That I live in the most beautiful place in the United States to ride a bike. They’ll all want to move here.
Sweeping downhills that are like carving linked Telemark turns in fresh powder; steep climbs through wooded hills that shade you from the hot sun; ridge top vistas that go on for miles; shaded creek side valleys; the golden light of late afternoon casting long shadows. The word “green” doesn’t do justice to the array of colors: corn, soybeans, alfalfa, mixed grasses, oaks, maples – a panorama of color, all of which we call “green”.
The names of the town roads tell us what we’ll see – “Enchanted Valley”, “Table Bluff” (a hill so steep it’s like falling off a table – unless you’re going up), “Far View”. Or they tell us the history – “Old Settlers Road”, “Indian Trail”. Or specifically white people’s history, with the names of the first Europeans who lived where this road leads, or the first settlement in the area. These are roads that no one drives on unless they live here.
The area west of here is known as the Driftless Area because during the several ice ages in which this part of the world was covered by glaciers, every glacier missed that area. Instead of gently rolling hills and broad valleys, there are steep hills and deep ravines, becoming more rugged as you approach the Mississippi River.
A phone camera photo doesn’t do it justice. A GoPro camera so you can see what I see might do it. But video doesn’t show you what I feel – the sheer joy, the shit-eating grin, the conversation with old friends that has to pause if a car comes by, or when we get separated on a hill, picked up minutes later like there was no pause.
When you wave to the driver of a pickup truck, he waves back. The trucks here belong to real farmers who use them for real work, not poseurs whose trucks are for show and never get dirty.
We pass a small herd of cattle – Jersey, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, not a Holstein among them – lounging in the sun as we climb a hill that we will descend at the end of the day, careful not to smile too broadly and get bugs in our teeth.
The temperature is in the 70s, no wind, dew point around 50 so no humidity, the sun is shining – the world is perfect.
But maybe where you live and ride is the most beautiful place, too…