Sunday, June 5, 2016

In Which 25 Miles Ends in an Urbana Flat

Saw several of these signs on Cedar Valley Nature Trail. 

At about 5 p.m. Sunday, I texted my wife. I don’t recall the exact wording, and I’m too lazy to go find my phone, but the message was about whether I should turn around or push on to Urbana.

I had left home about 3, ridden up the Brentwood Drive hill twice, and then headed north on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

“Push on to Urbana,” my wife texted back, or something like that. So, I did.

They are doing some project along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, there was lots of places on the trail that have loose rock, and new electric poles have been put in north of Center Point. It was warm and nice, but very quiet past Center Point—unlike the Hiawatha end of the trail where there were many bikers. Now, I was in the countryside alone.

Trail north of Center Point--a little barren looking where vegetation was cleared as new electric poles were put in. Beautiful day for a bike ride.

I had originally planned to go to Center Point, and with the Brentwood Hill climbs tossed in, maybe make it to 30 miles or so. Adding the leg to Urbana would make the ride more than 40, possibly pushing 50, although it would also mean it would be pretty late by the time I got back home.

On the other hand, I’d been fighting wind most of the way to Center Point, and that headwind would become a back wind to speed me home. But, as I went north of Center Point, it got worse. The trail conditions got softer, the wind got stiffer and more in my face, and my speed, which had been around 14 to 15 mph most of the way, dropped to 10 or below. I began to doubt if I would make it to Urbana.

But then I shot through the tunnel under Interstate 380, and realized I didn’t have far to go. I haven’t been to Urbana a lot, but I remembered there wasn’t a ton of miles between I-380 and that Benton County village.

But, as I pushed on, the trail seemed to become even mushier. And a voice in the back of my mind began to question if it was all the trail. Sometimes, when a bike ride gets harder and “mushier,” it simply means there’s a problem with your rear tyre.

I could see the Urbana water tower, however, so I pushed on. And when I stopped at the park, I felt the rear tyre.

End of the ride for Argent. Bike rack in park in Urbana. You may not be able to see it, but trust me--the rear tyre is flat.

Mush. I thought about trying to ride back south before it got flatter, but as soft as it was, that didn’t seem like a good option. At least I was in a town, so I phoned my wife, and she and my daughter and grandson were out shopping and agreed to swing by to pick me up. (No, they were not shopping in Urbana—they had never been to Urbana before—but since they were already out, it wasn’t too hard to hop on I-380 and drive a few miles north to pick me up. Urbana is a challenging bike ride, but not so much in the way of a drive.)

Did you know a robin can yell
with a worm in its beak? Trust me.
I had about half an hour alone in the park, other than two Urbana urchins who were riding a scooter and bike. I photographed my bike, and wasted a few minutes photographing the flag in the park. I wasn’t very serious about it—I liked the light, but trying to catch a waving flag in a good pose on a windy day is tougher than it sounds. Check the end of this post and see what you think, but honestly I only shot a dozen or so images. If I was serious and had a good camera, I would have shot 100 and gotten a good one.

I checked my tyre now and then, and confirmed the wisdom of the phone call—the tyre quickly went all the way flat. If I had tried to ride south, I merely would have stranded myself somewhere more obscure than Urbana.

Well, the rescue squad came. They even wanted to go to Culver’s for supper, which was not a bad deal. I’ll get new tyres (both are worn) and a new tube tomorrow, and then I will get my lone bicycle back in riding shape.

Glad I charged up my cell phone before the ride!

And next time I want to aim for 50 miles on my bicycle, I think I’ll turn around at Schultz Road and head south. Argent is clearly meant for pavement.

Old Glory in Urbana. Windy day for a ride, and I never got the benefit of the wind aiding me.

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