Monday, September 3, 2012

Sun, Moon, and Shadow ~ a Labor Day Ride

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Rooster crowing a rustic aubade
Rising sun burning rose through the mist
Quiet freshness of the woods at dawn

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To celebrate Labor Day, Mr. M and I planned to meet my sister and her fiancé for breakfast at one of our favourite cafés in Madison (Manna Café and Bakery, which also figured in this post). Good food is a wonderful incentive for riding, so I thought I'd take the bike and meet everyone there.

Our breakfast appointment is set for 10 am. The café is 31 miles away, but I want to take a longer ride than that, so I've worked out a roundabout route which will add the requisite mileage.

I'm up before dawn and on the road by 5:30. (This leaves me plenty of time for breaks and pictures.) The early morning air is cool, damp and fresh. Venus - or possibly Jupiter - shines brightly in the eastern sky, and a silver moon rides above me.

Though it's dark when I leave, within 45 minutes the sky begins to be light enough for photos. A faint blush appears in the east; goldenrod and other flowers, grey in the dawn, are slowly taking on their daytime colours.

An hour into the ride, there's a distinct rosy flush on the eastern horizon...

...while the western sky is the softest lavender. The moon is waning gibbous (doesn't that sound exotic and mysterious?), and preparing to retire gracefully.

All at once, it seems, the sun is up. I'm lucky enough to be passing this lake just after it rises, in time to  snap its fiery reflection:

A mile or so later, and I'm riding through waking woods. A rooster crows his morning song somewhere to my right, and a flock of geese passes low overhead. (Do they have the day off too?)

The moon is so fair and bright that I take its photo again:

The rosy light of dawn makes this barn seem a deeper red:

Shadows are long and lovely at this time of day...

...and in some cases just plain long.

Somehow the moon (and my shadow) keep sneaking into my photos.

A crow sits on a bare branch, making his plans for the day:

I pass a beautiful stand of trees made golden by the low-shining sun. The moon hangs like a solitary pearl above them:

A small barn stands guard over the morning road.

Moon again, with grapevine this time...

And another shadow shot, with September soybean fields stretching away to the horizon:

I pass a donkey with soft ears and sweet eyes.

My road to Madison is a roundabout one - it dips and curves through miles of farmland.

Because the air is so moist today, it's hard to get clear photos. But this shot of a grain mill came out fairly well:

Grain mills fascinate me. They seem a bit like Legos on a giant scale.

I like the shadow of a tree that is cast on the large white door in the photo above.

There are plenty of picturesque barns on today's ride. The one below has lost quite a bit of siding - perhaps it was stripped off and sold by the owner. (Barn boards are very popular for decorating and furniture making.)

A slice of Americana - I look across the fields to see a tractor at work, a small white church, and another feed mill:

Would you like some dust with that corn?

(Perhaps this is why I sneezed the rest of the day.)

Here's a handsome set of barns and silos:

It may be a national holiday, but the harvest won't wait. A large tractor passes me, hauling its load to the next grain mill:

(I saw more grain mills today than I've ever seen in one ride. I think there were 5 in a 15-mile stretch.)

The road sweeps past cornfield after cornfield...

...and finally ends in a Madison suburb. Though country roads are infinitely to be preferred, suburban roads do have some definite advantages: smooth pavement and bike lanes.

Less than 5 miles to go, and I'm nearing the airport. I manage to snap one plane taking off (but miss the exciting F-16 which roars over a few minutes later):

Hunger keeps my camera in my pocket for the rest of the ride. I arrive early at the café, and am soon joined by the others. Mr. M has brought me a bag of clean clothes (packed last night), which will allow me to doff my sweaty Lycra and enjoy breakfast in more seemly attire. (Cycling clothes must surely be among the least attractive of sporting raiment.)

My sister's eyes light up when she sees gluten-free cake in the bakery case - celiac disease has made good cake a rare event in her life.

My eyes light up when my breakfast arrives, featuring this wonderful Spinach Swirl Scramble:

(Spinach, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese scrambled into creamy, just-set eggs. Bacon and toast sit humbly by, but the eggs take pride of place.)

Our breakfast is long and leisurely, full of good food and good conversation. I do like going out to breakfast, much more than going out to dinner. When we leave, relaxed and satisfied, we carry baked trophies to be enjoyed later.

A very good ride indeed, with a delicious finish. Happy Labor Day to all my fellow Americans.

50.2 miles*

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*This is the longest bike ride I've ever taken. I think I earned my breakfast. :)


  1. My goodness, you're clocking up those miles now! Well done! I love your donkey and pony shot and how the moon got into many of your pictures! Your shadow was having fun too! I especially like the one just before the donkey of your profile on the bike! What wonderful outings you go on with your trusty bike!

    1. Thanks, Sandra. It was a good way to spend a holiday morning. :)

  2. Wow! you are amazing! Loved every part of your post today!

  3. Gracious!!!!! You choose to bike, to this breakfast! What a ways!

    But you did get good exercise and took lovely, lovely, lovely photos.

    Oh wow, that G/F cake looks good. But betcha' it's full of sat/fat from lots of eggs and etc. and I still couldn't eat it. :-) Yes, I keep myself on a tight leash, since 3 years ago, having stents and avoiding a massive heart attack. :-)


    1. Thanks, Auntie. I don't know how much fat the cake had - the intense lemon really cut through any sensation of fattiness (I had a small bite of my sister's slice). From the texture I would guess it was made with mostly egg white. Perhaps you could safely indulge once in a VERY great while.

  4. Wonderful pictures. Amazing ride. I need a basket for my bike. I want to ride to work, weather permitting.

    1. Thanks Beth! I have a basket on the old secondhand cruiser that I ride around town - it's very handy for errands and such.

  5. Fifty miles before breakfast is not bad! Well done, I think you definitely earned that breakfast, did you not have cake too? Lovely views you saw, the sun rising above the lake sticks in my mind especially.
    I've been getting lazy, I should really up my mileage a bit...

    1. Thanks, Anne .... strangely enough I did not want any cake or pastry for breakfast. Bacon and eggs, with plenty of iced tea, really hit the spot. (I hope to do a 60-mile ride just once this season - hence the bloated mileage.)

  6. Gorgeous, I miss Wisconsin. I have lived in Oconomowoc twice and it was just the most wonderful place. Lac la Belle in the evening was spectacular. Hugs,

    1. Oconomowoc is very beautiful - I've often thought it would be a nice place to live.

      Thanks, Meredith! :)

  7. Oh my, I adore those beautiful barns in your part of the world. Love your rose tinted photo's and the moon pictures too. Gosh, I cycled 30 miles today as part of my enjoyment of my last day of holiday and thought that was good....I think I might need to up my game with your cycling as my inspiration!
    As for the yarn bombing,it was such fun and a little dare I say it exciting too! xox Take care lovely Mrs. Micawber x Penelope

    1. Thanks, Penelope. My mileage this year has been inspired by that of another bloggy cycling friend, Snowcatcher, who racks up insane amounts of miles each year.

      I am pondering the yarn bombing and casting a thoughtful eye at various stop signs and park benches in my village....


  8. Oh, my goodness!!! You more than earned breakfast!!! MAGNIFICENT! I think the best part though, is that you got to see the sunrise along the way, and you captured that beautiful shot!

    1. I thought of you when I saw that sunrise, Deb. :)

      P.S. Were your ears burning? I just mentioned your name in a comment above, and when I hit the "Publish" button your comment popped up below. We must have been typing at the same time.

  9. I would have been so happy to get that sunrise photo!
    What a great ride, and I didn't even break a sweat!

  10. Vicarious exercise. All the endorphins and none of the work!

    Thanks Kay. :)

  11. Love all the photos Sue, particularly the sun on the lake and of course I always enjoy seeing the differant barn pics.
    Sounds like it was an enjoyable ride and of course having breakfast with family at the end would be the icing on the nice your sister could enjoy some too.

    I'm like you, I would much prefer to go out for breakfast rather than dinner.

    Claire :}

    1. Thanks, Claire! I hope you enjoy some good breakfasts in NYC. :)

  12. Sue, this Labor Day early morning ride provided me with the perfect ten minute break from my work. So beautifully written and INVIGORATING! Pictures may be deceptive, I know, but it looks relatively flat in your corner of the world...Do put me right if I'm wrong :-)

    Wishing you a lovely end of week.


    ps I've just read your response to my comment left on Annie's post a couple of days ago. I will with pleasure do my damndedest to write about my oboe in the next few weeks.

    1. Mille mercis, Stephanie. Yes, it's pretty flat in our area - just some rolling hills.

      I would love to read more about your oboe. :)

  13. And did you cycle back?!

    What a fabulous way to start a day :D

    1. Ha ha ha. (To answer your question.) Perhaps one day....

      Thanks, Annie! :)

  14. I am expecting you to be in the Olympics next time round. You cycle quite epic distances. And such beautiful wide empty roads - I only work 6 miles away, and the thought of cycling it fills me with fear!

    Pomona x

    1. Are there Middle-Aged Olympics for slow, pudgy riders? If so I'll be there! :)

  15. Now that was the BEST shadow-shot to date! It made me feel SO tall! :) I also liked the rosy dawn, though I am rarely out of the barn that early.

    1. Bet you didn't know my legs were that long, did you? (Too bad they seemed to shrink as the morning wore on.)

      Thank you, Marigold. :)

  16. Wow, what a cycle....I've always been impressed with your thirty-somethings, but to do fifty is amazing.

    Love the sunrise shot, gorgeous colours caught perfectly over the lake. I too like the mills....I wonder what they would look like at sunrise? I guess you would have to leave when it was pretty dark to see unless there is one closer to you.

    The cafe looks perfect reward for your efforts, although I suspect you do it as you love the cycling not just the end breakfast....but I do think a baked trophy sounds just about the best trophy there is

    1. Thanks so much, Faith! Yes, a baked trophy is the best kind. :)


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