Sunday, April 27, 2014

Power Plant Rd: 1st Road Bike Action of 2014

I enjoy riding fast racing bikes.  The most efficient bicycles available.  But I see what winter does to bikes and wait until Spring is well established and the roads are clean before busting out La Machine for a ride.  Needless to say, I have been getting itchy to throw a leg over a light weight skinny tire fast bike and soak up some mileage.  This weekend I had the perfect excuse.  My truck was over 90 aways at my in-law's farm.  Left it there the previous weekend.  Why not ride a century to retrieve the F250?  Done this several times.

I glanced at the map once basically to confirm mileage.  I estimated 104 miles to the town of Chillicothe, Iowa, the end of the paved road.  Get there, crack open a celebratory beer purchased at the previous town, Eddyville, and then go into the new bar/restaurant and purchase a drink and call Mary's parents, Dick and Dorothy to pick me up.  I have no desire to ride a bicycle with 700x23 tires up and down some of the steepest gravel road hills in Iowa after riding over 100.  Wrong bike.


This is one of my favorite and challenging rides.  The distance is the killer.  There are a few sections of State and US highway that the faint of heart would say "no way."  A bit of trail added for peace and serenity.  But Mostly county roads less travels.

House to Carlisle, Iowa 12 miles two miles of which are on the Des Moines River Trail.
Carlisle to Indianola on the Summerset Trail
Indianola to Milo on 3 miles of State highway 92 then county road S23 plus 1.6 miles of the McVeigh Trail out of Indianola
S23 to Locona
G76 from Lacona to Attica
Iowa highway 5 from Attica to G71
G71 through Bussey to Iowa 163 to Eddyville
Power Plant Rd to Chillicothe

I've ridden these roads many times, once solo.  Ragbrai, trip to Lake Wapello, 2 times to Ottumwa, once to Chariton.  Did not need a map.


1 2007 LeMond Versailles
2 tubes
2 tire levers
1 presta adapter
1 patch kit
folding hex wrench set
screwdriver with both heads
electrical tape
mobile phone
mobile phone that only plays music
spare battery for music mobile phone
energy cell for charging phones and camera
5 Power Bars
3 packets of those Power Bar energy gels
2 water bottles
NiteRider light with spare battery
cateye front flasher
rear flasher
Black Diamond 55 lumen headlamp
AAA batteries
rain jacket that works as warmth layer
safety vest
handlebar bag
frame bag
Camelbak without the bladder to be used as a backpack

I tried to place the CycloSound on the bike but the there was not enough room on the rails.  After finding an alternative set of speakers which also did not fit I opted to place the music Droid in the upper left pocket of my safety vest and play it at full volume.  Not the best but better than no music and I could still hear cars behind me.

Too much stuff.  But I was a bit paranoid about a flat and after reading the Trans Iowa racers' packing list I felt compelled.  I would be all alone.  Nothing broke, no flats.  Some holes in the road had me scared but the wheels and bike held together.  NiteRider battery lasted until no longed needed.  Android stereo's battery lasted for 80 miles before I swapped.  It was at this point that I placed my mobile on the charger.  Twitter posts, texting, Google Maps and "searching for service" sucked the life out of it.


Planned take off was set at 2 am.  I could get to Milo or Lacona before sunrise and beat the traffic on 92.  Previously I would leave at 4 am.  I was 10 minutes late getting ready.  Then Timmy came home.  Not just home about 230 am but Hugo, kid across the street, was with him to carry Tanner inside.  Apparently, Tanner was picked up a party for being drunk and wasted.  Being the good friend Timmy is, he enlisted Hugo's help to carry Tanner home.  He could not walk or speak.  Timmy kept saying, 'Come on, you father is looking down on you now, get in."  His father passed away in November.  Not really a good way to talk to someone totally fucked up but why would a 17 year old know that someone as wasted as Tanner is basically incapable of anything but breathing and sleeping at that level of boozing.  I was going to suggest that they leave him on the deck to sleep it off and to make it easier to clean up the puke but they had him inside and upstairs before I could intervene.  80 lb teenagers should not consume large amount of booze especially if depressed.  I was told he was sick at the party and not at my home and called Timmy to pick him up.  I hope he learned from this.  Distraction aside it was time to ride.

I did not take a test ride.  Just prepped the bike and left.  New wrap on the bars, new computer, new bags, new light system.  Roll, baby, roll.  Nearly ran over a possum on the DMRT.  Played dead then ran right out in front of me.  Had to remove my jacket at the 3.5 mile mark.  This would become a SOP.  Heading east on Evergreen Rd I was able to shift into big ring and get it above 20 mph.  But that road is rough, probably the 2nd worst surface I encountered on the ride, and the NiteRider fell off the bars.  Stop again and fix it.  It lasted this time.  No more issues.  A heard of deer watched me fix the light.  I turned right at the end of Evergreen instead of my usual left.  This avoided a long hill and some hidden scenic and twisty byway but at nearly 3am it was the right decision.  Cut off a mile and avoided a hill.

There was a police car driving in Carlisle when I rolled in.  The officer did not follow me.  I discovered that the Casey's General Store was open, a 24 hour store, and decided to stop.  This is something I always do here on any ride.  I wasted money on a Mello Yello, drank half of it.  Thought I could use a little sugar and caffeine before seeking the sanctuary of the trail.  I did not eat breakfast nor drink before leaving home.  My water bottles were untouched at this point.

The trail was fine and empty.  A bout of object impermanence swept over me.  Every Time I looked behind me nothing would be visible.  Nada.  It was as if the world ceased to be after I rolled through. Strange sensation.  Not only did Indianola bring the light back into my world the heat of the city felt better than the cold trail.  I stopped at the end of the trail at the trail head and ate a Power Bar and drank some water.  The restrooms are open for the season now.

Artist rendering of the moonrise.  My camera would not have done this scene justice.  My drawing does not either but it's all I have.

Highway 92 was empty in my lane. An upholstered chair was at the side of the road but it was dark and a photographer was lacking.  It would have spent at least a half an hour setting up lights for the shot.  Another missed Geocouching.  I was passed by 1 car and that was at my turn off.  Staring ahead on the empty road I saw something that may have been a lighted sign on a business.  It was not.  It was the moon, now just a sliver but blood red.  A red star was to the right of it.  Classic crescent moon with star as a mark of a Islamic holiday.  Alas, county highway S23 appeared and it was time to depart the state road.

I like S23.  I have taken it from here (2 to 3 miles east of Indianola to Chariton, Iowa.  Sure, there are a few hills but there are flat parts and a lack of major traffic.  The towns of Milo and Lacona lie on this county road.  But I hit the Saturday rush hour and got passed by 4 or 5 vehicles, mostly pick up trucks.

Milo was still asleep.  Casey's was closed.  A sign said that it was junk removal day which explained the piles of trashed household goods in front of most every house.  Probably a few couches and upholstered chairs that would qualify for Geocouching but it was too dark.  I left them alone.

Somewhere between Milo and Lacona the sun started to come up.  I switched the NiteRider to flash mode since I no longer required the solid.  O'Neill's Irish bar appeared to be ope.  A truck was outside and all the neon was on.  It is now 630 am and I have ridden nearly 45 miles.  Resisting the urge I never stopped in.  The gas station in Lacona was open but they did not have any hot breakfast food.  Disappointedly I purchased a turkey and cheese sandwich and a liter of water and rode to the park at the top of the hill to consume this.  First I topped off the main water bottle.  Cold food and cold air.  Time for my jacket to come out of the Camelbak and return to cover my arms and torso until I got sweaty again.

50 mile selfie east of Lacona.

Headed east out of town on G76 for 30 miles of hills. The twin cities of Melcher Dallas would mark about 10 miles of that but to stop there would require about a mile off route.  Attica was another 10 miles but nothing is in that town but houses and farmer businesses.  I stayed long enough to update Twitter and text Mary.  Mobile phone service was lacking in Lacona.

Among the worst shoulders to ride on.  Miles and miles of this bullshit.

The Highway 5 blues.  It really is a short stretch, maybe 5 miles.  But the road is narrow and apparently too many cagers fall asleep on it so they put major rumbles on the shoulder.  the shoulder is narrow anyway and I had perhaps 6" to work with.  Given the slight hills and curves on the highway I felt safest on the shoulder.  But when I saw the turn for T17 I was never happier.  It was the wrong turn.  I should have waited another half mile.  Having made the proper turn on previous trips I should have remembered that T71 leads to the wrong direction and town.  But I was glad to be off 5.

Imagine riding downhill at speed between the gravel and the rumbles.  I don't have to, I remember doing this several times.  There is no choice but to do this or throw the map out and add miles.  highway 5 Blues.

Things were wrong.  First the wind, stronger than before.  Other than slowing me down the wind prevented me from hearing vehicles approaching from behind.  Hills next.  I only remembered one hill on this road.  When did a Christian summer camp open up here?  The familiar houses were not appearing.  Twin Cedars schools were not there either.  But I did see a Twin Cedar School District bus parked at a house on T71.  And the Bussey ambulance also drove by.  It was the stop sign at the intersection of "Old Highway 92" that got me off the bike to study Google Maps.  I missed a paper map because it would have shown me the error of my way immediately.  But Google Maps shows every dirt goat path and had me thinking I could get to Bussey from where I was.  I puzzled over this for some time and concluded that I could take old 92.  Old 92 is a very rough road.  Had to dodge cracks and holes constantly.  But the roughest part was the sign that said pavement ends in 2.5 miles.  No freaking bueno!  Time to ponder Google Maps for another 10 minutes.  Surely the gravel would be short into the town of Tracy.  And surely there would be a paved road to Bussey from there.  I got about three full pedal strokes in and I saw the Conoco station.  Why not ask a local and get a Mountain Dew?

After I stepped in I thought I entered someone's house.  There were gas pumps outside but the interior did not look like a service station.  A woman and two men inside, average age 75.  She asked me what I was looking for and all I could utter was "pop."  "In the fridge."  It was a household refrigerator with a choice of can or 24oz bottle.  The later was the choice.  Then I queried about Bussey.  I really hate talking to locals about directions.  They have different names for the roads than a real map and Google Maps has other names.  I told them I was trying to get to Bussey and they told me to turn araoung.  The road turns to gravel.  You don't want to ride on that.  How far back.  5 or 6 miles.  How far from T17 to G71 (the right road).  Took them 3 minutes to answer that.  6 miles.  Then they figured out what the question was and said 1/2 mile.  I was offered a ride.  Declined.  Now I will solidify the century.  Then the inevitable "do you do the Ragbrai" question came up.  How do I answer this one?  Smile and say yes.  they don't need to know that I am an off route sinner who carries his own shit and avoids the circus.  Tailwind time.  Shoved the Dew into the jersey pocket, swapped the music battery, put the phone on the charger, choked down a Power Bar and tried to make up for lost time.  At least the wind was with me.

Sure enough it was a half mile.  I think I lost over an hour on T17 which in my mind stands for "Timelost 1 hour and 7 minutes.  12 mile mistake.  On G71 I instantly saw the houses I remembered and the school and the long hill that Mary and I bust the tandem's chain on during Ragbrai a decade ago or so.  The wind was much stronger and I was going slower.  I've lost a lot of time.

Wilson's Corner is my stop.  Follow the maze to the restroom.  Used to be a painted line but now there ware about 40 signs leading the way to the toilets.  Pizza was not ready and the only hot food was an eggroll.  A ham sandwich this time and a bag of chips for the sodium I had lost.  And a liter of water to fill my bottle and wash down the food.  My water consumption was increasing.  A good thing, right?

13 miles from town to highway 163.  A very hilly and windy 13 miles.  When I reached the Des Moines River I knew I was a mere hill climb and a mile away from 163 and the short stint to Eddyville.  3 miles of riding on that shoulder to the turn off.  But there are signs indicating that it is a bike route.
Highway 163 3 miles north of Eddyville is one of the few four lanes where "bike" route signs are posted

Casey's in Eddyville would be my last stop.  Two slices of greasy pepperoni pizza, a liter of water, my bottle was dry again, and a Shock Top Tallboy.  No 12 cans for individual sale.  Other cans were the 25oz cans or a skinny Bud Light aluminum can which probably would have fit better in the frame bag.  I opted for taste since Shock Top is a guilty pleasure of mine.  Friendly staff.  The young woman told me the water was a buy one and get the other one free but I had no room or need.  Had the same special been for the Belgian ale I purchased, hell yeah!  Thank you!!  Asked how to get to the Power Plant Rd I was given proper directions.  I asked out of curiosity since I already knew the way.  Got to test the locals at times.  In classic biker fashion I consumer the pizza outside on the curb.

This road takes one throught the industrial heart of southern Iowa.  Heartland Lysine, Cargill, Martin Marietta, some other manufacturing and a IHCC bioengineering facility lined the route. Off course it was hilly.  The wind picked up again.  Fun and games on the last stretch.  I had my precious New Order playing, a huge power plant to watch grow bigger as I creeped closer and closer and the knowledge that this ride was almost over.  Look at the power plant, watch some turkey vultures and look for the final turn.  I was hoping to exceed 116 miles to be proud of my estimation of 104 miles to Chillicothe.  the extra 12 miles would confirm the wrong turn.

After an eternity the turn came.  I stopped at the Barnyard, formerly Cooper's Corner, and parked at the bench and crack open the Shock Top.  Drank about half of it before calling for the airstrike.  Had I known that the Barnyard would have been open I would not have brought my own.  Since it was open I went in and asked for Fireball.  She looked confused.  "Got beer?"  The place used to be a bar, now it serves food and beer.  Millstream Brewery is the top shelf beer which more than works for me.  $3.75 for Back Road Stout which seemed fitting for the ride.  Then I ordered a pale ale for the farm since Dorothy just pulled up.  Good thing too as could have drank several more before driving home.

I talked to Dick and Dorothy for about a 1/2 hour before schepping the bike in back of my truck and driving home.  Had to drive with my biking clothes on since I had no "civilian" clothing.  At this point I was down to shorts, tights and long sleeve under armour.  Black, totally black.  It was 84F according to the porch thermometer.  The drive home was difficult.  I was tired.  9 hours ride time, 12 hours over all time.  Not my best time but given the wind was up to 30 mph in my face I was glad to have made it.  Took a lot to keep myself awake--slapping my face, pinching, playing the Sex Pistols at volume.  Even considered burning myself with the cigarette lighter. But I made it home alive and without killing anyone.  Just in time to change clothes and grab a fat bike and ride to Mullets for dinner.  Life is good!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

You'd Think I'd Know By Now

Bags provided by the Des Moines Register.  Gotta keep 'em dry!  Sandals dry faster than regular shoes FYI.

I listened to the weather broadcast.  I checked the radar and forecast yet I left the house without rain gear or sunglasses.  Similarly, I ride thousands of miles without a pump, spare tube or tire levers.  One of these days.  Sure, the tandem had a flat about a month ago when I rode to Angel's house for dinner on a trail that I use twice a day Monday through Friday without incident.  I also listen to people who query, "You don't have a tube or pump on you?"  When I go on long rides and tours, yes, I am prepped for that, commuting, well, that takes precious space that should be filled with wine and chicken and veggies.  Thought that I'd learn by now to be prepared.

When commuting I carry a presta adapter and patch kit.  Only use the former.  Twice I pushed the bike to Kum&Go and aired the tire up and rode home without further disturbance.  Even plot in my mind where the next air device is.  This was not the case on Monday.

Monday was a great day.  Woke up feeling good and rode strong.  Kicked ass on the way to work.  Flew home as well.  Until I reached the raccoon River bridge in Water Works Park.  10 yeards north of the bridge I rolled over some tree debris.  Cross tires should handle it, no problemo.  A familiar thump thump thump soud.  I stopped, hoping it was a mere piece of tree crap caught in the cleats of the tire.  nothing.  Gave the tire a squeeze.  It felt fine.  Roll on!

Half a mile later it was obvious.  Losing air in the front tire.  By the time I was 2.5 miles from home the bastard was flat.  Decision time.  This tire has probably a few thousand miles on it and is susceptible to piercings from twigs.  It was the tire that went flat two weeks ago.  I have no pump and the fixstation is 2 miles away.  There is a tire in the shed that I pulled out the last time it failed on me but I gave the tire another chance.  To hell with it.

I rode the flat for over 2 miles.  Videotaped the noise it made.  Yes, this tire will be trashed as soon as I get home.  Sad to admit it but I am experienced with riding on flats.

So yesterday the sky turned ugly and we were treated to a never ending rain.  Despite, as I mentioned earlier, having known about it I left my rain gear at home.  I was hoping that the fact I left my sunglasses at home would balance out and I would have a dry ride.  So I stayed as late as I could at work before mounting the FX, different front tire installed, and headed home.  I did do one thing to help with the weather.  My feet were placed in bread bags before I strapped my sandals on.  Keep the feet dry.

Dry ride!  Even stopped on the trail to add a layer because it was cold.  The trail was not totally empty and I saw a variety of bicycle clothing styles fromTdF wannabes to cargo shorts baggers to full face mask on a road bike.  These people had tailwind.  I did not.

But when I crossed the Raccoon where the tire expired on Monday the rain began.  Just a few sprinkles.  I laughed.  Same location.  Totally not prepared.  Two long sleeve shirts and no rain gear, not pump, no spare tube.

The rain stopped and I was dry before I got home.  Never soaked, always stoked.  So today I grabbed the rain jacket and put the baggies that the newspaper arrives in over my socks.  A light rain was happening.  Got to keep the feet, torso and head dry.  The rain quit after 6 miles and I set a recod on the FX.  Gonna be a bright, bright sun shiney day.  My sunglasses are home along with my spare tube  and pump.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Place Where SUVs Go To Die

He called it Gilligan's Trail and the place next to it Gilligan's Island.  An hour later I checked it out with my barber.  True, that's what people call it.  Two fishing ponds nestled east of SE 14th and south of Maury in Des Moines, Iowa.  My barber said that he was back there in the 60s.  I was back there to run an offroad test of my recently acquired Mongoose Dolomite fatbike (cheap).  I was hoping to spot a junked car that I spied when riding the Des Moines River Trail across the river earlier in the week.  Also hoped to find a discarded couch for the Geocouching game I had been playing.

I left my house around 7 am on Saturday for an hour ride before Gomez Barber opened at 8 am.  We would be leaving for Mary's parents around 10 am.  Time was tight.  I caught the DMRT at SE 6th and left it at SE 14th to cross the river and dive into the tree line on the river's north shore.  A bit wider than singletrack the trail here was made by 4x4s and ATVs.  The place was marked by fishing spots, beer cans and firepits.


This was the first find.  Its cushions were about 20 yards away so I did not bother to fetch them.  I had to flatten a beer can to use as a camera platform in a small tree since I lacked a photographer.  My Emerson go-pro was used to make a video in which I later took a screenshot for the "official" Geocouching submission.

Tripods are very helpful when taking photos without assistance.  I had to make my own.  Fortunately, there was a beer can readily available to use to hold the camera in this small tree.  I set the camera on video mode since it lacks a timer.

Continuing down the trail I discovered a Chevy truck badly stuck in mud.  A young man had started a campfire as he waited for rescue.  Apparently, he got stuck after pulling a friend's truck out of a similar situation.  He said that they come down here often to remove abandoned vehicles for scrap.  A noble action rewarded with the $$ a junked truck can obtain.


This Blazer was blazed.  I was told by my guide that they moved it here for extraction but someone keeps moving it to a sandbar before they can get a trailer in here to take it out.  To thwart further sandbarring they placed the SUV on a large log.

Buried upside down!

This is the one I spotted from the Des Moine River Trail.  Someone spent a lot of money over a 5 year period to purchase this Chevy Blazer.  Probably been sold a few times before ending up here.  

Need a professional to identify this one.  Final stages of car rot.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Commuters of the Year

Based on my humble opinion on people that I see and witness riding nearly every single work day of the year I name David and Paul as Commuters of the Year.  Criteria: riding their bicycles to and from work--commuting.  Does not matter if they did not ride 1000 miles in a month or brag about about it like a certain blogger I know (me).  And after receiving the Chevian Bicycle Award for Biking Excellence I am sure they will still ride bicycles to work again and again.

Paul begins his commute somewhere north of Grand Ave.  He enters the Walnut Creek Trail from the Waveland Trail just next to the wooden bridge that leads to the 63rd St underpass.  He can be found on a hybrid and a cyclocross bike and if conditions warrant a Trek MTB with studded tires.  All these bicycles with a bright light and bright rear flasher.  He is one of the few that will place a hand over the light to avoid temporarily blinding people,  He rides downtown and back Monday through Friday.  If trails are flooded or too snow and ice covered to use he takes the streets.  mary and I have seen him on Ingersoll Ave when we avoided the trails.  Paul will stop and talk if communication is necessary to convey the status of trails.  Paul also stopped and talked to me during my celebratory beer, Stone's Cali-Beli IPA, for my 1000th mile for 2014.  I wished I had a second bottle or a glass to pour him some.  We know each other by name and know who is running ahead or behind schedule by where we meet.

David L. is a bicycle commuter from Urbandale.  Every morning he rides to the State capital complex 12 or so miles.  David also uses more than one bike for this duty.  The heart of the winter he will be on a red Cannondale MTB with a set of Continent tires without studs.  Brave man for not using studded tires in the winter.  No rack or panniers just a backpack to schelp his items to work.  David appears to be a very quiet and unassuming individual.  A very good role model for promoting bicycling.  He never dresses as if he is riding in the Tour de France or wears Team Clone (copycat not ISU) apparel.  An ordinary person who chooses to ride a bicycle to work.  His lights are literally not the brightest and often in need of fresh batteries but still visible.  However, his reflective clothing is superior to most.  Best to be scene rather than to blind those around you.  

These people ride every day all year round.  Even when it is -5F and windy they will be biking to work.  I recall the day we received that late afternoon blizard  and cars were stuck in traffic going nowhere fast, David exclaimed, "and people think we are stupid!"  

I also saw David the day the hail hit and left 2" of slush everywhere and then the 30 mph wind.  I was at Mullets and looked outside and saw him riding toward Urbandale fighting the wind and slush.  The slush really slowed me down but at least I had a tailwind.  I ran outside and called for him but he did not hear,  Moving about 7 mph at best he inced further and further to home.  I wanted to buy him a beer and arrange a SAG,  It was hell on the trail I I knew he would be fighting it for another hour or so.

He or she that freezes their blood solid and ass off in the merciless winter shall be my brother or sister.  He or shee that boils their blood and sweats their ass off in summer commuting to work shall be my brother or sister too.  David and Paul do that.  I look forward to seeing them on Monday.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tandem Ride Around the Metro

As close to Geocouching as we got today.  1 chair hidden in this pile of junk.

Today we were supposed to ride to the Trestle.  But threat of rain and Friday night's escapades forced us to reconsider.  Hangover City.  I did not drink that much, not as much as I did on the Fool's Ride.  I blame the three Tall Grass Brewery Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Stout.  Bad reaction that I cannae fix.

After the milk run I filled my mug with coffee and milk and had my son ride a bike with me for this photo op. 

We slept in late.  It was almost 8am before I managed to get up, let Fritz out and started coffee.  No milk so I grabbed the Beast and rode to Best Trip for some of AE's finest.  Mary was still in bed.  Joe came over to do laundry.

By 11 am we were rolling.  Fisher Gemini tandem that we use for touring.  I needed food to cure the hangover.  We headed to Valley Junction.  But nothing here seemed appealing.  Mary suggested that we head to Grand Ave and have the pick of the two Mexican establishments, Abelardo's and La Bamba.  I picked the former.  No where to lock the tandem up so I chained it to a light pole.  #8 for me, #9 for Mary and we each had a large Coke.  When in Mexico...

Behind a locked gate lies this.  Is it a house, a nature center, church, cult temple, UFO landing site?  Between Hickman Rd and Douglas Pkwy

We decide that from here we would take a long sweep of the west and north before turning east to Johnston, Iowa, to visit my mother in rehab at Bishop Drumm.  Hopped on the trail at 63rd and Grand and took the Clive Greenbelt to its connection to the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  From there we turned at the sign for the trail 133rd street.  This led us to a nice trail that goes behind the Deerfield Senior Center.  It is a gorgeous wooded area and we cannot wait until autumn so we can ride through again and admire the fall colors.

Mary is starting to enjoy this sport of Geocouching.  One day we will find a couch for a photo.

Eventually we ended up on Douglas and took that to 128th.  With the strong wind finally pushing us we flew to SE19th Granger, Iowa/NW62nd Johnston, Iowa.  Not the best intersection to cross 141 but there is a traffic light with a button.  Mary hopped off the bike to push it and on the 2nd cycle we finally got the green.  Unfortunately, everybody wanted to follow us when the otherwise empty road turned into something of a clown car.  I needed to stop at the Kum&Go for a drink since my bottle had dried up long ago.  Not used to going from the 40s to the mid 80s so quickly.  Pull over and wait.  After rehydrating the road was empty and a few blocks away the sidepath and four lane began.

At Pioneer we opted for their trail to work our way south since Bishop Drumm is south of here.  If you ride on this trail wanting to cut through to Merle Hay Rd remember to head to IPTV instead of taking the scenic loop on Pioneer's fitness trail.  Yes, we looped.

Once free of the trails we were on target to visit my mother.  45 minutes for those that count.  We still had 11 miles to go and most likely a dog with a full bladder that needs to go out.  The Trestle to Trestle Trail and Neal Smith Trail were the ticket home.

A great day to ride.  The first time all year that the temperature passed the 80F mark.  Sure it was windy, 20+ mph SSW but that did not prevent people from enjoying the trails.  The trails were busy with bikes, walkers, baby strollers, dogs ect.  If you build it they will use it.  Nice to ride on some virgin trail for a change.  Not the long ride we needed but still some serious saddle time.  42 miles.  Hangover cured.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Geese of West Des Moines

this one was found at the parking lot near Mercy Hospital in West Des Moines.  Nothing here but the sand mess left from dealing with slick icy roads.

I do not know if it has anything to do with climate change but the goose population of Des Moines has skyrocketed since I have moved here some 2 decades ago.  Ride through Water Works Park and head to Mullets.  Geese everywhere living off the river and ponds.  During the coldest days if you ride along the Des Moines River Trail you can see them in significant numbers in the open waters of the river.  Bald eagles are there too which begs the question, why don't eagles eat geese?  But in West Des Moines the geese has adapted to urban life.

During the winter of  2012/13 I used to ride on Ashworth Rd to get to my place of employment in West Des Moines, Iowa.  On the way home I would have to take Pleasant to Woodland.  Somewhere here there are apartment complexes that geese like to live.  No pool, no pond.  Snow, streets and parking lots.  Maybe a few trees.  WHY???  I would ask myself.  One day two of these dirty fowl were staring into the sliding glass doors of a flat as if they were watching television.  Mind blowing.

This year I take the direct route--trail, Buffalo Rd and Westown Pkwy to get to work.  Sure enough there are geese along here as well.  No ponds, no streams, just streets, parking lots and businesses.  I usually see a few across the street from red Lobster at 545 am.  Weird.

Now there exists good habitat for these birds in the form of man made ponds along Westown Pkwy.  But the corporations that own them employ tactics to keep them away.  I have seen a company called Goose-Be-Gone come out.  A person with 2 dogs will walk around the corporate lake and chase the birds away.  Another placed electric fences and cut out wolf silhouette around their pond.  I kinda like the Goose-Be-Gone method.  I'd love to get paid to walk and scare bird with a pair of dogs.

So why do they do this?  Because geese leave green OB tampon sized turds on fitness trails.  That's why.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fool's Ride 2014

The photographer of this photo moments earlier endoed his bike when we flagged him down.  Dave.  Not sure how to spell his last name but it was good to see him.  Left to right; Colin, Mikey, Mary, me, and Dave, founding members of Team Mystery Machine.

After a five year absence I returned to one of the best early Spring rides in Iowa, The Fool's Ride.  This ride is held the first Saturday of April, the first Saturday after Aprils Fool's Day.  The ride takes place along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail between the cities of La Porte City and Brandon, Iowa.  Food and entertainment is provided at a place called Phat Albert's.  So 5 of us Mystery Machiners converged on La Porte City to participate along with many people who I did not know plus a few I did know.  Des Moines was also well represented by the presence of BV Heather and KOB, two of the finest baggers in the State.

The Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

Because the trail is not paved, crushed limestone surface, and the snow still exists in ditches and mainly because my list of functioning bicycles with offroad tires is shrinking, we took the Mongoose fatbikes.  This would be the Dolomite's first public outing.  I let Mary ride it because it has gears and brakes.  I rode the Beast, single speed with coaster brakes.  Since replacing the 18T rear cog with a 22T I feel comfortable that I could ride this bike a fair distance with others on normal bikes.  Besides, the lack of racks and bags would limit the amount of beer I could carry and potential trouble I could create.  Colin took a touring bike with wide road tires, Dave a MTB and Mikey was on his road bike.  I was very happy with the Beast and Dolomite, perfect for the ride and trail surface.


I have no clue how many people were on the ride.  Perhaps 200.  No official sign up or roster.  Most rode MTBs and hybrids.  A few Des Moines folks took touring bikes.  I was impressed with the amount of people on the ride.  I was more impressed that they did not begin on time which was a good thing for us since we arrived late.

The Beast was put to good use.  Grocery bag to collect empty bevie containers.  It also carried my cooler and the new lights we needed for the ride back.

Fool's riders are the same as the bikers I hang out with in Des Moines.  They purchase beer in town and stop on bridges.  A large gathering was at the intersection of a former detour the ride took the previous year when a bridge was out.  Just people on bicycles enjoying themselves on a warm early Spring afternoon.

Taking a break.

Phat Albert's was under a Stratocaster and saxaphone attack by Bryce  Janey with special guest Skeeter Lewis.  Good sweet old R&B.  People danced and let loose.  Some girls entered the beer garden dressed as if they hit a tree on their ride to Brandon.    No cover charge and brats and burgers available.

She had a run in with a tree.

It was dark on the way back to La Porte City.  After securing the bikes at the vehicles we went to the PnB Brew Pub for food, libations and the band WAGG.  Once again no cover.  WAGG is a cover band and the singer plays a Strat.  Many and I danced with the others.  Food was mercifully available.

At the end of the night the Designated Driver took us to Cedar Falls where we crashed at Dave's apt.  We watched Ride The Divide on NetFlix before going to sleep.  dave fixed us a wonderful breakfast and after we ate he gave us a ride back to our truck for the journey back to Des Moines.  A very gracious host and excellent cook!

We plan to return.  Perhaps in September when the ride is called the Sloof Ride.  Until then we will smile at the great memories.  Great to be on bikes outside with old friends.  Life does not get much better than that!

SUPPLEMENTAL:  I am always amazed whenever I get to the Cedar River.  Is this Iowa's most beautiful waterway?  I've ridden bikes near it.  Canoed on it.  Stood on hills/bluffs above it.  Its breath taking beauty never ceases to amaze me. 

This cooler is also a backpack!  Strapped it on the bmx bars and secured it with 2 zip ties!  No problems!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Yeah, New Wheel Time!

Things happen for a reason.  Maybe.  Monday I rode the 520 to work.  8 hours later the rear tire is flat.  The cause of which is not determined.  The tire lacked the usual suspects, holes, thorns, glass, bits of wire, screws and nails to name a few.  So I check to see what I have.  New tube, levers, min--pump and a presta adapter.  The only item I wanted was the presta adapter.

I pushed the Trek to the Kum&Go on the northeast corner of Work's property and fill the tire up.  Too load from cars and wind to determine if there is a bad leak.  I gamble that I could make it to the next gas station before the tire deflates.  I made it all the way home.

The bike sat for two days before I replaced the tube.  I even dug out an old tire just in case.  What I discovered maded these items next to useless.  The brake surface was totally shot.  Yep, holes in the rim.  New wheel time.  No need to worry about getting the true before Ragbrai.

I have no idea how many miles on on that wheel.  It was a replacement wheel from when I got hit by a SUV after visiting Colin when he lived on Center St.  I could look it up on the bike log.  That would be effort.  Suffice to say that wheel has many miles on it possibly 5 digits.

So maybe that why the bugger went flat.  Just so I could look at it before major failure.  Life threatening, bone breaking collapse.  Amen.  Another expense on the list.  Two road bikes to prep before June.  Mary's touring bike to resurect.  A new wheelset for my touring bike.  Expensive April and May in my future.