The Mighty Trek at 8:30 am Saturday morning.
With new Conti 28mm tires, a map of Perry Lake, and my newly acquired Super Powers, I head out to unknown country to put in some miles before the first KC Brevet, Gentle Readers of This Blog.
I have to tell you I spent way too much time fiddling with details Friday night. I had butterflies because I realized there was a ton of stuff not ready that I had to get done, second it might pour rain at anytime during the ride the next morning and most likely all day, and third I didn't want to ride too far or not far enough. This was a dress rehearsal for March 24th. What I really wanted to do was sleep in--but I'm glad I worked out the little things the week before.
Lawrence's grain elevator at the end of the Farmer's Turnpike--my landmark for the return trip home as it will come into view about 10 miles out.
I didn't respond or throw my hat into the ring when the emails started up about when and where my friends from Celebrity Spin would meet up. It would be a fast 30 mile round-trip ride to Lone Star Lake and back--at a very fast pace. What I need is a brevet-type ride at brevet speed with brevet miles. This was going to be an all-day ride, rain or shine, with all of Sunday to recover if need be.
"My name is Jesse James and I want to sell YOU a car!"
Jesse and Frank James rode into Lawrence in August of 1863 as part of Quantrail's Raiders, and took part in the murders of 150 men and boys, as well as looting and burning the city to the ground. I don't think I'd want to buy a used car from those guys--wouldn't feel right...
11 short and fast miles to Perry on Hwy 24.
Shoulder on Hwy 24 riding West toward Topeka, KS.
Many local riders will not ride on Hwy 24 and you can see why--the shoulder is just that, mes amis, shoulder-width from cars going by at 65 mph. Its the same way heading East up to Tonganoxie. I'm early and there's little traffic--what's really rough is that for most of this 11 miles there's a gusty cross-wind such that I have to lean into the lane to keep from being blown off this narrow strip of road.
Farms along Hwy 24. The good people of Kansas are considerate and give me plenty of room as they pass.
Some stretches of Hwy 24 with a wider shoulder. Gives me a chance to take some photographs.
The wind is brisk but its not a cold biting Winter Wind, Gentle Reader. This wind has the smell of dark rich earth and it caresses rather than kills. It has a touch of winter chill but like I said there's that warm close embrace, like a kiss from an Irish Lass on St. Patrick's Day!
Spring is happening in the heart of this place!
The soil is dark and rich, smells moist like chocolate cake!
Historic Robinson Farm.
Right as Hwy 24 makes a sharp turn and heads West, there's this old place on the ridge. I found out that it was the homestead owned by Governor Robinson--who would be the first "Free State" Governor of Kansas. My Great Great Grandfather wrote in his journal about going to hear Robinson speak about Statehood--this was January of 1858.
Where Hwy 24 turns West toward Perry and on to Topeka.
You can't tell from the photo but I've climbed a few miles up to this point where 24 turns and heads West. A few times going up this stretch of road, I've heard simi-trucks with their engines straining--I try to get up to here so they can pass with plenty of room. Lawrence is South and to the left. The Kansas River runs along the tree line way in the distance, Gentle Reader.
It appears that there's not much left of the aging Generation that has farmed this landscape for decades--I wonder if there will be a New Generation to live and work this land in the future?
No-frills sign department for Jefferson County, mes amis.
What turned out to be a poor substitute for a map of Perry Lake.
I was given this map by a woman at Celebrity Spin Class and she works at the Corps of Engineers HQ and explained the route to take--she said from Lawrence, around the lake, and back to Lawrence would be about 60 miles. That's a good pre-brevet ride distance.
Old farm house where grandma and grandpa probably still live.
First leg of my ride around Perry Lake!
I am feeling thirsty--hmm? Maybe I should drop in and say hello!
These are back country roads and in pretty good shape. Just rolling farmland with homesteads. Once the lake was built by the Corps of Engineers, probably for flood control on the Kansas River, lake homes and vacation-type homes came into fashion.
Over the long lake bridge.
I spent a good deal climbing from Hwy 24 up onto these ridges. I got to the top of that hill you see on the far right, then ahead of me a fast descent over the bridge. There were no cars behind me or in front of me, so I sailed down the road at 39 mph! When I got to the bridge, the wind was strong and gusty--it was a little scary. The thought of being blown off the bridge and into the lake was not in my plan today.
More climbs and then fast downhills. No traffic today--it was like I was the only one around for miles and miles!
Working hard in the winds.
With my heart-rate monitor, I was surprised to see that my cadence was in the 90s and my HR in the upper zone 3 areas--but I wasn't riding fast. I was really fighting the winds, and my jersey was always wet with sweat. For a few stretches I slowed down my cadence and let my heart rate fall to lower zone 3 and into zone 2. It was like I was fighting a losing battle against the head winds--I felt like I needed to take it easy or I'd quickly wear myself down.
Winter Wheat is ready.
The wind was picking up, mes amis, and the rain clouds were moving quickly over my head, but no rain fell. I made a quick stop in the very small village of Ozawkie, Kansas just to eat a Cliff Bar and check my map. Ozawkie is a post office and a Casey's store--gas, beer, and cigarettes.
Big power pole.
An old farm that has more modern buildings, so its probably a farm still in business.
As I leave town, I see The Ozawkie American Legion Post--with a Patton Tank on duty.
As I make my way through the country side, Perry Lake is all around me. There's little patches of green--tiny flecks of emerald starting to sprout out of the dull brown and black. If the Sun would just come out I think every living thing would awaken before me! You can feel this ebb and flow everywhere--you can smell it in the air. This is how it is riding a bike all day on a Spring Afternoon!
This is the way back, mes amis...
Heading South back to Hwy 24. Hwy 92 I was told not to take and I know why because it was very narrow. So now I'm on West Lake Rd and this is where I will face a 25 mph headwind all the way back to Hwy 24... for 30 miles...
Golden fields--amber waves of grain--but man o man the head wind, mes amis!
Bon jour la bon jour!
This was a pretty tough stretch with the wind showing me no mercy.
I did not take 237 South because it looked narrow and the wind was kicking my ass. I decided to follow an unmarked road that looked like it would get me down by the lake and give me a break from the wind. I'm happy to report that this was the case. There was no car traffic and the road was fast and quick through the trees. I made up for some lost time.
The shore line of the lake. Calm and peaceful.
The trees blocked that wind from the South. Also was quiet--the wind roars in your ears and my ears are still ringing a bit as I write this on Sunday evening.
I some how make a wrong turn and miss the road over the dam.
The map of Perry Lake I had didn't have a lot of detail, and there were few signs and road markers. I climbed some steep roads and then ended up here at this look-out over the dam.
The look-out was a dead-end so I had to turn around and head back. Because I couldn't figure out which road to take, I ended up behind the dam on a shit road and then on Thompsonville Rd which seemed to be an old tractor road. But finally I was on Hwy 24 mes amis!
On the Farmer's Turnpike and making good time back to Lawrence.
At Perry (the town) I traveled South into the headwind, and rode quickly through Lecompton. Crossing the Kansas River at Lecomton was frightful, Gentle Reader of This Blog--the wind was whipping me all around, there was traffic, and the bridge over the river is narrow and has no guard rail on either side! It would be easy for some Redneck to bump me off and over the bridge--seemed like some good 'ol boys that passed me in their pick'em up trucks were tempted. Anyway, I got the Hell outta Lecompton and pedaled hard East on the Farmer's Turnpike.
This farmhouse marks the end of Farmer's Turnpike--now got to limp back home to the Little House. First have to meander through part of an old Lawrence neighborhood.
What's going on?
So there's cars parked everywhere, mes amis. Its like San Diego--every single inch of space is taken up by cars packed in like sardines. In fact the whole city was packed full of cars as I started seeing green tee-shirts and and red haired maidens. Holy Shit, but its St. Patrick's Day happening right now and there's a parade going on.
Unknowing car drivers that, like me, don't know this are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic while a cop is getting everyone turned around.
I'm able to jump on a back street, but its jammed with people and cars--hundreds of people. Everyone looks pretty mellow and happy, and believe it or not I see lots of red haired girls--very pretty ones. I ride past a float and all the Irish girls wave and smile!
Really I just want to get home--I'm married to a half Irish, half Navajo girl so Gentlemen--a wagon load of Fair Irish Ladies is too much. I'd be sitting up there on the float with them singing and smiling--waving to the poor blokes that can only stand on the sidelines...
This car beamed--"Hey Look at me! Check me out! I'm green!"
Ride is not complete with out a few blocks on the bricks back to The Little House, mes amis...
68 miles--A good day's work!
Wish me Luck next week on my first 200K!