Monday, September 28, 2015

Harvest Begins

Well, after getting a bunch of work done on and in the house on Saturday, all the while chomping at the bit to go riding, I finally got out there on Sunday. I had heard the harvest was starting up from some other gravelluers, so I was anxious to witness that for myself.

The day couldn't have been much more picturesque. It was Sunny with big puffy clouds and the sky was that blue color that can only be seen during the Fall here. Intense and deep, I would say. Only a stiff South wind was going to be a nuisance, but I wouldn't have to deal with that till towards the end of my ride. I had a new route that I wanted to try out. A circumnavigation of Cedar Falls by gravel. Only the Eastern end of the loop would be paved. I sat with a map, jotted down some quick cues, and I was out of the door by noon.

Someday I will have to figure out if I can do this around the entire metro area, but I know that route will run way over 100 miles, so I am going to have to wait on that for another time. This one was going to be longish, but I didn't sit around and figure up the mileage before I left. I just grabbed my cues and went for it.

There were a lot of fields ripe for the picking. 
I headed out West first toward Dike, Iowa, but before getting there I cut Northward towards New Hartford. I was obliged to actually go through New Hartford, as I needed to cross the Beaver Creek. Then I had to go even further North to clear the confluences of the Cedar, Shell Rock, and the West Fork of the Cedar River. It was all new to me road and I was having a good time riding with the wind.

There were some fields that had already been harvested.
There are not many of these old, gabled steel bridges left. This one is over the West Fork of the Cedar River.
Barns For Jason
I had hand written cues for most of the first half of the loop. I had gotten through most of that list, but one of the last cues struck me as being a wrong turn. So, I had to stop and consult my "electronic device" to confirm my suspicions. I was right, the list was wrong. I should have just gone with my hunch. Anyway, I looped around the Northernmost side and started into the wind. It was really kicking about this time of the day. It was also rather warm, probably in the 80's, and the humidity was low. My jersey was white with dried salt from my perspiration. It looked rather dramatic on my black Pirate Cycling League jersey!

I was getting hungry, more so than my gels could satisfy, so a planned stop in Janesville was just what I was looking forward to. I crossed the Cedar River by way of a new pedestrian bridge and went straight up the following street to a convenience store to grab some grub.

The new ped bridge across the Cedar in Janesville. 
Refuel lean.
I went in to the convenience store to grab a resupply of water, a sandwich, and some salty chips. (Crisps for you UK folks reading here) I was only there for ten minutes and then I slowly headed out East and then South, straight into the heart of the wind.

I was really kicking up the dust by this time, and with my "food baby" on-board being digested, I tried to throttle it back to keep moving, but the wind was really working me. I ended up stopping to relieve myself by a tree near the roadside and took my sweet time doing so, to try and allow my guts to do their thing. Back on the bike, it was a struggle to go 12mph since the winds were so strong. I decided to go two miles South, then two miles East to ease the effort and break up my stints into the wind.

That worked pretty well, and I only had to stop once more to take a break. That stop was marked by an oversight by myself. I didn't scan the roadside before I plopped down. It wasn't long before I felt something amiss. Well, I looked down and I had sat myself on a few thistles! what!?

I managed to brush out the little stickers rather easily, which was quite a surprise. I was thankful for that! Next time I want to recline in the grass along the roadside, I might be a bit more observant! It might help prevent a bit of unpleasantness. The good thing about it all was that the extra bit of time it took to clear up all the thistle needles allowed my guts to catch up and I felt much better after remounting and heading off into the wind again. I still tacked the wind by zigzagging my way back home though, as I was really feeling the effort in my legs on this hot, dry, (for Iowa), and windy day.

Stand clear!
As I neared Waterloo again, I saw a cloud of gravel dust and flashing lights heading my way. By the size of the thing, I could tell I needed to dismount and get to the very edge of the road. It was a wise move, as an enormous combine went by, then a pick-up truck pulling the grain head, followed by a tracked tractor pulling a big grain wagon. The pieces were being moved into place! Soon all these golden brown fields will be reduced to stubble and the drab look of late Fall and Winter will take over the landscape.

It was good to get a look at the start of the harvest and ride one more time amongst the fields of corn and beans.

1 comment:

Katherine Roccasecca said...

I love those steel bridges. On my to-do-someday list is put together a route that hits as many as possible in one ride.