Monday, May 29, 2017

In Which First Summer Weekend Equals Almost 100

My sister Cate leads the way as we head north on the Cedar River Trail beside the Cedar River in the afternoon on Memorial Day, 2017.

I rode the first “long ride” of the summer this Memorial Day. I did think patriotic thankful thoughts when I passed many U.S. flag displays, and flew my own flag today—so I didn’t forget the fallen or the reason for the day.

Anyway, my sister Cate and I met before 9 a.m. today, and I helped her change the tube in her back wheel—the first of two bike repairs on this busy day. In payment, she took me to breakfast at Gumption, a new “farm to fork” restaurant near the corner of Boyson Road and C Avenue. They were busy, but the wait was not long and the food was good.

Breakfast was at Gumption in Cedar Rapids.

By about 10, we headed out, riding over to the Cedar River Trail in Hiawatha and heading south—going over part of the upcoming “Bookworms on Bikes” ride, which is slated for the upcoming first Saturday in June. We forgot to salute the Hiawatha Library, but did honor the libraries in Cedar Rapids, Ely and Solon, all of which we passed.

Anyway, early in the ride, we encountered a woman stopped just south of the rail overpass. She had been shifting gears to head up the hill on the trail there, and her chain had gotten off track and then stuck. Unsticking it turned, like changing Cate’s tube, into a two-person operation in which I think I was lead surgeon, but Cate was an important team member.

Luckily, Cate had a multi-tool with her, and I was able to use a small blade of it to help pry the stuck link loose, although I bloodied my pinkie on my left hand in the process. A very tiny honor wound on Memorial Day.

Anyway, after that unexpected stop we then proceeded. The day was fine, a little cool and windy, but pretty good biking weather. While we headed south and east, the wind was our friend, although we were well aware it wouldn’t always remain that way.

A pretty day to be on the trail. Headed south, almost out of Cedar Rapids, but not to Hoover Trail just yet. The wind is behind us and we are flying along.
There was plenty of traffic on the trail this fine first holiday of summer 2017. The Corridor Business Journal did a story this week about how bike trails in the area have led to new businesses. It’s a well done story, but I would like to note that many existing businesses that aren’t right on the trail also get part of the bike trail economic boost—businesses like Gumption, where we had breakfast, or Big Grove Brewery in Solon, where we enjoyed lunch.

I probably will be back to both establishments—I enjoyed both meals. But I had particular fondness for Big Grove Brewery. I had a chicken sandwich that was well prepared and spicy with “Korean” barbecue sauce on it. Cate ordered (and shared) a deviled egg appetizer, and then had a salad which she pronounced good. I had an IPA beer, she had a stout—and both were very smooth and tasty. Jon, I think you would have approved and listed them both on your beer app.

Inside Big Grove Brewery in Solon, waitress passes a saying that seems made for RAGBRAI.
So the brewery won the food prize of the day, although it had the advantage that we had been on our bikes for more than 30 miles when we got there (riding builds the appetite), and they also served nicely done craft beers. I don’t think it was exactly an even playing field for the restaurants.

My beer, a nice, tasty India Pale Ale. Cate enjoys a stout. Both were very good.

Deviled egg appetizers are half gone--how did that happen?

Although I did not notice it, Cate said the breakfast restaurant had cow pictures too. Cows were thus a theme of the day.

Unsolicited product placement. No hidden connection on this blog--I get no reward for saying this. But my advice is, open the door, go in and order stuff. You probably won't regret it.
Anyway, following lunch was the ride back. Into the wind—we had to work on our way home.

Our route to Ely was trail all the way, but we were on county roads from Ely to Solon. That part was a bit hairy, and because we had both been spooked by traffic, we decided the return journey from Solon to Ely would be partly on gravel roads instead. As luck would have it, we missed the turnoff onto the road we were seeking, and so ended up returning to Solon again on the busy county road.

I’m not sure what that foreshadows for the Bookworm ride this Saturday—I’m not 100 percent on what the route will be for that ride. Still, most of that ride is on trails.

Busy county road between Solon and Ely. A bit dicey for a bike ride! We were pretty happy to get to the end of the trail, below, in Ely.

After we headed north on the trail in Cedar Rapids, we cut over to go through Noelridge Park, eliminating the rail overpass hill. As we had more than 50 miles in our bike seats, we were feeling entitled to make the end of the ride a bit easier.

After we crossed Collins Road on F Avenue, we parted ways. As I headed north on C Avenue, my odometer topped 58 miles. Somehow, that would not do, so I circled the Rockwell Collins pond twice and then also did a little detour down the Lindale Trail—riding just the paved part to get a little more distance.

And I easily topped 60 miles for the day. I am not sure if Cate did—I had 3 more miles then here to begin with because of my morning ride to her house, and I don’t know if she did any extra loops, but I bet she rode over 55 miles today.

Looking west across Rockwell Collins pond. I circled it twice on the the way home since I had about 58 miles and decided I wanted 60. Corner of C Avenue and Blair's Ferry, below. Even a busy city street looked nice on this this opening day of summer in Cedar Rapids.

My computer's measure of my trip. Almost 61 miles today.

I now have a hot pad on my left knee, which is sending my brain nasty messages to remind it that there is supposed to be arthritis there. I’m very tired—I will probably go to bed early tonight without watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (in case you wonder, the only season I’ve not seen before is season 5, and I just watched the episode where Buffy finds out Dawn is not really her sister). Other than that, I feel I survived the first “long ride” of RAGBRAI training fairly well.

It rained Friday, but I rode 25 miles on Saturday, so that gives me 85 miles for the weekend. With additional rides Sunday (all of the three Sunday rides were on Argent with grandchildren riding the Tag-A-Long, so miles are a guess) the weekend gets close to a century. Probably not quite that—I doubt the three Sunday rides totaled more than 10 miles in all—but still, it was a great biking weekend.

Beyond the Memorial Day epic trek to Solon, the weekend featured many visits to the Rockwell Collins pond on C Avenue, where grandchildren and I enjoy watching the duck family. I also rode the Lindale and Boyson Road trails with the youngsters.

And the reason Saturday added up to 25 miles is that 22 miles were my first ride north to Lafayette and back. Along the way, I did the new loop in Robins that leads to the city park there. It’s a pleasant loop—not much distance, but it is a well paved, woodsy loop.

So I found some new eateries and some new bike paths. I think this was a well-used biking weekend!

The young ducks at pond on C Avenue. This image was from Saturday ride with a grandson, as is the next one, too.

New side trail loop in Robins off of Cedar Valley Nature Trail leads to loop through city park. It's not a long loop, but pleasant and paved.

Peony in Robins City Park.

On the short loop back to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

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