Saturday 13 January 2018. A Short, Cold Trip with Sticking Brakes

This morning at about 9 it was 11 degrees F, the sky clear blue with a 12 mph north wind.

Did not plan a long trip, but wanted at least to visit the Japan House garden.

Unfortunately, the condensation precipitated by suddenly warm after very cold weather had frozen Shadow’s brake cables. The back brake could not be engaged at all; the front worked a little but then would not release all the way. So had to pedal against the break. Alas. It was good exercise, but I thought not great for the brakes themselves.

So just rode to the yoga studio to prepare for this afternoon’s class and then to the coffee shop to catch up on the backlog of winter posts.

At least wanted some winter image, so on the way to the coffee shop stopped to look into the Boneyard Creek from the bridge on Lincoln and Green.

Lo and behold, there was a pair of ducks managing to swim on the surprisingly unfrozen water.

Also stopped for a view of some bare trees on Lincoln Avenue.

This one made me think of preparing to go from Salamba Sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand) to Parsvaikapada Sarvangasana (one leg to the side shoulder stand).

It was not much of a ride but much better than none!


Sunday 3 December 2017. Another Short, Cold Ride on the KRT

It was 34 degrees F and clear, with barely a breeze at 6:52 this morning as I wheeled Rhododendron down the driveway and out toward the Kickapoo Rail to Trail and St. Joseph.

It was cold enough to worry about freezing (though not literally) fingers and toes so wasn’t sure how far I’d actually get. Would just play by ear and see. Tried to psych up about restraint with photos so as to retain warmth.

Headed east on Main Street and stopped for a view of the oak-grove by the train tracks, across from the Dart plastics factory.

Despite the early start, saw no foxes. It (they) are on a different schedule (or location) for some reason.

Also stopped for a quick view of almost-winter Weaver Park with the sun coming up.

The goldenrod had lost most of their foamy seed-carriers. The scene seemed to call for black and white.

Horse nettle fruit (related to and resembling cherry tomatoes but poisonous) was abundant.

On the ground near the sidewalk were frosted leaves.

Rode on to the head of the wonderful, beloved trail.

Behind Walmart in the wet area were lots of cattails in the process of releasing their fluffy seed-dispersers.

The wooden rail was frosty.

A little farther on, the sun flashed among the thin trees.

Still farther along, seed-head-topped grass lay flattened along the trail, as if in homage to the cyclists,

of which I was one, and thank you!

Noticed tracks (human, canine, avian) in the not completely packed gravel; no doubt there were deer tracks, too. But didn’t stop to photograph them.

Did eventually photograph the ruts being worn into the trail by bike tires.

Not sure whether these might become problematic. Maybe the occasional application of a steam (I’m sure that’s not exactly the equipment anymore, but you get the idea) roller will take care of it.

The ride, except for cold hands and feet, was extremely pleasant. The low sun was far enough to the south to not be directly in my eyes. Birds lifted, spread, wheeled, settled on the brushy vegetation along the trail. Frost spread the morning light across the subtle curves of the landscape. The monotony of the straight trail induced an inward rhythm, an awareness of subtle differences from one repetition of the scene of landscape to the next. But my hands were cold. Brr!

Turned around at 1800 E (Mt Olive Cemetery).

On the way back, on East Main Street, passed a young woman carrying roller skates over her shoulder who was walking along Main Street and stopped to ask something of a couple standing in front of their house. They must have refused because the young woman responded with angry words. I sympathized with the couple and kept riding on. But then I judged that I could handle an interaction with her and stopped the bike to wait, then turned and walked toward her. She spoke angrily at first but then was very apologetic, saying she needed cigarettes and did I have a dollar? She seemed reasonably well-groomed so apparently not far from some kind of stability. But she made me think of people close to me who struggle with perhaps similar problems. Who knows what form of suffering she carried just then? I said I did, fished out two, and handed them to her. She thanked me profusely and didn’t ask for any thing else but wished me well. And I her, and rode on. Really I was not much help. But still was glad for the small positive connection.

Sunday 26 November 2017. South to the End of Race Street

It was 29 degrees F st 7:45 this morning as I wheeled Rhododendron out into the street and southward just to get out and ride!

Stopped at the cute book exchange shelter I’ve glanced at and passed by many times.

Especially liked the “roof” of overlapping aluminum-can shingles. Thought about donating a book to its inventory.

Farther along noticed how much fall had advanced in less than a week.

Have not been riding very far lately and just wanted to head out into the country, so simply rode south on Race Street.

Saw frost on the bordering grass along the fall-plowed field. Felt deprived lately of that manifestation of water and savored the fine frosting of minute crystal that would be gone in a matter of minutes.

Amazingly, there was pretty much no wind. Noticed how effortless riding the rejuvenated Rhododendron was. Not bad conditions for a late-fall ride.

Saw a curious piece of equipment perched on a post near the road.

Quite pre-digital. Thought it rather handsome, actually, if not exactly functional.

Close to the end of Race Street, looked up over the resting field at the blue sky, with its evidence of air travel.

Stopped to mark the journey ‘s extent,

and turned back.

Am so excited to be almost caught up on my posts!!

Saturday 25 November 2017. Pandamonium. And Mushrooms.

It was 45 degrees F under clear skies at 8:30 this morning as I set out after yoga practice to the legendary Pandamonium Doughnuts. It was a nice 5 mile bike ride to neighboring Champaign and I was curious about their acclaimed product.

Rode west on Windsor Road and stopped at the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration Project.

where dry lead plants framed the signage.

The west wind blew toward me and the net grade was uphill. But overall the ride was pleasant. Was glad I made this choice rather than stay closer to home.

Had a “salted caramel ” doughnut which was covered with a thick layer of gooey frosting. Spectacular! But, in my opinion, not so fine as Lucky Pierre’s vanilla cardamom glazed. Whatever they were fried in was not ghee. Still, it’s good (luxurious!) to have the choice.

Who knew Champaign-Urbana would become a source of fine doughnuts?

On the very easy (net downhill, and with a tailwind!) way home, stopped to check for mushrooms at the usual spot.

There were some, even a pretty good-sized and fairly developed one

but it seemed like they had been disturbed, many dug up an laying on their sides.

Not sure what that was about. I’m pretty sure that more will be back next year. Will watch and see.

Tuesday 21 November 2017. A Brief but Restorative Fall VĂ©lo to Mushrooms and Meadowbrook

It was 38 degrees F at about 6:40 this morning under a bright sky spread with some thin clouds.

At last got out of the house an on Shadow to touch the fall of 2017, which has been going really darned fast!

Stopped to see the Amanita muscaria mushrooms, growing slowly (or arrested in their growth) in the relative cold since last week.

The floor of the spruce grove was not covered with mushrooms, but there was a nice view looking out from it toward the outside.

Continued southward on Race Street and noticed a maple tree to which some yellow leaves still clung.

At Meadowbrook Park was unpleasantly surprised to see the path closed.

But saw no action of the type described on the barricade and disobediently proceeded along the path.

Stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek

Where there still was, somehow, a lot of green foliage, and turned back toward home.

Sunday 12 November 2017. Velo Noir

It was 38 degrees F under cloudy (occasionally yielding light rain) skies at above 7:30 am as I took Shadow (also newly rejuvenated by the wonderful wizards of Neutral Cycle) out to Meadowbrook Park! At last!!

Passed the once mushroom-harboring grove of spruce trees without expectation of seeing any mushrooms, nor spotting any with a casual glance, but my eye was caught by a red balloon in a place where once Amanita muscaria mushrooms had been.


Once stopped to photograph the “false mushroom,” decided to give a closer look to the area, just to be sure there actually was nothing there.

But to my surprise, there were mushrooms!


They were not present in large numbers, but they were good-sized and robust, mostly in early stages of “fruiting.”


And here, like a reverse of The Wizard of Oz, I fade to black and white.


So, I fell for a Facebook challenge. (Thanks, Sheila!) It is a different perspective.

At Meadowbrook Park did not want to pass a little family with a stroller and dog to take my usual route so headed in a clockwise direction around the park.

Stopped to observe the already chromatically subdued landscape with the black-and-white modification of the iPhone camera.


The black and white format was good for capturing the texture of mountain mint seed heads, which I’ve always liked but found hard to photograph.


Saw seed heads of rattlesnake master.


Got an extreme closeup of a little spider crawling (still awake?!) on a sculpture.

It made apparent how limestone is made of masses of tiny shell fragments. Also it kind of looked to me like a belly button.

Saw Baptisia pods, which are always good for a little drama in the fading prairie landscape.

Curled compass plant foliage showed its prickles.

Goldenrod seed heads were like a layer of foam.

At the Marker statue searched for any remaining bottle gentians; there was only this:

a Halloween version of the flower, which didn’t look much different in color. Ah, the yearly passage to winter.

Stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek.

It looked especially dense and tangled, especially the reflections, even with fading vegetation.

On the way out of the park found a scene that actually did not look so sinister in the mandatory black and white.

Don’t know if I’ll continue this black and white approach, but this time it was fun.

Saturday 11 November 2017. Fast Fall

It was 25 degrees F as I made my way through the neighborhood on Rhododendron at 8:15 am. It hardly qualified as a ride. But wanted to bear a bit of witness to this blitz-autumn.

The cold came suddenly and the ginkgo leaf fall was unceremonious.


These ginkgo leaves never got to be gold. Still, the subtle range of their greens made a nice texture.

Farther along, on Oregon Street, was an uncommon (“umbrella?”) magnolia tree that, under the mandate of last night’s cold, had dropped a big pile of its large, exotic-looking leaves.

They kind of looked like fish, I thought.

I like how we anticipate the general sequence of seasonal changes but always are met with surprises.