Monday, July 22, 2013

Women Chasing Me!

We have quite a few women in our club, Gentle Readers of This Blog.  I'm riding up front most of the time now, and the ladies are right on our tail!  They're fast and fit!

It was a Sunday Morning out in the Wild Lands of KS for the most part.  Humid and chance of rain but what mattered is that all had a really good time.

Cheers!  Bruce

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lightning Strikes Twice

Dear Gentle Readers of This Blog.  Lightning struck The Little House and we are in the process of getting our satellite tv working again - and our Internet back up and running.  Life without TV is not so bad, but life without the web, email, and all that -- I have to say has been a hassle.  But hey I got to run more errands on the bike. 

Cheers!  Bruce

Monday, July 08, 2013

Today is a Good Day to Ride!

At the Finish of the Lizard Under the Skillet, 2013
I'm standing pretty tall there as I feel great, Gentle Readers of This Blog.  I just had one of the best rides every - ever since moving to KS.  Back from Chicago and mostly rested up, I wanted to go out and do the Lizard, or better known as the Lawrence Bike Club's Lizard Under the Skillet.  The 62 mile course was for me, mes amis!  Last year I volunteered at one of the stops ( I was still on crutches) and that earned me points - points enough that I got to ride the ride for free, and I had enough points to renew my membership to the bike club as well!  So already I was enjoying some perks!

6 am and in the saddle
The Lizard does not have a mass start - you can start anytime between 6 am and 8 am.  Since the forecast was for 97 degrees, I was going to start no later than 6:01!  But I had to just sip a bit more coffee - As always all my gear was ready the night before - no excuses for bailing out - and I was then surprised to awake to light rain.  That was okay because things would be cool, and I knew the rain and cloud cover would burn away right away anyhow!  

So I zipped away from The Little House, and into the wet, sleepy grey deserted streets of this little city in Kansas - and soon I was at the start, Broken Arrow Park.  I got my SAG Receipt wrist band so I could stop and get stuff, and I was off!

I want to tell you quick, Gentle Readers of This Blog, that I used the feature on my Garmin 800 to map the course in my computer.  The first time I did the Lizard, I got lost - this is due to the map being crap, and also to the fact that all the local guys figure they know these roads like the back of their hands - so, just to be sure, I went through and plotted out the route.  As usual, Shawnee Rd, for example is actually labeled Hwy 33, etc etc, and even when you are there on the road itself, they may not even be any marker!  I'm glad I did this because at the start, which had changed slightly from last year, riders were confused if they should turn left or go straight - and this was right out of the park at the start.  

Everyone went straight, and I went left, and suddenly people were like, "Oops I think we're going the wrong way!"  And now I have a group following me.

An Event Photographer captured the KC MO guys I rode with all day

Randonneurs lead the way!
I want to say I met some of the best people on this ride.  I rode in a large pack, and everyone was friendly and just taking it easy.  I wish I could have introduced myself, but I did ride the first 15 miles with a fellow Randonneur- that's him on the left.  That was reassuring, mes amis, because as we mentioned to each other - this was not a race, this was simply going to be a fun ride!  Which it was indeed!

Kansas is all about wind, and one reason I wanted to go early and get in the saddle is because I didn't want to ride in 100 per cent humidity with the temp at or near 100 degrees!  I knew I'd suffer with the head wind right around the corner but I was able to stay in with a large group of riders, and I have to say that I was able to keep up!  And we rode pretty fast - like 17 to 19 mph.

Being able to ride half the distance of the course, through the tailwind and not be suffering, was amazing!  However, most the people in the group pulled off the go to the SAG stops, but the guys I hung with in our perfect pace-line - we did not want to slow down.

The farms of Wellsville just north of Hwy 56
In the pace-line
I stayed with the group of five guys from Kansas City as we seemed to be riding strong and in great rhythm.  The pavement was still a bit wet, and we were all covered with a thin layer of oil and grit.  I had put on tons of sunscreen, and when mixed with sweat, causes everything to stick to your skin.  

We pull off to make one quick stop at the Sag at the 40 mile point in the course!  This has been great as I've been riding wicked fast!  This will be the turn-around point and then we'll have a blasting tail wind!  The stop is fast - I take a leak, fill a water bottle, and eat a handful of fig newtons while we're clipping into the pedals.

Off the bike for about three minutes, at mile 40

Gary on the left, Gordon on the right
What was left of our group consisted of Gary, Gordon, and myself.  Everyone else had dropped off as the urgency of getting through the headwind was over.  We just couldn't believe that we were here, riding with a tailwind at 22 mph, effortlessly gliding back to Lawrence!  The Sun was still behind lazy clouds, and the temps were in the low 70's - perfect weather!

65 miles in under 4 hours
We made one other stop at the big SAG in Vinland.  Really all I needed was to fill a water bottle and put in a scoop of Gatorade - which I have to say tasted pretty good at point.  As we had escaped the heat and humidity, I did not have to drink as much - which meant we didn't have to stop to pee and refill, etc etc.  That saved us a lot of time.

So the last 10 miles we were on roads I knew well - and oddly, we passed about 20 of 30 riders who seemed to be dragging themselves into the finish.  We were still in that three man pace-line, doing our pulls and gliding along.

Soon we were there and at Broken Arrow Park; the ride complete.  I was so happy, Gentle Readers of This Blog!  I went out thinking I'd just ride along and enjoy my time on the bike, and let the miles come to me in time and impression, maybe get a few good shots with the camera for you.  But instead I pushed myself to stay with the pack, ride hard as I could, and not think about stopping - just doing my part to keep the group rolling.

I did not have to struggle with brutal wind and burning heat - I arrived at the end tired, but a different kind of tired somehow.

To ride like that took a good deal of concentration - riding on a wheel just inches from your own at speeds you're not always used to, and then knowing that you have another rider right behind you as well.  For a few hours after I got home, my heart was still racing!  It was an exciting day and I credit it to guys like Gary and Gordon for making it a great ride!

Cheers!  Bruce

Sunday, July 07, 2013


Little Egypt and I drove up to Chicago for a convention this late June.  I am not a big fan of conventions, especially when it comes to my profession (librarians) because mostly I find the people to be old-school, frumpy techno-phobes; aging white ladies with five cats at home.  There's a lot happening in libraries and its in the vein of technology - that excludes about 90 percent of the whole lot of them.

I just wanted to eat Chicago Style, drink beer, and take in the city.  I brought the Super Grand Prix, and off went the wife to the conference, and I hopped on the bike and headed straight for the Lake Shore Bike and Running Path!

It was the first sunny warm day Chicago had had in many weeks, mes amis!  Thousands of people were out enjoying the sunshine!  The beaches were alive with fun and laughter, and the blue water crashed over the Lake Shore in waves!

I rode north, up to about Evanston, or thereabouts - the bike path kind of ran its course, and I was afraid I may not be able to find my way back because streets went one-way.  People were friendly and I got directions to get back on the path.  People drive very fast and I think you just take you life in your own hands if you bike the streets.  Driving our car was crazy too because people sped and weaved in and out of traffic.

Walking to dinner, a lady grabbed me and pulled me back just as I was about to cross the street - a taxi driver ran a red light and was not going to stop for me.  I gave that lady a big smile and thanked her; she saved my life.  She said to be careful because drivers will run you down and think nothing of it!

I used to know this as the Sears Tower, but I believe its called the Hancock Tower now.  So I rode about ten or twelve miles north, and then came back down.  I couldn't really ride very fast because there we so many people.

I won't run over children and old people, but I saw the roadies speed through people with total disregard.  I found that very annoying.  I got a feeling that cyclists, especially roadies, were held in contempt by most Chicago people.  They rode, at top speed, through crowds, I suppose they expected people to get out of their way - so when I was polite, and rode next to people and said hello and was friendly - they would right away ask where I was from because they knew I wasn't a local asshole cyclist.

Again, guys used to do this in Tucson on the bike path.  Old people walking their dogs, and families with kids - and here comes the roadie ripping through like he owned the place.  If you want to ride so fast - go out on the road - have a little respect.

On the Lake Shore Path, people would see me and they would jump in fear, because they were used to almost getting run down by those blokes!

A friendly "Good Morning" and a polite wave and smile goes a long way!  People in Chicago were very friendly and helpful, when you're polite.  I stopped suits, black kids, Mexican street vendors, etc to ask for directions, and always everyone was happy to help me.

Lake Shore was too crowded, so I took off through the streets of Chicago to go exploring!  Now that was a thrill, mes amis!  You can go anywhere quickly - and oh the sites!

This was an eerie spot because here in 1915 over 800 people perished when their company chartered ship suddenly capsized just as it was taking off from the landing.  It was to be an all employee July picnic with families - an eye-witness account was on a plaque nearby - to see suddenly hundreds of people drown in an instant to me is unthinkable!  The ship just rolled over with little warning.

Thanks for stopping by the blog!  I want to say thanks to anybody from Chicago that reads my blog - good people.  I was impressed and want to go back soon!

Cheers!  Bruce