Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Month of Rides

Dear me, how behind I am on posting ride photos! After the recent passionate defense of my right to blog about whatever I want - which at this time of the year is mainly wildflowers and cycling - I ran short on time and even these beloved subjects were neglected. There's irony for you.

So grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and a sustaining snack, and prepare to take a months' worth of rides in a single sitting....


Sunday Ride to the River

After last year's accident, I limited myself for the rest of the 2014 season to a kind of cycling comfort zone, riding only certain roads within a few miles of where we live. This year, I was determined to get out of that zone and back to all the places I'd been in 2013. The Wisconsin River has always been one of my favourite ride destinations, and I couldn't wait to see it again.

The day was lovely, sunny and hot, with plenty of wildflowers to be seen along the way.

The first thistles of the year:


Hoary Vetch (which I've been misidentifying for years as Cow Vetch):

Heliopsis helianthoides, or False Sunflower:

And rows of corn stretching to a green-and-blue-and-white horizon:

We stopped at a little riverside park for a break and a snack. Iris rested against a huge old aspen while Tallulah and I prowled around and took photos.

A lovely ride, exactly 30 miles long. And it happened to be the day before our 30th wedding anniversary, which seemed somehow appropriate.


A Quick Monday Ride

Not all my rides are blue-skied. This one was gloomy and grey, remarkable mainly for the heaviness of the sky, a fortuitous shot of rabbit's foot clover (which made a wonderful header photo), and clouds of a small lavender thistle which bloomed profusely this year.


Almost-the-Fourth Evening Ride

The week before Independence Day, I got a new jersey which made me feel very patriotic:

Barn gate decked in honour of the day:

Amish farm at sunset:


Long Sunday Ride

This out-and-back ride took me east, to a large lake in the next county. The weather was typical of early July: hot, humid, and windy.

Daylilies were in full bloom in many a ditch. These luscious orange flowers are not native to Wisconsin; instead they're classified as introduced/escaped/potentially invasive. But they're still lovely to look at:

I found a small new-to-me flower which I haven't been able to identify. Can anyone help?

Waves of crown vetch surged through a wire fence:

Red barn awash in a sea of corn:

I passed several stalks of the charmingly-named Butter and Eggs, a member of the snapdragon family:

On one stretch of road, feathery grasses bent before the wind, their long bristles catching and diffusing the light:

Viewed from above, they were beautifully prismatic and almost magical-looking:

A one-room schoolhouse (complete with original privy) stood at a country crossroads:

My turnaround point, a large windswept lake:

A handsome barn glimpsed on the way home:

Westering sun over hazy wheatfields:

A hot ride, and the longest of my year so far (just over 46 miles - not much in comparison with past years, but I'm not complaining).


Welcome Home Sunday Ride

Due to a vacation and other scheduling conflicts, it would be two long weeks before I could ride again. It felt awfully good to get back on the bike, and this ride was particularly rich in wildflower photo ops.

St. John's Wort has bloomed profusely this summer. I think it likes all the rain we've been getting:

I was excited to spot some White Wild Indigo on the roadside. This flower is new to me this year, and until this ride I'd only seen it in the prairie restoration project. It looks rather like a lupine, but with sparser blossom:

Heal-all from above. It looks like it's sporting a tiny bow in the center:

Another flower that is unusually flourishing this summer is Evening Primrose:

Wild Bergamot, looking tropical yet a bit unkempt (like an old lady in bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, with spiky, unbrushed hair):

Wild Bergamot with Bee:

Also rampant on the roadsides this year is a tiny umbellifer that I think is a type of hemlock:

The umbels are very small - less than 2" across - and I'm having trouble finding a good match in the wildflower databases. All I can say for sure is that it's a member of the Carrot family.

Curled blue stamens of Wild Chicory:

A lush patch of catnip:

Photo of a rare Cycling Turtle (Chelonia rota, var. atkinsoniensis):

("Hey!" says the Turtle. "I thought my name was Tallulah!")

We passed a patch of what I thought was Purple Loosestrife, but on closer inspection it turned out to be a flower I'd never seen before - Fireweed, or rosebay willowherb. Rather exciting to see it live and up close, after reading about it on the blogs of friends:

Dragonfly on Leafy Spurge:

This year's wildflower hunt has become so absorbing, I tend to spend much of my riding time looking down and sideways, scanning the roadsides for blossoms. Sometimes I have to remind myself to look up at the sky - and on this ride it was well worth a look:

Another good ride.


Have you had enough, or shall we squeeze in one more ride? (Blogger cups hand to ear, hoping to catch the faint, far-off cry of readers calling "Go on! Go on!")

Okay, just one more. (Which will bring us nicely up to date.)

Short Ride, Many Photos

On Tuesday morning I went out for a quick 15-miler.

Summer has peaked and is ready to begin the gentle downhill slide towards autumn. Trees look heavy and no longer fresh; the tired sweet scent of drying grass comes across the fields and down the warm wind. Swallows are gathering on the telephone wires, and blackbirds swirl and flutter above the cornfields and over the road:

Great banks of soapwort shine palely from a shaded verge:

Spiderwort, pale violet, spreads its petals wide to embrace the day:

A new flower catches my eye: pale-pink blossoms in a delicate spray standing up from a leafy base. Research at home identifies this plant as Desmodium glutinosum, or Pointed-Leaved Tick-Trefoil:

Everywhere I go I see flowery faces turned towards the sun:

Shadow of a cyclist:

An exhilirating morning ride.


Update: The 2015 Wildflower List has surpassed my wildest expectations: 103 varieties identified so far, and it's not even August yet. When autumn comes and the last blossom has faded, I'll publish a complete list.


How's your summer going? Does it seem to be speeding by too quickly?

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  1. Well done for getting out on so many rides, loving the wildflowers too. Your new header is excellent!

    We're having rather a cool, grey, damp summer. The holidays are going by too fast but it feels as though the summer weather is yet to arrive.

  2. I love looking for wildflowers while I'm hiking. Your posts always help me identify them!

  3. You have taken some wonderful rides. I can't imagine doing 30 miles, my rear would leave home. I'm in awe of the number of different wild flowers you have. I particularly liked the Butter and Eggs, had never heard of it before.

  4. Love the photos. You are very talented and generous to share with us. And...I am in awe of your cycling prowess. I haven't been on my bike all summer. Although it is just a coaster bike, I enjoy riding around the neighborhood in normal years. 40 miles, 30 miles. You make me realize just what a couch potato I have become. Thank you for taking us along.

  5. Somehow I missed the post about your mishap last year, but now being in the know, I feel all the more privileged to be able to read this post as well! Your words and photos about wheeling through the Wisconsin wildflowers are a book in the making, beautiful and instructive. Thank you!!! This Sunday I am hoping to head to the beach to camp with some of my adult children and then the next week drive with other family members down to Burbank and back to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my older sister and her husband. I am happy for you and your husband that you recently celebrated your 30th wedding anniversary, and I agree your 30 mile bike ride seems a fitting part of that great celebration :) I join your dad in prayers for your safe travels. xx

  6. I'm so glad you've been able to take all of these rides lately, Sue. Your photos are beautiful and I really feel like I was there. I agree that you should be blogging about whatever you like, by the way. I had a conversation with a fairly well-known blogger a couple of years ago in a Ravelry group that really left a bad taste in my mouth; she was criticizing blogs that share photos of flowers and such, saying they didn't have enough substance. I don't know what she expects from a blog, but flowers make me happy so I often share photos of them. Life is too short not to be happy and feel good about your own little world whenever possible.

  7. I love your cycling & wildflower posts AND your crochet posts. You have a wonderful eye and your writing is gorgeous. Happy 30th!

  8. Wisconsin, you know I love you so. Thank you so much for posting these gorgeous photos Sue, your rides are wonderful. Blog about whatever you like whenever you can, we are all here for the ride.

  9. Wow, you have found such a wide variety of fabulous wildflowers. Many of which I've never seen before. Bravo to you, Sue! We're in Missouri and I'm seeing things I've never seen before. And a Cardinal! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  10. Fabulous photos! I agree about the "old lady with bathrobe" feel of that one flower (notice the short-term memory loss of its actual name). It also reminded of Phyllis Diller-haha, if you remember her. Also love all these skies and beautiful barns. Barns! Pieces of my country that seem remarkably foreign and exotic.

  11. It is always such a pleasure to tag along with you and Miss T on your riding adventures. I adore the views of farms, barns and skies...and of course, the wild flowers. I adore the wild flowers. So glad you are back to riding again. Blessings always dear friend. :)

  12. I love going along on your rides. I wish they counted as Weight watcher points for me!
    I took photo of a ?weed in my alley and I'll send it to you to i.d.
    I think now its thistle. Good because the goldfinches really love it for their nesting this time of year...I've heard

  13. More awesome photos! Good deal on the rides you're getting in.

    Yes, summer is going by way too fast.

  14. Yes, summer (if you could call the weather we've been having 'summer') is passing by far too quickly. You've had some great bike rides and seen lots of lovely flowers.

  15. Thank you for pandering to my botany geek with such lovely pictures of some plants we definitely don't get to see here in the UK - a gorgeously exotic bouquet. I think the unidentified white flower may be a pearlwort. :-)

  16. I am greatly enjoying your wildflower postings, I learn a great deal from them. I also forget what I have learned in a very short space of time...

  17. Oh, I do love these rides and all of the wildflowers that you capture with your camera. What richness for the eyes and soul. I would love to know how you approach identifying them.
    Do call me "Wild Bergamot" from now on. You have described me exactly as I look on most mornings...and at times I do have a bee in my bonnet!
    Much love to you.

  18. The Lizard tipped me off that I needed a good giggle from a certain scientific name for a turtle... I have lived following along on your wildflower journey. I wonder how many I'd get if I made a list...


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