Thursday, October 17, 2019

Fall Views: Blustery Day Back On The Bike

Many of the roads were in fast shape.
Well, good news! Mrs. Guitar Ted's recovery is coming along really well and I was released to go out and ride again. So, I took the opportunity to head out on a grey, blustery day with the Gen I Fargo, which I needed to put time on to continue the "Lube-Off" test.

With a steady wind out of the Northwest, maybe about 15-18mph, I decided to go North first. I went the traditional way up Moline Road first and then hopping over a mile East on Airline Highway, I then headed back Northwards on Sage Road.

The goal for the day was two hours. I had a steady cadence going as I tried to keep things "spinny" going into the wind. It is a mostly uphill slog too, at least until you pass C-57, and then it flattens out more until you get to the County line where it gets positively flat. Then the plan was to head West over to Burton Avenue to check on the two rural churches out there, then back across East at some point to get back to Sage and Southwards to the starting point again.

With the temperatures in the mid-40's and that wind, it was going to be chilly. So I busted out the wool that has been stored away since last Spring and used a wool base layer, an old Salsa Cycles wool jersey, and the Riding Gravel vest over that. I wore 3/4's length Endura pants with a liner short, and wool socks from a company called Feeture. The Shimano RX8 shoes were used with shopping bag vapor barriers. My gloves were full finger jobs from Cuero, and on my noggin I used a "buff" synthetic sock and my aero helmet. Ready? Ready!

Skies looked ominous but there was zero rain in the forecast.
One of the rare times the Sun shone on me. Lots of corn still out here too!
The harvest, which on a normal year would be wrapped up by now, is just now cranking into high gear. It was postponed a couple weeks back when we got all the heavy rains in the area. As I started out my ride, I saw no movement in any field. Just a lot of rattling corn leaves in the wind and a lot of dried up soybean fields.That scene would change as the day went on though.

Methodist church on Sage Road
I surprised this dog I found trotting North on Sage Road.
Earlier in the year, I was getting pinned down by aggressive dogs on every ride. That prompted me to dub 2019 as "The Year of the Dog". and of course, as soon as I did that, the dog problems ceased to be an issue for the rest of the Summer. Going up Sage Road I came up on a black dog trotting up the road in the same Northerly direction. The dog could not hear me or smell me because I was down wind of it. I whistled and caught its ear, figuring that would be better than taking it by surprise and perhaps fomenting a bad response. However; when the dog heard my whistle, it turned toward me and started trotting back, keeping as far away to the side of the road as was possible. It had the look of a dog just caught being naughty. It never barked at me, it just shot a furtive glance at me as I passed seemingly to say, "Please don't hurt me!" Poor thing!

Farm equipment was being marshaled for the assault upon the ripened fields all across the area.
A harvester in a bean field on the Black Hawk/Bremer County line.
Eventually I started seeing trucks and farm machinery moving across the gravel roads. LOTS of pick-up trucks were flying around, and a few busted up vehicles as well. No doubt men and machines were being put into motion as the harvest gets really cooking now. I caught several weird looks, as I suppose most people would not expect a cyclist out there, especially at this time of year. I'm sure I made the albums on more than a few cell phone cameras.

East Janesville Church.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church
I cut across on the county line Westward with the aim to go check on the two rural churches on Burton Avenue in Northern Black Hawk County. After this I planned on crossing C-57 on Burton, then turning back East on Bennington Road to go back to Sage and then on back the way that I came out of Waterloo.

I was measuring my efforts after turning out of the wind, trying not to take too much advantage of that, and eventually the tailwind as I went South. I wanted to check up on my speed to make sure I didn't go too hard and to make sure I got two hours of riding in.

The light caught just right in the high tension line's insulators making them look like they were lit up.
I had to dismount for this enormous harvester. It took up the entire roadway!
I made my way back the way I had come out, which was basically no big deal, except at the corner of Sage Road and Airline Highway, where I met this gigantic John Deere harvester. It had been fitted with duallys, no doubt against the high probability of wet field conditions, and that made it so wide there was literally only two feet either side of it of open gravel road. I dismounted, considered getting into the ditch, but it turned South and so I waved and watched it move down the road. Not far behind, the cutting head, the part that cuts the bean plants and conveys them into the harvester, was being pulled behind a 4X4 truck. That vehicle made as wide a turn as possible, due to the length of the apparatus, and it barely made the turn. These machines could not be any larger! They simply could not be transferred on these gravel roads built with horses and wooden wheeled wagons in mind.

And of course- Barns For Jason!
So, I ended up with two and a half hours of good times and I sure needed that! The harvest will quickly change the look of the landscape. I am sure the next ride I do will be all about barren fields and the scenery will be sullen and brown again. But for now, I was stoked to get this ride in on the cusp of harvest.

I have an hour and a half yet on this drive train for the "Lube-Off", then it will be on to the "control bike", the DuMonde Tech lubricated one, and the conclusion of this test will then be arrived at. I better get to gettin'! The riding days are surely numbered now with November on the door step.


Skidmark said...

Greetings GT, is any of this corn ‘sweet corn’ like the grocery store sells for corn-on-the-cob?

Guitar Ted said...

@Skidmark- Greetings! No, none of this corn is "sweet corn" for the table. That sort of corn matures earlier and is grown in other regions on a mass scale for canning. I'm not aware of any sweet corn processors anywhere near where I live, although I remember seeing an old canning plant in Grundy Center, so it must have been something that was farmed on a large scale at one point around here. (Or maybe it still is? I don't know for sure)

Sweet corn raised here is basically "hobby farming" for sale to local grocers and off street corners during July/August for the most part. Some farms specialize in this, but that sort of corn would have been harvested a month or more ago by now.

What we're looking at here is known as "field corn" and is used for all sorts of stuff. Food is part of that, but not as canned or "sweet corn" as you are suggesting.

Skidmark said...

Good, I’m glad. Melting ice caps and corn-on-the-cob for Thanksgiving would be a bad sign.