Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Cold (but Sunny) Ride

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Northeast wind whistling down the spring road
Young goats bleating a cheerful hello
Pulling lead in an Amish paceline

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To be honest, I was not enthusiastic about riding this weekend. A touch of virus yesterday, and a biting northeast wind today, made me highly reluctant to leave the comfort of home. I am, moreover, horridly premenstrual, liable at any moment either to burst into tears or to kill someone (possibly both). I would like nothing better than to sit ALONE in a sunny room, with a good book, a pot of tea, and plenty of starchy, fatty, and salty foods within easy reach.

This rosy dream being unattainable (and also unhealthy), I choose the next option: exercise (which some would say is the better part). After all, the sun is shining, it's at least 45º out there, and I have really no excuse for staying indoors. So I squeeze myself into the requisite Lycra (which makes me feel even more bloated), top up my water bottle, and try not to wince as I wheel Iris out into the icy breeze.

Moodiness and hormones aside, it's a beautiful day. The chilly wind makes for sparkling air, and a blue, blue sky floats overhead.

The honeysuckle is just coming on: pink...

...and white.

As I approach a farm a few miles on, this flock of goats comes tearing out of their barn, running towards me and bleating happily. Though thwarted by the fence, they seem very glad to see me. (Perhaps they think I have peanuts for them.) I am interested to observe that they, like my philosophical friend Marigold, have a stump of wisdom in their yard. (But not one goat is standing upon it.)

To distract myself from the wind (it's ICY) I take a shadow shot.

A Very Large piece of farm equipment stands in a field, looking for all the world like a mechanised caterpillar behind the tractor.

A good day for the wind turbines. I notice a few of them are grey. Camouflage for cloudy days?

I've met about 5 Amish buggies so far - they're coming home from Sunday meeting. Just as I'm wondering where the meeting was this week (they take turns holding it in various homes) I top a rise and see several more buggies coming out of a long driveway below me. Most of the buggies turn towards me, but two turn the other way, and I'm able to snap a quiet photo from a distance. (The Amish in our area prefer not to be photographed.)

I find that I'm catching up to the buggies. I shift up and put on a burst of speed, hoping to pass them. (It's not often I get a chance to pass a four-wheeled vehicle.)

I do pass them. (Quiet internal gloating.) Then the road levels out, and the measured clop---clop changes to clippety-clop-clippety-clop. The driver just behind me has shaken up the reins and seems to be trying to catch me up. Vanity forbids me to be passed in turn - I am determined to stay at the front of this paceline. Just when I think my lungs will give out, I see a road crossing sign up ahead. This is where I'd planned to turn - if only I can make it that far without being overtaken. (I'm hoping the buggies don't turn with me.) We reach the crossroads; I turn right, out of the blasted wind and into blessed warmth. The Amish turn left, and the buggies and I part ways.

At the top of a short hill, I stop to admire the dandelions, which seem extra large and luxuriant this year.

Don't they look cheerful against the green grass and the blue spring sky?

I'm now on a road I've never ridden before. It leads to a beautifully sweeping, gravel-free, cambered downhill turn which I take in great style.

To my right are immense cornfields backed by pastures stretching away to a cattle-dotted horizon. (I love seeing cattle against the skyline.)

 To my left, impossibly green alfalfa fields.

Ahead, a most interesting little building stands at a corner. It's a lovingly preserved one-room schoolhouse...

...perched out here on the wide-open prairie, and taking the full force of the prairie winds. I wonder how many children have played in this schoolyard over the years.

The school pump stands in the yard - probably still working.

A mile or so down the road, I cross over a busy bovine underpass (or am I on a human overpass?) which connects the fields on either side of the road. Cattle and calves enter the tunnel here...

...cross under the road, and come out here. You can see a cow's head just coming out of the tunnel. (Or maybe it's a steer - I'm not sure. None of them seem to have appendages of any sort.)

Then they amble (or if they're calves, they gambol) up the path to the barns, which are hidden behind the trees.

The little calf is still frisking around in the distance.

After this refreshing interval, I get back on the bike, determined to make tracks for home. Although I no longer have a headwind, it's still pretty nippy, and I decide to keep the pictures to a minimum (ha ha - how we delude ourselves).

As usual, I can't resist a stand of birches...

...with their dazzlingly white branches against the deep blue of the sky.

The ground beneath the trees is starred by these white wildflowers...

...which I look up when I reach home, and find are called meadow anemone, or Canada anemone.

Just up the road, the verges are being taken over by garlic mustard, an invasive plant. The leaves are edible - Mr. M tried some the other day and said they were pretty tasty - but not enough people are eating them, it seems. They're especially abundant this year.

Riding down a road I usually ride up, I approach a favourite tree and snap it from the opposite direction. Just beyond lives the friend who supplies us with eggs.

The favourite willowy bend, taken on the fly.

And one last picture of a blackbird in a bare tree. The wind is very cold now and I'm longing to be home.

Despite the icy wind, a good ride and a beautiful afternoon.


P.S. This is my first post in the new Blogger GUI, and really it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Although some of the new features are annoying (I can't find anything - where are the helpful old tabs?) I do like the new post composition page. Only one slider bar, and all the commands are at the top or side where I can get to them easily. It could be worse.

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  1. What a great ride. Way cool to see the buggies. Had to laugh a bit when you did not to be passed by the buggy. :)
    I look forward to your rides. Maybe I need a bike.
    Hope you are feeling better soon.

  2. A very interesting post. I like how you beat the buggies, well done! I love the curving river and willows, we've no willows near here that I know of. They're very pretty.
    The problem I had with the new blogger interface was that whenever I tried to move a picture it would left align it instead of cetering it, even although I'd selected the centre setting. The same thing happened with some repositioned text. Rather frustrating. I did a little html tweaking to fix. Not a guru by any means but what little knowledge of it I have comes in handy now and again.

    1. Anne - moving pictures has always been a problem for me (even under the old interface), so whenever I want to move a picture I just remove it, and then add it back where I want it. I upload all my pictures into Picasa web albums, so it's pretty easy to put a picture back at any time.

      I had to mess with the html as well - some of the spacing was off.

  3. Well done for forcing yourself out for a ride. Hope you felt better after. I love the little school house - it would be so fascinating to be able to go back in time and see it being used. Juliex

  4. I love the pictures of your bikeride. It looks a bit like Holland (where I live). The cattle and the mills I mean. The little schoolhouse reminds me of "Little house on the Prairie", which serie is still on television over here. Thank you for letting me join your ride.
    Love Ineke

  5. Glad you decided to go for the ride, great pictures. I always find the Amish so interesting. I had a real low energy week last week and didn't exercise at all, so now I not only feel fat as the proverbial pig I feel guilty.

  6. Thank you for another spectacular ride. What beautiful countryside you have.

  7. You really had me chuckling when you were racing your own little Tour de Amish! The Lizard gets competitive like that when a girl passes him (he says he's been "chicked" which is not tolerable in the least), and he will do whatever it takes to pass her back and then not let her pass again!

    I admire you for riding in the cold wind. And I'm glad your blogger update didn't keep you from updating!

  8. Hope you're feeling better, Sue, and I'm very excited to see your pictures! I'm must have been channeling you: we were in Wisconsin over the weekend and did some driving through Amishland, picked garlic mustard for salad, picked dandelions for jelly (just posted about that), and saw the same little white flowers when we were clearing out some buckthorn. Thanks for the id - I didn't know what they were.

  9. Wow at the little school house! Totally unlike anything we have here and surely very Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    I do hope you're feeling better now Sue x

  10. What a really really lovely blog post Mich x

  11. I had a few things to say as I was reading your post, but they have all been overtaken with just the thought of you huffing and puffing to keep ahead of those buggies ;-)

    You're a better lady than me, I am completely rubbish on a bike, and it certainly isn't true about not forgetting to ride a bike, or maybe its just my sense of balance has gone!


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