Sunday, June 27, 2010

And The Route Just Happens to Pass Dairy Queen

My bike is pimped out a bit more, courtesy of Father's Day gifts from Katy. I have a bell and a rear view mirror now. On June 26, Audrey and I decided to ride our bikes to see Audrey's mother at Promise House, an assisted-living center in Hiawatha.

If Council Street were not semi-permanently torn up by what seems to be the worlds longest street project, we would take the "behind Target" route west to the Cedar Valley Trail for the short ride on the trail to Emmons Street, the bikers way of crossing I-380 in Hiawatha. Since Council Street appears to be blocked for the next decade or so, we instead rode through the Rockwell Collins parking lots to a street that runs behind the Galaxy movie thearter, then a short jaunt on the open part of Council Street to another street that goes by a Chevy dealers, the future home of a farm/garden store and a Nissan dealership. We end up with a slightly longer journey north on the trail rather than a shorter journey south to Emmons.

The ride was OK, although crossing Council at that point is a bit dicey. We took water with us, it was a warm afternoon, but things went well. It took the two of use 40 minutes to get to Promise House, but we were biking at a slower pace than I'm used to. Audrey does not shift gears and does not tool along in her fastest gear--she's in more like 10th gear rather than 15th.

No big deal, I did enjoy riding with her, which we don't often do. I think this was our first ride together this summer.

On the way home, we took advantage of the fact that the route just happens to pass by Dairy Queen in Hiawatha. I hope that doesn't negate the health benefits of the ride.

Anyway, maybe Audrey and I will do a few more joint bike rides this summer. I doubt I'll persuade her to commute to Mount Mercy, like I do (and did that morning), but the ride was fun.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Journey

Ben and I rode our bikes on Father's Day, and had a lot of fun. It was sort of "between rains," as Iowa seems to be having a monsoon season.

We wanted to use the Cedar Valley trail, and with construction on Council Street blocking all our usual routes, it took a while to get there. Once there, we first rode over to my sister Cate's house to deliver some Puerto Rican sweet potato candy (see my other blog for long report on that trip).

Then, back to the trail. Went north just 4 miles, so the trail ride about an 8-mile trip. Overall, I'd say we rode about 15 miles. It was lucky we brought water with us--it was a very hot trip--but it was fun, too.

Saw a deer by the trail, many riders. I was pleasantly suprised when we got past the pavement that the crushed limestone part, at least for the short distance we rode, was not too mushy.

I hope efforts ongoing to raise money to pave the trail work out. In Iowa's climate, too much of the year is too wet if a trail is not paved.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Transportation in Puerto Rico

I suppose if I knew the routes, there would be good places to bike in Puerto Rico, but if I lived and worked there, I don't think I'd be a bike commuter.
Riding in a car seems dangerous enough. Lots of side dents in Puerto Rican cars--drivers are very aggresive and squeeze in tight, tiny places. Lane markers are vague suggestions, as are stop signs. They do, at least, stop at ride lights--after 5 or 6 cars squeeze through.
Still, I loved the island. My son got married there last Saturday. I'll write more about the trip on my other blog.

Monday, June 7, 2010

It’s Not OK, Speaking French to Bikers

When the father of the hero in “Blast from the Past” curses in front of his son, mother and dad tell son that papa was “speaking French.”

Why do some young people think it’s OK to speak French to bike rider? I was on a street in Hiawatha (Robins Road, I believe) heading to the Cedar Valley Bike Trail on Sunday. I am training to jog the Bix this year, and wanted to do a “short” run of 4 miles on the trail, and since the day was nice, I decided a 3-mile bike ride was the perfect warm up for a 4-mile jog. (Can’t call it a run. Anybody who saw me would not call it a run, either. But, hey, I’m still moving my body for 4 miles, so it’s OK).

Robins Road was fairly broad where I was riding—plenty of room for a pickup truck to pass a bicycle without having to adjust its trajectory much at all. A shoddy looking old Chevy pickup passed me with four young people—one woman and three 20-something (and not much of something, maybe even late teens) guys.

One of the guys yelled “Hey (all-purpose-noun-verb-adjective referring in Anglo-Saxon terms to sexual intercourse)er, use the sidewalk.”

I don’t know, I was just tired and not in the mood. I didn’t yell back, but I didn’t exactly brush it off, either. I had been tooling along, bent over, and when the young jerk let his digestive byproducts out of the wrong end of his intestinal tract, I sat up, as tall as I can. The truck went on for 2 more blocks and then stopped at the light at Center Point Road. So, I came abreast of it again. Sitting tall. Glaring at Mr. Potty Mouth. Daring him.

Yeah, it was dumb. I was a star of the debate team in high school, not the wresting squad. But, I was on a bicycle, for heavens sake. That means two key things:

1) Legally, I’m a vehicle. I am supposed to use the street and leave the sidewalk to pedestrians.
2) I’m not only a rather large guy (a shade over 6 feet, a tad near 250 pounds), I’m a big guy who rides a bike every day. Fat boys in pickup trucks should show some respect.

I know it’s a good thing Mr. Young Jerk didn’t take more offense, if anything ugly had happened it would not have gone well for a former high school debater. But something about the way I was sitting tall and staring back apparently made him think again. He and his companions kind of slunk down in the bed of the truck and stayed silent.

Honestly, I don’t think what I did was the best way to handle. But, also honestly, it did feel pretty darn good, in a primitive simian don’t F with the greyback kind of way.

Underneath it all, I guess sometimes we are apes. Apes with bikes. Apes who deserve some respect when they’re biking, too.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Riding to Kirkwood

My sister, who teaches at Kirkwood, rode her bike there last week. I said on Facebook that I thought it was around a 20-mile ride, but she said she knows that driving to Kirkwood is a 13-mile journey, and I think she correctly points out that although the bike route, which uses a trail and not the Interstate for most of the journey, is not that much longer.

So, it was probably a 15-mile trip, more or less, that she completed in 1 1/2 hours.

Not bad. My own commute, which I made only once last week, is around 5 miles one way--about a 25 minute ride, so my speed is about the same.

I hope, weather willing, to ride down with her one of these days. If I do, I'll write about it. I did the route last summer when the Iowa College Media Association June meeting was held at Kirkwood Community College, but otherwise don't have much reason to head that far south (Cate, my sister, and I both live in the two neighborhoods that are both on the far northern parts of Cedar Rapids, Kirkwood is on the south edge of town).

At least CR is bike friendly enough that there are reasonable ways to cross it border to border!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kayaks and catalpas

Gave blood today in the early afternoon, and my wife Audrey then dropped me off at Mount Mercy with my bike. Worked a while, napped a while (hey, they tell you to take it easy) and then rode home.

I've ridden home from giving blood before, but it's a bad idea. This time, with a few hours of rest, it was no big deal. I took my time and enjoyed the ride.

I used the urban part of the Cedar Valley Natural Trail that goes by McLeod Run. I noticed Catalpas are in bloom--they are trees with pretty large heart-shaped leaves and bloom in early June with large clusters of medium sized, sweet, white flowers.

Over the winter, I harvested some seeds from a neighborhood Catalpa and have a baby tree in my back yard, show above in its chickenwire cage. Its chances, as are the chances of any baby tree, are not so good, but there is hope. In 15 to 20 years, maybe I'll have a hefty tree with pretty white flowers.

Anyway, besides musing on Catalpa while riding home, I thought about kayaking. It's our summer boating hobby of choice, and we've had them out twice. Photo at the top of thos post is my son Ben and my wife Audrey on May 28, first kayak outing at Pleasant Creek Recreation Area near Palo.

Some people ride motorcycles. I think they look noisy and dangerous. I prefer the solitude, silence and exercise of a bicycle. Some peoplel tool around lakes in jet skis or power boats. Again, they look noisy and dangerous--teen died this week on a nearby lake after being struck by a boat.

Kayaks are silent, which allows you to tune into the sound of water, insects and birds--and hold a conversation, even at some distance, with a fellow kayaker. You can't water ski with a kayak, but padding a kayak is is nice exercise.

Whether on land or water, I'd rater provide the power for a silent form of transport. It's better that way.