Friday, July 10, 2015

In Which 50 Miles Gets Measured

A nice bike addition for RAGBRAI--a bike computer. And pink tape to hold wire adds a touch of class, too.
We purchased some bike computers, recently, my wife and I. One was for her bike, one for my new bike (Francis already has a computer).

The models we chose are pretty simple, basically only recording speed, distance and time. The installation wasn’t too hard, although I am increasingly discouraged at the icon craze in directions. I want text. Don’t just “show” me, write it out a bit. For instance, the directions called for you to hit the “reset” button by showing a green circle. The actual reset button is a tiny white dot on the back of the computer that requires a paperclip to activate—so the directions were a double lie. They said “no tools,” and a paperclip is, indeed, a tool. They also depicted the “reset” button as something it is not, and didn’t, using useful English words, describe where the heck that button was in the first place.

Words, manufacturers, words. I understand and appreciate the need for pictures—I am not advocating for text-only directions—but be a lot more chatty. We’re not all of us post-literate persons.

Anyway, after some French was spoken, the computers were installed and appeared to function. My wife and I rode together and called out distances and speeds a bit like crazy people. The devices agreed on distances, and they only had minor variance on speed—probably because, at that second, our bikes actually did vary in speed a little bit.

We rode the Boyson Trail area, and were thinking of a Lowe Park ride, when we got a phone call that brought use home a bit early.

That afternoon, around 2, I started riding again. I wanted to get as many miles in as possible, and headed north, figuring I would go as far as the pavement went and then turn around and head south.

I have several impressions of that ride. One is that Argent reached some strange speeds—like 20 mph—on some flats when I was feeling at my best. I don't know why, I was just putting the speed on--maybe just because I knew I wasn't planning any hill challenges that day.

I had a rehearsal at 6 that evening, and my goal was to get to 46 miles before that—the idea was that the commute home would add 4 miles, if I made it to 46, that meant I would have a 50-mile day. So after the journey north to Schultz Road, I turned back south.

I did the modified detour on the Cedar River Trail—where I cut down some back streets behind Wright Brothers School and ended up crossing Center Point at the New Pioneer Coop. And I rode down to Cedar Lake. I had seen, and tried (with no success) to photograph some honey bees on clover at Lafayette, and was thinking about critters as I rode. This week, I’ve seen an eagle, some hawks and lots of other assorted Iowa wildlife. For example, I saw a pretty orange and black bird, a bit smaller than a goldfinch, twice. I have no idea what it was. A mom turkey and her babies scurried across the trail in front of me on my ride this morning.

Anyway, as I neared Cedar Lake, I was musing how I have encountered snakes in past years, but have not seen many on bike rides this year.

I rode around the lake, and then sat on a bench to rest and snack. I was topping 40 miles by this time, and was tired. Before circling the lake again (I needed a few miles to get to my target), I stood up to walk around a bit and take some photos.

And I almost stepped on it. Snake. A big one, too—I didn’t see his or her head as he or she darted into the weeds, but the body I did see was thicker than a garden hose and more than two feet long. It was black with yellow stripes. It got away before I could take a clear photo, but see my effort below. I did, however, catch a large lake bird out on a stroll at lake's edge.

Cedar Lake.

You may not see it well, but in the lower left corner, hidden in the weeds, is something black with yellow stripes. A snake.

Lake walker at Cedar Lake July 10, 2015.

Anyway, I did reach my 50-mile target for the day. I only climbed the MMU hill once—it was, after all, a day for a mileage goal. But I have done substantial rides for four days in a row.

I’m taking it a bit easier today. I got my old bike out to commute to the gym, and did end up on a 10-mile trail ride on the way home. The Boyson Trail was unexpectedly closed in Hanna Park, but I merely did some park lawn riding to get back to the trail.

Streets they make detours for, trails and sidewalks they sometimes just close. Not my favorite approach to transportation.

I also spoke to my oldest son last night. He’s pretty excited about coming back to Iowa for RAGBRAI. My oldest daughter made a cool shirt design, which I’m sure I’ll show later on this blog.

Despite storms expected Saturday, it has been a good biking week!

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