By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
They’ve ridden when the temperature was 13 degrees and there was 2 feet of snow on the ground. They’ve also ridden on days that were so warm they could pull off their winter gear and pedal in shorts.
Tuesday’s 12th annual New Year’s Day Century Ride fell somewhere in between. Just after 9 a.m., a hearty group of cyclists from Pittsburg and Joplin, Mo., departed from the local bike shop, Tailwind Cyclists, with the mercury at the 26 degrees and a slight north wind.
“The ride has happened every year since we started in 2002,” said Roger Lomshek, the shop’s owner, as he double-checked riders to make sure they had extra inner tubes and water bottles. “We do it to spit in the eye of Old Man Winter, to thumb our noses at Father Time.”
The 100-mile trip takes about six hours.
“We plan different routes depending on which way the wind is blowing,” Lomshek said. “We always want a tail wind blowing us home.”
As rider Dan McNally, 35, of Pittsburg, pointed out, even when a person is riding with no wind, pedaling at 18 mph still means a wind chill. It was his second year for the ride, and he said friends and family members didn’t question his participation.
“They already know I’m crazy,” he said with a laugh as he suited up. “This is just a symptom. We’re all programmed a bit differently. There’s something in our makeup that’s not quite sane. And we like it that way.”
The riders all took their own precautions against the cold. Bob Dicken, 49, of Pittsburg, put on two pairs of cycling socks, then covered the vents in his cycling shoes with yellow duct tape. He also wore neoprene booties.
“I’ve also got on a pair of Under Armour tights, and bibs over that with windproof panels on the legs where the air hits,” he said. “And two Under Armour shirts.”
And over that, a jacket. On his face he wore a balaclava and sunglasses, and on his hands he had windproof gloves and liners.
“But you don’t want to overdress,” Dicken said. “If you’re comfortable when you start, you’re too overdressed. You want to be cool the first 10 minutes.”
Todd McGeorge, 46, of Pittsburg, who said he was riding for his seventh or eighth year, said he prepared for the ride by fueling up on an oversized breakfast.
“I ate a big bowl of oatmeal, four slices of toast with peanut butter, a fruit smoothie, two cups of coffee and a big glass of water,” said McGeorge, who also rode 100 miles in Joplin on New Year’s Eve. “At Fort Scott, I’ll stop at a convenience store and buy a big bag of trail mix. It will give me about 1,000 calories to get home on.”
And for supper?
“Everything,” he said with a laugh. “I’ll eat the door off the refrigerator and everything in it.”
David Carey, 47, of Joplin, was making the ride for the first time Tuesday, but as a member of Rufus Racing and a cyclist who puts in 150 to 200 miles per week, he said he was up to the challenge.
“I ride between Joplin and Pittsburg at least one time a week,” he said. “I like the challenge, and at my age I want to be in shape. I enjoy the competition and a healthy lifestyle.”
SCOTT HENSON, 46, of Pittsburg, who has completed the New Year’s Century Ride before, outfitted his helmet with a video camera Tuesday to capture memories of the ride. “It’s a good way to start the year,” he said.