Had to drive the Beetle Tuesday due to misty rain that made it too wet for me to bicycle on the final day of classes this week. Today, I took the Beetle in for repairs and learned I’ll be more than $1,000 poorer as a result.
If ever there was a reminder how nice it is to get around by bike instead of car …
Anyway, enough of any gloom. This afternoon, prior to a visit to my mother-in-law that I wrote about in my other blog, I rode my bike just to get some fresh air and take a break from school work and Beetle woes.
I was going to ride around 3, but was late leaving due to finishing up some school work. It was around 3:40 when I left home, getting to be 4 and getting close to a dusky feeling in the sky when I reached the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.
I headed north. I wanted to see if they had started to pave the trail north of Robins, a project that has been announced all summer long. As it turned out, the answer was “no,” but when I got to the end of the pavement it was time to turn on my lights and turn around, anyway, so it was all good.
Along the way, I thought of what a biker in Cedar Rapids ought to be thankful for. On the day before Thanksgiving, thankfully, it was easy to count some blessings. I’m thankful for:
- The Cedar Valley Trail and others. The Cedar Rapids area has a network of trails that is still more aspiration than reality, but the real trails are nice. I like the differing character of the trails—the paved Cedar Valley and Cedar River trails that wind along I 380 but through woods, then downtown (cutting through a factory on the way), then along the Cedar River, and finally exiting town to join the Hoover Trail. I don’t get there as often as I like, but this year I discovered the “south route” to the Sac and Fox, a much wilder, but great for a tree lover, trail. The Marion trail through Legion Park is a quick, pleasant ride. Cenmar doesn’t amount to much yet, but has future promise.
- Cedar Rapids drivers. There are a few who festively rev their engines in an unfriendly manner when they see a biker, and some bumpkin GOP politicians make stupid anti-biker statements because they slow SUV traffic on county roads (moving at the same speed as the tractors on those same roads that the GOP bumpkins never complain about)—but, for the most part, Iowa and Cedar Rapids drivers are what you expect of Iowans. We are a reasonable, level-headed, polite people. You (on the bike) follow the expected rules, and, in general, you’ll be briefly acknowledged and ignored like the rest of humanity.
- The fall weather. We are for sure in the brown time of year now, but it’s been a gorgeous fall, full of excellent biking days. It was breezy, cloudy and in the 30s today. Perfect biking weather—a large middle-aged body generates excess heat, and I like the cool. Yes, biking in the summer, despite the heat, is nicer due to all the plants and birds and people and stuff—but brown day biking has charms, too.
- The quiet beauty of Iowa. True, a few mountains and an ocean or two would spice up the joint, but the rolling countryside of Iowa, even on a bike, even in the state’s second largest city, is refreshing to the soul. I like the gentle curves of the hills seen through the trees now that the leaves are gone. I like the reddish fruit of sumac in clusters on tall stalks along the trail. I like that water has returned to Dry Creek due to some fall rains, and I get to see it every day I ride somewhere as I cross the C Avenue bridge. A church song sums it up: “For the beauty of the Earth … Lord of all to you we raise, this our grateful hymn of praise.”
Indeed—for a biker in Iowa on the eve of Thanksgiving, it’s easy to say thanks.