Saturday, June 28, 2014

In Which I See The Green Square & Get A New Rider

Touring control room at Kirkwood Community College.

Spoiler alert: If you stick with this blog post until the end, you’ll be rewarded by picture of a cute biker. Just saying.

I had a meeting of the Iowa College Media Association Friday at Kirkwood Community College. The sky was cloudy and the forecast was for scattered rain, but I decided to gamble on the word “scattered,” and as luck would have it, the gamble paid off.

The morning ride, first to MMU and then to Kirkwood, was fine. The Cedar River Trail is closed just north of Cedar Lake, but the street that goes by the Sag Wagon is an easy detour. There were an unusual number of young women joggers out on that street, and I wondered if they always run there or were also trail refugees.

Anyway, besides that one stretch of joggers, trail traffic seemed pretty light. And when I go to the Federal Courthouse, a crew was at work cleaning the trail, so I backtracked a block and ended up heading over to the lion’s bridge through parking lots and streets. A “trail closed” barrier was located at the park on the south end of the bridge, so I continued through Czech Village to C Street, which I took to Tait Cummins Park before rejoining the trail and using it and sidewalks all the way to Kirkwood.

Bar in Czech Village. I'm working on a 100-year anniversary of World War I series at MMU, and it struck me as odd that "Red Baron" has become a bar-pizza brand name in our culture. He was a real man in a real, horrible war. Would be have a Tojo or Yamamoto sushi bar? Maybe we would. Sigh.

C Street seemed to have a fair number of bikers on it—like the street of youthful joggers, I suppose that’s a sign of displaced trail users. Once I rejoined the trail, I was passed by two men who were wearing RAGBRAI jerseys and riding road bikes. They shouted a cheery “good morning,” and I mumbled a reply—for some reason, I’d been enjoying the solitude of most of the ride and my social-communication skills were on ebb.

Anyway, I made it to Kirkwood. The meeting there ended around 2:30 in the afternoon, and it was time for the 14-mile journey home. The sky was noticeably darker now, and early in the ride, I paused to turn on my lights. It was breezier too, but still very warm and muggy.

One the way back, I decided not to exit the trail at Tate Cummins because there was no sign that it was closed. The river, while still high, is falling—and I wondered if the city crew cleaning the trail had made its way to the low part of the trail north of the river. Much of the trail is actually pretty high and would not have flooded—there is just one stretch near the old rail bridge that I assume was covered by high water.

On I rode. If the morning ride had been somewhat solitary, this was total isolation: not a jogger nor a biker in sight. That should have been a clue, I suppose—because it wasn’t until I got very close to the low area of the trail that I encountered the “trail closed” barrier, squeezed between a “notice no trespassing” fence on one side (I am always amused by that sign, there is no colon, it’s not telling you not to trespass, it’s telling you not to pay attention if anybody else trespasses) and the woody, sodden, marshy river bottom on the other.

Ha ha, sucker! Now turn around and ride back a mile to get off this trail.

Well, darn. I suppose the point of riding is to get miles in for RAGBRAI, but still—city of Cedar Rapids, I would have appreciated a “trail closed ahead” sign somewhere where it’s possible to get off the trail.

Oh well. I backtracked to TC Park and C Street, where bike traffic, which wasn’t on the trail, was pretty heavy.

I was a bit later getting home than I wanted to be, arriving around 4. It poured rain, but luckily, after I had gotten home.

By the way, on the way home Friday I saw the new green pavement on bike lanes in Cedar Rapids. Meh. I suppose if the whole lane were painted that way, it might stand out more. On the other hand, to me, anyway, the bike marks and width of a bike lane is pretty obvious anyway.

The test box of green paint on the 3rd Avenue bike lane.

Saturday, I had a shorter ride—but an important one. A set of grandchildren had come over for a slumber party, and we were meeting their mom at J.W. Gill Park in Marion. Because our oldest daughter had borrowed a car seat, we didn’t have a seat handy for the youngest granddaughter, Relena.

Relena is between 1 and 2—old enough to sit well, and big enough (probably just barely, she’s petite) to ride in my front toddler seat. As far as I know, this was her first bike ride. We suggested it to her—she’s not talking a lot, but seems to understand a lot of what is stated around her. She was a bit nervous when I and my youngest daughter loaded her on the bike, but she was OK.

And she seemed to enjoy the ride.

Finally, to wrap-up this two-day biking report with a bit of self-disclosure—when we left the park, I rode (by myself, this time) to Lowe Park. The trial there was nice, but there’s no easy way to get there. I was trying to find a different route back to town by turning off Albernett Road to Robins Road.

Those are not bike-friendly roads, so at the first opportunity, I turned left into a new subdivision, hoping to work my way south on quieter streets. But that subdivision apparently has no other exit, so I texted my wife to let her know that I was going to be a little late because I got lost on the way home.

She was more amused than I was. And frankly, “lost” is a strong term since I was temporarily unable to go where I wanted to go—but never had any doubts that I could get there.

And I did.

OK, you hung in there to the end. No, I'm not the cute biker. Relena before her first ride on Francis. I think she liked it. Pretty certain. If she hadn't, she would have let me know.

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