Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In Which I’m Cold But See Spring

Late afternoon Saturday at Cedar Lake. I took the trail home from campus and diverted down to the lake because I could.

Wednesday bike ride to MMU: long underwear, two pairs of socks, warm boots, two shirts including a long-sleeved T, sweater, jacket, neck warmer, scarf, hat, hood and gloves.

Yes, I was reminded of A Christmas Story. Preparing to go to school was like getting ready for extended deep sea diving.

It was 5 and just a little breezy. Luckily I don’t have to bike west very much, because every time I turned to the west the Polar Express hit me in the face.

When I was going south, my dominant direction, however, it honestly was not that bad. No, really.

Saturday at the late. Ducks and more ducks.
And this follows a ride to campus Saturday that was rather warm. Ice was melting, the sun was shining, birds were singing … it was possible Saturday to imagine that spring would come. Of course, it’s possible to imagine that today, but it required much more mental effort.

Still, spring is the cards, if not yet in the air. It is staying lighter later. The bitter cold days are punctuated by late winter melts. I don’t think we will see a March like we did two years ago, which was basically February twice in a row.

True, I’m not that fond of February. But it’s a short month, and we are on the downhill side of winter now. Knock on wood.

And, according to The Gazette, plans are moving along to turn a ruined rail bridge into a bike-pedestrian crossing of the Cedar River. That will make a bike road from Mt. Trashmore to New Bo--between that and possible sprucing up of Cedar Lake, the Cedar River Trail may yet become a regional bike attraction. A spoke magnet. A chain lane. OK, I will stop.

Get here soon, new bridge, and bring some warm weather with you, too. I would like my spring more actual than imaginary, soon, please.

Friday, February 5, 2016

In Which I Set My Mind on Capital Things

Catherine McAuley wears a snow shawl at sunrise this week.

I am in Des Moines now, and I bicycled to get there.

No, I didn’t really bicycle from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines, although I suppose I have done close to the reverse route on RAGBRAI a few times.

I rode Francis to MMU Thursday before picking up a van and driving a group of students to the annual Iowa College Media Association Convention. It was cool, cold enough Thursday morning for the long johns, but a pretty morning. We even saw some flurries on the drive to Des Moines, sometimes we had blue sky—sometimes we had blue sky and flurries at the same time (snow can blow a distance before it lands).

Selfie with Francis on Rohde Plaza, MMU, Thursday morning.

Anyway, what with a winter storm this week, it actually didn’t turn out too bad for biking. I rode Sunday, Monday and Thursday, and the plan is for me to ride home Friday night after I return the Toyota to MMU.

So, greeting from Des Moines, where I’m sure I won’t be biking on this trip. But biking, is seems, must keep one young. My name tag at the ICMA convention:

Monday, February 1, 2016

In Which I Take Two Damp Final Rides

View of MMU campus as I cross Rohde Plaza on Francis this morning.
Not final forever, I hope. But snow, snow, snow tomorrow—and by the time the streets of CR are passable again, at least three days, maybe more with the cold coming and the lack of snow removal on residential streets, plus the fact that I’m out of town at the end of the week … well, no more riding this week.

Still, it was not bad work for a winter week, since I got an extra ride in Sunday.

The morning ride was a bit dicey due to ice. Several cars were slipping around corners, and it was the kind of damp morning where it was hard to distinguish the wet from the slick. My wife and daughter left before I did, or I might have changed my mind about biking, but by the time I got Francis out of the garage, bicycling was the only way to go.

Along one street, a man was pitching ice form a storm drain into the street. I suppose it was civic minded of him to clear the drain (or he didn’t want his driveway any more iced in), but the transit of little burgs, especially since it was on a downhill stretch of road, made life briefly more exciting than need be.

Still, despite the grey morning, I made it OK. The ride home was just as damp, but fortunately warm enough that the cars were no longer ominously sliding all around.

It’s probably good I biked. After the Iowa Caucuses, we celebrated with cookies and ice cream. I was burning the calories in advance.

Just getting ready to leave plaza for ride down walkway to Warde Hall. No, I did not strike the students in the walk, but rode very slowly and allowed them to proceed.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

In Which I Chase Shadows Of Spring

First time out of the garage in 2016. A fast ride on the road bike today.

It felt warm today. Not spring warm, mind you—it maybe flirted with 40 on this final day of January in 2016, and we are bracing for a big Iowa snowstorm that is expected to arrive right after the caucuses Monday might.

I had not planned a ride, but could not find a couple of books I needed to write quizzes. Still, it looked so nice and sunny, that despite dampness left over from a cold morning drizzle, I got out the road bike. Today was Argent’s first ride of 2016.

And it was nice. After I got to the office, I answered some emails and got a text from home. My daughter had found my books.

Well, time to bike back. It was close to 5—but on this final day of January, 5 is no longer dark night, but rather just as the late afternoon light fades to sunset.

My shadow was long, and I was, for some reason, wanting to photograph it, so I tried a lot. Biking and making pictures are not exactly the most compatible activities, but it all worked out.

Street near MMU, my shadow is pretty big!

My shadow on brown winter grass at Rockwell-Collins. Snow cover is receding, but it will be freshened soon enough!

Shadow straight in front as I ride on parking lot.

And at the C Avenue bridge, I was taken with the comeliness of the soft and muddy looking creek valley. It’s not yet spring in Iowa, but today was at least a foretaste. As I pointed my camera to try to record the pretty, fading light in the valley, suddenly a small herd of deer shot out from under the bridge.

I wasn’t the only creature hurrying through the late afternoon, but still enjoying a minor foretaste of warmer weather to come.

Deer running across grassy area next to Dry Creek. I shot this jut after crossing C Avenue bridge.

In Which I See the Light

Just a short post, in praise of winter light. Biking is better in summer, with butterflies, green trees, flowers and such—but seeing more of the stark beauty of the winter outdoors is one reason to be a year-round bikers.

Friday morning--sunshine at Mount Mercy University hillside.

Saturday--pink sunrise on the way to the gym.

Saturday--ride home from gym via Lindale Trail.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

In Which I Glimpse a Nearby Star

Sunrise at Kenwood School during my morning ride.

It’s been cold and cloudy, lately, so a bit of sunshine yesterday—when it was still too slick to bicycle—and a morning break in the clouds today were welcome sight

The ride in this morning was a bit icy in places, and I had to take care. Other than making the ride take longer, however, the conditions caused no problem.

By the afternoon commute, the warmer day and some sun had gotten ride of some of street snow.

And, although I left after 5, it was just getting dark. In both the morning and the afternoon, I was able to catch glimpses of the sun. Glad to see it slowly moving back into our hemisphere.

Two views of sunset at Kenwood School, during th e ride home.

Friday, January 22, 2016

In Which Snow Contrasts With Summer Dreams

Ah, RAGBRAI. Where are you now?

I didn’t have time to enter this year’s “guess the route” contest. But I bet it will be west to east. I’m going to guess Missouri Valley to Muscatine, just because I can. And in the middle, we’ll stop in Des Moines, just because Zombie Burgers.

Note on Facebook. RAGBRAI!
We’ll see. In the meantime, a family friend from Florida, who rode with Team Joe two years ago, posted a message on Facebook that indicates she may be coming back up north again next July. Well, hooray! We need your sunny warmth, Susan.

We sure didn’t have it today. I know, I know, I’m not in Baltimore or Washington, D.C., and have no right to complain. But we were supposed to maybe have flurries this morning.

And I had to be on campus, so I decided, aw heck, I can ride in a flurry.

It was a flurry on steroids. A dusting, which is beyond what CR Biker likes to bike in. I fervently regretted not getting one of my mountain bikes fixed—I would have been far more comfortable riding The Beast of The Fancy Beast than plugging along on Francis. Due to the condition of the C Avenue sidewalk, I decided to take the far north route over to the Cedar River Trail.

Sidewalk on Council Street this morning. And I was riding a bike.

As it turns out, it wasn’t a horrible decision. No baby ducks or old man bikers were injured in the making of this blog post. But snow clearance on the dangerous C Avenue sidewalk is almost great compared to snow clearance on the section of Council Street sidewalk north of Boyson Road.

To be fair, the situation south of Boyson was much more pleasant. And although I rode in a bit of white-knuckle fear, it’s also true that the light dusting of snow never proved slick enough for CR Biker to even slip. I had the Cedar River Trail to myself, and the ride was far less stressful once I got to the trail due to both lack of car traffic and lack of snow compaction caused by car traffic.

Northbrook on the way west headed to the trail. Nasty cold headwind, too.

Now I am on trail. First traffic signal in Hiawatha

Biggest challenge on the trail-the rail bridge. As it turned out, not so bad. As you can see, without cars to compress it, the snow is not sticking all that much, nor is there much snow to begin with.

So on I went. It took a bit longer than usual—as you can imagine, I was going slowly, but I made it.

And, at 9 a.m., just as I got to campus, the sun came out. To mock me, I think.

RAGBRAI, where are you? Anyway, it’s pretty exciting to think Team Joe may be associated with an even larger group (Team Florida Susan?). We’ll see! And soon we will know the route. And soon the snow will be gone and I can take out the road bike.

But I do need to get The Beasts repaired sometime. I wish it had been yesterday.

I arrive at MMU. And the sun comes out, briefly. Afternoon ride home was cloudy and cool, but not snowy like the morning ride.