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


Big Oak said...

Thank you for taking us along! That is a classic and beautiful bike!

Bruce's Bike Blog said...

Hey Mr. Big!

I saw on your blog you riding brevets in January--have I got that right? I am gonna have to get in shape (somehow) as the Kansas City Randos have their first brevet in late March--usually snows...

Good Luck! and thanks for stopping by my blog! Cheers! Bruce

Big Oak said...

Bruce - yes, I drove down to so. Illinois to ride with the Little Egypt club. I'm thinking about heading back down there for their 300K in early March. I'm exactly halfway between where the Great Lakes group rides in Wisc. and where the Ohio group rides in Columbus. Those rides don't start for a while yet either.

Good luck on your training!