Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Freedom Machine

Old German Church circa 1900, North Lawrence
Spring in Kansas, I have learned, Gentle Readers of This Blog, comes in with Power.  The Sun is out and sometimes warm, but the wind, oh the wind does blow!  Rain is a constant companion as well.  This past Saturday it was cold and gloomy--but the forecast for Sunday was for excellent conditions.  I really needed to get outside and really, no matter what I was going to be in the saddle. 

I got the bike ready--all my clothes laid out--and to pass the time I got on my Garmin to test out the map feature where you draw out the route you want to take and you follow the map on the device as you ride--that's how its supposed to work I guess.  But pretty much I had thought about where I wanted to go--up to Tonganoxie for breakfast!

I used to go out and across the Kansas River on busy Hwy 24/40 for my rides.  Some of the Bike Club guys told me of an alternate route that's a bit safer/saner.  So I take the back streets of what they call "Old North Lawrence" for a few miles instead of sharing the road with 65 MPH traffic and a narrow shoulder.  

Liking my RUSA vest
Old North Lawrence seemed frozen in time--its on the other side of the river and has no downtown main street businesses.  There's also no"Student Ghetto" housing--just really old houses from the turn of the century--not always aging gracefully--but maybe better than busy road traffic converging on Lawrence .

The rail line ran past here and most of the old buildings are going through restoration as are some of the older houses. 

Road to Tonganoxie!

I ride on the Linwood Scenic Hwy or Hwy 32 for a few miles, then head due North on Leavenworth County Rd 1.  I have a tailwind that's pretty sweet so I'm making good time.

Even though the sun is out and its getting warm, there's still a bit of bite of cold.  The Orange RUSA vest has been a good piece of gear, mes amis.  Its just right--wind proof and rain proof.  I actually started getting hot so I was able to roll it up and stow in my back pocket.  I was also off the more busy roads so I felt okay.  I like that its very bright and high-viz--people can see me better.  Although the shoulder is narrow, there's room for cars to get past okay.  Everyone gives me room so I feel safer.

Making good time and getting hungry!  I saw lots of horses out in the fields today.

I wanted to eat at the West Side Cafe for sure, and before I left Lawrence, I did see what other places were there on Main Street in Tonga.  Main Street I have to say on a Sunday morning was deserted--and the Cafe no more--but a sign saved the day!  I just had to ride a few blocks.  Actually the other two places, a diner and a coffee shop, they were no where to be seen mes amis.

As I neared the new location, I saw about twenty Harley D's out front.  So that was the place for sure!  I leaned the Mighty Trek against the building and walked right in and sat down at the bar, where there was one last open seat, and was made to feel very welcome by the Bikers.

The Garmin was quite well received by those boys--I showed them what I was doing and how the thing worked.  The map I drew out on my computer at home and up-loaded to the 800.  The screen would show me my position, and I could zoom in and out--the thing buzzed at me and a messaged flashed "off course"  My only thing is that the road signs and the names of the roads on the Garmin where different--but that's not a big deal.

I just think that this feature could come in handy on a Brevet.  You have the course plotted and at least you can see where you are--as you know, Gentle Readers of This Blog, last year I got lost on a 300--bad weather, and cue sheet that was confusing as street signs and landmarks were not clear.

Heading home and although the sun is warm, there's a headwind for me.  I'm taking advantage of the slight descent for the way back.  Check out the toothpick.  Oh yeah, the good thing about arm warmers is that you can stuff a snot rag the sleeve.  Yeah I love Spring--and Wind and Rain and Cold do not compare to the Bastard Child of this lovely season-- Allergies!  On that Wind is all the pollen and who knows what else!  I think riding and lungs working actually helps blow that stuff out of yer lungs and nose, Gentle Reader...

The way back is okay--different than what I've taken--but according to the map the only other way South back to Hwy 32.  The road was that chip-seal stuff but there was no traffic say a few farmers and ranchers hauling hay and such.

Oh course, the hills are not on the map!  I had two very long-haul climbs each about two miles long.  Those are the killers!  You climb and climb and climb--then you're almost there--and a bit more climbing!

Finally I make it to Hwy 32 and the Scenic Linwood Rd.  This is a good landmark for me when I'm out here again--a really big show-place farm!  Right at the intersection.  The place looked nice and was for sale.  Somebody probably bought too many show horses for the Trophy Wife and well--looks like having a place like this is just too much work and expensive.  All the gas, time, and equipment to cut the grass?  Why not just grow the hay for the show horses and sell the rest?  If the Trophy Wife can ride a horse, she can probably drive a lawn mower and a hay-baler, right?

I feel real freedom when I'm out here!

Cheers!  Bruce

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cold and Wind

Jim, Paul, John - out on the road...
More cold and wind here in Kansas -- the Sun just can't seem to warm us up enough, and mornings are still between 39 and 45 degrees.  With the wind, that cools things down quite a lot more.  You can see that the guys are dressed warm--better than I was the last two weekends.

Glad I dressed warm!
I went with the Retro Riders--they're part of the Bike Club but they have a week day morning ride they all try to make happen.  Instead of leaving at 8 or 9 in the morning, we started out at 11 a.m.  The hope is that it will be warmer--however, it was very cold again.  I didn't do the 9 a.m. fast ride because like last weekend just too cold mes amis.  Riding out to Broken Arrow Park, I saw guys coming in--they looked miserable.  In fact not many went out early Saturday so that group was small.  This time I dressed warm and wore my wind and rain shell.  Very glad I did!  And I wore my Brevet gloves and my helmet liner.

Marie and Chuck.
Our route was different for a change!  But there's quite a few gradual climbs, that with the wind that came up, make you really work!  Most of these Retro Riders are much older than me, but they still ride strong.  Its that constant wind that has conditioned them I suppose--

We rode, then stopped to regroup--Chuck was hit by a car last year by a KU student that ran a red light.  So the group rides a few miles and then has been stopping to let Chuck catch up.  That's okay with me because for the most part, Gentle Readers of This Blog, I am unable to keep up myself--I get dropped on any climb or if the wind really gets blowing.  I guess I'm still recovering--I just feel like I have no power and no endurance!  The very strong head and crosswinds doesn't help either.

So up above is my view for most of the rides.  I get dropped and I'm struggling to keep up.  I need to try and stay with the group so I can get on a wheel.  Once you get dropped, its hard to keep going in the wind.

As the guys would stop and wait for Chuck, I just did some interval-type training.  I went as hard as I could because I'd get to stop and rest and recover a few minutes until Chuck joined us.  I think I'm going to have to ride a few more days during the week, or set up my trainer here in the basement because one day trying to keep up a week won't make me stronger.

On the way back into town, we took a side road that offers a pastoral but aging old German Farm.  Peaceful and the wind is blocked by the hills and trees.  Because we're riding later in the day--something I really don't do that often--there's a lot of traffic.  People are drivin' into town.  Its okay when you're in a pack, but on your own you feel vulnerable at times.  Often you get some drivers that are overly cautious and won't pass you--even when there's no cars in the oncoming lanes.  This makes other drivers irate and quickly you get five or six cars backed up behind Aunt Bea.  Suddenly all those backed up cars roar past and most often they drive real close and buzz you to let you know they hate you for riding a bike.  "God Damn it I got's to get too town!"

I was happy because I bought a second cadence sensor, and with the extra mount that came with my Garmin Edge 800, I was able to make it work on my Raleigh.  The Garmin people, from not far from where I'm riding out in Olathe, Kansas, know that blokes like you and me have more than one bike.  So I can tell my 800 which bike I'm on and it keeps track of all that data.  I should be able to see if I'm getting stronger over the course of the season.  One thing I've noticed is that I gain some speed and strength rapidly--but I tend to level and then have a hard time reaching the next step.

Really is going to take time, and more time on the bike.  Little Egypt is not keen on that.  Plus I'm spending about 70 percent of my day looking for jobs and filling out applications.  Last week I applied for five jobs at the University of Arizona--in hopes that I'll get one of the positions.   Wish me luck!

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Cheers!  Bruce

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Car and Bike

Limping to the Repair Shop
When Little Egypt and I drove to Kansas City using the little car, we noticed something was really wrong.  You may remember that I "gave" Rico my car "to use" as I mostly ride my bike.  The car pretty much sits at his house (he lives up on the KU Campus in the "student ghetto" with his roommates) and well--I was hoping this would not be the case, but it appears Rico in a very short time burned the clutch out of the car...

Yeah I was pretty mad.  I drove the car to the shop and left it there for them to look over.  I rode my bike home so I could get back to applying for jobs--everything in this one-horse town is two miles away...

The repair I got quoted from the shop was between $1200 to $1600 for a new clutch.  That depends on what has to be replaced.  I'll look for other quotes--but pretty much the mechanics we use (and we trust) said the culprit was, and I quote them, "AGGRESSIVE DRIVING"

The wife of course blames me and says I can't drive for shit.  Hmm.  I like drove this car for almost 10 years then within three months of him having the car the clutch is burned out?  Let's just say the topic of the car is not brought up at our house right now...

Rico--well, he's a young dude.  He does, in my opinion, drive this poor machine like its some kind of high-performance race car.  It is not.  It's a small four cylinder, five speed economy car.  He drives fast--which is really annoying because Lawrence is so small, you can't even get up to 40 MPH.  There's a stop sign or stop light almost every block...  He's one of those people that revs up, bolts from one stop sign to the other.  I find most annoying is that he corners really sharp and quick, such that if you're the passenger you get flung around.  I'm like, "What the Fuck?  Slow down!"  And he's got the stereo blaring to boot--noise, not music and I'm saying to him, "Turn that Shit off..."

So I sound like an old man--but come on?  He ran the car into the ground.  What's worse--he's totally fucking indifferent.

I have my car back and now we have to all cool down and figure out how we're going to pay for this mess.  Little Egypt says that if it cost that much to fix, we should just buy him a new car.  Believe me, I just had to leave and go ride my bike and try and not go the fook off in a rage.

Say what you will--have pity on me--or what ever.  He can buy his own car, pay for the gas and insurance himself.  If he's going to have debt he can lean about payments and replacing shit that breaks and how much things cost...

Okay.  Cheers!  Bruce

The Land of The Wind People

We Respect the Wind.  The Wind is Our Friend
I wanted to go out and get in a ride before Sunday's rain--and to check over again my Garmin.  I am liking the Garmin Edge 800--I would say that the screen is a bit tricky to read while on the bike--but really I like the cadence and HR and my hope is that it gives me some idea as to performance: am I improving?  I think it will certainly motivate me!

After getting dropped Saturday I just wanted to do a bit of a recovery ride--and not forget why I love cycling.  Getting out on the road, in the country, and letting the mind empty out and merge with the bike and the scenery.  The Saturday morning rides are a bit of a pissing contest, and I see that many in our group won't come out because, well, some of our guys try to head out with the local racers and end up they get sucked into their all-out gotta beat you mob mentality.   We don't go slow--but nobody likes to be dropped in the first mile.

Heading East on 15th
Riding out to Eudora, Kansas is a good ride, and a historic ride too.  This is the road that Quantrill's Raiders rode to Lawrence that fateful day back in August of 1862.  400 riders on horseback, heavily armed and stealthily making their way up and around Mt. Oread to attack Lawrence.  I'll take it a few miles until the pavement ends, then ride on the gravel just about three miles until I reach Eudora...  The Raiders were riding West from Eudora--I'm heading East...

The pressure of trying to keep up is gone, and I'm in Allure Libre mode, mes amis.  I'm not getting a headwind or tailwind this morning, but one Hell of a crosswind!

This is looking East to Eudora and I'm about to the edge of the city limits.  Really, I can leave The Little House and in no time it seems everything disappears--no cars or barns or trees or anything--just miles of sleepy seedlings in the ground all around me.  When the Sun finally gets to shine on this place--things will explode into Emerald Green!

Strip Club--still a slight fragrance of vomit and beer about the locale...
This place is infamous and just outside of the city limits--hence the name, "The Outhouse."  I heard that in the 1990s that this was a club that hosted many famous Grunge Bands--in particular Nirvana.  Kurt Cobain visited my neighborhood as William Burroughs lived down the street from The Little House.  Cobain was supposedly a big fan of Burroughs and I can imagine them out on the porch of his little cottage there.

Now this place is a strip club of quite ill-repute.  You pay something like $25.00 to get in and you have to bring your own drink.  Bring money to give to your favorite Dancer, mes amis!  In my past experience, Dancers appreciated that I ironed my one-dollar bills so they'd be nice and crisp.  I mean, if you're going to go to a low-class place at least raise the bar.  (just kidding)  Back in the day, I was also told by many Dancers that they appreciated that I didn't smell bad.  So they sat with me and my friends rather than with the smelly dirty blokes.  They were also less likely to hassle me to buy them a drink (usually $25.00) but I digress...

Really you all, to go to strip clubs you have to have money to burn--a lot of money--to have a good time.  The few times I ever went to strip clubs, it was tagging along.  I never had money to waste and would rather have new bike tires--money for rent and tuition, etc etc.  Once my Tucson buddies took me on whim as it was my birthday.  The Dancers saw that we weren't jerks, and like I said, I didn't smell like diesel fuel and hydrolic fluid--so the Dancers made sure I had a good time.

Well I'm on the gravel and actually riding a good pace--there is a pretty powerful crosswind!

Eudora is right around the corner and then I'll head North and cross the Kansas River.

When I slowed to take the photo for you, Gentle Reader of This Blog, suddenly I had two dogs right on my heels.  But they were happy and wanted to play.  The Pit Bull was actually a very sweet dog--a ferocious bark but a people-person type of dog.  So far I've had pretty good luck with these farm dogs.  Let's hope that holds!

Spring comes to Kansas like a Lion, mes amis--these clouds don't have so much rain in them at the moment, but that move and shuffle have power!  There's a hint of cold, but you can feel the warm as well.  It is a thing you just have to experience yourself, out in the air and on the landscape.

The Indian Tribe that was here when the Whites came were called the Kanza.  I recently learned that they were known as the Wind People.  With all the Whites coming and taking land--and tribes being forced out by treaty, and in the case of the Sax and Fox up in Northeast KS--wiped out by small-pox, I think the Kanza saw what they were up against.  In the mid-1850s, German homesteaders dealt with a Kanza named Fish, and he owned the land that this group of Germans thought would work best for them to start their colony.  The Germans bought the land from Fish, but the story goes that they were quite enamored by Fish's young daughter Eudora Fish.  So they named their settlement after her.

Kansas River, sometimes called Kanza or Kaw.
I didn't ride into Eudora, but instead made a quick turn to head North to Hwy 32.  I crossed the river, the Kansas River, and I like this crossing because I don't believe how the river looks has changed much since even before the 1850s.  Its a quiet and peaceful river here, and still seems wild and free.

Heading North I was on smooth paved road--and enjoyed briefly the might of the morning's Spring energy and glided with the help of an awesome tailwind!

Sunday Paper waits for Old MacDonald on his Farm...
Pretty quick I was at Hwy 32, which is also known as Linwood Scenic Rd or Hwy, as I spied up ahead the Silver Barn on the Northwest Corner of the crossroads.

Looking back East (from the Silver Barn) you can see that the wind and clouds are still stirring things up.  I saw from my Stava, which has maps of other people riding out here, that it appears that blokes take this road out from Kansas City, then head north up to Tonganoxie to circle back into KC.  Sometime I'll just keeping riding East and see where I get, mes amis...  But for now I'm going to start back to Lawrence.

I'm able to ride back at a pretty good clip--but again, I have strong crosswind coming from the South.  You know, since I'm still getting used to the Garmin--I don't seem to really worry about how fast I'm going or my HR or anything.  The screen cycles through its display every for seconds--I know I can lock in to where I want--but I'll get all the data of the ride when I get home and Little Egypt and I are having a cup of coffee.  Its still early in the morning, Gentle Readers of This Blog--I left Old East Lawrence about 7:45 a.m. and I'll be home by half-past nine if things go my way.

Hwy 32 heading West
You can imagine from my photo above those clouds gliding past from left to right.  The wind is blowing, the clouds seem to be at a canter, and I'm riding as close to 90 RPMs as I can.  I wanted to give you this shot before I put the camera away--this is the part of 32 where you can ride fast and enjoy some rollers.  A few tight curves that are a bit of a blind spot to car drivers, so its best to have the camera tucked in the back pocket of my Team Mooney Jersey and rev it up!  Also, that crosswind was giving me a firm shove now and then!

Almost to Old North Lawrence
An old motor lodge from way-back.  That's the main office I suppose, circa 1950, and I don't see that there are any of the smaller little cottages still back there in what appears to have been an RV Park.  All I can tell you is that heading into Lawrence (I have to ride briefly through North Lawrence, which is on the other side of the Kansas River) I rode face-first into a strong headwind--one of the kinds of headwinds where the wind blows the dirt and grit off the road and you hear it ding on your glasses, and feel it in your teeth.  Yeah is was tough and about 25 MPH.

When I got over the bridge and to downtown Lawrence, I tucked into the side streets where the wind was partially blocked.  I had to ride over the brick-laid streets of Old East Lawrence neighborhoods until I popped back onto 15th, with its fresh pavement, and zipped to The Little House!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Cheers!  Bruce

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cold Cold Cold

Randonneur Wind Vest - Coming home after the Ride
So it has been warm, but suddenly as everyone was looking forward to a weekend of riding--it got cold again, Gentle Readers of This Blog.  It actually looked sunny, but a layer of clouds showed up and the temp dropped even more.  I wasn't quite dressed for the occasion and it was a cold morning for me.  Everyone else had full gloves, booties, jackets--they got out extra stuff from their cars--as many people drive to Broken Arrow Park were the morning Bike Club meets.

My hope is that it would warm up as we got going, but the wind came up and the cloud that seemed to have parked itself over Lawrence just kind of stalled out.  I did wear for the first time to try it out, my Rando Vest.  It is wind and rain resistant, so Jennifer Wise told me in an email.  I'm glad I had it because it was in fact very wind resistant and kept me from losing more body heat out on the road in the winds.

The fast group got going as they usually do.  We in the slower group caught them as they came by; they have sometimes been taking a slightly different route that puts us about a mile ahead of them.  When the pack started to gain on us, the four or five of us jumped on the end.  We rode with them for awhile, but I was not able to keep up even with my group--and I got dropped with just a few miles to go.

We regrouped and headed back to town--all four of us.  Not many riders coming out from the slower group these days.  They seem to be fair-weather cyclists--if its too hot or too cold, to windy or whatever, they stay home.  Actually I thought about staying home, mes amis, because it was cold when I got up--and then on the way back we had a slight head wind and the day got colder.  That's Spring here in KS!

But I'm glad I got out and put in the miles and saw my friends.  Oh, I guess my Garmin was not charged all the way, or had run down and it didn't work but just a few minutes.  I kind of wanted to see any improvements from my last ride out to Lone Star--any faster times--but like I said I got dropped so that pretty much means I can only try to get better and hang on to the pack!

Cheers!  Bruce

Flowers will explode in bloom when its a little warmer!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Holy Flaming Cheeseburgers!

From my Garmin 800 Edge
First ride of Spring, or The Snow Has Melted.  Finally, finally we get to ride!  I spent several days getting the Mighty Trek all set to go.  I took off Celebrity Spin tires and put back on my riding tires--which are still in pretty good shape.  I hooked up the Garmin 800, that you may remember I won at the Lawrence Bike Club's annual, "Let's All Drink a Bunch of Beer" Christmas party and, well, while I was not sure what I had gotten myself into, Gentle Readers of This Blog--I got some data.

I am still trying figure out how the Garmin works (huge learning curve, plus I'm not a gadget person) but it did record all my data from my first Spring Ride--which you can see by my HR--was a Sufferfest.  The headwind was 25 mph Saturday morning,--Spring in Kansas comes in like a Lion!  

I have to tell you that I as hard as I tried, I got dropped right away--even the guys I usually ride with dropped me (There's the fast group, mainly racers--and then our second slower group) so I battled the headwinds by myself.  Actually I wasn't that far behind them--they were just out of my sight.  But I could see from the thing above that my Garmin gave me, I was really working hard and in my Zone 4/5 for most of the way out to Lone Star.  You can see there about after mile 15 we come back and its all tailwind.  Even coming home, in our group--nobody said much as we were all wiped-out.  

So, what the Garmin tells me is what I already know: Damn but I am out of shape!  The hamburger I had the night before this ride certainly didn't help--and it got burned away I'm sure, by me struggling to keep my ass up with the group.  Garmin also told me I burned almost 1600 calories.  It sure felt like it because when I got home I was running on fumes.

The Mighty Trek
It sure felt great to get outside!  Even though that headwind was brutal, it didn't have the cold bite.  Ahh!  Spring.  I think my Brooks, now about nine years old, is shot--my butt hurt for most of the ride.  The saddle really sags and one of the guys says next ride he'll bring a Brooks saddle wrench. I'll see how a slight turn might help.

You can see that coming back in the tailwind was much faster.  I think the Garmin thing is kind of cool and maybe I'll be able to see my progress as the summer goes.  Some of my mates say this kind of stuff wares off after a bit but so far I think its okay.  I mean, this was a rough day to ride and the stuff I see up here doesn't surprise me.  I did average 14 point something, which I think is pretty okay.  If I had not been in Celebrity Spin Class I'm sure I would left both lungs on the road, and not just the one I coughed up getting out to Lone Star Lake!  

Coming home after the first ride of Spring!
 Really you guys, I have to loose weight--like 40 pounds.  Riding more and getting out and going to the Jim Thorpe Fitness Center will help.  I've been spending a ton of time looking and applying for jobs.  I spend much of the day on the computer writing cover letters, etc.  Just takes time to do it right and fill out the applications and adjust the CV and all that.  I'm actually getting faster and better at cranking out the stuff.  I see jobs back in Tucson and would really like to get back there.  I am not a cold weather person.  Give me 100 and burning sun over snow and cold bitter wind!

Desert San Campus Bike
I still do all the errands and chores by bike when I can.  I'm trying to work in Lawrence and in particular at KU.  Landing a job at KU is very very hard.  Usually there are up to 200 applicants for a job.  I had an interview for a position at the KU Library--I was one of four candidates (the other three were current KU library staff) but one of the managers (whom I'd met via friends awhile back) told me that he knew they had already picked who they were going to hire--so I went through an entire half-day bullshit interview, with some Sophomoric librarians on their 'lil search committee.

The thing about that interview was that it was only a few weeks after I had torn my quadriceps tendon--and the pain trying to hide my awkward limp was excruciating...

Okay well thanks for stopping by the Blog!  Take Care!

Cheers!  Bruce