Saturday, April 29, 2017

"Be Careful"

The car that started it all.  Held up quite well, really, and the airbags did not deploy.

I hear this almost everyday from people who do not ride, cagers.  I think what they are really saying is "Hey, we totally suck at keeping our 2 ton+ metal/plastic motorized boxes under control.  Most of us will be playing on the phone while driving so just be aware that we may negligently run you over unless we are stopped by crashing into ourselves first."  The last two days proved this to be prophetic.

Thursday I decide to exchange the safety of the trail for a bike lane in order to stop at a Fred's Bike Shop and Zzz Records.  Got to keep my head swiveling and eyes open.  Busy road with car storage (on street parking) blocking the view of drivers leaving business.  Sure enough, a red car coming out of Bruegger's Bagels almost broadsides me as it attempts to pull out on the street.  It saw me at almost the last moment and slammed on its brakes.  Yes, foot hit the proper pedal.  I nearly drifted left out of the bike lane but held my ground.  There may have been a car in my blind spot and I would have been hit/ran over while avoiding the red car.  Parking is the real issue.  Cars are parked up to the driveway at every business on Ingersoll Ave.  Low profile vehicles are hidden.

Then the next day I witnesses the aftermath of driving mistakes.  One co-worker is telling me about a stalled vehicle on the freeway near the exit ramp, middle lane.  She had to change lanes quickly and pulled out in front of a large pick up truck who had to slam on its brakes and honk at her.  Collision avoided.  She is very nervous from this event and almost freaked out when a black truck appeared in the parking lot.  "He found me!"  It was someone else but in the age of drive bys and road rage one can never be too sure.

But 10 minutes later we looked out the window and saw 4 vehicles smashed up in our own parking lot.  Apparently, one person was pulling into a parking spot and hit the gas instead of the brakes.  She went flying over the curb, over the grass and down the other curb and hit a car and spun around.  The second attempt to hit the brakes revealed that she failed to moved her foot and the accelerator was floored again and a second vehicle was struck and this one collided into a third or fourth vehicle.  4 cars in total were involved.  Two of these cars were rendered inoperable.  Nobody was hurt, thankfully, but people were visibly shaken.  This all occurred where I often make a wide turn to line up with the walkway to the bike rack.  Those that did not witness nor hear the details of this incident said "wow, that car must have been flying through the parking lot!"

In the past, speed bumps have been employed to get people to slow down.  The maintenance people hate this because it is a major pain because they have to remove them during the winter for snow removal.  Thus, that practice has been halted but every now and then enough complaints filter through and the threat of speed bumps is communicated to the staff.  This is because of driving etiquette or the lack of.  The event I described would not have been prevented by speed bumps.  A wall was needed to stop that car!

When I got home, having miraculously missed the rain, I turned on the news and listened to reports of 4 car wrecks throughout the metro and saw a story of a truck crashing into someone's house!  Good Lord, another house ran over by a vehicle!  <link to truck crashing into house>  Perhaps if the house wore a hi-viz and reflective safety vest and had an orange flag the driver of the truck would have seen it and not have collided with it. Perhaps if someone told the house to be careful.....  This has to be the third house/vehicle collision this year and it is only the end of April.

So whenever someone sees me loading up my bike and preparing to ride home and says, "Be careful,"  I just smile and tell them to be careful, too.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bourbon, Rye and Dirty Bastards

Spring or Springs was another item on the Ride & Seek list for April.  I took advantage of the world's longest train when Mary and I got stuck downtown after eating at Fighting Burritos.

It's been a cold, and gloomy cloudy 3 weeks in Iowa and the sun finally decided to come out for this weekend.  Forecasted high for Saturday was 71F.  Officially in Des Moines it reached 76F.  The Sirens Call for a long ride was ringing in my ears worse than my tinnitus.  The plan was to ride to Bondurant with Mary but the need to chauffeur our daughter for a band solo competition put an ax in that.  So I decided that I ride to Cumming and be back in time to hook up with Mary and do another 20 to 30 to 40 miles with her once Dora was done and safely off to work.  A quick 23 miles on the roadie and then possibly tandem with Mary.  Then the phone rang.

Rob on the Troll Bridge

Rob den Hartog on line one.  "Do you want to ride with me and Kevin to Martensdale (44 miles)?"  Why not?  Could knock this out quickly and still meet Mary by 1230 pm.  "Yes, yes I would."  Our rendezvous would be at Orlando's at 8 am.  This would be the same people I rode with to thwe High Trestle back in October.
DISCLAIMER/APOLOGY  Yes, I said I'd do the Capacity Ride.  But damn it, it's going to be in the 70s!  I'd hate to waste this opportunity by  riding a block and standing around in a bar day drinking for a few hours and then riding 7 more miles and stand in a bar day drinking and come home all fouled up.  No offense, that's a January ride and I've been doing it for what seems like 5 months.  had it been raining, then yes.  But I needed to get out.

So it was a little after 8 am when I rolled up to Orlando's.  Took my LeMond and tore up the house looking for a spare tube just in case.  I noticed that George Flagg is all tore up for expansion and repaving.  20 years too late but at least it should be done in a month.  I was grateful for the new rock path from SW 30th to the trailhead on Flagg.  Even the entrance to the Ikes is blocked.  Rob took to the grass to get to and fro Water Works.

It was a fast ride to Cumming.  As usual my commuter speed did not allow me to adjust to riding a fast bike with a fast person so I had to work at it for a lot of the ride.  The headwind did not help.  At Cumming we called Kevin and he met us at the Tap despite it being closed.  Kevin said the magic words, "Anyone want a beer?"  Why yes, we would like a beer."  He then produced 3 cans of Founder's Dirty Bastard Scottish Ale.  "It's not the coldest," he apologized but often quality beer does not need to be at near freezing temperatures to enjoy.  Rob and I were grateful.  Neither of us had a touring bike and bags like Kevin had, LHT.  One and done then off to Martensdale.

Kevin on the Troll Bridge playing with his phone.
A better photo of Kevin playing with his phone on the Troll Bridge.  Me apparently speaking Italian (talking with my hands).

One quick stop at Kevin and Kari's homestead where we got to look at sheep and play with sheep dogs.  What a wonderful place to call home!
We noticed that the cracks that had been filled with tar now had a sorta of brown tar on them and that these were very soft and made your bike wobble when you rode over them.  Not good.  These are all south of Cumming.  Avoid if all possible.

Kari and Kevin's sheep are in the family way!  How low will their bellies go?  Photo stolen from Kari's FB page.  Why on earth did I not think of taking my own photos?  I would have had 8 or 9 sheep looking at me.
This dog did not like me at first until he discovered that I could throw a ball for him to fetch.  Photo stolen from Kari's FB page.

Of note were all the trail users on this section of trail.  Normally, I only see a few bikes south of Cumming.  But today quite a few.  Walkers too as we approached Martensdale.

Another one and done at the trailhead in Martensdale.  We missed the Road Side Inn and are disappointed that a 4 wheeler business took over the building.  We did not go down the hill to the gas station.

Me on the Troll Bridge, Dirty Bastard in hand.

On the way back we stopped at the Troll Bridge and had 1 or 2 Dirty Bastards.  Mary called and said she was ready.  I suggested that she meet us.  She did after hosing off her bike and lubing the chain.  Her last ride on it was wet and filthy.  She met us just east of the site formally known as the Lean To.

Once back in Cumming we stopped at Iowa Distillery.  I like their Swell Vodka and Prairie Fire cinnamon whiskey.  Today we sampled bourbon and rye.  I liked the bourbon and plan to purchase a bottle when I am back with a bike with bags.  Kevin purchased something but I forgot to ask.  Interesting, one of the patrons there was a State Representative from Wisconsin with his wife.  Apparently, he met with Iowa's governor the day before.  He asked how far we biked and where we were from.  We expressed the importance of trails such as the Great Western Trail and it's impact on the communities it goes through and the tourism.  Also we noted that the beer, wine and spirits industry should be encouraged to flourish.  Keep it civil.

With that we parted ways, Kevin heading home and Rob and I heading north.  Soon we found Mary and were a trio again.  I had a great surge of speed and left them behind until I reached McKinley Rd and stopped to wait.  But what did I see?  A GeoCouch!  Upside down near Frink's Creek with Busch Light cans underneath.  Yes, I had to do this.  Mary was the photographer.

Iowa GeoCouch #42
Just off of SW McKinley next to the trail and the dead end.  This cannot be seen from the trail.  Mary did not see the dead weed between the camera and me until after we got home and looked at the photos!

Back on the trail we said good bye to Rob who was off to make a big lunch for Brenda and himself (grilled burgers).  Mary sensing I had the munchies, my corn beef on rye sandwich at 730 am long since gone, and asked if I needed to eat.  We rode the western Gateway and ate at the Fighting Burrito.  Then rode to the sculpture park for a photo.  I needed a rabbit for this month's Ride & Seek hunt.   Lacking a kickstand and respecting the art work (DO NOT TOUCH THE ART) I managed to prop my bike up with my water bottle under one of the pedals or stays and I tip toed around the bike for the photo a gust of wind knocked the bike down.  One moment I looked like an absolute genius for parking the bike with the bottle and then the next a fool.  pride before the fall...  Off to home.

The Thinker.  If you look at my empty bottle cage on the downtube you can see my water bottle on the grass where I had the bike standing up without human hands for about 45 seconds.  It was brilliant!  Then a mighty wind blew it down.  The story of human existence!

Yes, Virginia, I need a real camera.

Switch horses and rode to the store and then home for dinner.  After dinner we rode to Gray's Lake and sat on a bench looking at the night skyline of downtown Des Moines while sharing a bottle of Moscato.  Gray's Lake was busy.  Such a beautiful day and night.  Incredible views of our city.  It was a shame we had to go home and call it a night.  Home by 1030 pm full filled with fresh air and vitamin D.  Until the next wonderful Saturday....

Blurry night shot of Mary and my bike.