Deep shady woods with flowery skirts
Sun on my back and on shining water
Swirling furrows in freshly-plowed fields
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It seems an age since I've had a decent ride (or a decent post for that matter). A long stretch of inclement weather, and a tightly-packed schedule, have combined to keep me off the road and off the computer. (Though I did have a short, rather memorable ride on Thursday, which included lightning, thunder, high winds, and very heavy rain. It took three days for my shoes to dry out.)
Today I have planned a good long trip to the river and back. The morning is grim and grey, but by mid-afternoon some shreds of blue sky begin to appear between the clouds - time to hit the road. The wind is cold, coming from the north and west at 7-15 mph.
A few miles out, I realise that I have left Tallulah behind. (Oh the shame of it - will she ever forgive me? A frantic last-minute search for a misplaced cell phone is my only excuse for forgetting her. I hope she understands.)
May has gone out in a glory of blossom, and June promises to be equally lovely. I turn down a favourite road to find Salsify, or Yellow Goatsbeard (nudge nudge, Marigold), shining brightly on either side. According to my wildflower book, Goatsbeard "only opens on sunny mornings and closes by noon". This must be a special variety which opens on cloudy mornings and stays open well after noon:
For a few weeks now I've been eyeing the ditches, knowing that they are full of wild asparagus. If only I had my sister's super asparagus-spotting powers, I'd have been picking and eating it by the armful. But alas, I never spot it until it has started to go to seed:
Honeysuckle is profuse this spring. On one short stretch of road I see four varieties. Darker pink, with compact blossoms:
Pale pink, with long-legged starry blossoms:
And two kinds of white, some leggy and starlike (not pictured), and some with slightly fuller blooms:
Around a corner is a large patch of mystery blossoms, which look pale yellow from a distance...
...but rather more green when seen up close.
The wildflower book identifies this as Leafy Spurge, "a very aggressive European import officially considered a noxious weed in Wisconsin". It's poisonous and very difficult to eradicate, but rather picturesque all the same.
The lovely Dame's Rocket is everywhere right now, decorating the roadsides and filling the ditches with vivid orchid, pale pink, and white blossoms:
This shade is my favourite:
Today I am following a new-to-me road that curves and rolls through farmland towards the river. I pass an old barn, complete with pond, outbuildings, and a full complement of battered farm vehicles parked behind:
It's Honey Locust season, and the air is full of sweetness. I pass stretch after stretch of the blossoming trees covered with dainty white clusters of bloom:
The flowers and leaves remind me of pea plants...
...which is explained by the fact that Honey Locust and peas are both members of the Fabaceae family. (Thanks, Wikipedia.)
I'm riding parallel to the river now. I pass a vine-adorned telephone pole:
The road dips and rolls for several miles, then crosses over the interstate, and drops down to the very shore of the Wisconsin River:
The water is still pretty high, thanks no doubt to the generous rainfall, and many of the little piers along this stretch are almost awash.
A few more miles and I reach a causeway that stretches across a bay at the edge of Lake Wisconsin. Time for a break and a snack.
I dismount from Iris (who is casting a fine shadow, thanks to the now abundant sun)...
To my right and left are fishermen (and women). In front is the wide lake, ringed by wooded bluffs:
I'd love to sit here for hours, soaking up the warm sun, but there's a ride to finish - so back on the bike I go. One last look at the lake, then it's up the hill at the far end of the causeway and turn left for home.
Through some lovely green farming valleys (with great swathes of honey locust trees in bloom)...
...over the interstate again, on a different bridge this time...
...past woods and meadows and a rather noisy field, where through the pines can be glimpsed a dump truck unloading some rock...
...through a charming small town and out the other side, where stands this very handsome barn...
...and up a long, long, gradual climb where I am passed by a friendly (and much faster) cyclist. We exchange a few words as he buzzes by, and though there's no chance of catching up to him, I am spurred on to ride a little harder.
My road turns north. I'm feeling pretty strong, and essay a few intervals. But a short, steep hill about 8 miles from home seems suddenly to drain all my energy, and I find myself dragging. My shoulders and neck start to ache (for the first time this year). I realise uneasily that 4 weeks from now, I'll be riding much farther than this. Will I be ready? (I hope so.)
A blackbird on a wire turns to look as I go slowly past:
Tiredness aside, there are still photos to be taken. A large piece of farm machinery peeks out from behind some trees at the edge of a swirl-furrowed field:
All around is the sound of tractors busy making hay while the sun shines. A freshly-mown field is striped with green:
A few miles from home, feeling chilled (the wind has never warmed up, and is getting colder as the sun sinks), and very tired indeed, I stop on a bridge for one last photo of this rather gorgeous creek...
...and take the opportunity to do some shoulder shrugs - hoping to loosen things up a bit.
The break or the shoulder shrugs - or both - seem to help and I get a bit of a second wind. In fifteen minutes I'm home - cold, tired, congested (it's high allergy season), and sore. Mr. M obligingly gives me a shoulder rub (bless him), which takes the edge off the stiffness. A hot shower, a hot meal, and lots of hot sweet tea go a long way towards restoring me to life. (I'm sure a sports drink of some kind would be more appropriate, but a nice hot cuppa with plenty of sugar is much more comforting. Replenishes the carbs, you know.)
A good ride, all in all. But it has made me realise that I am definitely not ready for Colorado (yet). Four weeks more to train - I do hope the weather stays clear to allow for riding.
Miles today: 45
Miles this year: 620.8
P.S. Tallulah slept the entire time I was gone, and never even missed me. :)
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