Archive for July 2010

Southern Hills

July 22, 2010

Southern Hills Lake

Do you have any areas in your city or town where it is impossible to go without getting lost?  I have one of those areas here in Springfield….

I’m normally pretty good with directions.  Let me look at a map, or figure out which way is north and I’m usually good to go.  Not so much, however, when I’m in Southern Hills

Southern Hills is an older area of town, probably dating to the late 60′s and early 70′s.  When I was growing up, it was considered pretty ritzy, and I never had occasion to go there.  Driving through it now, you see a lot of larger, ranch style homes, mixed with a pretty eclectic group of what my uneducated mind calls “modern” architecture (or at least would have been considered so back in it’s day. 

The thing about Southern Hills, though, is that absolutely none of the streets go where they should.  It’s an absolute maze!  Streets are twisting and winding, often with dead ends that jump out and surprise you.  I hate going through the place because it just leaves me frustrated.  What makes it worse on a bike, is that the area is true to it’s name.  It is hilly!   And, it’s right in my way! 

You see, it’s bounded by Sunshine on the north, Battlefield on the south, Lone Pine on the west and Ingram Mill on the east.  If I’m going to or coming from anywhere on the southern side of town by bicycle, I have to cross Highway 65 at either Battlefield or Sunshine, then to get off the busy street I have no choice but to get into Southern Hills. 

Last night was one of those nights.  I was headed home from South Haven Cycling, and the most straightforward way home required passage through Southern Hills.  I remembered looking at the route home on my phone the other day, and knew there was a fairly straightforward way to enter from Southern Hills Blvd and come out at Ingram Mill and Battlefield, where I could jump across the highway.  When I got to the edge of the lake pictured above, I realized that not only was I not lost yet, but that I had never actually seen the Southern Hills lake.  Then, I managed to find my way out to Battlefield without getting lost or hitting any dead ends!

Miraculous!

God bless….

TW

First time this summer….

July 21, 2010

Isn’t it strange how just a slight variation on something that you’ve been doing can be a radically different experience?  Well, that happened to us this morning.  We took the tandem out for a morning ride…the first time we’ve done that this summer.

For the past several summers until this one, our Tuesday/Thursday morning workout routine consisted of a hard tandem ride over a pretty standard 20 mile, hilly route.  This year, however, our Tuesday/Thursday focus has been running, which pretty much relegates all our tandem rides to the weekends, and most of them have been after running earlier in the day.  What this means is that our tandem rides have been for fun instead of training.  And amazingly, we’ve felt really strong on the big bike this year.  We shrug off monster hills as inconsequential, and cruise easily on the flats.  Our endurance is up – to the point I suspect we could breeze through a century if we decided we wanted to.  But that comes with a trade-off…we’re not setting any speed records, nor do we desire to.  It’s been a great summer of just riding!

This morning, however, we took the tandem out for our standard “workout” ride.  Pam has the day off work, so instead of going to the fitness center as she usually does on Wednesday, she suggested we ride instead.  I dug out the light, lubed the chains, and at 5:30 this morning, we departed the garage.

By the time we go to Sunshine (1.5 miles), my quads were burning already!    I ride hard on my single bike quite often, but that tandem is an entirely different matter!  We rode a brisk pace out to Turners, where we timed it just right to have to wait for a train.

Rest break!

When it had passed, we continued on by climbing the Turners Hill.  At that point, we both knew that we weren’t going to set a speed record today, so we both unconsciously backed off the effort just a little.  We continued to work hard, but we didn’t totally trash our legs doing it. 

By the time we finished the ride, we had pulled out a 16.5 mph average speed.  Frankly, it’s better than I expected, and right in the middle of the range for that particular route.  We’ve gone faster, but we’ve also certainly been slower before. 

I swapped bikes for my Surly and headed off to work, arriving with 28.5 miles under my tires.  Not a bad morning!

God bless…

TW

Any shelter in a storm

July 19, 2010

Let me tell you about my trip home from work on Friday…..

Just before I started to head for home, I noticed a little blob of rain forming over the middle part of town on the radar.  It looked like one of those little pop-up showers that are common around here when the temperature and humidity get as high as they’ve been, so I didn’t give it much thought.  After changing clothes, I went out into the courtyard where my bike was parked to find that it was lightly raining. 

Still not concerned, I decided to stop and put my booties over my shoes since I had worn my SIDI’s instead of my sandals.  They looked a little goofy, but I figured they would help to keep them dryer than just riding in the rain.  I expected a little water to seep down from the top since I didn’t have rain pants to cover them, but thought it worth the try.

Stylish, huh?

Still riding in a light rain, I was waiting for the light at Chestnut and Kimbrough when I saw the first flash of lightening ahead.  By the time the light changed and I had ridden over the King Bridge, there were several more fairly close flashes of lightening.  Now, I’m not the smartest tool in the shed, but even I had enough sense to know I should get inside for a while.  The closest option was the Expo Center parking garage just a half-block down the street, so that’s where I headed.

As I pulled into the garage, I was surprised to see a pretty good-sized group of people standing around like they were taking shelter from the rain as well.  I learned they were part of a wedding party that had been forced from the park across the street into their alternative location.  I’ve always thought it kind of risky to plan an outdoor wedding, but lots of people do it…..

By now, it was actually raining pretty hard, but when I looked to the north and west I could see splotches of blue between the clouds.  I called Pam to tell her I was safely out of harm’s way and that I expected to be on my way in just a few minutes. 

After about 20 minutes, the rain let up and the lightening had stopped.  I mounted up and headed for home rather proud of my ability to adapt to the conditions and just go with the flow.  Three blocks later, it started raining harder.  OOPS!  Guess I should have waited a while longer.  Within another block, I knew I was in trouble.  Rain was falling from the sky by the bucket, and within minutes, I was forced into the center of the street by the growing torrent of a river where I wanted to ride.  As I came to the four-way stop outside Juanita K. Hammons Hall, I realized I needed to seek shelter quickly as the wind was now starting to howl, driving the rain nearly horizontally.   I turned right and headed for the MSU parking garage.  As I pedaled in that direction, the rush of water in the street was so deep that each downward stroke of the pedal submerged my foot.  I could feel water rushing up from the bottom cut-out of my bootie and quickly soaking each foot with every pedal turn. 

Just as I scrambled into the safety of the garage, all hell broke loose in the form of wind.  The power went off, and I quickly made my way as far into the garage as I could to get out of the blowing rain.  I called Pam again and told her how bad it was and she just laughed because it was just barely sprinkling at home and the wind was calm!

I sat there another 20 minutes before the wind let up enough to go look out.  When I did, I realized I wasn’t going to be riding anywhere for a while.  The streets were curb-deep in water and flowing like a river with the rain still coming down, so I called Pam and cried “Uncle!”.   She headed my way in the Jeep.

By the time she got there, traffic was beginning to flow again, but the streets I could see were still flooded so badly that I couldn’t have ridden in them.  Power was out and traffic was a mess.  I heard later on the news that the weather service estimated the winds to be in the 70 mph range just about a quarter mile from where I was and I can believe it!  What a way to start a weekend…..

God bless…

TW

Of Service and Serving

July 18, 2010

020 We did it!  Yesterday morning, Pam and I ran a half-marathon!  It wasn’t very impressive in terms of time, but it was hotter than Hades, and just another milestone on our quest for 26.2.  We rewarded ourselves with breakfast and an hours rest before our scheduled start time of 10:30 for a lunch ride out to Rogersville.

Greg and Mike joined us for what would be a very steamy bike ride.  As we gathered in our drive, it became apparent rather quickly that we needed to get moving and keep moving.  With the wind we created, it was tolerable, but as soon as we stopped, it just felt oppressive.

About half way to Rogersville, Mike was a bit in front of us when all of a sudden we saw him turn around and start toward us.  By the time we figured out what was going on, we had also passed an impromptu water stop that we couldn’t see for the tree-line on a drive.

022 Chris and his two adorable 5-year old daughters (twins) had set up a free water stop at the end of their drive for cyclists.  They had a sign on the road, a shade awning, bananas, grapes, Gatorade, and most importantly, ice cold well water.  His explanation for the kindness was “teaching the girls to serve”.  What a man!

We found out that we were actually the first cyclists to stop, but we’re not sure how long they had been set up.  It looked like the stragglers from an organized MS training ride were coming in, so from that point on, Pam encouraged every cyclist we met to stop for a drink!

Not five minutes later, Mike was quite a distance in front of us again (that was the case most of the day).  We topped a rise and saw him stopped by the side of the road with another cyclist.  As we approached, we saw that the guy had a flat.  When we asked if we could be of assistance, we found that he didn’t have a pump with him, and when he pulled out his spare tube, it was a schrader instead of the presta that all our pumps and CO2 cartridges would work with. 

024 Mike beat me to the punch by pulling out one of his tubes and I took command to get the tire changed pretty quickly.  I’ve been around long enough, however,  to let the young guys with a lot of energy take over the pumping duties out on the road when possible!  Mike did that exceedingly well, and we had the guy on the road again in just a few minutes.

Our plans were to eat at the Farmers Daughter, but wouldn’t you know it, they’re out of business again!  We managed to eat there once before they went out of business at their first location, then a few months later we saw that they had re-opened in the old catfish house location, but that didn’t last any longer than the first one!  It’s a shame.  It would have been a welcome break from the Subway that we settled for!

Everyone was feeling pretty good after lunch, so we decided to add a few miles and go home via Turners and the Sunshine Street bridge instead of Kinser Bridge. 

Mike was enjoying the smooth and flat roads, because he had his pedal to the medal the entire trip back.  The problem with that was he didn’t know the way back to our house!  The first time he missed a turn, we did everything in our power to get his attention, including Pam’s air horn.  Pam and I, and Greg went ahead and made the turn, hoping he would see that we weren’t behind him and come back.  Before we got too far away, Pam and I decided to loop back in case we needed to chase him down.  Just as we got back to the intersection, we could see him coming in the distance, so we headed back to where Greg was waiting in the shade. 

The second time that happened, we just let him go!  We usually try to get off Sunshine as quickly as possible, but we thought he could probably figure out how to get back to our house from there.  He beat us home, but ended up riding through the construction mess at the Pierson Creek Bridge.  He was covered with dust when we found him in our driveway!

We ended up riding 30 miles, and I want to brag a minute on my dear sweet, awesome wife.  Not only did she run a half-marathon with me, but less than two hours later jumped on the bike with me on a day that was really miserably hot.  She’s one tough little lady, and I couldn’t be more proud of her!

God bless…

TW

A memorable morning…

July 16, 2010

Actually, nothing out of the ordinary happened this morning, but it was truly an amazing morning in the Ozarks in spite of the 97% humidity the my phone app was reporting as I left the house for a 28 mile ramble into the office.

I actually debated just taking the direct route this morning to save my legs for the long run Pam and I have planned for tomorrow morning, but when it comes to bike rides and exercise, prudence isn’t really one of my strong points.  It had been a couple of weeks since I had been on my road bike, so I rode!

As I headed east on Sunshine, it didn’t take long to figure out there was going to be a pretty nice sunrise this morning!  After stopping to snap the pic above, I continued toward the river, and as I dropped into the valley toward the bridge, I was watching the sky for the next picture opportunity.  I didn’t see the deer coming out of the shadows until she crossed the road about 20 feet in front of me.  After my initial start, I knew she posed no danger, but immediately started scanning the roadside for a second one that might follow.  This time of year, it’s pretty common to see a mother and her yearling fawn together, and I fully expected this to be the case today.  Luckily, it was not (or at least I didn’t see it).

I paused again on the bridge when I saw a nice reflection of the sunrise in the water below me.

I hadn’t climbed the hills at Turners in a while, so I turned off the highway, crossed the railroad tracks and turned up the steep climb that is the first part of of the Turners hill.  About half-way up it, I spied the following scene, so I turned and coasted a few feet downhill to take yet another picture.

At this point, I had to remind myself that I needed to be at work later and that I should probably try not to stop every quarter of a mile for pictures if I wanted to be on time!  I hate it when I have to be responsible like that!

At the top of Turners, I saw my second deer of the day, and by this time the glow of the sunrise had faded, so it was a little easier to just put my head down and pedal.  After turning around at the high school, I headed for home at a fairly quick pace that really didn’t last very long.  I guess my age is catching up to me, or maybe it’s just all the other cycling and running miles I’m putting in this year, but for some reason I don’t have the drive to time trial it for ten miles at a time like I used to.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but that’s reality right now. 

As I headed up the hill after crossing Pierson Creek, I came upon a turkey hen with a huge brood of youngsters.  I suspect there must have been at least one other hen in the brush that I couldn’t see because there were a ton of chicks with her.  She flew to the safety of a tree limb, and they scattered into the brush as I approached.

After swapping bikes at the house, I headed for work on city streets that were pretty quiet in terms of traffic, but busier than normal in terms of foot traffic.  I suspect the hot weather is causing a lot of folks to get out for their walks earlier than normal.  And speaking of walkers, since I stopped to ask about his wife the other day, the lone lovebird has been waving to me every morning.  It’s kind of fun to build those kind of fleeting relationships with complete strangers as we go about our separate lives.  Unfortunately, his wife hasn’t been with him yet…

Thanks for stopping by!

God bless….

TW


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