Thursday, May 30, 2013

Getting My Hands Dirty

Despite the 22 mph winds yesterday, I pedaled my way to 51 miles. When I started out, the wind was out of the SW, so I headed west, thinking I'd have a nice, somewhat of a wind at my back for the return ride. Sounded good, but the wind didn't cooperate. After 25 miles into what was mostly a headwind, I turned around to find the wind had shifted to be a straight out of the south crosswind. By mile 44, I was toast. But, I managed to get 51 miles logged, and the fatigue felt really, really good, so I reveled in my winning the battle against the wind all evening, as I watched the Blackhawks win in overtime against the Redwings.

My plan to get out again today most likely won't happen. The wind is still at it, more so than yesterday it seems. I just can't get excited about cycling into 25 mph winds today. With my self-supported ride nearing, along with the ride with the Northern Tier group through Indiana and Illinois, I'm afraid I won't be physically ready to tackle the daily mileage. I've not ridden anywhere close to what I rode last year right up to the day we left out of Yorktown. Instead, I've been gardening and making things. Not exactly the kind of prep work required to be able to cycle an average of 65 miles a day. It is what it is, though, and I know I'll muddle through.

What I am excited about right now is my garden. Everything is growing! I was fearful the amount of rain we've had over the last three weeks would create problems, but so far all of my plants look good. My grapes are creeping over the trellis I put up for them. This is one of my favorite pieces to the garden. I am so looking forward to what it looks like when it's completely covered by the grapevines. I do have a new branch growing in the opposite direction of the trellis, towards the fence in the background. Not quite sure what to do about that, maybe get another cattle fencing panel to go up and over the wood fence. That might be kind of cool. 

My strawberries are ripening now. While I had decided to remove the entire strawberry patch, I just couldn't bring myself to take out what might end up being a really, really good harvest. I ended up weeding it thoroughly. The amount of runners this year has created a very thick, plush patch. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to pick enough strawberries to freeze some or maybe even make some strawberry preserves. At the very least, I should be able to make strawberry shortcake for dessert all through June.

Then there's the raspberries. The vines are chock full of emerging berries. Like with the strawberries, I'd love to be able to freeze some or make preserves. How wonderful would it be to open the freezer in the cold of January and pull out some tasty raspberries to eat on hot pancakes or in a steaming bowl of oatmeal? Yum. Another idea (sparked by thinking about pancakes) is to make raspberry syrup. See, this is exactly why I've not gotten a lot of cycling miles in--just too many fun things to work on, like finding a good raspberry syrup recipe to have on hand once the berries are ripe!

All of the gardening has given me permanent dirty fingernails. I try to clean them every night, but I've become like one of those guys working in a garage, whose fingernails are constantly stained with grease and oil. I don't mind so much; my dirty hands are helping grow food. That's a good feeling.

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