Tuesday, June 2, 2015

In Which A Snake Helps Lift the Mood

Loose gravel,hard to ride on. Horse poop doesn't help, either.

I rode almost 37 miles today, probably 10 more than I had planned. I worked on campus until close to 4, and figured I would ride my bike for a couple of hours. I went to the Prairie Park Fishery, and tried to resist the siren call of the Sac and Fox Trail.

And, of course, I failed. A woman was riding ahead of me, and stopped shortly after we entered the trail. She signaled to me, and I stopped.

“Is the trail open all the way?” she asked. “I thought they were doing some work on it.” I said I had not been on it yet this year, and wasn’t sure. “Well, I’m going to turn around and ride on pavement,” she said.

Maybe I should have followed her lead.

But the day was sunny and cool, the birds singing and the first mile of the trail in pretty good condition. I rode on. Everything was OK, until I reached about halfway through the trail. At the point where it crossed under a road and turn sharply right, the trail suddenly became rough, soft gravel, rather than fairly smooth limestone. I dropped my speed to avoid a fall, but was able to keep moving.

From then on, the trail began to deteriorate. Suddenly, there would be long stretches of soft sand. I picked my way along rather gingerly, coming to a complete stop at one point with my back wheel spinning. Luckily, I never fell.

Shoot! And it's not kidding.
Then, about 5 miles into the 7 mile trail, I came upon a sign that said “trail closed, 0.6 miles.” Shoot. I knew I was close to the north trail end, and I didn't want to go back across the poor stretches of trail. The sign looked faded and I hoped it was out of date.

In vain, as it turned out. As promised, 0.6 miles ahead, probably only a mile from the end of the trail, large cement pipes and construction equipment severed the path. I had to turn back and ride again across sand and rough gravel. I was feeling a bit low and sorry for myself, when a sudden movement over Indian Creek about 20 yards ahead of me caught my eye.

An eagle leapt into the air from a tree beside the stream and headed away from me, white tail flashing.

Well, cool. It moved far too quickly for me to photograph it, but a close encounter with an eagle always leaves one a bit breathless and somehow brightens the mood.

OK, I thought. I did wish I was riding a mountain bike—I have a poor track record of getting flats on Francis on the Sac and Fox, and the day sure seemed primed for that—but the trail is still cool.

Its cool kept coming. I saw and photographed a snake on the trail. I saw, but could not photograph, a young deer that quickly headed off into the woods.

Snake on a trail!

I was again feeling pretty good as I neared the south end of the trail. The Sac and Fox isn’t an easy ride, and I do recommend a mountain bike, but it’s still the most scenic trail in Cedar Rapids and the late afternoon was just too gorgeous to be grumpy in. And, even after it had already won me over, S and F granted one more favor. An adult deer ambled across the trial maybe 30 yards in front of me. As I pulled even with the point where I saw it, I noticed the deer had stopped perhaps 15 yards into the woods to munch some fresh plants. And he stayed put as I shot his picture.

Late afternoon snack at the Sac and Fox deer diner.

OK, I didn't plan to ride 37 miles, but I did. And I had planned to get some hill time in, but didn't. It still was a good biking day.

And to top it all off, I got a message from Ben. He has a new bike! We have a family picnic this weekend, and he might bring it along. I do have bike envy.

Photo Ben texted to me. I like how plant has dropped some petals--flower petals for the new bike. Looks pretty cool.

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