Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mad Dogs and CR Biker in the Mid Day Sun

Egret in Cedar River today.  I volunteer to wade in the polluted waters too.  It was hot, hot, hot!
Come a little bit closer, you're my kind of bird, so cute and so tall.
A closeup. From the lion bridge, so we're zooming a lot.
How hot was it?  Well, I’ve never web-enabled my not-so-smart phone, and although my bike computer has a thermometer, I don’t know how to use it.  The actual temperature today was in the upper 90s, but the heat index, taking humidity into account for the mischief it does for human comfort, was in the three digits.

Did I ride?  Well, I can’t control the weather during RAGBRAI, so, yes, I did.

Slowly.  I’m usually slow anyway.  Today, I must have seemed glacial.  I snailed along the trail, taking my time, drinking my wine.  It was white and alcohol free wine, made exclusively of two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen (amounts not given by weight).

Anyway, I did about 30 miles total today in 3 rides, one of them in the hottest part of the afternoon.  Hit it, Noel:

The ride was hot, windy, and fine.  As was the case during RAGBRAI last year, I found myself surprisingly uncomfortable but otherwise OK in the heat.  This year, the techno bike jersey helps, so the ride was doable.  Good practice for any especially hot RAGBRAI days that I hope don’t happen because they would really suck.

The most uncomfortable part of by body was the wettest.  My head.  The helmet is good at building up a storage of liquid so that when you pause and take it off, you go EWWW.  Maybe I should shave my head for RAGBRAI?  Naw.  Sunburn.

The heat in my head had a poor impact on my brain, I think.  Anyway, I had ridden on the downtown trail, and was headed back toward campus to say hi to Audrey, when I was stopped by a train at the construction site of the new central library.  I could have gone north on streets, but that would have violated my strict “take it easy in the heat” biking rule, so I parked Old Blackie and was idle while the train snailed by (it seemed to be taking it easy in the heat, too—maybe the whole world was).

As I enjoyed the hundred-degree heat, I idly inspected the artist’s rendition of the new library.  It was amusing to me partly because it was exactly backward from my point of view, but OK.  Anyway, as I looked at the image, I started to have questions.
On a sign at the site of the new library, what the other side of it will look like.  Weirdos on the roof.  Depressed pedestrians.  A woman in yellow so confused she's air fishing at a piece of art that resembles a giant, mangled bike chain (clearly an homage to nearby trail).  A spooky sitter hiding behind the tree.  But, most spooky of all, what is that man/woman in the skirt/kilt next to the giant pile of art?

Why do so many people hang out on the roof of the library?

Why does that pedestrian look so depressed, shoulders hunched, watching the ground as he walks along?  Did the library not have his favorite Bill Bryson book or the second installment of “The Hunger Games?”

From a distance, a school girl.  But on second thought, a burly Scot in a kilt,
and he looks neither harmless nor happy.

And then there was her.  Or him.  At first glance, a school girl in a plaid shirt.  But a rather large, burly looking school girl, who the more I looked at her, she became “him.”  A rather muscular Scot kilt-wearing psychopathic murderer, looking for the next victim whose eardrums and brain s/he can shatter with his pipes of death.

No wonder Mr. Pedestrian is depressed.  With Jack the Mac Ripper nearby, he’s not expecting to get out alive.

Finally, the train moved on and so did I and the handful of other Mad Dog Englishmen bikers who were out on this scorching day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lunch With Bill and Builders

Bill in Ellis Park.
Monday’s bike ride was almost pure pleasure.  Almost.  There was a bit of a poignant note to it, too.

I rode to the north end of the Cedar River Trail beyond Hiawatha and Robins, and there was a sight to behold—actual construction/paving trucks on the actual trail.  The trail about 3 miles north of Robins has been closed all summer—not convenient for RAGBRAI training—for paving a few miles north to Central City.  It’s been frustrating seeing the serious-looking barriers and nothing else, and today was the first sight at the south end of the construction zone of actual work taking place.  My hope, of course, is that they started at the north end and are finishing the south end, but I suspect it will be some time before the trail is opened.

The last update on was from May and said the project was ahead of schedule due to good weather, and the trail “could be opened before the end of summer.”

Well, I don’t want to sound whiney.  Along with, I’m sure, most Cedar Rapids bikers, I’m thrilled that more of the trail will be paved.  The ride south to Ely is nice, and it will be great to be able to head north, so a few months of inconvenience now are totally worth it.

A sight for sore eyes--the north end construction site.
And it was great to see the truck.  Construction is underway!  In fact, construction, for one reason or another, became the theme of this Monday ride.  I saw work going on to replace lights at the railroad crossing on 42nd Street NE in Cedar Rapids, continued exterior work at the new federal courthouse, some construction barriers at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium adjacent to the newly opened City Hall, and, of course, work at the Five Seasons Center or whatever it’s called now.

I had my trusty new Canon with me and present some building photos—not bothering to show all the sights, by the way.  There was more work going on than I bothered to edit and post.

Never noticed before, but the big company downtown
is not Quaker Oats, but "Quaker Oars." Do they
mold paddles from grain-based plastics?
Cranes seem to be a part of the Cedar Rapids skyscape these days.  My personal favorite is the new central library.  If I do RAGBRAI again in the future, I’ll still find time to relax in the library.  A big new library right adjacent to the bike trail—well, blog fans, how could it get better than that?

Anyway, when I turned south, I decided that Ellis Park would be my lunch spot for an early afternoon stop.  The odd thing about the ride to Ellis Park is that much of it is on an under-used west side river walkway, disconnected from a nearby under-used bike path, and then a slightly iffy jaunt down Ellis Boulevard before you get to the park.  I kind of wish the city would simply sign and paint the river walk for bike use, and there could easily be a nice, continuous bike trail linking the east side downtown trail at Sokol Park to a west side river trail that goes all the way to Ellis Park.

The poignant part of the ride?  If you’re biking to Ellis Park, then when you get onto the nice, new, levee-topping east side bike trail, what’s on your left is a partial wasteland of flood devastation.  There are a few houses, but mostly block after block that was swept away by the Cedar River.  Two years after the mighty flood, there is a lot of good that has been done in Cedar Rapids (see the library and courthouse), but a lot of scars, too.

New federal courthouse being finished, conveniently on the bike trail.
If I commit a federal crime, I'll be able to bike to my trial on the trail.
Bicycle parking at new federal courthouse, more convenient than car parking, I'd wager.

Voters have twice rejected funding for west-side protection.  I don’t know why.  Lack of trust, I suppose, but I voted “yes” both times.  Tax me and protect my city, please.

Well, enough of politics and back to our tale.

I arrived at Ellis Park on a gorgeous, warm but not hot, summer afternoon and ate lunch with Bill.  William Shakespeare.

There is a “Shakespeare Garden” in the park, a bit of faux historic kitsch.  It’s not quite as impressive as the tree museum in Storm Lake, Iowa, which is an idea maybe Cedar Rapids should repeat—only can we make it the historic moss or fungus museum?  I’m kidding, let’s stick with trees.
Work on RR lights at 42nd Street.

In Storm Lake, Iowa, they have trees in a park along the lake that come from seeds or shoots of trees that are somehow associated with historic figures or events.  It’s both weird and cool at the same time.  Like a Shakespeare Garden for no particular reason in Cedar Rapids.  How about a Vonnegut garden?  Let’s do it before Iowa City wakes up.

Anyway, the literary park within the park is a nice, a quit alcove for a biker’s brown-bag (actually, green lunch box) meal.  And, as I looked across the Cedar River, of course, there was a utility vehicle doing something along the power lines that follow a railroad right-of-way there.

I headed back, crossed the river on one of the one-ways north, re-linked to the trail, then turned around at Sokol Park and headed north on the east side trail.

A new furnace is being installed at my house Tuesday, so if I take a ride, it will have to be an early evening jaunt—so it might be a while before the bard and I break bread together again.  But Monday’s ride was beautiful.  And I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

They’re paving the trail!
Convention Center downtown, being rebuilt.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Which CR Biker Is Mistaken for The Man

Or the woman…Anyway, the police.

I was biking home at dusk today, lights on.  It was still fading sunlight, but I was running with lights.  I crested Bowman Woods hill on Brentwood Drive, and a minivan coming from the opposite way slowed, driver’s window down.

A man’s head popped out.  “Are you a patrol officer?” said citizen inquired.

Jack Webb on Dragnet, from Wikipedia.
Just the facts, ma'm.
Talk about temptation.  Of course, I wanted to say “yes” and go all “Dragnet” on him, maybe give him a stern warning for sticking his head out his window.  It would have been a perfect time to try my Joe Friday scowl and clipped speech.

But no.  “I’m just a biker,” I said.

I didn’t get oodles of miles this weekend, but had several fun rides.  On Saturday, I went downtown early in the morning to ring bells on the MMU Handbell Choir float in the Freedom Festival Parade.  I wore, at the director’s request, my MMU bike jersey, as did Moira Blake, wife of MMU President Dr. Christopher Blake.

I didn’t take the trail down, because I was in a hurry, but the streets are quiet early Saturday, and bikers always get the best parking spots.

Bill Mulcahey's daughter kindly snapped this photo for me of our MMU group before the Freddom Festival parade.
We converted a borrowed Shriner Band wagon into an MMU hand bell wagon with some posters  and blue and yellow plastic.  The parade itself went fairly quickly, and it was a fun experience.  After the parade, I biked over to Wendy’s on First Avenue to have lunch with some hand bell compatriots, and then went over to the Cedar River trail for the ride home.

Sunday, my daughter Katy had an open house for the home she and her husband Wyatt have on the market.  After a fun afternoon featuring pool play, taco salad for supper and long naps, I took Mr. T for a trail ride around 7 p.m.

Tristan was fixated on water, as he often is, and counted (fairly accurately) the number of bridge we crossed.  We used the CR rail bed route to the Boyson Road trail, and went down the new side trail through the Frisbee golf course.  On an earlier scouting trip, when I found that the trail ended in a newish Marion subdivision, I assumed the subdivision was near the street where the nursing home my parents lived in is located, and I would find a side street that leads to a park at the end of the Boyson road trail—it would be easy to do a loop and end up on the Boyson Road trail.

Well, blog fans, route confirmed.  Despite not knowing the way, and having a talking 2-year-old to distract me, the route worked just as planned.  I found the park, and the trail end, and ended up taking the planned route back through Marion to deliver Tristan to the Sebers residence.

Which, he informed me, is not his mother’s house nor his father’s house.  “It’s Tristan’s house.”  Luckily he lets his parents and sisters live with him.

It was a fun ride.  I was on the way home, after dropping him off, that the citizen mistook me for Joe Friday.

Sure.  It’s a mistake anybody can make.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Nice End-of-Day Ride With Lots of Yutes

What are they?  I don't know . Blue and orange flowers along the trail.
I’m borrowing a word from “My Cousin Vinny.”  Yutes is how the judge mishears “youths” pronounced with a Brooklyn accent in that movie, which I love to quote now that I know one of my sisters is surprised that I saw it.  Anyway, I’m using the word here to mean young animals, and I saw plenty of yutes Thursday.

I rode to MMU for 6 p.m. bell practice.  My choir director was so impressed with the MMU bike jersey I had on that she asked me and one other ringer who has an MMU bike jersey to wear our jerseys for Saturday’s parade.

The original plan was for all of us to wear plain blue shirts, but look for us in the Freedom Festival parade this Saturday, June 23, in downtown Cedar Rapids at 10 a.m.—most in blue, two in MMU jerseys.  The parade is fairly short and ends at Greene Square Park, by the way.

Anyway, choir practice got over around 6:45, and I texted Audrey that I was on the way home.  She was painting our home office, and I think she wanted more time before I got there, because she texted back:  “I thought you were going for a bike ride after practice.”

So I did.  I missed the MMU ride due to the practice, but I hopped on my bike and headed to the Cedar River trail.  First, I went south down to Cedar Lake, and then I turned north once I got to Quaker Oats.

It was a gorgeous evening for a ride.  After the heat we had earlier this week, a summer cold front passed through, bringing some badly needed rain.  A summer cold front means the high was in the 80s and the day was warm, by the way, and not oppressively humid and hot.  The geese were out and had to be shooed off the trail, but they were pretty nice about it.

As I headed north, the sun sank low and the world was bathed in that special golden Iowa summer end-of-the-day light.  The flowers popped along the trail as they were lit or back lit with that fading sun.

Cone flower at the end of the trail, back lit by low sun.

And the animals were coming out.  After I reached the end of the trail and headed back, as the shadows were growing, but it was still light, the creatures of dusk were starting to stir.

First, I had a fairly close encounter with a doe.  She stepped onto the trail about 10 feet in front of me, startled, and darted back.  Whew.  A deer collision wouldn’t be fun on a bike, either.

Then, cute and cuddly looking, right beside the trail, two baby raccoons were wrestling.  Aww.  I thought of stopping to take their photo, but let’s face it, if you have young raccoons (are they kittens or cubs?), you might have a mamma.  Raccoon adults are substantial and potentially nasty animals, the second most dangerous omnivore you might meet along this trail (there are no bears in this part of Iowa, so people are the most dangerous omnivore you would meet), and I wasn’t willing to risk having mamma raccoon upset with me for any reasons.

So you’ll just have to picture them.  They were cute.

Then, as I continued toward the urban wilds of Hiawatha and Cedar Rapids, I saw several baby bunnies.  They were much cuter to see on the trail than they would be in my gardens.

It was a fun ride, and Audrey did indeed finish the painting project.  We are installing a new computer in the office.  I’m writing this on the laptop as OpenOffice installs on the new computer.

New computer boots up Thursday night for the first time.  But I'm writing this on the laptop.

Well, bell practice was a bit disconcerting—I’m ringing two notes I don’t usually ring—but I’m sure the parade will go well.  I do plan to ride there on Old Blackie—biking to get there will surely be easier than driving.  And the ride home Thursday night, with all its yutes, was grand!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Tale Of Two Trails (And Two Cameras)

Two image of new camera. My Nikon was nice and shot this Canon.

Well, blog pals, my Kodak point-and-shoot, which lately has gone a bit looney, was replaced on Father’s Day with a new Canon PowerShot SX150IS.  It’s a 14-megapixel camera and shoots, or so it says, HD video, too.

So my RAGBRAI coverage this year will be with this new camera that I’m just getting acquainted with.

Tuesday, partly to try it out, partly to show the journey I wrote about earlier (the new trail ride Tristan and I took on Father’s Day), I took the new camera for a ride.  I should say, rather, I took it along for a ride—I was riding Old Blackie, not the camera—but I think you understand.

As I stated in my “mini-me” post, the city of Marion has done some recent trail extensions.  Come along, as on the way home from MMU on a hot Tuesday afternoon, I went for a ride down these new trials:

Photo 1:  The start.  The west end of the old rail line ends behind Walgreens on C Avenue—actually, in a parking lot owned by the IBEW.  Yes, it’s just a track by a dumpster—but it is planned to be an official trail, some day.

Photo 2:  Where Cedar Rapids ends and Marion begins.  Marion has finished its part of the trail.  CR?  You just have to dump and smooth some limestone …

Photo 3:  When I got to Lindale Drive (or Avenue, don’t recall the street name for sure, those of you who know the local geography, whatever that street is that crosses Blair’s Ferry where it goes from four to two lanes) there was a bright orange “construction entrance” sign.  I decided to ride through Marion neighborhoods to the Boyson Road trail and take the short trail loop that connects with Parkview Drive, and then proceed along the main trail.

Photo 4:  The northwest end of the Boyson Road trail.  This used to be a steep, narrow, eroded dirt track—the city (Marion) put in new culverts and a nice sidewalk, which makes getting to the trail from Cedar Rapids on the north end very easy.

Photo 5: Where the rail trail ends at the Boyson Trail.  Note the old railroad bridge at left.  Getting to the old rail line used to mean a woodsy scramble up a steep hill—now, it’s easy.  And from this end, to paraphrase Woody Guthrie, the sign that said “constructed entrance” didn’t say nothing.  I planned to use this trail on the way home, but for now proceeded south on the Boyson Road trail to the other new trail that shoots off west and north through the Frisbee golf course.

Photo 6:  Along that side trail after the gold course, a new bridge over Indian Creek.

Photo 7:  Woodsy view from the bridge.

Photo 8:  The trail comes to a T.  Menards is beyond that fence.

Photo 9: If you turn right at the T, the trail quickly ends at the Indian Creek bridge of Highway 100—but looks like they might plan to continue south of the bridge.  If you go left, the trail ends in a newish subdivision in Marion.

Photo 10: On the way back.  You pass through several nice tree-lined areas.  One of them, just west of the Frisbee golf course, is where Tristan and I saw a doe the first time I rode this trail on Father’s Day.  I was thinking of her, when I saw him.  You might have to look closely.  Antlers are peaking out of the bush.  A buck.

Photo 11:  Heading up the hill beside the old rail bridge to the brand new trail section.  No construction vehicles encountered, the trail seems to be open.  Audrey and I used it (and the north sidewalk) as a loop for our evening constitutional.  The new trail, even with its primitive Cedar Rapids end, makes for some nice biking and walking in our neighborhood!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Me and Mini-Me Try Some New Trails

Father's Day, Tristan and I read for our ride in our matching bike vests.  Not quite matching--his closes better than mine!

Well, the Father’s Day biking news is that the trail situation in my neck of the woods is looking much improved.

Tristan has a new bike vest.  Audrey has been looking for a vest like my bike vest, and found one that she thought could be cut down and reworked.  Katy did the sewing, so now Mr. T can be a bike Mini Me.  He was pretty excited to wear the vest today, and readily agreed to a ride, so we headed over to the Boyson Road Trail, where we made some pleasant discoveries.

The city of Marion has snuck up on me with two new trails.  Last year, there were a branch trail off of the Boyson Road trail that went through the Frisbee gold course and then petered out.  That trail has been extended all the way to Highway 100.  You can see Menards up a hill at the end.  There are some nice woods, a fairly long bridge over Indian Creek and an as-yet unexplored other branch along this trail.

Mr. T and I crossed the bridge at Thomas Park—the one that leads to the athletic fields—just because Mr. T likes to cross the bridge.  Then we rode to the end of the trail and turned around.  I was curious to see if the side trail had been extended and asked Mr. T if he would like to ride on a new trail.

He would and we did.  And I was pleasantly surprised at how far we went.  The new trial is probably as long or maybe even longer than the Boyson Road trail, and it was a very pleasant route through meadows, and woods, and over a new bridge.

It ended abruptly like it wanted to go under a bridge of Highway 100, and I wonder if it will be extended.  It’s not terribly far from there to the Sac and Fox Trail—will these trails eventually connect?

Anyway, on the way down, I noticed the barriers where they have been building a new trail along the railroad line that leads to Walgreens on C Avenue have been removed, so again, after we headed back north on the Boyson Road Trail, I asked Mr. T if he wanted to try another new trail.

Of course he did.

And the whole trail, in Marion, is done!  We could walk to the Boyson Road trail and follow the rail line back.  We always could, but it used to be that the old rail line was a bit hard to manage because it wasn’t a finished trial, and the hillside was hard to climb to get to the line.  Now, a gradual incline from the rail line to the Boyson Trail has been installed.

Well, I knew that they were working on a new north end of the trail, which makes the whole thing more accessible from my Cedar Rapids neighborhood.  I didn’t expected the rail line trail to be done so soon—nor did I have any idea how much new trail was lurking behind the branch that began near the golf course.

And no flat tire!  It will be a nice new trail ride for shorter RAGBRAI practice runs.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Journey To The Farmer’s Market

Ben and Nikayla take a shade break at the Farmer's Market today in downtown Cedar Rapids.  Tristan's arm is there holding the balloon.

It was a fine warm, humid Iowa morning following a much-needed overnight rain.

Brandon brought his bike and we proceeded, via the street of car vendors, to head down to the trail to bike downtown.  There were plenty of bikers on the trail, but we were making good time, until a spring on Brandon’s front brake popped out and the brake constantly engaged.  Popping it back in was quick, once we discovered the source, and we were on our way again.

At Greene Square Park, the county trail group had valet bike parking, which is a nice touch.  I found some golden Stella de Oro lilies at Habitat for Humanity, and bought those, alone with a tree book from the library.  The lilies are nice, they are narrow leafed, compared to most, and are gold.  Most Stella do Oro should be Stella de Vermillion, since they flowers are yellow, but these are actual a pretty bronze gold.

We met the rest of the crew quickly and had a bit of a quick tour around the market.  Not much food to buy yet, as we are weeks away from sweet corn time.  After we walked the grandkids and others back to their cars, I got a phone call from Mount Mercy.

Today was freshman registration and I had signed up to work it.  Opps.  I hopped on old Blackie and made a quick run to campus, where I helped several students sign up for classes.

I missed my own Father’s Day weekend family lunch, as a result, but no complaints.  It was my own fault.

Well, it was a warm and slightly stressful biking day, but a good day nonetheless.  I think I did around 140 miles, so it was a decent practice week for RAGBRAI—but I hope next week I won’t be rushing to any forgotten commitments!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Two Longish Rides In A New Biking Shirt

My new MMU biking jersey.
Well, I’ve come over to the synthetic side.

I’ve not sexy and I know it.  I’ve an aging, slowly expanding, grey-haired, formerly middle-aged man heading into my twilight years.

But, I bike, which might extend my twilight years and at least guarantees I’ll enjoy them more—I bike because I like it.

Anyway, for years bikers such as David Ard and Will Kirkland and Bob Naujoks have been wearing these weird neon-colored things whenever I’ve encountered them on the trail—fibers not found in nature, colors too vibrant to be seen without safety shades.

Me, I’ve favored cotton Ts.  Until this year.

When Mount Mercy made biking jerseys available this year, I decided to go ahead and buy one.  This week, for the first time, I wore it, twice.

OMG.  OK, I look terrible.  I’ve avoided biking shirts because I have one of those bodies that loose clothing was invented for.  On the other hand, I’m long past the age where I care all that much about what I wear, and despite the form-fitting nature of the biking jersey, I’ve already helped picked out on of my Father’s Day gifts.  A second biking jersey.

Yes, blog fans, it’s taken CR biker a long time to learn what others have known for a while—mankind invented fibers not made by God just because they are more comfortable to wear in hot weather.  Those redonk (I’m using this word, Brigid, just in  your honor) shirts breath and take away moisture and feel so light and good compared to soggy, heavy cotton.

I went on a longish (over 50 miles) ride on Wednesday, but got a flat.  Thursday, I rode with a small MMU group—Sarah and a nice alum who I don’t know—to Ely, a ride of around 30 miles, when you factor in my added ride home.

For both rides, I wore my new MMU jersey.

I hope it doesn’t depress enrollment at MMU, seeing that logo on such a LARGE rolling billboard, but I like the shirt.

On another topic:  Final notes from Des Moines bike ride.

I didn’t blog about food, yet.  A topic near and dear to me, which might explain why polyester gets so stretched on me.  We ate at three places:  PJ’s, the Highway 66 Grill and the Uptown CafĂ©.  The final two were in Jefferson, PJ’s is on the way in some small town between Jefferson and Waukee.

I enjoyed them all.  The Highway 57 sandwich at the 66 was a huge pork fritter with Swiss cheese and Heinz 57 sauce.  Yum.  Breakfast was the Uptown was a grand way to prepare for a 20 mile headwind.  And I had a Reuben one day and an Italian sausage sandwich the other day at PJs.

Both days featured grand biking eating.  That, along with the scenery, is a good reason for a ride along the Raccoon River Trail.

Final notes:  Some photos from my Wednesday ride.  I did "the trails," riding to Prairie Parks Fishery and the Sac and Fox.  I think I might skip the Sac and Fox in the future because I got another flat tire.  It seems I get a flat every time I ride that trail. I love that trail, but not the flat tires!

View of Cedar River from my lunch table at Prairie Parks Fishery.

The lake at Prairie Parks Fishery.  View from the trail.  More bikers need to find this park.

Sac and Fox.  Despite soft sandy spots and flat tires, you can see why I really like this trail.

The frog statue at the end of Sac and Fox.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Will Anybody Do RAGBRAI on a Brompton?

During the “Tour the Raccoon” ride last Saturday and Sunday, I saw some interesting bikes.

Posts on Brigid's Facebook wall.  The "breeze," by the way,
was a 20 mph headwind. Trikers are clearly a little crazy.
Two of the more unusual vehicles were ridden by my sister and brother-in-law—Brigid and Eldon Rocca, who are, as the exchange with Chuck Offenburger on Brigid’s Facebook wall shows, happy bikers. (Click on the image if you want to see it larger so you can read the exchange.)

Except, they are not bikers.  At least on the Tour the Raccoon ride, they were trikers—they have a pair of recumbent tricycles, with one drive wheel in back and two wheels to steer in front.  They are much shorter and wider than bicycles, which makes them more practical trail vehicles than road vehicles, but they seem to do well on trails.

Brigid and Eldon claimed to be slower on their trikes than bikes are—but that proved untrue in the case of Cate and Joe.  They could catch up with or pass us whenever they wanted to.

Anyway, the picture shows something like what they ride, but imagine two, each with a large plastic fairing (a curved windscreen) and red, rather than blue.

A tricycle, like one ridden by Brigid or Eldon.
Image is from it's a folding
trike, don't know if it's their brand.

I liked the ride, but they seemed to really, really enjoy it.  At one point, we were travelling downgrade, going around 20 mph, and came to a little bridge.  I didn’t see it, but I heard it—when Brigid and Eldon triked over the bridge, they became, briefly, airborne.

It sounded like two consecutive overlapping loud “wheeeee”s.  Eldon says they made 3-point landings.

Yeah, I’ll stick with my bike for RAGBRAI, but if I were a rich man, one of my other bikes would be a trike.  With Brigid’s fairing, by the way, just because it has a sexier curve than Eldon’s more straightforward windshield.

And a trike wouldn’t be the only extra bike that a rich CR Biker would want.

On Sunday, at breakfast, John Brunow, owner of AllAbilityCycles, the bike shop in Jefferson, Iowa, was at the Jefferson Depot to show off a Brompton.  A Brompton is a British folding bicycle, and he invited me to take a test drive.  It might have been a shameless plug.  I think Eldon had told him I’m a bike blogger, and he might have been hoping for a mention.  Well, it totally worked.

The Brompton is a hoot.  It looks totally redonk, but rides smooth and fine, and is geared so that it’s not too far from a “real” bicycle—I think on flat terrain, a Brompton rider, like a Rocca triker, would have no trouble keeping up with CR Biker.  I didn’t investigate the gearing, so I don’t know how many speeds the Brompton has, and I suspect Old Blackie (my regular bike) would be better in hilly terrain.  According to the web, the Brompton usually features 3 speeds, not enough for Iowa terrain, but certainly enough for flat trail riding.
From gallary on Brompton company web site.
She's in Lenin Square with her bike.
The one I test rode was black.  But I totally looked
just that cool.

The Brompton web site lists a 6-speed option, by the way.  Yeah, I want one.  Anybody using a six-speed Brompton on RAGBRAI?

One nice thing John does with his Bromptons is add some skateboard-like wheels, which means the folded bike rolls along like a piece of luggage.  Yes, it makes me want one even more.

A Brompton would be totally fun.  
So let’s see, CR Biker would like a trike, a Brompton, and anything else?  Oh, I’m sure a tandem to ride with my sweetie would be cool.  She would look neat upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.  Even if her name is “Audrey” and not “Daisy.”

A biker can dream!