Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Which CR Biker Sees Odd Signs In The Water

Taking a water break at ballpark near power station along the trail.  Today's ride, the junky mountain bike.
The RAGBRAI web site indicates that it would not be a good idea to use a mountain bike on the ride across Iowa.

It may not be an entirely fair test—it’s definitely a junky old bike—but after doing around 25 miles on Old Junkie, I say, amen, RAGBRAI.

It was odd riding this style of bike.  I felt like I was moving pretty fast, but it took longer to get places than I’m used to.  The old junk bike doesn’t function in all gears, but it has its speedy gears.  This style of bike is just a tiny bit slower than a hybrid—smaller wheels.

And the knobby tires eat some energy.  You can hear them as you ride along, an odd slow whirring, like a far-off old prop plane sound effect.  It’s a little weird, to me, because my regular bike rolls almost silently.

Well, I didn’t want to tackle any high hills without the hill climbing gears, so I went around the Bowman Woods hill on my morning ride.  I did climb the hill at MMU, though, and made it to the top.  I rode for a while on the Cedar River trail after working on campus—not as far as I would have on my usual bike, but at least I got some time on bike and some miles in today.

Although it was an odd ride, on the other hand, it’s nice to have a bike to use when my regular ride is in the shop.

The ride itself felt a bit weird beyond the strange bike.  It’s drought time in Iowa—high summer, the dry season, has arrived early and ferociously.  We’ve had one sprinkle in July and a dry June before that.  Dry Creek is actually dry for the first time in several years.  Some trees have died—several pines along Cedar Lake are just drying tinder.  Of course, some other trees that look dead might not actually be dead—a tree may go dormant to protect itself during a drought.  Still, some trees no doubt will die.  Some young trees are having a tough go—many of the new trees in the parking between the street and sidewalk in our neighborhood are bare skeletons.

The Cedar River, which raged so fiercely two years ago, is a muddy stream.  I saw a junk bike on a sandbar, and wondered how it got there.  There was a serious piece of iron sticking out of the river like an emerging Loch Ness monster.  I wondered if it’s a piece of the railroad bridge that was cast into the river during the flood, now visible as the water gets slow.

Sandbar in river, a tiny island in the shrinking stream.  How did this bike get there?

A heron waded at the edge of the water, and I wondered if it’s easier to hunt for fish for this bird.  Of course, a drought won’t be good for the health of the river, and if fish are easy to find now, there soon won’t be as many if the rains don’t come.

Are fish easy to find for this fisher?
 On my way home, I passed by a middle school next to Noelridge Park—and saw something, I’m not sure what, swimming in the remaining waters of a drying creek.  What was it doing there?  It looked like a big rat, do they often swim?

What is it that is swimming in the water?

Anyway, I guess I was just glad to get some time and miles in.  Although I would not mind missing  a day for rain.

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