Have you ever been interested in a rails to trails with your family? This summer we completed the midsection of the Katy Trail in Missouri.
We only had 3 days of vacation time so we chose the most scenic section and dominated it!
We started with an incomplete train ride (a train derailment up the line led to a 5 hour late bus ride). The delay caused us to arrive into our starting point at midnight. MUCH later then we had anticipated. Plus with a toddler who was anxious to ride a train (let down #1) and 5 hours past her bedtime (let down #2) we were doomed for disaster.
When we arrived in Sedalia at midnight, we unloaded the bikes, dawned our helmets and were about to set out on the 1/2 mile ride to our hotel when we noticed the toddler had one shoe on. She has fallen asleep on the bus ride and when I picked her up to disembark I must have knocked it off. This wouldn’t have been a huge deal if we had another pair of shoes for her.
Day 1 started with a quick stop at the local Piggly Wiggly and then off to the trail head! Before we even stout on the trail we encountered snake #1 (of 10 on the whole trip).
We were under the impression that our first day on the trail would be long but steady. Not too grueling but mostly open and sunny. Half of this was true. It was HOT and SUNNY. Only a little shade cover but actually 200 foot decent, although it felt like we were headed uphill the whole way.
After 50+ miles we stopped at the Katy Trail Bed and Breakfast in Rochefort, Missouri. The sleepy little town was very quiet at 430pm. After showers and some relaxing time in the AC, we headed out into “town” and found an AMAZING foode. Abigail’s Restaurant was perfect! locally grown organic food was perfectly made. They have different meals each day and the menu is on a whiteboard they bring to your table. It was a divine meal! Perfect ending to the first day!
I’ve been sitting here pondering (over a nice cold beer) what exact thing that made me REALLY dig Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta GA. This weekend we had the opportunity to visit the guys at the shop and finally get to see what it was all about.
Both Chris and Tyler were extremely down to earth and welcoming upon our arrival. We travel with a two year old, so our focus and conversations can kind of bounce around based on what she has decided to climb on, hide under or get into.
We toured the super cool shop, housed in an old movie theater and drooled on all the various Salsa and Surly bikes they had in stock. I find choosing one model from either of these brands crazy difficult based on all of the possibilities and enjoyed talking about the characteristics of each with Tyler, who encouraged us to come out for the demo day in November.
The shop has a personality that makes you just want to hang out and plan your next crazy cycling expedition. Loose Nuts Cycles is more than just a place to get your bike worked on or snag the latest Surly or Salsa creation. Loose Nuts Cycles is about having a beer, finding a bike that makes you smile and challenging yourself to RIDE that bike.
We look forward to dropping back by the shop and sharing our adventures in the future and hearing about all of yours! Hope to see you there.
I spend a great deal of my time lost… I’m directionally challenged, as my wife likes to call it. But like many successful relationships having complementary skills makes a better team. Sarah is blessed with the sense of direction in our relationship.
Once, and only once… Sarah made the mistake of allowing me to navigate during one of our adventure races. Needless to say, we got lost.
I make up for my lack of navigational skills by having a motor that doesn’t stop and a seriously warped sense of what I call “fun”. A few weeks ago I was out on a very rare solo bike trip on my Surly Big Dummy. I had used the fancy “map my ride” app to draw up a nice 30-mile loop starting from my doorstep and heading out through the country (we just moved to a new state the week before so I was completely unfamiliar with the area).
About 5 miles into the ride I started really enjoying the scenery and was taking in all of the new sites, distracting me from the only item keeping me from cycling in the totally wrong direction and ending up in Mexico (my iPhone). Before I knew it, I had missed my turn and was down the road. This is not new for me! My wife would laugh and smile if you told her I got lost going anywhere.
When faced with the question of turning around or taking a new path, I had to take some time and remember what the goal for the day was. I simply wanted to get out and ride my bike. I had no time constraints or further obligations. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t lost; I was doing exactly what I set out to do… Explore the area on my bike. I had self-imposed a route on myself that was randomly selected.
Once I was freed from the bonds of a set distance, route and time I really started enjoying the new surroundings. While on this free for all journey I came across Pike Road (a town also a road) and remembered someone had told me a CrossFit gym was in this area and had a really impressive facility/coaches. Without any assistance from my mobile navigation aid I stumbled upon the Pike Road Crossfit and have since locked in a membership and started training at the gym.
At one point in my cycling journey I was a go-getter triathlete, where every workout was important to me and distances/speed were recorded for evaluation. I don’t race like that anymore and sometimes need a reminder that I’m on my bike for more than just a workout. I’m out to take in the world around me from my bike. I realized on this day that my “curse” of being perpetually lost is my blessing. It helps me slow down and refocus on what is important.
I challenge you to take some time and just enjoy the ride. Any examples of when your wrong turn ended up being a new adventure?
With only another small mile ride ahead of us to Kitty Hawk we decided to jump on our bikes for the 12 mile ride. Before we left Nags Head we backtracked a mile to Sam & Omies for breakfast! Our first real breakfast fuel on the trip!
We figured out a great way to get the little one in her Yepp Seat as easy as possible. She loves the seat but she loves to play more! So when its time to load her up we tell her we are going to look for School Buses. She eagerly runs to her seat and says “Hurry Daddy Hurry!” … works every time!
Once she is in her seat she asks each of us if we are “ready”.
“Are you READY daddy?” — “Are you READY mama?” — “READY! Lets go!
Our ride to Kitty Hawk was slow. We had a western wind so it slowed us up a little. We were on sleepy old Hwy 12 with limited traffic but a lot of vacation rentals. We were planning on stopping at a brewery in Kitty Hawk near mile marker 8 (everyone uses mile markers there). But somehow we over shot it and missed it all together.
We stopped into a bike shop and then spent a little more time at the beach. We saw the National Park for the Wright Brothers and road in! We have a National Parks pass and were able to get in for free. We only stopped for the restrooms and didn’t do much sight seeing. The monument sits on top of a tall grassy noel with a hike to the top. Working on a few pair of tired legs we chose not to make the hike.
After the exploration of the museum, we headed back down Hwy 12 in search of a cute place to stay for our last night. We found one that said vacant and rode in. But no one was there. I called the number left on the door and no one answered. So we rode on. We got to the end of the road where hwy 12 meets hwy 158. We found a very nice and very expensive Hilton Garden Hotel. They had a room for us with 1 king size bed. up until this point we had been able to put the little angel in her own room or bed or crib of some sort. So a 1 room arrangement wasn’t really up our alley. At the same time the motel we stopped at earlier returned my call! They had a few rooms we could choose from. So we made the 2 mile ride back into the wind.
The Beach Haven Motel is a very cute and quiet place! Completely remodeled, they accommodations were excellent! It was close to nap time for the toddler so we tried to put her down in the second room for a short nap. FAIL. She was too excited to play on the beach!
So we walked on the beach! We took her sand tools and walked about a mile up and turned around. We ran across a star fish, lots of shells, and she spend a lot of time watching a group of kids boogey boarding.
We opted for dinner at a sports bar and grille across hwy 158. A simple dinner of seafood and steak rounded the day out nicely!
Our last day of our Outer Banks by Bike tour was here. A 53 mile ride from Kitty Hawk to Elizabeth city on the following day and we had finished the trip. We started around 8am and were ready to hit the road. We stopped at Duck Donuts which was across from the Hilton Garden Hotel we stopped at the day before. This was the neatest donut place we had ever seen. They literally make the donuts in front of you and then you pick how you wanted it frosted! We got half a dozen, a coffee and a small milk for the little lady. We downed ALL OF THEM with no help from the 2 year old.
Once back on our bikes about 5 miles into the ride we encountered some road construction which resulted in 1 of the 2 bridges being closed. We were expecting to have a large shoulder on a 2 lane, one direction bridge. We road as far down the closed bridge as we could until we met up with some construction workers who told us that they were paving large sections of the bridge and we couldn’t cross.
Then we road the .5 mile back to the entrance and proceeded to jump into traffic on the slim shoulder, 2 lane bridge. I had Donald ride in front and I took up the rear. That way the little angel was between us incase something happened. We waited for a nice break in traffic to start the 2 mile ride across the bridge, although the break didn’t last long. Most of the drivers were courteous and waited to pass us until the oncoming traffic was minimal. But we had a few who were in a hurry and didn’t care about our 3′ biker bubble. Needless to say we took a break on the other side and let our white knuckles return to their normal color before we proceeded.
Farmland again. We stopped at a farmers market and purchased a cantaloupe, a banana and some Gatorade. We let the little one run in the freshly mowed grass and she played with her dinosaur in the rock beds.
For lunch we stopped at Weeping Radish Butcher and Brewery. A very German feel to the place complete with goats in the front of the building! We got a flight of beers and some schnitzel for lunch.
Back on the road to Elizabeth City, we passed the site of the Grave Diggers “birth place” (for lack of better words). For approximately a 1/2 mile we passed museums, an off road track, a mini golf course, and a campsite.
With 15 miles left of our trip we stopped a park for the little one. It was brand new and she loved every bit of it!
Once we were back on the road we spotted a crop duster. It swooped back and forth across the road ahead of us. The little one LOVED it and would call for the “airplane” every time is crossed the road!
The last stretch of the ride was tiring. We were sore and ready to be done. We had some headwind. A few hills and a little rain. We were ready for it to end.
Looking back we had an amazing time. Every bit was great and our little girl had a wonderful time!
We are approximately 2 weeks out from a family bikepacking trip of the Outer Banks of North Carolina! The trip will take my wife our daughter and myself approximately 8 days to cover 250 miles via our trusty Salsa Vaya and Surly Big Dummy (Silver Back Gorilla). A trip like this is a great excuse to snag some new accessories and gear, so this weekend we hit the road to test some of our new additions.
Our daughter is not quite potty trained yet, so for this trip we are still going to need to lug a full week of diapers with us. The good news is they really don’t weigh much, but they do take up a ton of space. So in an effort to find a good place to store a bulky light item, I found the Oveja Negra Threadworks Front End Loader. This is the second bag I have from Oveja Negra and have been very impressed with the quality of their products, price point and timely shipping. The Front End Loader allows me to strap a dry bag up on my Jones Loop H Bars and not even notice it is there. Even with a weeks worth of diapers attached to my bars, my steering was the same and hand placement was not effected.
The major addition, to the wife’s Salsa Vaya, was the Salsa Down Under Front Rack. What a bargain at $65! Typical Salsa, the rack is super sturdy, easy to install and just plain WORKS. We plopped some bags on the front of the wife’s bike, dropped her HUGE DSLR camera and lens with some clothes wrapped around it on one side and went for a test ride. The racks hold perfectly, bags stay in place and everyone is happy.
All of our gear worked great! I even had the opportunity to chase a couple of Tri geeks on my Surly Big Dummy after they passed me, fun race. The weather was perfect our gear is just about all-together and we are super excited to get to North Carolina and cover some miles.
Here is the video of our new gear on our test ride!
The Silver Back Gorilla (SBG) came into our life mid January 2014 and its been a hoot to put some miles on it during the winter. The Virginia weather has been a bit of a downer on outdoor activity, however the SBG has forced me to suck it up and get on the saddle. The Dummy is already proving to be an awesome addition to our growing stable of bikes, but like many other toys, this one CRAVES upgrades and aftermarket goodies!
The primary reason for purchasing the SBG was to haul our little girl around on the back (at least that is how I justified it to my wife). So the first addition was a Yepp seat. You can see the installation of this seat HERE.
Only change with the seat was moving it more to the center of the deck in order to keep it from hitting my heels when I peddled. The platform as a whole is very stable, proving to be very easy to haul a toddler, groceries, workout gear, large awkward objects and enough beer for all your friends in one trip if you so desire.
The next thing I swapped out was the saddle. I added a black Brooks spring seat to the mix. We have Brooks saddles on multiple bikes, but this is the first one with springs and I really dig it. The springs add a nice shock absorber to the rig and I believe some style points for sure.
The last thing we’ve added up to this point is a set of Jones Loop H bars (710 version). I chose the slightly wider ones in hopes of finding a wide variety of hand positions and so far am very pleased. I slapped on some Ergon GP 1 grips and then wrapped the rear portion of the bars. The front loop will likely receive some bar tape in the near future, providing for additional hand placement. The bars are AWESOME.
I don’t think the SBG will ever be complete. A Dynamo front hub and light setup is on the wish list. Additionally I would like to swap out the tires for something a little more in line with our dirt road touring. At this point I’m trying to choose between the Scwalbe Marathon or the Big Apples. Anybody have experience with either tire and care to pass on some advice?
On a whim we decided to take a quick weekend trip to the historic triangle of Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown Virginia. The 2-hour drive from our house took us down 95 through Richmond, VA. The lack of snow was a nice change from the 2 feet we received the day before Valentines Day.
We drove through historic Williamsburg first traveling on the Colonial Parkway. This 23 mile 3-lane scenic byway starts at Yorktown and ends in Jamestown. Completed in 1957, it is a National Park Service success story.
We stopped in Yorktown for lunch at Water Street Grille on Water Street. It was nearly freezing rain outside as we jetted in trying to stay dry. We got a great window seat in the front allowing us to watch the rain and snow mix fall on the square. The grille has beautiful views of the river near the boardwalk. A large circular bar sits in the middle of the restaurant. A large menu selection along with a bigger beer selection and 3 preselected tasting beer flights, this was as great stop for lunch. On Sundays they offer a “Make-Your-Own Bloody Mary” bar!
After lunch we thought we would drive to a nice park to let the baby take a nap, listen to the rain and read our books. We found a nice park on Queens Lake called New Quarter Park. The park has over 10 miles of paths, 5 miles of single-track mountain bike trails, in addition to fire roads that lead to views of the York River; along with 545 acres of forests, meadows, ravines and tidal wetlands. 10 picnic shelters, 9 hiking tails, paved paths, and an 18-hole disc golf course secure this awesome park with plenty of outdoor activities and all ages! We hit a jackpot here!
We only stayed at New Quarter Park for about 45 minutes our first visit. We listened to the rain and the baby watched a kids show. We read a book and ate a few snacks. We drove to Jamestown traveling again down the Colonial Parkway. We got there at 5:05pm right when the park closed so we weren’t able to go into Jamestown proper.
Jamestown lies close enough to Williamsburg that we decided to stop at a grocery store for a few things, grabbed the baby a balloon and let her run for a bit. Then we drove to Williamsburg Marketplace. The streets are lined with old homes and businesses. Since it was dark and after business hours we just let the baby run up and down the blocked off gravel streets. There were a handful of eclectic restaurants, shops, and the Kimball theater featuring live performances and Independent movies. There is even a Cheese Shop!
The town itself is now a collage town, so there is a great bookstore called the Williamsburg Booksellers. We stopped in here to warm up and the little lady played in the kid’s section with overstuffed miniature chairs and a pile of teddy bears.
After we explored the marketplace we drove back to the colonial parkway to a scenic pull-off where we parked the UAV for the night. We boiled some water and made a dehydrated beef stroganoff for dinner. Our stealth camping location was perfect; if only the baby had slept well. She was up and down for a good part of the night which made sleeping for mom, a bear.
The next morning we went back to Williamsburg Marketplace and rode the bikes around the town, which didn’t officially open until 11. We had French toast and coffee at Aromas Coffeehouse & Café.
After breakfast, we road our bikes through the Revolutionary City. During the day actors dressed in traditional 1775 clothing, speak in British accents and line the streets putting the audience back into the revolutionary time. From businesses to crafters to blacksmiths to an armory, the spectators are flung back into time.
After a 45-minute ride around the gravel streets, we were pretty chilled and decided to load up the UAV. We had a great weekend on a whim to the Historical Triangle of Virginia. We stopped in Richmond on the way home and had dinner at Capital Ale House! Nothing like a great beer and huge pretzel to top off the weekend!
Have you visited theRevolutionary City or Historic Triangle? Share you photos with us! We’d love to see them!
In November we had the opportunity to knock out a few miles on the incredible Virginia Creeper trail in the western part of Virginia. The Creeper trail is a two-track gravel path built on an old railway (rail to trail) and is fast becoming one of the more popular trails in the United States. Our short trip on the trail helped us quickly realize why.
We chose to bike the trail in the autumn timeframe in order to take advantage of the falling leaves and changing colors of the surrounding forest. I don’t mind biking up hill, however when I’m offered the opportunity I would prefer to bike down hill (who doesn’t).
With the Creeper trail, this is not only an option, but is the “normal” method. So on our first night in the town of Damascus VA, we stopped in at The Bike Stationto secure our ticket up the hill the next morning. The great people at The Bike Station locked us in a spot on the morning shuttle and also allowed us to park the Urban Adventure Van (UAV) in their parking lot for an overnight stay.
With both a shuttle for the morning trip secured and a place to park our home on wheels, we started searching for other intriguing places to check out. It did not take us long to stumble into (and out of) the Damascus Brewery. We ran through a full tasting of the beers they had on tap and additionally sampled the cider they had recently whipped up. All incredible beers, making it difficult to choose just one, so I chose multiple. The Damascus Brewery is yet another cool story of someone putting their mind to coming up with a dream and going for it! We will be going back for future samplings.
In the morning we loaded the wife’s Salsa Vaya, my Surly Crosscheck and our daughter’s ThuleChariot stroller on a trailer pulled behind a van by The Bike Station team for a 30-minute drive up the hill to the White Top Station drop point. The weather was great and the trip up the mountain was beautiful. When we arrived, it took about 5 minutes to unload the bikes and we were off! We bombed down the trail with our daughter behind in her Chariot stroller singing and laughing all the way. Our bikes performed incredibly and the miles zipped by. We stopped multiple times for pictures and to take in the scenery, however the 17 mile downhill trip back to Damascus only took about an hour an a half total.
The Creeper trail continues on past Damascus for another 17 or so miles, however during this trip we just didn’t have the time to bike the remaining miles, not to mention it was a little cold during this time of year. The fall trip was nice to see the changing colors, but the trip could also be done during the spring or summer months providing a little warmth and less chance of rain and snow. The Bike Station can rent you all the equipment you need for this family friendly bike adventure and Damascus Brewery can help assure you have a solid frosty adult beverage to enjoy after your ride.