Sunday, December 14, 2014

54 Miles Because it's 50F

Mensch on a tandem team!  Big Wheel Rally 2014.

My faith in weather forecasting is nil.  Still I check.  Not much one can do.  Study yearly  records and determine what the weather will be for a certain date?  Two weeks ago the Weather Announcers said that warm weather would hit this weekend.  They promised that it would warm up to the 50s.  56F for Saturday.  This forecast never changed.  We had to do one last long ride before the hammer comes down and we would be forced to endure another winter of 20 below Zerex.  Craig had a similar thought.  Together we planned to ride to Dallas Center, Iowa, before joining up with the Big Wheel Rally on Ingersoll Ave Des Moines.  Since the BWR was an all day and night marathon of bicycles, big wheels, costumes and drinking I had no fear of arriving late.

The best laid plans often get torpedoed and the warhead that jammed our rudder was in the form of my family.  We had to make sure my mother got up, took her medication, had dry bedding and insulin.  I suggested that we do this in the evening on our return from a long ride and thus skip the BWR to ensure proper attitude and sobriety.  But my sibling had some training and could not take the morning shift.  It worked out very well for us.  The only thing about it was that we would not be able to ride with Craig to Dallas Center and Minburn.  I was not about to abandon Mary on this day.

New plan was to ride to Johnston and check on my mother and then ride to Polk City from there and have lunch at Papa's Pizzeria.  After lunch intercept the High Trestle Trail and ride to FireTrucker Brewery and then ride back to Des Moines and catch up with the Big Wheel Rally.

Our steed was our fast tandem, a Cannondale  RT3000.  2014 was the year that it sat in storage since it seemed that we rode the touring tandem more often.  Checking the Bike Log, the C-dale had been ridden about 3 times for a total of 63 miles.  September was the last time we rode it.  The tires were down to 40 psi.  Sad, but that how one can extend the life of a bicycle by not riding it often.

We planned to leave early but we slept in.  I had a massive headache that even coffee could not kill.  Funny, I only had one beer the night before and no wine.  Did I take anything for it?  No.  Suffer, bitch, suffer.  I do appreciate that I had time to brew coffee.

Late starts are not bad this time of year as it allowed us the liberty of not taking as many layers as an early start require.  I wore tights, a long sleeve base layer and a long sleeve jersey, two pairs of socks and sandals.  to keep my head warm I wore a Santa hat sans helmet.  Oh yes, a pair of those $1 brown gloves.  Perfect.

It was near 50F when we left.  The roads and trails were wet.  It appeared as if it rained over night but it may have been from the ground thawing out and moisture from the melting snow.  Grass was turning green.  it was a bit foggy.

Neal Smith Trail to the Trestle to Trestle Trail and then the InterUrban Johnston Trail to reach mother's apt.  Once we deemed her ok we left.  We headed north on Merle Hay Rd and stopped at the Kum&Go for water and food.  We left our water bottles at home.  I have not used a bottle in months since I don't need one on my commute in cold weather.  Then we took the trail to NW 70th St. to NW Beaver Dr.

When a sign says "TRAIL CLOSED" please obey it even if you can see it all the way to the end without anything that would appear to be the cause of the closure.  I ignored the sign and took the trail, sidepath really,  Sure, the work appeared to be finished but there was a layer of slimey dirt/mud on the surface which not only caused the back wheel to loose contact on occasion but stuck to the wheels like no other.  Our 700x25 tires looked like 26x1.5s.  Mary's backside was getting dirty and my face as well.  Lesson learned.

The tandem is smaller than a Corsair2
The tandem is smaller than a tank.
Smaller than this tank, too.

The tandem is smaller than a large caliber towed field artillery.

Once on NW Beaver we followed it north past Camp Dodge to highway 415 and crossed the Mile Long Bridge to Polk City.  Kinda fun crossing that bridge and I wished I would have take photos.  A bit hazy and the lake was mostly frozen and the guard rails seem to be real short.  I wondered it we were hit if we'd fall of the bridge and if so would be be better off landing on the ice or the open areas.  I also noted that high profile vehicles could also suffer the same fate.  But the expansion joints were the most disturbing.  It seemed that the closer we got to the end of the bridge the worse they were.  But our wheels never got stuck and nobody honked at a tandem with the captain wearing a red shirt and Santa hat.

Papa's Pizza was as good as always.  We had the Hawaiian, two sodas with multiple refills and a beer.  Please make that joint a destination on a bicycle ride.  Fast and friendly and great pizza.

To get to the HTT we just followed the main road out of town and took the county road to the Oasis.  maybe 2.5 miles.  Another 6 or so on the trail itself to the end in Ankeny.  We encountered one tandem.  the stoker said hello, the captain was silent.  They had the tailwind.

Firetrucker can be found at the end of the trail across the street.  It is a busy street.  There is a dirt entrance/exit from the trail to the road.  Frogger time but you end up right in the driveway.  This place was set up for bicyclists.  Large bike rack out front adjacent the beer garden.  All sorts of plug ins for your phones and electronics.  USB ports on the electric sockets at the bar!  I had the pumper truck Porter which was excellent.  Mary had the Uptown IPA.  My second and last selection was the 2Alarm Red which was 7.6%.  Most of their beers were $4.75 per pint which is very reasonable.  We will be back.

The return trip to Des Moines started with the trail again.  I really do not know how to get from the trailhead to the sidepath on Oralabor Rd so I navigate it like this.  Take the trail to IrvinedaleRd.  Get on the street and ride that to the GitnGo on Oralabor Rd/415.  Take sidepath west and connect up with the Neal Smith Trail.  OR continue south past the Casey's and get on the NST off of Morning Star Rd.  We chose the former for a change.

Once in Des Moines we had the decision to make about the best way to get to Ingersoll Ave and the BWR. Do we take the trail all the way downtown and then head west?  Do we take the InterUrban trail and cut through Drakeland?  We opted to get off the trail at North HS and ride 6th to Clark and then ride through residential areas until we reached the Drake area and then connect with Kingman Blvd and take 28th to Ingersoll.

With the sun starting to set we found our friends at the BWR outside the Ingersoll Tap which was having their busiest day ever.  We hung out there both inside and outside to soak up the good vibes and see friends.  We skipped the Yacht Club in favor of having sushi at Sakari.  Sake, too,  Nothing washes down raw salmon like sake!  Then off to home.

54 miles on the dot on the clock!  Now it is time to hose off the tandem and put it away until the Spring.  I am glad we gave it a glorious ride for its final big roll of the year.  we did ride it to Church this morning for the forgiveness of its riders' sins!

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