Tuesday, September 6, 2022

In Which A Birthday Ride Reaches Its Goal

New trail and bike
First ride on Sept. 4--Clarence, my hybrid bike, at new trail that will extend Lindale Trail to the west.

Waldo's Rock
Second ride--The Fancy Beast, my mountain bike, at Waldos Rock Park (that's Waldo's Rock, a boulder dumped by a glacier, in the background).

Cedar Valley Nature Trail
Third ride--Argent, my road bike, on Cedar Valley Nature Trail north of Hiawatha. I'm almost back in town again, I think this is when I stopped to make images of a snake.

OK, I implied on an earlier post that I was unsure about riding my birthday this year, and I was.

But this Saturday I purchased new tyres and installed them on two of my bikes. So Sunday they wanted to go somewhere, and I obliged.

Worn tire
Worn back tyre on Argent. Time for a new one, which I got Saturday.

Worn tire
Clarence has the worn tyre blues. Front tyre needs a change.
Saturday after visit to bike shop--new tyres (and a little pump to take with me on rides).
Besides tyres, I got this little pump Saturday. I tested it when changing the tyres, and it's much nicer than most frame pumps. I put it in a bag on Argent, have the bracket to hold it on The Fancy Beast, and use this bungee when taking it on Clarence.

I got the hybrid bike out early, went to church, and then added about 15 miles by swinging down to Cedar Lake and stopping at campus before going home.

This first ride featured some nice sights—in particular, pelicans, which visit us twice a year headed north (spring) or south (fall) were visiting Cedar Lake this Sunday. Very nice.

Here and next images, pelicans on Cedar Lake.



Cedar Lake
Hybrid bike at Cedar Lake.

Before the lake, I checked out the new trail that is being built to take the Lindale Tral farther west into Cedar Rapids. It’s a short trail going nowhere right now, but should be tied into the Lindale Trail yet this fall.

New trail
Paved part of new trail heading west of Lindale Trail.

Future trail
Same trail, but looking east at incomplete part.

Noelridge Park--people walking dogs are not the most dangerous thing on two legs you might encounter.

After the lake, I paused at the Plaster Athletic Complex to watch a bit of baseball and softball. Then I rode to the main campus of Mount Mercy University, where I work, and on campus, I was pleased to spot several monarch butterflies on Swamp Milkweed by the library. And I made some images of the Grotto, just because it was there.

This, and next image, caterpillars on campus.

Bike at Plaster complex
Bike at Plaster Complex.



After I got home, I was hatching the plan. If I rode all three bikes today, could I do it? It’s just that 17 was a chunk of miles, and 64 didn’t seem that far way. I was checking out some new routes, and I have intended for a while to ride my mountain bike to Waldo’s Rock Park to check out some grassy trails. I suppose they are for hiking, but I figured the mountain bike could navigate them.

Trail at Waldos Rock
Grassy trail through a natural flower meadow at Waldos Rock.

I was taking a very RAGBRAI approach to riding my birthday—dividing the ride into segments where I got a treat in between each segment. Only the “town” I kept visiting was my own home. All of the riding I did on the mountain bike added another 17 or so, so I was up to 34 miles—I exceeded Bon Jovi, I was more than halfway there.

The lunch break was a while—I fixed myself a feast (home-style thick cut potato chips and tuna salad wraps), figuring I was burning some calories. And I paused to swap some things around on my bikes—put on a new bell and some new lights my wife got me for my birthday. It felt like the bikes should have their birthday swag for birthday rides. The lunch break, by the way, was between the hybrid bike—Clarence—and the mountain bike—The Fancy Beast.

New bell on The Fancy Beast.

New lights on Argent.

After the ride to Waldo’s Rock, I had another break. What with one thing and another, it was getting a bit late, but I only had 30 miles to go. And the final bike, Argent, is my road bike, the bike on which I can move the fastest.

Of course, I had already moved myself 34 miles, and I’m never a racer, so “fast” is a relative term. I rode north on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, figuring if I went to Center Point and back, I would be close to my goal. I didn’t make it. It was cloudy and dim, and by the time I got close to Schultz Road (10 miles north of Hiawatha) I was worried about riding the trail in full dark, so I turned back.

10 mile marker
Turn-around point on ride north, 10-mile mark just short of Schultz Road.

Where you wondering if you would see the snake? Yes you would. It crawled off into the grass, scared, apparently, of a photographer although my bike seemed to have made no impression at all.

But a 20-miles round trip on the trail, plus the few miles I rode to get to the trail, meant my goal was in reach. I had to do some deliberate indirectness, some inefficient moving around in the neighborhood north of Boyson Road between Council Street C Avenue, but I thought getting a few extra miles in the full dark of night was smarter on lit city streets than on a dark rural trail.

When I turned on to Devonshire Drive for the final half mile, I didn’t quite have enough distance. In the area of Devonshire north of Boyson, there are some planters in the middle of the street, and anybody looking out their window then might have wondered at the crazy old man who, at about 8:15 p.m., kept circling those planters. I was getting the couple of tenths of a mile I was missing.

Sunday ride.

Is it a bird? A plane? No, it's my Labor Day ride.

And when I got home, I had 0.19 miles more than I needed—but then again, I was a few days after my 64th birthday, so maybe I needed to exceed 64 miles just a bit. With a 10-mile journey today, I’m at 99.54 for September and 2,017.11 for the year so far. But mostly, let's recall that I made it 64!

Saturday, September 3, 2022

In Which I Enjoy Early Fall Light

Waldo's Rock Pond
Aug. 21 (this and next three images). I bike ride down the Lindale and Grant Wood Trails on the final Sunday before school begins. Late day ride, pretty evening. Pond at Waldo's Rock.

A running cloud puppy.

Light on pond
Golden late sunshine on the pond at Waldo's Rock Park.

Golden hazy light as sun nears horizon, seen at the new bridge into Marion.

Evenings are coming a bit earlier these days—not super early, but the change in light is becoming obvious, and I’m using lights on my bikes a bit more. I’m also enjoying the pretty light of the low late sun.

This week, my wife got me a new bike bells and a set of fairy lights for a bike for my birthday. And I got myself some new tires and a portable pump. That doesn’t sum up my birthday entirely, but it was a good biker birthday on Tuesday.

And a bachelor one, too. My wife, who is retired, was visiting a grandson and his family in San Francisco on Aug. 30, the day I turned 64. (She left the gifts at a daughter’s house, where I went to celebrate.)

And no, since my birthday was a school day, I didn’t ride 64 miles. I’m not sure if I will do that this weekend, or not. Maybe I can count all the miles ridden this weekend towards that goal?

Anyway, the Iowa weather has turned dry. Grass is crunchy, trees look a bit sad and high summer, a time when the greens are a bit less vibrant and you can see signs of approaching fall in reddening Sumac and enlarging orb webs, is upon us.

It’s generally good biking weather, although, unlike my wife, I am not retired, so my time on two wheels has been a bit constrained by the reality of work. Still, I finished August with 335.33 miles, have ridden 20.05 in the first two days of September, and have 1,937.62 for the year.

In this week’s biking development in my corner of the world: There is a trail I often ride, the Lindale Trail, that heads from Cedar Rapids into Marion to link with the Grant Wood Trail. I posted pictures on this blog of the two new bridges they’ve constructed to joint the cities, but one stretch of that route has been a limestone stretch, less then a mile, but mushy when wet.

Given the plans to enlarge Marion’s trails and link them to Cedar Rapids, I always thought it was a bit odd that this one bit of limestone was left. I figured sooner or later, they would put up “trail closed” signs and, something like six months later, the trail would open.

I was wrong. Not about them paving it, but about the time frame. They coated that section with blacktop in two days. Whew.

Roundabouts are featured on the transit of Marion, and they are a bit dicey. You approach them with traffic headed your way behind your back, at an odd angle. I have to train myself to come to a full stop before crossing traffic, and it feels way more awkward that going through an intersection. Honestly, I'm not one of those drivers who hates roundabouts--I don't love them either, just am neutral on the whole "are roundabouts Satan's traffic control?" question. Just getting acclimated to them on my bike, and hoping no injuries are sustained as I get used to them. 

Anyway, the new trail blacktop and getting used the roundabouts were features of a Sunday ride Aug. 28.

Pond at Waldo's Rock
Aug. 28--Another Sunday, another view of pond at Waldo's Rock--a bit early this time, and shot with my cell phone since I didn't carry a camera on this ride.
Lindale Trail
Riders about to cross onto new asphalt on newly paved stretch of Lindale Trail.

Bike lane
A small part of the new route through Marion is on a bike lane--with roundabouts at each end.
Crossing the street here at the roundabout involves an awkward left turn. Takes some getting used to.
Asphalt on Grant Wood Trail
Trail east of Waldo's Rock has its first layer of asphalt.
Asphalt on trail
As of a week ago, on Aug. 28, this stretch of trail was still closed. The asphalt that is there does look like the first of several layers, there is a clear drop where it meets the rest of the trail. But pavement is coming!

The new side trail that leads north from the Boyson Trail past Lininger Park has been closed for a week—why, I don’t know. But I’ve observed asphalt being applied on the Grant Wood Trail east of Waldo’s Rock park. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll bike out there and see how the project is going. And maybe I’ll turn around and ride 50 more miles.

After all, I recently turned 64.

Squirrel and bike
Getting ready to bike home on my final day of being 63, Aug. 29. I am being watched.

Aug. 31--And now I have been 64 for the second day. New pavement on Lindale Trail looking more at home.

Trail closed
Aug. 31--This new trail has not been open very long. Closed? Why?

Fawn on trail
Sept. 1--A young September deer on Lindale Trail.

Sept. 1--Mom, peeking from the woods, eyes photographer.

Earlier in my Sept. 1 ride--fawn leaping into woods off of Marion Trail, the little side trail west of the Boyson Trail. Don't know if the trail has a name.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

In Which Summer Ends on New Trails

Family with bikes
Aug. 13--Ready for a ride to C Avenue Park with grandson, wife and daughter.

I’m back to commuting rides—more rides, fewer miles. Whatever. The recent days in Iowa have been almost ideal biking days, and I can only hope that when I retire in just a few years, I’ll have a bit more time (and ability) to enjoy biking on them.

Recent rides have featured some trails that are new or newish to me. I used a new route on the way home Friday, going along the Cemar Trail, up First Avenue, and approaching C Avenue’s bike lane from the east rather than from the west. I did some extra riding out to the Catholic cemetery, so I can’t really compare miles to my traditional western route, but the eastern way is one that I’ll ride a few more times to determine its viability (the biggest reason was that one of the streets by campus is closed by some utility project, and thus I have to adjust my ride anyway.)

New trail behind Amaco
Aug. 13--Behind Popeyes and Amaco, start of new trail heading east.

C Avenue and Blairs Ferry road work
Aug. 19--Work at corner of C Avenue and Blairs Ferry Road.

Bike in Menards bike rack
Aug. 20--Parking at Menards to buy batteries for lights. Bike rack doesn't look new, but I've never used it before. I didn't realize it was there and always tied to a pillar at the store.

Aug. 20--Changing depleted batteries for some bike lights.

Meanwhile, work on the new extension east of the Grant Wood-Lindale Trail continues. A tiny stretch of the new trail behind the Amaco station is now open, and crews are working at the corner of C Avenue and Blairs Ferry Road. I look forward in coming weeks to trying this new trail extension.

I’m still enjoying the mountain bike trails off of the Boyson Trail—in fact, I raised the seat on my mountain bike so that it’s more comfortable to ride, and when it’s dry, I often take a short spin on the easier of these 2 trails. I also got my bikes more ready for fall rides by putting new batteries in lights. School commuting will inevitably lead to some night riding.

Bike seat
Aug. 13--Yes, I know, I need to replace the seat. At least it's up a bit, which makes The Fancy Beast more comfortable to ride.

Trail sign
Sign for side trail off of Boyson Trail. There are two, one branches off the other. The "not branch" trail is easier and can be ridden, in dry conditions, with a hybrid bike. Still, liking having a mountain bike for these trails.

Mountain trail
Aug. 13--Looking at the mountain bike trail. There is a grassy area and a woodsy area.

Another trail
Not really a mountain bike trail, but a short side trail off of the Boyson Trail.

Trail bridge
Aug. 13--Narrow bridge on mountain bike trail.

Aug. 13--Close passage between two trees on the more challenging of the side trails off of the Boyson Road Trail.

Between the mountain bike trails and the new creek trail off of the Boyson Trail, it feels that my late summer rides are featuring some new places. Nice! Year to date, 1,807.43 miles; August, 225.19 miles.

And, just because it’s me, here’s a whole bunch of pretty images from recent rides:

Aug. 13 ride--images from Lindale Trail plus flowers and butterflies seen on mountain bike trails off of the Boyson Trail:

Aug 17 rides: Some from Noelridge Park, some from Cedar Lake, deer on Lindale Trail, flood control construction along street near Cedar Lake:

 Aug. 19: Clouds on work commute:

Aug. 20: Ride to Menards for batteries, deer along Lindale Trail, most images near Menards end of trail: