Archive for October, 2009

Sisters and the Drunken Brethren

October 19, 2009

Chance Encounters with Redundant America

By Ed Chasteen

 

            Seldom do a steeple and a bell tower herald the presence of a bar and grill. But such is the case in East Lynn, Missouri, a fact unknown to either of us as Brian and I pedal into this tiny town on K Highway. The brightly painted sign on the weather beaten old church announces Fugly’s Bar and Grill. Inside over the bar is a more intriguing sign: Assembly of the Drunken Brethren Church. By happenstance we have arrived just at noon on the day of their annual hog roast. For seven dollars a plate we step up where the preacher used to stand and are the first to fill our plates from the smorgasbord of beautiful food brought in by local folks.

            Redundant! That’s the word my British friends would apply to old churches across England as we pedaled past and I would inquire. No longer needed for their original use, they now served as museums or some other civic function. That word springs to mind this morning in this Methodist Church that for 17 years now has been a bar, offering spirit of a different sort to perhaps some of the same people.

            This is not our first encounter this Saturday morning with redundancy. Some three hours before coming to East Lynn and the Drunken Brethren, Brian and I had come to Pleasant Hill and Sisters. For several years we had been riding from his house in Lee’s Summit by meandering back roads to Pleasant Hill. Built around a train depot where trains no longer stop, Pleasant Hill is exactly that. Neighbor’s Café is where we usually go and are headed today. Brian is in the lead as we come into town and on impulse takes a different side road past the abandoned depot. On the red brick building to our right, Brian spots the simple white sign: SISTERS. Then we see a message board on the sidewalk describing the breakfast special: Biscuits & gravy, 2 eggs, bacon, sausage and potatoes, $5.99. We prop our bikes against the wall and step inside.

            Laurel welcomes us. “You know, like Laurel and Hardy,” she says to explain her name. She’s one of the eight sisters in the family that runs this place. “And seven brothers,” she says. Four years now they have been here, Laurel says. Open every day but Sunday for breakfast and lunch. Open all day Saturday.

We order the special. One of the grand daughters brings our meal. She explains that they make their own bread and brings us some. With room for 26 at their six tables, a tiny kitchen, walls hung with quilts and family pictures, diners talking to one another from table to table and the staff treating everyone like family, being here is like being home. Even the several trains that rumble past just outside the window at the track-side end of the room remind me of my grandmother’s when I was a boy and she lived near the track. “We’ll be back,” we say as we leave.

And by 3:45 we are back. They also make their own pies. Tonight’s special is lasagna. They told us that at breakfast and we had planned to have it. That’s before we learned of the Drunken Brethren’s hog roast. So Brian orders the pecan pie and ice cream. I get the bread pudding with warm caramel sauce.

Back at Brian’s place by six, Dave, my other son, joins us and we drive to the Pizza Shop. We’re waiting for our order as we watch Kansas and Colorado play on the TV across the room. We’re talking among ourselves as we watch. A man appears at our table, holding four boxes of pizza. “You’re MU fans aren’t you.” “Yes”, we say. Apparently he’s been listening to our conversation. “I wouldn’t give these to you if you were KU fans,” he says. And he leaves.

What a day! Great riding! Great food! Unexpected good fortune! New friends. My two sons! And now I get to tell all of you!

WOW!!

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October on a Bicycle

October 10, 2009

By Ed Chasteen

 

            A wet spring and summer and an early autumn chill produce a Missouri leaf-peepers bonanza to rival storied New England fall foliage. Riots of golds and reds and lingering greens adorn every tree and carpet the quiet neighborhood streets we ride this Saturday morning on our way to breakfast. First Watch in North Kansas City we visit today, just 15-miles of rolling hills from Biscari Brothers Bicycles, our Liberty home.

            Thirty-six degrees and a brisk north wind have us dressed for winter and hone our appetites razor sharp. The beauty we encounter in route feeds our inner psychic selves, as soon at First Watch Kai will feed our raging hunger. With super-sized effervescence and efficiency, Kaichen takes our orders and makes us feel at home. Born in Taiwan and raised in the U.S., Kai, as she asks us to call her, banters with us as she beams and glows and effortlessly cares for us.

            Chris is with us this morning, the 30-mile round trip we ride today hardly a warm up for the double century he rode a few weeks back. On the road by 3:15 in the morning, it was dark again when he finished. He speaks a few words of Mandarin to Kai, surprising and pleasing her. I show her my grand daughter’s picture. “She was four months when we got her from China. She’s 14 now.”

            About on a bicycle, warmly dressed and well fed, the sights and sounds of small towns on an October morning give life vibrancy and intimacy and bring Norman Rockwell’s America to mind. Too soon we are back to Liberty and to our cars. And to the good lives we live between Saturdays and our all-too-brief rides to breakfast.

            A thing is precious in proportion to its rarity. Of the 168 hours in every week, we spend three to four together on our Saturday rides to breakfast. Of the 312 riders who have ridden at least once with us since we began riding together seven years ago, 11 have come today. So in a year of 8,736 hours, a different dozen or so of us will spend 156-208 hours together on our bikes and at breakfast. Knowing our time together is limited and hard to carve out of a busy week and busy lives, gives our time together a radiant serious levity that lies just behind all that we actually say and do. 

By Ed Chasteen

 

            A wet spring and summer and an early autumn chill produce a Missouri leaf-peepers bonanza to rival storied New England fall foliage. Riots of golds and reds and lingering greens adorn every tree and carpet the quiet neighborhood streets we ride this Saturday morning on our way to breakfast. First Watch in North Kansas City we visit today, just 15-miles of rolling hills from Biscari Brothers Bicycles, our Liberty home.

            Thirty-six degrees and a brisk north wind have us dressed for winter and hone our appetites razor sharp. The beauty we encounter in route feeds our inner psychic selves, as soon at First Watch Kai will feed our raging hunger. With super-sized effervescence and efficiency, Kaichen takes our orders and makes us feel at home. Born in Taiwan and raised in the U.S., Kai, as she asks us to call her, banters with us as she beams and glows and effortlessly cares for us.

            Chris is with us this morning, the 30-mile round trip we ride today hardly a warm up for the double century he rode a few weeks back. On the road by 3:15 in the morning, it was dark again when he finished. He speaks a few words of Mandarin to Kai, surprising and pleasing her. I show her my grand daughter’s picture. “She was four months when we got her from China. She’s 14 now.”

            About on a bicycle, warmly dressed and well fed, the sights and sounds of small towns on an October morning give life vibrancy and intimacy and bring Norman Rockwell’s America to mind. Too soon we are back to Liberty and to our cars. And to the good lives we live between Saturdays and our all-too-brief rides to breakfast.

            A thing is precious in proportion to its rarity. Of the 168 hours in every week, we spend three to four together on our Saturday rides to breakfast. Of the 312 riders who have ridden at least once with us since we began riding together seven years ago, 11 have come today. So in a year of 8,736 hours, a different dozen or so of us will spend 156-208 hours together on our bikes and at breakfast. Knowing our time together is limited and hard to carve out of a busy week and busy lives, gives our time together a radiant serious levity that lies just behind all that we actually say and do.

Greater Liberty Riders 2009-2010 Fall & Winter Schedule

October 10, 2009

www.greaterliberty.org

We call ourselves the Greater Liberty Riders for two reasons. First, Biscari Brothers Bicycles is our home bike shop. And it’s in Liberty. Second, we ride to set folks at liberty from limitations of heart and mind, especially hate, and body, particularly MS. A bicycle is a freeing device. Pedaling, sweating, thinking and talking! Everything looks and feels different. Ideas come that otherwise would not.

Every Saturday morning we meet to ride. Here’s the schedule from October until the end of March.

All rides begin at 8 AM. And all begin at Biscari Brothers Bicycles. During the spring and summer some rides begin in other places. But with fall and winter weather unpredictable, we start all rides from the place everybody knows.

Places we will ride to: Excelsior Springs, Orrick, Kearney, Lawson, North Kansas City. Our rides range between 25 and 45 miles round trip. The ride to Orrick is mostly flat. The others are rolling hills. All are beautiful. Great company! Great food!

 

October
3 Excelsior Springs and Mill Inn 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
10 NKC and First Watch 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
17 Orrick and Fubbler’s Cove 44 mile round trip, mostly flat
24 Kearney and VFW Hall 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
31 Lawson and Catrick’s 50 mile round trip, rolling hills
 
November
7 Excelsior Springs and Mill Inn 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
14 North Kansas City and First Watch 25 mile round trip, urban route
21 Orrick and Fubbler’s Cove 44 mile round trip, mostly flat
25 Kearney and VFW Hall 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
 
December
5 Excelsior Springs and Mill Inn 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
12 North Kansas City and First Watch 25 mile round trip, urban route
19 Orrick and Fubbler’s Cove 44 mile round trip, mostly flat
26 CHRISTMAS RIDE
 
January
2 Excelsior Springs and Mill Inn 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
9 North Kansas City and First Watch 25 mile round trip, urban route
16 Orrick and Fubbler’s Cove 44 mile round trip, mostly flat
23 Kearney and VFW Hall 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
30 Liberty and Ginger Sue’s 15 or 30 mile route, rolling hills
 
February
6 Excelsior Springs and Mill Inn 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
13 North Kansas City and First Watch 25 mile round trip, urban route
20 Orrick and Fubbler’s Cove 44 mile round trip, mostly flat
27 Kearney and VFW Hall 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
 
March
6 Excelsior Springs and Mill Inn 25 mile round trip, rolling hills
13 North Kansas City and First Watch 25 mile round trip, urban route
20 Orrick and Fubbler’s Cove 44 mile round trip, mostly flat
27 Kearney and VFW Hall 25 mile round trip, rolling hills

Mill Inn in Excelsior Springs, Fubbler’s Cove in Orrick, Catrick’s Café in Lawson and Sarah’s Table in Kearney are long time supporters of our Greater Liberty Ride for MS. They have given us meals and money. I ride often during the week to each of them. Sarah’s Table is small, and on Saturday’s when a bunch of us come at once, they can’t accommodate us. And the Kearney VFW Hall serves breakfast only on Saturday. With lots of room and cafeteria-style service, a bunch of bikers can be quickly served. So we go there. I go often to Sarah’s Table during the week to make up for our not coming on Saturdays. I plan to ask First Watch to sponsor our Greater Liberty Ride for MS.

The 2009 MS-150

October 2, 2009

By Ed Chasteen

 

            Some1,600 of us gathered last Saturday morning at Raymore-Peculiar High School way before dawn. Son Brian and I beat the crowd and got there at 5:15.But the two of us and Mark ride slow and hung back at the start line to let all teams leave. We started with the individual riders. Before the day ended they would pass us and we were last.

            The three of us have ridden the MS-150 together for years. We stop at every rest stop, talk to everybody in sight and eat everything we see. We get separated on the road, but I hear Mark’s booming laugh hills away.

            Mark is waiting when Brian and I pull into Sedalia right at 5 PM. We sign in and hurry to dinner with our United We Ride team. What a feast! Happy talk, good food, great people. We re-live the day. Then to our room at the Holiday Inn for a quick sleep. Up at 4:15. Downstairs by 5. And a surprise. Breakfast is waiting. Ordinarily at 6:30, they serve. But just for us MS riders today at 4:30 they start.

            And what a breakfast. Biscuits and gravy as good as I’ve found. Scrambled eggs. bacon, sausage, cinnamon rolls, waffles, milk, coffee, orange juice. And no waiting in the food line back at the fairgrounds. A great beginning for the day.

            We’re routed today through Knob Knoster State Park and a series of steep hills in quick succession. Yesterday late in the day when Brian and I had stopped atop a hill to get a drink, the sag car assigned to follow the last riders stopped and Joy, she said her name was, came up to us. “Could we carry your bags?” she asked, as she pointed to the two rear panniers and seat bag I always carry, everything I need for the ride inside. “No, thanks. I’m used to them.”

            But by the time we come to test stop #3 today, those hills have turned my legs to rubber. I SAG to rest stop #5. Biscari Brothers Bicycles is my home bike shop in Liberty. They were here yesterday with their repair shop. And again today. They take my panniers and tighten my front fender.

            A pickup is coming toward me and turning right off Highway 58 as I come to an intersection where I might turn left. Two men are standing in the intersection and saying something I can’t make out. That infernal headwind we’ve been riding into all morning drowns out all other sound, and the turning pickup hides the men from view just as I come to them. Brain and Mark are at the moment somewhere behind.

            A mile or so up the road, I stop to look back. I don’t see them. Must have had a problem. They’ll catch up. Several miles later I look back. I don’t see them. I’ll wait at the next rest stop. I ride on. A car pulls up. “Do you know you’re off the route?” He asks.

I should have turned left back where the men and the pickup were. He calls a SAG to take me to rest stop #7.

            Brian catches up with me between #7 and #8. We’re about three miles from the finish line a little after 5PM when a SAG pulls up. “The route is now closed. How about we give you a ride and let you our around the corner from the finish? You can ride from there.” They have picked up Mark a little way back. The three of us ride in.

            Both days on my back I wore a sign: I’M RIDING FOR BETH SCARBOROUGH. Many people asked. “Beth Scarborough is my pastor’s mother-in-law. She has MS. She lives in Waco, Texas. My pastor just came in April, and I met Beth. And I promised to ride in her honor.”