It was 57 degrees F at 5:15 this morning, the cloudy sky slightly delaying the first morning light.
Decided, after going back and forth about it, to take Rhododendron for this morning’s trip to Tolono, about 10 miles away from Urbana, mostly to the south and a little to the west.
Made sure to pump the tires to a good pressure, having enjoyed the results of Discovery II’s tires being well-filled.
Was amazed, after a time away from it, by the ease of riding Rhododendron, and the speed! That settled it: the bike to celebrate my 60th birthday would be a perfectly-fitting road bike. Would just have to delve deeply into the book of neck-and-shoulders yoga and figure out how to counteract the shoulder-mischief the bike might make.
As the sun came up, the clouds began to thin and move apart, and the north-eastern horizon glowed.
The day was promising: the sky had a bit of color, the temperature was comfortable, and my cold had receded enough not to distract from enjoying the ride.
Caught the western edge of Meadowbrook Park and sped over McCullough Creek on the rabbit-statue bridge. Actually applied the brakes on the turn–was going faster than I’ve gotten used to on Discovery II.
Stopped a little way down for a sunrise shot at a favorite place.
Then turned back to the “Texas exit” on to Race Street and rode southward,
after first stopping to look at McCullough Creek to the west of Race Street, where it flowed into the U of I forest plantation. There were enough trees and little enough understory for the voices of the birds (like the eastern wood peewee I heard) to have a hint of echo. Made me think “lovely, dark, and deep.”
Rode on to the south, as the landscape opened into fields and the shape and distribution of clouds allowed one to perceive the hugeness of the sky. The expression “It doesn’t get any better than this!” occurred to me.
Rode to Old Church Road, where the post of the stop sign was festooned with metal and plastic objects, or parts thereof.
Made me curious about how and why the stuff was put there. Was this a one-time piece or something that was added to by different people over time? Did it have a title? Made me want to put something of mine with the collection, but instead rode on to First Street and south again toward Tolono.
The corn and now beans, too, were developing and enlarging by the day, it seemed.
Stopped at a roadside prairie garden where a lot of purple Baptisia were blooming, also blackberry and lovely spiderwort.
The closer the better!
About that time, my knees started to complain, the left (the “good” one) especially. Hello?!? Surprisingly, the shoulder was fine. And fortunately, the knees got better. Glad for that!
Got to see a train going east on the tracks that connected Philo and Tolono, but was too far away to get an intelligible shot.
The road to Tolono turned west following the tracks on the north side. There were prairie plants (blooming golden Alexanders, blackberry, a few small patches of spiderwort, and leaves of compass plant and prairie dock) growing along the tracks, but not as abundantly as I would have expected. Looked like there may have been herbicide applied close to the tracks.
Rode to the edge of Tolono.
Remembered then from a trip last year that it was not the expensive side of town. Wanted to keep going till I could photograph something that said, “Tolono” like the town hall or a welcome sign, but caught sight of and heard a dog barking up ahead, which can really take away my spirit of adventure. So turned back. Courage another day, discretion today.
On the way back stopped to photo what grew next to the tracks and discovered some asparagus among the golden Alexanders and compass plant leaves.
It was mostly bolted, but a few shoots might have been edible.
Was taking photos when another train came by, an this time was able to get a shot.
Then headed on, amazed at how good my shoulder felt, and even the knees were back to being quite comfortable! Did not miss the opportunity for gratitude!
Just after crossing Windsor Road at First Street, felt like I was really going uphill. Remembered from my days of working in this area that the road went up and down in places, but was surprised because Rhododendron had been good about minimizing the distinction between them. So glanced at the front tire, which turned out to be quite low, almost flat!?! When did that happen?
Luckily, very luckily, had packed a mini tire pump. What an awesome invention! Was able to fill the tire full enough to get home without having to refill it. Was glad it didn’t happen in Tolono, glad it wasn’t worse, glad to have been out in the road this beautiful morning!