June 22nd, 2013


Accidental 24-Mile Bike Ride

All through the week of my staycation, I'd been wanting to go to Panera, to drink a frozen mocha and write somewhere that wasn't home, but we've had issues with the car. On Friday, I finally decided just to bike over there. It was a longish ride -- 6.5 miles one way, per Google Maps -- but my normal workout ride is 10-14 miles, so it was within reason. The biggest downside was that it meant biking alongside 40 Highway. Now, 40 Highway is not an interstate -- it's more like a busy boulevard, four lanes and with a speed limit of 40 mph. Fortunately, most of my route had a nice wide shoulder, so I had plenty of space and the motorists gave me a wide berth on the few sections where the shoulder was narrow, so it turned out to be a perfectly fine if moderately hilly route.

As I neared the plaza with the Panera, I remembered that, in the medical complex on the opposite side was the place I'd had a mammogram two years ago. I was overdue for another. And it was Friday at 3PM. And they take walk-ins. I should get a mammogram! So I did. Impulse-buy mammogram! Yeah, that was kind of odd even by my standards.

That took about an hour, so it was 4PM when I got to Panera. I checked my workout app to see how far the ride had actually been, and it was around 7.3 miles. I got a bagel and a frozen mocha, and sat in one of the comfy chairs to eat and write (on my phone, because that's how I roll) for about forty-five minutes. Then I didn't want to bike home along 40 highway during the heart of rush hour, but I also didn't want to stay at Panera for hours. I remembered from a Google search that there was supposed to be a bike trail that crossed through this general area, though I did not recall ever actually seeing it. So I biked around the plaza and the road that ran alongside it between various other plazas and restaurants. At the Independence Events Center, I spotted a sign in the parking lot that said "Bike Trail Entrance Point". Aha! This must be it!

Then I looked about the parking lot in the vicinity of the sign. There was a sidewalk leading back to the access roadm and a sidewalk leading to the back entrances of a small medical center building. There were no "Trail Thisaway" signs.


I biked down the sidewalk going around the medical center, and sure enough, it led to the back entrances and not to a cleverly hidden bike trail. As I was coming back around, I noticed a woman standing on the lawn, watching me. When I was within hail, she asked, "Are you looking for the bike trail?"

"Yes! Yes I am. What gave it away?" I asked, smiling.

She laughed. "You have to go back to the street, then down the street about a quarter mile and over a little bridge. The trail goes under the bridge; there's a little path leading down to it."

Thus informed, I found the trail without further difficulty. It ran under all the roads in the area, including two different highways. After going to all the trouble of finding it, I figured I couldn't leave without checking it out, so I headed north along it. The first half-mile was smooth pavement, delightful biking, then it turned to gravel. Which was okay but not as pleasant. I went past three mile markers before turning around. There's a Costco in the same plaza, so I stopped in there for a few things, and checked my phone app to see how far I'd gone total. 9 miles -- apparently I'd covered a couple of miles looking for the trail.

By this time, I was starting to regret not having worn sunscreen. I don't usually wear it when biking, but I don't usually bike down roads with NO SHADE AT ALL like 40 Highway, and I usually only bike for an hour a day. I'd already been out nearly two (granted, with a few breaks in doors in between) and I still had to get home. The slog back along 40 Hwy was particularly onerous: hot, unshaded, and hilly. I took a longcut that added about an extra mile to the trip home, just to get off the highway and onto a shaded sidestreet for the final leg. So ... about twenty-four miles total, almost twice what I'd planned. Oops?

Remarkably, the next day I was not sunburnt, nor was I sore from the extra exercise. I wanted to do it again, in fact, but thunderstorms on Saturday and Sunday prevented it.

Today, however, is supposed to be clear! So I'm hitting the road now. It'll be hot -- 84 now and a high of 94, oof -- but I am usually all right biking in the heat. I am going to wear sunscreen, though!

And there's an ice cream shop along the bike trail, if the heat is just too bad. ;)

Biking Adventures

8.2 miles from home to the trail.
7.5 miles along the trail.
9.7 miles from trail to home.
25.4 miles total, in about 3 hours.

This time I biked directly to and down the trail, without a break before hitting the trail. This was probably a mistake. For one, my drink ran out about 3.5 miles down the trail, when I wanted to do four or five miles. For another SO HOT. It was hot last Friday, too, but I think the air-conditioned breaks I took helped substantially in making the overall trip more tolerable.

I went south this time, passing the 12th mile marker almost immediately, then 13 and 14. And then I never saw 15, although I went about 1.5 miles past 14. After a bit over a mile or so past the 14th, the trail went from a broad flat trail with some gravel on it to a dirt track the width of a bicycle tire, bordered by knee-high weeds. I figured at this point that I must have missed a turnoff onto the trail proper somewhere, but kept going for half a mile or so out of curiosity. The dirt track was very rutted and occasionally had two or three different tire-width tracks running in parallel or criss-crossing each other: it obviously saw enough use to remain marked, but it was pretty awful for riding. After I reached a little stand of trees and saw that the not-really-a-trail continued in the sun on the other side, I took a break in the shade for a few minutes to cool off, then headed back. The only fork I found in the trail on the way back led up to a road and had a gate blocking it (presumably to keep cars from accidentally turning down the trail.) There was no sign of a bike trail continuing alongside or opposite the road. So still not sure what happened to the trail. Maybe what I hit was the trail and it's just reeeeeeeally badly maintained for that section? I met a couple of other bikers at the fork who were just as confused and new to this part of the trail as I was, so enlightenment did not come.

After about 2 hours of biking, I made it to Panera, having decided to stick with my victory bagel-and-frozen-mocha instead of going for ice cream. Mostly because I wanted something akin to food with nutritional value. Not really because the ice cream shop was another mile north and in the opposite direction from home. I collapsed into one of the comfy chairs, feeling vaguely guilty for being sweaty and dirty and suntan-oiled on their helpless furniture, drank a lot of water, ate my bagel, and did some writing -- about six hundred words. Eventually I finished my frozen mocha and decided I should head home.

The route home was longer because I took a detour to go to Hobby Lobby and get frames for some of the unframed art I still have lying around. The Hobby Lobby is in the shopping plaza directly across the highway from Panera. After I took a shortcut across the lawn to get back to the road, it was about a mile from Panera to Hobby Lobby.

There is a lot of access road into that little shopping plaza. I am just saying. I assume it's because the Bass Pro Shop wanted a park-type area around them, and they're the only other store in the immediate vicinity.

I picked out a bunch of frames to go with various art, until I decided I was in danger of not being able to fit them all in the bike basket and stopped getting more. (I actually got the store to give me a measuring tape so I could check that everything would fit before I bought them.) I ended up securing the bags down with a bungee cord to be on the safe side, since the packages were much taller than the basket.

Then I took the scenic route out of Hobby Lobby, which chopped a mile or two off of the distance I had to spend on 40 Highway. I think there must be a trail entrance somewhere closer than the Independence Events Center, because it curved back west a ways along the south route; I should poke around at Google and see if I can find a quicker way on, because biking 8 miles just to get to the trail is a bit much.

At home, I actually put all the pictures in the new frames (except one frame which turned out not to fit the intended pic) and hung half of them. Progress! Hopefully I'll get the rest up tomorrow. I need to figure out where to put them. I am being pretty haphazard in where I hang art at this point, because I just want it ON WALLS and not occupying storage/table/floor space.