Thursday, March 28, 2019

Riding On The Ocean Floor

Some pretty torn up roads out there in places.
The warmest day yet in 2019 and you know I wasn't about to let it go by without a ride. That was a given. I didn't get out right away because I was expecting a call at 9:00am which never came. Grr......

That's really annoying. But, I had gravel waiting and that put the frustration of the non-phone call out of my mind. It was time to turn my thoughts to getting kitted up and out of that door with the Noble Bikes GX5 in tow. I tossed that rig into the back of the "Truck With No Name" and headed out to Prairie Grove Park. I had decided to get started and go on South from there out of town. There were bigger things going on which made a missed phone call utterly insignificant.

There was a stiff Southeasterly wind blowing at 20-25mph constant. I figured on winching my way South against that as far as I figured it would be okay on my out of shape body to go, and then turn back and enjoy a mahoosive tailwind. It might take quite a while to get as far South as I thought I could go, but I knew it would take less than a third of what ever time that ended up being to get back. That was my plan. Sometimes you get more than you planned on........

They sang once in a play I saw that Oklahoma was where the wind came sweepin' oe'r the plain. Well, that ain't the only place it does that! I remember when I was in school, a teacher said Iowa was one of the "plains states". I scoffed at the idea, but as I grew older, and learned more, I came to realize this is correct. Iowa was once mostly covered in tall grass prairie. Agriculture has traded that natural grass for one of tall grass prairie's distant cousins- corn. That and beans, of course. While we have more trees than maybe we would have naturally here, the fact that most of Iowa is still open land means that there isn't a whole lot to stop whatever winds decide to visit here. Rushing winds? Yeah, we got that.

The remnants of huge drifts of snow now are giving over to a new view.
I also learned back in the day that the Plains States were once at the bottom of a huge, shallow, ancient sea. The deposits and sediment over the millennia eventually became our limestone. This became the very crunchy bits I was riding over. Not only that, but the age of the glaciers scraped and scoured our land, leaving behind the occasional huge "erratic", or massive stone feature. I often see these while I ride as well.

Not much breaks up our horizon unless it is man-made.
The result is a large, unbroken horizon line and a "big sky" most times. The only things that break the horizon are the farm buildings and the trees that surround them which dot the countryside. It is especially during the transitional seasons- Fall to Winter, and Winter to Spring, when it is brown, barren, and lifeless looking out there, when I notice how "prairie-like" Iowa really is. the gently rolling landscape is easily seen now. You can almost imagine tall grass bending in the wind, Buffalo and elk grazing, and being able to see nothing but those things for as far as you can see. Yeah......I can almost see it yet......

Riding on the ground up floor of an ancient ocean over what once was tall grass prairie. 
The life blood of the land burbles toward a larger way.
But right about then a gust of wind pushes the bike around and my attention is now on my corrective measures and then it is focusing again on measuring out the power. That wind was relentless. I have a friend, "Super Saul", and he has a philosophy for riding in the wind. He laughs if it blows hard, taunting the Wind. "Ha! Is that all ya got! I'm still moving forward!". It does help, you should try it sometime. That said, the Wind wins sometimes. It is a Force to be reckoned with when you live out on the Plains. Today it might be just flexing its muscles a bit, wrestling with you, toying with you as you pedal into its face. But there are days it will knock you clean off your bike, or be so strong that it picks up debris, precipitation, and grit which peels your skin back, or feels like it. Then there are the days it joins forces with Winter, or Storm, and you have to take cover. Yeah, laugh if you want to, but in the end, Wind is no joke. You learn to respect its powers.

Equipment set out for auction.
The Wind also brings Spring in with such force and violence that the deep set Winter belches forth from the ground where it once held a frosty grip, tearing up our roads in the process. We think these things- roads, fields, buildings, and homes- are permanent. These are all transient. They could all be gone tomorrow. Farms I once rode by for years disappear overnight. Roads and bridges close or disappear with the advance of Nature as it overgrows and takes back what was once its own. Only that long unbroken horizon and that big sky will remain someday.

Eventually I turn back North and the Wind which I struggled against now prods me along down the road at an incredible speed through the fluffed up, damaged gravel roads. The Wind doesn't care. I'm just another thing, like a leaf of a tree, being caught up in its power. Rushing along the broken bits of an old ocean floor.


tntmoriv said...

Thoughtful and well stated! Sometimes the ride is not about the bike; thanks for sharing!

blooddoc23 said...

That was a cool post.

youcancallmeAl said...

I grew up on the northern prairies of Manitoba. There is great beauty in the big skies/flat lands that folks born elsewhere don't understand!