Saturday, April 08, 2023

Country Views: Smoke, Dogs, & Wind

Escape Route: Neighborhood alleys
Good Friday seemed like an excellent day for a ride. The weatherman said it would be breezy. But, the temperatures were to reach into the 60's, the skies would be blue, and there were gravel roads to ride. Well....the weatherman didn't say anything about the roads, but you understand, I am sure. 

This edition of "Country Views" kicks off the 2023 series. Things are greening up out there and it won't be long before "Brown Season" is a forgotten thing for a while. 

Since the winds were to be out of the South, I rode from Guitar Ted Headquarters Southward on the Sergeant Road Trail to get to Aker Road and head on to do my loop I usually do in the opposite direction. My return route would be on the bike paths from Evansdale. So, about 30+ miles, but I ended up with more like 40, which you will find out about later on into this post. 

I decided to run with the pink BMC MCD bike and I wore 3/4's pants, a long sleeved wool jersey, and a wind vest. Otherwise it was standard cycling fare. I was going to be testing out these new Pirelli Cinturato M tires in the 700c X 45mm size, which was good, because there ended up being a lot of fresh gravel.

Something didn't look right out here. Something didn't smell right either.

Taking a break from the wind for a minute. Here's a pic of the pink BMC MCD.

I could tell as I got closer to my turn-off from the Sergeant Road Trail that it was going to be a bit more than a breeze that would make up my headwind. The flags were standing straight off the flag poles. It was a pretty stiff wind that I would be doing battle with, but at least it wasn't as bad as what I faced at the Gents Race. 

I also noted something was amiss when I turnied on to Aker Road. It looked almost like fog. The skies were dimmed somewhat. Then I smelled it. 


Somewhere there was a fire. That would explain the weirdness in the sky as well. It isn't a thing out of the ordinary in Iowa for farmers to burn ditches, pastures, and places along drainages and creeks where weeds like to take over. It also is not uncommon for farmers to burn refuse at this time of the year as well. So, it was just a matter of maybe finding where the fire was and see. 

10-4 captain. We have a fire dead ahead.

The intersection of Quarry Road and Aker Road was obscured by smoke.

Well, it didn't take long for me to ascertain where the smoke was coming from, and as I crested the last hill before the Quarry Road intersection, there it was! Someone was doing a controlled burn along the drainage creek on the South side of Quarry and West of Aker Road. The fire was easily seen, and the smoke was choking, thick, and it obscured the intersection. I decided to turn East there as it would get me out of the line of blowing smoke more quickly. 

There is a hill that rises quickly to the East from the intersection. I climbed up, stopped at the top to turn around and look again, and lo and behold, here came a white GMC that was sitting at the intersection when I went by. The truck rolled to a stop where I was. A kindly looking older farmer looked at me and asked, "Did you have to ride through that smoke back there?". To which I replied, "Yeah. But only for maybe an 1/8th of a mile." The farmer replied back, "Well, I am sorry about that!"

What!? An apology?! Well.......that was unexpectedly nice. 


After the encounter with the farmer, I turned my face Eastward and pedaled on. The sky looked clearer, the horizon looked cleaner, and the smell of burning things was gone. Nice! But my troubles went from fire and smoke to furry four-legged demons. 

I stopped here at Miller Creek on Quarry Road to have a snack.

Those dogs must have all been loose due to it being Good Friday and all. A lot of businesses close down and some schools let out for that religious holiday around here. I figured the nice day only added to the fact that I had at least 6-7 dog encounters during the entire ride. That's about three times as many as usual. 

Here's a road I don't travel often. Eastman Road.

I was on my way back North when an idea struck me. Maybe there was a way I could jig-a-jog a mile more East and catch a road up to Washburn, hang a right, and find the Level B section of Weiden Road. A quick bit of smartphone research led me to the right path. Right on Eastman, Left on Cotter, take 218 to Washburn, hang that right on the county road and then to Weiden. 

Cotter Road, looking North.
I used the gravel shoulder until it went to "cheater pavement". Ha!

I generally never take this spur to get to Weiden Road, and when I ride that road I come from the East, not the West. So, of course, I missed the corner and rode about a 1/4 mile extra out of my way. 

It could have been worse!

Weiden Road

I finished off the ride on bike paths. here's a look from the Cedar River at Evansdale.

So, I added a bit to my usual Southern Route and ended up at around 40-ish mikes. I didn't have a computer or a fitness watch this time. That figure for my mileage is just a guess, but it is a pretty good one since I have that original route on file in GPS. 

I was pretty cooked by the time I got home. Then I went shopping with my wife for groceries and came home and bonked out while sitting in a chair on the porch! And they say shopping is not an endurance sport! Bah!

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