|The Raccoon River Valley Trail: Redfield, Iowa|
Or would you rather be reading Jane Austen?
I was in training for a 10K and couldn't imagine why. Were any of my friends doing this? No, they were in air-conditioned living rooms reading The Cider House Rules, watching Masterpiece Theater, or eating takeout pizza. I finished several 10Ks that summer, encouraged by my husband. I was curiously proud of myself, because so unathletic was I that my gym teachers had even corrected my jump-roping. Yes, I jumped too high (like Icarus, flying too near the sun, I presume) but now I was one of hundreds running the Don't Fall Run, The Freedom Run, and God Know What the Others Were Called.
So thanks to my husband for improved athletic self-esteem.
Then there was the biking.
I agreed to accompany him on a 400-mile bicycle trip. How hard could it be? I could ride. There was training: overnight trips carrying tents and sleeping bags and such on the back of the bike. Then there was the trip. Was it fun? If you consider bicycling up mountains, eating variations on the HUNGRY BICYCLIST SPECIAL at diners three times a day (steak, eggs, and pancakes), and crashing in a tent at 6 p.m. outside of Natalie Merchant's hometown (Jamestown, NY) because bugs were circling the campfire, then fun it was!
I do like bicycling, in a low-key kind of way. On summer weekends I enjoy our bicycle trips. The landscape is pretty, it's nice being outdoors, and pedaling for a few hours is a good way of clearing the detritus out of your mind.
My routine with my sprained foot has been: limp out the door, get on bicycle, and glide to wherever I have to go. Amazingly it hasn't hurt my foot to pedal.
THE WEEKEND RIDE. Yesterday we rode 32 miles on the Raccoon River Valley Trail. The rail trail extends 56 miles from Clive to Jefferson, and, per usual in Iowa, goes through woods and farmland. The stretch from Waukee to Adel is beautiful and soothing: a few miles of prairie, then a cool downhill for some miles through the woods. If you want to stop at Adel (population: 3,682), you can ride to the town square, eat in a fancy restaurant, or go to the public library. Then the next stretch is mostly downhill to Redfield (pop: 833), a smaller town but a bicycling hub, with a renovated depot for bicyclists.
Of course it's all uphill on the way back.