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Posts tagged ‘turtle’

rabbit, fox … and turtle

Some cyclists are fleet like rabbits, some quick or clever like foxes … as for me, I am more like a turtle.  Usually getting waylaid on the side of the road with my camera, and having to be prodded to get moving.  Eventually I manage to get where I am going.

Yesterday we decided to explore some new territory.  I’ve had a local route book on my shelf for almost a year now – (Chattanooga area) Bicycling Routes by Elle Colquitt.  It’s filled with nice maps, cue sheets, and route descriptions for some interesting-looking rides in the Chattanooga area and into north Georgia.  I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t made as much as much use of it as I should.  I tend to be a creature of habit, and end up riding my favorite roads more often than  exploring new ones.  Like I said, I am a turtle.

While many of the routes would (realistically) necessitate driving to some not-so-nearby starting point, one of the routes begins almost out my front door.   It’s called “Chasing Down the Rabbit and the Fox”, named for Rabbit Valley Road and Black Fox Road.

I am guessing that nearly half of the photos on this blog come from points along Rabbit Valley Road and White Oak Valley; they are the roads we tend to ride a lot.  They are beautiful and bicycle friendly.  I have established friendships with many cows along the way. But a good portion of the Black Fox Road side of the loop was new and un-ridden territory for us … so we decided to give it a go.  And I am glad we did.

I would describe the route as very easy – a great leisurely Sunday ride for us turtle-types.  Mostly gently rolling, good pavement, low traffic.  The hillier parts are ones we are already familiar with, on the White Oak Valley side.  One very short “whoop-y” little climb, but otherwise easy on the legs and lovely to the eye.  We ran across several other small groups of cyclists along the way, which makes me believe it is a pretty popular route.  And while I took some photos, I was focussed on taking in the new scenery and enjoying the ride.  So much so that I didn’t pay enough attention to regularly sipping from my water bottles, and ended up with a post-ride sun/dehydration headache.  Dumbness.

The first of April brings another #30daysofbiking to the table.  I applaud several of my friends who are making a go of it again – Myrna, BlueAllez (aka FritterMan), and DIsabled Cyclist.  While I really enjoyed my past experiences with both #30daysofbiking, and my subsequent #330daysofbiking, I have debated about committing to another. I may, I may not.  We’ll see.  At this point, I am not officially putting my name on the list, but may try and keep a Flickr set – one photo from each day.  If I make it through to the end, I may write a post.  Maybe.

Meanwhile, a tip of my cycling cap to my friends – and I wish you all many happy miles and adventures.  For me, silly business as usual … and a few scenes from yesterday.

(Can you spy the cyclist?)

bike the boat

Yesterday I worked; today I played.

Even though it is the first official day of spring, it felt more like summer.  Eighty-plus degrees and sunny.  The heat makes me want to ride to the river, and I figured I may as well try to do a little paddling.  I have a nice set-up to tow my boat with my Xtracycle, and it’s a happy combination to be able to ride and paddle on a beautiful day.

My put-in is just up the road from our house, about 4 miles.  Getting there was a breeze, literally.  Gently rolling with an overall downhill grade, and I had a nice tailwind.  It was definitely the easy part.  Arrived and locked the bike along the guardrail by the bridge, and was reminded again of the mess that has been made of this river by Olin and their mercury dumping – which thankfully will be ending soon, with their commitment to converting the plant to mercury-free processing.

Meanwhile, I still cannot comprehend how people are still willing to fish – and keep their catch – despite the clearly posted warnings of high levels of carcinogens in the fish.  Completely baffles me.  I’ve discussed it with several fishermen before, but I have learned to just keep my mouth shut.  There is no changing their minds; they perceive the risk as negligible.  (And I secretly shudder and shake my head).

I paddled away most of the afternoon, exploring and trying to navigate the very shallow water.   In places, I was paddling in only inches.  The Hiwassee River levels are regulated and controlled by TVA, and at this time of year they don’t typically release water upstream for recreational use in this inlet.  Hence, the lake that is filled and sparkling blue in late spring through summer, is filled with stumps and shoals and islands over the winter and into early spring.   The locals call this inlet Stump Lake.  A fitting name.

Dozens of Great Blue Herons were my company; I love to just sit and watch them fishing in the shallows.  Turtles were out sunning on stumps and logs, but would quietly slip into the water as I raised my camera lens.  One of the fishermen said he had seen a Bald Eagle near the bridge.  Sadly I missed it.   It was peaceful, quiet, and a beautiful afternoon to be on the water … and “pedaling” my arms rather than my legs for a change.

Having had enough sun and with fatigue setting in on my shoulders, I headed for home in the late afternoon – this time against a headwind, with a more uphill grade, requiring a bit more muscle to tow the boat.  I will confess my wimpy-ness by saying it felt good to get home.   Dinner was salad and veggie pizza.  Not fish.  Definitely not fish.

swim, ride, sunflowers … (and a turtle)

riding Mason's bike (thanks, M!)

I am ready for summer to be over with.  The heat has been unbearable.  Dangerous enough for repeated “heat warnings” from the weather service.  It feels kind of ironic that it’s actually more difficult for me to be cycling in the summer than the entire rest of the year.  Lately, it’s been early morning rides – lasting only as long as the morning cool and shadows last.

And lots and lots of time spent underwater.  😉

underwater-cam

Earlier in the week I had a derailleur cable mishap, so I ended up riding Mason’s bike for a few days until I could have mine repaired.  It was kind of a nice change – I didn’t realize how super-light and responsive his bike was compared to my own.  At least it briefly made me feel fast, even though I probably wasn’t … I am truly more like the couple of box turtles that I “rescued” from the road this week.  😉

I can't help stopping and moving them off the road

There is a wonderful field of sunflowers in the neighboring county that I wanted to ride out to and photograph.  How could I not be thinking of images of the Tour and the famous sunflower-and-bicycle shots?  It’s about a 40-mile, two+ hour ride, and I’d been putting it off because of the heat – having no desire to be out that long in triple digit temperatures.  Unfortunately, I waited about a week too long; the heat is still intense, and the sunflower heads are heavy with seeds and drooping.

Dillon and I finally ventured out there, leaving early this morning.  By the time we got to the fields, I attempted a few lame-o shots … but heat index was climbing, we were both dripping in sweat, I couldn’t find the right vantage point, and neither of us felt like spending any more time in the hot sun, which was getting higher and hotter by the minute.  Oh, timing.  Maybe next year?

sunflower fields - Hamilton Co.

It's too hot out here to be messing with more photos, ok?

Next week will bring a change of scenery, a change of bikes … and some different water.  No sunflowers, and probably no turtles.  It will be a surprise.  Meanwhile, stay cool and be safe.

#330daysofbiking Day 56: deliverance

Hey! My handlebar plug is missing?! :-0

Today’s big accomplishments:

  • got out and back before the rains came
  • saved another turtle from certain road peril (or at least I convinced myself that I did)
  • got a new kayak(!) 😀

I moved him ... hopefully in the direction he intended to go

Mark and I got out this morning for a ride – before the rains came.  Passed a box turtle sitting in the road, not moving.  Why do they do this?  The warmth?  Just taking their time?  Deciding direction?  I do not know – but of course I was compelled to deliver him out of harm’s way, and hopefully a little closer to wherever he was headed.

A slight sprinkle on the last mile before home, but nothing like the deluge than came later.  I think I start making Mark crazy with all of my stopping  Move a turtle, a picture here, a picture there.  More flowers. (What can I say? They are eye-catching, they’re everywhere … and yes, they appeal to my girlie side.)

Headed to Chattanooga in the afternoon, looking for a new kayak for the river this summer.  Managed to find a nice little boat, nothing fancy – a sit-upon model designed for fishing, which I think will really suit me well for managing camera gear, etc.  Looking forward to peaceful evening paddles, wildlife watching … and hopefully no banjo music. 😉

... and more flowers (sigh)

#30daysofbiking Day 9: turtles and tulips

share the road

The sun is back, the pavement is warm, and there was a turtle on the road.  No, not me.  Well, kind of ….

About 10 minutes out I spotted this guy sitting perfectly still in the middle of the road.  Perfect basking weather, I know, but not the safest place to be sun-bathing.  So what do I do?  Yep – set my bike down, pull my camera out, and lay flat on my stomach (also in the middle of the road) to take his photo.   Fortunately, neither of us was run over. (There’s really not much traffic on my local bike route in the middle of the day). Pickup truck driver who cautiously passed by at one point looked at me kind of strangely…

Decided to move him off to the side, still in the sun, but hopefully in a less vulnerable spot.  He was little, but a snapper.

Shortly after the turtle stop, I came across (and surprised) two wild turkeys that were also in the middle of the road.  It was a regular zoo out there today! (bad….) Before I could pull out the camera, they ran off – so you are spared at least one wild (redneck) kingdom pic.

I did make one more stop for the tulip.  It was safely off the side of the road, but I thought it was so beautiful I couldn’t resist.  I should probably take fewer pictures and do more serious pedaling … but one of the things I love best about biking is getting to see so many amazing things – things I would never notice if I was driving a car.  It’s great to be out in the world – rather than just driving through it.

I want a bike jersey with these colors ...