Saturday, April 25, 2015

Riding to Bondurant on New Trails to the Chichaqua Valley Trail

Park the tandem next to the burro and the cowboy will keep an eye on it.

The rain put a damper on what should have been an outstanding celebration Central Iowa Trails.  The grand opening of a trail segment running 5 miles from Berwick, Iowa, to Bondurant, Iowa, was almost a wash out.  Mary and I planned to ride up to Berwick and then to the Chichaqua Trail and complete the entire trail.  But constant light rain, 16 mph NorthEast wind and general chilliness changed our plans.  We waited until 1 pm, assured that the rain was over, and headed north to the new trail.

Taken at Sargent Park in Des Moines.  Notice the need for a connection from Gay Lea Wilson Trail to the main and most popular trails in central Des Moines?  Jamie noticed the lack of trails in the center of the map.

Seems to me that all new trail connections of are for the benefit of those living north of Des Moines.  There are no direct connections from downtown to the Chichaqua Valley Trail.  So we did what we have done for years and took the 5 mile route on Scott Ave and rode through a rough paved industrial section of town.  Traffic was light as usual when we make this journey.  The road is rough and there are a few railroad crossings to bounce over.  The Gay Lea Wilson Trail was our relief and is approximately 5 miles from Mullets.

At Sargent Park.  I want to come back and explore this place.  It is nice and interesting.  Gem of the northside!

Normally we take this trail into Altoona, Iowa, and then take about 4 or 5 miles of county road to the Chichaqua trailhead east of Bondurant.  But to get to the new section we turned west at Copper Creek and caught the 4 Mile Creek Trail that rolls into Berwick.  It may have been 15 years since I last rode this trail.  It is out of the way and until the opening of the Berwick-Bondurant trail, leads to nowhere we have ever needed to go.  However, it is a scenic trail and there really is nothing to dislike about it.

The author and his spouse Mary.

I've never been to Berwick and really do not know what is there other than the trail, a mobile home park and a church.  The trail wraps around the town but does not go into it.  Five miles into the strong wind and we found ourselves at Founders Irish Pub in Bondurant.  The trail is concrete not asphalt and often sits high above the land it dissects.  There are a number of bridges and to answer the question that people asked repeatedly, bridge #1 would be the best stop.  There is a campground with a "country" golf course on it.  Mostly for campers not tents.  You will know it by the statues of horse along the driveway.  All the intersections are nice and paved.  I do not recall crossing a gravel road.  We came across 4 walkers, 3 people on a bench and two bikes from Berwick to Bondurant.  Remember it was only about 48F and windy and the memory of the rain was lingering in many people.  When we got to Founders we had ridden 19.4 miles.  So about 20 from Mullets or about 5 more miles than if we rode through Altoona.

At Founders.  Strip off the jackets and hats and gloves and backpack.  Leave the bike inside the beer patio.

We arrived at the pub in time to see the last of the band leave.  There was a box of swag, water bottles for the trail opening and some stickers.  After visiting for 2 beers and chatting with Jamie Heldstedt and John Dowd we rolled home.  We took the trail to its beginning near the interstate highway by accident and then backtracked to the turn, maybe 1/2 mile error.  Instead of heading back from whence we came we headed north to Ankeny.  This trail section is new, too.

Jamie Heldstedt

The Ankeny connection is probably greatly appreciated by those that live there.  It leads to the High Trestle Trail.  To me it seemed like a unnecessary polyp, not a straight shot.  It seemed to take an eternity to reach Oralabor Rd where the trail, now the HTT, turns into a suburban side path with many intersections to cross.  If you needed food, medical care or farming supplies, here it is.  We stopped at the Git N Go for Gatorade and Cliff Bars.  This is our pit stop for the HTT.  The intersection of Oralabor rd and Irvingdale Ave.  Familiar turf.  A little over 10 miles to home via the Neal Smith Trail.

Mary did a fine job leaning the tandem on Bridge #1 in Berwick.

Yes, I'd take this route to Bondurant again.  It is nice.  I doubt I'd take the Ankeny connection again since it is out of the way and added 6 extra miles for little gain or benefit except 6 more miles.  We ended up with 48.7 miles for the trip.

Outside the camp grounds.  On an aluminum horse we rode!

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