Sunday, November 20, 2016

In Which I Praise a Frosty Bare Bike Ride

Lindale Trail Sunday, Nov. 20. Trees are bare, but the trail is still pretty.
I wasn’t bare, let’s be clear about that right up front. I wouldn’t want any of your overactive imaginations to make you queasy.

No, I meant that, several weeks later than usual, we’ve arrived in late fall—dimmer light as the sun is far in the southern sky, trees denuded for their winter sleep.

During this unusually warm fall, I often got comments on campus like “aren’t you enjoying this biking weather” and “you’re lucky you can still be biking in November.”

Not really—due to long underwear, I’m usually biking in November anyway. But this morning, with the air temperature in the 20s and a cold wind making it seem much colder, it was definitely the first really chilly ride of the season. As they say, winter is coming. I didn’t wear warm winter socks today, and it would have been a good idea.

Two images of railing on bridge over Dry Creek on Boyson Trail--note the frost on the rail and bridge deck.

Still, I enjoy being out on a bicycle, even in these dim weeks of the year. We’re only a month from the solstice, so even if we’re not into the coldest weather of the year, we’re into the darkest days.

As fall moves towards winter, there is a dramatic change in the outdoors. The trees are bare, although the compensation for that is you can see both the land and the shapes of the trunks more clearly.

Shadows on Boyson Trail.

Argent parked by bridge as I take some photos.

View on Boyson Trail shortly after I got on the trail at the Boyson Road end. Rising sun, bare trees, blue sky--a bit stark, but still pretty. A good morning to be outside. And to wear gloves ...

When the sky is clear or nearly clearly, there is a special quality to the deeper winter blue of the sky. Even as we approach mid-day, shadows stay long. And although I like bright flowers and green foliage, the brown countryside has its own more subdued beauty.

Well, it wasn’t midday when I took these photos. I was out around 8:30 this morning on the Boyson Trail after heading over the Bowman Woods hill, on my way to the gym.

It was pretty, if cold. I like the peace and serenity of a winter trail. Of course, it will be nicer when the leaves and the flowers and the butterflies all return—but I’ll enjoy the stark beauty of the bare weeks while they are here.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

In Which I Ride A Crisp 20 Miles

Rode 20 miles on a crisp fall Saturday on this bike today.

Hey Google Maps. How are you doing? I guess I can’t blame you—after all, I’ve been there before.

Three of my grandchildren were taking part in a hockey camp today at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, and my daughter invited me to come watch them (and sit with the granddaughter in the same family who is too young for the camp).

According to Google maps, the ice arena is 40 minutes by bicycle from my house. I glanced at the map it suggested for the route. Among other things, it called for me to cross the Cedar River on Third Avenue and continue to a cross street that would lead to the Ice Arena.

Except that south of the river, Third Avenue becomes a one-way headed north. I am not willing to ride a bicycle the wrong way on a one-way street, so I had to turn off the map route. Google said I would ride 7 miles to get where I was going, but I ended up going closer to 9.

It’s easy to get a bit lost on a bicycle in an unfamiliar part of town, and the area south of the river is mostly uncharted territory for me. I did get to the Ice Arena, although I was a bit late.

Still, it was fun seeing the kids trying to play hockey. Not that I’m better on the ice (I tried it once and decided I won’t ever again, or at least not without padding and a helmet).

I had to leave shortly after 1 to go to Mount Mercy University to meet a student to show him how to shoot basketball photos. Between the Ice Arena, MMU, and a 2-mile trip to and from the gym, it turned out I rode 20 miles today, which I only know because I rode my “fun” bike, Argent, that has a computer on it. Clarence could have handled the miles, but the distance would have only been a guess!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

In Which Dark November Arrives in Warmth

Cedar Lake around 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4.

The late, warm fall continues in Iowa. At a time when trees would nearly be bare and the world brown, grass is still green and leaves are still falling.

We’ve moved from early fall, but haven’t had a killing freeze yet, so our warm patch is just “summer,” not “Native American Summer.” It is warm like September but dark like November.

Well, it if feels a bit off, it’s also pretty. As you can see.

Another view of Cedar Lake Nov. 4.

Dry Creek along Boyson Trail, on my way to the gym morning of Nov. 5.

Friday shadow, heading home from Cedar Lake.

Traffic on the trail near Cedar Lake, Nov. 4.

Lindale Trail Nov. 5.