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Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Tale of Two Diversions

Was up at the crack of dawn this morning, uncharacteristic for me on a Saturday. And it was to, get this: skip a chance to go eat biscuits & gravy and shoot skeet at Powder Creek. What on earth would possess me to skip that?

I'd already RSVP'd for a small group bike ride when I was reminded the skeet shoot, or it might have gone the other way, actually, but we met at 8:00 a.m. at the Starbucks, 119th and Renner, and proceeded to ride to the River Market and back.

I've ridden pieces of the route, but this took us on some stretches of road I'd have avoided on a solo flight. Not realizing that it's a half block down Quivira, then maybe a hundred yards on 87th until you've connected with Marshall Drive, when I'd come to the Santa Fe Trail's ramp up to Quivira in the past, I just decided turn in another direction.

Might be different at rush hour, but not so bad on a Saturday morning.

Same thing with Southwest Boulevard. I've ridden Merriam Lane, but had never even considered going down to where it becomes Southwest Boulevard and riding on. But again, on the weekend, not so much traffic.

The biggest thing I'd never have come up with one my own though, was we climbed 12th Street from down by Kemper up into Downtown. It's something like a 20% grade, if I've done my homework correctly (where 0% is flat and 100% is a 45º angle), for something like three quarters of a mile. Riding alone, I come to the foot of that, I'd find another way to go.

As it happens, I can actually climb that sucker. Not fast, mind you, but not in my granny gear (I might have shifted to that, but it's been weeks since I got the front shifter to go down to the smallest sprocket, so I was essentially in the bike's 8th gear the whole way up).

The River Market was fun, too. Even the farmers are still showing up, though they're now in the refrigerated section if they set up outdoors. Had a Romano sandwich from the Italian deli, which couldn't be beat.

And we went into Baby Cakes, where I got a couple of the famous cupcakes (a red velvet & a caramel with dulce de leche frosting) and a Shatto chocolate milk.

Then it was time to ride all the way back. I was cold before we left, and before we left the River Market, but once we were underway, it was actually quite pleasant riding weather, temperature-wise. I had a thermal top on under my Hawaiian shirt, something I picked up at Wal-Mart last night (before I knew I was doing this ride), and it did the job of arm warmers at a third the price of Pearl Izumi. It was around 50ºF for the whole ride, and I think I might have to do something about the space between my socks and my shorts if I ride in much cooler weather.

40.9 miles, in a little over three hours of riding time, averaged 12.9 mph, top speed of 26.9 mph. The only hill really deserving of the name was that climb up 12th street, and since we came back a different way, we didn't get to fly down it to make up the deficit that caused in average speed. Before we got to that, we were averaging just under 14 mph, which is fast for me.

My second three hour diversion today was not so hot. I went to a matinee of 2012, the new John Cusack end-times flick. To many corny speeches, to many under-sold concepts, and the same cliff-hanger gimick used in multiple places. Thing is, computer animation has gotten too good and too available: if everything is possible, nothing is incredible.

Perversely, without spoiling it, the very last few minutes of the movie posit something that would actually make for a good sequel if they hired some writers and vetted ideas a little better. That'd be a new and novel thing, a sequel that works, but don't bother with the first film...

So here we have two ways to burn three hours: ride in the cool, misty November weather from Olathe to Downtown and back, or go sit in a theater and watch improbabilities and corny Hollywood bullshit pile up. I can only recommend the ride.

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