Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Last Warm Rides of 2012

Dora ready for another tandem ride!
My Trek 2200 and Brad's early 80s Trek model number in dispute.

October is perhaps my favorite month.  The oppressive heat from summer finally retreats, generally the weather is perfect for camping.  Usually there are no bad storms that we live through during the months of Spring.  Bicycling is a plenty since by now Ragbrai recovery is over and the Autumn colors are begging me to view them via two wheels.  Perfect.  A reward for all the sweat that poured off of me during the previous four months.  What a glorious month albeit it is always a bittersweet one.  Those pretty red and orange leaves harking the coming of winter.  Last chance to ride before the annual digging out the winter survival gear.  But I love it anyway.

November is the month of change.  One day nice and the next cold and snowy.  I really don't mind the snow so much, just need to switch bikes and dress properly.  But rainy 40F days are among the worst for me.  So far November has been good but the hammer is coming down right now and by the time you read this it will be cold.

So here are a few tales of my last few rides in perfect 2012 weather.
Despite climate change/global warming/global cooling, Iowa's record hot summer drifted quietly away like sand in an open hand.  Highs of 80F were becoming scarce.  I noticed that the weekend would be approaching that temperature.  I had to act, had to ride.

October 21, 2012, I threw a leg over the 2200 and rode to Indianola with Brad Overholser on his early 80's vintage Trek roadie.  We met at Mullets about 1130 am to take one of my favorite rides.  Our bikes were gonna roll southeast out of Des Moines to the Summerset Trail.  The route I have described in earlier posts such as Lacona Uber Alles and Octoberfest Hill Slaying.  Today we would not travel that far nor see more than a small handful of hills.

We did, however, attempt to poach the new Des Moines River Trail that begins across from Mullets and ends at Cownie Baseball Complex on the corner of Hartford and SE22nd.  But said poaching on uncompleted trail ended shortly due to wet trail surface.  Yep, no pavement yet just dirt and mud.  Brad and I took Hartford all the way to its intersection with the new trail at the ball field.  Be careful if you venture that way because this was the second time we encountered broken glass on the trail.

My intention for this ride was to crank out a quick 30+ miles and turn around at the observation platform near the middle of the Summerset Trail.  We did this and Brad suggested

Sans jacket, 13 miles into this and Brad warms up a bit.  At the Casey's in Carlisle.

The weather was gorgeous.  Sunny with a projected high near 80F.  It was 53F when I left.  I wore bike shorts and a T-shirt.  Brad dressed for winter--jeans, jacket and gloves.  He says that he is not used to Iowa's cold weather.  Too bad for the next 6 months are going to be winter here in the HeartLand.

The key to this ride is to get to SE 23rd.  The new trail along the river will help.  Traffic on Hartford Ave keeps increasing every year.  The addition of the soccer fields and the baseball diamonds makes things worse.  But these drivers are generally friendly or nonbelligerent.  I have only been yelled at or buzzed once in my 2 decades of riding on this road.  The trail will avoid this although we will have to cross the road once to get to the ballpark where the trail leads to SE23rd.  And use caution at that crossing since I have seen glass on both of my visits.  Brad rode right over the glass but was spared a flat!

Details of the rest of the ride to Indianola have been covered here before in Lacona Uber Alles and Octoberfest Hill Slaying.  Suffice to say that it was a beautiful ride.  Traffic behaved.  The road from Avon Lake to Carlisle is smooth as silk.  The trail was not crowded.

My intention was to purchase a beer or two and ride the 4 and a half miles to the viewing tower on the trail and drink them there.  But we made no such purchase.  We did stop there as Brad had never been on this trail or even on this Boy Scout Eagle Project.  But the view was the poorest I have ever see from here.  Because of the drought the wetland and the pond had evaporated.  The waterfowl had flown away.  Just a dry weedy area.  Memories of water underneath the observation deck and a canal like stream nearly touching the trail "flooded" my memory.  We need rain and snow.  A woman and her child joined us for the view.  Bring your children to the trails and show them a better lifestyle.  Grad we did not have those beers.

At the Brickhouse.

In Indianola Brad inquired about an establishment for an adult beverage.  Key word here was "clean restroom."  On the square I knew of a few.  But the Irish bar was out since it fails the "clean" standard.  We parked our Treks on the southwest corner at a place titled The Brickhouse.  I have never been there.  The pub was clean and looked like recent money had been invested in it.  Many televisions littered the joint with NFL games on.  After all it is Sunday and football season.  While Brad investigate the restroom I had a pint of Blue Moon sans fruit for $4.  Then I read the sign.  "$2 PBR Tallboys."  BINGO!  We had several and an order of Jamaican Jerk chicken wings.  The food menu was impressive for a bar.  We shall return.

A few days later the weather folks advertised that Wednesday October 24th was it for the 80s.  A storm was rolling in from the northwest bringing rain and cold air.  All day I checked radar.  Clear.  By the time I got home from work the very northwest corner of Iowa was getting wet.  Better do it now.

I grabbed the 2200 and rolled to Cumming.  The temperature was in the upper 70s and it was very humid.  There was a wind from the south, strong enough to stall the incoming front.  I looked forward to the tailwind on my return.  This would also serve as an experimental ride since I acquired a NiteRider light system. 

Seemed like no one was on the trail.  The lean to was empty.  I arrived in Cumming before dark.  Talked to Bob and Chad and then headed home.  Meagan was right behind me. 

I did not get very far when I hit the cracks in the trail.  The NiteRider became unlatched and I tried to reattach it while riding.  Taking too much time and then I saw the key piece fall.  It looked a lot bigger when it jettisoned from the bike.  It was the pin that has the screw hole that the other pin screws into.  About an inch long and half a millimeter wide I witnessed it fall.  STOP!!!

I laid the bike down and attached my headlamp and began the search.  Meagan finally caught up and asked if I was alright.  I said I was looking for a bolt.  It was getting dark now.  She wished me luck.  I needed it.  I really had no idea what I was looking for.  Just a piece of metal that should contrast nicely on this dark asphalt trail covered with leaves.  The description of which I recited in the paragraph above was made after I found the bastard.

Walked about 20 meters toward Cumming and back to my bike.  The headlamp did not have enough light.  I needed the NiteRider.  When picking up the bike I heard music.  A couple on bikes with a stereo came up from the north and asked if I was ok.  Yep, just do not disturb the environment!  He said that his eyes were shit and he would not be much help.  They rolled on.  So I walked the bike slowly down the trail, holding the loose light with my hand and making a sweep with my eyes. 

I appealed to St. Anthony, "Tony, Tony turn around.  A piece of my light is missing and must be found."  Should have said this prayer earlier.  Try it sometime, it cannot hurt.  After turning around and moving north a bit I found the missing pin.  Ready to rocket home!

The wind had died, stalled front.  I was covered with sweat.  Yes, feels like summer.  Possibly the last time.  Diminishing returns.  Less chance of this with each passing day.  Enjoy the gross feeling of stale air and sweat, the winter will be hell.  But when the bike moved I was graced by a cooling breeze.  Don't stop until home.

Bikes killing time at a park in Johnston.

November came.  Temps dropped in to the high 30s for the mornings.  High temps have barely broken 60F if at all.  Shorts and short sleeves are a distant memory.  Pants, tights, long sleeves, gloves and hats.  But today was different.  Projected high was 73F!  Time to ride.

We woke up early possibly 630 am.  But that is sleeping in for us.  Mary wanted a ride today.  Dora would need to go with us.  North I suggested.  We had yet to complete the Trestle to Trestle Trail.  Ride to Johnston and eat at the Mexican place.  A guaranteed 20 miles.  This would likely be the last tandem ride of the year unless the drought continues.

I pulled the Fisher Gemini out of its storage place.  Tires were down to 80 psi.  I added another 20.  The rear tire still showing the purple warning marks that appeared on Ragbrai 2011.  Its last outing was on October 20th when we rode to Anders and Laura Olson's home to watch the Iowa night game.  It was cold that night.  We bundled up.  The time before was in May, we rode it twice, Dora was the stoker then as well.  Mary took her road bike.

Mary got quite high but I was unable to capture that shot with camera phone.  I should had made a video then taken a still shot from that.

We had a nice tailwind on the way to Johnston.  Nice to be in shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  On way out took us to SE 6th and Livingston so we could view the progress on the De Moines River Trail.  Earlier in the week they were paving the trail across from Mullets.  The asphalters made it to SE 6th and were working on a Saturday.  Thus, we could not poach the trail before completion.  Bummer.

Whe we reached Robert Ray Drive we spotted another tandem, a Trek, operated by a couple with matching jerseys.  Yep, enjoy it now. 

The only thing that spoiled the trip was a grumpy old sod on a hybrid.  Mary made the turn on to the InterUrban Trestle bridge first.  Coming up from the south the trees obscured our view especially when we were underneath the bridge.  One second later it is time to make our 90 degree turn to the right.  The old sod said signal.  According to Mary, he signaled his turn all the way down from the bridge to the intersection.  Sorry, old fuck, but I am not going to signal my turn for a microsecond and turn this beast 90 degrees!  Tandem with child means both of us need all four hands on the bars especially during  turns.  I don't care if you saw me when I was 100 meters south of the turn, I will not signal back then.  As it was, you need to be the one riding cautiously because others crossing your path will either continue forward of turn.  I was not hogging the trail nor riding at excessive speed or taking a wide turn.  This became our joke.  We started signaling a mile or so before any turn.

Burrito California.  El Mariachi, Johnston, Iowa.

We got to El Mariachi 30 minutes before they opened so we killed time at a park and watched the Johnston PD operate a speed trap.  Yep, a big revenue day here.  But if you do the limit you do not have to worry.

Finally we were able to eat.  Dora had a taco salad, Mary fajitas and I the Burrito California.  This was so delicious that I wore some home so my washer machine could enjoy it! 

Riding home we fought the 23 mph south wind. Fun.  But I cannot think of a better way to spend the day.  When we reached Madison Ave we stopped at Denise Rea's house.  Rick and his son were moving stuff out and we watched reminding them to leave the shotgun in case the stork returned.  Rick's son, Tom is expecting his first child.  His wife is 2.5 months along.  I wish them luck.  Denise laughed because Rick will be a grandfather and she has yet to become a grandmother.  I said I want to wait a decade before adding that title.

Not the one but image this black with gold trim.  Hertz rented these Mustangs back in the 60s and now!  People would track them to the drag strip and return them thoroughly abused.  Rare and beautiful.

The sky seemed to darken so we said goodbye and continued south toward home.  A few sprinkles hit us as we approached Mullets.  Dora, having the need to answer Nature's Call had to stop here.  In the parking lot was a 1969 Shelby GT350H in pristine condition.  The best looking car I have seen in quite some time.  I joked that we should trade the tandem for it since the Shelby was a rental.  Hey, the Fisher has only one owner.  What a beautiful sight to end our adventure.  I bet that car is already stored for winter as I type this.  75F and the last chance to play with our valued toys!

Hopefully tomorrow will be nicer than the weather people have predicted it to be.  Rain begins tonight and continues throughout tomorrow then the temperature drops.  Monday's low in the 20s for my commute.  The Tweed Ride starts at 11 am and it is still supposed to be raining.  I do not care if our matching Raleighs have fenders Che don't ride in cold rain unless he has to which is more often than he likes.

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