While I love to bike in the park, this day I wanted to explore more countryside in the Cedar Forest area. Linda was to be working in the butterfly garden for a couple of hours, and I challenged myself to see how much of the backroads I could cover in the time. Since it was early morning and still cool, I picked my starting roads with plenty of sun to keep me warm. The Richman Shop Road heading east had a few overhanging trees so that I could pedal in the warm sunshine for a couple of miles before a turn onto Dude Lane. I heard the song of the common yellow throat, field sparrow and chipping sparrow along this route.
A gradual upslope taxed my leg muscles till I reached Hurricane Creek Road, but the sighting of a beautiful red-headed woodpecker made the effort worth it. Turning west on the relatively flat backroad made for easy coasting as I looked at the surrounding fields of orange butterfly weed, prairie clover and false dandelion.
When I reached Highway 231, I was happy to find a wide, paved shoulder to take me to the top of a hill in the Vine community where I turned back east on Whippoorwill Road. Most of this route bordered the Cedar Forest preserve and was devoid of houses or fences. Trees crowded the pavement, offering a shady passage which I appreciated after an hour of cycling.
Then turning back toward the park with heavy tree cover on both sides brought the most rewarding sights and sounds of the whole trip. Along it I heard a Kentucky warbler, then my favorite bird the wood thrush, followed by an oven bird. A phoebe flew out of cover to snag an insect on the wing. The downhill coast cooled me off till the shade from the trees on Sue Warren Lane could take over the function. Back in the park, I stopped a few minutes to listen to another wood thrush singing. Linda was still tending the plants when I pulled up, but I reluctantly loaded the bike for the drive home, still wanting to hold on to the sights and sounds of the forest.