30 June 2011

Bike-commute day 46—to work

Thursday, 30 June 2011.

The day started with a bad omen: I forgot my backpack, had to turn around to retrieve it, remove my helmet to reach the house keys around my neck, and return to the ride by doubling back through two blocks. But the omen was false. The only other problem was the crowds of Canadian geese who were commuting en masse along the banks of the Miami River at the confluence from the Mad River. These commuters are a messy bunch. You can always tell when they've been around.

As I approached Riverscape from the Monument Avenue bridge, a gaggle of geese waddled with some haste down the grassy bank, on a tear to beat me to the bikeway on the river's edge. Before the leaders reached the concrete path, I called out "Hup! Hup!" The first geese halted. I continued, calling "Hup!" frequently. All but a few of the 3 dozen geese stopped short of the bikeway, and I passed by without problem.

Not 100 yards distant was another gaggle. This time, all were resting well in full occupation of the bikeway. Have I found the Dayton Tahrir Square? Why do these interlopers feel such a birthright to the bikeway? were my thoughts as I slowed and resumed my warning barks to clear a path through them. Then just before the fountain jets, another gaggle, this time with two- and three-month-old goslings learning their rights as squatters.

I've found the Canadian geese, Branta canadensis, typically rest within sight of water, and they avoid locations that fail to provide for a quick flight either over or away from the water. (For example, seldom do I find geese at the concrete-walled bikeway below the YMCA, at the curve around the meadow near the Findlay Avenue bridge, or on the plateau between the Findlay Avenue bridge and the end of East Monument Avenue. And never on the bikeway from Eastwood Park south to the Iron Horse Trail.) Some exceptions may be larger expanses of asphalt parking areas, which may be mistaken for still waters from the air. It seems that a grass barrier about three feet tall at the water's edge is enough to make the geese feel uncomfortably distant from the water body.

The geese around Dayton are no longer migratory. I've seen one male with an injured wing for at least three years, year-round. The same pair of geese has taken the Kodak parking lot for three years as a favorite location for their annual brood of three to seven goslings.

It is indeed correct that Canadian geese are a protected species, and killing or capturing them is a felony. [Note on 2011.09.13: My information here dates from a publication of 1996. Since writing this, I found that Canadian geese are allowed early, fall, and winter hunting seasons in Ohio. The hunting must be licensed and along strict guidelines. The season dates vary by year and location.] Occasional exemptions have been granted to states and other jurisdictions to cull an exceptionally overgrown population. If only, I think each Thanksgiving, I could have roast goose for dinner!

Much further into the commute, I found Gladys and Millie on their daily excursion, joined by a third woman. I slowed to talk, pedalling slowly as they introduced me to their visitor from North Carolina, Ethel.

Ride conditions
Temperature: 59 to 64°F at 07:10
Precipitation: none
Winds: calm
Clothing: Skinsuit, ankle socks, open-finger gloves.
Bike: Lotus Legend fixed gear
Time:  00:44:16 for 12.23 miles
Heart rate: 131 bpm HRave, 160 bpm* HRmax
Bikeway users: 7 cyclists, 12 pedestrians
Here is a playback of the ride.

* False report of "176" to "193" for 14 seconds.

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