Sunday 14 October 2012. Starting Out in the Dark

My little pre-dawn trip to the grocery store on Friday inspired me to use some dark time to get a little farther on this Sunday morning’s velo.  Destination was, first, Meadowbrook Park, and then westward  to that lovely bike path between Curtis Road near US 45 and Prospect and Kirby avenues.

Have missed the bit of additional ease of riding Blue, but between needing to carry things and riding in the dark (recently purchased a set of lights for Blue but haven’t yet installed them), Discovery has lately been the vehicle of choice.

It was wet outside from recent rain, but also unexpectedly warm. Nevertheless put on my fleece jacket, which turned out to be useful against the often stiff south wind and the occasional drizzle.  There was no visible moon, though it was about new and maybe not visible anyway.

Velo du Jour has been largely about visual observations, and these are more limited before dawn, even with street

lights.  But was able to get a couple of images.

Hoped that being at the Windsor/Vine bridge at first light would let me see those crepuscular (yay, I got to use that

word!) beavers.  Actually did see movement on the water, sometimes even those fairly high and long waves that must surely must have been made by beavers.  Heard the squeaks and splashes of frogs jumping into the water and plenty of spreading rings–signs of plenty of animal activity.  Once there was a rather lower-pitched sound of something entering the water (“plunk”).  But never saw any beavers.  Still, was not really disappointed. Felt patient and reasonably confident that they were there, and enjoyed being close, in their world.

Stayed quite a while, until the sun must have cleared the horizon behind the clouds, and headed west on lovely

Windsor Road.  Though this part was not so lovely.

Turned south on First street and was greeted by a stiff headwind.  It was some work!  Noticed a pumpkin patch,

with some good-sized pumpkins, on the west side of First Street.

Didn’t stop at the railroad prairie along US 45.

Enjoyed the bike lane on Curtis and then on Prospect.  My beloved Urbana styles itself, and I must say it does try to live up to this, as a “bicycle-friendly community” (per the signs with that message) but here in our rival Champaign is really what urban-cycling Nirvana must be like: separate, grass-lined lanes for cars, bikes and pedestrians.  Wow.

My only complaint might be that the landscape, while plenty green, had more mowed grass and exotic pines and fewer native plants than I would have preferred.

Another interesting thing was even though there was no bright sunshine, the cloudy light was welcome after riding in the pre-dawn darkness.  The mystery of darkness has its own interest, but on the whole, I prefer more visual information.

Rode back east on Kirby, north on Neil for a little while then east on Stadium Drive and into the U of I campus. The wind was at my back!  In the athletic fields off of Stadium could see a gathering of young soccer players and a beautifully decorated catering truck to feed them and their fans.  The fall colors were in high gear; the wind

plastered recently fallen colored leaves to the fences surrounding the fields.

Remembered that I was close to the little cluster of persimmon trees just south of Gregory Drive near the School of Architecture, wondered what the persimmon crop was like this year and whether there might be some ripe ones in good condition on the ground.  So made a stop there.  It looked like an excellent year for native persimmons, as you

can see in this photo.  There were a lot of fairly smashed fruits under the trees and a few nice ones, which I collected, along with a couple that were not quite ripe that I would wait to eat.

Had the wind at my back, through the fall-colored wooded neighborhood, all the way home.


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