June 18, 2003

Colorado Thistles, Trike speed and Rumble Strips

Mighty Muellner or Iron Jim, take your pick, is once again way ahead of schedule. He's in Colorado suffering thru the infamous rumble strips that their bike advocacy groups are so tortured by. And he's day's ahead of his scheduled arrival in Longmont. It's a good thing NBG Sponsor High Gear Cyclery has an apartment above their store that Jim can regroup in. Enthusiastic owner Buzz Feldman, even has set up a send off ceremony with the Longmont mayor before his club cyclists then ride the 15 miles to Boulder. There bike coordinator Marni Ratzell has set up a reception to go along with the festive Farmers Market, complete with music, that they have there!

Howdy Folks (have to change my greeting -- everyone is wearing a cowboy hat)!

I doubt that many of you know about thistles. They are always the first thing I pull out or cut off anywhere around me. Well, I may have to reconsider this. They have the most beautiful flowers. When they first start to open the bud is deep red surrounded by a green fringe. As they open further they turn into the most beautiful light purple, delicate and fragile. It is almost as if they are begging us to give them a chance. Look for them.

This morning as I looked at the map and asked myself a few questions I knew breakfast was going to be 37+ miles away. I could bike back a mile or so for a real one, but I always hate going back. So I had a black cup of coffee and a packaged slice of apple pie. Not the ideal, but hey, I'm tough.

There was no wind so I thought it might be fun to see just how good a shape the old body was in. I got up to 17 mph (with ~100 lbs worth of bike and gear, ed) and maintained that for 12 miles to Merino, where the only thing in business was a pay phone. Everything, I mean everything, was boarded up or deserted. I called Paul at my business for some parts and resumed my ride. At 9AM I rode into Brush. 37 miles in 2 1/2 hours. Not bad for this old body. You would almost think you could go faster after all these miles. Now where is that breakfast?

The trike is operating very well. The shifting gets a little stiff at times, but that is partly from all the road dust and my not shifting for long periods of time. I love the fact that my steering is very easy, no wiggling back and forth when going slow as I see two wheel bikes do when climbing steep hills. That has got to make car drivers nervous.

The bearing on one wheel is still bad, but I have been unable to find a repair shop or a replacement yet. Repacked it tho and so far it has been making less noise.

Earlier in the ride I broke a seat weld and was able to repair it easily. Now I broke a second tube on the seat and will have to decide wether to replace it, weld it, or leave the improvised repair in place. It is interesting how creative one can become when you have no shop to walk into. These repairs are important to me so I can correct them on future models.

Now, however, I have run into those terrible, terrible rumble strips, intended to keep sleepy drivers from running off the road. I personally can attest to the fact that they do not work. I once had to check the lifeless body of a woman, whose husband had fallen asleep and drove right over these strips. His comment to me was, I just dozed for a second. Ironically it was here in Colorado.

Anyone who would install a beautiful highway and then deliberately ruin it so bikes cannot ride on it, wasting tax payer money, has got something very wrong in their logic.

Some are about 18 inches wide next to the highway leaving 4-1/2 feet of rideable shoulder. These are reasonable Some put the strip about two feet from the highway leaving only two feet of debris filled shoulder away from the cars. This makes using the shoulder even less likely. Then there are the worst that make the rumble strips a full six feet wide so it is impossible to use the shoulder. Where are bicyclists supposed to bike? On the main highway? Maybe that will help keep those sleepy drivers awake. Or maybe they can kill a biker or two before they kill themselves driving into the ditch.

Please forgive my comments, but it is a senseless act going on all over the country and someone has to point out how foolish it is. If a driver is capable of driving a car, it seems senseless to try to keep them on the highway, by ruining it. There has to be a more reasonable way. Why not a series of little plastic poles that hit the car and can be easily replaced?

Better end this before I say any more.

Local access to PocketMail mobile
e-mail now available in Europe, North
America & Australia http://www.pocketmail.com

Jim Muellner can be found at http://www.bikeroute.com/NationalMayorsRide/JimMuellner
His email on the road is: jmuellner@pocketmail.com

Posted by mkrieg at 11:18 AM | Comments (41)

June 16, 2003

Nebraska Wildflowers, Heat, Horseflies and Box Turtles

After my first bike ride across the US in 1979, people asked me if I took the time to smell the flowers. Working too much on rebuilding my body and my mind, I can honestly say I did not paralyze myself enough in the present to breathe in all that was around me. I crossed the US a second time, thinking I was complete enough to correct such myopia. Well as I cobbled together my speaking tour for the National Head Injury Foundation from the road and even practiced the speeches I would give, different for each venue, as I pedaled away, I once again failed in the observation department. Especially compared to Jim. Do get a look at an America that all too few people see:

Good Sunday Morning: Here I am again enjoying the beautiful country side. There are more flowers - some yellow little ones, some purple, the orange ones are interesting. As you look closer, they really have four or five blossoms clustered together. The cactus, those low spicks in clumps are sending their stems of white or rather light beige flowers up in abundance. When I first saw them up on a hillside, I mistook them for sheep. Each stem about 12 to 18 inches long is filled with these little bell shaped blossoms that the bees must love. Some of the plants have our or five stems filled with flowers.

Even the grasses are showing some color. The seeds bend the stems over and are turning a purplish hew. They wave in the wind like a million little heads that say, "Come on you can make the next hill". And yes, the hills are appearing.

This morning I saw my most unusual Nebraska Wildflower. In the distance at the crest of a hill I saw a reflection from something shiny. Then I looked again and it was white and pink. It was Margret Pullen, an inventor, and Genetic Physicist who works for Evergreen Applied Research, Inc. in Aspen, Colorado. She had on a white halter and pink shorts, a silver helmet, the most unusual sun glasses I have ever seen and the same biking sandals I have. She is a bubbly, enthusiastic person like most bikers I have met. She gave me several blessings for a safe journey. It was a very pleasant meeting in the middle of a quiet road in Nebraska. She is also interested in riding for NBG next year.

Want to comment about the types of responses I get to my waves. Of course there are some who will not even look at you. There are those who give you a blank stare. I discard these as not aware of life around them. The ones I laugh about are the one finger waves. They lift one finger from the wheel, as if it is an effort. Sometimes, they lift two or three. I appreciate the whole hand wave while sometimes everyone in a car waves. I love the thumbs up sign out of the window. Rarely, do I get a friendly toot. It must be against the law to blow your horn out here.

The friendly birds singing to me make up for it. The meadow larks have the most pleasant call. I always wondered why the red winged black birds have the red on their wings where it is. Well, when you see them raise their wings as they do their little mating dance you can understand.

Have seen wild turkeys, skunks, hawks rabbits, squirrels and even saved a box turtle yesterday from sure destruction. Just hope I put it on the side of the road it wanted to go. Almost wanted to keep it as a mascot, but did not know what to feed it.

This afternoon I came upon a huge field covered with prairie dogs, standing like little sentinels guarding their holes. One was not so lucky. A coyote had it in its mouth as it ran across the field.

I wanted to have a closer look and get a little shade in the process. Had not seen a tree shading the road for the last 20 miles. Well, the minute I got out of the direct sun, I got attacked. In no time at all, I was covered with horse flies. When I hit them I saw blood -- my blood!! They are used to punching thru cow hides so mine was a breeze. I raced out of there.

I will never complain about rain again. Today, when a cloud would shade me I was so grateful. The end of a warm day -- 80 miles into the wind again. Jim

Local access to PocketMail mobile
e-mail now available in Europe, North
America & Australia http://www.pocketmail.com

Jim Muellner can be found at http://www.bikeroute.com/NationalMayorsRide/JimMuellner
His email on the road is: jmuellner@pocketmail.com

Posted by mkrieg at 01:20 PM | Comments (142)

June 15, 2003

Imaginary Mountains of Nebraska

Scott, a cyclist from Nebraska, copied me on this note he sent to Jim:
If this gets to you before you get there try to stop at 'Ole's Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge' in downtown Paxton. Glad you enjoyed Nebraska. Have you had a tomato beer yet? The best
recovery drink ever invented.
Good luck and tailwinds
Scott, like a fair number of other well wishers, has been routing for Jim on his way across America. And Jim loves mail!! 75 miles from Colorado, here is his Nebraska Saturday:

Good Morning Everyone:

When ever I have driven west it was always fun to try and see who could see the mountains first. Well, with all the weather patterns mother nature has been providing me with, the sky ahead always looks like it is filled with mountains; lots of them. They are big, snow capped and it is easy to imagine carving a turn thru some of that powder. The cloud patterns do make you see things that only artists can see.

Looks like I might have to back track (15 miles, ed) as one of my wheels has a bad bearing. North Platte should be a fun place to be this weekend as they are having lots of rodeo events. A three day annual event that brings folks to town.

I think someone there should be able to think of bikes instead of horses long enough to help me.
Last night I could have stayed in a motel, but decided to do the camping routine . Kind of getting used to the fresh air.

The folks in Hershey told me, and a few kids, about a shelter in the city park. After dinner at Butch's Cafe, I cycled over. No sooner had I selected a spot in the middle of the shelter on a bench normally used for picnics the kids started showing up. First it was Riley, a 12 year old and his two friends, one an 8 year old girl and the other a 13 year old boy. Questions and more questions. They shared some of their plans with me. I was touched that they all shook my hand before leaving.

No sooner had they gone than Drew and his two male friends showed up. More questions and shared dreams. They seemed to want to talk longer, but when I told them I had had been biking since 6 AM they also shook my hand before leaving. One even said they hoped to do what I was doing some day. I was impressed with their courtesy and interest in life.

With all of them, we discussed, trains, that North Platte has the largest switching station in the world, smoking, travel and a little education.

As I laid there looking up I noted lots of moths gathering on the ceiling. of the shelter. This morning as I lifted the tarp I use to keep my gear clean, there were 50 or more of them there. They must have been attracted to my body heat. I was glad they did not join me in my sleeping bag.

Well, its off to repair a wheel and enjoy a little western charm at the rodeo unless I can find some local help.

Love to all, Jim

Jim's E-mail address: jmuellner@pocketmail.com
Jim's web

Posted by mkrieg at 08:01 AM | Comments (145)

June 14, 2003

NBG Jim finds Heaven in Nebraska Plus His New Web!

As per the following, Jim Muellner is totally having the best time of his life as he pedals through Nebraska. Here is just one of the many newspaper articles that have begun to catch on to what this legendary man is doing as his bike ride from Washington DC continues: http://www.theindependent.com/stories/061203/gdaily_tricycle.shtml . If you want to see the new web we just drew up for Jim, it is noted in the end matter below. Here's Jim for more WOW:

Good Morning: Life continues to treat me so good I can't wait for morning to get on with it.Thought I would share a few little tidbits of what my days have been like.

I try to wave at every vehicle coming toward me for several reasons. One, just to be friendly, two to see if the driver is awake and thirdly I feel that someone who waves at you is less likely to run you over. So I wave a lot, especially the big trucks that pass me several times a day.

In the morning as I am determining how much sun lotion to put on I always check if there is a cloud bank to the west. Yesterday there was a rain forecast so I had to cycle over 15 miles to get to the western edge of the spectacular cloud formation these storms always seem to bring with them.

The heat is terrible out here. Why it gets so hot that the dogs stand inside their dog houses to bark at you.

The population in these little towns is half Spanish. Went out for dinner last night and could not figure out what to eat. Everything was written in Spanish. This morning as I cycled out of town, everything on the west end was all in English. They all seemed friendly and got along.

The grain silos are getting big along with the plows, tractors and fields. I would imagine the new silos could hold 500 truck loads.

Learned about alfalfa pellets yesterday. They grind up the hay and compress it into 1/4 inch diameter slugs about 1/2 inch long and dry them. They are cattle feed. There is minimal spoilage and they take up less room.

The trains full of coal heading east to some power plant vary in quality and noise. The newer ones you barely hear, except for the whistle blower. The older ones, especially some old box cars, hammer along making enough noise to wake every gopher within 10 miles. No wonder the rails sometimes fail.

Finally want to tell you a little more about the little flowers. I picked some this morning to decorate my trike. The edge appears a delicate pink fading to white at the center. The center pistil is bright yellow, with deep purple heads. Very pretty. Even Solomon with all his glory is not adorned like one of these.

This afternoon I started seeing wild roses. They seem to have a soft leaf base and the colors vary from white to pink to bright red. They are very simple with only one, two or three blossoms. They look great. I could pick all kinds of flowers for someone special if she were riding with me.

Every small town is special. Tonight I stopped in Hershey, NE and met Bill Hasbrouck and Joe Kennicutt, who own Hershey Flying Service, 308-368-5556. They build and rebuild crop dusters. These range in cost from $200,000 to $300,000 depending on the features you want. And I thought my cycles were expensive.

They were interested in our program and one of their friends bought me a beer. The bartendress, gave me one of their signs. It reads: "We Support our Troops at THE BAR - Hershey's Best Kept Secret". They invited me to camp in their yard and also told me of a couple of city parks.

One last item. When going thru Grand Island I stopped at Tex Cafe, a highly recommended place. While there I saw four customers using oxygen, but everyone else was smoking. I am amazed at the number of smokers here. Sometimes I just want to walk out, but there is little choice. It has got to be the invincible cowboy attitude alive and well here in NE.

Well I must get that tent up, so good night all. Jim

Posted by mkrieg at 11:39 AM | Comments (116)

June 13, 2003

Grand Island, NE celebrates NBG and Mighty Jim after all!

This just in from Jim Muellner, here we see the size of one very Giant Man's will. Indeed an extremely well connected and well liked individual, Jim was not going to let a bike shop that was too busy keep Nebraska from being represented in our Mayors' Ride schedule. Especially not after we had rerouted from Omaha, last year's Nebraska proclamation city, to then build our west bound route around Grand Island. Despite the fact that we could have added cities in Missouri and Kansas, where we would have picked up two new states when we left Des Moines, it sounds like Jim made Nebraska worth our while after all!!

What's all this saying? People everywhere want the National Bicycle Greenway! Even in the middle of America's heartland. And even if their bike businesses are too busy to market effective infrastructure for cycling, people everywhere know in their hearts that making it easier for people to ride a bike is the right thing to do!!

Good morning you wonderful people:

When you lest expect it everything turns up roses. Last night I stopped at the Dairy Queen in Columbus for a small blizzard. As soon as I sat down a fellow came over and said, "Saw you this morning 50 miles back", before he continued with the usual questions, "Where you heading" and etc. Then he invited me to the double header between Columbus and Schuyler at Pawnee Park right across the street, where he said I could also camp. I did not last to get the final, but I was impressed with the players, they looked professional, scouts take note.

Pawnee Park is unique. It has stories of the folks who settled and fought here. They also have a collection of church bells that ring every 15 minutes. They weigh from 500 lbs to 2300 lbs. That helped me decide to look for a more remote camp site.

They also have a new memorial to the World War II veterans, with a landing barge and a half dozen soldiers, very impressive. The train engine on display even has lights that go on. As I was shopping for the best site, I spotted a rose arbor that would have been fun to sleep under. But when I saw the little porch next to the swimming pool I opted for that. As I set up my gear, out of sight, a couple of local kids, who must have used it as their play area rode through and I scared the devil out of them. They came back a couple times to hassle me. I really just wanted to talk to them, but they must have been frightened.

Slept well and never even heard the final cheers for the games.

This morning Officer Bryan Heusinkvelt, on his bike, escorted me 15 miles out of town and shared some interesting facts about himself. He is married and has 4 children, the oldest is 11. His wife is a homemaker, which he really likes. He works for the Columbus Neb. police dept where he switches between bike and car patrolling. He said the bike patrolling was very effective. He also does some triathlon events. It was wonderful to have his company. He pushed me a little to 13 or 14 mph, where he often goes 18 mph average. It was fun.

I needed breakfast and as I cycled into Silver Springs lo and behold there was K.J.'s Cafe on Vine St. What a great find and breakfast.

The sun is shining, the wind is less, life is good.

I am only 35 miles out from Grand Island, so thanks to my wonderful, smart and resourceful connections I will have a proclamation from the Mayor to pick up. What more could I want?

Just stopped in Central City and a woman suggested I wait a minute so she could ask the press to come down and interview me. Can you believe it? Three interviews the last week! What is there about the Midwest? Well maybe they are craving for some news. Even an old biker is news. And yet there again, bikers don't get old they just pedal away.

Now the clincher, as I biked into Grand Island, two reporters, one from Channel 5 and one from the newspaper are there to take shots as I cycle to the front door of city hall. They even wired me for sound while they interviewed me. It was one of the most thorough interviews I have had.

Then Renee Edwards, the City Clerk and Steve Paustian, Head of Parks And Recreation presented me with the Proclamation from Mayor Jay Vavricek.

The whole event was filmed by Channel 5.

It was exciting.

Now I am going to enjoy a great meal and for desert bike another 20 or 30 miles.

It has been a wonderful exciting day. I don't know if I can handle all the personal appearances and pressure.

Love to all, Jim

Local access to PocketMail mobile
e-mail now available in Europe, North
America & Australia http://www.pocketmail.com

Posted by mkrieg at 01:37 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2003

NBG Jim's Nebraska Report: Silos, Cattle Trucks and Happy Horns

Hi Everyone: Today the sun is shining, the flies are biting and life is good (that is if you can go fast enough to get away from them). Hwy 30 is excellent in places, it is horrible in others, in general not a recommended route, but every time I say this the shoulder starts again. Problem is I never know when. Someone just told me that from now on there will be a shoulder except in a few short spots.

Met Ron Dunham from Michigan who was walking to Seattle. He had a small rickshaw full of his possessions. He really liked my trike. He was amazed at all I had in my little bag. He walks 25 miles a day, hoping to up it to 30.

Yesterday I talked to a local about the huge grain elevators around here. Each of the silos holds about 50 or more truck loads of grain. I just passed a group of silos, there must have been 30 or 40. On Holloween in Dennison a chunk of one silo, near the bottom, broke out. All the corn spilled out causing quite a stir for that small community.

Today I saw hundreds of cattle trucks heading west. When I asked Bob Rausch, a local I stopped to visit with in his yard along the way, he said they were going to a slaughter house down the road. They butcher 2500 animals per shift and they run two shifts. Hopefully some of the truck traffic will drop off once I pass that plant. Bob had a pond, including reeds and all on his property. There was a big sign that said 'No Fishing'. He raises coy, and did not want anyone coming to eat them.

He also told me small farms are gone. They just cannot compete. It is sad as the bike riding becomes boring in some large areas. Regardless of where you look there are either plowed fields for miles or rows of crops for miles. The cross wind I am experiencing today is due to this as the majority of wind rows are gone. They do not want to waste the space.

Very few flowers to report on. Some small white ones with cones are rather unique.

Hwy 30 is really the old overland route the pioneers took in the early 1800. In 1847 it became the Mormon trail and later yet it became the Military trail. Now it is a bike trail, ha ha.

Limited my ride today to 50 miles so my body could rest up a bit. Will be camping in the city park in Columbus tonight. A local said he thought it should be okay. Too bad I did not get his name so when the police I can say it was his fault. Why aren't you riding Jim? I'm in jail for asking the wrong guy about the city rules -- heck, I needed the break anyway.

I continually am amazed that very few cars seem irritated with me being on the Hwy, actually holding them up. Very rarely do I get a horn and often it comes with a thumbs up. That does mean something nice doesn't it?

Off to find that tent site, wish me luck. Jim

Local access to PocketMail mobile
e-mail now available in Europe, North
America & Australia http://www.pocketmail.com

Posted by mkrieg at 10:03 PM | Comments (126)

June 09, 2003

106 Neb. ms at 67 w/newspaper interviews & a blow out

This is all too phenomenal folks. I mean is there any doubt that we are watching history? Nor can I say it enough that Jim Muellner is blowing the doors off what we know senior citizenry to imply. Please, if you will, think about it: a blown tire, newspaper interviews and 106 miles on an adult tricycle all in one day. I once had a day filled with as much distance and excitement but I was more than 40 years younger than Jim when I did. And I was so wasted from it that I barely rode the next day. And I can almost guarantee you that Jim will have a lot more miles in his legs by the time we hear from him tomorrow. It's starting to look like the only thing that is going to stop Mighty Jim is the Pacific Ocean and our Festival:

Hi Everyone:

Was anyone in 96 degree weather today? I was. But the wind was blowing so hard I did not notice it unless I got into a protected area.

106 miles today, one blow out, one newspaper interview with the Logan Herald Observer with Mary Darling. She even took my picture. Tomorrow morning I have another interview with the Fremont newspaper. The editor even drove out to meet me and got a few pictures of me struggling up some hills.

It was fun today as I crossed the wide Missouri at the Iowa-Nebraska border. I could just picture Lewis and Clark paddling their rafts up this river into the west hoping to find a northwest passage to the sea Biking up out of the river valley was a challenge as some of the hills were tough.

Forgot to tell you of a neat experience I had back in Iowa yesterday on the Raccoon River Trail. I was cruising along under a canopy of trees on this old abandoned rail bed when suddenly I heard the faint sound of a train whistle. It kept sounding for a long time and I even thought someone had piped it in. Looking back, I am sure it was from some train far away, but being alone with it starting to get dark, I kept looking back to make sure old 109 was not coming down the trail to snatch me up. Even now the hair on my arms and legs stand up thinking of it.

It is nice being in Nebraska, but even driving it always felt like a wide state. I will let you know how I feel when I hit the Colorado border.

Have a great evening. Jim

Local access to PocketMail mobile
e-mail now available in Europe, North
America & Australia http://www.pocketmail.com

Posted by mkrieg at 09:44 PM | Comments (123)

Des Moines thru Jim's eyes then heads west

Hi All You Dry People (well if your in MN you might be wet too -- but what else is new -- this is spring and the crops need water --so I should be happy):

Des Moines treated us well. Nice comments from the Mayor. The people were nice, bought us a pasta meal. We saw the beautiful state capital with the gold dome. I even walked up to the Whispering Balcony, so named because when you face the wall and talk you can hear it all around the balcony.
There are 29 types of marble and 13 types of wood used. There are 1471 interior steps and I think the guide had us walk up every one.

In the museum they have there, we we learned a great deal about Iowa's part in the Civil War. They supplied 76,000 men and lost 12,000. More than 9,000 came home missing one limb. They contributed over 10 % of there male population, the most of any state of its size. I learned more about this city than any other that I have visited so far on this ride. All this while the location of the capital and other government buildings over looking the river make for a great setting.

The ride out of town was on The Raccoon River Valley Trail that goes 56 miles NW and met Hwy 30 where there was a shoulder for only 10 miles; not a good situation. I am hoping that when I cross over into Nebraska it will have one.

Back on the trail I had met Sherry, one of the leaders for the Dream Team, a 40 member group, 13 to 18 years old sponsored by the Des Moines newspaper. They had biked on that neat trail 40 miles, camped out and were on their way back. I can't think of a more wonderful, safe way to take kids on a campout. Another great reason to have bike trails.

I clicked off 85 miles today into a strong head wind. Not bad for this old body. Still worried about them mountains so I keep working my legs a little hard to toughen them up.

Its bed time for bonzo, love to all. Jim

Posted by mkrieg at 07:49 AM | Comments (31)