Four States, Four Bikes, and One Yellow Travato – Chapter Four

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And finally, here in chapter 4, we get to one of the main reasons why we headed out with all these bikes in the first place. So now I bring you:

Chapter 4: Kansas City – A Great Place to Ride Your Bike

Some time back, we had been contacted by Cycle Kansas City. They wanted to know if we would be interested in attending one of their group rides. Without knowing much more about it than that, we agreed, looked at their ride calendar, and picked the Northland Nightmare as the event we wanted to attend.

And if you don’t know us very well, usually that’s all it takes is an invitation – most of our adventures are exactly that half-baked. But the reality of this trip is that Kansas City is just over one thousand miles away from our home base in Salt Lake City. If we had stopped to look at a map, we might have thought the better of going. In retrospect, I’m glad we didn’t pull up that map until later.

Well, it's a thousand miles if you drive there directly, which, of course, we didn't...

Well, it’s a thousand miles if you drive there directly, which, of course, we didn’t…

If you’ve never done a mass-start cycling event before, the main most awful thing about them is that they always start at zero-stupid-thirty in the morning. We’ve been doing these for years, and we still don’t know why that is. If you’ve read the first three chapters of this saga, the one thing you know about Stef and me is that we never get up early, or even on time.  So these events are challenging for us in that respect. But for this ride, Lance came to our rescue.

Since we roll in an awesome Class B, parking most anywhere is not a problem. We don’t need (or even usually want) to stay at expensive RV parks. So for this event, we had asked Cycle Kansas City if we could just park for the night at the race start. They said, “No Problem.” They sent us a map of where to park. And they even alerted the local authorities that we were going to be there overnight.

Fit RV Kansas City Parking Map

This worked out spectacularly. We found our spot with no problems, and with no need for hookups, Stef, and I, and our four bikes settled in for the night. We even watched a movie, which happened to be our first time firing up Lance’s TV. The next morning, at zero-stupid-thirty, we were already there, and didn’t need to drive to the start (or stand in line at the port-o-johns).

This is why we have an RV

Uh, no thanks.

Now, the other thing I didn’t notice about the ride (but Stef did) was that it was a costume-themed ride. Riders were encouraged to ride in costume.  I would have preferred to just ignore this bit, and not pack costumes halfway across the country for two weeks, but Stef wasn’t having any of that. We had to have costumes, and we had to ride in them. She decided (more or less without my input) that we would be “minions”, and before we left all manner of blue and yellow things were showing up at the house.

When we put all of it together, it wound up looking like this:

I don’t know much about “minions”. But something tells me we missed.

I don’t know much about “minions”. But something tells me we missed.

Stef had even (again, without my input) enlisted other riders to join in the minion theme.

Fellow Minions

That’s Ken & Kathy, fellow Travato owners, cyclists, and friends from our shakedown cruise over the summer. And while Stef seemed to be hamming it up with other costumed riders,

Stef in Costume

I (being a “serious cyclist”) was completely mortified:

I can’t believe I shaved my legs for this…

I can’t believe I shaved my legs for this…

The thought of riding 62 miles dressed like this was killing me.

Right up until the ride started…

As soon as we started rolling, I completely forgot I was dressed like a weird Swedish flag, and had one of the best rides – and overall experiences – of the season.

For starters, there was the terrain. No mistake about it, there were climbs in Kansas City. But these were not the 40 mile long, brutal, annoying, slog-fests that someone (ahem… Steve) usually drags me up back home in Utah. These were short, steep, punchy rollers that were an absolute blast for a cyclist like me. Loved it.

And Cycle Kansas City had done a great job with the route. It got out of the city and into the countryside quickly. And when we did head back in towards the finish, we took advantage of some of the most spectacular urban paths I’ve seen.

Kansas City Bike Path

The next thing that made the ride awesome is so odd, I can’t believe I’m actually going to say it. But The Drivers in Kansas City were hands down, the most safe, courteous group of motorists I’ve ever shared a roadway with. At several points during the ride, drivers actually slowed down and paced behind our group of cyclists. It happened several times before I realized they weren’t reaching in their glove compartments for firearms. They were actually waiting – at times rather slowly – for a safe spot on the road to pass us.  I don’t have any pictures of this because I was too shocked. For comparison, back home, the drivers would usually wait until a car was coming the other direction and then try to time their pass to crowd us off the road. (And that’s if they just didn’t try to run us off the road outright.)

Maybe it was the costumes? I don’t know. But motorists of Kansas City – we salute you for your courtesy and concern for the lives of your cyclist residents. Well done!

The event wasn’t just for experienced cyclists, either. There was a 5 mile ride for newbies, complete with volunteers who were ready to ride with the newbies, teaching good technique and the ways of the road. We’ve never seen this at any other ride we’ve done. Cycle Kansas City did a great job of organizing this unique ride, it was pretty impressive. All the little extras made it not just a ride, but an experience.

For example: Like clockwork, there were rest stops every 15 miles. Actual rest stops with food, water, energy drinks, and enthusiastic and costumed volunteers:

Cycle Kansas City Rest Stop

I’ve paid good money to be in races that didn’t provide anything close to this level of support. (Yes, I’m talking about you, Rockwell Relay.)

And 62 miles later, at the conclusion of the ride, there was an actual party, with an actual band. Also in costume! In this case it was “Retro-Active”, playing 80’s hits that try as you might, you can’t deny knowing by heart.

I emphatically deny knowing the words to any Culture Club song.

Regardless of what Stef says, I emphatically deny knowing the words to any Wham! song.

And also plenty of food, free drinks (“adult” drinks too!), swag, the list goes on and on. If I ever host a cycling event, I hope I do half as well as these guys:

Cycle Kansas City organizers. – Great group… We’ll be back.

Cycle Kansas City organizers. – Great group… We’ll be back.

And of course, Lance always seems to get attention at cycling events. It’s almost part of the routine now… the point in the day where everyone’s curiosity gets the better of them, and a group of people want to check out our Travato.

Checking Out Lance

And as the party died down, we showered up in Lance (right there on the street!) and began our long drive back to Salt Lake City, where we arrived two days later. We plan to come back next year, and readers we’d love it if you’d join us, so save the date (but we don’t know the date)! Thanks again to Cycle Kansas City for an awesome ride and event.

Oh, and Stef, if you’re reading this, I got an email from the Bangor Cycling Club. They want us to come to an “ice ride” they’re having next month. I told them we’d go. Bangor isn’t that far, right?


James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    15 thoughts on “Four States, Four Bikes, and One Yellow Travato – Chapter Four

    1. Alain Roy

      Always fun to follow your travels, reviews, and especially your modifications. And while on that subject, I was looking at your last review of Das Bus and was wondering if the sliding windshield blinds you installed there might be adapted to the Travato?

    2. Dan

      I’m assuming your invitation from “Bangor” was fro Bangor, Wales… a beautiful place with lots of good cycling on terrifyingly narrow roads. 😉

      I know it’s unfair and demanding… but I’m still dying to hear about your composting toilet. You’re clearly having too much fun to write about that, though. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    3. Dave

      I know this is off topic, but I was wondering now that you have used your new Winnebago a lot, how has the Truma Combi Heat worked. Do you find that you have more hot water with this system then a standard 6 gallon hot water heater? Thanks,

      1. James - Post author

        As far as cabin heat, the Truma is awesome. Super quiet, and much more efficient than an older furnace unit.
        The hot water has been more than adequate. We’ve never run out, even taking consecutive showers, so I don’t really know how much hot water we could use. I only know that it’s more than we need.
        Although…. this gives me an idea for a video…

    4. Al

      Great read. Thanks for putting ‘pen to paper’ on the travels. Can’t wait to see Lance’s new ‘change’ – maybe Lance will be Lorna???? We await!

    5. Maggie

      It sounds like you guys had a lot of fun! Those folks really know how to organize a bike race. We are so happy for you guys. Keep writing here as well as in Winnebagolife. We have really liked all the articles. You guys make it informative and entertaining. 🙂

      By the way, now that you have had Lance out quite a bit, do you still like Lance? Do you think it might be a good choice for someone who may want to use it as a second vehicle as well as an RV? Your thoughts would be appreciated.

      Be safe.


      Keep writin

      1. James - Post author

        OF COURSE we still like Lance! In fact, I’m taking him out next weekend for a significant modification. (You’ll just have to wait and see…)
        I do think it would work as a second vehicle – the G floorplan has two extra seatbelts which might make that practical, and the large empty space in the rear would be good for hauling.
        Plus, it’s just kinda fun to drive sitting that high up!

    6. Andy & Kim

      What a great adventure, thanks for sharing! It really highlighted the exciting things you can encounter while wandering the highways and byways of America in an RV.

      Happy trails,
      Andy & Kim

    7. Bob

      Wish we would have been in town then. We would’ve come over and kept you up late. 🙂 Maybe in 2016….

      Did you guys sample any of Big Rip’s brews?

      1. James - Post author

        I don’t think I did. The drink coupons were also good for an “adult” root beer kind of drink. Some sort of local vodka and local root beer. We never got any further than that. 🙂
        There was also that BBQ event going on in town when we were there, but we never made it there either.

    8. Carol

      Hi James,
      Really enjoyed all four chapters! Here are some of my thoughts:
      1. It was so cool that you were able to pick a remote camping spot just by looking at an online map.
      2. Stefany made the right call in insisting to go costume-y. Haven’t seen the minions movie but the outfits looked fun and certainly contributed to making the bike ride a lighthearted affair and in my book that’s a success.
      3. Those Kansas City folks who organized this event sound wonderful!
      4. As a side note, there’s an interesting historical connection between Kansas City, Mo. and Salt Lake City. Just finished reading the “Truman” biography by David McCullough and it seems the LDS (aka Mormon) church folks settled in the Kansas City area on their way west to escape persecution but after a number of years they eventually had to leave that area too, whereupon they marched westward and settled in SLC. I doubt they took your route! Also, Harry Truman’s grandfather made the same trip back and forth many times for trading purposes (again, I doubt he went up to Iowa and Minnesota and then across).

      1. James - Post author

        Glad you liked it! We don’t write many “what we did on our RV trip” blogs, but maybe we’ll start writing more.

        And if the pioneers had come across to Utah on our route, they might have given up! lol.


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