Flashing ruby of blackbird wings
Ebony cattle in emerald fields
Hawkweed glowing garnet in the grass
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My life seems lately to have boiled down to the following activities: ride, work, crochet, eat, sleep (repeat). There must be other things going on, but somehow they aren't making any impression. I am alternately looking forward to and dreading the end of the month, when I head for Colorado to participate in Bike MS with Snowcatcher and the Lizard (her husband). The two 73-mile stages there will be the longest rides of my life, and I want very much to finish them in good shape.
(As for crochet, I wish I could show you what I'm working on, but I can't. Let's just say that several magazine commissions [yay!] are all due around this time. They will make an appearance this autumn and winter.)
Today I have pictures from two training rides. Since Sunday (today) was forecast for thunderstorms, I planned for longer back-to-back rides on Friday and Saturday, and brought my camera to snap what I could along the way.
Friday - 45 miles
The morning is gloomy and grey, but the afternoon clears to beautiful blue-and-white skies. Temps are in the mid-60s, and a small cool wind is blowing from the north and east.
It's the kind of day we dream about all winter long: green and scented and blossomy. Honey locust, warmed by the sun, is filling the air with deliciousness. (I think Heaven must smell a little bit like today.)
I stop on a small rise to snap a photo of blossoms against the sky:
At my feet are banks covered with wild geranium...
...and swamp buttercup, just opening up:
Several miles on, young corn grows in a field backed by groves of honey locust in bloom:
Dame's Rocket is still going strong:
You can see a bit of it peeking up from the corner of the next photo:
Near the end of the ride, thundery clouds and a hint of rain are seen to the west:
The ride finishes well; I feel strong and comfortable (much better than after last Sunday's 45-miler). Plenty of protein, an extra bottle of water, and lots of shoulder shrugs have made all the difference.
I'd like to try doing another 45-miler tomorrow, but we have a graduation party to attend and unless I get up at the crack of dawn, there won't be enough time. 30 miles will have to do.
Saturday - 30 miles
Yesterday's sunshine has retreated under a blanket of cloud. It's a cool and slightly sticky 60º when I set out with Tallulah for my second ride in 18 hours. The wind is easterly and blessedly mild.
A few miles out of town I see an Amish buggy ahead. I catch up to it just as we reach my favourite willowy bend...
...then pass it in a blaze of glory. (Passing a four-wheeled vehicle, even a horse-drawn one, is such a boost for the cycling ego.)
Down the next turning, I stop to pull off my jacket, just where this tropical-looking spiderwort has begun blooming:
Just ahead is a sheep farm...
...the occupants of which used to run shrieking with terror into the barn whenever I approached. But I ride past here so often now, I think they've gotten used to me. (They certainly look relaxed.)
Up the road a bit, the tractor is depositing its smelly load.
Around the corner, the world smells much sweeter:
Miles on, I snap a flying photo of my favourite marshy bend. Elder blossoms lean over the water, where wild geese and their offspring paddle peacefully. Just in the center, though difficult to see, is a proud couple with four goslings.
This marshy bend is a favourite haunt of red-winged blackbirds. One of them flies directly towards me, its wings flashing more red than black. (Wish I could have gotten a photo....)
A few miles later, I begin to look for a good spot to take a break. Yesterday I chose a grassy spot, and unwittingly collected several bug bites. Today, Tallulah and I find a nice open rocky lane, which we hope will be skeeter-less, for our stopping place. (Though I must admit Tallulah doesn't attract mosquitoes the way I do.)
Tallulah takes a look at the deserted quarry beyond the gate...
...then climbs to the top bar for a better view.
Next, she checks out this salsify blossom:
"How does it smell?" I ask.
"Like a goat's beard," she says. (I suspect she's been reading my post from last week.)
Nearby grow these tiny little blossoms:
Break time over, we head down the road. I tell myself sternly that the rest of my photos will be taken from the saddle or not at all.
We pass a favourite old shed:
The road we're on is beloved of motorcyclists, and today we cross paths with a large group of Harleys (about 50 or so), out for a Saturday run:
Tallulah peeks out of my pocket as the riders go by. When the last one has passed, she says thoughtfully, "I wonder how I'd look in a black t-shirt with sequins...."
When we have about 7 miles to go, the sun finally starts to break through the clouds.
Around a few corners, I stop for a quick photo of white yarrow (there goes my resolution of shooting only on the fly):
Back in the saddle, I begin to think sadly of the orange hawkweed that grew here two summers ago. It never came up last year, and I haven't seen it this year either. Did the drought kill it off, or have I missed it somehow?
Just then a gleam of orange catches my eye...
...and there it is! (Why didn't I see it on the way out?)
It's even more lovely and vivid than I remember - clusters of burgundy buds, opening to flame and gold:
This road is a perfect wildflower alley. A hundred yards farther is a wonderful stretch of wild columbine mixed with wild geranium. Of course I have to stop for another photo....
And around the corner, two gorgeous stretches of blossom - mouse-ear chickweed and Dame's Rocket. I manage to take this photo without stopping:
That's it, I tell myself. Absolutely no more photos. Never mind the Golden Alexanders and the tiny pale pink asters (Daisy Fleabane) that grow in clusters just around the next bend. They'll have to wait for another day.
Another good ride, with a strong finish. I'm feeling much more confident now about Colorado. :)
Combined miles from Friday and Saturday: 75
Miles this year: 712.5
P.S. Only 3 weeks until Bike MS, and I haven't quite met my fundraising goal. If you enjoy these cycling posts, would you consider sponsoring me? All donations go straight to help people with MS. Even a dollar helps, and every dollar counts. To donate, click on the "Bike MS" button at the top right of this post. And thanks for reading. :)
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