Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Cold morning climb on Old 59
I rode the Lawrence Bike Club's Octoginta 2013 - an 80 mile tour of beautiful Fall farm fields and back country roads of Kansas Territory.  Ahh...  Autumn in the saddle!  A bit chilly but I got it right and dressed just right, mes amis!  A constant wind that couldn't make up its mind - which translates to in yer face headwind - kept things on the cool side.

Sue and Natalia at the start on Mass Ave
You know if you've ever participated in El Tour De Tucson, you know that every bloke is just chompin' at the bit to blast off in a mist of testosterone, butterflies, and bravado.  The whole thing is an accident waiting to happen.  The reality is that you end up riding at a snail's pace until you see an opening to get the Hell outta the stampede.  The trouble is that every rider around you has seen their chance to bolt as well --- man its a bit scary.

But here, everybody just chilled out, and I must say to my amazement, rode in a orderly and carefree fashion until we all well out of town.  People were laughing and saying hi to friends.  It was the most sane thing I've ever witnessed.

All the glitter boys got up front - and that's okay.  They too took things nice and easy, and really the ride started out of town with the first big-ass hill and introduction of the wind.  Of course the Wind wins the day!

I tried to ride with my friends, but I actually found myself able to hang on to a fast front group at a nice easy pace.  On the first climb, and really early in this ride, I got dropped.  Mostly I rode by myself for about 10 miles.  I slowed down to talk with some of the Retro Guys, and then a bunch of us suddenly found ourselves together again - so we went into our club pace line and steamed along to the first controle/SAG.

A great breakfast there put on by Sunflower  -

Some people were just wanting to do the 45 mile, while others were trying to decide about the 80 mile course.  Me I made up my mind to ride the 80, and loaded up with as much of the free stuff as I could - lines for the bathroom get long, and food lines long too - so best if you have to wait your turn for a porta-john you don't have to wait for food - eat while in line.

Natalia thought it was funny that I stashed one of the large bread rolls in my jersey and she wanted a picture.

Mile 50
It was a windy and cold one, Gentle Readers of This Blog - but I feel I rode strong.  After riding 70 miles with Le Tigre in Tucson, I felt 80 would be no problem.  But you know, I worked hard to stay with my group of friends, but they were too fast and I had to back off and ride at my own pace.

I did ride with several people on and off, just to chat and have a friend - which is very much appreciated by everyone at all levels.  Very fast dudes would slow down, talk with me for a bit, then see a chance to roll on.  I did the same.  Really it was windy and there was a chill - and there were many hills!  Why just go out and kill yourself?

There was no traffic on many of these roads, and the colors of the trees were such that it was a vivid show of Fall and the season coming on.  And very serene silence took over for many miles as I could feel and almost hear my heart working to get me up and over the next hill.

Soon a friendly group of about 15 riders came up and I jumped in the pace line - this took me close to the end with only about 10 miles to go.  I was sure glad they showed up as we all talked and laughed and looked at and pointed to deer watching us go past, and wild turkeys nervously peering through patches of Winter Wheat.  They were much faster than me but they weren't in a hurry.

As we got closer to Lawrence, the group got into urban ride mode and they formed up into what seemed a platoon of men and machine and flew away.

I was not far behind, and when we got into Downtown, the group flung apart as people went their way home or to their cars - no medals or awards to give out to the Speedy Weedies - so the ride is done.

I wanted a big bowl of the famous stew promised to all at the end of the ride - like a picnic lunch and dinner in the park.  There were all my friends looking like I felt - tired and glad to be finished - warming themselves in the warm sun that finally came out.

Two bowls of soup later - a few jokes - and many stories about the ride, I rode home back to the Little House to take a two hour nap.  And all was good!

Cheers!  Bruce

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