Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winter in the Wilds

The Tall Tree on The Big Farm. Can you see the hawk up in the very top?

I have been living here in Kansas for a year this week, Gentle Readers of This Blog. One year and things have certainly changed for me--I have a job now--at least a ten-month contract, so having income again, and working in my profession/being back in the saddle--is a huge weight off of us. Now have to get the weight off this Clydesdale body of mine!

I'm out riding the Super Grand Prix--my first road ride with my favorite bike.

It is very hard to believe the incredible warm weather we're having mes amis! I went to spin class this morning and when I got home just before noon, it was almost 50 degrees. I hurried to saddle-up the Raleigh Super Grand Prix, which I recently brought back from Tucson. The bike was still ready to ride--just filled up a water bottle, a bit of air in the tires--and I am sailing through Old East Lawrence and into the Wilds...

KU about 10 miles out.

I ride out of the city then back North a few miles--that's where I see Fraser Hall up on top of Mt. Oread. When I left the Little House, the flags on the towers were not even waving--a good sign that the wind will not beat me up on the way out to Lone Star Lake!

The hawk that claims these fields doesn't quite give me time to snap his photo before he takes flight...

I enjoy the trip out to Lone Star with its emerald green fields and fresh rich farm land. Now of course things are put to bed, and the land waits. By bike this is a striking contrast--to feel winter--but its not frigid cold so with only a few layers, I can ride through the quiet air of the day.

I spy another rider and it looks like he sees me too--he slows and I speed up a bit and within a quarter of a mile, we are met up and cheerily greeting each other.

Riding with Chris to Lone Star.

Chris, like me, is out enjoying this warm day. He's riding a 1975 Raleigh Pro, and I'm riding my 1977 Raleigh Super Grand Prix. Although his bike is the Classic British racing machine, mine is made in Japan--still we're riding two very well made steel lugged road bikes--that's pretty cool. So we just set a pace we like and decide we'll ride up to Lone Star Lake--or there abouts--and then hopefully enjoy the tail wind we'll have on the return.

My old friend, The Big Tree on The Big Farm comes into view.

On the way to Lone Star Lake, in the village of Lone Star, we ride past the Lone Church.

Chris riding his Raleigh Pro...

A rare photograph of Bruce! Thanks to Chris for being a good sport and taking the photo!

Chris has a mirror that really works!

I've been riding with my small messenger mirror--which is the size of a button. I can pretty well see behind me but its a bit tricky--lots of vibration and I must hold and position my head so I can get a good look. Chris has a very nice mirror and it came in handy, mes amis. I must tell you that there was a bit of traffic this afternoon and we were able to ride side by side and Chris able to see traffic approaching--and being able to judge speed and distance quite well.

We rode at a good pace and were on our way to Lone Star when Chris said he need to turn around to be back before it got dark. This was a good plan, and although we were just a few miles from the lake, I decided I could probably turn around as well. The sun was heading down quickly and I could feel the air cooling off. Plus good to have someone to ride back with in the tail wind and stay together--much safer.

The hawk keeps his eye on me from way up in The Big Tree's branches.

Cottonwood trees can have very long lives, mes amis--would you be riding along beside us, you would be amazed at the size of this tree and the reach of the branches! Easily this Old Man is 300 feet tall--and could be well over 100 years old.

Long windy curve to Hwy 59.

Chris lives in West Lawrence and I in Old East. We split off and hope that we meet out on the road again one day. I have a ways to go; there is one long curve I have to ride out which will take me Hwy 59. The wind is always brutal here, and cars speed and pass by close and fast. Once I make it up there to 59, it will be a quick ride on the Hwy, then past the wetlands, through Haskell Campus, and home.

The Winter Sun descends it seems, on the Big Farm as I'm about to reach the Hwy.

In the photo above, I've ridden to and then around what I think is known as Shank Hill. The Big Farm is on the other side, and then further West and South is Lone Star Lake.

Almost home.

I can tell that the spin class I've been going to has helped me. I'm riding at high cadence and higher heart-rate. Or, what I'm doing is getting into higher zones and holding for a few minutes then coming down--trying to copy what we do in class. Just trying to keep that steady cadence. On the road and with the wind pushing and pulling you around, its a bit different. I'm just glad I got to get out for a few hours when the temps were just right.

Haskell--only two miles to home.

On the Super Grand Prix, I sail through campus, have a green light at Barker and 23rd St--and fly on my commute route back to The Little House. It makes me realize how much of a tank my Desert San really is to ride mes amis...

A good ride today--thanks for coming along!

Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Riding Home In Winter

Evening on Campus.

Whoa! Winter showed up, Gentle Readers of This Blog! The day before rain and sleet--and sometimes snow fell. The wind was fierce and wicked cold too! After work today I came out, and the Sun was beginning to set and I wanted to get better shots for you, mes amis--because I thought it was kind of pretty. Only a bit of the snow could hang on as the wind was brutal all day!

Remember Your Relatives.

The Arch was built by Indian Veterans who donated money to honor their fellow soldiers--Indian, White, Black--all Americans--who fought in World War I.

Its symbolic of all the men and and women who have served in the military then and now.

Indian people have the Warrior tradition--its more like stepping up in a time of need--to protect and defend those who cannot defend themselves--being selfless--and if need be, fight to keep the people safe. Indian Veterans take this very seriously.

I believe that there's a feeling that the people of the past made sure that the people of the present--you and me--had a chance in this world. They gave up, some of them, everything--so that we could live to work, play, love, create, and be all that we are. Wouldn't you do the same for them?

We should take care of their memory just as we should take care of our vets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan--no matter what we felt about the war and the mistakes that were made. What we have enjoyed, and what we will enjoy in the future has been solidified by their efforts and their blood.

Oh the times I have wished to trade places with Little Egypt--why her and not me? Why us and why this time?

Okay--well, I need to hit the sack. One week at the new job! That is a good thing!

Cheers! Bruce

Monday, January 09, 2012

New Job At Haskell

Sunrise and the Victory Arch--built in 1926 (I'll have to check that date for sure)

I started the new job and again, my goal will be to ride into work every day. I can't take the bike path as there's construction--but I can still ride fairly safely on the surface streets. It's pretty much a straight shot, takes about 8 minutes, and is just under 2 miles from the Little House to the Library.

On my way to work! Day One!

Gotta be a bit careful because the street I take to Haskell is what I would call a secondary artery for car drivers--they just have to be patient. I can ride at a pretty good clip and the speed limit is supposedly 30 mph--but people are always in a hurry and they realize that they can't pass me so easily. Still, there might be one or two cars so their wait is only a few seconds to go around a bike commuter.

Here's the Library, Gentle Readers of This Blog.

I'll be able to park my Desert San commuter bike inside the library back in one of the spacious work areas. The Director is quite pleased that I am going to ride my bike--even in this cold weather.

One of the old buildings on Campus--this is Sequoia Hall--Boys Gymnasium.

Hiawatha Hall, built in 1884.

Hiawatha is one of the original buildings on the Haskell Campus. Sadly its in a bit of a sorry state--it was for a very long time the Women's Gymnasium. There's also a swimming pool in the basement--however many years ago a student drowned in there. Indian people are very superstitious so the pool has not been used, and now the building. Some people want to save and revive Hiawatha because they say when a building is not used--it dies.

Riding home after my first day on the job!

Wish me luck as I embark on a year as University Librarian. If you are ever in Lawrence, Kansas--and find yourself at Haskell--please come by the Library and say hello!

Cheers! Bruce

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Celebrity Spin

A quick shot of the bikes in the big equipment garage, Sunday Morning.

I am enjoying Celebrity Spin--as I call it--but really its just a group of local cyclists that have been riding in the garage for many years, and this is actually the 13th year that everyone's gotten together to stay in the loop.

I'm enjoying it because it is a workout, mes amis! I also enjoy it because this is something that The Boss Man and I did back in Tucson a few years ago as well--cadence and heart-rate training.

Boss got me to pull my head out of my ass and stop "mashin" in other words, riding in one big gear all the time--like it was a fixed wheel or something. We started training to get my heart in shape, instead of pounding away in one of two big gears and wearing out my legs.

What ever we did it sure helped me out--and I'm glad I'm coming into the class with some knowledge of what's going on inside this big Clydesdale body of mine. Boss was able to translate the science (physiology--hope I got that right, Boss Man) into a language I could understand.

Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Record High Temps in Kansas

I brought back my 35 year old Raleigh Super Grand Prix from Tucson.

I think the temperature today was like 65 degrees, which is a record for January in Kansas, and probably many other places as well, mes amis. I'm still waiting to start the job--I've done a ton of un-packing from the move. Since its so warm--its time to get out there and enjoy the sunshine for a little while!

Oh yeah, a very slow leak on the Raleigh Super Grand Prix so I had to stop everything and fix it--but hey in shorts and sandals outside in the driveway no less!

You know, I found a tiny head of a thorn in the tube that had worked its way through the tire. I had to dig and then pluck the dagger-like spike out with tweezers--ah the Roads of Tucson!

Old East Lawrence Neighborhoods.

Late in the afternoon, so instead of heading out into The Wilds, I'll just do a little exploring around Lawrence. There are a lot more streets paved with bricks than I though. These actually aren't that bad and are pretty smooth.

This street's bricks are in good shape--for being 80 to 100 years old.

The more traveled streets through Old East Lawrence have been paved with asphalt--but today everybody is out, cause its so warm, and well there's a ton of traffic on those paved arteries. I'm just taking my time and staying out of traffic so I don't mind the bricks.

When a brick-lined street still had its round crown--so the rain drains into the gutters and the street stays dry--the street stays in good shape. When they start to kind of cave in and get all lumpy, and water can stand in puddles--the bricks start to sink or heave up. That can shake your fillings out of your teeth, Gentle Readers of This Blog!

An old part of Lawrence I've never seen--an industrial park with buildings from the 1880s to the early 1900s--when the trains stopped here East of town.

Just as you quickly leave the city and you're in the farmland, I suddenly found myself in what was probably a bustling unloading and shipping area. All the buildings have been deserted but it appears that the area is making a comeback.

This building is huge but there's many more on a smaller scale that are being restored and refurbished. I bet you can buy and old building here for a song. The only thing is that to get here, you have to go through some very old and very run-down neighborhoods. Just not quite accessible yet--but one day.

I stop for a look and a photograph.

This house is not far from The Little House--right off 15th Street. I'm not sure the story on it, but there is a similar one a bit further east called the Miller House. William Quantrill's army of mounted Missouri Bushwackers rode down 15th Street heading West (my route to Mt. Oread and KU) and this house may have been there at that time in 1863. I'm not sure, but I suspect maybe later--I realized that I'm not that far from that old shipping area, and maybe the owner could watch the trains coming in--since there were no steamboats on the Kansas River, probably to watch for trains (or a bloke on bike, eh?) If I recall the train didn't come until after the War.

Mighty Church still stands!

I've never seen this old church before. Mostly I think after the congregation got some money they built more permanent structures. There's still some very old wooden ones that are 100 or more years old and open for business.

William Burrough's house right of 19th Street and Learnard.

Burrough's lived his last days here (about 15 years or so) and had many visitors--Kurt Cobain, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, and many others. Not long ago I could ride by and probably he'd be sitting on that porch--I would wave and he would wave back. He had a bizarre life--sex, drugs, and everything else. Rest in Peace, old man...

Local Bike Shop cap given to me by the staff of the Local Bike Shop.

The train tracks are gone and now there lies a walking, running, and biking path.

I can ride my bike the two miles to Haskell where I'll be working. It is plowed when it snows so that will be great. I won't have to try and make my way through the mess of ice and slush, and people trying to make there way to their jobs.

Crap... my way to work by bike is blocked!

Well, just on the other side of that bridge (Hwy 10 and 23rd Street once it gets into the city) is Haskell. This is a bit--no this is a major problem because this is the way to bike, and the street that goes under the bridge and to Haskell (runs parallel to the bike path there) cannot be traveled. If I bike, I have to take busier streets--and I have to cross 23rd Street at rush hour which is very very busy! Maybe they'll get it done before the really bad weather comes. I hope so. I'd rather bike than drive.

Little Egypt on her commute route to work in Kuwait...

Oh well--I'll figure something out--just nice to be outside!

Cheers! Bruce

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

That's Just How I Roll

Here I am a few years ago when learned how to ride rollers on Le Tigre's set he loaned me. Notice I'm in a hallway, and also notice the step-stool the get on the bike.

I made it to the first celebrity spin class tonight. I missed the other as I was out of town and actually thought they started a week later--but all that is behind me, Gentle Reader of This Blog--and I got up my nerve, packed up the bike and the rollers--and went to class.

First of all, its in an old building which doubles for a parking garage for the owner who's an excavator. His heavy gear and equipment is in there--which helped me out for I had a place I could extend an arm to if I lost balance on the rollers.

Second--I was the only guy who had rollers--gosh I felt like a dope--and the place was packed. I had to go all the way in back, and as I said, I found a tractor fender where I could catch hold if I needed.

Third--everyone was very friendly and mainly it was people talking to friends and quite a social event. I'm the new guy and well--bringing a set of rollers--and Big Sexy to boot--well I must have seemed very odd. But hey! I made it--and I'm happy to report that I did not crash on the rollers, and stayed up mostly the entire hour.

I did sweat log a freakin' hog, mes amis. And I got awful tired toward the end. I believe I will try to borrow a trainer from one of Ricky's band mates--he has one and well, I might as well be like everyone else. Also John, the captain and leader of the class, got me a spot up closer to the front where I have a place to hold on to while on the rollers. I appreciated that--it also puts me up closer to the group of ladies--the very fit ladies--so I'm not sure I want to look all wobby-lee and about to crash where they can see me.

One thing about Big Sey--it is a big tall bike. Up on rollers, well I feel like I'm a semi-truck barrel-assin' to the tune of some bizarre disco-beat and about to fling apart. Maybe a trainer will be better.

Also Gentle Reader--I am fat: I will not lie to you--I've put on some pounds. And I'm not sure why tonight, but man--did my shoulders really hurt afterward. Maybe I was so tense, and maybe too just the way you have to be constantly adjusting your body for balance made it so hard--and that took it out of me.

I'm soon to be 50 years old. 2012 is an important year for me because I can either be a big fat tub of goo--or I can enjoy a moderate level of fitness. I'm right now the heaviest I ever been--how has the weight creeped up on me?

Well, I've taken the first step. I committed to this spin class. It will certainly take more than the spin class to get the weight off--I'll need to get out on the road and ride the bike--even if its a bit colder than I like--I've got to put in the miles. I also think I might have to try brisk walking to my new job a few days a week.

I hope that if you've taken the time to read all this, that you're well, and that you have high hopes and positive goals this year. I miss my friends in Tucson terribly because besides having a great reason to get out and do something--they were great people. I also hope to meet some other great people here too--maybe this class will be a good start!

Cheers! Bruce

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Big Sexy 2012

Big Sexy on the Rollers. Big Sexy sat un-ridden in LeTigre's garage for almost a year until I fetched 'em and brought back to Interzone. Good to have the bike back with me again!

I don't know why, but of all my bikes, Big Sexy seems best suited for the rollers. The last few days I've tried all the bikes but for some reason Big Sexy works.

New Years Day and I was able to ride solid for about two minutes before falling off. I'm just going to have to show up and give it my best at the celebrity spin class.

2011 was a tough year. 2012 is looking up and I should hear any day now about coming in and starting my new appointment!

Allure Libre!