Well, the long anticipated joint ride to Kirkwood with my sister Cate happened on Friday. We both live in northern Cedar Rapids, so it involves basically taking a bike trail all the way through town.
I rode over to her house, leaving mine around 9:20. 74th Street is still closed at Council Street--the eternal Council Street recreation is in year 2 or 3 now, can't recall which but I'm not sure I or any in my generation will live to see the end--but the sidewalk was open, so I got to her house fairly directly. After a short restroom, chat break, we were off.
The day was just about perfect. The sun was out, it was a little cool for July and there was not too much wind.
Cate's route to Kirkwood is a bit different than what I would use--she knows a shortcut that goes east of the Cedar Lake loop of the trail, but it took us about 90 minutes to get there. Cate had previously calculated that the route is circa 15 miles.
It's a bit odd riding with another person--a lone cyclist is used to one rhythm and slows and speeds as he or she feels. With two riders, gaps would open up between us now and then and at other times, I (in the rear) would feel like I was riding Cate's back wheel.
Conversation was a times difficult. The trail parallels I-380 for part of the route, and my other side of the hill 50+ ears don't hear that well--Cate was in front with her mouth facing the wrong way, and I struggled to pick up what she was saying.
Still, a joint ride is a pleasurable thing. We did get some chatting done on quiet stretches and saw the nice contrast that the bike trail through Cedar Rapids provides--went by a train by Quaker Oats, through downtown traffic, but also along the trout stream and through woods near Mount Trashmore.
A bit east of the old city dump where Mount Trashmore dominates the landscape, about 20 to 30 yards in front of us, a buck stepped out of the trees on the left side of the trail, and sauntered, in no hurry, into the trees on the right. He did not seem perturbed by us at all, if anything, he seemed to have a slightly irritating indifference, as if he were thinking "I got antlers, what have you got?"
That was cool.
One part of the trail had been freshly blacktopped, and Cate noted that she had accidentally rode through when they were applying the surface. It's an isolated stretch, so when she came on the city crew, she had nowhere to go, so she simply rode on the grass and promised the irritated workers she would avoid their new paving.
Friday, when we rode that stretch, a soft and iffy looking application of limestone had been made on the right side the trail. I told my sister that in the city work order, the limestone is referred to as a "Cate barrier," as it would have prevented her grassy ride.
Anyway, the trail had been closed by the 2008 flooding. It's good to see it back. We had a pretty good view of the Sinclair smokestack, and I must say, it being torn down is not really a tragedy. The old train depot, that was a crime to tear down. The old mansion at Mount Mercy, it's a shame it's no longer standing. But the giant stack of crumbling brick? It's a hazard. Knock it down before it falls.
Anyway, I stopped at Kirkwood with Cate for a few minutes, she and I said hi to Paulette, and then I headed home.
The ride home seemed much longer. Even if it takes some effort to ride with someone, sometimes riding alone can be a greater chore. My legs, butt and, especially, my hands got very tired. I stopped at the park on J street for about a 7 minute break.
Made it home. Would I go again? You bet. And I know it's crazy and will leave me beat, but I'm in for the ride to Waterloo, if it happens.
If we're lucky, we'll see a buck.