Monday, August 26, 2019

Country Views: Hints Of Fall

Back on Iowa gravel again.
The recovery from the Gravel Worlds beat down went pretty well. I had a bit of soreness in the legs, maybe for a day or two. I was tired, mostly, and I rested some instead of riding Wednesday on my day off.

I've always thought that Gravel Worlds marked the "real" end of Summer. There always are a few days here and there right after Gravel Worlds where the temperatures at night start getting down into the 50's and daytime temperatures can be down into the 70's, on occasion. Sure- you still get the 80's, humidity, and warm, sticky nights, generally speaking, every year, but this year has been very different.

It was almost as if a switch went off after Gravel Worlds this time. The air has been drier, the temps down dramatically both day and night, and the hints of Fall are everywhere if you are paying attention. The corn is starting to dry out, the flowers have all faded, with the exception of August's yellow fellows, always seen about now.

I saw that the weather was trending toward this sort of late Summer version of perfection, so a Saturday ride just had to happen. I decided to ride the Tamland Two, and so late in the morning, I decided to head out North. The temperature was down into the 50's earlier in the morning, so I waited for it to warm up a hair before I headed out. Imagine that. Last weekend in Lincoln it was in the 70's, and now we were almost 20 degrees cooler a week later here in Iowa. Like I said, it seems like a switch has flipped and signs of Fall are everywhere.

Beautiful weather over the Moline - Andersen Farm North of Waterloo on Moline Road.

I headed out from my house, which I haven't done for a while, but it was such a nice day out that I figured more riding was better than less. The wind was out of the Southeast, and it was not just a breeze, so I would have that to contend with, but otherwise it was about as perfect a day as one could ask for. Humidity levels were even low, so it was actually kind of nice not to sweat straight through all my clothing in the first ten miles.

The vineyard on the North side of Dunkerton Road on Moline Road had this green netting protecting all of their grapes. 
These tall, leggy yellow flowers and Goldenrod dominate the ditches now.
The gravel started out being rather tame, then it went chunkier the further I went North. The hard underlying road bed made for a jarring ride compared to the smoothness of Nebraskan gravel around the Lincoln area. It was dusty as well, which made for a great "welcome back to Iowa" gravel ride.

Barns For Jason
 I decided to go within sight of Denver, Iowa, then head eastward on a road I hadn't ridden before. Two miles east then I made a right turn South. Once I got back to Black Hawk County, I would be on Schenk Road. I like riding this road because it has a lot of cool, old barns. It's also almost all on a "high plateau" of sorts, for Iowa. The highest point on my ride was on this road just North of the county line and it consistently stays around or above 1000ft. (I know that doesn't sound like much, but I live in a state where the maximum elevation is a bit more than 1600ft.) Anyway, Schenk Road seems flat due to its consistent elevation.

A flock of sheep grazing
Big rollers on Airline Highway
I made the length of Schenk Road South to Airline Highway's Eastern terminus and turned West. This starts out at that same elevation as before, but then it drops and turns into a set of fast rollers downward toward Moline Road and the way I came out of Waterloo. With the aid of that Southeast breeze, it was fun to speed over the tops and coast fast down the hills until I made the left turn back into the city.

I took it easy on the paved roads back to the house and walked into the door at noon. A nice 30 miles in before lunch and I had the rest of my day to myself. It's a good thing I didn't go further or harder since by 9:00pm I couldn't stay awake anymore! Maybe I still have a bit of rest that I need to get. But I felt really good on the bike Saturday, so that was an encouraging sign.

Speaking of signs- (again!) The air, the earlier setting of the Sun everyday, the lack of songbirds, and the browning of the prairie are all telling me that Fall is nigh. While it sucks that all the green things will be turning brown and the fields will become barren again, this can be some of the best riding weather of the year. I'm hoping that it will turn out that way.


Skidmark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Skidmark said...

Helianthus hirsutus (hairy sunflower)-the tall, leggy, yellow flowers of August.

Guitar Ted said...

@Skidmark- Thanks!! Now I know. These flowers have a special meaning to me as they are really prolific around the anniversary of my Grandfather's death.