Mrs. M's Riding Diary 2013

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Year to date: 1397 miles
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11/10/13 - Too nice a day not to ride ... or so it seemed from the sunny warm living room. Outside it was different - wind chills in the upper 20s. MUST get some cold-weather gloves! Luckily I had put on every layer I possess and then some: wool undershirt, wool socks, jersey, arm warmers, wind jacket, shorts, tights. Ought to have added a headband to keep my ears warm. Even so it was pretty chilly - would have been a better ride if it weren't so cold - but still good to be out spinning. Most of the colour gone from the trees (all that rain and wind). Got some great Tallulah shots. Saw one deer and many tractors. This may well have been the last ride of the season for me - and I'm okay with that. 14.9 miles.

10/12/13 - The slacking off continues! A gorgeous day - warm sun, strong but chilly wind. Just a pipe-opener with a tiny bit of climbing. Got some gorgeous maple photos (see blog). 12 miles.

09-30-13 - 26.6 miles. Absolutely beautiful day and ride. (See blog - A Stress-Free Sunday Ride.)

09-15-13 - A whole week since I've been on the bike - shame on me! Was hoping to hit 1500 miles this year but at this rate am not sure I'll make it. Cool and cloudy - had to wear a jacket (!) but ride ended in glorious sunshine. Got a lovely shot of acorn in the road with Iris's front tire in the background - shall use as a header photo. Ride blogged about here: 21 miles.

09-08-13 - Short Sunday ride, sore and achy and reluctant. Cloudy and 70º, wind east 10 mph. Ride ends better than it starts (thank goodness!), and I get photos of several types of berry to research later. See lots of goldenrod and aster, a few QAL and knapweed still blooming. Tons of heliopsis too, very cheerful and sunshiny - especially on a grey day like today.  Slowly building the botanical knowledge, thanks mostly to cycling with camera in pocket! Blogged about here: 16 miles.

09-06-13 - A very short Friday ride to work the crochet kinks out of my back and neck. Hot - very hot! - and sticky, but I remind myself of all the cold rides I took this winter and spring, and endeavour to enjoy the heat. Allergies are killing me right now and my energy levels are low. First time this year I've taken a ride shorter than 15 miles - the end-of-season rot is setting in. :) 12 miles.

09/03/13 - Rides are getting scarce, what with projects and work and company about the house. Got out for a short one today, beautiful day, warm and blue-skied and slightly windy. Angle of sun and look of the trees make it very clear that Autumn is near. More details here:
Must try to get out more often while the season lasts - winter will be here soon enough and then I'll be pining for the open road. 15.9 miles.

8/24/13 - Can't believe I've been this long off the bike - blame it on kitchen painting! A short ride between housework and church. Hot, windy, sticky, but still nice to get out. Wild cucumber flourishing this summer; climbing and draping over everything. (If only it would choke out the ragweed!) Lots of red leaves appearing here and there; goldenrod flourishing as well. 16.6 miles.

8/09/13 - Squeezed in a short 15-er before leaving for Two Rivers. A sticky morning - not too hot, but definitely humid. (We're having a strangely cool August.) Am typing this several days later and for the life of me can't remember what I saw on the ride! Except goldfinches. 15 miles.

8/03/13 and 8/04/13 - 15 and 26 miles respectively - blogged about here:
Also saw goldenrod (dang it!) which makes me think uneasily of fall ... but if I don't photograph it it doesn't count, right? :)

7/30/13 - Squeezed in a morning ride before work. Chilly and damp - having an odd cool snap right now that feels almost like autumn - put on jacket for ride as it's not even 60º yet this morning. Purple loosestrife now blooming; lots of QAL, mouse-ear chickweed, yellow heliopsis-type flower (must really nail down an ID for this species), and mystery umbellifer with tiny white clusters of blossom. Have not been on bike for 10 days - feels good to be out, but legs definitely not in top form this morning. Sweatier than I expected by end of ride - must have warmed up a bit. Hope to get another ride in before the weekend but work schedule is heavy right now - we'll see. Right knee stiff after ride! Makes me feel old. 15 miles.

7/20/13 - Participate in nearby MS ride (happens every year, but we had never heard of it until this week). A very middle-aged ride, which was kind of fun - most people looked to be within ten years of me agewise - with choice of 10, 30, 40, or 60 mile courses. Had planned to do 40 but ended up riding with a gal from Verona whose pace matched mine. She was tempted to do the 60 so I said I'd do it with her. Lovely cool morning, turned hot later. Much hillier course than I expected - there are some real little doozies of climbs in my county that I didn't know about until today. Several rest stops, small but all with at least water and/or Gatorade; first stop had build your own burritos (nice proteiny foods). See several very handsome barns and another quilt barn for my collection. Get photos of orange milkweed and chicory. Really enjoy riding with someone else and being able to chat as we go - makes the miles seem shorter. Foot beginning to get numb by end of ride - is there a pinched nerve on that side? Glad the tendon didn't act up again. Free lunch after ride - incredible burgers and very nice spread of fruits, veggies, pasta salads, desserts, upscale beer (not for me though) and soft drinks. A fun event and not too far from home. 60 miles.

7/18/13 - The intense summer weather continues - we're having a VERY warm and humid week. (Heat indices today will hit 110º in some places). Even at 8:30 am the air is like hot soup (so grateful I don't have asthma). Riding is fine but when I stop moving - ugh. A quick 15-miler just to keep my legs loose. Run out of water a few miles too early - the ice cubes I put in my bottle gave a deceptive appearance of fullness but I am just a few ounces short. Can feel the lack of water by the time I get home - good thing the ride wasn't any longer. Later in the day my guts are all messed up, though whether from the intense heat, or too much magnesium supplement, or too many acid foods I'm not sure. Will take better care next time. 15 miles.

7/16/13 - A beast of a day - hot and humid beyond words. I wait until sundown to take my ride (having overslept this morning - should have gotten up early and done it then). Lovely sunset though - and fireflies twinkle all along my path. See plenty of deer but none too close for comfort. Once the sun is well down the bugs come out - dang, I'm not used to this. Decide on a slight short cut home as darkness is descending more swiftly than I expected. If not for the bugs would have been a very enjoyable ride (but I really should have some kind of light for this). 14 miles.

7/14/13 - Lovely hot day, not too humid, wind south 10 mph. Feels weird to be off the leash in terms of training - no pressure of miles or speed. Am setting out to photograph every wildflower I can today, and hope to beat Thursday's record of varieties spotted in under 20 miles. Spend first several miles stopping every 10 yards or so to take photos - this is going to be more tedious than I thought. Still it's a lovely day and great to be out on the bike. Finally reach a point where I've seen most of the flowers out there, and am able to actually ride without stopping for several miles. Narrowly escape being eaten alive by bugs - whenever I stop, the damn mosquitoes go right for the only spot I haven't anointed with bug deterrent (my forehead at the rim of the helmet). See bellflowers on P's road while racing down the hill - turn around and climb back up to snap them - all in the cause. See several deer in last 6 miles, including twin fawns (not very small but still running together). Leg feels great today - just a slight stiffness in knee but NO tendon problems! Think it's nearly healed. Good ride (once the photos were done) and a beautiful day. Have finally stopped missing Colorado and am able to appreciate again how lovely it is here. 18.6 miles.

7/11/13 - First time riding since Bike MS! (Wanted to give tendon a chance to settle down. Swelling is almost gone so figure it's time to get back on the road.) Warm and slightly sticky morning, wind west maybe 5-7 mph. On way out of town, see just the heads of two sandhill cranes poking up from tall grass in ditch; they look hilarious and slightly surprised to see me riding by slightly above their eye level. :) Tendon a tiny bit twingy but I made an effort to consciously use the left leg more; this seemed to solve problem. Saw a great variety of wildflowers; spent second half of ride reciting their initials (in alphabetical order) so I could remember them all when I got home: aster, black-eyed Susan, chicory, clover, campion, cow vetch, daylily, daisy fleabane, elder, knapweed, Queen Anne's Lace, milkweed, motherwort, mullein, salsify, soapwort, spiderwort, thistle, Turk's-cap lily, wild bergamot, wild parsnip. Decide that Sunday's ride will be a wildflower odyssey. Felt great to be back on bike and back on the road - nice brisk ride. 15 miles.

6/30/13 - Rough start to the day - my alarm did not go off. Luckily had everything laid out and ready to go - just had to throw on cycling clothes and run out the hotel room door. Underhydrated though (dang). Cloudy and drizzly morning, thunderstorms predicted for early afternoon - Deb and I decide to do 60 miles instead of 73 so as to beat the storm. Bike corral eerie in the predawn (rather ghostly, like a bicycle graveyard). Full rainbow appears arching through pink clouds - lovely. A biffy stop on campus, then Lizard and Deb kindly lube my chain, and we're off. Deb sets a brisk pace and a few miles out I pile on the steam to catch up to her and point out another rainbow. Pfft! Flat tire. Can't break bead (glue too strong), tire remains obstinately stuck to rim; saved by kindly State Patrolman with larger hands than mine. He also helps install spare, remarking that he's never seen a sewup before. Thank him profusely then we're on our way. After first rest stop tire begins to make ominous thunking noise with every revolution - can't figure it out. At second rest stop call Mr. M who gives several possible reasons for noise - turns out to be improperly placed valve stem. Easily fixed by our crew of two (bike support tent NO good at this rest stop - "We don't work on sewups" - Deb disgusted that he doesn't even offer to help us get the wheel off.) Then back on the road and all is well. Leg beginning to cramp up and crotch pretty darn sore, but otherwise a great ride. Discover latent streak of competitiveness in myself; whenever passed by paceline experience insane urge to keep up with them. (Do it, too, a couple of times. Feel pretty good about this and only wish I had my other rear cluster with the smaller cog in back so I could go even faster.) A fast run to lunch break - wonderful starchy meal - especially love the quinoa salad and Rice Krispy treats. Leg so crampy after break that only massage will loosen it up enough to get back on bike. Decide not to think about miles, just get to next rest stop. Wonderful plums there and we pick up leis for our personal adornment. Only one more segment to go, with some hills (dang it). But we make it up the hills and to the end. Hooray! We did it. Am glad we opted for 60-mile course, in light of leg and crotch pain, and mechanical issues. (Lizard did the 73 miles and flatted twice!!) Exhausted but happy - a great ride and a great experience. Can hardly believe I made it but I did! 60 miles.

6/29/13 - The big day has arrived! We set out before 7 am from the staging area; lovely and cool. Peach clouds over mountains and a small moon riding high in a blue sky. All sorts and conditions of men and women riding today. So fun to ride in a group for a change. Feel pretty good for first 32 miles - no breathing problems whatsoever. Leg a bit twingy but not too bad. About mile 40 realise I have not been drinking enough water since last rest stop, and this has made me a bit woozy. Stop for lunch at mile 43 - couscous, sandwich, potato chips (so good, I don't know why - the potassium and salt maybe?) and Pepsi (shame on me). Have been eating lots of sugary snacks along the way - cookies, granola bar, etc. Also some gorgeous fruit - plums, nectarines. After lunch feel much better, get second wind and settle down to the business of climbing (hills start up about 5 miles into this stage). First 2 climbs are pleasant - very similar to Santiago Grade back in SoCal - interspersed with winding road through lovely valleys that remind me a bit of the California back country. Snowcones at mile 57, then the longest climb of the ride (seems unending), and a very scary descent (I am a wimp). Another climb culminates at lookout over Horsetooth Reservoir where we stop for photos and breath. Pick up a butterfly as we begin the descent - it flies into me and sticks to my jersey all the way to Fort Collins. Final 11 miles fast and mostly downhill. In town we get caught up in long string of riders going too slowly for my taste - end up getting stuck at too many red lights. With 2.9 miles to go decide to kick up the gear and get clear of the peloton - make a long, fast dash for the finish line and finish very strongly (am amazed I have the energy for this but it feels great to open up and ride hard after all the climbing/descending). Tendon and calf are pretty sore by dinner time - also have a nasty raw spot in crotch - am not sure I want to do 73 miles tomorrow, especially in light of the descents involved. (Would happily tackle the climbs but am scared of going down the other side.) Keeping options open for the morning; will see how I feel then. (Deb very kindly willing to do either distance with me.) A great ride and my longest ever! 73 miles.

6/28/13 - Am here in Colorado at Snowcatcher's house. The Lizard has kindly reassembled Iris after her trip in the box, and Snowcatcher and I go out for a short ride to make sure all is well with the bike. After a warm dry day it has turned sticky - there are thunderstorms in the forecast (must have brought them with me!). We do a short loop - I can definitely feel the difference in oxygen levels. The bike feels great - tomorrow is the big day. We're leaving at 4 am for Bike MS. Here's to a good ride! 4 miles.

6/23/13 - Clear this morning, after two days of thunderstorms (last night's was a humdinger). Yay - I can ride to Madison for breakfast! Leave a bit later than I planned but that's okay. Very sticky this morning, humidity 90-100% (how can humidity be 100% when it's not raining?), temps in the 70s and rising rapidly, wind south (headwind, dang it) 10 mph but increases to 12-20 before I reach Madison. See some large trees that have split blown down from last night's storm, also yard with HUGE twisted pieces of metal strewn all about - a barn roof must have been torn off by the wind. Blackbirds sing me all the way to Madison. Chicory is in bloom, also lots of birdsfoot trefoil, cow parsley, daisies, salsify, and delicate yellow wildflower I haven't learned yet (must look it up). Take very few pictures - too windy. Meet Mr. M at Sardine for breakfast on the terrace, rather later than I expected on account of nonstop headwind. Breeze off the lake feels wonderful after the hot ride. After eating we stop at bike shop next door for handlebar tape (mine has gone suddenly flat) and to ogle expensive bikes. Mr. M gets in the car and I get back on the bike for an excellent ride home - that glorious tailwind carries me all the way with very little effort. On the way back, metal pieces all gone from aforementioned property - driveway is full of vehicles and people are working hard to clear the area. It's a hot ride home - too hot for photos - humidity still up in the 90s and temps in the mid-80s, but every so often a crosswind blows and keeps me from drowning in sweat. Clouds roll in before the end, and drop a few sprinkles on me in the last 2 miles. Finish the ride feeling pretty darn good except for intermittent cramp (in a tendon behind the knee), and sore hands. So glad I could squeeze in a 60-miler before Colorado. 66.7 miles, in fact. (Longest ride I've ever done. Having a long break with great meal in the middle really helps.) :)

6/20/13 - Beautiful HOT day! Spent the day tussling with project for (unnamed crochet magazine) - as usual their choice of yarn required some project redesign - it was a relief to get outside and ride. Sunny and clear, mid-80s, wind south about 8-12 mph. Colorado has been having 90º temps so this is a perfect way to warm up (ha ha) for that weather. Legs feel much better today; really think I had a touch of virus the last few days - either that or the allergies are worse than I realise. Wild grasses are beautiful right now - all waving feathery tops against the wind. Something is blooming all over the place - viburnum? hawthorn? (Small rounded clumps of creamy white blossom on large bushes - faintly scented.) On P's road the sheep are out, lying in shade and along fence, looking lazily at me as I go by. Border collie in green valley notices me too late (as usual), tries but fails to chase me down (just his bad luck to live at the bottom of a hill). Am diligent to drink water every mile or so - also in practice for Colorado. A good ride, short and sweet. Must confess I'm a little burned out on training so am taking it easy this week. 17.8 miles.

6/18/13 - Evening ride, lovely and clear, wind east 7 mph. See several deer, one groundhog. Moon rising in pale blue sky; birds sound different than on morning rides. I'm tired, and legs feel slightly heavy - takes about 13 miles to warm up. Rear cluster still not working out as smoothly as I'd like (am tempted to ask for old cluster back). Am dithering over how many miles to ride this weekend - would like to get a 60-miler under my belt. We'll see. Decent ride, but hope the next one is a bit better. 15 miles.

6/15/13 - A sticky, cloudy morning, mid 60s, wind south to east 10 mph. Am doing 45 miles for second day in a row - a welcome sign of my fitness level (mental and physical) that I don't dread it at all but just see it as a workout to complete. See turkey buzzard not far out of town, perched on some poor animal that was hit by a car (thought it was a cat but see on the way back it was raccoon), buzzard rises and slowly flaps away as I approach - an imposing bird. Yellow hawkweed rampant now; see also yellow aster-like flowers just coming on (not helianthus - perhaps false sunflower?). Cow vetch quite lovely on some stretches. Spiderwort really flourishing now - have never seen it so thick (entire hillside is dotted with it on G. hill). Mystery white blossom on P's road I now believe to be False Solomon's Seal (have been reading the wildflower book to some purpose). Wild roses on R. road lush and very beautiful, cascading down the banks in sprays of deep pink. Crest hill on G. road to hear louspeaker ahead - can June dairy brunch be today and not tomorrow as we thought? It IS today. Call Mr. M as soon as I have a signal and let him know - he decides not to come as he's in the middle of some housework (bless him). I decide to finish first lap, then circle back and catch dairy brunch on second lap. On W. road see ACTUAL Snapping Turtle - pretty large - recognise it by the long, spiked tail and bumpy shell. Circle slowly back to get photos, giving it a wide berth. Also see ground squirrels, rabbits, a groundhog, goldfinches, robins, blackbirds, cardinals, doves, unidentified singing bird, a tom turkey, and a separate flock of turkeys, tom and hens. The lone tom is displaying as I go by (must have been some females nearby, hidden from my sight); the other is with several hens, and actually "gobbles" at me - quite loudly too. On second lap stop at farm for dairy brunch - they're serving pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese, milk, and ice cream (not a veggie in sight!). All is spick-and-span; cows and calves obviously brushed and groomed for the occasion, lawns smooth and green. Several old tractors on display. Good-sized crowd; actually see a few other cyclists there (where did they come from?). Have slice of pizza and hefty serving of Sassy Cow ice cream - delicious. Take lots of photos, then back on Iris to finish the last 15 miles or so. Day has gotten even stickier - can't wait to take a shower when I get home. Hands and lower arms sore, but otherwise I feel good. Can comfortably do 45 miles back to back; have also passed the fatty-starchy-food-in-the-middle-of-a-ride test. :) I think I'll be okay in Colorado. 45 miles.

6/14/13 - Lovely afternoon, sunny, warm, and pleasant. Mid 70s, wind east to south 5-8 mph. The world looks green and summery today. See V.L.T. again, but not close enough for photos - she sees me coming and runs into the tall grass while I'm still a good ways off. Lake at campground has sheet of water lilies on the far side - myriad white dots of blossom over satiny green. At green valley see cow on top of hay wagon, with others all on the ground around the wagon - looks for all the world like someone standing on the dinner table in the middle of a meal. I snap a quick photo, and the cow sticks its tongue out at me. :) At top of hill a large crow sits in a tall, bare tree - very majestic - while its mate perches in a nearby pine. Gorgeously metallic green beetle buzzes by my front wheel a minute later. Piggies visible at P's house, also sheep cropping peacefully across the road. Blue flag iris growing in ditch just down the way. Lots of tractors out today. Make good time on first lap, take break several miles into second lap, stopping where the Daisy Fleabane is thick so I can get photos. (Unfortunately seem to get bug bites too despite my caution.) Dragonflies are out; one keeps hovering just by me, moving away only when I get out my camera (of course). Wild roses out on R. road - very deep pink this year (just like wild geraniums) - does extra rain deepen the colour? Whatever the reason they are lovely. Also see honeysuckle, Dame's Rocket, yellow and orange hawkweed, white campion, swamp buttercup, mouse-ear chickweed (very thick right now), Golden Alexander, white yarrow, red columbine, cow vetch, and large patch of meadow anemone stretching down T. road - very tall and charming-looking, white blossoms like stars. Second lap pretty good, a bit tired after G. hill, look at time and realise I may not make it to bank when I get back. Make sustained effort over last 7-8 miles, but miss the bank by 1 minute. Ah well - it's good to know I can work that hard at the end of a 45-miler. Wrists and hands sore today - road seems extra bumpy though I know it's not. Must remember to stretch them out diligently tomorrow. Shoulders just a wee bit tired - stomach upset too. (Dinner will fix this.) Legs fine! A good ride and a good effort. 45 miles. (Wow - just updated my year to date miles - 787.5! Can I make it to 1000 before Colorado? That would be a record for me this early in the year.)

06/11/13 - Warm and very humid afternoon, upper 70s, wind west about 5-8 mph. Cloudy when I set out but clears during first lap to some welcome sunshine and blue skies. (Clouds over again on second lap and drizzles briefly.) Good ride, strong throughout. New rear cluster takes some getting used to - can't seem to settle into a comfortable gear that matches old cluster. Keep wavering between two - hope I work it out before Colorado as I want to be able to shift without thinking. New granny gear is ridiculously low - like riding a stationary bike. Should get me up just about any grade. :) Dame's Rocket, honeysuckle, elder blossom, and honey locust all starting to dry up a bit. Honey locust dropping petals all over the road for the wind to sweep along in creamy wavelets. See plenty of mouse-ear chickweed, red clover, cow vetch, wild geranium, wild columbine, swamp buttercup, white yarrow, white campion, Daisy Fleabane, Golden Alexanders, and another unidentified white wildflower (kind of spiky and alpine looking). Also large puffy salsify seedheads. Ragweed coming up nicely (grrrr). See flock of wild turkeys, also two separate lone turkeys. It's turtle day - see painted turtle (about 7-8" long) crossing G. road, can't tell in what direction or I might have been tempted to stop and help. Then on E.B. road see VERY large turtle (at least a foot long, not counting tail) crouched in grass at side - not a painted turtle - has a very pointed nose (!) and is a uniform drab colour throughout shell and body. Huge legs and tail. I turn around to take its picture - manage one photo, then it panics and runs away with surprising speed into the tall grass by the creek. Its feet look like those of a water animal - flat, broad and kind of paddle-shaped. It was sitting over a small hole in the ground, about 3" across and rather deep. I looked into the hole when the turtle was gone, hoping to see eggs, but saw nothing. (Have just researched - was a snapping turtle. Edited to add: Actually a Smooth Softshell.) A good ride with some interesting sights! 30 miles.

06/08/13 - Heigh-ho, back on the bike again after what feels like no break at all (though actually it's been about 15 hours since I dismounted last night). Would love to do another 45 today but time is limited as we have graduation party to attend - and I'm too much of a slacker to get up early when the weather is cool - so plan for 30 miles. Morning cloudy, slightly sticky, about 60º; wind east 3-8 mph. Actually scrape pedal on road turning corner near house, nearly dump bike (what the heck was I doing?). This kick-starts my heart and I hope the rest of the ride is better. Blaze past Amish buggy near willowy bend (such an ego boost, it's pathetic). Stop about 8 miles out to take off jacket and snap spider-wort which I see for the first time today. Actually see cyclists on R. road and wonder if there's an event somewhere. Scope out good spot for break on S. road (no more tall grass) - get some Tallulah shots there. On second lap cross paths with huge group of motorcycles, at least 50 of them. See more cyclists on R. road but cannot catch them to ask them what's up. When nearly home, am thrilled to see orange hawkweed on P. road - it never bloomed last year. Also see cow vetch for the first time this year. Sun just starts to peek through clouds but sky never really clears. Good finish, strong and fast (all those photo breaks helped no doubt). Am glad to have done back-to-back rides in preparation for Colorado. And now I can take Sunday off, which will work out well for muscle recovery - also weatherwise, as thunderstorms are forecast. Have ridden 135 miles in 7 days - not exactly the TdF, but the best I've ever done. 30 miles.

6/07/13 - Cloudy morning, clears to sunny afternoon. Mid 60s, wind east to north 3-5mph when I leave in late afternoon. Am determined to do a better 45-miler today, so take extra water and better snack with me. Gorgeous afternoon though wind is cool (extra shirt helps here). Honey locust looks and smells amazing in the sunlight. See goldfinches, cardinals, tons of blackbirds and swallows; take photos of wild geranium and mystery yellow blossom (looks buttercup-ish). Legs feel good, climbs are strong and steady; remember to do shoulder shrugs on a regular basis and drink lots of water throughout. Break at halfway point with bike and self leaning against gate surrounded by tall grass and white yarrow. (Find loads of skeeter bites on legs after ride; tall grass was a mistake.) Though not hungry eat much of snack, do extra shoulder shrugs. Second lap good, finish strong and comfortable though back is somewhat sore when I lie on the floor after ride. Feel much better about my chances in Colorado now! 45 miles.

6/04/13 - Cloudy grey day (again!). High 50s, wind northeast 10-16 mph. Rain threatening. Dame's Rocket still very prolific - looks much more purple on a cloudy day. Take photo (on the fly) of favourite shed. See pale pink asters, Golden Alexanders, white yarrow, some wild or naturalized iris, and (I think) yellow hawkweed, in addition to honeysuckle, honey locust, elder, wild columbine, and boatloads of wild geranium (of which I have yet to get a photo this year). Wild geranium seems a deeper pink than other years. Ride is good, feeling strong, no ill effects from Sunday, but only remember to do one interval. Starts to drizzle just as I hit village limits on way home. 16.7 miles.

06/02/13 - Way overdue for a long ride - this week was jammed with bad weather and commitments. Weather overcast and cool, chilly wind blowing (north and west 7-15). Clouds just beginning to break when I set out. Honey locust blooming everywhere; air smells divinely sweet. See lots of salsify, Dame's Rocket, honeysuckle, leafy spurge. Giant cow parsley and bird's foot trefoil just coming on in some spots. Ride to Lake Wisconsin - take a break there and sit on shore rock while eating snack. Sun is wonderfully warm. Feel pretty good for most of the ride, good strong climb out of P., (spurred on by friendly cyclist who passes me), essay a few intervals on D. road, but short steep climb up to P. road takes it out of me and all enthusiasm is gone. Shoulders and neck getting sore at this point with 7.5 miles to go; also feeling slightly nauseated (too much acid in the system). Day has turned beautiful though - more blue sky than clouds overhead. Stop at creek in W. to take a photo and do some shoulder exercises. Get a slight second wind after this which carries me home, where Mr. M saves the day with a shoulder rub. Very tired, head all plugged up (allergies). I am DEFINITELY not ready for a 73-mile ride! Dinner and fluids help - I didn't eat enough on the ride I think. Only 4 weeks until Bike MS - my work is cut out for me. On the bright side, despite tiredness, realise that I am already way stronger than last year; probably strongest I've ever been in terms of leg strength. Must keep up the workouts - if only the weather will stay clear! 45 miles.

5/30/13 - Squeezed in a ride after a long busy day. Warm, partly cloudy, thunderstorms all across the state. Clouds very dark to south and west when I left, and drawing nearer - hoped I could outrun them but no luck. Got caught in the thunderstorm - very heavy rain and wind, plenty of lightning - called Mr. M to pick me up but by the time he got to me I was only a few miles from home and weather had lightened just a bit, so I finished the ride (soaking wet and all gritty up the back). Would prefer not to have ridden in weather like this, but good for me to have faced another fear (lightning). 15.0 miles.

5/29/13 - Finally some sunshine after days and days of rain! Mid-60s, wind 10-15 mph south and west. Have not been on bike since Saturday. May is going out in full loveliness - lilacs, honeysuckle, Dame's Rocket, flowering dogwood, Golden Alexander, wild columbine, wild geranium, elderflower, viburnum (?) are all blooming now. Sky cleared to mostly blue by end of ride. Perfect cycling moment: short climb, ending at a curve, leads to gentle downhill slope with trees arching overhead, woods full of song, purple blossom lining the road, blue sky and white cloud ahead. (Happy sigh.) Goslings at corner growing quickly - all long necks and legs, and looking slightly raffish as their baby fuzz begins to moult. So good to see the sun and get back on the bike. 15.0 miles.

05/25/13 - Cool, damp, grey, rain and thunder threatening. Mid 50s. Town ridiculously crowded for holiday weekend; even country roads have more traffic than usual. Actually pass Amish buggies on two separate occasions (very good for cycling ego to pass a four-wheeled vehicle). Take photos of mysterious fuzzy flowers - still need to research name. See charm of goldfinches. Elderflower has opened up everywhere; honeysuckle prolific now. See also Great White Heron (or Great Egret) in flight over marshy bend - very handsome bird. 30.0 miles.

5/21/13 - Beautiful evening; air lovely and clear, with plenty of picturesque clouds. Low 70s, wind southwest 7-10 mph. Lilac still blooming everywhere; apple blossom diminishing. Golden Alexander and Dame's Rocket have started popping open; also see honeysuckle and the first honey locust blooms. Male cardinal sitting in road, flies off in a flash of red when I approach. Find that intervals and full bladder do not mix well - this is what I get for trying to stay hydrated. :) 17.5 miles. (Have passed the 500-mile mark! Yay! Most mileage I've ever done this early in the season. If I were riding to Colorado I'd be halfway there.)

5/19/13 - Warm, sticky, cloudy clearing to sun. Thunderstorms predicted for later. Wind south 10-15. Plan 35-mile route but forget to actually look at road names ... end up inadvertently cutting ride short (but probably for the best in terms of the weather). At corner pond see four goslings swimming along behind mom & dad - cutest things. Tell myself I will take their photo on the way back (I should know better). See tons of dandelions and wild mustard. Huge cloud of swallows at willowy curve, circling and swooping all around me - very hard to get any photos. Plum blossom nearly gone now, and apple blossom getting blown away by the strong winds. Stop at P's to take photos of new breed of pigs, and she invites me into the barn to see the piglets. One sow has 14! Other has about 7? and in the third pen are a just-weaned batch, cute as the dickens. Hard to tell how many there are as they keep running around and around the pen for all the world as though it were a race. Up the road see Canada anemone, and bush with blossoms exactly like tiny plum blossom - some kind of berry? Stop at huge lilac bush around corner for lilac photos - violets growing there, also what looks like salsify about to bloom.  Stop later at top of hill to save my scrunchie which nearly fell off, and find the first wild columbines growing right there. :) Cattle and green valley on H. road picturesque as usual. Pretty hot by now - I'm wanting to get home. Sky turning very dark to the south and wind kicking up something fierce - up on the high prairie it's like a low continuous scream. About 7 miles from home, turn a corner to find the dark clouds are suddenly right in front of me. (Luckily I get to turn again in a moment.) Make a sustained effort the rest of the way - do NOT want to get caught in a storm. Hear thunder behind me - great motivator to keep up the pace. Few drops fall but by the time I reach town the storm has moved farther east. No goslings visible at corner (mentally kick myself). Check mileage after dinner and find I only went 27.5 miles - but if I had gone the full route I would have been caught in that nasty weather. At least I got a good long push at the end - over 6 miles of continuous, nearly maximum effort. (Mr. M tells me this is as good as extra mileage. But I'd rather have the numbers!) :)

5/18/13 - Cool, cloudy, damp - a grey and green day. Just under 60º just before 8, wind east, about 3-7 mph. Feel full of nervous energy this morning and take off at a smart pace, which is actually maintained for most of the ride - think I'm getting in shape! Miss a turning through being lost in thought and so add a few hundred yards to overall distance (shall give myself extra .1 mile for it). Legs feeling strong and happy. See lilac, rosy-red flowering crab, lush mustard, wild plum (which is already dwindling), beginnings of apple blossom, and what I think is honeysuckle (so soon?). Air smells of lilac - I love this time of year. Thinking hard about Deb and would like to call her but no bars on phone. Stop once, for photos of crab blossom, only to find that sweat has gotten into camera lens (dang it). Shall have to address this later. (Perhaps it will lend a mysterious glow to the photos.) Still going fast and strong at end of ride, and feel as though I've suddenly moved up a level in terms of fitness. (Persistence paying off, I hope.) 30.1 miles.

5/16/13 - Beautiful, beautiful morning. 60º when I set out, sunny, not much wind. Birds singing like crazy. Wild plum still scenting the air. See wild gosling (anxiously herded away by parents from threatening figure rolling past). Cause panic in various pairs of ducks floating invisibly in ditches and under banks. (If only they had stayed put I would never have seen them, but they feel compelled to rise up and flee, squawking nervously, when I go by.) See glorious field of dandelions. Flowering crab and lilac just beginning to open up; smell pines for the first time today. One of those rides where I feel at one with my bike and with the road. SO much nicer to ride in pleasant weather. Remember to do intervals this ride - legs nicely rested after forgetting them last time (forgetting intervals I mean, not legs). Climbs getting easier and more automatic, as opposed to conscious effort. 15.0 miles.

5/14/13 - Actually over 80º today! Lovely and warm. Evening ride - air slightly thick - clear to east and north but dramatic smoky steel-grey skies to south, with rain curtains stretching across the horizon. Wind veering south and stronger than I expected. Air was full of the sweetness of wild plum (actual wild plum this time - got photos to prove it). Clouds spectacular after ride - hugely swoopy and puff-ball-ish and apocalyptic-looking. Forget to do intervals but probably better as my legs are still a bit tired from the weekend. 15.0 miles.

5/12/13 - Just slightly warmer and sunnier than yesterday. Wind west 8-13 (gusting higher occasionally). Plan out-and-back route so I can have tailwind coming home. Reluctantly put on wool undershirt - but it kept me pretty warm so good thing I had it. First stop larches, marsh marigolds. See some wild plum (or is it?) up the road - petals very pointed and anthers (or do I mean styles?) different. Will have to look up and see what it is. Remind myself to take it easy today and just spin - no intervals, no pounding the pavement. Easy to do with  this headwind. :) River trail surprisingly empty but for dad and two little boys sitting at very end eating snacks (imagine they're giving Mom a break on her day). River looks lovely and sparkly today. New road at the end of my route is beautiful - wish I could explore it further - another time. Very fast ride home thanks to tailwind, though wind veers to north on the way giving me a crosswind. Gorgeous skies, wide and blue, dotted with fleecy little clouds. Sun warm but wind very cool when cloud is over sun. Legs a bit tired after long sprint down river trail towards home (so much for taking it easy). 34.0 miles. (Have ridden 129.8 miles in last 8 days - must be a record for me!) P.S. Flowering tree is Allegheny Serviceberry - who'd a thunk it?

5/11/13 - Cold (dang it). Cloudy clearing to intermittent sun, some drizzling. Wind northwest 15-30 mph (ugh). Could see rain falling to north, south, east and west, like grey veils. Clouds magnificent once they pulled back a bit; actually rather a gorgeous afternoon but the wind made it impossible to enjoy ... had trouble keeping the bike straight on many stretches. Had to stay in small chainring about half the ride. Wild plum getting more prolific - must take photos of it tomorrow. Also try to catch a shot of Marsh Marigold before it's covered by rampaging dock. (Beginning to wonder: will it EVER be consistently warm? And non-windy?) 15.1 miles.

5/10/13 - Chilly, damp, grey day. Rained this morning. Around 50º, wind north 10mph. Very reluctant  to ride today - lack of sunshine doesn't help. Also feeling very grumpy for no good reason. (Not sure there's ever a good reason to be grumpy.) Wild plum just beginning to blossom, peeking out of woods like a shy girl dressed in white; saw wild mustard and garlic mustard too. Sheep near P's house finally getting used to me - no shrieks of dismay either time I go past. Saw one live deer and lots of deer skeletons. Tractors out and busy in fields. Second lap better than first; finally felt warmed up after about 25 miles. Seems to work out that way more often than not. 30.0 miles.

5/7/13 - Warm and balmy, mid 70s. Wind being fairly calm (3-8 mph) decide to do time trial instead of intervals. Good discipline -  didn't realise until now how prone I am to take it easy and just spin along without trying very hard. Wanted very much to do it in 1 hour which for me would be good time this early in the season. Sky lovely today, trees too, covered with fine baby leaves like pale green lace. Saw the usual geese, ducks, and 1 sandhill crane at corner. Think they're getting used to me as no one panicked when I rode by. Dock flourishing in marshes, also yellow flowers - just looked them up and find they are Marsh Marigold (charming name) - very cheery and upstanding. Lost some precious seconds at certain intersection waiting for truck that ended up turning before it reached me (WHY don't people use their turn signals?!?). Pushed on gamely to the end - 61 minutes (dang). 15.0 miles.

5/5/13 - Sunny! Clear! TAILWIND! :) Rode to Madison to have breakfast with Sis (and visit yarn store). Cool when I left around 8 am (50º) but made do with just arm warmers as I had no spare room to stow extra layers when shed. Lovely morning, birds singing their hearts out, tailwind very encouraging as I left later than I wanted to. Good ride - made decent time. Horrible allergies upon arrival - eyes itching terribly. (Turned out to be something from bloated corporate dairy farm on the road to Madison - they'd been spraying something nasty over their fields. When I drove by later on my way to the airport had the same reaction.) Capitol looked imposing as always; tulips out on west and south sides but not north side. Short ride on Capitol Bike Trail from there to Lakeside St. Coffee House. (Old guy riding mt. bike on bike trail worked very hard to stay ahead of me - legs pumping furiously as he spun a rather low gear - pretty funny. I let him stay in front as I thought he would hate being passed.) Breakfast very tasty; interesting exhibition on display of nature photos, with matching "thread paintings" of those photos. Sat on terrace while waiting for yarn store to open - sun felt wonderful. Tons of people out on bikes riding around Lake Monona. Lakeside Fibers full of beautiful and tempting yarn - exercised great self-control and purchased nothing. (Sis made up for it.) Very nice shop, but full of knitted samples and knitting magazines ... apparently crochet does not exist here. Didn't stop me from posing Tallulah all over the store. Sis brought car with bike rack, gave me and Iris a ride home. Good ride, longest so far this year. 35.7 miles.

5/4/13 - Overcast with gleams of sun - hooray! Forecast now revised to "scattered thunderstorms" but weather looks perfectly acceptable to me. Low 50s, wind north to east 7 mph (quite bearable). First smell of grass. See geese and ducks at corner marsh, with one dignified sandhill crane stepping delicately into the water. Leaves are out!!!! Trees are cloudy with palest green and fields are deep emerald. Birds sound pretty happy too. :) See daffodils and hyacinths in someone's yard. Stop after several miles to remove arm warmers, but keep jacket and tights on. Mentally write bits of pattern blog post, and decide name for new project (Winding Lane Bracelet, inspired by glimpse of same curving through the woods). Sunnier and quite pleasantly warm when I get home. 30.0 miles.

5/3/13 - Raining and very cold today. Trainer 30 minutes. Watch "Midwife" Episode 5 - have to turn it off at critical moment and get ready for work. (Will finish episode tonight.) Have great plans for riding trainer again after work - ha ha. Who am I kidding? No enthusiasm left when I get home. Hope to be on the road tomorrow but forecast unpromising.

4/30/13 - Sunny and HOT - 82º(!), windy - 17-25 mph - but a warm wind is much more bearable than a cold wind. Saw daffodils, also some baby leaves on smaller trees and shrubs. Intervals. 15.6 miles.

4/28/13 - Absolutely gorgeous day. 70-72º, pleasant breeze, blue skies, sunshine, singing birds. No jacket or tights - great sense of freedom. Some new roads today - very beautiful rolling farmland. Stop at river - water very high right now. Trees budding out everywhere. Have camera but actually prefer to keep rolling rather than stop and take photos (must be something wrong with me - could I be developing a training conscience?). New shorts very comfortable. Perfect ride. 30.3 miles.

4/27/13 - Overcast with occasional sun, 60s (yay!), windy but bearable - about 15 mph. Actually take my jacket off halfway through the ride. For the first time this season have a bit of exercise-induced exhilaration near the end of the ride (tailwind helps). 30.0 miles.

4/21/13 - Snowing in the morning. We go to Madison to get tires & brake pads from Yellow Jersey. Some good Tallulah photos there. AND they give me a bike box! (Now Iris can fly safely to Colorado in June.) Afternoon cloudy, WINDY (20-24 mph). Used Mr. M's front wheel. Darn cold wind too - trying to remember all the hot rides last year when I would have killed for a cold wind, but they don't seem real at all. Only thing that carries me up the grades into the headwind is a) singing in my head, and b) visualising the finish line of Bike MS. :) Realize yet again that I am a complete coward about descending steep hills, especially ones with driveway entries. (And I want to ride in Colorado?) Not too many photos - again, too cold to stop comfortably. (Another whiny blog post.) 24.2 miles.

4/20/13 - Sunny, clear, cold. Wind about 15 mph. Start out to do 30 miles,  flat tire at 10.9. No spare! (aaaaargh) Call Mr. M who brings spare wheel - REAR. (I need a front wheel.) Go home and cook dinner instead. Bright side - I didn't have my phone (no cell coverage in this area with ATT), but was about 20 feet from a mailbox when the tire burst. Just as I stopped, someone pulled up to the mailbox to get their mail - perfect timing - and let me use their phone. 10.9 miles.

4/19/13 - Weather nasty. Rode trainer 45 minutes. Watched Psych episode - "No Country for Two Old Men". Hilarious (and accurate) line about Mexican Coca Cola.

4/16/13 - Intervals. Somewhat windy but could be worse. No leaves, no exciting views. 14.0 miles.

4/14/13 - Cloudy, COLD, WINDY (20-29 mph). Really a miserable ride, I'm sorry to say. So darn cold and such a struggle with the wind that I can't begin to think of Three Great Things. Have to stay on small chainring the entire first half of the ride. Even after turning away from the wind, all I want is to get home and get warm. No desire to stop for photos - it's too COLD! Take some shots anyway for what turns out to be a rather whiny blog post. 18.6 miles.

3/24 through 4/13/13  - 106.3 road miles, about 3 hours total on trainer. No log kept, but blogged about some of the rides here:

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Was dying to get on the road this year, as I have a big ride to train for: Bike MS in Colorado at the end of June. 73 miles, 2 days in a row - 146 miles total. If I can complete it, it will be the longest ride of my life so far. I hope I can, I hope I can....

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