30 April 2009

Vacation rides

I am vacationing at home this week. Two and a half days completely disconnected from the office - no work email or phone calls. It is a mental health week. Long overdue, even if undeserved. My goals for the days were simple: get some yard work done, and ride my bike. Or, bikes, as things turned out.

Planting new bushes, transplanting a great old bush, and planting a tree - this was my home task. Mowing, of course, and starting a compost pile. And if time and weather cooperated, to reinstall a stone pad where we step off the deck. I got in 3 new bushes, moved an old one, tore out another old one, bought 2 more bushes, set the tree but haven't got it in the ground yet, had mulch and topsoil delivered, and finally tackled the out of control lawns. Second mowing of the season, but you'd hardly know it; the grass is outrageous in this cool spring with alternating sun and rain.

I did not get it all done, but enough to feel that the time was worth it, and enough to please my Karen. Success!

Tuesday I did all the gardening I needed to, then with a bright sun and few clouds, hit the road. I decided I would go through Fermi Lab and Batavia to Johnson's Mound, then decide if I wanted to head farther west. I wanted to cover 50 miles at least; the Mound out-and-back gives me about 43. The wind was ENE, and reportedly about 17mph. Was I willing to get farther west, and a little south, to add miles?

Even knowing the wind is at my back, I am so easily lulled into thinking "well, this won't be so bad." Well, actually, it kind of was. Johnson's Mound is mile 22 from my place. At mile 30 I was at the intersection of Dauberman Rd. and Harter Rd., somewhere between Elburn and Kaneville. Exactly 30 miles, and I turned east. The haul down Dauberman provided ample warning. That wind was definitely more E than N, more E even than NE. Clearly ENE and then some. Well, I was committed, so I hunkered down and began the long slog home. Oh, and by then the sun was under cover ... and it never did peek out again. So my adequate attire was less so; and my body heat barely compensating for the right kit.

Kaneville - to stop, or not to stop at the general store? No, it was too soon after the J's.M. pit stop. Press on down Main St. Just before the Marklund Home I pulled over at a park driveway to finish a power bar and take a rest from the headwind. Another stop option is the BP station at McKee and Randall. But there again, it seemed wiser to press on. The wind was getting any better, and unlikely to.

I did pull into the Batavia Prairie Path store. It was warm, out of the wind, and had Power Gel. So a brief chat with Joe and Mike, and a little rest for the legs and back, and I was in it for the last hour home. Back through Fermi, where I saw the largest, healthiest coyote ever, and onward always onward home.

In the second half of the ride I lost about 1mph of average speed, compared to the first 30 miles. So I guess that's not so bad. And I still had something left to mow the front lawn.

But it was hard to stay awake in class after supper!

Wednesday was altogether different. It had rained during the night, so my plan to do a long Prairie Path ride had to change. I was not about to go out to the Fox River on another wet, bumpy, sticky path ... not this day. So I decided to drive to the Fox River Trail and ride (almost entirely) off road but on pavement.

Mind you, sometimes pavement is no better than the crushed rock trails. When it cracks and buckles, it doesn't get fixed each year. The limestone at least can be graded and repacked. Still, in rainy season, the FRT is a good path option, and I'm getting to the place where I find it more and more difficult to ride the roads alone. Safety (and visibilty) in numbers.

Fox River Trail from Clark Island in Batavia, south into Aurora (Illinois St.), then north through Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, South Elgin. A path closing kept me from rolling into Elgin. (Yes, yes, I could have got on the streets and gone around it. "It" being a path washout at the S. Elgin underpass where the Elgin spur meets the FRT.) Instead, I went back south and got off the trail at the park that begins the Silver Glen/Randall trail. I had done that loop about a week ago, and knew this would give me the mileage I was after.

I wanted to go at least 43 miles (would make my vacation total = 100) up to 52 miles (would bring my season road miles to a nice round number). It's a nice little path, nearly all paved, that takes one away from the river, up to Silver Glen Rd. at IL Rte. 31. Down Silver Glen - which also has a nice new paved shoulder, but also this path ... which of course is neither new nor now particularly nice) to Randall Rd. The path along Randall is both nice and newish, and it deposits one (heading south) in Leroy Oakes Park at the west side of St. Charles. Sure, it's hard to deny that by taking this circuit I avoided the big hill coming off the river, on the FRT. But it's not without its benefits, either. From Leroy Oakes into St. Charles to ... Starbucks! And then a few more miles south to Clark Island.

Total miles = 44. One goal met, and again I had enough left to (a) go back to the nursery for 2 new bushes, (b) clear the mess from the project, (c) mow the back yard and start the compost pile, (d) tidy up some of the yard mess that is waiting for free pick-up day next week.

This morning's rain keeps me indoors at the end of this brief vacation. Which actually suits me fine. I go back into the office relaxed, with some significant work done around home, 2 adequate rides, and ready to meet the boat load of emails that I know are waiting for me. Bring 'em on!

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