Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ivory Towers

On the way to work up to Mt. Oread.

My new office is just over a mile from the Little House here in Interzone, mes amis, and in the photo above I'm on my way just onto 15th Street and heading West. Mt. Oread is pronounced as "Oh ree add" so says Little Egypt.

Still a bit chilly here in Interzone--just about 35 degrees.

Actually I take 14th Street up the hill and I do believe it's the steepest road up. Once it warms up and school is out, I'll train on this hill on the Mighty Trek. The Old Desert San Campus Bike has been serving me well since I arrived--fenders are a must, Gentler Readers of This Blog. Oh yeah, the old San Campus Bike is a tank...

This is a climb, mes amis!

The two tower things up on Fraser Hall, and you can see how steep the climb is--my heart-rate goes up pretty fast and feels like it's going to punch out of my chest! The Campus Bike's front cassette has three rings thank goodness... I have to mention that the heart-rate monitor I bought last summer when Boss and I trained went on the brink. I must buy another to see what my hr is going up this bad boy!

At the top--wind and cold!

If any of you have ridden up to the TV Towers there in Phoenix--you know that last bit of climb that is so tough and steep just before you get to the parking lot--or when you're just about to the top of the front side of Gates Pass in Tucson--then you know what this climb is like up to the top of Mt. Oread!

Last few nights of snow is just starting to melt.

When I'm at the top of Oread, I just need to cool down a bit while I lock up the bike. The bus stop is near my bike parking, and the handful of students waiting are usually standing by puffing on that last cigarette before they hop on for a ride. It's pretty foul smelling that shit just as I've climbed the hill that would probably cause them to suffer an asthma attack--or worse. It's the same when I'm off in the afternoon; students waiting for the bus and as it comes by the stop, they all flick their butts onto the sidewalk before shuffling aboard.

At the top of KU Campus on Mt. Oread--this is looking East across Lawrence down 14th Street.

Many of the streets in "East Lawrence" are pretty beat up.

Street crews are starting to patch up the worst areas, but like every where else in the US right now--money for fixing stuff like pot holes is scarce. These kind of roads beat the crap out of your car. I must be cautious not to take a spill as I zip home from work coming down the mountain.

Home in six minutes!

New Bike Lane on 15th Street.

When I visited this last September, 15th Street was getting re-paved. Nice new bike lane for a few miles and I get the rest of the way home pretty quickly!

Thanks for coming along for my daily commute, mes amis--all 2 miles round-trip!

Cheers! Bruce

Monday, March 21, 2011

Old "K-10" or "B-Careful"

My county map with roads marked.

The bike shop lads, as well as Mike, told me about the out and back to a little town just outside of Interzone. There was a job advertised in that city which required the applicant register in person. So I decided to go out on the Mighty Trek and see the roads talked about by the local riders.

Pavement gives way to gravel after a few miles outside of town.

All I had to do was leave the Little House, turn right, and then head East to the town of Eudora, KS. They didn't tell me that I'd be on gravel, but the gravel was not so bad--and I rode about 15 mph. The wind was fierce of course! I'd be able to return on "Old K-10" which was said to be paved.

Nine miles West, the town of Eudora, Kansas.

Warm and sunny, but very windy--I'm out on the bike and exploring new roads. Gravel wasn't so bad, but I couldn't ride as fast as I thought I could--and of course, the headwind...

About nine miles as the crow flies.

Before reaching Eudora, Gentle Reader of This Blog, I looked back to see iconic Fraser Hall on top of the Campus of KU. It's the building with the town little towers on top. It can be seen from all directions as people drive in from the highways into Lawrence, KS.

Main Street of Eudora--a very nice little town indeed! This is looking South down Main.

At City Hall, where I filled out my job application for a position with the Town.

Everyone was quite friendly and after I handed over my completed application, the staff went over a few details about riding back on "Old K-10" They said it was still used and traffic was pretty fast--and dangerous. "Be careful out there!"

A contractor who was putting in some permits told me outside that he was a cyclists himself--a few years ago, his friend and fellow cyclist, a County Sheriff, was killed on Old K-10. As is usually the case, the reckless driver who ran him down only received a minor fine, if anything at all.

West back to Lawrence on Old-K 10.

Well, mes amis, I decided to give Old K-10 a chance. I had come all the way out here just to do this loop, and I wanted some fast pavement to take me home.

What I discovered was that the Old K was very very narrow--and no shoulder. The traffic was fast--faster than the posted 55 mph. What was even more un-nerving is that the headwind/crosswind was brutal, and I had at times difficulty staying up. So I had to lean into the crosswind and ride more over in the center of the lane. But soon I was seeing the turn to take me back up the way I came out--car drivers would go the other direction to hop on "New" K-10 and shoot to Kansas City or the few miles into Lawrence.

On that short stretch with no traffic and a wide shoulder back to the rural road I used to head out--I got the call that they wanted me to work there at KU. I accepted the position, and then just relaxed and enjoyed the only bit of tailwind I would get this afternoon.

On the Road.

Heading back into town.

Fraser Hall, and the location of my new office, just in the building to the right. I've taken this road, which is 15th Street, East for 9 miles to the town of Eudora, and then back on Old K-10. I live just off this 15th you see above, and I will ride to the office a mile and a half.

Garter Snake in the Little House.

When I pulled up into the drive way of the Little House, I spied a Garter Snake slipping into the garage. I helped him scoot out back into the garden as I put the bike away. I had ridden just over 18 miles--again in a fierce headwind and crosswind. I was pretty tired--but I have a new job, so that's good!



Sunday, March 20, 2011

Escape from Interzone

I finally got the Mighty Trek cleaned up, Gentle Readers of This Blog, and got out for a spin. Really bad weather here in Interzone--but temperatures in the 70 forecast for Sunday--had me in the basement of the little house cleaning up the bike from the long drive from Tucson to Lawrence.

What helped me out is that I procured a trainer--and what that trainer, I discovered, is really good for, is a work stand. I was able to clean every nook and cranny and bolt and chain ring with the help of the stand. The Mighty Trek had a fine layer of grit and dirt everywhere. When I was done, the bike shown like a star. I have just not had time to do this work--plus being in Interzone has been depressing at times.

But I got out on the bike, and with a big folding map of the county--and directions from the lads down at the local bike shop--I set out to ride to Lone Star Lake.

I have to tell you, mes amis, that it was a beautiful 72 degrees--but I must tell you that I had a head wind of like 25 mph going out of town. As I made my way out, I saw a rider ahead of me, and I hammered-down through the headwind to try and catch them--which I finally did--just before a turn I needed to take. It was a young woman, very friendly, out for her first ride as well. She actually had gone to university in Tempe at ASU--that was cool. She confirmed a few things on the map for me, and she went on her way. Just as she was taking off however, another rider passed us and turned in the direction I wanted to go--so I bid the young woman farewell as I told her I was going to try and catch this next guy.

I met Mike--a stroke of luck, Gentle Readers of This Blog. He was going out to the lake, knew the route well, and offered to take me there and a bit of a different way back. The best thing about Mike was that he was well aware of Randonneuring--and although not a brevet rider--has been a cross-county tourer.

Sometimes it was hard to talk as we had to take turns pulling through a brutal headwind. Actually there was a cross wind a for a few miles that I thought would blow me off the road! Mike assured me that our return with the headwind would be quite fast--and that actually the wind today was a bit out of the ordinary.

I began to recognize a few of the landmarks from my ride with the Lawrence Bike Club back in September when I came out with Calle to visit Little Egypt and Rico. As Mike stated, our ride back was very fast with the tailwind pushing us along at 30 mph at some points along the way--soon we were back rolling into Interzone.

I feel very fortunate to have met and made a new friend to ride with. Mike and I exchanged phone numbers and we plan to ride together in the near future. Mike was new to the area and went out and explored all the roads over the years--I believe he said he was originally from Vermont--he has some short fast rides out of town to use as training rides--and then he knows the routes to a few pubs in small towns that serve good burgers and cold beer. Mike is also interested in trying some brevets--so I'm hoping I can train with him and we'll do some riding.

Sorry I did not take out the camera and get a few shots for you--but it was so windy and mainly just had to stay on the bike. More later on this route with photos I promise!

Cheers! Bruce

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Medicine Wheels

Little Egypt and Rico at the Medicine Wheel near Haskell University.

Snow, rain, and wind have been my companions here in Interzone, Gentle Reader of This Blog. I am missing the heat and sunshine of Tucson. My hope is that fair winds will arrive soon! In the meantime, son Rico had an assignment which led him out to shoot some video of the Wetlands, on the Haskell University grounds. I brought Little Egypt lunch to her office, and as it turned out, we all went with Rico to this old camp.

I run errands and do the shopping as much as possible by bike.

We live along the inter-city bike route.

I take the old rail-road line, now made into a running, walking, and bike trail two miles down to the Old Indian School.

Past the old grain elevator.

Almost to Haskell via the bike path. Most of the snow has melted. Its still a bit cold and windy, also muddy.

Haskell Stadium Arch.

Haskell started out as an Indian School in 1884, then became a high school, then Junior College, then Haskell Native Nations University. The young Indian men were legendary athletes and the football teams were unbeatable in the 1910, 20's and 30's. Also noted as exceptional soldiers for their service during WW I in particular. Billy Mills, the Olympic Runner went to high school here. When the stadium opened, Jim Thorpe was on hand to watch a few games.

Old Student Cemetery.

As a government industrial arts training school for Indian boys and girls, later known as Haskell Indian School, the place was pretty bleak. The intentions of the whites to help train Indians to farm and get jobs were over-shadowed by the fact that the government workers stole most of the money, supplies, and medicine to run the school. The first young men and women almost starved and many died of illness.

The University in the back ground.

Remember Your Relatives...

A lot of the young Native American boys and girls that came here were refugees from the Wars the US fought with the Plains Indians and some of the Southwest Tribes--Navajo, Apache, Comanche, etc. But they are not forgotten. This young man from Arizona, quite possibly I believe we have walked the same roads and had seen the same mountains. I wonder if he longed for the warm sun like I do at times. I tell him that in my mind, Tucson is still in my heart--and the friends I have there I have not forgotten.

Sometimes I dream, or I think I dream I see the smooth black pavement of Ina Rd on my commute route--I see the road from on my bike like I'm riding. Boss and I climbing Mt. Lemmon Hwy up to Molino... Sometimes I see the grass in my backyard that we planted for Callie. A few times I saw all the details of the tile on the kitchen floor at my house in Dog Mtn--its like I'm searching to see if it needs sweeping.

Out to Wetlands and the Medicine Wheel.

Its muddy out here as the snow has melted. Soon this area will be underwater. The land out here belongs to Haskell but the City of Interzone decided that they needed to drain what they said was just a swamp and a blight. They attempted this with out Haskell or Federal authority.

A sleeping turtle in the Wetlands.

Some of the Haskell Students went out and worked on the area. While walking around, I spied a big alligator or snapping turtle in one of the canals. You really don't want to be walking around out here I think when it gets warmer--this place will be crawling with snakes, leeches, and fellows like these.

Its a sign of Spring when a big snapping turtle like this one digs out of his burrow. There's not much sun and it really isn't that warm, but Winter is moving aside for warm weather.

Cat tails in the swamp.

Heading out to the Medicine Wheel.

The higher ground was a camp ground for families--what I've heard is that people would hide out here and camp and then try to steal back their children. Most children were placed there against their will by the US government. I'm not sure the reliability of this information--but to a lot of the Indians, this area is very important. Just swamp land not much good for anything (hence put the Indian School there) but a sanctuary of sorts--a wild area away from the discipline of military-type education--and sometimes the only means to escape.

Sending good thoughts and feelings to friends and family.

Medicine Wheel.

In 1992 Haskell Students made the Medicine Wheel out on the high ground in the swamps south of the University--now called Wetlands. This is a place of reverence and reflection; a good place. Quiet and peaceful, birds are everywhere and soon the otters and beavers will be working. That old turtle will be on the prowl I'm sure. The old swamp lands have now become a nature preserve--but as always, somebody wants to build or expand on land across the road, and they are aggressively fighting the Federal Wetlands designation for the area. As I said, attempts were made to drain the area and they got caught. The people were pretty upset about the dishonest dealings of some of the local city officials.

Video taping the Wetlands from the high-ground of the Medicine Wheel.

It is said that many Indian children tried to escape the school by running through and hiding in the Wetlands. Most perished. At that time I believe the swamps were much larger, and probably more difficult to get traverse.

Rail trail ends in the Wetlands.

Little Egypt goes back to work, Rico to class, and I head back home on the old rail line. Out here its not paved for a few miles. Soon I'm on the nice smooth path.

My wheels working for me and taking me about Interzone.

Cheers! Bruce