Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In Which Hawks Cheer Me On to 45 Miles

Hawks on power poles on 74th Street NE.

Actually, my sister posted on Facebook that Map My Ride measured our ride today at 44.94 miles, but I guess it’s OK for me to just claim the other 0.06 miles, don’t you think?

It was a nice day for a RAGBRAI prep ride. It was a bit after 10 a.m. and rather cool when I started my ride to my sister’s nearby house. Along the way, I heard a familiar-sounding screaming cry—the kind that has become common this summer at Mount Mercy University where a family of hawks is being raised from a nest on the Warde Hall cupola.

And there, on top of a power pole on 74th Street, sat two large birds. I don’t know why they were calling. Are these adults hollering to a youngster I didn’t see? Are these juveniles complaining that mom and dad are just too slow with dead things? Or are these simply territorial birds concerned about a big, wheeled mammal suddenly encroaching on their private dinosaur land?

Whatever, it felt good to hear the hawks yell—it seemed like a good omen for the day’s ride, for no particular reason. I met my sister, and then we headed back to my neighborhood to do the Brentwood Drive hill climb. Then we headed south to Mount Mercy University, were we added more hill practice by scaling The Hill.

Afterwards, of course, we posed for a victory ussie with Mother Catherine.

My sister, Mother Catherine and I after my sister and I completed the MMU tour de hill-climbing the hill four times.

By the time we were done at MMU, I wasn’t feeling so cool anymore. The day never really got hot—nor even warm, by Iowa summer standards—but plenty of sunshine and a light breeze and vigorous biking made me warm.

It was then on to the Cedar River trail, heading south to Czech Village. Our plan was lunch at the Flying Weenie. We weren’t 100 percent sure where it was in relationship to Czech Village, but luckily guessed “west,” which proved to be the right direction (both in the sense of the bearing we turned and fitness of the outcome of the presumption).

I had a Chicago dog with fries, and some baked beans. My sister had a burger and fries. The Flying Weenie is an awesome place to stop for a biking lunch, by the way. And the fries are the finest in Cedar Rapids.

This--a dog, fries and baked beans. My lunch at the Flying Weenie.

After the excellent lunch, we rode to the trail’s end in Ely, where we paused and ate snacks we had packed and also thought positive thoughts about the city leaders of Ely for the fine new restrooms they constructed at the end of the Hoover Trail.

And then we biked back again. Along the way, my sister informed me that if I wanted to climb Cottage Grove hill, I was on my own. I said “no,” that I had enough hill practice for today—and between twice climbing the Brentwood hill and four times climbing the MMU hill, we rode up six substantial hills, which I think is decent.

Tomorrow, more of our RAGBRAI crew will gather for yet another practice ride. I’m hoping to break 60 miles at least one day this week (don’t freak out, daughters, I don’t mean on tomorrow’s ride) and may be able to track the miles soon, since my wife bought a computer for Argent today.

My sister raised an interesting question today: “Are you going to try to ride the Karras Loop?”


Finally, just for you biker-flower fans—a bit of what was blooming this afternoon after I got home:

New Hollyhock, rear garden. I used to have black ones. Now, a white one.

Coneflowers are just getting started.

Native lily at it's peak.

You can see yellow lily in background, which has been in bloom for a week or so. This pretty darker one by the mailbox just bloomed today.

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