Monday, October 31, 2016

In Which October Ends In Beauty

OK, not that many words. I had to work on campus today, and rode there via the trail route. Here are 24 images of a cool, but very pretty autumn bicycle ride:

C Avenue looks too pretty to be real.

Sumac along Cedar River Trail.

Grasshopper on trail.

Cedar Lake. It's about 1 p.m. but sun is so low these days the light seems like late afternoon.

Geese on Cedar Lake.

Sun and sky reflected and distorted in lake surface.

This and next few--gulls on lake.

Brigid, Eldon, starting to be more trikes on CR trails.

Creek next to lake--Mallards!


J Avenue.

Detail of that J Avenue Maple.

This and next--house with maple has lots of Halloween decorations.

Final set. I've climbed hill and am about to park bike--Marigolds are still in bloom next to Regina Hall and insects are still gathering nectar on Oct. 30.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

In Which I Ride In Shorts

Logo from
Riding a bicycle while wearing shorts doesn’t exactly make me a rebel.

Except it’s almost November. All Hallow’s Eve is Monday. And on Saturday, I rode to the gym in the morning and a took a little detour along the Boyson Trail to get there—while wearing shorts.

Well, they recently announced the RAGBRAI logo for next year’s ride, so perhaps thinking about summer is not so odd. But it feeling like summer outside?

Hey, give us a nice hard freeze. We need those insects to learn it’s time to be outa here.

Still, it was a very pretty morning ride to the gym ….

Morning sun shines through trees on Boyson Trail Saturday Oct. 29.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

In Which We See The Best Bike Rack

Wednesday afternoon after parking in Pit, I find a new bike rack on pavement. That is nice.

It was raining Wednesday morning, and had rained Tuesday night. On Tuesday, I left my bike in my office and rode home with my wife after doing an evening presentation at MMU.

So it was no big deal it was raining Wednesday—I needed to hitch a ride back to campus to get my bicycle anyway.

That afternoon, I was scheduled to be interviewed for local cable TV. I decided to ride my bike there, but it was still misting when I tried to leave campus, so I decided to drive the van my wife usually drives.

And when I got back to campus, the parking lot behind Warde Hall was full. So I drove around to the pit, parked in a faculty-staff space, and walked up the Basile Hall stairs and sidewalk towards Warde Hall.

And there I saw it. I’m sure it has been there for a while, but is new this year This is the style of bike rack just donated to MMU by the Bike Club, and this rack has been installed on a cement pad near Basile Hall.

That, my friends, is the best bike rack on campus. The one near Warde Hall is bigger, but is also located in a garden. I feel guilty leaving Clarence in those damp leaves every time I ride to campus. The bike rack by Regina is in a grassy area.

Bikes are vehicle. They are small, sure, but a vehicle parking lot is usually paved, not grass nor set in the midst of flowers. The issue isn't contact with nature--after all, like most bikers, I bike partly because I want to be out in nature--but is is moisture. Grass and gardens can be damp places, and bikes have all sorts of steel parts waiting to oxidize.

So this bike rack was a bit of a pleasant surprise. The same day I found it, I used it, to park Clarence briefly while I moved the van back up into the Warde lot late in the afternoon after it emptied a bit.

Clarence in rack. OK, the pad be just a tad wider and the rack back just a bit so that bikes don't stick out into the sidewalk, but it's still the right idea.

I thought of parking there today, but was in a bit of a hurry. If I have time, I may tomorrow. I like the idea of my bike on a slab of pavement—it seems cleaner and drier than other earthier locations. So thank you, MMU. You got it almost right on this one.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In Which We See All Kinds of Fall

Fall! What a great season to be a bicycle rider.

On Tuesday, following the final day of work before break, I swung by Cedar Lake on the Cedar River Trail, and there saw more majestic water birds ready for their commute south. I've seen pelicans and egrets before, but not often at the same time.

Then today, first day of break, I rode probably 30 miles--riding to the gym in the morning, taking an afternoon ride with my grandson on the Boyson Trail and then a longer ride a few miles north on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Not sure of total miles--I logged 21 on Argent's computer, but also rode Clarence on several rides today, and I don't have a computer on Clarence. Anyway, the rest of this post is just a photo gallery of some of the cool stuff I saw while riding my bikes during this gorgeous fall week:

Sunrise Tuesday morning, getting ready to cross Collins Road on F Avenue.

Pelican (and egret at right) at Cedar Lake, Tuesday early evening.

Zooming in on pelican. Note egret in background.

Egret takes a stroll on Cedar Lake.

I think he's posing for a photo. Egret reflections.

Wednesday late afternoon ride--milkweed behind commercial development at corner of C Avenue and Boyson Road.

It's 5:30. I'm only 3 1/2 miles north of Hiawatha trailhead, but decide I have to head home to make supper for self, daughter and grandson. Argent in setting sun parked by Cedar River Trail at turn-around point.

Sumac along trail back lit by setting sun.

I just crossed Robins Road, looking west from the bend the trail takes there. Final view of sky as setting sun and clouds makes spotlight effects.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In Which We Think of Hitchcock Films

The crow in the corner calls the morning bird meeting to order.
See the power lines, which I photographed on a cool, cloudy Wednesday morning during my bicycle ride to Mount Mercy University. This is on Eastern Avenue.

“The Birds,” right? The crow that seems to be chairing this meeting did squawk a bit menacingly at me as I paused to photograph this group—sadly, only one crow so it’s just a group of birds, not a murder—but I don’t think it quothed “nevermore.”

And so I emerged from said spooky October dinosaur photo shoot unscathed.

It’s fall y’all, and the seasonal bird sightings continued Wednesday afternoon. I choose the trail route home, and there wasn’t just one white bird of unusual size at Cedar Lake—two flocks of pelicans graced the lake with their awkward, stately presence. They were pretty to see, and I may swing by the lake today to see if they’re there in the bright, cool, pretty fall sunshine of today.

The pelicans have landed. There were in two groups, one on the lake near the north shore (first two photos) and one that came in for a landing in the middle of the lake (bottom photo).

Finally, get a load of the deer. This is not the same photo shoot as in my previous blog post—this is later on my ride home Wednesday, almost there—the deer are right beside C Avenue near rush hour—I hope they don’t become McMeat via any car (or bike) dodging!

Light is fading, so walking deer is a blur. There were three in this group.
Today featured featured the first frost of fall–definitely a jacket morning. I looked, but did not find my winter gloves, and my bike gloves did not quite cut it. My digits were frigid by the time I got to campus, although not too frozen to shoot an image of the frosty grass at sunrise.

First frost--I hope you can see it on the oak leaf. Sunrise on hillside at MMU this morning.
Fall is indeed second only to spring as a pleasant biking season. I love the cool air. The advantages that spring has are: Flowers. And the bugs aren’t out yet. But with frost in the air, we may be getting to the end of mosquito season in Iowa. The true bug hammer won’t come down until the first hard freeze, which isn’t even in the weather forecast, yet.

Maybe that’s a good thing. I still have time to find those gloves.

Friday, October 7, 2016

In Which October Features Great Skies, Critters

Morning ride earlier this week, sun just coming up a bit after 7 turning C Avenue pond golden.

Cooling off now in the upper Midwest—I heard they had snow in South Dakota and are even talking blizzard in parts of Iowa west of here.

Not here. Maybe frost. Cool nights are starting to settle in, and this was the week I had to wear a jacket to ride one morning. But cool doesn’t bother me—in fact it make biking more pleasant—so I don’t mind.

As our hemisphere shies away from the sun, the mornings have become time to ride with lights, but also times of very pretty skies.

Later that same morning, Tuesday I think although I am not sure--sky as I arrive at top of MMU hill, Rohde Plasa.

And I think critters are starting to note the changing season—large water birds in odd places, like an egret this morning in the small Rockwell-Collins pond on C Avenue. Dinosaurs are on the move as the seasons shift.

Wednesday afternoon? Deer by C Avenue bridge in the evening.

Friday morning, C Avenue pond. Don't see big water birds there often. I am zoomed in, but this bird is pretty close--maybe 15 yards away at sidewalk-C Avenue end of pond.

Cedar Lake Friday about 5 p.m. Bird above was walking around (below).

I’ve been pretty sick the past two weeks, but still have been able to bike. I’m finally starting to feel just a little better, so here’s hoping next week also features some pleasant, cool fall biking!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

In Which We Tour Two Lake Parks

Selfie of one--"Bike Club" ride Sept. 30.

Friday was cloudy and cool. Due to personal illness—I’ve been battling a severe cold that has kept me sub par for more than a week—I wasn’t sure if I would stick around for the Bike Club ride, but Friday, while not exactly feeling well, I felt better than I had for a while.

But, when 4:30 came around, there were no student bikers. Well, it was a cool day, with clouds, and my student biking buddies do tend to be fair weather bikers. So the bike club selfie consisted of a self portrait.

Trail around Cedar Lake Friday was ... open! Extra pond to the right.

I headed over to the Cedar River Trail, and aimed for Cedar Lake. I did not really expect to get there, because the Cedar River reached major flood stage this week, and the lake and its area were under water.

Surprisingly, the trail was open around the lake. You could kind of tell water had been there—the pavement was dry, but had an odd sort of sandy-mud patina on it—fortunately very thin and not wet.

At the north end of the trail—the “low” end—it was much damper, but even here it wasn’t muddy nor difficult to bike.

North end of trail--damper, but still easy to bike.

Well, the flood of 2016 turned out to be less of a deal than expected for this trail. Whew. There are homes and businesses dealing with damage, and among the great sigh Cedar Rapids sending up that this flood wasn’t a 2008 flood, we ought to remember that, too.

Anyway, Saturday we had a little field trip to Ames planned, to visit our son who is a math PhD student at ISU, and to harvest some seeds. He lives in an apartment complex near Lincoln Way, and has quite a stand of common Iowa milkweed growing in a ditch in front of his buillding.

Milkweed pod in ditch in Ames--with passenger. I left him alone--I was only after pods that were starting to split anyway.

This weekend, we decided, based on cell phone images he had texted to his mom, that some was dry enough to harvest. Audrey, my daughter, my grandson and I all piled into our van, loaded on two bikes and took off for Ames. We met Ben, had a satisfying lunch at the CafĂ©, rode our bikes around Ada Hayden Heritage Park (or walked, in the daughter’s case, or both rode in a stroller and rode on a bicycle in the grandson’s case) and collected some seeds.

The park is very nice. It belies those who say “prairies are ugly,” which is a line I heard recently, as the drying native grasses and flowers add a quaint beauty to the small lake.

Audrey and Ben (and my bike) on bridge at Ada Hayden Park. Looking across the lake (below). Pretty drying grasses and my daughter finishing her walk (bottom).

I’m not sure, due to location, whether Cedar Lake will ever be this pretty. But, Cedar Lake is what we’ve go in Cedar Rapids, and I’m glad the trail around it wasn’t damaged in the most recent flood.

So Friday and Saturday added up to two cloudy, cool rides around two very satisfying lakes.