Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wind and Rain and Riding the Bike

Here comes some Weather!

Kansas is hot and muggy--and there seems to be this engine that powers storms coming in from the South East, mes amis. This means riding out in the Wilds into a strong and fierce head wind. I got out early and the air was still, but as I started home, man could I ever feel and smell the change--and then see the air and sun and everything get ready for a big Summer Storm!

Pat, long-time Kansas Cyclist. We ride out to Lone Star Lake.

I've seen Pat out on the roads this summer, and by chance we were going the same way this time--so I joined in and we were both happy to ride together this hot muggy morning. Pat is training for a ride from Prague to Budapest in early September.

It was my good fortune to meet Pat, Gentle Readers of This Blog, as he answered all my questions about routes and roads and places to go--see I am slowly but surely extending my rides from 30 miles to 40 miles to 50 miles--and soon I hope to be back into Randonneur form by riding century rides on the weekends like the old days in Arizona.

I am planning a ride up to the Family Homestead of Highland, Kansas Territory when Summer starts to cool. That would be where Great Great Grandfather Joseph Chandler moved from Lebanon, Kentucky to Kansas Territory in the 1850's. My Great Grandfather, also named Bruce, was born in Highland in 1862--and we were born 100 years apart almost to the day.

This is from the top of the Clinton Lake Dam, looking East.

Pat took me on some hills he uses to train, and these are climbs up to the road that will take us up on the Clinton Lake Dam. Traffic is light and we make some good time on our way back to Interzone--and Pat gives me some good information about rides out to other parts of the county from where we are.

As it is now, I'm finding routes that will pretty much take me on a perimeter ride around Douglas County--with stops in pre-Civil War Free and Slave Kansas Territory. I'm excited about what I'll be able to accomplish, mes amis!

I find a new and fast way short-cut back into town via Hwy K-10.

Pat tells me I can get back to my neck of the woods by taking K-10 East and getting off at the Hwy 59 Exit (that you see up above in the photo) K-10 is sort of like riding on Oracle Rd back in Tucson. There's a good shoulder to ride on, but really it's no frills--just a fast short cut on a busy hwy--when you need to get back into Lawrence and ride across the county--this is the route to take in a pinch.

I did see another hardy rider going the other direction, and he seemed to of the disposition that things was okay riding on K-10. That bloke had an awesome tail wind I'm sure--I on the other hand had a hot brutal headwind. It was a tough one. I was sweating like a pig on a Kansas Territory Farm around supper-time!

On K-10... riding home to make a 45 mile trek through the Wilds.

Rain was in the air, mes amis--a body could smell it--and see it--coming like a herd of grey-blue buffalo over the Green Wilds!

Thunder and lighting on my heels, Gentle Reader of This Blog!

It's one thing to be chased down by a bunch of Type-A Triathletes from Lone Star Lake, but some serious kick-ass rain and wind about to stomp you is more serious. A few rain drop zing past and over my shoulder--but those only count if they hit me so goes my rule. I get back to the Little House and have a few minutes before the storm lets loose the down pour. While I wait and put away the bike--sweat pouring out of me as its so humid--a bright flash and loud sudden crack of thunder lets me know who's boss!

Cheers! Bruce

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Into Wild Lands -- Into Wet Lands

Fraser Hall on top of Mt Oread, KU Campus--about eight miles out.

I went for a fast morning ride. Thunder storms all night and into the very early morning almost shut down my plan. But the Sun came out and things began to dry quickly, Gentle Reader of This Blog--which meant I needed to get out, ride, and get home before the next thunder storm. Oh yeah--very humid too!

No head wind this morning--might mean the head wind will be on the way home.

So I felt strong and rode at a good clip. Everything is green, and seems that on the way out a bloke like me could even see the stuff grow! Birds were everywhere singing and fighting and getting all the insects, which were like clouds hanging by the swampy roadside...

The fields are green, damp, and the morning quickly drying out the crops in the sunshine.

Muddy and soggy out here in the Wilds!

The Farm at the base of Shank Hill--where the tamed fields meet the Wild Lands!

The Tree of Long Life--has seen many Summers I'm sure mes amis!

First cut of hay and rolled into the large bales.

If you blink, you will miss the village of Lone Star!

I'm just going to ride out quick to Lone Star Lake and back. The village or colony as the first immigrants called their spots on the map, had everything--a church, a school, places to live--and they farmed the muddy fields among the Wilds.

What was new is now old.

After a few years, the people prospered, and here's an example of a family that built themselves a fine house on the farm. The house now over 100 years old and still a stately place.

The Buzzards of the Lake shall know my fate should I never return from a Brevet into the Wild Lands...

Also known as Turkey Vultures, these guys relax on the lake's Dam. It's more like a levy really--built as a WPA Project back in the 1930's. They soar above the lake on these humid windy mornings and are indifferent, as usual, to a cyclist.

Almost missed the photo of the Church for you, mes amis! Built in 1918 by the villagers.

County Road.

Bon jour la bon jour, mes amis! or Hello there my friends!

On the way home and through the farmland of Kansas.

Fast but not too fast.

A hand full of triathletes arrived hot and sweaty at the lake as I was pulling out. They're a competitive bunch and I knew they would re-group and come chasing after me--which they did--but I think I put some distance between us as they faded back into the Wilds.

My route back took me into the Wet Lands, and here Gentle Reader of This Blog, it seems that if just enough rain, one of this days the road will be under the water. I like it here because the air is sweet and birds songs are on the wind!

Wet Lands.

Thanks for riding along and for visiting my blog!

Cheers! Bruce

River Ride -- River of Blood

Taking a break in the shade of the Cottonwood Trees near the banks of the Kansas River.

Little Egypt and Son Rico have discovered biking along the WPA era levies here in Interzone. For exercise and something to do, I got them to ride through old historic downtown, cross the river, and then ride on the levy trail.

They had a great time as it was cool, flat, and beautiful to behold. On one side the endless forest of huge cottonwoods along the river bank--then the levy, which we rode on top of for six long uninterrupted miles--and then the miles of corn and wheat fields to the other side of the levy. We all enjoy this ride and have ridden it a few more times since I've posted this (late so sorry about that Gentle Readers of This Blog...)

Actually, the morning before this ride, I got up to go search for my Desert San Campus Bike. Rico had borrowed it--because he thought it looked cool and "Dutch"--and as I feared he returned home after playing at 3 a.m. the morning--and he did not bring my bike back.

So, as I'm an early riser--I went to his friend's and fellow band mate's house to fetch it with the car. It was not on the front porch. Shit--where is my bike! So I drove to his other friends house--it was not on their front porch either.

I drove down Mass Ave here in Interzone, past the bars--looking for my bike locked up against some light pole or parking meter by the clubs that he plays in--I couldn't find the bike. It had better not be lost. I knew down deep I should not have loaned it to him. He has his own bike.

I figured he must have it locked in a garage at a friend's, or inside a mate's house. He knows that I use the bike to commute to work, to go to the store--to go everywhere. He wouldn't carelessly let my bike get ripped off.

As I was driving through a side street, I noticed a roadie walking his bike up the street. He was limping--and then I saw blood dripping down his face and and chin and on his jersey. I stopped and asked him if was okay--holy shit--but he had taken a spill!

Could I help out? Give him a ride home? Take him to the hospital? He said he just lived up the street a few houses. He had started out for his morning ride and gone a few blocks. He ran over a stick or limb or something like that in the street and it locked up his front wheel. He said he went over the handle bars. Whoa... and had done a face-plant, mes amis. He assured me he was okay.

I drove on home and just waited around for the tribe at the Little House to get up out of bed. Later that morning Rico and I went over to his band mate's place and got the Campus Bike out from the front living room. Rico had gotten a ride home as it had been raining pretty hard, and was windy.

Later while we were riding along the levy, I told Rico and Little Egypt about the roadie that had crashed as he set out from his house--running over a branch that had fallen from the night's storm--and caused him to have a spill.



Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ghosts of Free Kansas

Named after a judge Lecompte--who rallied residents for Kansas to be a Slave State.

Lecompton was a destination that we tried to reach a few weeks ago but we ran out of time--plus the wind was bearing down on us so we had to turn back. With better weather, and an early start, I set out for the old Kansas Territory Capital of "Slave Kansas."

Many people wanted Kansas to come into the Union as Slave --others wanted Kansas a Free State. When it looked like KS would be a Free State after all, folks picked up and moved to Topeka. Lecompton withered--but there still remains pre-Civil War divisions in the air even now.

Crossing the Kansas River at Lawrence--what's left of some old manufacturing plants from the the 1870's. The Great Flood of 1903 destroyed all that industry and it was never rebuilt.

On the bike you head out of Old Historic Downtown, cross the River, and soon ride into lines drawn between pre-Civil War ideologies. Lawrence and Lecompton were competing for what was hoped would be a lucrative steam boat spot on the Kansas River. When the river proved mostly un-reliable because of low water levels, both towns struggled. When the rail line finally reached Lawrence after the Civil War, fortunes changed for Lawrence.

Grain Elevator in Old North Lawrence across the river.

I'll be taking Hwy 24 North and then West to Lecompton--and then circle back on the Old Farmer's Turnpike to this Grain Elevator and rail hub. This is where the farmers have brought their corn and grain to ship to markets for over 150 years.

Fertile green fields of America's Heartland.

Old School House built in 1869 on Hwy 24 Heading West.

The Civil War between the North and South ended when the North destroyed the South militarily and culturally. Kansas was Free--to keep it free, education would be high on the list for the new residents to supplant any notion of a Slave State--school houses are everywhere out here.

Farm House from those days aging gracefully.

A tailwind helping me along at a good clip, mes amis!

With the wind in my favor, I cut through the cool morning air West on Hwy 24--the Hwy follows the base of the bluffs, and I pass emerald green landscapes--glowing with corn fields and thick green grass . I was making good time, Gentle Reader of This Blog, and stopped at the historical marker below, just before the small village of Perry.

Click on the photo to read the marker as it will be larger.

Perry High School, and those endless miles of cornfields I ride past!

I found an open restaurant in Perry! On a Sunday morning! But I did not stop in today--maybe next time.

In Perry, I stopped a local fellow out getting his morning paper and asked for some directions. He said I was on the right road--keep going, then over the Kaw, then "Lee Compton" as I hear people say the name. I think people believe the town was named after a guy named Lee.

Riding down this road that will take me into old Slave Kansas...

I'll cross the river into Lecompton here at the old ferry crossing. I get an eerie feeling because had I been riding out here in 1858, I may not have been welcome.

My great great grandfather was living in Highland, Kansas Territory--about 90 miles North-east on the Kansas-Missouri border (Near St. Joseph, MO.) and I don't know what their feelings were on the matter. I believe, deep down in my blood, that they were for Free Kansas.

Over the Kansas River.
Lecompton High School.

Lecompton was a nice place--but I didn't want to stick around and explore. Mainly because to ride into the older historic part of town, I'd have to climb some hills. Just was wanting to get back to Lawrence--I'll save that exploration for next time.

"You a Jayhawker, there Pilgrim?" Cattle eye me with suspicion, even now, after the War Between the States mes amis!

438 is what's known as the Farmer's Turnpike.

Heading East on the Farmer's Turnpike--an old historic route for taking crops to market and the rail hub back in Lawrence.

My tail wind didn't last--now a bit of a cross wind--still I rode well and enjoyed the fact that there was no traffic out here at all. I wondered what it would have been like on a horse, or pulling a team loaded with grain? It would have been about an 8 or 9 mile trip.

Interstate 70 runs along side the Farmers Turnpike for several miles.

Occasionally, I-70 would come into view. Cars streaming past endlessly it seemed. Driving to Kansas City from about where I am only takes about 30 minutes...

From another time--a school house built in 1869.

A Rural Volunteer Fire Station on the Farmer's Turnpike--if need be, they can get right on I-70 to help out in emergencies.

Tractor and Port-a-John.

I used the Port-a-Pottie--or Port-a-John as they're sometimes called, which was being guarded by this old tractor. I would say that it was almost an old rust-bucket--its main job mowing this field.

As not a lot of these old roads are used, sometime the maps lack a few details. I think this is about where I am.

I pass the power plant that allows me to have electricity to have this computer and write this blog, Gentler Readers.

The Farmer's Turnpike ends here at one of the grain stations--now quite modern.

Back in Lawrence.

The problem with this ride is that there's no fast way through the Northwest side of old Lawrence. I'm having to ride through the old streets that hug the Kansas River Banks--then I have to cross busy 6th Street, or ride on it about a mile. Traffic is heavy!

Downtown! The Ethridge Hotel built in 1858.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Cheers! Bruce