Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lucky 13 Photos From 20 Mile Ride Today

Today, I rode my bike out to the 7 mile marker on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and back again.

From my house, it took me 25 minutes to get to the Boyson Road trail head, about the same time it takes me to ride 5 miles to Mount Mercy. So, let’s conservatively say that I rode 3 miles to get to the trail, 7 miles out and back and another 3 home. Voila! 20 miles!

It took me 2 ½ hours, which is pretty darn slow, but I timed the first few trail miles carefully, and I was going at 12 miles per hour (5 minute miles). At that pace, why did it take so long? Well, the trail is not paved after about 4 miles, and recent rains left the limestone path a bit mushy, so I’m sure I slowed down. I’m also sure I sped up at the end, because the wind favored me heading south and I rode in 15th gear, which I had not used headed into the wind, but the slowness of the mushy trail more than made up for the wind-enhanced speed.

I stared on the trail at 5:27 and returned to the zero mile marker at 7:05. Obviously, I fell behind the 12 mph pace. I was hoping to approach 15 mph, because that would mean a 75 mph RAGBRAI day would be a 5-hour ride, but I’m not riding that fast.

Anyway, pace is not as important as endurance. My back is pretty stiff and my butt is not happy with me right now, but I’m thinking my legs, in particular, my knees, may be able to survive RAGBRAI if I keep pushing the distance.

Of course, I don’t know if I’m in RAGBRAI yet, but I’m getting ready just in case! The day was a bit breezy, cloudy and cool when I rode, but I’m sure glad to have this trail handy.

Sadly, lots of trees have been mowed down on the stretch I rode in preparation for paving work. Then again, I have to admit that my ride kind of showed the need for asphalt on that part of the trail!

I hope sometime in early June maybe Cate and I can ride to Urbana. That would be a 13 mile trip there, for 26 miles on the trail or around 32 overall from my house. About half an easy RAGBRAI day.

Notes on photos:

First one is zero miles as I start the trail.

Second is six mile marker, where I first considered turning around.

Third, a robin yelled at me at the six mile marker while I was thinking of turning back, so I felt duty bound to go on for another mile.

Fourth, the seven mile marker where I did turn around.

Fifth, this sign amused me. No matter how fast you ride your bike, I think you could tell that there is a tunnel up ahead in plenty of time.

Sixth, a view of the next tunnel (headed south now). Requires no warning sign other than a generic wildlife one, I guess.

Seven—mushy trail north of five mile marker.

Eight—another reason ride took a bit of time—stopping to take all these photos. For this one I dismounted (yes, it’s my bike). Some of the county equipment that is ripping out trees to get ready for paving a stretch of the trail.

Nine—some removed trees left neat stumps. Others looked like they used dynamite to cut them.

Ten—mushy trail on Otter Creek bridge. Don’t know why, but it surprised me the deck of a bridge would be so mushy.

Eleven, looking west at Otter Creek.

Twelve-one mile marker, almost back to end of trail. Sumac grown here where power lines cross trail, somehow this photo captures both the beauty of nature and the bleakness of this particular day. I’m fond of Sumac, not poison Sumac but the generic, harmless bush commonly found in sunny forest glades in Iowa. It has attractive foliage and interesting fruit.

Thirteen, just for my plant fans, a final look at some Sumac near mile marker one.

Well, I survived the ride. I’m ready for more journeys!

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