Friday, November 19, 2010

Deer Make Detour Scenic

The Cedar Rapids metro area is growing on both its north and south fringes, and I saw some of that growth today.

As noted in an earlier blog post, the sidewalk along C Avenue south of Brentwood Drive has been closed for some utility work. In the morning, I ride on the busy 4-lane C Avenue for one block until I can reach the sidewalk on the western side.

That route doesn't work well coming the other direction--no light headed north to slow the traffic to make one block on C seem less death defying--so today I rode along the sidewalk of Blair's Ferry Road until turning in Marion to intersect Marion's Boyson Road trail.

It was after 4 and getting dusky when I got there, but as I went north I noticed that construction is underway on what will not doubt be a new neighborhood in what had been farm fields just east of the trail. I'm not a huge fan of urban sprawl, but this particular field is pretty much surrounded by city, so it's demise, I think, was a pretty foregone conclusion.

However, there was a strip of harvested bean field between the earth movers working on a new street and the trail, and a three deer were gleaning the field.

I took some photos, which I'm not sure does the scene justice. It was cool, just twilight, but still enough light to see well--3 deer, a nearly full moon and the contrasting lights of construction behind them.

Well, I stopped and took a few photos. One is here, more are on my Facebook page.

The detour probably should have added 10 to 15 minutes to my commute. It was more like 25 or so, but I think watching and photographing the deer was worth it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Where all the bugs go to heaven

It's that time of year--just about the best for biking, at least in the morning.

It was a bit breezy and brisk this a.m., but that's what warm socks and nylon were invented for. I like a nice summer bike ride, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, zooming along through green trees along a bike trail--but I'm a big guy. I stand 6 feet tall, have a stocky fram and am what fat people who want a lame excuse would call "big boned."

In my socks sans any rocks, I still would tip the scales at something more than 240 pounds.

Pause while you think sympathetic thoughts about my poor bicyclce.

Anyway, the thing about a thick mass of biological goo covered in an insulating layer of blubber is that when the large muscles of that goo are activated, heat results. Lots of heat.

I can deal with the results in summer by drinking lots of water while I riding and showering as soon after as I can.

But, it's nice not to have results to deal with.

Winter rides present the challenge of using lights in the evening. But a cool November morning is the ideal bike ride. First, the frost has zapped all irritating insect life. And second?

No sweat.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Street Work

I am not sure what they're doing on C Avenue right now, but there has been equipment, holes, giant orange plastic sausages sticking out of the ground, and a sidewalk dug up at the corner of C and Blairs Ferry.

What's been the worst aspect of the C Avenue construction is that whatever weird utility work has been going on, it hasn't just been the digging of holes and installation of some odd orange hose--but also pumping water into thsoe holes, which has left a mucky muddy mess for me to pass through on my bike.

Luckily, I avoided any slips, but my pretty new black bike isn't so pretty anymore.

Besides the odd holey rides lately on C Avenue, for the past two morning Lindale Avenue has also been blocked, forcing a detour. Not a problem on the way to work--the detour adds no distance at all to my ride, but I tend to forget to turn left at Eastern on my way home, wasting time in the dark.

Oh well . Riding on, tomorrow I"m hoping to remember my detour on the way home. And may the C Avenue hole project end soon.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Snow in the west, biking forecast: mixed

I didn't ride on Friday, due to wet conditions. Could have ridden in the morning, but it was misting by 6 p.m. when I left work.

The forecast for the next 10 days is very mixed, and even has the "S" word in it. After my nasty fall in January, I'm very committed to no ice or snow on the street in order to ride.

Wet? I favor dry and try to avoid wet, but I will ride home in a mist, if the rain is not heavy.

Anyway, the secret to winter biking is to dress correctly. I have a surprisingly warm nylon jacket with a thin hood I can wear under my helmet. If it's 0 or below, or windy at all and below 20, the hood is not enough and I won't ride.

I also, on really cold days, wear many layers--2 pairs of socks, including a warm fuzzy winter pair over a regular white pair, either long underwear or flannel pajama pants under my regular pants--and only "heavy" regular pants, please. A shirt under a substantial sweatshirt over which I have the wind-cutting jacket and, of course, gloves.

Thus clad, I am not very cold even on cold days. Cold itself will rarely keep me off the bike.

Ice. Snow. Yes, those will create drive days . Sadly, we're entering a drive season, but I hope I'll still get some biking done.

Friday, November 5, 2010

They pictured me in the drawings ...

There is a whole of work going on at MMU, construction on a new "University Center," and extensive renovation of parts of Regina and McAuley halls.

There are "pardon our mess" signs up, as well as stern "hardhat area" warnings, too.

And, to give us all something to look forward to, drawings of what the center and new central campus plaza will look like.

Well, I was walking around on a nice cool, crisp afternoon today, snapping photos of the construction project, along with the ME of our campus newspaper. Along the way, I paused at one of the conceptional drawings and did a double take.

I never noticed before, but I'm apparently in one of the drawings. There's some person on a bike pedaling through the crowd in a the "daytime" artist's drawing. I'm not the only bike commuter at MMU, but, since I sometimes bike to bell practice at the chapel, I'm probably the one most likely to be cycling through a mid-day crowd.

Well, glad to see I'll still be around and still biking when the new U center is reality. But, seeing the building partly take shape today, that reality doesn't seem that far off!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Keep on keeping on

The most distressing part of rather depressing election returns, to me, is the idea that Iowa Supreme Court judges will be recalled not because they are not competent judges or in any way failed to uphold their oaths, but due to one decision that people disagreed with.

Well, the people have spoken. The ... well, you know the rest.

Anyway, at least I have some nice cool mornings for my bike rides. I have a light nylon jacket that keeps me pretty warm, and it has a thin hood that I can wear under my helmet, so I can comfortably ride even when it gets much colder. These frosty mornings are honestly not too much of a problem.

Anyway, for no particular reason, a morning frosty photo I took just before my Nov. 2 ride. It fits my mood. A bit prickly, but life is still beautiful as long as the bike balances!