Monday, August 05, 2019

Country Views: A Peace Over The Land

A Little "fire" in the sky Saturday as I headed East
Saturday was going to be a ride day, mostly because I need to be getting miles in for the upcoming Gravel Worlds event in Lincoln, Nebraska. My recovery from the weekend before has been going well, but with that in mind, my idea to take a big bite of mileage had to be tempered with the realities of my physical condition. My back was a bit "barky" that morning too. So, a new idea formulated.

I have never been one to take it easy on injuries. My view has been that if you baby it, you just put off the inevitable and using your body wisely, with an eye to "keep moving", is best. I'm not advocating that anyone else should do what I do,'s always worked for me. So, with that in mind, a little single speed jaunt into the South of Black Hawk County was my goal. Single speed makes for some bigger efforts than the terrain might call for with a geared bike, and I wanted to put a little stress on the back, to see how it would react. Besides, I feel better on a bicycle than off one. Weird, but many times when I am hurt, that's the case.

So, I pulled out the Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush" rig which I converted to single speed earlier this year. Aired up the Donnelly EMP tires, and threw on some bottles of water. Ready! Off to Prairie Grove Park to park the "Truck With No Name" and get rolling on the gravel, not more than 3/4's of a mile away. It was cool, in the mid-60's, but it was supposedly going to get into the 80's, be humid, and there was little wind forecast. Sounded like a perfect August morning to ride.

Dust from a passing vehicle hangs in the air as Red Wing Blackbirds flock together for their migration South.
The air was very still. If there was a breeze, it had to be minimal. I couldn't feel it. I also could not discern any real humidity either. It was dry. That's odd for Iowa, and very odd for Iowa in August! The low humidity, under 40%, made the roads dusty. With little to no wind, the dust would hang in the air when vehicles passed. Which, thankfully, was not often at all. The only thing moving, besides me and the occasional vehicle, were the Red Wing Blackbirds which are beginning to flock together in preparation to move South for the Winter.

Yes, Winter is coming. The ditches are all hoary and devoid of flowers now. Brown weeds are commonplace as the flora have served their life and recent heat has accelerated their demise. The corn has tasseled and eared out. Fall is just around the corner.

The corn is ginormous.
This can be a time of year when peace falls across the land, and it had that morning. The sun was riding up above a cloud mass and casting a glow which is unmistakably "August" in Iowa. Things are at peace with each other, it seems. Mature, calm, evened's hard to describe it. It's almost as if time is standing still for a while when Summer reaches this point.

There is just something about the light this time of year, it gives everything a certain feeling.
All I know is that I was enjoying the ride. It was very good. Well, besides the darn deep, fresh gravel. The road situation has not improved much all year. Some places- yes. Many places look as bad as they did this Spring. I'm not sure that they will ever recover this year, or maybe next! Petrie Road West of Ansborough, and Aker Road North of Quarry Road both look awful yet. I guess the County's plan is to just bury it all in about 4 inches of fresh crushed limestone, because there was miles of it out there Saturday.

Petrie Road's Level B section was especially sandy this time around.
The sand allowed for some animal tracks to be easily seen.
Speaking of Petrie Road, I decided to visit the Level B Section. It was very sandy! I had a hard time keeping Orange Crush upright as the narrow EMP tires would "pizza cutter" their way into the loose stuff and cause the bike to wash out. I tried keeping to the center ridge of the two track and that helped a lot. Much firmer ground there, but it was like riding a tightrope!

A crop duster banks into a turn over Petrie Road.
It's all down hill from here to the end of Petrie Road in the distance.
While I was on my way up to the ridge on Petrie Road, I heard a faint whistling-whine. It got louder and louder. My first thought was that it was a helicopter. They use small copters to spray crops with around here. But then I heard the motor just about the time I made out that this was a crop duster plane. It was traveling to a field just to the Northwest of me to spray. It made huge, lazy turns and dives over the field. I watched it a while. I think these people that fly these planes are the last daredevils. This plane was flying in between trees and just missing power lines. Crazy!

Fresh dump truck loads of gravel on Aker Road.
I made my way slowly down toward my turn off to gravel and my Northward trek back towards Waterloo. The gravel was pretty dense until I passed the blacktop going to Hudson, then I got about a mile or so of reprieve. But after making my right hander on Washburn Road, it was dump truck loads of gravel all the way back into town.

Well, I did say I wanted a good work out! I got what I came for, no doubt, and when I reached the truck, I was glad of it. My back had enough of that! Not too much- no. I had it in me yet to go home and do many things yet, so I didn't wreck myself out there. Goal accomplished.

It was definitely a highlight ride of the year though. It just doesn't get a whole lot better than that. No wind to speak of, comfortable temperatures. Sunshine. Great roads, even though they were full of fresh gravel. But most of all, that peace that was over the land. You cannot buy that. It is a gift. I was glad to be able to receive it Saturday morning.

Now for some more healing on the back, more training rides, and then onward to getting ready for Gravel Worlds. The last big deal of the Summer. In my mind, Fall pretty much starts after Gravel Worlds. So, that made Saturday's great ride even sweeter, that it happened yet this Summer, after so many times of missing out on getting a ride in.

No comments: