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Cycling karma; soaring with turkey vultures

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Jett has a post on his Atlanta Intown Cycling blog entitled “Cycling Karma,” where he posted a serene photo of Winn Park he hopes will make others feel good as well. I’m going to do the same thing here with a few photos; I hope he doesn’t mind my appropriating his term.

Monday night, I rode a modified version of the Water Works ride, adding a jaunt down Shady Side Drive and the Moore’s Creek Road section. There were strong winds, giving me a tailwind on my way out, making the rolling hills a lot of fun — I rode most of the way out in the big chain ring. When I got to the water works plant, I checked my bike computer and saw that I had averaged 18.2 mph to that point … Woah! That’s unheard of, for me.

I took a brief break and rode down Shady Side Drive, where Sarah and I had gone on a drive. It was better than going down the adjacent road to the recreation area, as it doesn’t involve going down a huge hill, turning around, and climbing back up that huge hill. Instead, there are several more gentle hills. It didn’t add a lot of mileage to the ride, but it was a fun extension. I took a few photos of some of the great views.

View of Lake Monroe from Shady Side Drive

Of course, on my way home, that tailwind became a headwind, and it was quite a struggle at times. It was a great workout, though, which I badly needed. Riding the Moore’s Creek Road section was fantastic. I accelerated as I approached the hill, and picked up more and more speed. I did a little braking that I probably didn’t need to do, but I’m still gaining confidence. As I coasted downhill, my eyes watered, and tears started streaming from my eyes. Tears weren’t streaming down my face so much as straight back due to the wind at high speed. I even experienced that weightless-stomach feeling that you get sometimes in a car, almost as if I was about to take off in flight. It felt like I was no longer riding on the road — I was floating above it. I stopped by the lake to rest again and take a few more photos.

A great place to rest before a big climb.

Another part of the view, without the bike

What comes down must go up (right?) so I had a climb ahead of me. I took it slow and steady and made it all the way up without stopping. It’s a long climb, with a pretty long steep section, so it felt great to make it all the way up. The rest of my ride was still tough, due to the wind, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Last night, I rode Mount Gilead Road, and as I came around a turn, I saw two turkey vultures feeding on some roadkill. I kept my speed, and they let me get a lot closer than I expected before they took off. They flew into the air, and I stood up out of the saddle and was able to stay with them for a couple hundred yards, until they turned around and went back to finish their meal. Turkey vultures may be ugly up close, but the way they soar can be awesome — especially when you get to soar with them from only 20 feet away.

I got a photo of the old couple I routinely see walking during my commute yesterday morning. It’s not the greatest photo, but you can see her smiling and him waving (sort of).

Something to aspire to
Something to aspire to

I was running a little late this morning and didn’t see them. I guess they’re more consistent with their walking time than I am getting to work.

6 Responses to “Cycling karma; soaring with turkey vultures”

  1. furiousball Says:

    Beautiful ride. I like seeing older couples walking closely together, it’s one of those things that gives us a little hope that we aren’t all going shoot each other or something

  2. Marty Says:

    Sounds like a great ride – and the pictures are fantastic. Zen biking moments are to be savored, to be sure.

    And turkey vultures are always ugly – but you do have to have a grudging respect for their form when they are airborne – they’re not quite condors, but they do have that ‘thunderbird’ mystique.

  3. Jett Says:

    Great photos. I really get a sense for the change of elevation. Keep them coming.

    My wife and I are coming up on 20 years next month. These two have probably hit fifty and look like they’ve got many more ahead of them. You’ve got a good eye for what would make an interesting photo.

    I do not mind at all that you’re using the term Cycling Karma. Good Karma is good to spread and I hope it keeps going.

    18.2! I’ve had about 2 rides where I’ve sustained that speed and both times we had multiple people pulling the pace line.

  4. MRMacrum Says:

    In Baltimore where I went to college, one of the city resevoirs, Loch Raven, seemed to be a turkey vulture magnet. Whenever I drove, walked or biked out that way, I would encounter 20 to 30 or so in different areas around the resevoir. They are indeed great flyers. I loved watching them catch the thermals.

    Fast dorward to here and now. Less than 2 miles from my house on Square Pond, a nesting pair of Bald Eagles have been in residence for at least 7 years. One of our favorite ice rides in the winter is to ride across the lake and check them out. Amazing birds.

    To tie into your “cycling karma”, often when I am “in the zone” on my bike, I will think of them and have an inkling of what their flights must be like. To bad I am more often “out of the zone” than in it.

    Here is a write up about the bald headed duo from my blog -http://thefilecabinet.blogspot.com/2006/02/good-neighbors.html. Not sure if link will work. That was my first attempt. The address is right though.

  5. John Says:

    There are many many things that I have been passing, and places I have been, that a didn’t see till I went by on my bike. Thats why I always have a camera with me now. I had to go to a premium photobucket account because there are so many photos.

  6. Jett Says:

    MRMacrum, good tie into the cycling karma. Good feelings can be created out of almost nothing.

    When I was a kid on a bike, I was a fighter pilot darting through the air, changing direction at whim and always accelerating or decelerating. I’m not as nimble on my road bike, but still enjoy moving through air and leaning in and out of turns. It’s as close to flying that I think I’ll ever get.

    I’ve sighted large birds such as the buzzards and eagles, and more frequently hawks, but nothing matches the experience you described on your post.

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