Friday, October 7, 2011

A Trestle Too Far

Yeah, I am going to rip off and bastardize Corneilus Ryan's novel.  I will even spell his name wrong.  What were his parents thinking when they gave him that moniker?

I extremely dislike the over use of the word "trestle".  High trestle, low trestle.  They named a trail after a trestle that no longer exists!  What is refered to as THE TRESTLE is not a trestle.  It is a bridge, a former rail bridge, not a trestle.  But I was not consulted.

memorial of the bridge in Arnhem

So this story begins the moment God said to his angels, "watch this!" and the Big Bang went off and the universe formed.  Fast forward some 2000 years after they nailed his son to a tree and we are at September 30th, 2011 AD.  (Common Error)

The Initiating Point was the Triangle Tap.  I have lived in Iowa all my life and there are certain sections of this State that are not Iowa.  The Hy Vee on MLK is one such spot.  It is a generic urban hell.  However, Busch Light was $13.99 a case, cold, and PFG frowns upon people parking bicycles with leaky coolers full of booze in the warehouse so I had to purchase said refreshment as close as possible to the Initiating Point. And while Brad and I pack our new wares outside on our bikes there was a "bitch betta hab my money moment" a few doors down.  Generic Urban Hell.  Much anger here.  It is Friday, relax!

With beer, ice and vodka stowed we went around the building to the Tap.  Brad got carded.  35 years old and ID is at home.  However, the younger bartender thought he was of age and I vouched.  The older one washed her hands clean of us and soon we had Absolute Citron shots and a pair of Boulevard Wheat.  And to further help them out we ordered brats, paid the extra 50 cents for kraut, and ate them on stale buns.  TT not known for fine dining.

Craig, Kelly and Abby were the first to arrive.  The latter two were planning to drive up north somewhere and intercept us.  Amy Reynolds stopped by to wish us off and safe journey.  Mary was next then Chris Mace, who had his birthday the day prior.  Brad and Liz were the final additions to this pack of baggers.  We stayed there until there was almost 20 minutes of daylight left.  36 miles can be covered in the dark quite well.  We all had lights.

Graham met us on the InterUrban trail bridge over the Des Moines River.  This was our first stop, perhaps .5 mile from the Tap.  It is a trestle.  Everyone did a swig or 3 of Mace's Fireball.  Probably a 3 beer beer stop.  Graham had to work in the morning so he would only ride with us part of the way.  Amy rode with us here before returning home.

It was dark before we reached Sycamore Access.  Mary, Mace and Graham set a fast pace and the rest of us fucked it off.  Time for another break.  had to make sure everyone was ok.  Once again, a two or three beer stop.

My venture from here to the top of the dam was interesting.  When I approached the climb, I call this part of the trail, The Wall, I decided to put ye olde 520 in granny.  After all, I was carrying a tent, sleeping bag, spare batteries, some of those batteries heavy lead acid types, the case of beer and 8 lbs of ice, tools and enough clothing for a Winter Survival ride.  Most of this shit I did not use.  I never changed batteries or dipped into my "warm" clothing.

So I pushed the down tube shifter forward to place the chain into the 28T chain ring.  The damn thing slipped off and I lack sufficient speed to contiune forward momentum.  The bike tipped over to the left and I tumbled off the side of the trail.  Brad Overhauser was with me, everyone elese was ahead.  laughing, I got up and looked at the bike.  IT WAS PERFECTLY UPSIDE DOWN!!!  It looked like I placed it there.  guess it was too heavy to continue rolling over.  My immediate concern was that all my shit had fallen out.  This was not the case but a Busch Light can was punctured and I smelled Red Bull for the rest of the journey.  I never found the pierced can of RB.  Got the bike up, put the chain back on and climbed the wall.

I was expecting everyone to be in front of the Visitor Center, where we could sit on the guard rail, but they waited at the kiosk between the downhill/climb and the VC.  Another beer break and discussion of the next leg.  This is where Graham and Chris turned around.  Chris gave the Fireball to Mary.  I do not think we touched it again that night.

Since time was a precious resource that we did not possess much of I suggested at the beginning that we take the highway into Polk City instead of the winding trail.  A straight shot from the Visitor Center and if everyone stuck together we would be safe.  The lights on The Bridge shut off at midnight.  Most of the ride would be without daylight and speed on dark trails lowers.  Now was the time for a unanimous decision.  It was achieved.

Traffic was not too bad.  No honking or close calls.  One stop to regroup.  I do not think beer was part of this break.  My headlamp was missing and I think I used this ans an opportunity to dig through my bags to find it.  Well, I could have done done that at any stop.  My point is that I am uncomfortable without a light on top of my head or on my forehead during nocturnal riding..

At last we entered into the metropolis of Polk City.  We parked our steeds at Dottie's Landmark and ordered beer and food.  Nice to have a seat and drink something not from a cooler in a bicycle pannier.  Blue Moon was my choice.  Everthing else was the basic American lager/pilsner fare.

Davis, Kelly and Abbey joined us here.  There was a plan or an intention that those that could not ride all the way with us would start closer to The Bridge and meet us somewhere.  I suggested at the Oasis since it would probably be 24 miles from the Triangle Tap.  But heavy bikes and group dynamics (beer) tend to reduce mileage.  I think I got 20 text from people asking me where we were and when we would get there.  Davis was the only one that understood.  She knew how to iintercept.  Not that the others could not, some of them had to work the next day and had limited time and assumed that we would follow a schedule and reach our goal.  I apologize to my sister Patty, Teena and Brad and others that thought I would be able to complete this mission successfully.  A Trestle too far.

This is where my long day and alcohol consumption caught up with me.  My alarm goes off at 415 am, not that I get out of bed at that time, mind you, but I shut the bastard off and turn on the radio and light and lay back down until I hear the weather.  I worked from 630am until nearly 3pm, the last hour at my slow ass pace.  Sudafed, caffeine and adrenaline coursed through my veins all day until 3 pm.  Now it was approaching 1130 pm and seeing The Bridge in blue lighted glory was not going to happen.  A place to lay me weary bones down for the night was my new plan.

Brad O and I and few others outside Dottie's. 

I was the first to leave Dottie's.  Mary said i took off like "a bat out of hell" but I doubt it.  We were all getting ready to leave, I was the first to shove off.  2 miles to the Oasis.  Brad O and I rode there together.  I sat on the table, yoga style since it was cold.  Mary arrived and we split a beer.  I may have had one sip.  Then I pitched my case for setting up camp.

This would be a great place to spend the night.  But everyone said no.  Stupid idea.  John Q Law and the inevitable trail users early in the morning.  The next 5 miles were painful.  I wanted to sleep.  I needed to sleep.  Not only no room at the inn, no inn at all.  I always hated this stretch of trail anyway.  First, since I have ridden the neighboring county road for years my first thought was that this stretch of trail was unnecessary.  Second, that damn 30 mile headwind Mary and I battled on the tandem a few months ago was still a fresh awful memory that does not endear me to this place.  Third, no where to pull over and nap.  5 miles of non-stop forward miserable progress.  However, by the time I reached Sheldahl I was a bit better.  A mile or so to Slater and Davis' house.

Apparently, I got to the couch, took off my sandals and fell asleep sitting up.  Everyone else went to the take Down Bar.  Sausage Fest they reported to me the next day.  they closed it, not much of feat given that we got to town at 1am, but glorious anyway.

I awoke with a desire for water.  Mary was on the sectional next to me.  Various sleeping bags in the room.  Wandering outside I could not find my bike nor Mary's.  In the garage but I was too weak to fight with or easily open the door.  The possible noise frightened me.  There was a smoldering log, apparently there was a fire.  Two empty and two unopenned cans of Busch Light and a discarded pack of American Spirit smokes was further evidence.

Re-entering the house I was not willing to tear up the kitchen for a glass of water.  I went back to the couch and got closer to Mary and listened to everyone else snore.  Eventually we all roared back to life.  Davis made pancakes and we stumbled back to our bicycles and parted ways.  Thank you for being a wonderful host!

The ride back was beautiful.  Autumn colors just beginning.  The prarie section of the NST was outstanding.  We literally were surrounded by a sea of wild sunflowers.  Mary's purple jersey really went well with the scenery.  But I was slow on the jump and failed to film this coasting action and Mary was unwilling to ride back up so I could use the camera.  Kramer and Walter beat us to the punch in videotaping this and posting it on Face Book.

It was a good birthday, a great one!  I was able to spend it with Mary and our friends doing what we enjoy.  A heartfelt thank you to all that participated, whether you rode with us or waited in vain.  Next year the Bridge will be occupied!

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