Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tour de Northwoods

Recently, TBTAM did a post about the West Side Greenway Bike Path in NYC. Her post is full of great pictures of a place to get a free kayak ride, places to dine or picnic, famous places from movies, a place to play volleyball, and even a lighthouse!

And then she encouraged me (in a comment) to post some pictures.

So, let's just say my ride is a little different.

My ride usually starts at a parking lot on campus because it's right along the bike path, and on non-teaching days, pretty empty. Across the Next County River, you can see the Little Famous Waterfall. There's a walking path up the side of the bluff there behind the waterfall, and it's lovely, especially if you've got a dog that likes getting really muddy.

The path goes along the river, passing a small boat ramp where folks park to go fishing.

Be vewy vewy quiet and no one will notice this huge big truck! While I've never before seen a truck done up quite this way, I have seen camo'd trucks a fair bit. But that's not quite as unnerving as seeing someone in full camo with large weaponry (often bows, sometimes rifles) come out of the woods along a road or trail as I ride. In the background here, you can see an outdoor hockey rink next to the hockey stadium thing.

And eventually we pass over the river on an old, converted railroad bridge. Have I mentioned that I love riding on overpasses and bridges? It's just way cool. It's a little tight with folks sometimes, but we all squeeze through.

About half a mile or so beyond this bridge, the trail crosses a road where you can turn off to go on a couple County roads. The advantage to the trail is that it's a converted railroad bed, and thus fairly flat, and avoids most traffic. The disadvantage is that it's fairly flat, and what traffic there is is often people wheeling SUV sized baby stroller things, or dancing across the trail while in-line-skating with ipod thingies in both ears.

Today, we're taking the road. We have about a mile before we hit a little hill, and then about half a mile before we make another choice. Today, we're going to turn right, and go up the hill that's almost a mile long. The other way has shorter but steeper hills, and lots of them.

Here's the big hill. It doesn't look like much, but for me it's long, anyway. And I'm slow. Go have a snack, use the restroom, whatever. I'll be inching up for the next few minutes at about 7mph.

Still climbing. When I see the Moose lodge (which is up after a couple bends), then I know I'm almost to the top and I'm going to make it. At this point, I'm pretty sure my legs, lungs, and heart are all working. My legs are equally sure that my brain needs to have its head examined.

I've now made it up and over the hill, and the crowd goes wild! No, seriously, doesn't this horse look like it's thinking "stupid human"? These two are always there, and they pretty much always glance at me with that look in their eye that says they could run so much faster than I will ever bike. And it's absolutely true.

I suppose you could stop for a picnic here. I doubt the horses would mind sharing their fine dining.

After that one big hill, there are little rolly hills, but it's another seven or so miles before the next hard one. In addition to little rolly hills, we have soy fields. In the past couple of weeks, the soy has turned from green to orangy yellow, mostly. From the farm reports on the radio, I gather that we got too much rain in spring and not enough in the past month, so the crops aren't doing well, and the rain on photo day is too little, too late.

Supposedly the corn has been hit especially hard by the rotten weather. It's already looking brown here (on the right). And look, what's that on the left? More of my adoring fans, thrilled to see me ride by! Rather bucolic, no?

Lest you should think all is livestock and corn, here's a fixer-upper. It's fairly common to see an abandoned looking house and then a few steps away, a newer double-wide trailer type or other house. I guess it just gets to a point where the upkeep on the old one doesn't make sense or something? Anyway, I'm guessing those of you in some urban areas could buy this for what your parking costs.

But for really big buildings, of course, you look for the newer farm outbuildings. This is a bean (soy?) operation (or so it says on the sign on the far side). Look at all that machinery!

So you get the idea. Once I get outside of town, it's pretty much soy, corn, some alfalfa or clover, the occasional horse, and more occasional dairy cows in a field. I can ride for 25 miles, just about, before I hit another town. I run out of bike motor before I run out of road around here.


  1. I saw a pick-up like that in Red State once... I looked in the bed, saw a dead possum and learned never to look in the bed of strange pick-ups...

  2. Oh, that looks so beautiful!

  3. I love your streams and rivers!

  4. Great road pics! I love seeing where you ride - reminds me of the rolling hills we saw in Ohio on our college road trip. We commented to each other how much fun they woudl be to ride bikes on.

    Thanks for the tour!

  5. Inside, I'm glad I didn't look inside the back now!

    Dorothy W. Thanks! I'd like to take credit, but...

    Susan, Me too! The rivers through town make it liveable, really.

    TBTAM, Come on out and ride with me!