Saturday, September 20, 2014

greetings from overland park

I arrived in Overland Park, KS on Monday afternoon. After lunch, I was dropped at the synagogue, where I'd shipped my bicycle (the Kansas Bike, see previous posts on is topic for photos). The bike box had come through mostly not too worse for the wear, though the axles burst clean through their beefed-up cardboard siding (admittedly, I did a pretty quick hack job of boxing this thing). The hard plastic covering I'd improvised for the rear derailleur had done its job and the rear derailleur and its hanger came through intact and working fine.

It took me about half an hour to unbox, re-accessorize and test-ride the bike and dispose of the garbage and reecycleables. Then I hooked it up to the loaner trailer, the very same one I've used on every previous visit here (thank you, kind K Family!), and rode to my homestay, a nice two-mile ride away. The couple who are my hosts this time are around my age, and find themselves very suddenly empty nesters as they have just sent their twin daughters off to college (double your tuition, double your fun, right?).

The back-forth rides between home and temple have been pleasant so far. Of course, this being Overland Park, I mostly have to ride on the expansively wide sidewalks -- in fact, a friendly policeman urged me to for my own safety and pleasure. I do take the lane once I turn off the main road and onto slightly quieter residential streets, except during the hour or so window they call "rush hour" here. By and large car drivers here are friendly, and often back up to allow me to ride the ramps from one sidewalk to the other at intersections. I have encountered exactly ONE rude river so far, not a bad track record for so car-centric and community. The other night, towing my guitar home from a late rehearsal, I spotted my first Other Bicycle Rider, a guy clad in lycra and a reflective vest on his road bike, apparently out for an evening training ride (the roads do quiet down a lot after dark here so it makes some sense).

Nicest of all, besides the gentle reminders from friends to "be careful out there" -- these people have never ridden bikes in a big city -- is the news that the city council of Overland Park will begin adding in bicycle amenities in order to boost walking and bicycling among residents, and especially among schoolkids. Their plan is to add amenities like bike lanes and shared-use paths as roads go through their constant cycle of repair and paving, so that over the next several to ten years there will become noticable changes for bike riders here:

As you can imagine, assuming I am invited back in the future, it will get nicer and nicer to ride a bicycle here. It's the most positive thing about bicycling I've seen in all my visits here, and a step in a very good direction.

Next weekend I've been signed up to join a friend on a charity ride called Tour de BBQ, a fundraiser for children's cancer research and patient services in the Kansas City area. I asked to do the shortest route, 15-20 miles, so I could take my time and conserve my energy for the real reason I came here -- to sing a whole lot of music. Still, it will be nice to take a longer ride and I look forward to it.
Cheers, and happy riding!

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