Thursday, November 01, 2012

Into the Winter Wild Lands

The Big Tree on the Big Farm
Today November 1st, I got off work at 11:00 so as to work the evening shift at the Library for a sick colleague.  As it was almost 70 degrees I quick ate a bite of lunch and set out on the bike for Lone Star Lake.  The lake is about a three-hour round-trip ride so I'd get back, clean up, and then come back to Haskell for the evening.  Since I've been riding in the pack out to Lone Star and other places, its been hard to take pictures for you, Gentle Reader of This Blog--so being out by myself and slowing down to take a photo--well this is what things look like about now in Kansas.  I have missed the Big Cottonwood--it is massive--and its a good and welcome landmark.  Hello Old Friend! 
Bike Path to Haskell is open.
When I started work at Haskell Indian Nations University back in January, the 23rd Street Bridge, an old WPA Project from the 1930s, was finally torn down.  But it meant that our bike commute trail to work was closed off.  I had to ride, as you know, on super busy backstreets--mainly taken by automobile drivers that were running late and taking a short-cut.  Speed limit on Barker, my route, is only 30 mph, but people drive 50 or faster.  Its that kind of driver that keeps potential bike commuters off the streets.  Little Egypt would bike to work but she doesn't feel all that safe--especially with speeding soccer moms talking on cell phones--that's what I've had to put up with all this year...
Path is open but not offically
23rd Street / K-10 running East and West--originally part of the Oregon Trail.
 On the other side of the bridge is Haskell Campus.  The bridge has just opened and cars can't get through here yet, just construction trucks.

 This bridge replaces the one built in the 1930s.  Its pretty nice--I wish they could have used something or done something different other than the rocks just poured out everywhere.  Before there used to be hundreds of sunflowers growing, and when you rode through and under the old WPA bridge is was a flash of yellow flowers...

Arch dedicated 1926
 The gate by the road when I pass Haskell Stadium was open, so I wanted to get a good shot of the Arch and the football field.  Haskell had the best team and the best players in the country during the 1920s and 1930s.  Jim Thorpe played in the 1926 exhibition game for the dedication (he played for Carlisle) , but there were many other great Haskell football players like Jon Levi and Tom Stidham to name a few.  After I cut through campus its a short distance to the edge of town and the Wilds!

Out in rural Kansas

 I need to mention that the wind, as always, howls out of the South.  There a few hills to get out of town until things level out, but with a headwind that will not let up--Gentle Readers, I must tell you that it is a battle!  There was sunshine, but the wind made it just a bit cool.  I'm wearing my long-sleeve layer under my jersey so I'm okay.  Riding in a group its just a little bit better but not much!

Riding out on the Big Farm
 A few times, I will admit, I wanted to just turn around.  The headwind was picking up, and I kinda worried that the wind might actually shift.  I don't usually ride in the late afternoon like this.  But its a weekday and there's no traffic at all.

Big Cottonwood on the Big Farm
You can't tell from my photo, but this Old Man is huge.  It is by far one of the biggest cottonwood trees around.  You can see it for a few miles out as you crest a few hills and look out South to the Big Farm.  Now that Fall has come and other trees have shed leaves, you can see the tree as you're riding out and past the Big Farm. 

Used my mirror today as I was riding solo into the Wilds
This tree is very much alive, and you feel it as you ride past, mes amis.  I wonder how many years this Old Man has been here, and what he has seen--what stories he must have! 

Tall Tree
 I have to tell you that this is a very common site out here in the Wilds--trees growing in old silos.  This fellow is a landmark for the bike club--it says,  "You boys are almost to Lone Star Lake!"  The pace of the pack picks up and its a dash to the lake.  Its also a curvy road with blind turns, so if you're gonna buy the farm--this is the stretch of road mes amis!

About 18 miles from my house--Lone Star Lake at last!
That was a tough ride out to here.  The wind was blasting in my ears and I had to work pretty hard--but here I am!  It will be a very fast ride back--the tail wind will be incredible! 
Lone Star Lake and Park was a WPA Project back in the 1930s.
 If you look in the back ground you can see the road coming up to the entrance of Lone Star Lake.  It is a killer hill and from the tree in the silo, everybody picks up the pace to try to speed up this hill and be first to the top.  The road to the entrance suddenly gets very steep.  I usually get dropped by the fast guys here at the very last.  Weird but Lone Star Lake is up on the higher areas out here. 

You can imagine the very fast descent I've about to have--with the downhill for almost all the way back, and a dream tail wind--mes amis--I flew back to Lawrence like an arrow.  Even the long  three mile stretch to Hwy 59, where I turn left and head North back into town--even those miles were effortless with my tail wind.  I kid you not when I tell you that I'm riding 28 mph and hardly pedaling.
Haskell Indian Nations University, est. 1884
 Soon I'm riding into the city limits and here's Haskell I'm riding by.  I think Hiawatha Hall, built in 1898, looks pretty good in this late afternoon sunlight.  I'm also happy to report that some renovation money is on the way, and this historic building will be open again.  It was the girl's gym and I've heard that the basketball floor is still in good shape.  I believe however, some other parts of the building will be renovated and used for classrooms.  I'm very glad about this as the building has been unused for almost 20 years.  Onward Haskell!

 As it was Halloween the other day, there was a lot of talk about the ghosts of Haskell.  There were stories about how late at night, people said sometimes they would hear drums coming from the stadium--and of course no one was there.  I'll save the ghost stories I've heard for another post, Gentle Reader of This Blog, but my hope is that before I leave my post (my contract ends soon) I get to go out and see the Haskell Football team play.

 Fighting Indians!

There were some historic football games played here!
Haskell Stadium was one of the first football stadiums to have a lighted field.  That was a pretty big deal back in 1926.

 Back by the new bridge and turning round a curve on some sand in the road, my bike slid out from under me and I hit the pavement with a thud!  Just a scraped up knee and elbow--I was laying on the ground fearing the worst--like I injured my knee or something all over again!  But I got back up and was okay--thank goodness! 

 Its good to have some meat back on the left leg.  The muscles on my leg and calf seemed to have just disappeared after my fall back in May.   Now after almost six months things are getting back to normal.  Most days I feel okay but often my leg feels weak when I'm tyring to stand up getting out of a chair, or walking on a slight down slope.  Walking downstaris is still difficult.  The surgeon, my therapist, and Will my weight lifting coach all told me it may take even up to a year for a full recovery.  Funny how my bike legs feel awesome--its the walking legs that are slow to make gains. 

For a long time my real fear riding my bike after my injury was falling while trying to get on and off the bike--once I got to pedaling I was fine. 

I hope I can get in a few more good days out in the Wild Lands before the wind is too cold...  Thanks for reading the blog!
Cheers!  Bruce

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