Sunday, December 9, 2018

Return to Gilligan's Island

The beach is iced out!  At least there are no trucks stuck out there.

Busy day yesterday was.  I had one opportunity to get out for a quick ride.  For whatever reason I had the desire to take the Verenti out to the off road trails on the north bank of the Des Moines River.  Been there at least once and that was on a fatbike.  This time a disc braked roadie with a set of 38s.  The terrain is flat and the trails were created by decades of motorcycles and 4WD trucks.  Original 2014 Ride

The place I rode is the triangle wooded area to left of the pond and the highway 69 (SE 14th).  The strip of land in the middle of the pond holds a rail bridge.
Access to the trails is found just off SE 14th, highway 69 on the river's edge and the old recycling plant.  I took the easy route by taking the Des Moines River Trail to go under SE 14th and access the sidewalk to cross the river.  Lots of broken glass beer bottles to dodge and little room for the dodging but it is a mercifully short jaunt.  Once across the river I rode along the levee until the paved river access appeared.  This I assume is for boat access.  Often from the other side of the the river I see people fishing here.  The powers that be even provide a kybo for nature's call. 

I don't think they were fishing today.  There was the proverbial "van down by the river" parked there and two other trucks.  I was greeted by two barking dogs that charged me but their owner told them to stop barking and they did.  No chase was offered.

The ground was a bit muddy.  I thought it would be hard because it was a cold morning and not above freezing yet.  Must have been the sun warming up the high river bank.  One bad move and into the river I would have gone.  Into the trees and away from the bank the trail was dry.  A bit sandy in places from the summer's flooding and covered with leaves.  The track was wide from truck use..  Nothing technical, just watch out for logs and large sticks and logs and sandy dips. 

Abandoned tent.  I wish I would have photographed the metal shelters but there were people around them.
Things have changed since that Easter Sunday a few years ago.  A lot more homeless people have moved here.  Far from the eyesight of the City and its inhabitants they can live here without the being told to move out.  None of those white and red signs posted telling the homeless that they are in violation of code and their meager belongings will be taken away and their shelters be torn down.  There are several abandoned tents and the accompanying debris of urban frontier living.  But I also saw larger structures built using metal sheets and tarps.  These look to be a better place to call home than a tent.  I said nothing and resisted the urge to take photos.  I was glad that I left my helmet at home and wore a dark jacket.  No need to stand out in full kit like some privileged bastard in these parts.  Blend in.  I was hoping that these people may have heard of the Urban Food Ministry and cut me some slack because I was riding a bicycle.  I also hope that the UFM reads this. 

The shell of a Mustang.  All combustible material burned.  Lots of tire tracks in this area.

Motor is there for the taking.  If this was an extremely rare car and someone had a lot of stupid money I suppose it could be restored like an airplane recovered 70 years after a crash.
My reason for choosing this area was to see if any new GeoCouches and SUV were abandoned here.  As noted in my first write up on this area, this is the place where SUVs come to die, usually bashed and burned.  Nothing new except a SN95 New Edge Mustang (1994 to 2004) in ruins.  Another immolation to Moloch. 

The Blazer or Jimmy.  Last time there were children's toys in back of it.  I did not look today.
The Blazer was still resting near the eagle nest.  If it was possible, which it was, it looked worse.  This vehicle is visible from the DSM River Trail across the river.  I recall that it was a red SUV but now all the paint is gone, just a rusty shell with it's motor underneath where the hood was.

Eagles nest.
The view of the eagles nest and Blazer from the Des Moines River Trail.
Zoom shot.
Eagle in flight.  This is a great trail to see eagles.  The colder it is the more eagles there are.  A juvenile was in this area as well.

Sitting above the Des Moines River Trail.  I need a real camera.
The eagle nest it still there and active.  This looks so huge from the trail but smaller when underneath it.  While on that trail I stop and look at it.  Its occupants often being sentinels on nearby branches and one protecting the eggs.  On this ride an eagle was flying in the area. 

I bet it taste like Budweiser. 
I reached the beach so to say, the place where the lagoon begins.  Last time I walked on it and saw a man waiting for his buddy to arrive to pull his 4WD full size truck out.  This is where the pile of bicycles were burned.  Here's the link to what I saw here in four years prior Fire of Children Bicycles 2014 Ride  The water and ice were high so I stayed up and could hear the ice crack.  Two cans of Guatemalan beer were littered here.  Where does one in Iowa get Guatemalan cerveza?  Cool label, almost thought it was University of Iowa.  I heard someone moving around in a tent so i decided to leave.  On my way out one of the dogs greeted me again.  Barked a few times and stared away to the east.  Brown and white he looked to be of retriever origin and old.  Probably a nice dog.  Glad his companion was not around as it looked to be more of a guardian dog pedigree, pit bull.  He was the more vicious barked when I entered this area.  The dog did not follow me and I took a different route out to avoid the dog and people at the boat ramp.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Deadly Roads in Iowa Before Winter Hit

This is merely what was printed in the Des Moines Register, the newspaper Iowa depends on, from Thanksgiving through the weekend.  Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday editions November 22nd through the 25th, 2018.  Not included is what happened the following week such as a car driven at high speed crashing into a taco place or a car crashing into a pond.  This is just a peak into how bad drivers really are.  The snow storm hit on Sunday after the paper was printed and delivered.

Not safe to leave Iowa either!

Henry J's Tacos Closed After Driver Crashes Car Into Building

Medical Issue Causes Driver to Sink Car in Pond

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Coffeeneuring 2018

This is my submission to the 2018 Coffeeneuring Challenge.  This is my fourth challenge.  I love coffee and I love bicycles.  Combining both with the one I love, my wife, is my intention.  My theme within this theme is the iced breve, specifically, three shots of espresso over ice and the rest of the cup filled with half and half.  This drink is so smooth and rich that sugar is nor required.  Finding the best one in the seven coffee shop visits is what I am aiming for.

Curious about what coffeeneuring is?  It is a bicycle ride that is at least 2 miles in total length that involves drinking coffee somewhere.  For the official rules and a better explanation please click on this link  2018 Coffeeneuring Challenge Official Details

1.   Plain Talk Books & Coffee
      October 13, 2018
      3 shots over ice fill the rest with half and half
      short jaunt over the river to the East Village
      4.8 miles

Our single speeds

Even Kylo Ren likes Plain Talk

It was a chilly morning made worse by our broken furnace.  Fix It Man was due on Monday and that was OK since it was not going to be very cold.  We rode our single speeds.  Located in the Historic East Village of Des Moines, Iowa, near the Capitol building of Iowa.  Nice older building.  The first thing that hit us was that their heat was on.  Mary and I looked at each other and mailed and exclaimed "they have heat!"  We ordered our usuals, Mary an iced vanilla latte and me what I think should be called an iced breve with an extra shot.  Unfortunately, I have to explain this to baristas otherwise they get it wrong, a traditional breve or only a few ice cubes.  So I always make eye contact and spell it out. "In a 16 oz cup filled over the top with ice, three shots of espresso and fill the rest with half and half."  Some baristas are glad and compliment me, others try to suggest a proper name for it.  Others are snobs.  Don't judge.  I got the idea from comedian Marc Maron and since I am a barista myself at a financial institution I drink one every morning.

2.   St Kilda Cafe & Bakery

     Des Moines, Iowa
     October 18, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     cross the Green bridge and roll over the hump and down the road
     2 miles

St Kilda.  I had someone steal my light off a bike at a nearby store so now I bring them in.  The cream pitcher is what the Simple Sugar was served in.

St Kilda is an Australian style cafe located on the southern edge of downtown.  This cafe is the      "fanciest" place we will visit for the 2018 Coffeeneuring challenge.  This was a stop for the 2017    challenge.  This was our first time back since then.  We went there after dinner.   Coffee to              prevent  us from falling asleep too early.  I ordered my usual, notice a theme starting?    Mary  usually orders an iced vanilla latte but to our surprise vanilla latte was not an option.  In fact, no flavored lattes were available.  The server suggested that she could get maple syrup or "simple sugar" which is raw brown sugar mixed with water.  She chose the latter and hated it.  Mary does not like coffee unless the coffee taste is covered up hence the vanilla lattes.  She did not like this.  I had to hear about it for most of the evening.  It even upset her stomach.  Mine was good.  Definitely a darker roast, smooth yet hardy.  Both were served in real glasses.  Had to ask for straws.  Water was served to us as well albeit warm and without ice.

3.   Reising Sun Cafe
      Polk City, Iowa
      October 20, 2018
      3 shot iced breve
      20+ mph headwind all the way there
      43 miles

Our touring tandem.  For about 2 decades this bike had 26x1.5 tires, now 26x2.1.  It came with 26x2.2 back in 1991.

My motto!

The darker is the Almond Joy latte.  Mary enjoyed it.
Polk City is a town north of our city on the Neal Smith Trail.  It is also just a few quiet miles off the ever popular High Trestle Trail.  For years we have used it as a place to refuel.  There is a Subway, a large convenience store and two bars.  But lately we have made it a destination town.  On the square there is Papa's Pizzeria, Fender's Brewing and for our purposes on this date Reising Sun Cafe.  We used all three locations.

Simple plan:  leave house by 9 am, drink our coffee the go to the brewpub to watch the Iowa football game.  ISSUES Decided to take the tandem since we have a gravel and minimum maintenance road camping expedition.  The tandem has been sitting in storage since August 2015 and received new tires and a new middle chainring the night before,  Needed a shakedown cruise.  Bike was ready at 9 am but I had to put panniers on it and that cost 20 minutes.  SECOND  massive headwind at 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph all the way to Polk City.  Brutal wind but it would be a tailwind.  We were late.  Third  We did not eat before the ride.  I drank a pot of coffee at home.  After visiting the cafe I was shaking.

The coffee shop is located on the south side of the square.  No bicycle parking so I leaned it along the bench.  Too cold and windy to sit outside anyway.  Tables and a corner of comfortable couches and chairs.  That's where we sat.  Food was available such as soup and sandwiches and breakfast items.  We had a package of cookies.  I ordered my usual and Mary order the Almond Joy iced latte which was far to sweet for me.  Mine was definitely a light roast as the caffeine content probably started my jitters.  It was smooth and tasty but not the darker roasts I have received elsewhere.  Unfortunately, it was pushing 1 pm and the game started at 11 am so I was in too much of a hurry to thoroughly enjoy the experience.  Plus we needed to order the pizza.


     Des Moines, IA
     October 21, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     cross the Green Bridge and roll over the hump
     3 miles

Finally remembered to bring my Coffeeneuring swag!

This is our usual weekend morning ride.  DSM Brew is located next to Fuzzy Tacos.  Mary goes and get the breakfast tacos and I order the coffee.  We sit outside and eat and drink.  Now it is cold so we eat at Fuzzy's and then go to DSM Brew.  The cafe is quiet and has local art on the walls with a monthly rotation.  I have been purchasing beans there for my home brew.  Beer, wine and gelato is available.  My coffee has a nice smooth roast.  Mary gets the iced vanilla latte or tea.  Today we met friends at Fuzzy's and had them go next door with us for coffee.  The Des Moines Marathon was going on and the runners were in our view which made the atmosphere more festive.

5.   Zanzibar Coffee Adventure

     Des Moines, Iowa
     October 28, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     urban sidepath, streets and bike lanes
     6 miles

I love the look of  espresso mixing with the cream!

Giant cup of Joe on the roof!  Our bikes in the corner.

paper straw
Fought a 30 mph wind to get there but enjoyed the jet stream push home.  According to this blog I stopped here for Coffeeneuring back in 2016.  This visit is my second visit ever.  Why a 2 year gap?  Just not on my travel path.  It could be because it is on Ingersoll Ave with a bike lane and just up the road from Zzz Records, a fave spot for my vinyl addiction.  But there are closer cafes and I hate the intersection of  MLK and Ingersoll because of the location of the bike lane puts cyclists at the risk of a right hook.  I don't care about the DO NOT TURN light, hard to see a light while staring at a phone while driving.  Enough of that.  Suffice to say that we had a head wind all the way there and did not get killed at the intersection.

The coffee.  Mary had an iced tea.  She is suffering from a stomach bug that aborted our gravel ride camping adventure the day before.  She had a hard time keeping up in the wind.  I kept with my theme of the 3 shot breve.  The barista smiled as I explained how to make it and when I said I don't know what it is called she looked up and said we'll just call it a "Chris."   We opted to sit outside since the place was very warm.  It could have seemed hot because we just rode there with the "fan" on high.  There are benches but no bicycle rack, the only negative comment I will make about Zanzibar.   It was a nice brew, flavorful and not overly roasted.  Served with a paper straw.  Never used such a straw before.  The straw lasted for the entire drink but was showing its demise toward the end as the structural integrity was failing in the middle.

The place was almost full but at least one table was empty.  Glad to see them doing well on a Sunday.  My Director of Operations at work buys beans to roast from here.  That is an endorsement!

6.   Ritual Cafe

     Des Moines, IA
     November 3, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     mix of streets and sidepaths and trail
     4+ miles


Bike racks right out front!

Theme Within A Theme

Experience some difficulty in determining what my Theme Within A Theme would be this year.    Then it came to me so easily.  Touring bicycles.  Two days ago I purchased Mary a new to her touring bike.  Today's coffeeneuring would be its maiden voyage under new ownership.  It would also be the first ride since August for my touring bike.  Simple!  We rode to the Ritual Cafe, a first for our coffeeneuring.

Mary ventured out for a caramel macchiato instead of a latte.  But this place serves 'traditional" Italian macchiatos not the Starbucks version which we of the Midwest prefer.  The difference?  The Italiano is espresso with foam on top served in a demitasse cup (very small).  Starbucks, a layered latte with vanilla syrup on the bottom, milk as the second layer and espresso on top with caramel syrup drizzled on the very tip top.  She ordered a caramel latte instead.  Me, the usual 3 shot iced breve.  Both served in pint glasses.  No straws offered or required.  We also ordered breakfast sandwiches.  Mary enjoyed her coffee noting that the caramel added the right amount of sweetness to it.  Mine was wonderful.  Nice strong flavorful roasted coffee taste.  Still wondering why they could not make the American style macchiato.  Did they not have caramel to drizzle on top?

The cafe is locally owned and is located in the Western Gateway Park area of downtown.  They serve locally roasted organic beans and serve vegetarian and vegan foods as well as local beers and wine.  We've been here before to see bands and when we are in the area for local festivals in Gateway Park.  The person taking our order was very friendly and knowledgeable, former Starbucks barista.  Our coffee was called out for us and our food was delivered to us.  The place is spacious and quickly filled with groups of people drinking coffee, eating breakfast and talking.

7.  West End Architectural Salvage & Coffee
     Des Moines, Iowa
     November 10, 2018
     3 shot iced breve
     streets and trails
     3 miles

The front door.  Mary unaware of my photo shoot.

stained glass

Ceiling tile art

Damn, it feels like winter but I have a need for 3 shots of espresso!  Dress warm.  I find myself wearing a new pair of gloves that I would normally wear when it is less than 20 F.  It is 28 F.  Need to get out of the house.  Need to acclimate to the weather.  Prospects of a long winter.  Could be another Saturday on the couch with nothing accomplished other than staring at the TV.

West End I visited in 2016 for Coffeeneuring.  4 floors of antiques and materials removed from old buildings.  Tin ceiling tiles, old school chairs, stacks of wooden doors, a TV from 1955, old bicycles, ancient fans, an Odd Fellows flag, old signs, a baptismal fountain from a church, stained glass windows, trim, furniture ect.  Space for wedding receptions and such.  A barista station and wine and beer.  Get a coffee and walk around and look at an old dresser for $400 or stars made from tin ceiling tiles for $45.  I want to purchase the tricycle for Zoey, our first grandchild.  But we are here for coffee.

My granddaughter is due any time now.  Should I get her this?

I ask for a 3 shot iced breve and the barista smiles and makes it properly without question.  Damn, I've waited for this all my life!  Nice roast.  Smooth.  But I'm distracted from all the goods in this place.  Like a museum, flea market and antique market rolled into one.

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2018 Complete!  Had a great time.  Bummed that the weather turned south on us.  Would have loved to ridden the 45 mile round trip to Crimson Anchor Coffee in Indianola, Iowa, but it was either too cold or rainy or windy or all of it at once.  Glad we were able to visit a few places we never used for the challenge before, Plain Talk Books & Coffee, Reising Sun in Polk City and Ritual Cafe in Des Moines.

For some odd reason I limited myself to the 3 shot iced breve.  Going forward with this chilly fall hot coffee with be ordered.  Who am I kidding?  I love that drink!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Coffee Rides

The Coffee Emporium & Cafe, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Late season.  All major tides are over.  Trying to keep motivated to ride.  Maintain fitness and shape.  Motivation....  We do the one thing that gets are legs and blood pumping.  Ride for coffee!  So I'm wrong, there is one major riding event left, The 2018 Coffeeneuring Challenge (more about that later).

Short Rides

Outside of DSM Brew

Weekend mornings.  We wake up early.  Everyday.  Our internal clocks are wired that way.  Saturday and Sunday morning we usually make the 2 mile round trip to DSM Brew.  We once rode to Horizon Line Coffee in Western Gateway neighborhood but they messed up my order and there was no where to sit.  I miss the Village Bean in the East Village.

Mary has been getting vanilla iced lattes since it has been a hot humid summer.  I used to order an Americano but lately I order 3 hots over a FULL 16oz cup of ice and fill the remainder with half and half.  I don't know what this is called.  It's like an Americano without the water.  I've tried ordering it as an iced breve but it gets screwed up where I have ordered this way.  A barista in Cleveland said it was similar to what Starbucks calls a White Lightning.  Yesterday someone said order it as an Ole whatever that is.  I usually explain.  "In a 16oz plastic cup, fill completely up with half and half and add 3 shots.  Fill the rest with half and half."  Simple.  No added sugar.  No stirring.  Yet sometimes I get a regular breve (hot latte with half and half instead of regular milk, no flavor or sugar).  Or they use a very small amount of ice and serve it in a small paper cup.  I'm a picky pretentious bastard.

Outside Horizon Line Coffee

Longer Rides

The problem with biking in the last quarter of the year is that we are no longer training.  We also have been everywhere in every direction on or bicycles so riding gets to be a bit dull after 4000 miles in our neck of the woods.  So we search for coffee shops within 20 to 30 miles away from our home.

Smokey Row, Pleasantville, Iowa

This one was a pre-Ragrbai training ride.  Specifically, HILLS.  I think it was something like 28 miles to Smokey Row so we turned it into a 60 mile ride.  The hills of Vandalia Rd.  Try them sometime, it's good for you.  We got to town early and before the pub opened.  But we discovered the coffee shop and were delighted.  It was not our intention to have coffee today on this ride.  We merely wanted to abuse ourselves on fast road bikes on steep long hills.  We got that.  Add in the Dream Team and their roster of children 20 to 30 years, most like more than the latter, as motivation to ride faster, it was a great training ride.  Cannot be passed, cannot let someone pass me....So finding a coffee shop was fabulous.  Recently I was told that this is the original Smokey Row.  I am only aware of the one in Des Moines on MLK.  Nice place.  Good coffee.  Will make this a destination next year when we want to abuse ourselves on hills or when we ride to Lake Red Rock.

Crimson Anchor Coffee, Indianola, Iowa

Needed a 40 to 50 miler.  Fired up The Google Maps and discovered this place about 24 miles from home.  Perfecto!  Ride to Carlisle, Iowa, a mere 11 miles or so from our doorstep, via a trail and county highways to catch the Summerset Trail and take that 11 miles into Indianola and work our way to The Square.  Every Iowa town of significance has a square with a courthouse and businesses.  Crimson Anchor used to be on the square but now it is just off it on the southwest corner.  We had options to stop at Summerset Winery, half way between Carlisle and Indianola and an option to eat at La Villa, a Mexican restaurant, in Carlisle.  This day coffee was sufficient.

CA is in a new location.  They share the space with a frame shop and an antique store.  CA roasts their own beans lightly to medium, never burnt like Starbucks.  We ordered our usual drinks and sat outside at a table.  Good Lord, that was the best coffee I ever had!  Smooth, not bitter, made in accordance to my specifications without any lip from the barista (I've had a barista gig lately so I know that attitude is hard to control sometimes).  We will be back.  On a sad note, the other coffee shop was closed.


Take advantage of what the locals offer when on tour.  WE did a 7 or 8 day touring through our state instead of doing The Ragbrai route.  This avoids crowds and lines.  Our first night was spent in Marshalltown, Iowa, the night before the tornado.  Breakfast was at The Tremont Grille in the old downtown area near the courthouse and at ground zero for the tornado that ripped through a few hours later.  I had my usual as photoed.  The third morning we were in Cedar Rapids.  It was a Saturday so we parked our bicycles and walked around their Farmers Market.  I found a coffee shop, The Coffee Emporiums & Cafe, and indulged.  The rest of the week was drip coffee since espresso machines are expensive.   Funny story, we were at a diner in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and I asked the server if they had espresso and she replied that they had no specials!

Marshalltown.  Nice glass!

No Joy Altoona

I find the lack of a non-Starbucks coffee shop in Altoona quite disturbing!  Photo taken at the dog park in Altoona just right off the trail.

On Sunday we headed east to Altoona, Iowa.  Galaxy Coffee.  This is located in a laundromat.  Strange, unique but Google reviews said it was a good place and I saw the espresso machine in photos.  Capital City Coffee was almost a choice.  I had to contact her via Face Book and got a timely reply. "I don't have specific hours. I roast to order. I don't sell actual cups of coffee just whole beans and ground. Is there something you are looking for that I could get ready?"  Our ride/adventure really was not the target of her business.  Maybe some other time. Other choices were the ever present and on every corner Starbucks, Mc Donalds, Casey's and Dunkin' Donuts.

Took a mix of streets, sidepaths and the Gay Lea Wilson Trail and another sidepath/sidewalk to get to coffee shop.  Greeted by a woman smoking a cigarette and puffing bad news.  "No coffee here.  Taking the sign down next week.  There's a Starbucks across the street."  The 6 words I do not like to hear.  Bummer.  Out of options.

Perk Up Porter from Brightside Aleworks

Or so we thought...there is a brewery between the Hy Vee and the Library not far from the trail!  New opportunity!  Brightside Aleworks.  And sure enough they offer Perk Up a porter brewed with coffee grounds from Capital City Coffee!


Coffeeneuring is an activity created by Mary Gersemalina who can be found at her blog   Chasing Mailboxes.  This is a fun 7 week activity and for small fees one can purchase swag such as Coffeeneuring themed patches and handkerchiefs.  This what we have been doing lately and look forward to the challenge.  I you would like to participate click Coffeeneuring Challenge 2018 The Best Intentions

I image that as winter arrives I'll switch to hot coffee.  I also image that we will not be riding 50 miles for coffee either.  There are a few locations near us that we have not visited.  Until then enjoy the ride and take time to drink the coffee!