Thursday, June 8, 2017

I Which I am Rescued and Save my Rescuer

Catalpa tree in bloom on Boyson Trail, from morning ride.
What a nice day! I wish I could say I got some serious biking miles in today.

Oh wait. I can. Getting lost will do that for you.

I am not sure how many miles I biked, but I did probably 8 or 9 miles in the morning with my grandson, who I was watching for most of the day. We left home around 9:30 or so, biked to Hanna Park in Marion, played for a few minutes, and then biked the trail home.

We were home by 11. I had changed him at the park, so we ate lunch and were laying down for a nap by noon. He slept for around an hour and a half. After he got up, we had a snack, emptied the dehumidifiers (trust me, when you are alone with a bumbling boy of about a year and a half, that’s an extensive adventure). By 3, I asked him if he wanted to take another bike ride.

“Yeah,” he said. And he meant it—the grandson is almost as addicted to the bike as I am. So we put on more sunscreen and bug soother, and headed off with no particular destination in mind. I rode over to Noelridge Park, thinking maybe we would stop there, but it looked a bit busy, so I continued on to the Cedar River Trail.

We went south, and stopped when we got to the park at J Avenue. We played for a few minutes, but the grandson was not as excited about this park. It’s possible there wasn’t as much “cool stuff” there, but partly it was because he was really enjoying the bike ride, and didn’t really want to spend much time away from the bike.

Since we were close to Mount Mercy, I texted my wife and daughter who were working there. My wife texted back and suggested I bring the grandson to campus, so I did.

There, my wife proposed she take the grandson home and I continue on a bike ride. That sounded good to me. I started the ride by climbing the MMU Hill four times via four different routes—I wanted to ensure I got some hill practice in today.

As fate would have it, I need not have worried on that point.

Where to go on my ride? It occurred to me I hadn’t visited the Prairie Park Fishery nor the Sac and Fox Trail much this year. I decided to do the Sac and Fox from the north end, and then I could swing by the fishery.

Anyway, I am not sure why I went down Prairie Drive by Franklin Middle School. I had the vague notion that it would be easy to find Washington High School, and from there head down Cottage Grove to the Sac and Fox Trail area.

Except, I was wrong. I managed to get turned around in the unfamiliar neighborhood east of First Avenue. I ended up on 19th  Street, which I knew was way too far south, so I turned north on Grand Avenue, which I took to Bever Park. From there, I headed north on Bever Avenue.

As it turns out, Bever Avenue ends somewhere I have never been before. I had some heckish hills during that odd ride to nowhere. Yet, I wasn’t upset—I figured Cedar Rapids is not that big, and the point was to ride my bike anyway, so who cares if I rode for a while on new streets?

Except suddenly I was on East Post Road during rush hour. I don’t even know how I got there. I knew that East Post went by the Sac and Fox Trail, so at first I decided to stick with it, but after a hill climb in traffic there, I didn’t want to remain on East Post anymore, so I turned off at the first substantial looking side street.

And I almost immediately got lost again. Eventually I accidentally found Mt. Vernon Road. I headed up a sidewalk (I was not going to ride on Mt. Vernon Road, it would have been worse than East Post) until I came to a light across the street from a HyVee. I figured if I turned right, I would be heading into the area of Memorial Drive and could find that street and then reach Otis Road.

And, oops, I did it again. Only worse, this time. It was as if I had been dropped into a strange town. Nothing was familiar at all. My spirits were starting to sag a bit—partly because, for hill-climbing reasons, I was very reluctant to try to backtrack to Mt. Vernon Road.

I texted form this corner. I have no idea where it is except it's in Cedar Rapids.
I texted my wife to let her know I was hopelessly lost, but expected to be home some time. I just didn’t know exactly when. And, no, in cast you ask, although I do have a smartphone, I do not have a GPS app, partly because I don’t use any roaming data.

Anyway, about that time, another biker rode by me, with a passing “hello.” He was a serious looking biker, a tan spandex-clad skeleton on a thin, quick bicycle.

I hailed him and he stopped. “Where are you headed?” I asked.

“I’m going to ride the trail down by New Bo,” he said.

“How are you going to get there?” I asked. He started to give me directions, looked at me, and saw that I was confused. More than usual, I mean.

“Would you like to follow me?” he kindly offered. Kindly because he was a fast biker on a good road bike, and I’m a biker who is slow even when I’m in biking clothes on a road bike—and I was riding an even slower hybrid bike in plain civilian attire. Trust me, my butt was letting me know what it thought of all these miles without biking shorts. In effect, Mr. Biker Guy was selflessly offering to ride at an incredibly glacial pace for him, just to help me out.

I thanked him and followed him. Several twist and turns later (good thing he let me follow him), we were at Memorial Drive. I thanked him, and I assured him I could get where I was going from there. We waved goodbye and he took off.

But as I crested a rise, there he was again, this time stopped on the side of the road. “My chain came off,” he said. It wasn’t broken, it had just over shifted off of his front gears. He flipped his bike over, and I held the rear derailleur for him as he put the chain back on track. It wasn’t stuck, just off, so he got it on the gear again fairly quickly.

That’s biking karma for you. He had slowed down to aid me, which meant I was there to help him.

We again said so long and I took off. A few minutes later he zoomed past me with parting wishes for a good ride.

Which I had. It was longer than expected and a bit tiring, but I took Memorial over to Otis Road, and then circled the Prairie Park Fishery. Along the way, I chatted briefly with Dr. David Klope from Mount Mercy.

Prairie Park Fishery, above. And Catalpa bloom, below, along the loop around the lake there. Honestly, why doesn't everybody have a Catalpa tree?

Then, I rode over towards the Cedar River Trail. I took the St. Ludmilla shortcut to get there—but now I was in geography so familiar to me that a known shortcut was worth it.

How far did I go? I was on bike from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. or so, but it was in-town biking, so it’s hard to say. I think I topped 40 miles for the day and maybe even did 50, but without a computer on my bike, I do not really know. I could look at a map, but I’m not sure I could ever find the route that I actually rode.

And I rode lots of hills, which made today’s mystery ride good RAGBRAI practice! That’s even what I told myself when I was lost—it was good RAGBRAI practice since RAGBRAI is a hot summer ride where you’re lost most of the time. Except you know the way on RAGBRAI due to the stream of 10,000 bikers you’re in, so I guess today was a different kind of slightly edgier, solitary lost.

Still, it was a gorgeous day for a bike ride. And I got in two rides with the grandson, and that’s always a winning day.

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