The sun was out and the temperatures were rising, one of the last few nice days of fall before the cool down. Travis and I had altered our Tuesday plans; my grandma Smith passed away on Monday (10/07/13). Instead of a mountain bike adventure, Travis thought a ride to Bluffton in memory of my grandma would be more fitting. It was a ride we had originally intended for our year anniversary. However, my major biff reduced that idea to merely a dream, until today.
The temperatures had risen and it was becoming a very beautiful, comfortable and sunny fall day. Originally we were planning on several layers, but by the time we left my house all that was needed were shorts and a short-sleeved jersey. I’ll admit, when the wind blew on us for the first bit of our trip and I felt chilly. However, after a period of time your body temperature rises and you find yourself feeling very comfortable.
We headed out on old 52 and continued north on hwy 52 until passing Nob Hill and took 211 Ave. on the left. When we got onto the gravel road of 311th St. we took a long, not supposed to be so rocky, downhill venture on 226th avenue. 226th avenue is what people would call an un-maintained road, however, when we started down the hill it turns out that the county must’ve grated it. Instead of the smooth hill that I could potentially go down fast, the dirt was soft and loose and there were plenty of big rocks to be found.
I can’t tell you how hard of a grip I had on the handles of my bike, I was white-knuckling it all the way down! Sure, I’ve ridden down Rocky Road, but this was something else! I had sunglasses on and found that it wasn’t easy to distinguish sun dapples from rocks. The minute I encountered a smooth section; the next second there were rocks and ruts. I had my fingers on my brake levers, doing my best to not squeeze them too hard. Last thing I wanted to do was hit a rock and go over my bars or some other calamity that would be equally un-fun.
I told Travis a ways back to just keep going; I would catch up. I couldn’t go as fast as him, I was simply too inexperienced and too nervous. I couldn’t tell if the wind made my eyes water or if nervous tears truly formed in the corners. (My bet is the wind for I wear contacts.) I finally came to a smooth patch that didn’t end in mere seconds and allowed myself to coast down it. I didn’t pedal downhill, for I wasn’t sure if the bumpy ride was truly over or not. I made it to the bottom in one piece; a patiently waiting Travis asked “How was that?” I shuddered a little and replied “It was okay.” Honestly? Rocky Road felt better to me than that road; ultimately I came out unscathed minus tense shoulder muscles.
I took the opportunity at the bottom of the road to rest a bit and break out my camera. I love taking pictures of fall leaves, even tho they weren’t showing their most splendid colors. After I had a breather and was satisfied with inflicting Travis with at least one “couples shot” we went on our way. We took a right on Scenic River Road, where apparently I ran over a small snake. Don’t worry, folks! The snake was very much alive and slithered off into the grass, forbidding a picture to be taken. From there we went to 320th st. and turned left to go across the iron bridge.
On the bridge I took a few more pictures and took simple pleasure in looking at the scenery and holding in my heart, the memory of my grandma. She was a strong woman with simple needs and simple wants and who loved to be outdoors. Of course a truck came by and disrupted the meditative moment, and that spurred us to keep on our journey.
We continued our way to Bluffton and once reaching our destination, stopped at Randy’s Bluffton store. The man was kind, and asked us if we were from Decorah and then what we wanted to drink. Of course, I would’ve loved to have a cold beer to sip on, but I asked for water instead. We ordered our lunch aka “riding fuel” of two cheeseburgers and a shared order of cheese curds. I’ll tell you what; the food tasted pretty darn amazing. The burger was juicy and the bun was toasted; simple touches to make you feel nostalgic.
We eventually left the store and I asked for yet another picture to be taken (Travis would say this is because I’m a girl.) and we went on our way. We decided to ride the blacktop to Pole Line road and back to town. It was not the easiest ride in the whole world, not in the slightest! The wind was strong that day, and several times I swore it wanted to punish us. There were some epic hill climbs; the best parts were going fast downhill. On one downhill I managed to easily catch up to Travis and almost overtake him! It was exhilarating and fun! After all of that we arrived safely in town; perhaps a bit out of breath, but overall in good spirits.
Several good things came of our ride that day, one of which was that I actually was able to go on the ride. Two was that I got to spend the day celebrating a woman who played an important part in my life, as well as start the healing process of the loss. The ride Travis and I shared was beyond quality time; it prepared my heart and soul for the next steps of that week and future days.