Super Harvest Moon

Tonight was a special evening. For the first time in nearly 20 years we had what is known as a “super harvest moon” here in the Northern Hemisphere. A super harvest moon is a full moon that, on the evening of the autumnal equinox, rises in the east as the sun sets in the west.

From the NASA Science website:

The action begins at sunset on Sept 22nd, the last day of northern summer. As the sun sinks in the west, bringing the season to a close, the full Harvest Moon will rise in the east, heralding the start of fall. The two sources of light will mix together to create a kind of 360-degree, summer-autumn twilight glow that is only seen on rare occasions.

It was a lovely evening to be out on a bike soaking it all in.

A Day Tour in Our Own Backyard

Now and then we like to take a break from utility riding to go on a bike ride purely for the enjoyment. These little ‘Day Tours”, as we like to call them, always start at our front door, and usually end up someplace that involves food and perhaps coffee. Between our doorstep and the destination, the goal is to explore the uncharted territory right under our noses, and “get away” without actually getting away in the conventional sense.

This weekend we took a trip to the next town to meet family for lunch and coffee. We chose a route that took the best advantage of quiet backstreets and off street bike paths. Our circuitous route added almost 50% on to the length of our trip, but it was a real adventure that was well worth the extra mileage.

Here we are at one of the trailheads. This particular trail runs along a creek at the base of a ravine that cuts across our town. When riding on this trail, you really feel as if you’re in another world compared to the busy streets overhead.

This is a typical view wherever the trail brushes up against the creek. We stopped along the way to watch the wild ducks frolicking in the pool below. It was a beautiful setting.

This is one end of a bike bridge that crosses the creek. These trails are nicely designed and well-maintained. They may not always connect up where you’d like, and they may not be 100% practical for commuters in terms of efficiency, but for the riders and walkers who take advantage of them, they certainly increase the livability of the community.

This is looking the opposite direction across the same bridge.

This is the I-80 overpass. They’re working on one of the bridges, so the trail was closed in the construction area. We had to backtrack and work our way down to the next freeway overcrossing to continue.

The view from the detour. We were thankful for being on our bikes and not trapped in a steel cage (aka an automobile) on such a beautiful, late summer day.

Our detour took us past the “Cosmos” sculpture. I couldn’t pass up the photo op. I love how the curves in the sculpture mimic the bicycle wheels.

This was a beautiful little park along the trail. It was so nice, we stopped for a moment to enjoy the flowers and a bit of shade.

Our lunch destination.

These rides are always their own reward, but a beautiful cup of espresso never hurt.

Headed home at the end of a fun day tour.

It still always amazes us how much there is to see and do right in our own backyard. All it takes is getting out of the car and taking the time to do a little exploring off of the main roads. Even a half day excursion across town and back can be an adventure when approached with an open mind and a wanderer’s attitude.

Big Sky Country

Just about any old place qualifies as Big Sky Country when you’re on a bike.

Close Encounters of the Dog Kind

I had a little run-in with an Australian Cattle Dog this morning. He had a great time chasing me down the block, pretending I was a steer that needed rounding up. I can’t begrudge the little guy; he was only doing what comes natural. Of course, it would have been better for him and I if his owner had kept in in the yard where he belonged. (In defense, I’ve been riding that route everyday for two years and I’ve never seen him before, so I suspect he’d gotten loose without his guardian’s knowledge.)

To get him off my heels, I used the old “issue a command” technique. It was actually quite funny. When he was close enough to hear me loud-and-clear, I looked back directly into his eyes, and in a firm voice, issued a “sit” command. You’ve never seen a dog shift gears from predator to confused puppy so fast. In that split second I went from being prey to being something that approximated his Boss. He immediately peeled off, walking back to his yard looking dejected and confused.

In all my years of riding all over the countryside, I’ve never had to resort to physical violence to convince a dog to leave me alone. A majority of the time all that was required was continuing to ride a straight line at my existing pace. Most dogs are just responding to their prey instincts and when it becomes obvious that a bicyclist is not prey, they give up the chase.

Following are a few of the techniques I use in my close encounters of the dog kind. I employ these in ascending order based upon the situation:

  • In the case of a small dog I’m sure I can outrun, I accelerate out of reach.
  • In the case of medium to large dogs that I can’t outrun, I keep riding my same pace and hold a straight line. Most dogs just give up after a few seconds.
  • In the case of a persistent dog like my friend this morning, I wait until he gets close enough to hear me clearly and I issue a “sit” command. This works about 95% of the time.
  • If a dog is unresponsive to the “sit” command and comes directly along side, I squirt him with water from my water bottle. This often works well to defuse the situation.
  • If a dog gets into a dangerous position that may cause an accident, I stop and place the bike between me and the dog. Typically, once I stop, the dog backs off. In the rare case where the dog continues to be aggressive, a squirt from the water bottle usually sends him packing.
  • As a last resort measure, I carry pepper spray in my bike bag. In over 40 years of riding bikes in the city, the suburbs, the forest, and on country roads with free-roaming dogs, I’ve never had to resort to using it.

Certainly, encounters with loose dogs can be scary, and even in rare cases, dangerous, but having a plan and a few tricks up your sleeve can go a long way to diffusing an encounter long before it turns into something serious.

[Note: Please don’t submit comments describing or recommending violence against dogs; they won’t be published. —.ed]

Night on the Town

We have a holiday weekend, a couple days off from work, the kids are off doing their own thing, and what do we do for a special night on the town? Ride the bikes up to the grocery store for a fruit pop and stop along the trail to watch the squirrels play tag as the evening light filters through the woods. If you haven’t heard, we’re real party animals. :-)

Are you doing anything special for the holiday? Whatever it is, we’re hoping you’re enjoying summer’s last hurrah as much as we are!

Café Racer

The common definition: A 1950s or 1960s-era style of motorcycle made famous in England by rebellious, rock & roll-inspired riders. These speedy bikes are typified by grand prix-style cues including “clip-on” handlebars, an elongated fuel tank, a small single seat followed by a cowl, and “rearsets,” or foot controls moved rearward. [From]

Our definition: Whatever bicycle you’re riding early on a Sunday morning on the way to your much-needed first cup of coffee at a favorite café.

Everyday Vacations

Even after all these years, every little grocery run or errand that involves a bike and a friend still feels like being on vacation. Who needs exotic travel when you can toodle around town with your sweetheart on a beautiful summer evening? :-)

© 2011 EcoVelo™