Thursday, June 1, 2017

In With May Passes with 45 More Miles

Two views of my bike at Schultz Road heading north to Center Point--right on the edge of smooth new paving .

On June 1, we had a house full with seven grandchildren. It was a chaotic, wonderful day. And it featured a mostly satisfying set of bicycle rides, except for one unfortunate spill.

We planned a picnic in the park. With nine people in the house, our group exceeded the carrying capacity of our minivan (yes, a VW microbus would have come in handy), so we planned to use “the bike bus” (Clarence with toddler seat and Tag-Along) as a second vehicle.

On the way to the park, the oldest granddaughter rode the Tag-Along, with the youngest grandson in the toddler seat and the oldest grandson on his own bicycle. On the way home, a younger grandson rode the Tag-Along, but otherwise our band of bikers was the same crew. Our route from Willow Park to home involved riding a short way on a quiet street, turning down a sidewalk for a half block, going through a parking lot, and then turning right to head along the Boyson Trail to the Lindale Trail.

When we got to the right turn from the stub of a trail leading from the parking lot to the Boyson trail, my oldest grandson was going just a bit too fast and turned his bike just a bit too abruptly. BAM!

If you’ve never spilled on a bicycle, one of the odd things about the experience is how quick it seems. I’ve been in car accidents before, and in those, it feels like time slows down. Not so with a bike accident—maybe it has something to do with the odd physics of the balance required to keep a bicycle upright, but when something messes that physics up, you go from elegant balance to sudden smashing in less than the blink of an eye.

So, always wear your bicycle helmet.

Fortunately, no cranial damage was threatened by this spill, but my grandson did get some nasty lacerations on his knee. Fortunately, he was still able to continue riding, so we headed home, where my wife cleaned and bandaged the knee.

Anyway, that was the low point of what so far has been a very good biking week. As you know from my previous post, I rode 60 miles with my sister on Memorial Day. On Wednesday, the final day of May, I didn’t have the time to try to equal those miles, but I did climb the Bowman Woods Hill four times—twice in the morning on a ride to the gym, and twice in the afternoon in the start of another ride.

I had about 9 miles on the day from the morning, when, fairly late in the afternoon, I did my two hill climbs and then headed over to the Cedar River Trail ride it north to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Before Wednesday, I had only been to Lafayette once this year, and I wanted to aim beyond it. I knew they recently paved the last three trail miles to Center Point—and I was curious to see the newly reconstructed trail section.

So off I rode. I was on my road bike (I rode Argent all day Wednesday, which was nice because that means I have a pretty good mileage count). I reached the Hiawatha trail head about 4 p.m., and didn’t want to be out late, so I tried to make good time.

Three views of the new stretch of paved trail to Center Point. Wednesday was a bit breezy, but still a gorgeous day for a bike ride.

There was a bit of wind, so I did hunker down now and then into the pushed-over position the road bike handlebars allow. I paused briefly in Lafayette—by the time I go there from my house, I had been on the bike for close to an hour—and then after my break, I pushed on to Center Point.

Well, the new trail sure is new—smooth and fine. The ride used to feel a bit woodsier, with underbrush encroaching more, but they cut it back a bit when they did this paving project. The three miles between Schultz Road, where paving used to end, and Center Point passed quickly. The blacktop became cement in Center Point itself.

After a rest there, I headed home. I made it by about 6:15, which means I rode 26 miles in just over two hours. That’s not exactly a land speed record, but for an old man like me who is, frankly, a very slow bike rider, that is a good pace.

My bike parked at the rail depot in Center Point. Note the cement trail. Also, below, two views of the improved road crossing at Alice Road, one of the busiest road crossing on the trail. The rest area in Lafayette is still an outhouse, but it's a much nicer, newer outhouse. There has been lots of work done north of Cedar Rapids on this trail!

My one regret is that I had not changed into biking shorts before the evening ride. I don’t usually wear them for shorter rides, but for this afternoon ride, which totaled more than 30 miles due to the trips to and from my house, extra padding would have saved me some discomfort.

Odometer at end of ride.

Still, part of RAGBRAI training isn’t about the legs or the lungs. It’s training your rear to simply bear your weight on a bike seat for an extended period of time. In that sense, I suppose the Wednesday ride was a success.

I’ll probably get another ride in tomorrow, but I won’t aim for so many miles. The Bookworm ride, from the Marion Public Library to the Iowa City Public Library, is set for Saturday. Watch the Facebook page for any adjustments to the starting time—there may be some weather related issues on Saturday that could have an effect on time—and I hope to see you on the trail Saturday!

And wear a helmet.

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