I wake early this Saturday morning. Seems I always do on my day off. I think there are a whole bunch of sections in my mind that are just too excited to stay sleeping when the plan is an all-day bike ride. I am now waiting for the sun to show, it always does, but its arrival keeps getting later and later, as the Solstice approaches. I have no problem riding in the dark, but my plans are to leave after sunrise, and return after sunset.
My bike is leaning against the dining room table, waiting too. A lot of folks think that to be crazy. But I get everything ready, on the bike the night before. You can't just put your bike in the garage after your last ride, and expect to hop on it and ride for hours and more hours in these winter conditions or any conditions for that matter. Seems always something to tweak, or repair, or modify. Last night I worked on sealing up my Bar Mitt covers, cold has been sneaking into them. I made a slight adjustment on my left shoe SPD clip, my heal was sometimes clicking on the crank bolt when pedaling, and that is way to annoying. A shorter stem was installed, my bar position seemed too far out of a reach, and a shorter stem brought it in closer. I lubed my chain, and added Velcro to the bottom of my 'gas tank' pouch on top of the cross bar to keep it from leaning, my night riding light battery is charging, IPOD is charging, camera is charging, I look at Google maps and think about new explorations. I think about the cold forecast and what exactly would be the right combination of clothing. I check tire PSI and on and on and on. Funny I usually won't take 10 minutes to stretch, but will spend hours fiddling on the bike, and a whole bunch more hours riding on the bike.
I check Weather.com and see it is only 8 F out. I like that, there is clothing combinations I want to try out and see how well I can stay warm for many hours of bicycling without freezing, or overheating, often a very thin line of difference.
I have pretty much been following a schedule of 2 or 3 gravel metric centuries on the FatTire bike a week for the last several months. Today after looking at Google Maps I think I'll ride one of my favorite routes which starts out with a series of steep rolling hills on dirt and grassy trails. Sometimes I will fail on climbing one of these hills. My FatTire spins out, or my legs quit and I try to get my feet out of the clips and go down off the bike without crashing. Those that don't do this call this extreme, or crazy, or I'm a health nut. For the life of me, I cannot imagine anyone doing all this if that is what it took to be 'healthy'. I just want to beat those hills, ride all day, enjoy the country side and push myself to there is just enough energy left to sit on the couch, drink beer and feel good about it. Makes perfect sense to me. These pictures are of my last two rides this week. The massacred pumpkins had about a hundred rounds of shotgun shells scattered around them. You can see them laying there in the picture. Target shooting for this weekend's big deer hunt I reckon.
I can't stay here any longer, the sun is up, the bike is ready.
This weekend is the biggest weekend in Iowa hunting. Deer Season. I think some method needs to be in place to trim down the size of the deer herd or there would be millions of them and highway travel would become too dangerous. Deer hunting plays a major role in keeping the size of the herds down.
What I saw today just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I was climbing up a gravel hill and a large buck deer and a doe came flying over the top, then into the ditch and down into a corn field. They looked like they were running for their lives. Next I hear vehicles racing my way I hugged tight to the right side of the road. Four, yes four pickup trucks are now racing over the top of the hill. There were two or three men in camouflaged coveralls and jackets in each truck. These were brave men, they only had semiautomatic shotguns and were not afraid of these two deer. I was glad I was hugging the right side of the road, they weren't looking where they were going. The first truck went into the field in the direction of the two deer, one stopped and two kept going, as fast as they could hold on to a gravel road, I suppose to circle back around. I kept going too, I just wanted to get away from this place, and thought to myself run deer, run, please get away.
I saw blood trails, in many places, deer running wounded. I saw dead deer with their heads removed. Head hunters only wanting a trophy rack. I saw bloody deer in the back of pickup trucks.
It was now getting dark, shadows were as long as they can get before disappearing. I was on the out and back section of today's ride, and was now returning in the opposite direction near the area where I saw the chase. Riding in between two corn fields that were picked, a silhouette of something standing less than 100 feet to my left caught my eye. I was thinking what is a cow doing out here all alone this late in the day? I stopped pedaling, put my feet down and turned my head to get a better look. It was a large buck deer. Severely wounded. I believe he was the large buck being chased by the road warriors. He was standing still and then he looked at me as I was looking at him. He began to move away, his back legs were not working, he could only hop a few inches at a time on only one of his rear legs, and that was slow going. But he was going to move away from me, find a place, lie down, and die alone.