Catching Up After The Heat Wave

Late July through mid August was really hot here in the midwest — one of the warmest summers in recent memory, certainly hotter than recent years, with most days featuring a double shot of high humidity and 95-100°F temperatures.

I’ve been riding quite a bit, but mostly short “utility” ride (grocery runs and the like). July ended up being a short-mileage month, way below goal. August is also running a bit behind my expected pace, but a break in the weather has given me a chance to catch up a bit, so I may yet hit goal for this month (or at least come close).

No really big rides, but here are some photos from the last month or so:

This shot is from Lone Elm Park, not too far from my house. I didn’t realize it when I took this shot, but the scene almost totally mirrors the shape of the bicycle frame, with the big tree being the seat tube, the fallen limb the down tube, the fencepost the fork, and the overhead limbs the top tube. That’s kinda cool!

I had an opportunity to get in another awesome night ride into Kansas City. This is a long-exposure night shot of I-435, taken from the Lamar Avenue overpass, looking west.

Here’s a shot of the barn at my parent’s farm, taken just after sunset. Can’t see much detail here, but the colors are nice. I think that’s Venus in the west.

This is one of the farm bikes. Doesn’t look too bad in this shot, but it’s not in great shape. I got this at an estate auction when I was in high school, tore it down, and rebuilt it. It’s a “Coast King” single-speed with a coaster brake. It was a halfway decent bike, but now the back tire needs replacing, the handlebar’s bent, the bottom bracket needs some work, the seat’s pretty tore up, and the wheels are pretty marginal.

Really, the only things salvageable are the frame and maybe the rear hub. Everything else needs replacing. Not sure if it’s worth putting any money into fixing it up.

This is another farm bike — an AMF “Nimble” three-speed step-thru frame. This bike is actually in pretty decent shape, except for the brakes. The back brake doesn’t work at all, and the front brake doesn’t work very well. But the tires are decent (though the wheels are not great), the seat’s OK, and the shifter works. It even has fenders, a working kickstand, and original reflectors. If I thought my wife would ride it, this would be worth spiffing up.

I’ve been running the new Serfas Vermin tires for a couple months now, and have about 700 miles on them. On this grocery store run in early August, I picked up my first flat. The tires have some sort of Kevlar flat protection belt, but they didn’t stop this bad boy. I’m not sure anything could.

I did get in one really good ride the second week of August. I drove to Garnett, KS to meet Sam, who runs, a web site that covers the Prairie Spirit Trail, a 51-mile rails-to-trail project in eastern Kansas.

I’d ridden the trail from Ottawa to Garnett, but no farther. The plan on this day was to ride from Garnett south to Iola, about 60 miles total. But it turned out to be a very hot day, so we ended up cutting the ride short, getting in about 35 miles.

This shot shows the trailhead in Garnett. That’s Sam’s Trek hybrid in the foreground, and my Long Haul Trucking on the right. As you can see from the flag, there was a bit of wind, too!

There were several stands of Chickasaw Plum along the trail, and we hit them at exactly the right time. The fruit was lovely, bright red, and very sweet. Often there’s a note of bitterness with these plums, but these were 100% sweet!

Here’s where we ended up: Colony, Kansas. It’s a small town on the trail about 10 miles north of Iola. It offers a small grocery, a diner, and a tavern. It was a nice place to stop, take a little break out of the heat, and soak up a bit of small-town atmosphere.

The trail is officially closed in one place, where it crosses a highway. We took the detour on the way out, but on the way back we rode through the construction zone. Here’s Sam emerging from the tunnel where the trail passes beneath the road.

Here’s Sam on the way back north. The Prairie Spirit Trail was in really good form, with some nice shaded areas, which felt great on a hot day.

This is a shot of the Edgerton, KS water tower, located on the Johnson/Douglas county line.

Well, now the heat wave seems to have broke, and summer’s days are numbered.

As much as the heat is a challenge, I love the consistency of the days, and the simplicity of not having to worry about changing weather or variable winds.

I’ll soon be missing summer, but fall is coming, and that means a bunch of beautiful days to be on the bike!

DirtBum Written by:

I enjoy riding bicycles all over -- city streets, suburbia, rural roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, rail-trails, and singletrack. I love exploring the countryside and finding the interesting and historical treasures hidden in plain sight. You can follow my rides on Strava.