Apr 17

This isn’t entirely about cycling

We saw the women’s race on Friday and the men’s race on Saturday. Both days it was supposed to rain. Both days prevailing winds kept the showers away. And late in the day on Saturday spring returned again. It is a skittish spring.

Anyway, the race strategy is all about transitions. There are up to four members on a team and you are swapping out riders left and right to meet the rule requirements and to keep your teammates fresh. The ideal thing to do is to break away from the pack so you can have a bicycle exchange without losing any time. So the guy leaving the race is revving up to about 130 RPMs only to stop on a dime and let the teammate take over. And sometimes that leads to crashes. And sometimes there are just crashes in the field itself. I could do without that. But these guys were moving, averaging just over 24 miles per hour for two hours, counting a few caution laps.

Here’s a green flag restart after one of the race’s three big cautions:

Little 500

And here is the winner coming across the line, the paper calls them the people’s champions, the Black Key Bulls:

Little 500

A fine bicycle race! Here are some clips:

I made a gif, too, if you prefer:

By Sunday afternoon it was fully spring again … promising another attempt at the second season of the year, this one destined to last a full 48 hours before some cold and gray day moves back into the region. So it was spring and sunny and crisp and we set out to enjoy. On our bike ride on the north side of town I found two cool barns:



Which brings us to today. We got to play the part of tour hosts for a bit today. The grandson of a family friend is making his college trips and he was here for a quick stopover for a few informational sessions, some building tours and meeting a few students. Late in the day we caught up with them at the Sample Gates:

Sample Gates

Truly, it was chamber of commerce weather. It is always just like this here young man, no matter what they tell you.

Apr 17

Scenes from our weekend ride

It was lovely out on Saturday. We expected storms yesterday, but it was basically another nice day.
It was a nice day to rest and wonder what I’d done to myself the day before, and what has happened to my legs.

It was a long ride, but a slow one, is what I’m saying, and it became something of a mental slog, but the views were nice. Here are a few of them now.

About halfway through we passed this store:

That’s actually one of those little places you see on an online map only if you zoom way, way in. Needmore. I’d never heard of that until last week, so I looked it up. The story goes that an early visitor to the late-19th century settlement said there needed to be more there, and the name stuck. Still happens to be the case.

Also, turns out there are three different Needmore communities in the state. And now, the country roads and trees that make an afternoon on the bike feel so nice:

Apr 17

Conference over, it is back to campus, then

I got to chair one of the last sessions of the conference last weekend:

On Saturday, we had the opportunity to spend part of a beautiful spring day in a nice Greenville, South Carolina park:

Spring, it seems, has appeared everywhere. Or the places which matter, which is to say the place I am at the moment:

We hung out at a waterfall:

We temporarily also solved a running problem:

And that means a delicious sandwich, the likes of which you just can’t do in Bloomington:

A friend of ours in Bloomington is from Georgia. He’s a big Publix guy, he knows our pain and he has assured us there is no reasonable substitute. That didn’t matter this weekend, though, because we got to have a picnic.

Back to it today, though. I rode my bike to work, because weather and my schedule conspired to work together for a change. (Usually I have to stay past dark or it is raining or too cold or whatever. But, finally, a 5 p.m. Monday and nice weather mean I could spend my commute turning small circles with my feet. And I saw this:

They were pouring concrete. They were still on that site when I went back by later this evening. I imagine they got a lot done today. You better when you have a big concrete boom like that out there, I suppose.

It is surprising you can’t really hear them. But, according to the legend I’m making up as I type, under a quiet, full moon you can hear the muffled screams in the concrete beams.

Apr 17

This post covers the last 176 or so years

Such a gray day on Saturday. It all blends together as big globs of clouds, but the history function at Weather Underground says it has been a week since I’ve seen the sun. I haven’t taken to putting hashmarks on the wall to keep track. Yet. But on the eighth day in a row of this I realized a few things. First, this is well-passed its sell date. Second, you need features in the foreground to make this backdrop pop:

I went to the movies Saturday, saw Logan, and did some other things, and watched the sky.

Sunday was a terrific improvement. The temperature snuck up into the mid-60s and the sun came out to play and it was otherwise, you know, a nice April day:

I went for a bike ride, a 43-miler that started to fall apart around mile 12 or so. There was a lot of up-and-down, and the up is always slower, even more so when you’re having a slow day in general. But the weather was nice and the views weren’t bad either:

And I looked up the first use of the words bicycle and velocipede in the impressive Hoosier State Chronicles — a digital newspaper program which is a terrific read. It isn’t complete, of course, but it is authoritative.

Aside from a few ads, here is the first mention, in The Hendricks County Union, on March 8, 1866:

The Hendricks County Union started out as the Danville Republican in 1846 and took the Union name in 1864 when a returning Civil War colonel, Lawrence S. Shuler bought the rag. Shuler’s unit had fought in the Second Battle of Second Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania and more. So newspapers probably seemed a breeze. He sold it the next year, though, and after a series of name and ownership changes and consolidations, the paper finally enjoyed a long run from 1890 until 1931 under one owner.

Then a World War I veteran bought what was called the Hendricks County Republican. Edward Weesner, who’d learned the business working on the Stars and Stripes, ran the shop until he died in 1974. His daughter, Betty Jean Weesner, had been working there for some time and took over. She was, says a Saturday Evening Post column, a Unitarian Democrat running a paper by then simply called The Republican. She graduated with a journalism degree from Indiana in 1951. She died this time last year. Her obituary says she never retired. The Republican was a two-person shop, a small-town weekly, and Weesner’s longtime assistant Barbara Robertson died a few weeks ago. It was also the oldest paper in the county, with roots back to the James K. Polk administration. You hope it comes back, but it would be a surprise if it did. This is one of the ways old newspapers die.

Meanwhile over in Vanderburg County, at the Evansville Journal, these two mention appear in the same column of miscellany on September 15, 1868:

Already, they were concerned with speed. Perhaps always they were.

The Evansville Journal started in 1834, The location of the original building, which was razed after a fire, seems to be a parking lot today. Apparently the paper had endured three fires over the decades. Finally, the Evansville Journal News building, would survive. It was one of those places built way out of town, until Main Street came to it. The two-story beaux-arts brick building with a limestone facade, circa 1910, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There’s a deli and ice cream joint in there now. The Journal was sold to the cross-town competition in the 1920s and lasted until about 1936 or so.

Here now is the Daily State Sentinel, with a local notice on September 30, 1868:

Twenty-five miles per hour! Much better than a carriage. Le Maire, of course, being French for “the mayor.” Mississippi Street was renamed Senate Avenue in 1895. Third Street, I am forced to assume, was also renamed. But I’m not sure when or to what. So I’m counting roads and if my guess is right the former site of Le Maire’s shop is not either a condo, a distillery, a parking lot or one of a series of apartment/business buildings. The provenance of the Daily State Sentinel dates back to 1840. The paper that became The Sentinel was originally The Indiana Democrat, and Spirit of the Constitution, this being firmly in the times when towns had more than one publication and representing a variety of political parties.

In fact, you probably remember hearing about the Copperheads during the American Civil War. The people that had this paper during that time — ownership was an almost-fluid thing in most newspapers back then — found themselves wrapped up in the Copperhead Trials. After more owners and changes to the masthead than you can count, the paper closed its doors for good in 1906, when it was known as the Indianapolis Sentinel. I haven’t yet discovered anything about monsieur Le Maire.

Finally this bit, which was published in the Daily Wabash Express on March 13, 1869. It was in rebuttal to something that ran in an Indianapolis paper, and I believe this part was an excerpt of the first piece. Either way, we’re settling on terms and facts here, in 1869, and that’s just charming:

This paper also has roots to 1841, but it became the Daily in the 1850s. A few years after this, the ancestor of this paper would boast one of the first female editors in the state. Mary Hannah Krout is, in fact, credited as the first woman to edit a major daily in the state. She did that for about six years before going to Chicago, and then covered the revolution in Hawai’i and wrote from London and China, as well. She was a prominent suffragist and wrote eight or nine books, too. The paper would stick around until April 29, 1903.

I wonder what the weather was like that day.

Mar 17

My favorite are the ‘Double Grip Bison Brand’

We went for a bike ride on Saturday. We set out with a bike club friend, who offered us a route south of town or another one that he hadn’t yet written down. And then there were the choices of which hills and which direction you wanted to go. So we chose the southern route, because who has time to write down turn-by-turn directions? And we picked the counter-clockwise route, because there were rolling hills this way or one big hill that way. So we chose what we chose and then our bike club friend realized, oh, yes, there’s this hill, too.

That’s the thing about hills. You never realize them in their intensity or in count when you aren’t actually on them.

So on the last big hill our friend, Stephen, was just in front of me and he said “Oh, yes, this hill, too. This is the worst hill on this route.”

And I said that, at the top of the climb, he would get to explain that to The Yankee, who was just a bit behind me. And after four-and-a-half miles uphill from there … he said just that. Our bikes pointed uphill for about six or seven miles today, according to the map.

Still looked fresh on our way home, though:


Last night I spent the evening hanging out with The Black Cat:


It rained a lot yesterday. I read a lot. It was a good day.

Found this today. In 1897 there was a huge cycling convention in Chicago. The Indianapolis News included this art with their January 23rd story.

1897 bicycles

There were seven bicycle factories in Indianapolis at the time the story was written, a time when the reporter felt it important to list how many “electric lights” were going to be burning — 25,000. The story ranges all over, talking of upcoming six-day races, a national meeting in St. Louis and objections by the good people of Baltimore to an ordinance outlawing coasting. It also discusses the possibility of a continuous road between New York and Chicago within 10 years. So 1907. That didn’t happen, obviously. Back in Chicago, the biggest turnout of the week was to see the women’s race, a two-hour derby where the racers covered 41 miles on a track. And it mentions the quarter-mile world record. This was a standing start event and, at the time, it was held by a John S. Johnson, who set the record in Iowa in 1893 at 28 seconds.

No one really does this distance anymore. But, the Internet tells me that Francois Pervis set the most recent world record for the 1000-meter distance from a standing start.

Someone calculated his splits and estimated that his 400-meter time would be approximately 25.754 seconds. You figure if he’d set out to do 400 meters that’d change his race and he could perhaps go a bit faster, so maybe he gets down close to 25 flat, let’s say. But, to me, that makes Johnson’s time all the more impressive. He was 120 years behind on the technology — no true aero position or a skin suit or wind tunnel training — and his time is not far off. Shame there’s no video of that on YouTube.