Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July (2011) – Bike Ride

The morning of the Fourth of July, 2011, was absolutely ideal for bike riding – warm and sunny, and due to the holiday, not much traffic on the roads.

So I got up early, did some stretches, had a little breakfast, and was on the road by 6:50am.

From my little town in Colorado I rode north a dozen or so miles, turned west, and reached a hamlet called Niwot – which was kind of, sort of, but not really, my destination.

Niwot, as far as I can tell, consists mostly of modern homes in modern suburbs. But I'm totally drawn to its quaint, four-or-five block Olde Town.

Once upon a time there was a newspaper there,  the Niwot Tribune. They've kept the name on the front of its building, but the paper is long gone. You can't see it in this photo, but there's a "For Rent" sign in the window. It fires my fantasies: I'll rent the place and start publishing the Tribune once again. Buy one of those green visors old-time newspaper guys used to wear (in the movies at least). Expose local corruption, personal safety be damned.

Just up the street from the Trib, I found a woman painting whatever she was painting. Actually she isn't painting; she's using these crayon-like things, or a kind of chalk. I asked if she'd let me take her picture and she said sure.

"I hope this is a commissioned work," I said.

"Oh, no!" she laughed. "I'm just getting a little work done while I can. I love this morning light."

A few more pleasantries, a few more photos, and I was on my way.

This part of Niwot is really small, and I was out of town in another few minutes. Crossed over the Diagonal Highway and got into my favorite part of this route – wide open spaces, farmland, ponds. The warbling of the meadowlark. Passed a body of water and saw a group of American White Pelicans floating around.

I've seen these long-beaked birds from a distance, but never very up-close. The photos I got on this ride were still from a distance. I saw the pelicans and wheeled my bike around for a better look. One was very close to the shoreline, but I must have spooked it, because it began swimming out toward the middle right away. The photo at left is the best I got, but it's just a detail, as you can perhaps tell from its graininess.

A few months ago I got pictures of an old school building I often pass. The photo in a May 10 blog post was taken in the early afternoon, when the light is not at all favorable. I've been meaning to get back for some more photos, and on this Fourth of July ride, I finally did.

I took the photo at right around 8:30 in the morning. This is the Valmont School, built in 1911 according to an inscription in the masonry over the front door. A lovely old school. I hope the preservationists find a way to protect it when developers come along, and say this is an ideal site for a new Starbucks.

By this time my ride was nearing its end. I had about half an hour to go and didn't stop for any more photos.

It was nearly a perfect ride. Given my druthers, I'd have taken the ride later in the day. I'm perverse enough to enjoy cycling in scorching hot temperatures, and by early afternoon it had reached 102 degrees, according to the Weather Underground. Maybe next time.

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