. I didn’t feel as if I was missing anything as the ride was challenging enough up this point for my skill level. I looked forward to getting to the ocean, but was a little anxious to find out what was in front of us and knew that at some point, not too far from where we were, was Coleman Valley Road; the apex of the route and the killer climb.

Our journey continued west through some small towns such as Duncan Mills, a redwood forest, more rolling hills and some smaller mountains than what we had previously conquered. I believe it was about this point that I tagged along with five other riders and did a little pace lining. Not sure if they even noticed that I was tagging along, but I benefited from the drafting.  I was able to stay with the group for about three miles followed them into the mountains. It wasn’t much later that  we reached the peak of the mountain and were looking right at the Pacific. I noticed a few riders up ahead, off to the side of the road and decided to join them. I took a few pictures and was asked by about three other riders to take some pictures of them with their cameras. I didn’t mind, but what I didn’t know was that the real scenery was up ahead. Sal got my attention and told me to get back on the bike and to follow him; sure enough there were several amazing photo opportunities. The weather that day was absolutely perfect; no wind, no fog, no rain, sunny – just perfect. The ocean was calm and crystal clear. It reminded me of when I was growing up. I used to swim in the Atlantic almost every day in the summer and countless times throughout the year with my family and as I got older with my friends. I’ve always loved the ocean and this moment brought back a lot of memories of my childhood and the amazing times I had with my father fishing. Cycling has given me the opportunity to reflect on everything in my life and this is probably one of the greatest gifts the sport has given  me. I’ve heard the same thing from a lot of other cyclists and many also say it’s a great stress reliever and we all know it’s a great way to get in an amazing cardio workout.

Not too much further along was another SAG; a big SAG and it looked like they were serving lunch. Sal and I decided to forgo stopping as we just finished taking a break just a few minutes before when we stopped to take some pictures. We also knew that just up ahead was the dreaded Coleman Valley Road. We pedaled by the SAG and just across the road were a few beautiful homes that overlooked the ocean. There were also quite a few people along the roadside cheering us on and we even came upon a group of ladies probably in their sixties waving a sign that said something like, “Fit men in tight shorts” or something like that. Sal and I got a kick out of it and knew that that would be the last time we would be smiling for a while as we had now arrived at Coleman Valley Rd.

The entrance coming from the west (ocean side) was very narrow and a little concealed by some overgrown trees that lined both sides of the road; it resembled more of an entrance to a trail than an actual road. The road itself was also extremely narrow. There was barely enough room for two bikes and single file was a requirement if a car or truck was driving by; which of course a few drove down the mountain as Sal and I were navigating our way up the mountain. There were also a lot of switchbacks or turns to accommodate for the steepness of the mountain. I knew it was going to be an extremely difficult climb as I passed a group of riders off their bikes catching their breath at the first turn. I thought to myself there was no way I was going to stop and I needed to keep pushing until I couldn’t pedal anymore. I had no idea how steep the road was in front of me or how long a ride it would be before I got to the top, but I wasn’t going to give up and wanted more than anything to make it all the way. After about four or five turns I reached the midpoint of the hill which was marked by a van with a rainbow wind sock flapping in the ocean breeze. There was no one around me at this moment and I felt somewhat isolated from the rest of the riders. I continued to pedal, but the mountain was either getting steeper or I was running out of power or both. I decided I better rest for a few minutes and wait for the other riders.  I rested for about five minutes and when I went to put my foot back in the pedals, it just wasn’t happening; the grade was too steep and I was concerned that I might not be able to get my other foot in the pedal and fall. The crest of the mountain was just ahead so I decided to walk it the rest of the way to be safe. I can now say that I rode Coleman Valley Road, but next year and yes, I will be back next year; I am not stopping until I get to the top of that mountain. Sal and I met up at the top and continued together to the next SAG.

I believe this was the third SAG, but not a hundred percent sure. I know we stopped at the port a potty stop and then there was the lunch SAG at the ocean and now this SAG, but can’t help think that there was a SAG along the ride somewhere in between the port a potty stop and the ocean SAG . Sal and I were doing fine and at this point completed about 40 miles of the ride. We took our time at this stop and took in some of the scenery and talked about what a killer the mountain was. We also reloaded our water bottles at this SAG and began our journey home. Although Coleman Valley (the climb portion) was technically the turn back east, this SAG signified the home stretch. I was excited to have reached this point, but was also a little bummed that we were heading back. Simply stated, I didn’t want the ride to end.

I began to wonder as we made our way to our bikes, if the rest of the ride would be downhill all the way back or would we encounter any more killer climbs. Not that I had a choice, but I didn’t know if I had enough juice in my batteries to take on another climb like the one we just did. I asked Sal what he recalled from the previous week and he said there was at least one more climb of about 1,500 feet.

As luck would have it though, we did begin to descend at a pretty good pace. It was obvious that we were coming down the backside of the mountain, but it didn’t seem to be as steep as the ocean side of it.  Most importantly, everyone was great about keeping some space, as there were quite a few sharp turns and the slightest wrong move would have resulted in a serious crash. It’s a little difficult describing these descents, but imagine leaning forward and dropping low on the bicycle and allowing gravity to take over as you weave your way down the hill at speeds  in many cases greater than forty miles an hour. One wrong turn, a hole, animal or rock and you can be planted face first into the pavement.  A steep windy decent in my opinion, is the most dangerous part of cycling.

We weren’t at the bottom of the mountain for very long, when we came upon the last real climb. It wasn’t too big of a climb, but the setting was incredible. The road ahead seemed to disappear into towering redwoods that created a canopy that allowed just enough sunlight to see the road. It was a spectacular sight. I wasn’t able to take any pictures as I was climbing and I needed to keep both hands on the handlebars. The road continued upward for some time, leveled off and then continued upward again. It did this a few times before coming to one of the most amazing descents I have taken since my cycling journey began. This descent seemed to go on forever and it was just as exciting to watch the cyclists in front of me as it was riding down the mountain. The slower cyclists stayed to the right, while many of us cruised by at about 40-45 miles per hour. As I leaned into every turn, I couldn’t help but think how dangerous this part of the ride was and how careful I had to be; even more careful than the descents of Coleman Valley Road. Like all good things, this part of the ride had to come to an end. When we reached the bottom, we saw there was a life flight helicopter just to our left in a vineyard. The paramedics were loading someone onto the helicopter that was strapped to a stretcher. I assumed that the rider had crashed coming down the mountain and probably overshot one of the turns. We found out later, that there were two serious accidents during the ride; one caused by a rider not managing the descent well and the other a hit and run by a vehicle that has still yet to be identified.

After passing the vineyard, we then continued our way through Occidental and began our approach to Santa Rosa. By now I was pretty tired and hungry and wanted to get back to pig out and spend time with Kim. We were now in the final leg of the ride and I was excited to get to the finish line. Interestingly enough, the main road back to the ride was closed off and everyone was being directed to take a bike path back to finish the ride. This was the only part of the ride I was not too fondo of. I thought that was funny. Anyway, the trail looked and felt like it was just paved, but it was way too narrow and definitely not the same as the road. After all, we are referred to as “roadies” and we need to be true to our name. The path ended just outside the Finley Aquatic Center and brought us about a quarter-mile from the finish line. I took my time and pedaled slowly so I could take in every single sight and snap a few last pictures.

Although crossing the finish line was a significant sense of accomplishment, I was bummed that the ride had come to an end. Sal and I then parked our bikes and made way to the concession area. Lunch was included and Sal and I were ready to chow down. There was one other criticism I did have about the ride and that had to do with the length of the food lines. There were some waits that were as long as an hour. That’s a long time to be standing when you just rode for four hours. Sal and I waited about forty minutes before getting our food, but did wait in line for about ten minutes in another line that was twice as long as the line we switched to. However, the food was off the hook incredible. I had a pork sandwich, but not just any pork sandwich. Instead of bread, the pork was on a corn meal pancake similar to an arepa and along with the pork there was some avocado. Absolutely outstanding and would have gone back for a second if the line wasn’t so long.

I’m sure I left out a lot of details, but in the interest of keeping this post to  4,000 words, I’ll try to wrap it up here. I’ve also posted the pictures as a slideshow so please enjoy them and feel free to leave comments. I also included pictures of the trip to San Francisco, Napa and the air show over the Bay. My wife and I did get to visit some vineyards and had quite a bit of our favorite wines shipped home. We also discovered a new vineyard called Bella Vineyards located just north of West Dry Creek Road which is right near the dam of Sonoma Lake (see slide show).

To summarize, I had an amazing trip and I owe a big thank you to John Cappuccino for telling me about the ride and pointing me in the right direction as to how to get tickets to the ride. I owe a big thank you to my wife Kimberly for being incredibly supportive of me. I also owe a big thank you to Sal for putting up with me about riding all the time and being a great Gran Fondo compadre.  And last but not least, to the ride organizers who have made my appreciation for riding even stronger.

N.B. Looks like the date has been set already for October 1st 2011. Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo

Route Name:  Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo

Ride Stats: I used Sal’s stats as I did not have a computer for this ride.


 Hi: 84 Low 44 Clear

Playing Catch Up

•September 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I haven’t blogged in what seems to be forever and definitely have some catching up to do. Not sure where to begin, but last Saturday I had a great ride with my daughter Francesca and my son Gene. This was the first legit ride the three of us have taken together. Super exciting and they did great. Gene and I pushed Francesca a little, but she was a trooper and rocked it out. We rode a total of thirteen miles and rode from 131st and Roe to 83rd and Mission; and yes there are a couple of tough hills on that route. The weather was perfect and we stopped at Panera and had some breakfast before heading back. Our ride back was a lot of fun and again the kids did great. My next ride occurred on Monday morning and let me tell you, it was cold; 45 degrees. I haven’t ridden in that cold of weather and it’s definitely a totally different feeling to push it as hard as you can in 45 degree weather than it is to push it as hard as you can in 75 degree weather (Compare below stats). My throat and lungs bothered me for about a day and while I didn’t feel fatigued, I didn’t break a sweat either. I rode the Leawood Loop and my time was a bit slower than the last couple of times, but all in all I’m glad I got out and road, as my goal is to ride throughout the winter this year and the sooner I get acclimated to the cooler temps, the better. This evening, I was able to get out and ride the last Discover Vision ride of the season. With us loosing daylight much earlier now, it makes sense to call it quits. My time was pretty good at 19.5 plus mph and I felt good once I warmed up and wish we could have gotten a few more miles in, but it’s all good. My bike is pretty dirty and I will be breaking it down and cleaning it up this weekend and getting it packed up for the big trip to Santa Rosa; Levi Leipheimer’s King’s Ridge Gran Fondo. I can’t wait. Lastly, I went by Lifetime Fitness this evening as I heard they have a cycle theater. It looks cool and many of the stationary bikes have the same pedals that are on my bike. I have a seven-day pass and think I might get in there this Friday at 5:30 AM to give it a shot.

Route Name:

Leawood Loop

Ride Stats:

Google Maps URL:

Started: Sep 27, 2010 5:57:35 AM

Ride Time: 1:06:07

Stopped Time: 1:15

Distance: 20.82 miles

Average: 18.89 miles/h

Fastest Speed: 27.51 miles/h

Climb: 1079 feet

Calories: 1329


Route Name:

Discover Vision

Ride Stats:

Google Maps URL:

Started: Sep 29, 2010 6:04:39 PM

Ride Time: 55:05

Stopped Time: 15:30

Distance: 17.95 miles

Average: 19.56 miles/h

Fastest Speed: 29.06 miles/h

Climb: 1260 feet

Calories: 1632


A Little Bit Better Now…

•September 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I posted my fastest Leawood Loop ride on Monday of this week of 19.55 mph. Not quite as fast as the Discover ride from last Wednesday of 19.74 mph, but still, my fastest time on the Loop. I also rode the Loop on Wednesday and finished with a time of 19.42 mph. I was a little tired and was fighting some aches and pains that morning, but  finished feeling much better than when I started. I’m going to keep this post short, but before finishing up, I wanted to note that my recovery time has been cut in half or maybe more than half ever since drinking Hammer’s Recoverite after my rides. I’ve been feeling great and feel as though I can ride more than I ever have. My speed has definitely picked up, but it’s my endurance that has dramatically increased. Thank God, as it wasn’t that long ago that I struggled finishing the Cider Mill. Speaking of the Cider Mill, I’ve been on several other rides since then that have been longer and more challenging, but finished them feeling stronger and much less fatigued. I make this point because I was probably about three to four weeks away from being fully prepared to tackle the Cider Mill. Looking back, I should have made more time to ride some longer rides. It’s all good though and while many are preparing to ride the MS150 here in KC, I’ve been preparing for the Gran Fondo. I can’t stop thinking about riding in Santa Rosa along the ocean and through the mountains. It should be a great ride; challenging as all get out, but a great ride. I’ve also been thinking about the winter and what I’m going to do to stay in shape…but I’m going to save that for another post.

Route Name: Leawood Loop 

Ride Stats:

Monday 9/13/2010

Google Maps URL:

Started: Sep 13, 2010 6:02:46 AM

Ride Time: 1:04:06

Stopped Time: 1:20

Distance: 20.88 miles

Average: 19.55 miles/h

Fastest Speed: 26.74 miles/h

Climb: 200 feet

Calories: 1331

Wednesday 9/15/2010

Google Maps URL:

Started: Sep 15, 2010 5:57:18 AM

Ride Time: 1:04:20

Stopped Time: 0:26

Distance: 20.82 miles

Average: 19.42 miles/h

Fastest Speed: 28.29 miles/h

Climb: 174 feet

Calories: 1177


Monday 9/13/2010

Wednesday 9/15/2010