It is not very often that we get to visit this trail. If memory serves, we did not ride on it at all last year, 2013, and only once in 2014. There is no good route from where we live in Des Moines to the trailhead outside Bondurant. So we schlepped the Fisher Gemini tandem in back of the truck and headed out. This probably saved at least 3 hours.
3 vehicles in the trailhead parking lot. It is rarely crowded here. We encountered 2 or three families, an elderly couple on trike recumbents, a group of 3 and the occasional solo rider. Everyone was supper friendly even the dog that walked behind the trailer with two kids pulled by their father. The sight of the tandem brought out the usual questions that people have about that style of bike.
The trail is in good shape. We could see snow and ice in the woods and in the streams. The section between Mingo and Ira has a few areas of gravel but the rock is not loose and did not produce dust. The Fisher has 26x1.25 tires on it and did not slide or squirm on this surface. I imagine a road bike could handle it just fine. There are a few rock patches between Ira and Baxter that are safe to ride on. I do wish they would repave but this solution is much better than the old busted surface. See
review from November 2012. We did not notice the old damage or repairs this time.
Changes we did notice. Ozzy's in Mingo is now under new ownership. Well, new owners for over a year now. It is the Greencastle Tavern. They now have draft been. I had a Buffalo Slap oatmeal stout. Mary had a ShockTop. Exile's Ruthie and a Goose Island were also available. $8 for two mugs. Mary saw a sign that said $2 Busch Light Tallboys. Nice! A thick crust pizza is available and judging by the aroma and the smiles of people enjoying those pies it must be good. We sat out on the patio. There were two families with a bunch of kids. Greencastle is also part of the Friday Night Rides on the trail starting in May.
Our plan was to have pizza at the Home Oil convenience store in Baxter but the tacos we had for lunch at home kept our appetite sated until we got home. After the obligatory photo session at the red caboose we sought out the Goat Ranch only to discover that this gem of a small town dive bar is no longer among us. We went to Cadillac Jack's next to the caboose and trailhead. Busch Light and a Bud Light $5. Lynyrd Skynyrd played at volume. Despite the spacious patio we drank inside. No draft beer, no trifecta of Busch Light.
|This frame was built by hand in 1890. The basic diamond frame never really has changed.|
A family walked in and complimented us on the tandem. I returned the favor by complimenting him on his bike. A 1890 frame! Literally the oldest bike frame that we ever seen that is rolling. Did not get the manufacturer's name. Kewl!
|Interesting how the seatpost connects. Heavy metal rear triangle!|
|Wood BB shell and halfstep gearing (he's in middle ring prolly a 4T difference between middle and big ring.|
The ride back was fast. Did not stop for beer. Saw the recumbent couple again. Encountered another family with a little boy extremely proud of his bike. The scooters and peanut butter sandwiches on the trail just inside Baxter were gone (I did on accident run over the handle of one scooter, rear wheel, but it was a maze). At the start of the 3 mile climb to the trailhead were passed 2 guys and 1 woman enjoying adult bevies before they made the climb. They reached the trailhead as we were loading up. The older fellow, probably the father, was on an older Cannondale MTB with slicks, said it was his first ride ever. Then the engineerical questions about the tandem. 24 years later and that tandem still fascinates people. They only rode to the 3 mile point before turning around and heading off in the direction of Altoona. I was jealous in a way. I wish we had the time to ride here from home. Someday we will.