Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Drop-Dead Gorgeous Ride

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Green like a mantle of grace on the fields
Birds-foot trefoil in glory of gold
Thinking of cycling friends round the world

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It is indeed a gorgeous day. A thunderstorm rolled through yesterday evening, clearing the air and dropping the temperature by about 20 degrees. Last night was delightfully cool, and we woke this morning to crisp clear air and a deep, deep blue sky.

The air is fresh, with temps in the low 70s and a brisk wind blowing from the northwest. The first thing I notice after setting out is the smell of freshly-mown grass. (Yes, we have GRASS again!)

The second is a little, new-to-me yellow flower just outside town. An online search (post-ride) reveals that this cheerful little blossom rejoices in the name of nipplewort:

(Really, who comes up with these names?)

Another mystery wildflower is filling the ditches with snow-like drifts of tiny white blossoms. Anyone know what it is?

A birch tree rubs elbows with an aspen, blue and white sky behind.

Around a few bends, this corn crib (?) stands decoratively empty:

It's a wonderful year for grapevines. They must like the drought, for they've been lush and green all summer. This one twines affectionately round the barbed wire of a concrete fence post:

I stop to say "hi" to my porcine friends at our egg supplier's house. (Look at those cute wrinkly faces. Do they know they'll be bacon one day? And very delicious bacon too.)

WHAT a gorgeous day - almost too beautiful to be true. (But it is.)

If Monet lived in Wisconsin, he'd have painted these clouds:

Power lines looking stately against their backdrop of sky and corn.

Here's another corn crib, standing empty and bare in the midst of green, green grass.

Someone has a very lovely yard decoration. (I'd like to see it at night, all lit up.)

Over a hill and down the other side, and the verge is carpeted with birds-foot trefoil. Simply glorious!

I reach a stretch of road that's new to me, and along it grow these interesting flowers:

The buds are a pale mauve, and none of them seem to be opened any more than what you see above. Another new wildflower to wonder about. : )

As I ride, I think of the cycling friends I've met online, friends who encourage me by example. One inspires me to go farther and try harder; another inspires me to stop and take more pictures along the way. (You know who you are, gals, and I thank you.)

Despite the fact that last week's post consisted mainly of barns, I can't resist shooting more. Here's a detail from one of them. I love the stone foundation:

Swallows line the wires on this stretch of road. "Don't look now," one of them whispers to his mate, "but there's a woman in a pink jersey taking our picture."

A bit farther on, a stubble field is full of sandhill cranes. (Shiny silo tops peek over the horizon, reminding me for some reason of "War of the Worlds".)

They do not appreciate having their photo taken (the cranes I mean, not the silos) and rise with squawks of protest to find a field where they can browse unmolested by stray cyclists with cameras.

I pass a charming country church...

...standing amidst soybean fields, right out in the middle of nowhere.

Crossing over these railroad tracks, I linger hopefully. What are the chances of a train coming along?

Slim to none. Time to press on for the goal of today's ride: this lake. The road passes on a narrow neck of land between two expanses of water. Here is the view to my right...

...(which includes this charming little floating porch surrounded by water lilies)...

...and here is the view to my left. Blue sky, blue water, floating birds, and windswept grasses. (I do like Wisconsin.)

At the edge of the lake, a U.S. Marine flag flies under the Stars and Stripes (reminding me of my dad).

My camera is flashing "low battery". This is my turnaround point, and my longest ride to date this year - which, with photos, means several hours on the road. I decide in the interests of time and battery life to make tracks for home and keep the camera in my pocket.

I turn the bike, into a sprightly headwind, and start on the homeward trail. It's a good thing I've decided to stop taking photos. With a wind this strong, I need to focus on riding and getting home in decent time. (Ha ha. Who am I kidding?)

But wait - here's another unidentified but beautiful little flower I've been seeing along the road. Just one last photo, I tell myself:

I come to a corner swimming in Queen Anne's lace and tall yellow wildflowers (which could be Heliopsis, Helianthus, Compass Plant, Cup Plant, or some other blossom of the prolific Aster family), with a rusty, photogenic fence running through them. (Okay, one more photo.)

Ooh, windmills looming over a cornfield...

...and providing a backdrop for grapevine-covered, weathered fenceposts:

Buckle down! (I tell myself.) I manage to make it about 7 miles before stopping to snap a feed mill:

Since I've stopped, I may as well indulge myself in a nice textural shot. (The slippery photographic slope.)

A few miles further on, these horses (belonging to a large and well-to-do Amish farm) simply beg to be photographed. One more picture can't hurt:

And a few miles on, I pass several more horses. Isn't this one lovely? (Blond mane blowing in the wind.)

Its companions cluster up to the fence when I speak to them, and busy themselves with chomping on the grapevines while listening to my blandishments. Positively the last photo!

(I remind myself of the story "Cookies", by Arnold Lobel. A classic if ever there was one.)

But it really is the last photo, for I'm getting hungry. Just a few miles to go, and I'll be home where the food is. I really need to start bringing a snack on these long rides.

A fantastic ride, with gorgeous, perfect weather (despite the headwind). Riding is so much easier at moderate temperatures.

41.3 miles

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  1. Wow! That is a long way! Congratulations! I love the photo of the birch and the aspen...there is a metaphor there somewhere. I'm sure of it. :) The mauve flower that is unopened looks like it is a silene, catcy-fly (common name) family, so look in that direction for that one. Other than that, they all look kind of delicious to me. :)

    1. Yes, definitely a metaphor of some kind (I felt the same when I took the photo). Thanks for the flower ID - despite a guidebook and the Internet I still sometimes fail to find a match. I think silene is right.

  2. Haha! I sometimes (very rarely!) try to cycle without taking photos, I usually don't succeed. I would drive "real" cyclists potty with all my camera stops, but I like seeing and recording what there is around me.
    Bloggers are great for helping identify plants. Your unopened flower looks similar to one I asked about in this post (, turns out it was white campion going to seed (thanks to bloggers comments), could yours be something similar? Your first mystery flower looks very similar to the one I kept seeing but failed to photograph well, I'll be interested to see what identification you get for that.
    Favourite photos - church in the field, lake, rusty fence,
    and the last horse pic, so many to choose from!
    Great distance you did too.

    1. Thanks Anne! I rely on my bloggy friends for help in many areas, not the least cycling photo inspiration and wildflower ID. :)

      P.S. I'm hoping to do a 60-miler this season so am gradually working up to it.

  3. If Monet lived in Wisconsin, he would have first painted the perch and waterlilies I the pictures, but especially the second closeup of the feed mill...great photo.

    Can't believe how far you cycle, this coming from the girl who did half my 20 minute shred DVD today as I could hardly breathe....oh, dear!

    Hope your cooler weather continues.x

    1. Thanks Faith - "cooler weather" are the key words here. It makes it so much easier. All the photo breaks really help too. :)

  4. It is just as well that you don't ask us to choose a favourite picture when you do your rides, as they are all very interesting.

    1. Thanks so much, T-a! I hope the warmer weather has finally found you. :)

  5. I love the photos of the horses, but all of the photos are so great. You are really doing some long rides. I made it 25 minutes this week. (Sad but true.)

    1. Thanks Beth. 25 minutes is great. A little more each week is my motto right now.... :)

  6. Gorgeous photos and weather. Wisconsin is a beautiful state.

    1. It is beautiful here - not being a native I can say it all I like! (Kind of like praising other people's kids.) :)

  7. Glorious weather for an awesome ride. And this time you really got some fantastic photos! You go girl! Have a great day. Tammy

    1. Thanks T. Clearer air makes for clearer photos (as you well know). :)

  8. Oh Sue, that was fabulous! A glimpse into the natural and manmade beauty of your surroundings. Those clear, clean post-storm days are fabulous and much appreciated around our part where the sun can be a little too hot for my comfort zone.

    I often think about you when cycling on my newly gifted bicyle (Mother's Day in June this year). I love the freedom it grants me and is way more my cup of tea than jogging ;-)


    ps I will be away for a fortnight but am glad to have popped in here beforehand.

    1. Thanks so much, Stephanie! I will picture you cycling down the lanes, surrounded by grapevines and dreaming of future knitting projects.

      Bonnes vacances!

  9. Wowie kazowie!!! 41 miles! You're going to be up to 60 in no time!

    I'm thinking maybe I should do what you're doing, stop and take pictures as much as the batteries will allow instead of trying to go further... :)

    I did 10 miles last weekend and felt good. Even looked for barns, because of you. Didn't find any, but will keep looking!

    1. Woo hoo! Show that back of yours who's the boss (while treating it tenderly and with respect).

      Colorado cattle must be mostly free-ranging - and beef, not dairy. Otherwise I think you'd see more barns. :)

  10. Another wonderful ride with great views Sue........
    Love seeing all the different flowers growing and that horse with it's flowing mane is gorgeous.
    Can't imagine not stopping along the way to take some pics......

    CLaire :}


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