Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Hot and Windy Ride

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Grasses flowing in waves with the wind
Clouds of tiny asters rosy white
Personalized roadside assistance

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A hot and very windy day - temps in the 80s and windspeeds ranging from 20-37 miles per hour. This is the kind of wind that catches you sideways and tries to tip your bike over; that does its best to keep you from climbing any grade, however slight; that kicks up dirt in clouds from driveways and plowed fields, and blows it into your face and eyes. Only when your back is turned does a wind like this become your friend.

I've always wanted to circumvent the laws of physics, and discover how to plan a circular route that would give me a tailwind all the way around. No luck so far. :)

After last week's flat tire, Mr. M has loaned me the front wheel of his road bike for today's ride. (He's still tinkering with my front wheel and tire.) Although I don't usually carry a cell phone on my rides (plenty of houses around if I need to make a call), he wants me to carry one today, since I have no spare tire. "What are the chances of me getting a flat tire two weeks in a row?" I ask. But I humour him and take the phone anyway.

Dame's Rocket is still in evidence along many roadsides - here it is providing a colourful background to this white campion:

Across the road is an appealing farm scene. I like the freshly-plowed brown field and the white farm buildings in the distance.

Boy, is it hot today. Even the wind is warm. These Canada geese have the right idea, I think.

I see a farmer up ahead, spraying a field. My path will take me directly downwind of him. I don't really want to inhale whatever chemicals he's dispersing, so I try to hold my breath as I pass, but I can't hold it long enough. When I do inhale, the air tastes detergent-y. Ugh.

On a brighter note: the cow vetch is already blooming. A member of the pea family, it climbs up roadside grasses and produces these lovely purple blooms.

A few miles further on, I see some very tall plants that resemble cornstalks with red stems. I can't for the life of me remember their name, and can't find them in my wildflower book.

They're topped with these unusual greenish-reddish-yellowish blossoms.

I ride a few more miles, fighting the wind all the way. I climb a short hill, turn a corner, and then I hear a sudden POP-ssssshhhhhhh. The front tire deflates before my eyes.

(I shouldn't have made that remark about flat tire odds. I jinxed myself.)

Flat as a pancake

Good thing Mr. M talked me into taking a phone. I call him and explain what happened, and give him directions to my location. I tell him not to worry about fixing it - he can just pick me up.

Waiting for roadside assistance

It's incredibly hot just standing still, so I find a shady spot to wait, and think gratefully of going home to a cool house where I can spend the afternoon out of the wind and sun. I think of the iced tea I'll drink there. I mentally compose a few regretful sentences for my blog post in which I explain that my ride has been cut short by another flat tire. I take a picture of the tree overhead and think how shady the woods look.

Finally Mr. M pulls up. "I brought your front wheel," he says.

Dang. I'd really like to cut this ride short and go home, but now I feel that I ought to finish it. Mr. M kindly swaps out the wheels for me. I thank him, and we part ways.

Custom service

Thunderstorms are predicted for this afternoon, and the clouds are building up. (I wish they'd provide a bit more shade.)

The farther I go, the more I wonder why I didn't just ride home with Mr. M. Pride? Cussedness? I'm not sure but this wind is starting to feel like a personal affront. (Silly, I know.) Finally my route takes me out of the head- and cross-wind I've been battling for so long, and into a long stretch of road shaded by trees. What a relief.

My eye is caught by a clump of tiny asters. (Surely it's too early for these?) They're the palest shade of pink, and the bees seem to find them as attractive as I do.

I pass an intriguing little bit of wall, flanked by nettles and decorated with a wreath of wild berry vine. When I peer over the edge, I see that there's an old underpass running beneath the road.

Around the corner, a barn end peeks out from behind trees and vines.

Back in open country, with a tailwind now. It's wonderful to have the extra speed, but even hotter without the wind in my face. I approach what looks like a satellite dish in a field. (It turns out to be a giant reel of irrigation hose.)

My route turns again, back into the wind - which is more boisterous than ever. Never mind taking pictures - time to put my head down and just make tracks for home.

A few miles later, a spitting, intermittent rain begins to fall, and enough clouds amass overhead that the air cools appreciably. (Whew.) I snap a flying photo of my favourite willows as I pass:

Around a few more corners, I stop to snap these Golden Alexanders which are just beginning to bloom. (Isn't that a wonderful name for a flower?) A member of the carrot family, they're related to parsley, and often mistaken for wild parsnip, according to my wildflower book.

Here's a shot for Anne at andamento:

Almost home now, and I pass a stretch of ditch simply crammed with the tiny pink asters. I've never seen them here before - this year's early warm weather is bringing out all kinds of floral surprises.

And a bit further on, where the ditch fills with water, I see blue flag iris growing amidst fascinating jointed grass. (Rushes and flags - straight out of Laura Ingalls Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek.)

Just one mile to go - and one last flower to photograph. I have no idea what this can be. Do you? (The clusters are about 4" - 5" across and rather flat. The bushes are up to 8 feet tall.)

Mystery blossom

Finally, I'm home (sunburnt and a bit dehydrated, and wondering what on earth possessed me to stay out so long on such a hot and blastedly windy day). But a cool shower, a few quarts of liquid, some food, and a doze, help to restore the inner and outer woman. Mr. M thoughtfully reminds me to take some potassium and I realize again what a nice guy I'm married to.

A somewhat uncomfortable ride, but full of small beauties.

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  1. Good Morning Sue

    I always wish there were a botton to turn the ground (we live in the hills) so I could drive downhill all the times. ;-)

    The plant is called "Gemeiner Schneeball" in German that would be - simply translated - common snowball, but of course I have no idea if this is an existing expression. :-)
    Anyway, the bush has deep red berries in fall.

  2. I feel as if I'm on your handle bars. No wonder you find the journey so tiring. Seriously though. I just love reading your posts. So many wonderful photos and I love your commentary too. You name flowers that I've seen but not known. You deserve a long rest. Funny about the second flat! Have a great week. Joan

  3. I had no idea that Wisconsin got that warm in May, I always think of it as being cold or at least chilly. Never speak unkindly of your wheels or knees, they'll get you, sniggering the whole way.

  4. Lovely, lovely, small beauties...

    Cow Vetch, is that a pretty flower but which is dangerous to cows, and farmers hate it???????? Or is that, something else.

    Wonderful road side service. But of course, always carry a cell phone. To me, that's the main reason for carrying one... JUST for SAFETY in an EMERGENCY. "Auntie" sezzzzzz..." :-)

    "Home is the most popular,
    and will be the most enduring
    of all earthly establishments."

    ~~Channing Pollock

  5. Mrs. M, you always give us so much to see and think about! And it was hot here, too - I've been working on thinning our old lilacs (about 6 years worth of pruning needed) but could only do about an hour and a half's worth of pruning before I gave up for the afternoon. So I'm very impressed that you completed your ride!

    The plant that looks like cornstalks is called Redstemitus cornstalkius. (kidding - I have no idea what it is!)

    So glad you named the Golden Alexander - I bought one of these for a shady area in my garden and it finally bloomed in its third season. I couldn't remember what its name was and hadn't located the paper I wrote it on, so thanks!

    The mystery white-blossomed plant looks like it's in the hydrangea family. The leaf resembles oakleaf hydrangea, but the flower is the lacecap type. Maybe there is a type that incorporates both?

    And your husband? Awesome!

  6. Being stubborn has some downsides doesn't it - but you saw loads of lovely things on the way home that you'd have missed from the car......I enjoyed your photos of them anyway! I think the first unknown is some kind of dock and the jointed grass looks like a kind of equisetum (which is a really primitive plant). Better luck with the tyre (oops, tire!) next weekend. Juliex

  7. I'm with Julie; you saw things you wouldn't have seen, and you're stronger now because you faced the wind. I loved the line about turning your back on it! If only the roads would go in the right direction to make that happen!

    Your mystery Redstemitus Cornstalkius looks like sorrel, also known as dock, to me. We have a ton of it growing in our backyard. Because I don't pull it up when it grows outside of its bounds. :)

    I think The Lizard's tire luck is wearing off on you. (He gets lots of flats. We call it the Flat Tire Festival.) I use Kevlar. But as you'll see in my post tomorrow, it doesn't always do the job, dang it!

  8. PS: I meant to give you a sorrel link, too, and I forgot. I also forgot to mention how incredible your wonderful husband is!

  9. You are made of sterner stuff than me Sue, I'd not even have set out on a ride in the kind of weather you describe!

    Lovely to see all the Wisconsin wild flowers :D

  10. Mystery plant looks like a docken to me. Looks like a wonderful bike ride, despite the puncture :-).

  11. You are a brave and strong woman with a wonderful husband.


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