Musings from the flatlands

On my first visit back to Illinois since the tornado turned my parents’ neighborhood into toothpicks, I thought I was going to have Opinions. I would share those Opinions here, going on a tirade about, presumably, the foolish folly of man against nature. The biggest surprise of being back here is that I don’t have an Opinion, let alone Opinions.

Riding around the neighborhood, some houses are aesthetically repaired to their original big-box-store perfection. Others, just two doors down, have holes in their roofs and entire walls hanging precariously off. The juxtaposition is bizarre.

From the saddle of my beautiful borrowed bicycle (a loaner from the local bike shop – the Specialized Ruby), there’s nothing to say that Robert Frost hasn’t already said: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Yesterday I watched a rabbit take shelter from the rain under the neighbor’s red Honda.

Whether we rebuild or not, life goes on.

On an entirely separate note Dad bought me my first pair of cycling shoes as a “thank you” for finally buying my own car and therefore getting off his car insurance. The shoes (Specialized) match my black and purple Louis Garneau kit. I’m That Cyclist now, and I have no intention to apologize for it.

Now I need a bike rack so that I can transport the bike somewhere that isn’t uphill in every direction.


Can’t take the mountains out of the girl

Liz here, reporting from Central Illinois. This might be the opposite of the slackcountry.Illinois sky

Out here, the geography is flattened, pounded low by a heavenly mallet. Corn fields alternate with soybean fields while the extent of biodiversity appears to be the sporadic inclusion of wheat, rye, and hay. The rainy spring meant for late planting. The corn is only up to my knees, its long leaves trembling in the near-constant breeze.

I’m not fond of this topography. I long for the rambling hills back home (rather, the rambling hills of anywhere else), but I’m here now. So I’m making the most of it by mounting up and going for long rides down straight roads.

My dad is big into bicycling these days, and I must have caught the bug from him. In Burlington, cycling makes sense as a means to an end – a fast way to get around town. Out here, cycling is the chance to experience the subtle shifts in geography from a different perspective. What from a car looks straight and flat is really lightly curved and undulating under the hot, edgeless sky.

Father's Day ride in central IllinoisI’ve done well over a hundred miles since I flew in last Friday, logging time with my father after work and with some of his cycling buddies while he’s away. Father-daughter bonding time well spent (although I’m getting real sick and tired off all this heat. I don’t mind pain, but I can’t stand being warm!).

I timed my yearly trip perfectly. Monday, the local bike shop hosted a Liv/Giant event bringing cycling women together for test rides and a little bicycle maintenance 101. I took a spin on one of these beauties: the Avail Advanced. Between that and joy rides on Dad’s Roubaix, I’m afraid I’ll have a hard time transitioning back to my darling cyclocross.

Oh well. At least I’m not stuck inside.