Sunday, April 12, 2015

1st Century of the Year: Back to the Raccoon

Mile 45 IIRC.  Fat finger issue.  The depot trailhead in Dawson, Iowa.  My maternal greatgrandfather was named Dawson.  My uncle was upset to learn that the Dawson's of Ireland originated from England.  My grandfather would be pissed, too.  Up the Republic!  (Just put that in there to see if Pat reads this)

Been chomping at the bit lately.  Weather finally turned into Spring and I've been ill and busy.  Watching Steve Abraham and Kurt Searvogel gobble up 200+ miles a day does not help.  Although I said I was not planning to set a new yearly record for myself, I find myself beating the monthly records.  April is calling for 830 miles to surpass and keep this trend going.  Then Joe Hildreth asked if I was going for 1000 miles this month.  Bastard.  Do not put those thoughts in my head.

The easiest century one can do in starting from Des Moines is the new loop on the Raccoon River Valley Trail (RRVT).  Paved, lightly used this time of year and full of towns with provisions--food, bike parts and water.  Mostly a rail grade it is relatively flat.  This was our destination.

Only two issues today.  First it is still April.  Water fountains are not turned on until May.  Restrooms are not unlocked until May.  April in Iowa means that there could be a foot of snow at any moment.  The second problem was the 14 to 20 mph wind from the south.  Although we would use this to our advantage on the way out the trip back could be difficult.

Mary and I grabbed our road bikes and headed out when the temperature was warm enough that we could get away with minimal layers.  Another April issue, it's cold in the morning.  Although the forecasted high was reached, 74F, it was 47F when we finally rolled.  A mile into it she asked if I remembered to bring the PowerBars and gels.  Nope.  Turned around to get them.  They would be needed and if I left them on the bed fritz the dog would eat them.  2 extra miles.  Jackets came off right before we rode under Hickman Rd to the start of the RRVT.

Our Route:  1/2 mile to Mullets, swing left on the Meredith Trail and took it all the way.  That trail blends into the Bill Riley Trail, Walnut Creek Trail, Clive Greenbelt and RRVT.  One could ride from Mullets to Jefferson, Iowa, without having to ride on the roads.  I love Des Moines and Iowa.  Once on the RRVT we took at right in Waukee and headed on the new 33 mile loop that runs through Dallas Center, Minburn and Perry then continued west through Dawson, Jamaica and Herdon.

Found this sticker on back of a sign in Minburn, Iowa.  Great team!

Of note.  Cheap breakfast at the Hy Vee gas station in Waukee.  Just off the trail.  $5.99 filled both of us!  And restrooms are available.  Did not stop in Dallas Center.  The depot is not finished in Minburn.  Stopped in Perry for the Kum&Go, potty break and water, and also at the bike shop, Raccoon River Valley Bike Co., for lights.  A problem Mary and I have is that the number of bicycles we own exceeds the number of lights and red flashers.  In my head if all went to plan and we rode to Jefferson it would be dark before we got home.  Mary had a red flasher on hers and I had a mount for a light.  So we helped a LBS by purchasing two lights and one red flasher.  The proprietor even installed the flasher since I lacked a screw driver.  Hex wrenches yes, screwdriver no.

The trailhead train depot in Dawson was locked but we stopped anyway and ate PowerBars.  The Pepsi machine across the street was empty but was willing to convert 2 $1 bills into 8 quarters.  We stopped at Tojo's in Jamaica for restroom and Mnt Dew. Our final warmth layers were removed and placed into the thick ISU book bag/backpack I was carrying with tools (no screwdriver), pump, tubes, battery charge for mobile phones and PowerBars.  It was getting heavy at this point.  Of note, the solar shower is still hanging in the mens room at Tojo's and the urinal still does not flush!  On to Herdon.

When we reached the end of the new loop we had to make a decision.  On to Jefferson or turn south and head home.  12 miles to Jefferson or 24 mile roundtrip.  The first 12 would be very easy since the strong south wind would push us.  The returning 12 would probably be hell.  We had not tested the south wind but had felt it as a cross wind from Perry to Herdon.  Doing my maths, it would add 2 hours to our journey.  We saved it for another time and immediately were glad with the decision.  The headwind was miserable.

Place the hands on the drops and stare at the front wheel.  Occasionally look up to see if an intersection was near.  I'd see one and place my hands back on the hoods or top of the bars and it'd take 1/2 hour to reach it instead of the 30 seconds that it would have if we were gong the other way.  Averaging anywhere from 9 mph to 12 mph in the wind.  I was thinking about getting aerobars or a recumbent.

Speaking about 'bents, Joe Hildreth was supposed to be with us.  We made plans about this the night before during our Ragbrai discussion at Gray's Lake aka look at maps and drink beer.  He said he would call us in the morning before he left.  No phone call and it was cold and I was a bit hung over so we rolled late figuring that Joe was in the same boat.  Near Pal Joey's I got a text from him that I thought read "have not left".  Joe lives in Norwalk.  My reply was "Pal Joey's."  "See you on the trail" was the next message.  We never saw him.  During the sufferfest heading south on the RRVT he texted again. "Back in Waukee heading home."  We were in Yale.  Later we received another one.  "109 miles 8 left."  WTF??!!??  He was 40 miles ahead of us.  It was not like we were doddling around.  We really did not spend much time off bike.  When did he pass us?  In Redfield I reread the the original text.  "Are you on the RRVT yet" implying that he left before us.  We were chasing him.  And after we got home we texted and talked on the phone.  He left at 8 am and did the loop but cut across on the county road at Linden instead of taking the trail to redfield, Adel and Waukee to save time and get out of the head wind.  His Barrchetta is much better on windy days than our safety bikes.  Joe had 120 miles!

The water fountain in Yale was not on.  5 minute break and then 6 more miles to Panora where we ate at Subway.  As the treeline improved along the trail the bite from the wind diminished and we were able to increase our speed.  I did have the thought that we should have done the loop clockwise i.e. head to Adel instead of Dallas Center on the way out in order to have less issues with the wind on the return from Perry to Waukee.  But then again that area has zero tree cover and I need to measure the distance.  ISO volunteers to test this theory the next time there is a 20 mph wind from the south.  Please contact.

The depot was closed in Redfield. A few bikes coming up from the Casey's  We just rested and then caught up with them.  One was walking her bike due to an old shoulder injury.  The only people that passed us were on time trial bikes.

Adel announced it's presence by the horrid bump at the intersection of the brickplant west of town and the rest of the intersections through town.  We stopped at Casey's for restroom and gatorade.  Noticed that there is a bike fixtation at the little park just off the trail as you stop for the highway crossing.

Waukee is hell.  Not that it is difficult to ride through or navigate, stay on trail be careful at intersections.  Hickman Rd/Highway 6 is extremely busy all the time.  And very loud.  Even at 7 pm it is is busy and loud.  Too many people live here with only two roads, Hickman and University.  90% of the vehicles are SUVs with 1 person inside them.  When we reached the GreenBelt it felt like paradise.  Quiet, we could hear the birds sind, and peaceful since there were not a billion SUVs going 70 mph on our side.

That is quite a statement, "the Clive Greenbelt felt like paradise." This trail is very curvy with blind spots, very rough in the section that did not get resurfaced and very busy, full of joggers, dog walkers retired couples, bicycles ect it can be a bit dangerous.  But it flet like home and I ride every afternoon when I commute from home.  Ask any bicyclist if they want to ride it and they will say no.  But it is the link from the DSM Metro to the RRVT.  And it is pretty as it follows Walnut Creek.  And it is a welcome break from the hell that surrounds the trail that follows Hickman Rd to Waukee.

The rest of the ride was ok.  Still bikes at 515 from the Fat Tire Fun Ride, mostly stick bikes and 1 bagger.  Saw a few friends on the walnut Creek and Bill Riley Trail.  Brad McIntire, someone else that knew our names but we did not recall theirs (prolly because we were tired) and Sam Gill.

Earned this!  Campfire Black Lager from Confluence Brewery.  Right off the trail.  Picked this up Friday night.  Got the growler at Hy Vee.  Glad I did because Confluence itself was out of Milk Man  Stout Friday night.  Stein curosity from my children at Christmas.

I rode the final 3 miles in the drops.  Felt good.  I still had power.  My bronchial tubes were not bothering me.  Glad I dropped $64 on lights since it was dark and I still was wearing sun glasses.  Fritz was glad to see us.  We were glad to see the shower.  Immediately our legs gave out.  Getting up and down from chairs and the couch was a bit painful.  Repair mode.  Shower eat and stare at the tv and go to bed.  111.11 miles.  Cannot wait to do it again.

Perfect!  Pulled the computer off the bike in my driveway.

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