Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Hot Dry Ride

Three great things about today's ride:

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Wondering what I'll see today
Tiny daisies lining the road
Tiger stripes in a stubble field

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We're in the midst of ANOTHER heat wave (I'm starting too many posts with those words). This one started several days ago, and is set to last for at least another week. (Sigh.) On the plus side, the nighttime temps have been very bearable, giving us a chance to open up and air out before the next day's onslaught of heat.

I had every intention of getting up early this morning and taking my ride while the air was yet cool, but I stayed up too late last night (catching up on blog reading, if you must know - ahem), and lingered too long over breakfast with Mr. M this morning. (Waffles, sausage and strawberry syrup. Quite delicious.)  So it was just after 11 when I finally hit the road.

The weather website says it's 79º. The thermometer at the edge of town reads 86º. The real temp is somewhere in between, and mitigated by a steady breeze and light clouds overhead. Unfortunately, the clouds move off within the first 15 minutes of my ride - but that's okay. I've planned a route with lots of shady patches.

Roadsides are dreadfully dry and brown, instead of the lush green normal for this time of year. (Look at the poor burnt clover blossoms in the lower right of the photo below.) A farmer friend told me the other day that the corn crop is close to being ruined by heat and lack of rain.

But somehow the wildflowers still manage to flourish. Wild phlox is out right now - white...

...and vivid purply-pink. (Although it looks very like the Dame's Rocket which bloomed last month, the phlox can be identified by its 5-petal flowers.)

Daylily with phox in the background - a very cheerful colour combination.

On a hot day like this, it's nice to pass over running water.

The wheat-fields are already bleached golden, and contrast vividly with the intense green of soybeans and corn.

Here's a nice tree-in-a-field...

...and here it is from the other side. I like the lines of soybeans marching away to the knoll.

For several miles, the roadside has been lined with these charming little daisy-like flowers. (They look as though they could be a sort of wild chamomile.)

Wild bergamot is blooming. I snap this blossom...

...and don't notice till I'm home editing the photo that a tiny pale-green spider is perched on one of the petals.

The bergamot looks rather tropical in close-up, I think.

A beautiful, delicate flower.

Although I'm on the lookout for wooden barns, this is the first one I've been able to snap.

This pretty flower has me baffled. It looks almost like a baby version of Queen Anne's Lace (which is blooming right now), but the umbels and petals are wrong - and the plant is too tall and branching.

It could be poison hemlock, but the leaves are too lance-shaped. Any ideas from my botanically-minded readers?

I pass a luridly green algae-covered pond.

And a few miles down, farm equipment! (Why are tractors with giant hoppers so fun to look at?)

This one has been busy making tigerish stripes in a wheat-field.

I reach the half-way point of my ride and pause, looking west towards the blue hills of the Wisconsin River Valley. (My route turns north here.)

It's blazingly hot by now, but I'm stoked with magnesium and potassium, thanks to Mr. M's loving reminders before my ride. I've also brought plenty of water and am being very diligent about staying hydrated, so I feel pretty good.

A shadow shot for Marigold:

I pass a set of freshly-painted farm buildings - very bright in the sun. I like the little peak in the barn roof where it hangs over the gable.

This sign seems like a cruel joke:

(I usually enjoy the hot weather, but I have to admit I'm already thinking longingly of winter.)

It's time for a break in the shade. I pull to the side of the road and take off my helmet so the wind can dry my damp scalp. Under the trees grows birds-foot trefoil...

...and lush ferns. I take their photo just because they look so cool and green.

My helmet perched on the handlebars. (By now I'm taking photos of anything I can think of, to put off getting back on the bike and having to leave this delightfully shady spot.)

But it's time to head home, so I drink some more water and get back in the saddle. I pass a wheat-field flowing like a river between stands of trees:

Here's a barn I've never noticed before - I like the stone foundation.

Some rather gorgeous blue-black ducks are paddling in a small plastic pool outside the barn. (Could they be relatives of the dreaded Ur-Duck-Hai which live on Marigold's farm? They seem rather innocuous, but one can never tell.)

With just 5 miles to go, I miss an important turn which would have taken me down a long shady stretch of road. Instead, I end up on a state highway a mile off my planned route. Although it goes in the right direction, it's long and bare and brutally treeless. While it doesn't add much actual mileage to my route, it's not where I'd choose to ride on this day of relentless heat.

The world soon boils down to hot sun, hot road, hot wind. Sizzle of katydids and song of blackbird. Hot sun, hot road, hot wind. I look for the next turnoff to get me back on my planned route, but it seems as though it will never come. Despite the heat, I begin to have chills. Not good.

At last I reach the turnoff and some welcome shady spots. Time for another break and a long drink of water. Only a few more miles to go. I take them slowly.

Just outside town, I pass some Queen Anne's Lace proper. (Good excuse for another break.)

An Andamento-style shot...

...then one last flowery photo.

The electronic thermometer at the edge of town now reads 100º. A mile later, I'm home and very glad to be there. The house is cool and shady, and the shower feels divine. I promise myself that next week I'll get up earlier.

27.2 miles - just a tad longer than planned - but a pretty good ride nonetheless.

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  1. Wow. What a ride. Is it too boring for me to say, again, that I love being taken along for the ride, with your wonderful pictures and observations?

    Might that one flower that's not Queen Anne's Lace be cow parsley? I know it has a similar look and (I think) is poisonous.

    I'm glad that at least your nighttime temps have been going down. Ours haven't much. Mid to low 70's with humidity, so I don't want to open the windows to let in so much moisture. We have a whole house fan which is great in the right conditions, but we haven't had too many of the right conditions lately.

    Here's hoping for a cooler ride next week, with maybe some puddles to splash through.

    1. Ginnie - I think you're right about the cow parsley. (For some reason I had the idea that cow parsley blossoms were yellow so I didn't consider it before.)

      We've actually had some nights in the 60s, which has been wonderful. But it looks as though we won't get below 70 this week. Ah well. It can't last forever.

      Puddles would be wonderful!

  2. The daisies and bergamot...gorgeous. Were you tempted to join the ducks? :-)

  3. Thank you for a nice hot, dry ride! You can come here if you want some cool, wet weather. To be honest, I wilt in the heat so I probably wouldn't be enjoying your weather - somewhere in between the two extremes would be good I think.
    I particularly liked the picture of the ducks with their paddling pool.
    As to the plant identification, I always get confused between cow parsley, cow parsnip, hogweed, etc. Cow parsley I think flowers first - end of May beginning of June and is quite a delicate plant, cow parsnip flowers later and is similar but more sturdy looking. I found this site which might be of help as it identifies some of the differences between the various common umbellifers...
    Good luck!

  4. I loved seeing the pictures of the scenery on your bike rides. It has been very hot in Wisconsin these last couple of days. I wish it would cool down just a little.

  5. Oh dear, crops there are struggling for lack of precipitation, and crops here are unhappy as there's too much of it ... pity we can't even things out and send you some rain. But you can keep your heat, it's a very acceptable 17C here, so just over 60F, exactly how I like it.

    Gorgeous pics as ever Sue :D

  6. You're a brave soul to ride in such heat. I use to love summer, now I lay low like my cat and pray for cooler weather. It doesn't cool off here at night, it's usually well up in the 70's outside and in the 80's in the house. We had a storm last night, the lights went out for a moment, but came back on. I can live in the dark, but not without fans.

  7. I'm glad others have provided their input on your specimen, because to me it looks like yampa. (Same family, so I guess not far off.) I love your little spider shot. And 27 miles! Whoowee!!!!!!!!!! I think you're ready for Ride the Rockies!!!

  8. Thank you for the coveted and mysterious 'shadow shot'! :) I don't know, though, I don't think those could be Ur-Duck H'ai. Probably city cousins. After all, they have a pool. No proper Dark Lord would let his Ur-Duck H'ai have anything so nice as a pool. It would certainly spoil any sinister intent, don't you think?


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