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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Goin' Downtown...

I've been wanting to do this since riding down to the River Market from Olathe last fall.

But one thing and another (I think it's called having a life, though I'm rarely accused of that), I don't often have a whole day to spend in the saddle. And while I could have done it on November 14, 2009, mere minutes before the weather turned viciously un-ridable for almost four months straight, I lost some conditioning over the winter (neuritis that kept me off the trainer for almost two of those months).

This year, so far my longest ride was 33.4 miles. I've had two others that were at least 30, but nothing beyond that. That 33.4 was a biatch, though, that was my hill ride assault on west Shawnee, out 47th Street and so on. I was sore for four or five days after that.

This route is relatively flat. Relatively because there are some hilly sections in Olathe and there's the 12th Street Bridge downtown, and relatively because you're going generally downhill to the Missouri River and then generally uphill to get out of that valley again. Cycling gives you a certain appreciation for topography: water always obeys the law of gravity (witness my permanently damp basement garage), and if all the streams, creeks and brooks around you feed into the Missouri, the shore of the Missouri is guaranteed to be the low altitude mark.

I got a bit of a late start, so I guess it's good nobody took me up on riding with me for part of this. I meant to be on the road by 9:00, and it was actually more like 10:30. Of course, if I'd known someone would be waiting to hook up at Starbucks on 119th, I'd have felt differently towards my alarm clock. Since I knew this was a solo flight, I smacked my alarm clock and said, 'I'll get up and ride when I'm READY, so shut up, bitch!'

The weather was great. Much cooler than it's been lately, and while the forecast warned a 30% chance of rain after 3:00 (and at 3:00 I was at Southwest Boulevard and Rainbow, barely a down payment on the ride back), it was partly cloudy the whole way.

I was staying hydrated: I drained my Camelbak by the time I got to the gas station in Lenexa's old downtown and refilled there. I also was leery of cramps, so I stopped for a snack at the burger stand across from my alma mater (South Park Elementary, which is now a church). I ordered fries and a shot of pickle juice, the later being the more important of the two. It sounds disgusting and unhealthy, but pickle juice works. I've had cramps on rides after eating four bananas, but pickle juice seems to be a cure-all and absolute prophylactic in my experience.

When I got to the foot of the 12th Street Bridge, I had a rude awakening. The road was closed. I rode over the the parking lot of a restaurant supply to inquire of other routes that might get me 'downtown.'

A woman started to tell me how to get to I-670 and her husband cut her off, "He's on a bicycle."

He then told me how to get back to Southwest Boulevard from whence I came. When I said that's where I came from and I was trying to get to the River Market, he pointed out that the sidewalk of 12th Street appeared open. And indeed, from that parking lot, I could see that it was on the downhill side that they were doing construction work. The side of the road I wanted was paved and innocent of vehicles.

So I went all outlaw biker and rode through the 'Road Closed' signs and up into Downtown.

And I got a great shot at the top of the hill, where I was presented with a barricade and a green light. I'll call this image 'Mixed Messages.'

In the River Market, I found some reasonable eats, $2 pastries at the Indian place, an orange-banana smoothie, and if I'd had any way to haul stuff, there were absolute steals to be had on things like bananas. Prices were crossed off at two stands in what appeared to be a price war.

Raven Wolf
was playing solo saxophone and adding ambience to the whole scene. He caught me taking pictures and gave me his card, 'When you attribute that shot, this is who I am.' It's a new world when a guy with a point-and-shoot camera in a Hawaiian shirt is recognized as possible press. There is no bad publicity, and C. Felton Jennings II isn't passing any of it up even if it's just me and my little blog.

On the way back, I stopped to take a picture of this sculpture at Southwest and Rainbow. I've driven past it dozens of times without ever noticing it.

Also on the way back, the toes in my left foot rebelled. They became a crampy, twisting, painful mess and would not let up no matter what I did. I almost dismounted to take my shoe off and see if I couldn't beat them into submission, but by the time they got really bad, it was only 12 miles to go...

Only 12 miles. Then it was only 10, then only 8, then they got really nasty but by the time that happened I could practically see my house.

I had some bottom round steaks I'd bought with the idea of making Orange Peel Beef that I'd defrosted and marinated in tomatoes. My theory was that the acid from the tomatoes, would, in 24 hours, tenderize the meat fully.

As far as theories go, it's great, but the result off the grill is it's still bottom round, better find something heavy to beat the shit out of it or it's going to be chewy and tough. My impression is the tomato made a dent in it, but inside a tender exterior lay a layer of sinew so tough it crunched.

But a great side to a poor steak is a bit over a pound of beefsteak tomato. In this case my 28 oz monster Kellogg's Breakfast.

And, too, nothing like a 72.5 mile bike ride to stimulate your appetite for tough steak and tender tomato...

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