Late Summer Evening In Frankfort

Old Plank Road Trail

Old Plank Road Trail (Photo credit: reallyboring)

Yesterday, after supper I took a long walk into town. I went by way of the mushroom water tower on route thirty and then south to the Old Plank Road Trail. I arrived in historic Frankfort and saw the remnants of cruise night. At least what was left of cruise night. It was after seven when I ambled into town and the sun was only a glow of pink in the western sky. There were still a few die-hard car guys sitting around chatting in front of their hot-rods. There were about six in all. Too dark to take pictures I thought. I kept walking to Oak Street and Kansas. There across the street was Francesca’s Fortunato restaurant lit up with mini-lights. Patrons sat on the new sidewalk seating area enjoying the warm humid evening while eating and drinking with friends. Neat, I thought to myself as I continued to walk. Then the same scene unfolded in front of the Smokey-Barq restaurant on the opposite corner. I’ve got to take a picture I told myself.  I will be  sorry if I don’t at least try. Besides, what have I got to lose, a few electrons? The only camera was in my phone. What the heck, point and shoot. Surprise, an image froze on the screen. That started me thinking about another photo essay on Frankfort.

Here are the few pictures I took.

You may read my writing about Frankfort, many times I whine about the high cost of living and the latest infra-structure improvement we don’t need, but overall I love this little (16550 souls) town, and will most likely be buried from here.

Quads Desperately Seeking Oxygen

Presta valve

Image via Wikipedia

A fantastic idea popped into my mind yesterday, why not take a bike ride tomorrow? It stayed with me throughout the rest of the Saturday and was playing in my mind as I fell asleep. It helped to watch the 2011 Tour de France pre-show too.

This morning, I looked out the window at the 2011 Monet Vision. Yes, sunshine powers the flowers without a cloud in the sky. I quickly trot to my office to look out at the flag, it lay still against the poll. The weather-station shows nice warm temperature. No more excuses, I told myself. Your back hurts even though you have not been on a bike in a year. The bike is not the reason. It is the perfect fair-weather day suited for the fair-weather outdoorsman I have become. Go for it!

2011 Monet Vision

A quick rearrangement of garden stuff in the garage allowed me to reach the bike hanging from the ceiling since last year. Be careful, don’t strain your back taking it down. Do the back wheel first. Easy does it. Yes! Now carefully lift the front wheel off the hook. It is down and my back still feels good.

I hear Bill Lang instructing me at Effective Cycling class, “Remember the ABC’s.”

Before every ride, check “A” air in the tires, “B” brakes are engaging, “C” chain is lube’d and moves freely.

Air, yes find the pump. Ah there it is in the corner. Oh crap, the fitting no longer holds pressure on the Presta side. Go find the adapter so you can use the Shrader side . Now that is a problem. Where is it? Look in the tool box where you keep bike stuff. Where is that? Start in the basement. Ten minutes later the adapter is on the tire and I’m pumping carefully. I don’t want the tire to blow off the rim. The tires are old and brittle. The last thing I want to do is blow it off the rim. Keep checking the tire for bumps and make sure it seats properly on the rim.

Good, the tires have the proper air-pressure, now check the brakes. Yep they are working. The rear pads need replacement, but they’ll make it through today. Wheel the bike out to the lawn and spray the chain with WD-40. Backpedaling the chain is difficult. Move the shifter to align the chain with the gears. Okay the chain is free. Now spray the chain and pump the pedal at the same time to spread the oil.

Ready to ride? No, what’s wrong now? Shoes, I have to find my cycling shoes. I dig through seven pairs of shoes piled in the closet. I find my Shimanos and loosen the laces. My feet have spread in the last few years, but they still feel good as long as I keep the laces loose. Almost ready, A quick dash to my desk to find the Cateye. Boy there is too much stuff in this drawer, it is time to purge. There it is.

I  put on the helmet, adjust the mirror, give Grandma Peggy a quick kiss and out the door I go.

Oops, where are my gloves? Without gloves my hands will burn on a day like this. Look in the top drawer of the cabinet in the garage. Yes, they are still there from last year. Okay, now I’m ready.

Just pedal easy and enjoy the day. My legs automatically go to ninety revolutions a minute. That is not easy, I tell myself, but that is the pace my legs like to move. Downshift dummy. That’s better. The street heading to the Old Plank Road Trail (OPRT) is slightly uphill. Normally, this grade would not need a downshift, but today is different. I move down two gears and make it easier. By the time I reach the stop sign I am out of breath. Thankfully, I coast down to the trail without pedaling.

There was a day just a few years ago when bicycling the OPRT was a daily routine. The trail is twenty miles from one end to the other, and would take three hours to complete at a leisurely pace. There is no way, I could do that today.

At the end of the downhill to the trail, I turn east toward Harlem Avenue. This section of the OPRT is my favorite. The trail, a converted railroad track bed is straight, but somewhat rolling in gentle long downhills and uphills.  It passes through a forested area bounded by Prestwick Country Club on the south and Lincoln Estates on the north. The sunlight finds a way through the trees to form dapples of light. The only time a wind affects a rider is when it is east-west. Today, there is merely a gentle breeze which is not felt at all.

There is a lot of traffic on the trail today. I come upon a young man ahead of me, “On your left,” I holler, and then pass him. I can’t believe I passed a young guy, I thought. There must still be some fire left in these legs. Then I hear him say, “hello, I’m riding on the trail. . . ”  Damn, he slowed down to answer his cell phone. A few minutes later he passes me like I am standing still.

I pass the point where Busia Barbara had her heart attack. It still bothers me every time I do. This year marks the tenth anniversary of that fateful day in August when she had the Widower-Maker. Except she made the mistake of hanging on for two years after. Not a good time in her life.

At Harlem Avenue, I feel good, but decide to turn around per plan. No sense in overdoing it on the first ride.

The ride back feels less stressful. The sciatic fire running through my  right gluteus (ass) has toned down to a warm remembrance of trouble to come.  The pain in the left patella which began in the garden a month ago, is not going away, but sends a signal on each bend of the knee. The lyrics of a song pop into my mind,

Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

For we were young and sure to have our way.

The song keeps me spinning as I pass a mother pushing a buggy with her toddlers. Next, I move way over to pass a woman walking two shaggy little dogs.  Two young riders pass. They are bent over the bars making time on their Sunday workout. A skater swinging her legs wide from side to side making time as she comes toward me. She slows a bit as we cross by each other.

The trees end and the trial opens into the Prairie Park on the edge of Frankfort. Kids are fishing from the pier, and the traffic of people walking dogs increases.

A crowd of bikers waits for traffic to allow them to cross White Street. I catch them and tailgate across to the Briedert Green. Morning shoppers crowd the trail at the Farmer’s Market. This is my western turnaround point. and I am glad to leave the trail. I take the back roads just north of the Trail.

I feel good, but the song keeps looping through the mind as my quads burn desperately seeking oxygen.

I arrive home forty-three minutes and seven miles later. In the good old days, I wouldn’t have returned until I had a metric century(62 miles) under my belt.

“Those were the days my friend . . .”

Strato-Cruiser aka Grumpy-Mobile

How did the amateur get chainwheel grease there?

Can you find the Grumpy-Mobile in there?

Frankfort Chili Cookoff

Today, I walked into town around noon. That is much later in the day than usual. The sky was a weary gray, the temperature in the thirties, and a wind blowing from the North. I was glad to reach town so I could relieve my morning coffee at the Trolley Barn.  Usually, these walks are solitary. I don’t see anyone, and there are only a few cars on the roads. Today, as I entered town there was activity everywhere. One look at the Breidert Green, and I remembered that Winter on the Green was sponsoring a Chili Cook Off today.

The Breidert Green is named for Burton Breidert, a long time resident now deceased, who owned the B & L lumber yard, which became Fox Lumber, and is now My Sisters and Me, a dress shop.  I never met Burton because he was dead before I moved to town twenty years ago. I learned of him during my research for the Lions Club. He was a prominent Lion and generous community  member. He is credited with the town plan and insistence on keeping the business community central rather than spread around. At least a portion of his fortune came from supplying the building material used to construct the Prestwick sub-division. I lived in Prestwick for fifteen years, there is a minimum of four hundred houses there. Not one of them is small. That’s a whole lot of lumber to sell.

The Green is now a community park which is used for many functions. During January, it is Winter on the Green.

The place was jumping today. The focal point is a structure referred to as the Frankfort Station. It is on the spot that a real railroad station existed many years ago when a real train ran through town on what is now the Old Plank Road Trail. The trail borders the Frankfort Station. The Station is a source of electricity and it was supplying the chili cooks. There were a number of amateur and serious cooks vying for bragging rights to their chili.

The public is invited to attend and eat chili on this day, but I was a half hour too early to try any. Based on the crowd that was already there, it promised to be a succesful event.

I took pictures and went about my walk. I did finally stop at the Trolley Barn to relieve myself. The Trolley Barn was jumping too. The guitar shop was loaded with students learning how to play, the Children’s Museum was crawling with kids, the Deli was busy with a lunch crowd, and the upstairs coffee shop and book store was busy too. The Barn got its name from the building itself. It was used for maintaining diesel-electric railroad cars back in the nineteen-twenties and thirties era. During that time a commuter line ran between East Chicago and Joliet, It played a key role in transporting people from town to town in the far south suburbs. The building remained empty for years until an entrepreneur bought it and converted it into a mall for small businesses.   The Trolley Barn replaces the Grainery Building which was a major tourist attraction. The post and beam building burned to the ground in the nineteen seventies.

Frankfort is a great town established in eighteen fifty. It retains the charm of that era while it grows into a major modern suburb with a thriving population of sixteen thousand people.

The Chamber of Commerce does an outstanding job in keeping the character of the business area thriving while maintaining the character and history fo the town.

Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, and most of us will be watching the interview between our president and Bill O’Reilly while the festivities on the Green take place. The following week  a Turkey Bowl  is the final event in the series.

Here are some photos from the Chili Cook Off.

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Thirty Miles Per Burger

Grumpa Joe Pulling Into the Job

Grumpa Joe Pulling Into the Job

In the last two days, I have heard how the government handling of federal highway funds is being squandered on things such as bicycle paths. I agree that we need safe bridges and good roads, but I disagree that we don’t need bike paths.

A bike rider has every right to share the road with drivers. He does carry the same responsibility as a driver and must obey the same laws. A bicycle is considered a vehicle the same as a car. Most drivers do not share this attitude, even though the laws clearly state the right. I know many avid cyclists who use a bicycle as a form of transportation. They ride to work,  take trips across states, and tour foreign countries; all on a bike. They use public highways when they ride. I also happen to live near a popular bicycle path called the Old Plank Road Trail. It is twenty miles long and connects six towns.  I walk the path regularly. I see hundreds of cyclists using the path daily. They range in age from eight to eighty. They feel safe on a path whereas they would never ride a bike on a busy public road. They get their exercise through the enjoyment of a linear park. 

Here is my argument. A bike path will keep  bicyclists off  public roads where sociopathic drivers love to score points for taking out cyclists. I have several personal experiences that I can share about how much love there is for a bicyclist by a driver.  A bicycle path promotes exercise, a much needed activity in this OBESE country. The logic would go this way:

A bike path promotes exercise,

Excercise helps maintain health

Therfore, a bicycle path helps maintain health.

With all the argument about the high cost of  health care, why pick on one thing that will help us maintain our health with a nominal investment?

Bike paths are infrastructure that don’t require as much maintenance as a highway. Thus, the money spent goes further than money spent on a federal highway.

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