Wednesday, July 2, 2014

40 Fat Miles on the First

The Dolomite and the Lorax.  Found him across from the Bentron Bank Skating Plaza.

"Did you ride your fat tire bike today?" one of the big executives in IT asked me today.  I smiled.  "No, rode that one yesterday."  What I did not tell him  was where and hope epic that ride ride was.

July 1, 2014.  First 12.5 miles were spent on the Mongoose Dolomite.  I thought I might need gears.  Recent rain has flooded out most of the trails in the Des Moines metro area.  I ride west to work and had been watching those trails.  I thought I would check out the trails to the north.  The Neal Smith Trail was my target.

To get there I eyed the Principal Riverwalk Trail.  Built on the bank of the Des Moines River it was basically totally covered by the river.  I did not attempt this one.

As for the Neal Smith Trail, the only flooded section I saw was at Birdland Park, the low spot of the river.  The road above was closed due to flooding but that water receded giving me a nice wide path for the Dolomite.

After passing North High School I rode along the new levy and it was fine.  When the NST turning into the wooded area I could tell the water had just retreat maybe a few hours earlier.  I saw Old Man River, George, riding his bike and figured if River could do it so could I.  So I followed the trail to Mt Radon before turning around.  No more "Trail Closed" signs.  But a lot can happen in a matter of hours.

My mission was accomplished here.  One can get to the InterUrban Trail without difficulty assuming the water does not rises.

The other 27 miles were completed on the Beast, my single speed coaster brake fat bike.  I was to meet Colin of the Water Works Park bridge and we would ride to Cumming, Iowa, to watch the World Cup, US v Belgium.  "Bring beer" the text read.  I purchased a 12 pack and ice and rolled to water Works about a half hour late.

Father's Day 2013.  SE 30th and George Flagg.  Once again the same old story.  I was too busy keeping the bike upright to take photos of the current flood.

"Detour to Orlando's via Park Ave" the next message read.  This meant that George Flagg Dr was flooded.  It was flooded the other day but the water receded.  I chanced it.  After all, The Beast can handle a little water.

At first it was ok.  No current, no trees floating.  I could see the street markings below the water.  then it rose and my feet started getting wet..  The Beast was handling this pretty good.  Forward progress.  Deeper still, sandals submerging on the bottom of every pedal stroke.  Soon the water was up to the BB.  Aim between the telephone poles.  Yet it got worse and I turned off as my shins were now dipping below the surface.  A small barricade holding a sign that said "water over road" with a yellow flasher on top was visible.  It was on the low spot.  Not that I could read the sign since the top of the sign was was protruding a mere 6" from the water.  That was the low point in the road.  If I continued I would be up to my tits in water.  Time find a new route.

Grass was abundantly visible to my left.  Perhaps if I could make it there I stood a chance of getting to Orlando's without turning around.  Maybe I could get into tree line and ride the old abandoned rail tracks.  Seemed like a good idea.

I did not factor in the ditch and soon it was deep.  I had to get off the bike and when I did the rear wheel floated up.  I did not want the beer to get contaminated from flood water so I held the front end up and walked to the grass.

The grass was not dry.  Perhaps 2 to 3" of water.  But it was better than the street.  At least I could see the the bottom.  In deep water I could never see what was below the surface.  I decided to retreat and get back to SE 30th and take that to Park Ave and meet Colin at Orlando's.  The bike rode well on this new but wet surface.  Tire pressure was a shade over 20 psi for paved roads but it helped the bike float when i got off before the grass.

The "man"  was out in force as I neared dry land.  Two city vehicles were at the blockade.  A large truck drove past me when I reached 30th and the fire chief drove by.  No one questioned me.

Colin's bruce Gordon BLT touring bicycle and my Mongoose Beast oversized all terrain bike complete with handle bar mounted cooler.  When the flood water threatened to reach the beer it was time to pull the plug!

The ride from Orlando's to the Cumming Tap was nice and uneventful.  We stopped for a beer before the Safety Shack because I needed a beer.  And we stopped at the shack for another.  Being early on Taco Night we were able to get center seats at the bar and watched the heartbreaking soccer game.  Finally time for a pair of tacos before leaving for home.

I was dry now thanks to my prohibition of cotton on bike rides.  Good thing to as the cold front hit with high wind and a temperature plunge.  We stopped at the lean to on the way home and talked to other riders.  Taco Nights have drawn quite a large crowd this summer but tonight was different. Flooding prevented a lot of people from riding.  It is impossible to get to the Great Western Trail via trails because of this.  Flooded trails and rumors of flooded trails probably lowered the numbers as well.  I did not see anything out of hand.  Bikers were well behaved and picked up after themselves.

So taking the Beast to Cumming was epic.  Did I almost die?  Could have.  Did I get arrested?  Could have.  Did I ride a single speed bike that weighs over 40lb with a 12 pack of Busch Light and 4.25" tires set at 20 psi?  Yes I did.  My legs are telling me today that pedaling through the deep water was a work out.  Hell, riding that bike over 2 miles is a work out!

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