Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Make that 252 miles

Turned out to be a nice day today...sorta. So I did a 26 mile ride. One of the benefits of this pseudo-Pete Retreat that I'm on is being able to throw away a few hours on a whim!

Temperature was fine when I started, but as the day went on it got unexpectedly hot mid to upper 80s) and then the wind started. I have never EVER E-V-E-R allowed myself to wuss out during a ride and walk my bike up a hill. But, this time, I just couldn't do it! The wind was blowing totally against me and it was a steep hill. Plus I haven't ridden in weeks, so I'm completely out of it. I feel such shame!

Okay, now for the good. It's getting close to being autumn.  The fields were just crammed with wildflowers, many that were grown to be taller than me! Yellow, purple, pale blue, white, plus the sumac was all reddish. Really pretty fantastic to see. Got some pics here (way bigger if you click on them). At one point I was riding along and I actually saw the 'amber waves of grain'. I guess the song meant to reference wheat fields, but the wild grasses I saw definitely would have me looking for 'purple mountain majesties' too if I weren't in Illinois. Best part was, I was practically alone on all these paths because it's Tuesday and everyone else is at work.

'Wildlife' sightings were pretty heavy too! Snakes must have been hatching recently because I spotted 11 or 12 snakes sunning themselves on the path.  That means I must have missed easily twice that number.  They were all a foot long or less, just common little snakes. The first one was just sitting right on the path and I almost ran him over. I stopped to try and scare him off, but he just tried to bite me so I figured he'll live and learn or die and regret. I just started counting them, rather than stopping to look, after number five (how easily jaded I am!).

A hawk was swooping around the marshlands (probably feeding on the smorgasbord of snakes).  I also spotted a big fat ugly toad. Touched his back, and he had the hard 'warts' and everything. If I was in third grade, I would totally have tried to catch him and take him home to my horrified parents as a pet. And then there was a frog than flopped right across the path. One big arc after another, like dark green and yellow ball of liquid metal.

Great ride, but my legs were completely blasted by pedaling against the wind. I took such a cold shower afterwards! Definitely going to be a movie-at-home night tonight! But as you can see from this panorama shot below, being outside in this kind of solitude is definitely worth a few aches and pains.

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