2023 Riding Diary

Miles to Date in 2023: 1019

Friday, December 1: A rare-for-December 50+ degrees today means I can take an equally-rare December ride! Hit the road at around 2:30 in the afternoon, after usual Friday work and a hurried lunch. Wind is southwest, and the air is almost warm in the sun, but definitely cool in the shade. It's such a treat to be on the road; find myself singing "On the Road Again" and adapting the words to fit the occasion: On the road again/Just so glad to be on the road again/the life I love is cycling free in sun and wind/I'm so glad to be on the road again. The last few snowfalls are melting off; the road is damp in many places, and snow still lingers under the trees. Stop for photos at a bridge, and am reminded by the angle of light just how late in the year it is. See a couple out on their bikes in the country; on my way back into town pass a man in his yard who smiles and says, "One last ride?" as I pass. "Yep, till next spring!" I call over my shoulder. Though who knows? Maybe we'll have a few days this winter warm enough to allow for a ride or two. Hope springs eternal. 11 miles; 1019 ytd

Monday, November 13: It's sunny and clear, with a gusty west wind  of 10-18 mph, temps in the upper 50s (much colder in the shade). Set out after an early lunch intending to do 19-20 miles, then decide along the way to take a different route and visit some roads I haven't yet ridden this year. Sun is warm but the wind is bitter. It's mostly a cross/tailwind on the way out, and a rather discouraging headwind on the way home. Sing several songs to distract myself over the final 10 miles or so, while thinking longingly of all the nice warm rides of summer, when temps were in the 80s and 90s. Finally remember to snap a photo of a favorite rural driveway that has been lined with pumpkins for over a month now. Will this be the last ride of the year? I don't know, but am glad to say that apart from the wind, it was a good one. Technically 25.4 miles, but I'm rounding down for convenience. 25 miles; 1008 ytd! Goal met!

Monday, November 6: Today's forecast is for a high of 60-ish (albeit with strong winds). Am scheduled to work, so decide it's too good a chance to pass up. Wear tights and jacket for the ride in, but pack shorts in hope it will be warm enough on the way home to use them (it is). Strong headwind and cross-headwinds all the way in. See a big group of sandhill cranes; they've been gathering for a couple of weeks as migrating time is near. Do my best to leave work as quickly as possible at the end of the day, to make the most of the available sunlight, then am foiled by a train on the way home (dang it). The sun is below the horizon by the time I reach home. If I do any more work commutes this year, I'll have to go in early and leave early to avoid riding in the dark. (Note to self: also borrow Mr. M's  bike and helmet lights just in case.) 19 miles; 983 ytd

Saturday, November 4: Since my last ride, we've had our first hard freeze, followed by the first snow. Have been waiting for some bearable temperatures so I can keep chipping away at the mileage goal. Today's high is in the mid-40s, but it's sunny, so I take off with no particular route in mind, just hoping to do 20+ miles. Lots of pickup trucks parked at the edges of fields; bow season has begun. Most of the autumn color has been drained from the landscape by the freeze, which is saddening. Weather feels okay so far (thanks to the wind at my back, which also makes me feel deceptively strong on a moderate climb about ten miles out). Reach my turnaround point and decide to go just a bit farther. When I do turn, the wind feels brutally cold - ugh. Headwind all the way home. Later I check my mileage and am happy to find it farther than I realized. Just two more bike commutes will get me to my goal, but the clocks change tomorrow, which means limited daylight for riding home from work. We'll see how it goes. 25 miles; 964 ytd

Sunday, October 22: Lots of rain since my last ride, plus an extra busy schedule, have kept me off the road. Today is clear and cool, with a high in the mid-50s. The wind is biting as I set out for what I hope will be a 19-miler. Am tired and achy, also dizzy and brain-fogged today (thanks Covid), but the season’s end is drawing near, so feel I must take advantage of the decent weather while I can. The autumn colors are beautiful under a deep-blue sky, so I stop for lots of photos. Make it up the one small hill on my route without coughing, so that’s good. Somehow the wind seems to be head-on no matter what direction I’m going today. Decide to go a litter farther than planned, to visit a favorite bend in the road where trees lean over still black water, admiring their own reflections, and there’s usually a late QAL or two still in bloom. It’s as lovely today as it is every autumn, and I do find a QAL in bloom. Take several photos then wearily climb back on the bike; am very tired and ready to head home. That evening I fall asleep in my chair before 7 pm; Covid really has knocked the stuffing out of me. Ah well. Things will get better eventually. 21 miles; 939 ytd

Tuesday, October 17: It’s been a long time since my last ride. First there was rain, then there was a trip to California, then I got Covid (boo hiss), and once I was back on my feet, more rain. I missed some beautiful riding weather while traveling and while sick, and I really want to hit a thousand miles before the season ends, so am determined to ride to work this morning despite heavy fog and temps in the 30s. (Forecast is for clear skies and mid 50s by afternoon.) Put on tights and long gloves, a wool undershirt and socks, long-sleeved jersey and jacket. My backpack feels strangely heavy; not sure if this is due to carrying more clothes than usual, or lack of strength after Covid. Am fairly comfortable on the road, except for my ears - keep forgetting to make an earband for cold-weather riding – but eventually they warm up. See a flock of turkeys, barely discernible through the mist, in a field next to the road. A watery sun tries to break through the fog once or twice, and finally succeeds about a mile before I reach work. The river is silvery this morning, lined with the brown stems of dying grass and wildflowers, punctuated by trees turning yellow and red. Things look very different than they did the last time I was here. Ride home is slower than usual; I manage three rather wimpy intervals, but otherwise don’t push myself. Very tired the next morning (post-Covid fatigue and muscle soreness have been a real problem). 19 miles; 918 ytd

Sunday, September 24: Rain is forecast for all day, but I slip out during a clear spell between showers for a quick ride. (Later the weather clears completely; go figure.) Sky is cloudy, and temp is much warmer than the forecast high for the day. With blog post in mind, stop for photos of goldenrod gone to seed, also scarlet creeper and a woolly bear crossing the road. Wind is east, 10 gusting to 20. Rain is forecast for the next several days, so do some intervals today to make up for the rides I’ll probably miss. Countryside is really looking autumnal now, with lots of red and yellow to contrast with the green. What once was the rustle of leaves in the wind has turned to a dry rattle; the withering of all woods is drawing near (or at least the deciduous ones). Good ride, though short. 11 miles; 899 ytd

Thursday, September 21: Feels like an age since my last bike commute, though it’s only been a week. Morning is warm and sticky; ride is uneventful both ways. No good photos today. Usual intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 888 ytd

Monday, September 18:
Rain forecast for tomorrow, so decide to take advantage of the weather today and go for an afternoon ride (also, just published a pattern, so am giving myself permission to set design work aside for an hour or two). It’s a beautiful day; skies are deep blue and dotted with tiny clouds. Get an idea for a blog post on the flowers of September, so stop for lots of flower photos on this ride: goldenrod, tickseed, snakeroot, white sweet-clover, amaranth (I think), and hawkweed or something similar. Ride includes one small climb, which is super easy; am surprised how light I feel without the backpack. Also think my bike-commute intervals (which all take place on slight uphills) have really helped build strength. See sheep across the road from P’s house on the way home. 20 miles; 869 ytd

Thursday, September 14: A beautifully crisp day. Back is much better this morning, thank God; just a twinge or two. See two flocks of turkey on the way in to work, but am unable to get photos. Also see herons in the river, morning and afternoon. On my way home, an undoubted egret takes off from a backwater and flies along to the next pond – its black legs are clearly visible. So now I know we have both heron and egret here at this time of year. (Haven’t seen the pelican for over a week; I wonder if it’s moved on?) Usual intervals plus a couple of miles in the big chainring on the way home. What a blessing to be able to move freely again. 19 miles; 849 ytd

Tuesday, September 12: A cool and clear morning; the sky is brilliantly blue for my ride in to work. Just where the view opens up along the river trail, I hear honking away to my right. A handful of geese fly overhead, then land on the water. Autumn is on the wing. The afternoon high is just 70°, and the wind is cool. See a white bird flying over the river on the way home: heron or egret? Too far away to tell. Later on stop for aster photos, along with red clover, dried coneflower, and QAL balled up for the cooler weather. As I walk back to the bike, am suddenly struck with back spasms, which have afflicted me occasionally since the 2021 crash. Get back on the bike with difficulty and take off very slowly. Am eventually able to pick up a bit of speed, but dang, it's uncomfortable. Think with pity of pro riders who have to ride long stages in pain after a crash. (We've been watching the Vuelta every night.)  No intervals; it's enough to get home and painfully climb the steps into the house. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen for me. Things should be better in a day or two. 19 miles; 830 ytd

Sunday, September 10: Another cool and partly-cloudy day. Feel extremely disinclined to exercise, but in the afternoon Mr. M says he’s going out for a short ride so decide to join him. We pass a pair of sandhill cranes grazing on the verge; get a photo of one of them. A quiet ride. 11 miles; 811 ytd

Thursday, September 7: The heatwave has ended; it’s about twenty degrees cooler this morning than it was two days ago. Wish I’d put on arm warmers before leaving for work. Ah well – a nip in the air is a good encouragement to ride a little faster. See some sandhill cranes on the way in; their feathers are changing over from summer-brown to winter grey-and-white. The day starts cloudy and ends cloudier. No good photos today. Intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 800 ytd

Tuesday, September 5: Bike commute under blue-and-white skies. The morning is warm and sticky, with rapidly climbing temps. Fields are beginning to look fall-like, with tawny and buff encroaching on the green of summer. Plenty of flowers still blooming in the rocky riverbank: QAL, some knapweed, lots of butter-and-eggs (toadflax); stop for photos of same on my way home. Leaves are falling and blowing along the road. Another hot afternoon, so no intervals. 19 miles; 781 ytd

Saturday, September 2: Am covering for someone at work today, so an unexpected Saturday commute. Chicory still blooming this morning; I do love that flower. The afternoon is pleasantly warm; it’s nearly 90° when I leave work. See the pelican again on my way home. No intervals today (also no good photos). 19 miles; 762 ytd

Thursday, August 31: Bike commute. It’s a bright clear morning, cool and fresh. The marsh by the railroad tracks is packed with yellow flowers (swamp tickseed or beggar’s nodding-tick, can’t be sure which). See my new friend the pelican on his usual islet, hanging out with a gull; snap photo. (Feel that my photos are becoming increasingly bird-centric as the season wanes.)  A bit farther on pass a white-phase heron. Intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 743 ytd

Tuesday, August 29: Bike commute in pleasant temps with a bit of a headwind. See several white birds on the river in the morning; not sure if they're egrets or white herons. (Do a bit of googling on my lunch break to find that egrets have black legs, and that white herons are actually young blue herons going through a white phase. Herons have pale legs. All the birds I saw were standing in water, so no help there.) On my way home see an undoubted blue heron in the water (pause for photos, including the one at left). Conclude that the birds I saw this morning were probably young herons. But wait - a few hundred yards later, see a very large white bird on a tiny sandbar far out in the river. (Pause for extreme zoom photos.) Study all the photos when I get home and realize that the very large bird was a pelican. Seems a bit early for them to be migrating through, but maybe we have a resident pelican population that I don't know about. Usual intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 724 ytd

Monday, August 28: Take a bit of time out from pattern illustrations for a short ride in the afternoon. Low 80s, wind southwest 8-9 mph. Goldenrod is blooming thickly now, along with Joe-Pye weed, at the edge of the marshes just outside the village. Later on, spot lots of nodding beggar-tick (or possibly swamp tickweed?) in a different marsh than usual. Fall asters are coming on too. It feels good to be back on the bike. Now I just need to catch up on photo-editing and add pictures to the last month's worth of entries. 9 miles; 705 ytd

Friday, August 18: feel very sore all over, and in the evening start running a fever; must have been working up to this all week. Testing rules out Covid, but I assume it’s some kind of virus. Spend the weekend wrapped in blankets, sleeping a lot and coughing. When the fever stops, the virus heads for my gut, which is very uncomfortable for several more days. Meanwhile we have entered the hottest week of the summer, with heat indices up to 115°; the air is like hot thick soup and does my cough no good. Probably just as well I'm not up to riding at the moment, or I’d be tempted to see how I do at these temps. Should be back on the bike before August ends. (Where has the summer gone?)

Thursday, August 17: Bike commute. Strong headwind on the way in, and there’s a worker in a little vehicle driving along the river trail spraying weed-killer on all the cracks in the pavement. (Have mixed feelings about this as the cracks are full of ragweed, to which I am very allergic; can’t decide whether to boo the idea of poison, or cheer for the destruction of this source of late-summer misery.) Spot a mystery wildflower on the rocky bank; vary pale small pink blossoms with burgundy sepals. Shall have to look them up. (Do so later and find that they are Polenisia dodecandra / rough-seed clammy-weed, a member of the cleome family.) Feel achy again after getting to work, also strangely teary, but put this down to the time of year and the imminent anniversary of my dad’s death two years ago. Intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 696 ytd


Tuesday, August 15: Bike commute. The morning is fresh and lovely; just before reaching the highway a helicopter flies high overhead, towing what looks rather like a gigantic crochet hook on a very long cable. (Mr. M later suggests it may have been a streetlight. He’s probably right, but that is way less fun.) Feel rather achy on arriving at work. Intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 677 ytd


Saturday, August 12: A short afternoon ride just to shake things up after a morning of computer work. The marsh is full of Joe-Pye weed. Lovely blue sky today; we are having a slightly-cool snap (usual for the first half of August). 9 miles; 658 ytd


Thursday, August 10: Bike commute; see lots of geese hanging out on the sandbars. Today we pay the price for the recent rain: the Dreaded Mower has been at work along the river trail, leaving the usual trail of destruction in its wake, as well as numerous slippery piles of grass, ugh. All the glorious drifts of QAL are gone (sigh). Whoever is in charge of the city works department has no music in his soul. 19 miles; 649 ytd


Tuesday, August 8: Bike commute, rather eventless. Only photo is of a hawk on a telephone pole; too blurry to post. Intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 630 ytd


Saturday, August 5: A sticky, windy Saturday. Take off for an afternoon ride with a brief stop at the lakeshore for photos of Tallulah with tiny shells. (These surprise me whenever I see them; why do I only associate shells with the ocean? Some are so miniscule - just a millimeter or two in size - that I can’t imagine what creatures could have occupied them.) Lots of whorled milkweed about on B road and G road; get a few good photos. Also spot very large clumps of fleabane on G road. 19 miles; 611 ytd


Thursday, August 3: Bike commute. River trail is positively swimming in QAL at the moment (bright side of extreme drought: no mowing!); stop for photos after work. Small chance of thunderstorms this afternoon, with dramatic clouds building up in the east, but no rain falls on the ride home. 19 miles; 592 ytd


Sunday, July 30: A pleasant afternoon; small puffy clouds float in a blue sky to the east, while larger clouds loom grey to the west. See lots of double daylilies on Old P road (double as in twice as many petals as the standard variety; either that or the petals are so curly they look more numerous than they are). Stop at the nature preserve, which seems short on flowers this summer; today it’s mostly wild bergamot with a few rudbeckia. Also spot some mystery blossoms with rather teasel-like white heads; can’t tell whether they had/have dropped petals or not. (Look them up later to find they were Eryngium yuccifolium aka button eryngo or rattlesnake-master). Despite the decent weather, am feeling tired and reluctant to ride, so keep it short. 11 miles; 573 ytd

Thursday, July 27: Another work commute. Morning is pleasant with a deep-blue sky, though afternoon is forecast to be hot. Intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 562 ytd

Monday, July 25: Writing this a month late (have slacked off on the diary due to busyness plus a bad bout of August depression, followed by a virus). Bike commute to work; stopped on the way home for photos of purple loosestrife and a tiny, pale-pink mystery blossom growing along the water's edge. (Later research reveals it to be Phyla lanceolata/lance-leaf fog-fruit.) Usual intervals. 19 miles; 543 ytd

Sunday July 23: Missed my chance to ride yesterday before thunderstorms struck (with rain! hooray!), so heading out today. It's hot, and there's a haze rolling in from the Canadian wildfires, but parts of the sky are still blue. Can't believe how much vervain is blooming this summer; stop for photos. Also see thistle and a thistle-like plant that turns out to be lesser burdock. Wild sunflowers and their lookalikes are flowering; get photos with and without bees. Decide to head southeast and climb a little ramp I haven't been on in years. R road is beautifully shady; I actually cross paths with another cyclist there. Up on the prairie the view is made misty by worsening haze. When I turn back towards home there's a farm on the right and a stubble field on the left with about a dozen chickens pecking at the ground. The rooster sees me coming and sounds an alarm, running across the road towards the farm. After about half a minute, several of the other chickens decide to follow him, so I stop in the road to let them pass. They put me in mind of the Abbey Road album cover (all that's missing is the crosswalk and groovy clothing). Headwind on the way home, but I don't mind as it has a cooling effect. A decent ride. 22 miles; 524 ytd

Thursday July 20: Another commute day, blue-skied with puffy white clouds, but more humid than Tuesday. Good thing there's a headwind most of the way in. There's a lovely spot on the river trail, where the rocky bank begins and the vista opens up, currently clustered over with knapweed and QAL and mullein; stop for a photo on my way in. Usual intervals on the way home, plus an extended stretch in the big chainring on the last couple of miles into the village. Good pace. 19 miles; 502 ytd

Tuesday July 18: Lovely day for a commute; temps are moderate though humidity is slowly ramping up. Roadsides are rife with wild chicory and QAL; get some good shots of chicory on the way in. Pass a pair of sandhill cranes standing inches from the road in a spot where I don't usually see them; no time to pull out the camera for photos. After work, am supposed to meet some visiting family members for dinner; they're a bit later than expected, so rather than ride over to where they're staying, I TT it home so I can change and take the car. Am just starting one of my intervals when I see another pair of sandhill cranes standing inches from the (completely different) road. Manage to snap a blurry photo of them as I go by. (Am used to seeing them in the fields, but not right next to the road, twice in the same day.) Make excellent time on the way home while reflecting that the TdF riders also have a TT today. (After the family dinner we go home and watch the top contenders traverse the route. What an astounding performance by Vingegaard!) 19 miles; 483 ytd

Saturday July 15: The day is warm and sticky; have time for a short ride between work at home and evening church. Swamp milkweed is blooming just outside village limits; such a pretty deep-rose color. A bee is busy on the milkweed, so take a few photos; later on while editing find there was also a white spider, shaped very like a milkweed blossom, hidden in the blooms (fringe benefits of wildflower photography). Just up the road, blue vervain is blooming, so stop for several more photos that also include bees. It's a good year for vervain; have seen flourishing patches of it in several spots. 11 miles; 464 ytd

Thursday July 13: Cloudy and a chance of thunderstorms, but decide to commute regardless. On the way in see two of my favorite (i.e. really well-behaved) dogs playing in the river with their owner watching from the shore. They're having a great time, bounding in and out of the water and running around in circles on the sand bar. Of all the dogs regularly seen on the river trail, these are the only ones trained to stand motionless by their owner as I pass. Very much appreciated, especially as they are unleashed. On the way home stop for lots of flower photos: rudbeckia, wild bergamot, orange milkweed. One of the rudbeckia is occupied by a very long-legged spider (barely seen in photo at left). Usual intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 453 ytd

Tuesday July 11: Lovely day for a commute; not too hot and clear blue skies. On my way in, spot a hoary vervain next to the river trail and stop for a photo. See lots of knapweed on the way home, but too breezy for good photos. Usual intervals. 19 miles; 434 ytd

Sunday July 9: A warm-ish afternoon ride; 85, sunny, and very hazy. Decide to take a hilly route (as hilly as it gets around here). Am slow but persevering on the climbs. The sun is burning down on the high prairie, but the wind feels nice. See lots of giant hogweed in the usual dell. Feel rather panicky on the steep and curvy H descent, so ride my brakes all the way down. (Anxiety is still pretty bad, so feel that discretion is the better part of valour here.) See lots of cattle out on WP road, and stop for a photo of the old one-room schoolhouse on the corner. More cattle further on, and a lovely shady descent down R road. Stop for photos of dog-fennel; once back on the bike see a deer peeking out of the forest. It sees me too, and disappears into the trees. The last several miles feel great; if I had packed a second water bottle I'd be tempted to just keep going, but being out of water head home to rehydrate. Apart from the anxiety, a great summer ride - the kind of weather we dream about in the depths of winter. 23 miles; 415 ytd

Thursday July 6: The heatwave has broken! This morning's commute feels positively cool in comparison to recent rides. Today's forecast high is only 82; it's a lovely blue-skied day. On the way home stop for photos of hedge bindweed growing by the lake; the blossoms are large and beautifully pink-and-white. 19 miles; 392 ytd

Tuesday July 4: After a busy morning of weeding, design work, and making pesto, take a short afternoon ride. It's hot as a firecracker out there - about 91 I think - and rather humid too. Pretty standard for the Fourth. The corn isn't quite as high as an elephant's eye, but getting there. Pass a large patch of soapwort and stop for a photo; see a deer at the usual corner. 11 miles; 373 ytd

Monday July 3: Forecast to hit 93 today. Will be off tomorrow, so am working today and decide to commute by bike. It's already in the low 80s and very sunny on my ride in. Stop for photos of wild chicory and orange milkweed. Purple loosestrife and ironweed are blooming along the river's edge, and wild white indigo near the trail (get photos of the latter on my way home). When I leave work the  temp has indeed reached 93. The parking lot feels like a furnace, and all the way home the pavement breathes out a steady wave of heat. This inspires the start of a poem, which gets blogged a week later. Find that I am settling into the heat and getting more comfortable riding in it. Still no intervals, but a better pace than formerly in these temps. Probably helps that I salted and sugared my water bottle before leaving work. 19 miles; 362 ytd

Saturday July 1: Missed a week of riding due to thunderstorms over the weekend, then smoke from the Canada fires creating dangerously bad air quality. Things are finally clearing a bit. Today's ride is hot and slightly hilly, also rather murky and grey so not many photo ops. Most notable sight is a small gang of turkey vultures enjoying a snack in the road. A chacun son gout.... 14 miles; 343 ytd

Saturday June 24: The heatwave continues; high of 91 today. Take a short midday ride and the heat feels surprisingly good; think I'm getting used to the temps (or just getting old). Helps that it's dry and not humid. Common yarrow is blooming all over the place; also see wild parsnip, lots of hoary alyssum, and the first rudbeckia. Have an annoying encounter with a dog on the road; not the first brush with this particular canine. It never used to bother me, but since the dog-related crash of 2021, I struggle with how to handle aggressive dogs in the road. Used to think the best thing was to keep going as fast as possible, but found out the hard way that can be dangerous. On the other hand, stopping or slowing down means chancing getting bit. What's a cyclist to do? Am seriously considering carrying some kind of spray deterrent. Oh well; as Chick Hearn used to say, "No harm, no foul." 12 miles; 329 ytd

Thursday June 22: Have been out of town visiting family in WNY; came home to another heatwave. Today's forecast high is 91, but  after ten days off the bike, I really want to ride to work. Morning heats up rapidly; it's about 72 when I leave, and 77 when I get to work. See a family of sandhill cranes along the way; mom and dad and two leggy twins. Spot the first woodland sunflower of the year, and see that all the salsify has turned into giant puffballs. Lots of dogwood still in bloom. Ride home is hot - about 90 - and windy, which tempers the heat nicely. Stay in usual gear, but slacken pace a bit and omit intervals so as not to overheat. 19 miles; 317 ytd

Monday June 12: Short afternoon ride; cloudy and cool. Snapped a wild turkey next the road. 9 miles; 298 ytd

Saturday June 10: Warm and windy afternoon ride. Flowers spotted include fleabane, blue flag iris, northern bedstraw, crown vetch, hoary alyssum, milkweed about to bloom, wild phlox, dogwood, viburnum, and huge clumps of hoary puccoon in a new-to-me spot. 14 miles; 289 ytd

Thursday June 8: Sunny commute to work. Flowers snapped include blue flag iris, salsify, some kind of anemone, cow vetch (white and purple). Also saw wild rose (R. multiflora) and flock of turkey. 19 miles; 275 ytd

Saturday June 3: Am scheduled to work, so decide to commute by bike. The forecast high is 92 (the weather website's icon for the day is the ominous-orange-square-with-burning-sun), so I soup up my water bottle with potassium, salt, honey, and a bit of vinegar for flavor (would normally add frozen berries or citrus juice but we're out). The ride in is pleasant, with temps in the upper 70s. By the time I leave work it's 91. A headwind on the way home helps mitigate the heat; I also go down a gear and keep a moderate pace. No photo stops or intervals today; the main thing is to get home without overheating. Which I do (not overheat, I mean). 19 miles; 256 ytd

Thursday June 1: Thunderstorms predicted for this afternoon, but the morning is clear. Mr. M confirms that he can take me home from work if needed, so decide to ride in. It's 81 when I leave, and close to 85 when I arrive. (What happened to the milder Junes of yore? Seems like nowadays we catapult straight from chilly spring into hottest summer. Hope things cool down next week.) My nemesis (aka The Wildflower Killer; cue gnashing of teeth) is on the river trail, wreaking destruction and leaving treacherous drifts of slippery shorn grass in its wake. Have to go off-trail to get around it (somehow this seems to add insult to injury). Later, thunderstorms roll in as predicted, so Iris and I ride home in Mr. M's car. Rounding down today's mileage to nearest whole number. 9 miles; 237 ytd

Tuesday May 30: Was hoping to ride more over the weekend, but spent all my energy Sunday and Monday getting the neglected garden beds in order and putting in plants. Today was sunny and forecast to be in the upper 80s; great bike commute weather. Comfortably warm when I set off, with little wind. Have been seeing salsify for about a week now; being a morning bloomer, it's closed by the time I ride home (should have allowed a few extra minutes for photos; maybe next time). Honey locust trees have been flowering for several days, and are already shedding blossom, due no doubt to the hot windy weather. Such a lovely scent. (Spend the next few miles pondering descriptions for the varying sweetnesses of spring blossom; honey locust is wholesomely sweet; wild plum, sharply sweet; honeysuckle, langorously sweet; leafy spurge, sickly-sweet.) Cow vetch is just coming on, and the naturalized irises are open on the bank of the little rise near RR tracks. Along the river trail, catch a glimpse of what I think is nodding wild onion; shall have to get a photo on the way home. A bit farther on are signs of mowing; hope the flowers are still there in the afternoon. (They're not. Dang mowers.) On the way home, stop for photos of bird's-foot trefoil, honey locust, and mystery shrub that may be some kind of hawthorn. Update: shrub is Viburnum opulus. 19 miles; 228 ytd

Saturday May 27: Sneak in a short ride between housework and church. Sunny and warm, east wind. Balsam groundsel and hoary puccoon blooming on W road. (As per usual, the name hoary puccoon makes me want to Talk Like a Pirate, e.g. "Avast, ye hoary puccoon!") Surprise a turkey buzzard in the swampy area near the road's end. It flaps up to perch on a nearby toppled tree stump - very large and impressive when seen this close up. After turning around at end of road, try to get a couple of photos from the saddle as I pass it again, but they come out blurry. Water arums blooming in the marsh just past B farm. Lake is busy today, no doubt due to holiday weekend, but not much auto traffic, for which I am grateful. 9 miles; 209 ytd

Thursday May 25: Temps have dropped sharply from what they were earlier in the week; this morning's commute is borderline cold. River water looks dark and chilly. After work feel unaccountably tired and reluctant to face the moderate headwind on the ride home. See dogwood blooming at edge of what I fondly think of as the Dead Marshes; take a photo from as near as I can get without getting shoes wet. Can barely do the usual intervals. Very glad to get home. Not sure why this tiredness. (It couldn't possibly have anything to do with staying up too late watching the Giro every night; have been doing that for two+ weeks now.) 19 miles; 200 ytd

Tuesday May 23: The warm clear weather continues. This morning is nearly windless as I take off for work. On the way home spot bird's-foot trefoil and cinquefoil along the river trail, and a new-to-me patch of what turns out to be prairie groundsel. Have never seen that along the river trail before; suspect that the balance of wildflowers is changing due to the city's ever-more-aggressive mowing habits of the last few years. I wish they would leave that area alone. Intervals on the way home. 19 miles; 181 ytd

Monday May 22: Sunny and warm, wind 5 to 7 from the south. Though I have work to do at home, this weather is too good to pass up, so take off for a 19-mile circuit that includes a couple of short climbs. See asparagus in all the spots it wasn't visible last week, but as we have a bagful in the fridge from my BIL, do not stop to pick any. (Unto her that hath shall be given, it seems.) Stop for photos of oleaster and what I think is viburnum, both blooming profusely about the countryside. Dame's rocket is out; seems a bit early. As first climb begins can feel something crawling in my hair; must have caught a bug in my helmet. It feels large; decide to stop halfway up and let it out just in case it's a wasp. (Second time in a couple of weeks this has happened.) Stop on second climb for photos of frilled puccoon growing in the usual spot. See unexpected cattle on the hillside above; had no idea there was a pasture there. A few miles later, on the way down R road, am thrilled to spot a new-to-me patch of Jacob's Ladder growing on the shady side of the road. Have only seen this flower in one other place in all the years I've been riding this area. Photos ensue. Also see wild geranium, white clover, and black medick. Later on, just before willowy bend, see large patch of frothy white flowers growing in the water meadows, something in the Brassica family I think; later research shows they are probably spring-cress. On P road stop for more photos of golden Alexanders. All in all a very flowery ride; much better than sitting at the computer writing a pattern. 19 miles; 162 ytd

Sunday May 21: Ought to have ridden yesterday, but went for a hike instead (on which were spotted wild geranium, blue-eyed grass, wild columbine, wild strawberry, and a gorgeous patch of lupine). Today take a short (camera-less) evening ride on the cruiser bike, around the park and to the village limits. 3 miles; 143 ytd

Monday May 15: Sunny and moderately warm this afternoon, though with a cool west breeze. Can't ride my usual two days to work this week so have scheduled myself an afternoon ride today. It's asparagus season and I hope to find some; there are several spots to check along my route. First spot comes up empty. Stop for a photo at the marshy bend; swallows are swooping all around the bridge. The still water must make for good bug-hunting. A car goes by and the swallows disperse, but come back a moment later. Interesting that  they don't seem to mind me standing there. Around the next bend I find that a favorite picturesque little shed has finally disappeared. I knew this day would come - it's been getting more rickety every year - but still it makes me sad to see an empty spot there. Farther on is another potential asparagus-spot, but no luck there either, though I do get a photo of a large patch of leafy spurge. Small hill after that, then down the other side and around another corner. Stop for lilac photos in the usual place; blossoms a bit thin this year. Then around another corner and down the hill past our egg supplier's house. Between there and next corner is visible asparagus on the south-facing verge; end up with a good handful, enough to fill leftmost jersey pocket. We'll enjoy it with our supper. A few miles on, Jacob's ladder (aka Greek valerian) is blooming in the usual spot - hooray! - so stop for photos, though it's hard to get good ones on a bright sunny day like this. Then a few more miles and another stop to photograph Golden Alexanders. Have already been gone much longer than intended, so get back in the saddle determined to finish the ride with no distractions. But chokecherry bushes are in bloom just outside the village, so stop for a couple more quick photos, then home. And that's all she wrote. 16 miles

Thursday May 11: A dandy of a day, forecast sunny and high in the low 80s. Perfect riding weather. On my way in to work, near the highway, see what looks like a young bald eagle or possibly osprey carrying a fish or small animal in one claw; it alights briefly on several telephone poles but each time flies away again immediately (suppose it must be looking for a place to eat its prey, but fears to drop it). Too fascinated watching this play out to think of taking photos. On the way home get a few shots of flowering crab in various settings. Do the usual intervals. Good ride, made better by a glimpse of Mr. M's work vehicle passing in the distance as I approach a certain T-intersection. I wave wildly, though with little hope that he'll see me. (Find out later that he happened to look down the road and did indeed see me. We've been married nearly 38 years but this still gives me a thrill. Does this make me a hopeless romantic?) 19 miles

Tuesday May 9: Fog is forecast for this morning, clearing to sunny and low 70s in the afternoon. I don't like riding in fog, partly because of decreased visibility, partly because it makes my glasses steam up, but I really want to ride to work today so decide to just deal with it. It's so damp when I leave that it feels like riding through small droplets of water, so stop around the corner from home to move my camera from side pocket to interior of backpack (I don't want any moisture building up in the lens or case). A bit later start thinking about the Coronation Service, most of which I watched yesterday, and the fantastic music. Have long been a fan of Handel's Coronation anthems; what a thrill to hear Zadok the Priest in the setting for which it was written. The piece starts to play in my head, whereupon I realize that the rhythm of the introductory bit  matches my cadence perfectly. :) Very elevating and fun to ride with Handel as a mental soundtrack. Reach work very damp indeed; back hair takes a couple of hours to dry fully. Weather much better on the ride home; crabapple are blooming on the levee as I approach the river trail, so stop for some photos. Farther on the winter cress is lush and yellow, so get some shots of that too. Sun feels great but wind is cool. Find a large patch of wild plum I hadn't noticed before (it's in deep shade when I go by), but today the scent arrests me as I pass. Blossoms are fading and nearly done. Blackbirds are swaying on the rushes near the lake, so stop again for more photos. Do some intervals after that, and snap photo of oak tree in young leaf at the edge of a field. Good ride apart from continuing anxiety (which has been bad since the season started; not sure why, as last year it didn't seem this bad). Helps to be able to ride back roads with little traffic. 19 miles

Sunday May 7: A warm, cloudy day with chance of rain. Go out for a short ride in the afternoon, though seasonal allergies are kicking my patootie and making me feel very tired and reluctant to exercise. But the marsh marigolds are probably out and I want to get some photos, so Iris and I take off in search of spring bloom. The small wild plum on P. road is a mass of blossoms and buzzing bees, who are so happy and busy they completely ignore me elbowing in amongst them for pictures of the flowers. See the first small wood anemone along this road, and stop for photos. It's very damp along the verge, and the stinging bugs are already out in full force. I check the spot where Jacob's Ladder grows, and see the plants doing well; should bloom in about two more weeks. Marsh marigolds are blooming plentifully around the corner in the usual bit of marsh. Stop at the bridge up the road for a picture of Iris, and see three deer farther on. Keep an eye out for serviceberry blossom on my way to the corner, but it's already done (probably didn't last long in the rain and cold). The corner of this road is always a good spot for wildflowers, so stop and park the bike. See violets, more plum blossom, and a patch of field pussytoes. A short way into the woods is a large patch of mayapple around a young tree, so break my own no-trespassing rule and walk in to get a couple of photos. Rain begins to fall, but the shower lasts only a minute or two. Rest of the ride uneventful. 11 miles

Thursday May 4: The second half of April was very cold, snowy, and rainy, so there have been no rides for three weeks. Today should be quite decent, sunny and close to 70 in the afternoon, so plan to ride to work. Looking forward to seeing spring in action. The towering flowering crab near the highway is, as usual, first in the area to bloom; today it's a solid mass of white blossom. I keep an eye out for wild plum to photograph on the way home, and see some blooming in the usual spots. A few pairs of geese are nesting near the river trail; pass a large male rather warily. He honks in warning but shows no disposition to engage in battle. Shall have to watch out for the babies when they hatch. River is several feet lower than last time I rode to work (after being in flood for weeks); water finally receding from drive at end of trail. On the ride home, stop for plum blossom photos by the river, then again on the county road. Beautiful blue sky behind makes for lovely shots. Do a few intervals. A few miles from home I surprise some ducks in a large rainpool near the road; get photos as they scurry away to the larger pond across the field. The day is so nice that, once home, am reluctant to go inside, so wander around the yard in cycling kit photographing violets. Good ride. 19 miles

Thursday April 13: Another warm and windy day. Sky is a bit bluer this morning; weather overall seems less dry than Tuesday. Frogsong is much softer today. River still very high; flood stage predicted to last into next week. Temps in the low 80s when I get off work and head home. Anxiety levels still higher than I'd like; not much I can do but keep on keeping on. Three intervals, up a gear this time. Remember to check the chives when I get home and they are now pickable! Scilla also blooming out back. Guess it really is spring (though there's snow in the forecast for Monday). 19 miles

Tuesday April 11: Forecast high of 82 and sunny means the first bike commute of the year. I pack a jacket but don't need it. There's a cool breeze blowing when I leave, but I know I'll get warm long before I reach work (and I do). Hard to believe I'm out in shorts and a short-sleeve jersey in early April, blindingly white legs and all. Frogs are very loud in all the marshes and ponds. Willow fronds are bright yellow-green, and there's some grass growing; Other than that the world is still pretty brown and grey. Catch a train at the crossing on my way in, but it's nearly through by the time I reach the tracks. River is in flood right now; water is up 5 or 6 feet. Trees on far side look half-submerged. Headwind all the way to work. Ride home much better windwise, though anxiety is bad. Too many pickup trucks passing too close; it's a relief to turn off the county road and onto side roads. Spy some fluffy little green blossoms-to-be (catkins?) on a small tree next to a marsh, and stop for photos. Lots of frog and bird song all the way home. Three intervals. It's good to be riding to work again. 19 miles

Sunday April 9: Easter Sunday, very warm, windy, and hazy. I really want to be a slug but make myself go out for a ride in the late afternoon. Wind is south, about 16 gusting up to 23. I choose a route that will give me a crosswind most of the way, with a bit of climbing. Turnaround point is the lake, where Tallulah is nearly blown off a rock and into the water by the gusting wind. She does better in the grass, where she checks out the tiny growth of new plants. Feel a bit panicky descending the long hill on the way back, wondering if any dogs will run out and cause an accident. (They don't.) Hope the season isn't beset by fears. In general a pretty decent ride. 9 miles

Monday April 3: First ride of the year. Temps are in the 50s, and wind is in the south. I wait for Mr. M to get home from work and we take off together. Dark clouds all around, with what looks like rain in the north. Our pace is very moderate, with a stop for photos on the first bridge. With about four miles to go, drops begin to fall. By the time we reach town they are big drops, but far enough apart that we take a detour to the park to see the migrating pelicans before heading home. A very gloomy ride weather-wise, but it's a start. 9 miles

Last year (2022) was not a good cycling year, so no diary was kept. I was pretty strong physically, thanks to diligent PT after my bad crash of 2021, but so many other things were going on that riding took a back burner. Sorrow for my sister kept me depressed all year. The month after she died, Mr. M had a very painful surgery that took up a lot of time and energy. In July we both had Covid (not too badly, but bad enough). I rode when I could, but there was no joy in it. Took few photos and didn't bother to keep track of mileage. I hope for a happier season in 2023.

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