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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Nelson Algren wrote, "Chicago is an October sort of city, even in spring." This isn't Chicago, but we are close enough to know exactly what he means...

It is now two-thirds of the way through the season formerly known as spring. Signs that things are improving are popping up here and there, although their appearances are sporadic at best. In the 65 days since the calendar reported our latest seasonal transition, I have ridden 36 times, 18 of those on a real bike. Outdoors. But, the last 14 in a row have had me out of the basement and onto the highways and byways that make this region so good for bicycling. A few of the rides were even accomplished wearing only shorts and a jersey; however, many have required base layers, tights, arm warmers, leg warmers, shoe covers, vests and jackets in various combinations.

These early, tentative, mini-tours do provide opportunities to witness the emerging signs of our next season. We might call it summer, but it will have to earn the right to be so named. And even though the pace of seasonal change has so far been glacial, I'm guessing summer is going to drop in on us like an Acme safe in the desert.

In the meantime, here are some of the sights and signs I've captured during the early days of this year's riding season.

This one should be obvious. It's a sign that there is an engineer on the bike. A ride computer, just visible at the bottom of the picture, AND a GPS. You say "superfluous," I say "necessary back-up systems."

The GPS is on board so I won't get lost. On my way down the highway that hugs the river. With few opportunities to turn off. But, you cannot be too careful, you know.

This small pond is at one of my favorite spots on the route I take often, going down the river to Stoddard than out a ways into the valley that runs east. It was a jacket and shoe cover kind of a day, as you might have guessed from the ice still on the surface. But, as you can see if you look closely at the second picture, the geese have found enough open water to keep them happy.

Regrettably, this is another not so uncommon sign of the season - various forms of wildlife that insist upon crossing the road, in spite of overwhelming evidence that such an endeavor is fraught with danger. You should be aware that neither I nor my bike were factors in this poor fellow's situation. By situation, I mean dead. And, if you knew anything about my affinity for snakes, you would know that he was dead because there is no other way that I would be where I was, stopped on the road, taking a picture.

One of my ride projects this year is to photograph another of my favorite spots, this one at a farm on top of the ridge. It changes dramatically during the course of the year and I hope to capture the effect by riding up three or four times a month and snapping a picture from the same point. Here are shots from early April and mid-May. A sure sign that things are looking up.

Some signs are omens and others portend good times ahead, like these two at the start of the descent down County O. A couple of my favorites in one place.

Finally, a sign of riding in wet weather, which creates an urgent need to clean the bike. It is surprisingly satisfying to do this after a long ride. Perhaps it is because it signals being ready for the next one.

Are there signs of spring where you live? Or perhaps even of summer?

In closing, if you know where the Acme safe analogy comes from, then, I am sorry to say, you are as old as I am.

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