Thursday, October 8, 2015

In Which the Light Fades in Morning

Wednesday morning, sky starting to turn light as I cross the bridge over the railroad tracks on the Cedar River Trail.

We’re getting on to the “dark” biking months. When I leave campus late, as I did tonight, I usually get random horror stories from people about who Uncle Bob was nearly killed by a bus in the dark while biking.

I appreciate the sentiment, and I don’t plan to be much of an adventuresome biker in low light conditions. But both Argent and Francis have lights, and my helmet is also lit. Whether in the dim morning 7 a.m. dark, or later at night (I came home around 9 tonight), I’m also riding a very familiar route on mostly very quiet streets.

As long-time readers of blog know, I once had an odd run-in with a driver at night that caused me to call the police, but besides that, my dark-months commutes have been pretty uneventful. I suppose as I age and my night vision fades (I do already have a cataract in one eye) there will come a point where night riding is no longer practical, but I’m OK with it for now.

And it’s a bit soothing. I needed some soothing this week—it has just been very busy and the semester is starting to grind me down. I think biking is one key to maintaining my sanity.

Catherine McAuley as I arrive on campus. Sun halo.
Take Wednesday morning, for example. I had been working late both Monday and Tuesday, and knew I wanted to stay on campus for a writer’s visit Wednesday, and I had a concert Thursday night. So I was feeling a little blue that morning, but just for a change of scenery and because the 42nd Street detour is so much less of a time waster, I decided to take the trail ride in.

It’s pretty hard to stay blue when you’re riding a bike on a crisp fall morning as the sun climbs in the sky and the world slowly glows golden before the yellow light of day. I even took a bit of a break midday on Wednesday and strolled through the grotto at MMU.

I am not sure I understand why it seems important to me to be outside. Maybe the sunlight just make me feel more alive. Maybe the fresh air, or the sounds of birds and the rustle of leaves. Of course, we’re getting to the time of year when soon the leaves will be gone and many birds will migrate away, but I’ll still try to be outdoors when I can, riding a bike if I can.

From my walk in the grotto. A late rose.
Anyway, I discovered Wednesday that the trail ride actually doubles the distance—my 4-mile commute becomes an 8-mile commute. It does not, however, double the time. What is a 30-minute commute become a 45- to 50-minute ride. Despite 42nd Street, Blairs Ferry and other intersections, I think my average speed on the trail is higher than my average speed on a city street—both due to not competing with cars for space, and simply riding on a smoother, better surface.

It was the second time I had been on the trail since I found last week that it’s pretty much open. Last Saturday, one of my daughters and I rode 16 miles, including a jaunt down to campus, then around Cedar Lake.

It’s been a busy week for CR biker, but thank goodness for bicycles.

Hawk seen on trail during Saturday ride. Another reason to go outside.
Saturday on the trail with my daughter.

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