Sunday, June 9, 2013

Two Rides

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Flashing ruby of blackbird wings
Ebony cattle in emerald fields
Hawkweed glowing garnet in the grass

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My life seems lately to have boiled down to the following activities: ride, work, crochet, eat, sleep (repeat). There must be other things going on, but somehow they aren't making any impression. I am alternately looking forward to and dreading the end of the month, when I head for Colorado to participate in Bike MS with Snowcatcher and the Lizard (her husband). The two 73-mile stages there will be the longest rides of my life, and I want very much to finish them in good shape.

(As for crochet, I wish I could show you what I'm working on, but I can't. Let's just say that several magazine commissions [yay!] are all due around this time. They will make an appearance this autumn and winter.)

Today I have pictures from two training rides. Since Sunday (today) was forecast for thunderstorms, I planned for longer back-to-back rides on Friday and Saturday, and brought my camera to snap what I could along the way.

Friday - 45 miles

The morning is gloomy and grey, but the afternoon clears to beautiful blue-and-white skies. Temps are in the mid-60s, and a small cool wind is blowing from the north and east.

It's the kind of day we dream about all winter long: green and scented and blossomy. Honey locust, warmed by the sun, is filling the air with deliciousness. (I think Heaven must smell a little bit like today.)

I stop on a small rise to snap a photo of blossoms against the sky:

At my feet are banks covered with wild geranium...

...and swamp buttercup, just opening up:

Several miles on, young corn grows in a field backed by groves of honey locust in bloom:

Dame's Rocket is still going strong:

You can see a bit of it peeking up from the corner of the next photo:

Near the end of the ride, thundery clouds and a hint of rain are seen to the west:

The ride finishes well; I feel strong and comfortable (much better than after last Sunday's 45-miler). Plenty of protein, an extra bottle of water, and lots of shoulder shrugs have made all the difference.

I'd like to try doing another 45-miler tomorrow, but we have a graduation party to attend and unless I get up at the crack of dawn, there won't be enough time. 30 miles will have to do.

Saturday - 30 miles

Yesterday's sunshine has retreated under a blanket of cloud. It's a cool and slightly sticky 60º when I set out with Tallulah for my second ride in 18 hours. The wind is easterly and blessedly mild.

A few miles out of town I see an Amish buggy ahead. I catch up to it just as we reach my favourite willowy bend...

...then pass it in a blaze of glory. (Passing a four-wheeled vehicle, even a horse-drawn one, is such a boost for the cycling ego.)

Down the next turning, I stop to pull off my jacket, just where this tropical-looking spiderwort has begun blooming:

As I'm getting back on the bike, a large tractor passes, pulling a rather smelly load.

Just ahead is a sheep farm...

...the occupants of which used to run shrieking with terror into the barn whenever I approached. But I ride past here so often now, I think they've gotten used to me. (They certainly look relaxed.)

Up the road a bit, the tractor is depositing its smelly load.

Around the corner, the world smells much sweeter:

Miles on, I snap a flying photo of my favourite marshy bend. Elder blossoms lean over the water, where wild geese and their offspring paddle peacefully. Just in the center, though difficult to see, is a proud couple with four goslings.

This marshy bend is a favourite haunt of red-winged blackbirds. One of them flies directly towards me, its wings flashing more red than black. (Wish I could have gotten a photo....)

A few miles later, I begin to look for a good spot to take a break. Yesterday I chose a grassy spot, and unwittingly collected several bug bites. Today, Tallulah and I find a nice open rocky lane, which we hope will be skeeter-less, for our stopping place. (Though I must admit Tallulah doesn't attract mosquitoes the way I do.)

Tallulah takes a look at the deserted quarry beyond the gate...

...then climbs to the top bar for a better view.

Next, she checks out this salsify blossom:

"How does it smell?" I ask.

"Like a goat's beard," she says. (I suspect she's been reading my post from last week.)

Nearby grow these tiny little blossoms:

We look them up when we get home, and find that they go by the delightful name of Mouse-Ear Chickweed.

Break time over, we head down the road. I tell myself sternly that the rest of my photos will be taken from the saddle or not at all.

We pass a favourite old shed:

The road we're on is beloved of motorcyclists, and today we cross paths with a large group of Harleys (about 50 or so), out for a Saturday run:

Tallulah peeks out of my pocket as the riders go by. When the last one has passed, she says thoughtfully, "I wonder how I'd look in a black t-shirt with sequins...."

When we have about 7 miles to go, the sun finally starts to break through the clouds.

Around a few corners, I stop for a quick photo of white yarrow (there goes my resolution of shooting only on the fly):

Back in the saddle, I begin to think sadly of the orange hawkweed that grew here two summers ago. It never came up last year, and I haven't seen it this year either. Did the drought kill it off, or have I missed it somehow?

Just then a gleam of orange catches my eye...

...and there it is! (Why didn't I see it on the way out?)

It's even more lovely and vivid than I remember - clusters of burgundy buds, opening to flame and gold:

This road is a perfect wildflower alley. A hundred yards farther is a wonderful stretch of wild columbine mixed with wild geranium. Of course I have to stop for another photo....

And around the corner, two gorgeous stretches of blossom - mouse-ear chickweed and Dame's Rocket. I manage to take this photo without stopping:

That's it, I tell myself. Absolutely no more photos. Never mind the Golden Alexanders and the tiny pale pink asters (Daisy Fleabane) that grow in clusters just around the next bend. They'll have to wait for another day.

Another good ride, with a strong finish. I'm feeling much more confident now about Colorado. :)

Combined miles from Friday and Saturday: 75
Miles this year: 712.5

P.S. Only 3 weeks until Bike MS, and I haven't quite met my fundraising goal. If you enjoy these cycling posts, would you consider sponsoring me? All donations go straight to help people with MS. Even a dollar helps, and every dollar counts. To donate, click on the "Bike MS" button at the top right of this post. And thanks for reading. :)

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  1. Beautiful scenery and wonderful blossoms! We have most of all those flowers in my Native country Kazakhstan - it was so good to see them, Sue! All the best for MS event! You are participating in a great cause!!

    1. Thanks Anna! I'm glad you enjoyed the flowers. :)

  2. Lovely rides, and well done with such big ones two days running. I love the orange hawkweed -perfect colours. Juliex

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. :)

      The hawkweed is stunning, isn't it? Such a humble flower too.

  3. I see the same flowers while riding the quadruped, but didnt know all the names, so thanks.

    1. You're welcome! I have learned a lot of flower names since I started blogging about the ones I see on my rides. Every year I learn a few more. :)

  4. Beautiful photography, as always.

    Wondering what camera you have? It can't be big and bulky, as you take it with you, all the time. it is wonderful!!!!!!!

    Oh and the photographer is very, very talented toooooo!!!!!

    1. Why, thank you kindly. I left a comment on your blog, but I'll repeat it here: a Canon PowerShot SD1200IS, which I got in 2009. It does take some nice shots, especially closeups (when I can get it to focus on the right thing that is). I'm pretty happy with it. :)

  5. Hello Sue, Your rides for MS is such a kind and wonderful thing to do for such a very worthy cause. All truly enjoy seeing all the wonderful landscapes photos along your way. I am sorta partial to barns and sheep. VBG Tallulah always bring such humor along the way too.. Have a lovely week. Hugs Judy

    1. I love barns and sheep too - though they're rather silly in many ways (the sheep I mean).

      Thanks Judy! :)

  6. Such beautiful flowers. Your photos are so wonderful. Brava on the miles. You will do great on the MS ride. I can not imagine riding that many miles.
    Happy training.

    1. Thanks so much, Beth. It's funny, but the more miles I do, the more I feel they're not enough ... silly I suppose. As long as I finish those two days in Co! :)

  7. Wowee Sue, what a supersonic cyclist you are becoming. I love that you take us on your rides through your beautiful surrounding countryside, thank you. Tallulah is doing her thang again ain't she :o) xxx Penny

    1. Thanks Penny - and yes, Tallulah is sure to do her thang whenever I remember to bring her along! :)

  8. Oh, come on. I've never heard a sheep shriek. A goat maybe. Or a Goatmother. But a sheep? :)
    You have the world's BEST wildflowers!!! I want some Hawkweed like that. Ours is just ugly and yellow and you can't even mow it down. Oy.

    1. Thanks so much, Marigold - it's a very good year for wildflowers with all the rain we've gotten. (Much better than last year.)

      Okay, so it's not a high-pitched shriek - but it's definitely some kind of vocal emanation indicating mindless terror. To me that's a shriek. :)

  9. Two beautiful rides. The wild flowers are spectacular.

    1. Thank you, Ellen. It's been a wonderful year so far for wildflowers. :)

  10. Stunning photos - I can't stop staring at them. So glad Tallulah is wearing the helmet. Makes a helmet advocate proud!

    1. Thanks! Re helmets - there was a very interesting article in Bicycling Magazine about the changing understanding of what a helmet should accomplish, and how current helmets are not meeting the bill:

      An interesting and sobering read.

  11. You see so many lovely things on your bike rides. It must be sheer moments of pleasure and freedom for you! The countryside around where you live looks so beautiful at this time of the year!

    1. Yes - there are a lot of those moments of pleasure and freedom. And solitude! I am spoilt by all the empty country lanes, so much so that I sometimes resent passing cars. :)

      It is very beautiful here right now.

  12. That wonderful shed

    that amazing turtle pal

    those skies and miles logged on the bike

    1. Aaaah ... life is good, isn't it! :)

      Thanks Kathy.

  13. You are going to do so good on that ride, you are prepared and with all the excitement of the other riders pulling you along, you are going to do great.

    1. Thanks so much, Mere. I do hope you're right - and it will be great fun to have other riders around. :)

  14. Beautiful time of year for riding Sue, love all the wildflower pics and Mouse eared Chickweed what a fun name. Gorgeous coloured Hawkweed too. You have such variety over there.
    Love Talullah's little green helmet.....
    The first pic....white blossom against a beautiful blue sky and fluffy's just gorgeous Sue.
    Thanks for making all those stops to take pics to share......

    Claire x

  15. I had never seen hawkweed before. With a name like that, it's got to be good, right?

    Congrats on reaching your fundraising goal! That's as big an accomplishment as miles in the saddle!

    I can't help but wonder what kind of trip Tallulah is going to have in just, what, nine more days now?!?


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