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.
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.)
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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