I’m a little bit country

9 05 2010

By geography, and by choice, most of my rides are in the city.

I like to think I handle myself pretty well in traffic. And, over the years, I’ve managed to find favorite routes on which I feel fairly safe and comfortable.

Sure, there’s hairy moments of road rage from time to time, and it only takes one careless idiot to ruin your day; but for the most part, if I ride in a predictable way, following the rules of the road, drivers seem to respect my right to share the road.

But sometimes it’s nice to get away from the buzz of traffic and enjoy the buzz of bees (although they’re not so much fun when they’re crashing into your face) during a country ride.

While city rides tend to be about the destination, setting a goal for the ride, getting there and coming back, country rides tend to be more about the journey itself, plotting a route on unfamiliar roads, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. Oh, the smells.

It’s spring, and that means a lot of fertilizing of fields going on, with lots of sharp, pungent fertilizer, most of it sourced from the back end of cows. In fact, hours later I can still smell those odors in my nose.

The sights include blackbirds on the utility wires, herons stalking through the sloughs, then taking off like some sort of odd genetic cross between a pteradactyl and a Concorde jetliner, a lazy golden lab lying in the shade of a farm tree blissfully taking for granted his idyllic life, cows – cows in fields, cows under trees, cows in barns, cows standing, cows lying in the grass, cows covered in, er, mud, little cows in front of little cow huts – and a big male bald eagle strafing straight up the roadway towards us, only ten feet above our heads. Luckily, we were too big for lunch.

It's spring and farmers are working seven days a week ploughing and planting their fields.

And the sounds, the shrill alarm of those blackbirds, the growl of tractors coming up the road behind us, the wind blowing through the young corn stalks.

Oh yeah, the wind.

There’s not a lot of trees to break the wind in the country. And the mountainous ridges rising on both flanks of the valley ensure an almost constant wind. Great when it’s at your back, propelling your speedo well into the 30 kmh zone. Not so much fun when you’re pedaling into the teeth of it, wreaking havoc with your average speed.

Communing with the countryside.

Today’s country ride was 59.48 kms. It took us just over two-and-a-half hours. We got lost at one point. We visited a friend. And we stopped for over-priced ice cream at a local dairy. It was a good day. And combined with Friday’s 75 km city ride, my most prolific weekend of the young season.

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