Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Halloween

3/16/2008

What ever happened to Barton Springs?

Filed under: — stan @ 10:52 pm

Today I went to the Nuart to see “The Unforeseen“. This is a documentary about land use and development in Austin, Texas. We lived there for four years from 1991 to 1995, and were witness to a bit of the debate over development there. In particular, there was a big controversy about development in the Barton Creek watershed. The environmentalists said that it would degrade the water quality of the water in Barton Springs, which feed the city swimming hole. There was a big referendum campaign when we were there, with the city voting to stop the development. So then the developer had the state legislature pass a bill to overrule the city. This bill was vetoed by Governor Ann Richards. But then, when George W. became governor, they passed it again, and he signed. And apparently, all the bad predictions have come true. The film included underwater views at the springs in 1996 and 2004, and the difference in the water clarity was stunning.

As much as I’ve always said that I hated living in Austin, there’s really nothing wrong with the place. It just wasn’t where I wanted to live. But I was always curious about what had happened with the Barton Creek development issue, since that was such a large part of local politics during our time there.

And one other treat was that I got to meet Carol, who I’ve known online for several years but never met in person before. So that was fun.

Fargo Street 2008

Filed under: — stan @ 9:46 pm

Sunday’s bike ride was down into Echo Park in Los Angeles to see and possibly attempt the Fargo Street Hill Climb. This is an annual event where people attempt to ride up the steepest street in Los Angeles. It’s about 33%, which is terrifying by bicycle standards. Last fall, after I beat Newton up Turnbull Canyon I was thinking I would make another attempt on Fargo Street this spring. But with the unpleasantness at home and such, I pretty much gave up on that. But it was still fun to go watch.

The day was chilly, and rather windy. It felt like we were fighting a headwind all the way there. That made the ride down there a bit of a trial. But when we got there, we got to see the spectacle of people trying to climb that hill. The first picture is one I took of a guy trying the hill. The second picture is the same as the first, but rotated so that it is actually properly oriented. Look at the wall of the garage in the background. That gives an idea of just how steep this hill is.

A couple of guys in our group tried, but neither one made it. I think the farthest the made was about 3/4 of the way up, which is about how far I got when I tried it in 2005. And you can see how that turned out for me in the bike photo album. I was curious about two things: I thought that letting some air out of the tires to make them soft would help with traction on the hill. Gaurav tried this, and he said that it did help, but he still just wasn’t able to make the top. The second was my idea of riding part-way up and then stopping to do a trackstand to rest for a bit. I was curious to see if I could do a trackstand on a hill that steep. I rode one block over to Baxter Street and tried it. But the hill was just too steep, and I couldn’t deal with it. So that was that for any thoughts I had of trying it this year. Maybe next year, when things are better. I’ll practice on Nolden Street in Eagle Rock.

After watching for a while, we headed home. Not surprisingly, it felt like we had a headwind going back, too. Still, it was a fun ride.

39 miles.
cycling

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