Wednesday, May 23, 2018

In Which I Top 20 on a Warm Summer-Like Day

On the Boyson Trail early in the evening. Buggy, but pretty night.

Muggy and warm—I am hoping to get some serious miles in soon, top 40 in a day, for example. I didn’t quite meet that goal today, which was kind of my first day of summer riding, because I was busy during the day doing other things—picking out plants in the morning, picking up grandchildren from school in the afternoon.

So I don’t feel too bad about the rides I was able to fit in. I rode just over 8 miles in the morning, and 12 miles in the evening, so I did manage 20 miles today.

It was a good day for RAGBRAI training—a warm, muggy day, but not really too hot for biking. The morning ride was on the mountain bike, and I still have to figure out how to really get the seat where I want it. I rode it because I was going to the gym and decided to do a ride on the nearby Boyson and Lindale trails. Because most of those trails are crushed limestone and we’ve had wet weather recently, I anticipated the trails might be mushy.

And they were, in part, but honestly they were in better shape than I expected.

Climbing hill on Lindale Trail.

By the afternoon, I was brave enough to hit the same trials on my hybrid bike. The afternoon ride started with meeting my daughter and grandson, and riding to some parks. Then, after dropping the daughter and grandson off for the night, we rode over to the Boyson Trail. We didn’t ride as much of the trial as I had in morning, partly because my wife has a computer on her bike and came up with the goal of our reaching 12 miles for our evening ride, which we were not that far from.

Today was a good start to summer rides, but I hope to get some real distance in yet this week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

In Which it’s Suddenly Iowa Summer

My commuting route has changed a little because Cedar Rapids put in a sidewalk all the way past Collins Road on C Avenue and added crossing lights at Collins Road. As they redid a stretch of C Avenue, they also planted trees along the sidewalk. This is one of those trees. Nice.

Well, not really. Spring flowers are still in bloom—although I’ve had plenty of early ones, regular peonies are still budding, and lilies are yet to be seen.

But the final crush and rush of school are finally subsiding. I still have lots of end-of-year details to iron out, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there will be time for some serious bike miles. I rode 18 today, the day I finished my spring grading (with 4 ½ hours to spare, I’ll have you know), and I hope to have my first 40-mile day soon.

Cedar Lake during finals week--I'm riding my bike to a department meeting at a downtown restaurant.

Anyway, while I am enjoying the newly warm temperatures, I’ve also put some Bug Soother in my bike bag. That’s the one downside of summer rides in Iowa.

But when I look up and see the hillsides green or smell the locust trees—well, I’ll gladly use some sunscreen and insect spray. It’s the bike time of year!

Meeting venue. No bike rack, but eatery may still be worth another summer visit.

Friday, May 4, 2018

In Which I Like the Low Light

Pink post-sunset light in the sky at Cedar Lake on Friday. Take care riding around the lake--geese are not happy with visitors when they have babies with them.

It’s been a damp week in Iowa, although it seems to be drying out at the end. Despite the rains, I’ve been mostly able to bike, thanks to most storms hitting in the evenings.

And with the warmth and wet, it suddenly is warm mid-spring, with sounds of singing frogs and the air filled with flying insects.

As the light vanquishes darkness at this time of year, I’ve been enjoying the serenity of some bike rides during the dark times. On Thursday morning, I biked to the gym and took a short trail ride on the way home. It was foggy early in the morning, dim and cool, and I liked the quiet of that hazy, dank world.

Fog on the Lindale Trail Thursday morning (above). Later the same morning, clouds reflected in pond on C Avenue (below).

Today, Friday, I attended an annual banquet at work, and then rode home as the daylight failed.

Despite the encroaching dark, there were still lots of bikers and walkers on the trail. I had walked around Cedar Lake with my wife before the dinner, and took a spin around the lake just after sunset before heading home.

Friday early evening at Cedar Lake.

That trip home was a bit more involved than I realized, since I didn’t know the trail is closed, and when I got to that closure, I had a bit of backtracking before finding a street route home.

Still, I liked the twilight ride. Like the morning foggy ride, the evening ride was muted, a bit cool, mostly peaceful except when a mama goose took exception to my existence.

I’m glad warm weather is here, and that in a few weeks school will end so I can start putting in some daytime sunny training miles. But this week, the theme was enjoying bike rides in the satisfying low-light times.

Saw this hawk on the bike ride in to work Friday morning, Clouds starting to blow away.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

In Which A Sunny Day and Vertigo Equals 20 Miles

Rockwell-Collins pond on C Avenue this morning.

It was another sunny, warm day in Iowa. After a cool and damp early April, it’s suddenly a spring of sunshine and warmth. Also, on the dry side, but after doing the cloudy snow thing just a week ago or so, I guess we’ll take it.

There were several riders on the C Avenue bike path this morning—perhaps now that warmer weather is here, more of us are riding to work. Drivers may gripe a bit, but actually traffic on C will move more smoothly if more bikes means fewer cars.

Busy morning commute on C Avenue bike lane.

I was scheduled to go to the doctor this afternoon. Having started blood pressure medication last year, I have periodic check ins. The news on the pressure was good, although I’m having some problems with vertigo. The PA I saw had me lay down to test it, and I almost passed out. “I’ll call that a positive result,” she said, in humorous PA understatement.

Turns out I’ll need physical therapy to restore crystals in my inner ear. Fortunately, the place I’ll have to go to have my inner ears retooled is right by the bike trail.

After the ride to the doctor’s office, I attended the Multicultural Fair at Mount Mercy University, meeting some grandchildren there. Then, I gave my 2-year-old grandson a ride to Thomas Park to meet up again with his cousins for some play time.

And when play time was over, the grandson requested a bike ride home, and I obliged.

It was a wonderful day to be out riding. My vertigo issue is only an issue if I either sit or arise quickly, or look sharply up or down—none of which has caused any issues with biking, nice to say.

And on this warm day I rode close to 20 miles. It was, all in all, a very good biking day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

In Which We Ditch the Jacket

Ready for morning ride. I have Nikon because I anticipate shooting some spring images on campus as I go about my day--and the day did not disappoint.

I try to do at least 2 hlll climbs a day now, and once or twice a week go up the "back way" onto the MMU campus. This is the steep drive behind Andreas House leading to the library--the most labor intensive way for a biker to get to the top of the hill. Despite that, I stopped in the middle of the hill just to shoot an image of the morning light and shadows--a gorgeous day for a CR Biker!

It was only in the 40s this morning, but the sky was clear and there was no wind. The world smelled of thawed soil and fresh spring flowers—I was moved to shoot a few flower images before starting the morning commute. And I skipped wearing a jacket, something that has been rare this cool April.

Spring has finally arrived with a truly warm day today. Despite a slight chill in the air, the morning ride was gorgeous in the way a spring day can be. Despite trees still looking bare, the sudden green of the grass and the profusion of daffodils advertise that the seasons have finally shifted.

And then, tonight, it clouded up again, with a cool breeze blowing. Oh well, we had today, and it foreshadows more gorgeous days to come.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

In Which Spring Teases Bikers

Rockwell-Collins pond on C Avenue Thursday morning. Pretty, but that's snow on the grass.  We're kind of over that by now, Mama Nature, please.

To be honest, I don’t totally hate April snow. I’m ready for it to be over, understand—I want warm weather, too—but, except for the days like Wednesday when it was actively snowing, biking has not been all that bad this cool April.

Take this morning, for instance. It was cool, with a little snow showing in the grassy areas, but I rode Clarence because the streets were dry and clear enough to accommodate the hybrid. Later this afternoon, the Mount Mercy Bike Club is to meet, as bikes are brought out of winter hibernation.

Of course, some of us crazy bikers didn’t hibernate this winter, but have been out there riding. I did not have to wear them this morning, but at times this week I’ve had on winter layers on my legs and winter boots on my feet—very odd biking for April.

Tuesday, before the storm, I shot these images on my ride home—the top one contrasts with the snowy pond above, the other image is just a sign near some street work or pipe work that I find amusing. When is a dead-end block ever open for “thru” traffic?

Tuesday afternoon, looking west over pond on C Avenue (morning view above, of course, is looking east).  A pretty afternoon before the storm.

Isn't this road, the stub of 39th Street NE at Lennox Avenue NE, always closed to "thru" traffic?

And “thru?”

Anyway, I rode the winter bike Monday, but had an OK ride day Tuesday. Wednesday was the return of winter, but spring came back today. I hope it wants to stick around. I don’t hate April snows because they slow down the plants that you don’t want to emerge and freeze in early spring—but seriously, we are getting past any reasonable definition of “early spring,” so I’m willing to let the plants take their chances with afternoon sun.

In other CR biking news, Iowa City is starting to plan its RAGBRAI party. All I can say is, please don’t take too much advice from Coralville. When the ride recently stopped there, city planners committed one of the worst rider infractions that is possible—they routed incoming bikers through the vendor area before delivering them to camp sites.

No, no, no! After a day of biking, a riders wants to set up their tent and shower before heading out for the eat-drink-music of the evening. Nobody wants to be forced to walk their bike one more time unexpectedly at the end of the day.

Got that, Iowa City? Camp first, vendors second, please.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

In Which We Contemplate a Non-Cranky Biking World

Drove downtown in the rain, 9:30 on a Tuesday night. No, not really--I shot this Sunday afternoon. But I hope some of you heard Barenaked Ladies.

Well, that’s a bummer. Recently, Crank’s Uptown bicycle shop in Marion announced it is closing.

I purchased my most recent hybrid bike there, and have taken all of my bikes in for service there. We’ll miss you, Marion bike shop—you’ll leave us feeling cranky.

Last week was one of slightly cranky biking. I was thinking that last Thursday as I rode to campus—in winter-like cold, with little wisps of snow drifting down.

Why I didn't bike Monday.

Of course, I can dress for the cold, and, while it has been too chilly for April (it feels like we’re being treated to two Marches this year), it has by no means been beyond my biking zone.

Then again, several inches of show fell last weekend—although, now, the spring is finally warming up..

I hope the warm weather stays The MMU Bike Club hopes to have a remote bike ride around April 21. It would be nice if we were not fighting show on the High Trestle Trail!

Here is the text of the announcement from the Marion bike shop:

"Well... here’s some news about the store. Due to a pending spouse relocation for work, I made the hard decision to close Cranky’s Uptown over the next few months. It’s just too hard to try to manage a business on top of the big changes for her so we’re bringing it to an end. It’s been great to be a part of Marion Uptown and to have you all as customers. I need a few days to get the store set for the closing sale so watch our postings for more information."

We will miss you, Cranky bike guy.

Some spring view. One above is early morning last week. Below are two view this week--one below is Tuesday morning, bottom is Wednesday flowers on campus.