Timon of Athens, 2011-04-21 13:44:41
There has been some interest in this discussion so I thought that I would start a thread to get it all in one place.

Several of us at discussing a ride from Ottawa to Iola to Ottawa. This would be 102 miles or a much coveted “century”. I have done several 70s, many 60s but have never made the 100.

We are looking at late May starting early on a Saturday morning, but we should be open to anyone who has better ideas.

If anyone has questions or tips for people doing their first century (Besides “Don’t”.), feel free to put them here.

Timon of Athens, 2011-05-02 06:40:01
I don’t know about anyone else, but 100 miles is going to take me awhile. I’ve done countless 50s, dozens of 60s, and a few 70s, so this should be a challenge.

I propose that we start on a Saturday morning, ready to leave the Ottawa Depot at 8 in the morning. My average speed n the trail is about 11-12 mph. This means Garnett by 10 o’clock and Iola by a little after 12. This would mean planning on leaving Iola by 1 after a short rest/lunch. I would predict that the return trip would be slower so a least 5 hours.

That means finishing by 6 at the earliest. Does this sound about right to most people?

M P Oliver, 2011-05-09 13:41:02
I am thinking about starting out at Iola and going to Ottawa. Uphill starting out and boy that downhill from Colony to Iola will be appreciated. On a century day YOU WIll notice.
kretzmeier, 2011-05-09 22:01:05
The Century is more ambitious than I can muster in one day, but living in Iola I will certainly offer ground support for you between Iola and Garnett. Possibly help you with a quick turnaround lunch, and maybe pace with you for part of the south leg of the ride. I will watch for postings.
jlovitt, 2011-05-10 09:35:10
I like the plan to start and end in Ottawa because that is closer to where I live.

I agree that it will take a very long time. This early in the season I am really out of shape. I had a day recently where I rode 11 miles in the morning and 11 in the evening and was really tired, so 100 is going to be rough.

The other thing we have to keep in mind is the wind. It’s going to be against us at least half the time, and if it’s a strong wind it could really make a difference.

Steven, 2011-05-11 12:48:26
Hi there everyone! I planted the notion of a century in Sam’s head. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. After speaking with him, it looks like we will be doing it on Friday, May 27. We should probably start around 7 a.m. I am looking forward to this challenge. Hopefully, many Prairie Spirit fans will join us.


Timon of Athens, 2011-05-11 13:32:51
I hope to hear from Jim (jcover). I know he reads these postings and he seemed pretty enthusiastic about it during our earlier trip.
dougcyclingsolo, 2011-05-12 06:04:24
I did this in 2008, September I think. That was my strongest year since I started cycling, I’m not sure I could do it now. The bridge was out north of Garnett. I detoured on Highway 59. 108 miles total. I remember it was daylight to dark for me. I’m slow. Sounds interesting, I might give it a try.
Timon of Athens, 2011-05-12 09:41:57
Welcome to the forum, Doug.

This should be pretty casual. I think that anybody who is even thinking of going should most likely make it to the end.

Since dusk is after 9, I think that we have a pretty good buffer.

jlovitt, 2011-05-17 08:00:03
Everyone will want to eat a good breakfast before starting. I ran out of energy when I rode from Ottawa to Iola last time. Luckily I had some snacks with me.

Any thoughts on where to eat lunch? Last time I at at the buffet place across the street from the end of the trail in Iola. It was pretty good and it was nice because I didn’t have to place an order and wait.


Timon of Athens, 2011-05-17 16:15:08
I concur. Remember, diets are good but not when you are on the back of a bike. Load up front and have little bite-size snacks you can gobble between watering up.
Timon of Athens, 2011-05-21 09:37:45
Okay, time to see who will actually make this trip.

I have seen interest from:

Timon of Athens (me)

Let’s get some confirmation so we know who to wait for.


jcover, 2011-05-21 10:50:32
Count JCover in. See you all Friday morning at 7 am.
jcover, 2011-05-21 10:56:49
I should add that you shouldn’t wait up if I don’t show.
Steven, 2011-05-22 09:17:23
I am definitely in for this! See you all then.
dougcyclingsolo, 2011-05-23 12:52:00
Sorry, I won’t be doing it.
jlovitt, 2011-05-24 07:02:58
Yes, I plan on being there.

Timon, are you planning to leave at 7am? Originally you said 8, so I want to make sure everyone is on the same page. I am fine with either.

Leaving at 7 is probably better because it provides more of a buffer. Having said that, I have a bit of a drive to get to the trail, and I want to eat a big breakfast first, so I may be running late. Don’t wait for me, I will catch up if I have to.


Timon of Athens, 2011-05-24 07:36:23
Looks like a pack of 4 at 7:00.

Timon (Sam)
Steven (Nancy)
jcover (Jim)
Jlovett (John)

I think everyone has a bit of a drive to get there, except Jim. So I am sure that a little buffer will be in order.

I want to reemphasize that everyone should feel free to set their own pace. I have taken long trips where I went slow for people that were struggling and it killed my endurance. I think that most on this trip will set a faster pace than I will, so I don’t want that to hurt anyone else. I am good for about 12mph steady for a long haul.

Okay, so far the tips are:
1) You’re crazy.
2) Eat a big breakfast.

Anyone want to add to that list?

Steven, 2011-05-24 09:04:39
Here’s the only tip I will add:

3) Enjoy the scenery. The landscape really is beautiful.

I typically ride at 12 mph on crushed limestone, so I will likely be alongside Sam. See you all at 7 a.m. on Friday.

Timon of Athens, 2011-05-24 11:55:54
4) Pack rain gear.

Weather is looking like 30% chance of scattered thundershowers. I don’t mind wet, and the wind doesn’t look too bad. But I will be keeping and eye open.

Steven, 2011-05-25 15:48:27
A little bit of rain does not bother me either. Right now, it’s a 50% chance of precipitation, “Scattered T-storms.” Of course, these things can change. I’m optimistic.
Timon of Athens, 2011-05-25 17:31:42
Looks like it starts at 10% at 7 and slowly rises to 50% by 2 in the afternoon.

Wind looks to be from the ESE at about 10 mph. So nominally behind us on the way back.

Steven, 2011-05-26 05:26:14
The situation appears to be improving. Now, it actually looks like we might be dry all the way to Iola. A little rain on the way back will probably be a good motivator for me to keep pushing away. See you all at 7 tomorrow morning!
Timon of Athens, 2011-05-26 09:13:56
For those interested:

7am Ottawa 54 degrees Partly Cloudy Wind from the SE 10mph

9am Garnett 59 degrees Cloudy Wind from the SE 10mph

11am Iola 67 degrees Mostly Cloudy Wind from the SE 12mph

12am Iola 69 degrees 30% Chance Rain Wind from the SE 12mph

2pm Garnett 67 degrees 30% Chance Rain Wind from the SE 12mph

4pm Ottawa 69 degrees 30% Isolated Thunderstorm Wind from the SE 12mph

We may get lucky. It’s good that the wind will be at out back when we are tired. Also, the are short climbs on the way back, Iola to Colony and halfway between Garnett and Richmond.

Stars may be aligned.

M P Oliver, 2011-05-28 05:40:43
How was the ride? Looking forward to your report!
Timon of Athens, 2011-05-28 06:12:06
We were defeated by wind and rain. Only made it to Iola before the rain made the trail very difficult riding. Full report to come in several days unless Steven gets to it before I do.
Steven, 2011-05-30 09:43:20
I arrived at the Ottawa Depot at 7 a.m. to find Timon of Athens (Sam) and JCover (Jim) waiting for me. We hit the trail a few minutes later. About a mile into our trip, Jim discovered Sam was traveling sans helmet. Sam turned around to retrieve the helmet, which had been left on the roof of his car. (I believe this was actually planned, so Sam could claim that he rode two miles more than me.)

After regrouping, the three of us hit the trail again. We left Ottawa around 7:30. The wind gradually picked up, and became an impediment. After struggling, I made it to the Richmond trailhead around 8:40. Around 8:45, Sam and Jim joined me. After a brief break, we headed for Garnett.

The ride from Richmond to Garnett was pleasant overall. The slight decline allowed me to make up for slow windy miles. The slight incline was enough to keep me alert, but not enough to get me winded. As I entered Garnett, it began to rain slightly. It was just a sprinkle at this point, and no cause for concern.

I arrived in Garnett a few minutes before Sam. The rain eventually died down. When Jim arrived, he explained that the wind was too much. He would be turning around at this point. Perhaps Sam and I should have recognized his prescience. Before we parted ways, Jim generously offered to pick us up later. We thanked him for the offer, but did not believe it would be necessary. The rain had stopped. We saw no reason why the trip would not be a success.

We hit the trail again, and cruised casually to Welda. After a brief stop, we headed toward Colony. During this stretch the skies turned dark. It began to sprinkle again. The sprinkles turned to rain. We arrived in Colony, and quickly found shelter. This was lucky, because thunderstorms and heavy rains soon arrived. After waiting out a few rounds of storms, we set out again. It was still raining, but the deluge was over.

The trail surface had already seemed loose. However, the heavy rains had made things much worse. We were pedaling hard, but barely moving. The ride from Colony to Carlyle was utterly miserable. At one point we heard a tornado siren. I’m not sure whether this was a legitimate warning, but it was disheartening. During the rest of the ride I kept an eye out for ditches, in case a tornado did arrive.

I was incredibly glad to hit the blacktop in Iola. We cruised to the trailhead, where we were greeted by Jay Kretzmeier. He generously offered us some dry towels, and followed us to lunch. After some discussion, we decided the wind and rain had won. I settled for 52 miles and Sam settled for 54. Jay generously offered to drive us back to the Ottawa Depot.

There will be another day when the weather is closer to optimal. I am confident that, eventually, I will pull of the Prairie Spirit Century.

jlovitt, 2011-06-01 06:16:53
My trip report:

You guys are not going to believe this.

As I expected I was running late on Saturday. I got out of my house at a somewhat reasonable time, but hadn’t had anything for breakfast yet, so I had to detour quite a ways up to Gardner to get some food at McDonalds. (I was pretty worried about not having a lot of calories in me based on my end-to-end trip last year.)

I finally arrived at the Ottawa depot at 7:25. I backed my truck into a spot facing the depot, grabbed my bike out of the back, stuffed food and raingear in my pockets and on the bike, and was on the trail by 7:30. I thought I could push it pretty hard and catch up to the group at some point. But one thing confused me. There were no vehicles in the depot parking lot besides my truck. I was sure this was where everyone was meeting, but unless everyone rode their bikes to Ottawa, there should have been two or three cars there. So I pulled out my Blackberry and checked this thread and there was no cancellation notice.

I continued riding at a pretty good clip and didn’t stop until I reached Richmond. At that point I had to use the facilities and I think I had given up on catching up to anyone else. I decided that everyone must have not shown up, or else had a solid 30 minute lead on me that I could never make up.

I settled in for the long ride. At first the mist was drying off of me as fast as it was hitting me, but when I got to Garnett things picked up a bit and I started to actually get a little bit wet. I pulled out my rain gear, put it on, and rode on through town.

After a few miles it seemed to lighten up again and I took off the rain gear. I spent my time listening to podcasts on my Blackberry.

The trail continued to get softer the farther south I went. Then when passing under 169 at the new tunnel I foolishly rode my bike through a big puddle and caked my tires with thick sticky clay. The clay immediately picked up the gravel and started slinging it everywhere, so I had to stop and find a stick to scrape my tires off.

For the last 15 miles into Iola I stopped eating any snacks that I had brought and only thought about the buffet at the end of the trail. By the time I hit the edge of town the food had reached epic proportions in my mind and it was all I could think about.

I hit the end of the trail, took a picture in which I pretended to be happy about the whole experience, and then limped over to The Greenery and started eating. Grilled chicken, ham cooked with canned peaches, a huge pile of spaghetti, salad, roll, mashed potatoes, two helpings of cobbler, and vanilla pudding.

While I was sitting in the restaurant booth, I checked the website again and saw the post about pulling out at Iola. I wasn’t too surprised that I had been beaten to Iola as I had been pretty slow that day, but I was wondering how everyone had made it back to their vehicles if they hadn’t ridden their bikes back.

With my stomach stuffed I hit the trail again and decided to ride as far as I could. My legs hurt pretty bad and my bike saddle was rubbing me wrong, but I wanted to get as far North as I could before possibly calling my wife to come and get me.

The wind seemed much worse heading North, but I could tell that parts of the trail were downhill enough to help. I tried not to think about how long I had left to ride and just focus on putting down 10 miles at a time. At first I was able to maintain a decent 10mph speed, but then later in the day it was all I could do to bounce between 9 and 7 mph. Sometimes the saddle hurt so bad that I stood up and pushed on the pedals.

The miles ticked on and I was determined to finish the round-trip. If I didn’t do it now, I wasn’t going to do it. The memory of this pain was going to keep me off my bike and off this trail for a while, so I might as well finish it. The whole trail was soft now and it was obvious the region had received a great deal of rain in the past few days. One bridge crossing in particular I remember on the way down seeing it had flooded out one branch of the road, and on the way back I could see that the water had risen up over the other branch as well. I did not see anybody using the trail on my way back.

I called my wife to tell her I only had 15 miles to go. I was pretty excited about that until she pointed out that 15 miles is a long way. It was a long way. Shortly after that I had to stop completely for a skunk that was browsing in the vegetation right next to the trail. I had to yell a couple of times and even throw a handful of gravel near it before it finally got scared and ran off into the brush.

By the time I hit Ottawa I was so tired I didn’t even get as excited as I should have about the pavement. I just wanted to be done so badly. I had thought about eating at the Dairy Queen in town to reward myself with ice cream, but at this point it was so late that I just wanted to be done and get home as fast as I could. The lunch I ate was so massive that I really wasn’t all that hungry yet. I pulled to a stop and loaded my bike into my truck back at the depot. The sky was getting dark. The time was 8:10pm.

Total time for the whole expedition was 12 hours, 41 minutes, and 4 seconds. Total distance was 102.7 miles.

I don’t know if I will ever ride this trail again.

Now that I read about you guys being on the trail, I am not sure how I missed you. Especially with the lost helmet delay and with one person heading back early. I’m also dying to know where you all were parked.

Here is the link to the GPS log:

Timon of Athens, 2011-06-01 07:18:04
I think your problem was that the date was on Friday, not Saturday. Sorry we missed you and the slightly better weather.

Also, Welcome back to being “King of the Trail.”

jlovitt, 2011-06-01 07:23:22

I guess I got Saturday stuck in my head in didn’t notice the several posts reiterating that it was going to be Friday instead.

Well, that totally explains it then. I feel quite silly.

M P Oliver, 2011-06-01 07:53:24
That is so awesome jovitt! You did good! Though a day late, lol. Did you ever wonder, “Where they be?” All in all, I commend you for your presevereance and mental toughness! Good job!
kretzmeier, 2011-06-02 15:17:39
Confirmation of a meritorious achievement to jlovitt.

I was to exchange vehicles with my daughter in Lawrence on Saturday and so started up there from Iola sometime before 11:00 a.m. As I drove I kept my eye on the trail and noticed what appeared to be a serious biker in yellow jersey with forearm rests pedalling south where what I believe was north of Colony.

I drove with windshield wipers going and when I arrived at Ottawa I noticed the moisture was so thick I could not see the tops of the tall antennas there. I wondered if the fellow was still riding? I completed my business and returned in the afternoon with wipers on. I rather lost track of time but kept my eye on the trail. To my amazement I see this rider in the yellow jersey heading north and I thought, “This guy is one serious rider”.

Undoubtedly, this was jlovitt. My hat goes off to him, and hope that sometime when the trama of this trip has passed; he will return to Iola at a slow pace, when the sun is shining, there is more time to eat and talk, and can revel in the accomplishment of this past weekend.

jlovitt, 2011-06-06 11:02:10
Thanks for the encouragement, everyone.

The whole situation really does make me laugh.

And yes, I did wear a long sleeve yellow shirt on that Saturday, and my bike has Aero Bars so I ride resting on my forearms. Really cool that you saw me twice. There are not a lot of sections of the trail that you can actually see from the main road like that, so the timing must have worked out right.

I will try to figure out how to post a picture of myself at the end of the trail.

JD_Shawnee, 2011-06-07 06:30:42
Terrific blog and event!
Timon of Athens, 2011-07-20 11:42:24
Just a late addendum here.

I ran into jcover on the trail last Thursday. He’s too shy to tell you all what an amazing cyclist he is so I will.

After sending us on at Garnett, he later changed his mind. He took off after us and got caught by the rain at Welda while we were at Colony. After the rain let up he continued on and made it to Iola about 2:00. After eating at the same Subway that we had he headed back. He said the trail was much better after his lunch and had dried out. He made it back to Princeton before calling it because of dehydration. A mere 90 miles.

My hat is off to you Jim. The biking on the wet trail was worth those last ten miles you missed. We will attempt again in the fall.


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