|Dallas Center, Iowa.|
The problem of this winter is that it never happened. Sure, we had had a dusting or two of snow. But we have had a lot of rain and the ground is partially frozen and the rain and ice melt have no where to go. In my yard for instance, about 2 centimeters is thawed and the below that all frozen had. Mud. Many trails are like that as well. The surface is clear except where water stands and refreezes every night. So we needed to find a trail that has a lot of exposure to the sun, away from water sources and flat to prevent puddles/ice.
Reports about the Clive Greenbelt were bad. Between 515 Brewery and 128th St there was ice. Having commuted on that trail for years I can attest how the trail is often submerged. Avoid. We thought about going south on the Great western Trail but we have done that in recent memory and there really is no destination except drink beer on a bridge. There will plenty of time for social rides in 2019. We wanted to ride our roadies and get get the cobwebs cleared out. I also had a strong desire to remain sober, drank my share on NYE on Monday.
The Raccoon River Valley Trail was our choice. Waukee to Perry. Flat and sunny. There's a coffee shop in Perry as well so a destination. How we fail to do this? The only problem was that the connecting trail, Clive's Greenbelt was bad. Why not cash in some carbon credits and drive to the trailhead? Surely we deserve to do that once in a while. The Honda CR-V is perfect and the seats were never returned to upright position after giving Mary a ride home from work the previous Friday. Cheating, I know but we have not driven that vehicle for a week and time was precious and we wanted to remain dry.
Time and temperature. Dora had to be at work at 8 am so one of us would use the Taurus to drop her off and park it in the street so the Honda can get out. Then we can slowly get dressed and packed leave in time for the ride to begin at a temperature appropriate for minimal warmth layers. Ideally, light gloves, tights long sleeve jersey, light jacket and headband to keep ears warm. Under Armor base layer on torso for good measure. Wool socks. Gotta keep feet warm.
We got to Waukee around 10ish and stopped at Taco Johns. Something to throw down our gullets since we failed to eat breakfast. I did drink a pot of coffee at home but no solid food. Cheap and fast and a clean restroom. BTW, the restrooms at the trailhead are closed and there is a large sheet of ice in front of the doors. I considered leaving the truck there at TJ's but we decided to go to the trailhead.
Both trailhead parking lots were filling up. People were biking in all directions. Some heading to and from Adel to the west, others heading north toward Dallas Center and back. A great day to ride and everyone wanted to be out. There were other SUVs there with road bikes on racks. I resisted the urge to ask why they could not haul their bicycles inside. We have 58 inches from the front seats to the tailgate and are able to get both bikes inside without removing wheels. We use a sleeping bag to prevent the vehicle from getting dirty and the bikes from getting scratched. Bicycles are safest inside a vehicle during transport. Saris bike racks scratch both bikes and cars. Trailer hitch mounts expose bicycles to road dirt, salt and sand and the risk of the bikes falling off is present, Scratches as well. And some idiot may rear end said vehicle.
41*F and rising! Ah, felt great to be on our finest road bikes. Then it hit me, damn, these tires are a lot skinnier than the 38's I have been riding on my daily commutes. I'll adjust. Enjoy the speed. Push it hard. Get the heart rate up and blood flowing. See if I can get the legs to hurt. Keep up with Mary. Then the dark thoughts. I should replace the rear brake cable on Mary's bike. Her wireless computer needs to go. Once again I forgot to re-wrap my bars. Neglected to fix the front derailleur issue on my bike. Man, our bikes are filthy!
We rode the diagonal trail from Waukee to Perry. This is the new section of the RRVT. It was made from the former rail bed. Since trees do not make money for Iowa corn and bean farmers there are very few of them along the trail and what do exist are small. This has been an issue for me. I would like a canopy for hot windy days. Exposure on all sides is not the best thing to ride in. BUT today I appreciated exposure since it dried off the trail.
Not long after we started we encountered the first shady areas. Sure enough it looked wet. Even better there was ice. Find the least icy line which was on our right or the eastern side of the trail. Easy to spot these sections were. No big deal. We also encountered a patch of snow with the consistency of snow cone ice. This was the first ever snow that The Century Machine ever rolled through. No issues and I do admit that I went out of my way to ride through it. Now it may seem that I was freaking out about the ice ect but I knew as soon as the sun went down it would get dangerous. The night before I had a conversation with a friend about riding to Minburn for steak night and if we left right after the discussion it would be dark and cold and icy.
|I needed this photo for FB's Bicycle Ride & Seek page.|
We passed a group of five or six cyclists on our way up. I asked if they we riding back north. Curiosity of trail conditions. Nope, they we heading north for the first time today. We did not stop in Dallas Center. A quick stop in Minburn to take a photo. Nobody was at The Nineteen14 trail side bar. Then our group of friends caught up and rolled ahead so we had to interfere with their nice formation and pass them again. We had to get to the Perry Perk coffee shop before they closed at 1 pm. Seems early but Perry, Iowa, is a small town and it was a Saturday. Google Maps had the Perry Perk located in a building that is experiencing renovations. Even on Saturday they were working on this so we rode through a bit of glass and headed to the Hotel Pattee. Mary inquired at the desk about a coffee shop and the woman told us to go back to where we were and look to the left. Damn you Google!! So we rode back and found it.
|The red X marks the location of the Perry Perk. Lesson: always look around!|
|Really could use a bicycle rack here or across the street. TBH we did not look around the corner.|
|Coffee! I kept wanting to call this place the Perky Perk. Perhaps I will open up a Perky Perk in the future.|
Lack of imagination and desire to keep it simple since they were to close in 40 minutes, we ordered our usual. Iced vanilla latte for Mary and 3 shots over ice for me. Nice beans roasted in Valley Junction. Beans available for purchase but in Mason jars. Perhaps that was decor only. Cannot fathom the pain of going down on ice and landing on a Mason jar in my jersey pocket, glass and coffee beans injected into my body.
The people we passed twice on the trail were at the Mandarin restaurant which was a good thing because it is an example of cyclists helping the economy of trail towns. Another group of bicycles were parked in front of La pasadita (yes uncapped) restaurant. We strolled by on foot to explore the Ben Franklin. Shopping oddity for us big city folk. Blast from Mary's past.
|Grandma or Grandpa, read us a story please.|
On the way back we noticed that The Nineteen14's outdoor patio was packed with cyclists. In fact, many more bikes were on the trail going both directions. Mostly road bikes and an older woman on a fatbike. We stopped at the Big red Chair in Dallas Center for a photo. I placed our bicycles on it for a "grandpa tell us a story" photo. People on the nearby bench offered to photo us on the chair. Nice! Time for the last 6 miles.
We were shy of 40 miles as Waukee approached. I did the calculations and Mary and I turned right as if heading to Adel to make up the difference before tuning back. By the time we reached our auto we had the 40 miles. Mission accomplished! we would be home in time to pick Dora up from work. She never called. Her boyfriend picked her up. I showered and changed into shorts and rode the Verenti to Graziano's for link sausage and buns. Easy filling meal. Still warm enough to wear shorts. Hard to believe it is January.