Sunday, November 26, 2017

Easter Lake Trail Update

On the west end of the bridge looking east.  Trail is between the lake and the road.  NOTE the lake has been drained for dredging.

Mary and rode to Carlisle on this lovely November day.  Temperature right now is 59F which is amazing for Iowa this time of year.  As stated many times in my posts, we like to get to Carlisle by riding to Easter Lake.  Back in late August was our last visit to this place See Easter Lake in August.  Today we saw a lot of progress.

Looking west from the bridge, trail is on the north shore of Easter Lake.

The bridge on Evergreen Ave is not quite done and there is about 200 yards of trail that need to be completed and paved before one can bicycle or walk on the finished trail.  As it was a Sunday there was not work being done so we felt legit riding through the construction site. 

Looking south of Evergreen Ave and the bridge at the trail segment that leads to the park entrance on the southeast corner of the lake.

On the other side of the bridge the trail is complete to park entrance on Easter Lake Dr.  Also a new trail south of Easter Lake Dr looks complete and it leads to SE 34th St.

At the south east entrance to the park/lake.  Not shown in photo is the trail leading south of here to SE 34th St.  There is a trail entrance

The pink line is the new trail.  Green is the existing trail,

What does this all mean?  It means that there may eventually be a trail or trail system that connects Des Moines to Carlisle.  Yes, I am aware that is the plan.  But I have not always supported it.  There are other trail connections that I'd like to see done first.  Others that I deem more important like connecting downtown Des Moines trails to the Gay Lea Wilson Trail.  Today, However, I changed my mind.  We took our normal route which brought us to the north side of Easter Lake then we hang a left and take SE Brooks trough a nice curvy road with a few rollers that empties into a wonderful downhill by the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative then hang a right at the stop sign and climb the hill and down again to Highway 5 or Old Army Post Rd.  Left toward Avon Lake and various entrance and exit ramps for the bypass.  That last part may sound a bit scary but really is not.  But today 11:15 am on a Sunday it was the busiest I have ever seen it.  Church just let out?  Holiday travelers?  Mad dash to and fro to the store in Des Moines before lunch?  Then it downed on me.  traffic increases every year and in a few years I may not be able to use this route.  Shame too because it is scenic, fun and a great workout.  So now I wholeheartedly support the new trail connection.

I think I'll go back next weekend to do some more exploring here.  We did not take the trail south of Easter Lake.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Post Thanksgiving Ride South of Cumming Iowa

My black stainless steel growler.  Mooncat Porter from Court Avenue Brew Pub.  A toasted coconut porter.  thick, heavy, delicious for a cool autumn day.   The glass is from Twisted Vine Brewery.  Holds a tallboy.

Had to take advantage of the weather.  Sunny and in the 50s.  Not too many of these days left in 2017.  Took the last growler of beer, left over from Thanksgiving, and my Trek 520 packed with extra clothing because I was sure it was going to get very cold on the way home.

First stop was at the picnic table we call the Lean To.  Since the  Land Rapers and Greed Heads decided to pave new roads through the Great Western Trail the Lean To has never been the same.  They removed it and people placed a picnic table there instead.  New roads are located too close to the trail.  Then they reconstructed the trail to avoid this spot anyway.  The trail to the Lean To has been closed off but one can get around the orange fencing.  Time to move the table.  I suggest that the table be placed at the intersection of the new section of trail and the section that has been blocked off to fade away.  This is near the original Lean To.

Nothing lasts forever.  Soon this will be paved over.  Fitting that Cortez the Killer is playing on my stereo right now.  The Hildreth farmstead is across the field and highway from here.  The patriarch bought it after WWII and raised a family there.  Soon it will be gone and paved over.  Thoughts like this have me laughing at the fact the sun will turn into a red giant and fry us all assuming the human race survives 3 billion years.  Too bad it cannot harm those that harm the earth right now.

That farm way off in the distance, that belongs to the Hildreth family.

Speaking about the Hildreths, I text my friend Donnie Hildreth to join me but he invited me to his place south of Cumming.  Hang out in his barn and drink beer.  So I finished my beer and rode on.  Donnie collects junk to sell at auctions and flea markets and his barn is full.  He gave me two small chairs with backs that will be perfect for touring when the Spring and Summer return.  I asked if he had any vinyl records and i was directed to a ladder that lead to a tall shelf where a covered peach crate was.  I snagged two Led Zeppelin Lps and Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Live Rust.  I could have had revolver by The Beatles but I felt that he should get money for it.  Oh well, good vinyl scores!

I left after dark.  Saw one bike ahead of me before I hit the trail and one on the way back to Des Moines.  The Tap looked bicycle-less.  Two other bikes were in Water Works Park.  Weird riding in late November.  Few ride after dark.  6 pm feels like 9 pm.  No issues.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Bike Friday > Black Friday

We took advantage of the 65F day and added 35 miles to our road bikes.  Two objectives:  look at the progress on the pedestrian bridge Urbandale has been building to connect with the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  It was supposed to be done at the end of September.  In October they were not finished.  The other objective was to share a pizza at The Other Place in Clive.  We have only been to the OP in Cedar Falls when I was attending college in the 1980s.  Being that it was our 27th wedding anniversary the OP seemed appropriate.

First stop was to drop off two pairs of pants at to get them properly hemmed.  Winter is coming and I'll need to stop wearing shorts.  Tailoring By Lechi on Grand in West Des Moines was that stop.  I'll return to pick them up on Friday.

From there we decided to hit the Jordan Creek Trail.  But what should happen??  A brewery jumped out in front of us!  Fox Brewery on 11th St.  We have never been here before but have consumed their products elsewhere.  Plenty of parking for bicycles which is a plus.  But the sign said they do not open until 4 pm and it was noon!!!  What is it about breweries opening their tap rooms so late??  Wineries open at 10 or 11 am.  But the people inside waved us in.  I have the Arctic Breakfast, a vanilla/almond porter.  Mary had a hard cider.  One and done.  I like this place and will return.  Friendly staff.

11th St leads straight to the Jordan Creek Trail.  The wind was strong from the south west and slowed us down a bit.  We stayed on the JTC until we reached 60th and then headed north to Clive and turned east on University to go to the OP.

The OP was packed but they found us a table.  It also was a bit warm but that may have been us from riding bicycles.  And the people in front of us talking to the hostess had bad BO.  Please bath and use deodorant.  Despite the warmth and smell our food was great.  We had the Maui, their new Hawaiian pizza.  I recommend it.  I decided to drink water just because I have had a lot of beer lately and need to properly hydrate.

When we left he headed to 123rd to make the north turn toward the Greenbelt.  Guess what?  The wind changed direction!  Now a NW wind.  Oh well, it will be a tailwind on the way home.  From the Greenbelt we were able to connect to the RRVT and investigate the new bridge.

The "TRAIL CLOSED" signs were gone.  The work on the bridge and trail is done!  The bridge starts at the RRVT and crosses Walnut Creek and  turns into a sidewalk with a few switchbacks that lead to the sidewalk on Hickman Rd.  Why is this a big deal?  It is dangerous to cross Hickman at 128th.  Now one can take this sidewalk and cross Walnut Creek.  Great for people that live north of Hickman.

Since we were in the recon mode we took the Greenbelt all the way back.  Yes, we did not take the detour.  We got to see the progress on the trail.  It is rideable but some sections are dirt.  There are still trees here.  Clive is moving part of the trail away from Walnut Creek and making the new section less curvy.  It appears that they are also working on water drainage as well.  Big rains have flooded this trail in the past.  Completion of work is scheduled for the Spring of 2018.

Blog Supplemental: Urbandale's Bridge to the RRVT Open Now

I have been trying to get out to visit the new pedestrian bridge Urbandale installed on the north side of Hickman Rd to the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  They were to have it completed by the end of September but did not.  I took a few looks after work in October to see that they were still not finished.  And with the Greenbelt closure I have been taking a different way to and from work and did not have an opportunity to look at it until today.

It is complete.  It is a pedestrian connection from 128th to the RRVT.  Crossing Hickman at 128th has always been risky.  Now one can take this sidewalk to the trail and ride underneath Hickman Rd on the trail. 

I'm a bit miffed that it is not wide.  Also disappointed that no one has made a paved trail section/sidepath at the corner of Hickman and 128th to connect with the existing sidepath on 128th.  It would not be a long section.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Coffeeneuring 2017

Once again I combine two of my favorite activities, bicycling and drinking coffee, into one for the opportunity to earn the esteemed Coffeeneuring patch.  And why not?

Des Moines Brew Coffee Co
October 13, 2017 FRIDAY THE 13TH!!!
Large Americano with room for half and half
4 mile round trip as we went to the store afterwards

We had been planning to go here for quite some time but never had the opportunity.  It is located in a renovated building that now houses several restaurants, a fitness place and a bar.  DSM Brew is also located on a MLK bicycle trail.  Just a mile from our home it is a safe and easy ride.  Just crossing 3rd St is the only bump but there is a button to trigger the stop light.  It was the Friday before our daughter's wedding and I had the day off.  Mary and rode to the taco place next door, Fuzzy Tacos, and had lunch.  After lunch we moved our bikes over for the photo shoot.  I had my standard, large Americano with room for half and half.  Mary had a cup of tea.  They used a tea kettle to heat the water for her tea and this took some time.  Basic "dry look" (unfinished ceiling) with art on the walls.  Friendly staff.  I don't recall much more about this place because our minds were focused on our daughter's wedding.  We plan to return.

Scenic Route Bakery
October 21, 2017
Small Americano
4.5 mile round trip

Dora's cappuccino.  Also a  better photo of the "bike rack."

Original plan was to get here early, 6 am, because the weather folks promised that it would be raining.  We overslept and then checked radar and the rain was a long, long way off.  Took our daughter Dora with us and hit the famous Des Moines Downtown Farmer's market on the way home as well as stopping at Graziano Brother's Market (Italian food) on the way home.  First thing we noticed that there was not a bicycle rack in front of the establishment. There was one across the street and another down the block. So we locked up to the iron decorative fencing that protects the planted flowers from would be blind pedestrians.  This is a common practice for those that visit the East Village via bicycle.  Mary was in the mood for breakfast food but we did not see anything but pastries which were good.  We had fruit danishes.  Mary had a hot chocolate, Dora a cappuccino and I a small Americano.  Dora is used to the fake sugar infused hot water style of cappuccinos and thus did not finish hers.

Mars Cafe
October 29, 2017
Large Americano
3 mile round trip

The Red Phoenix.
Always be coffeeneuring!

Chilly Sunday morning but it was starting to warm up.  Spent the day before inside working on bicycles.  The red bike is the Red Phoenix, my winter commuter which has been sitting underneath a tarp since March waiting for the day, usually in November, when I kick off the rust and restore it to functioning order.  This is Red's first spin since March.  A test ride for coffee.  This coffee shop is located in Des Moines East Village.  Mary rode with me and had a hot chocolate.  I found this to have been among the best Americano I have ever had.  $2.75 for any size I wanted.  I chose the the large and added about an inch and a half of half and half to cut the bitterness and cool it down.

St Kilda Cafe & Bakery
November 4, 2017
4 miles round trip

St Kilda is a new place located on one of our major travel paths just across the river on our way downtown.  Always wanted to stop there but they always seemed busy especially with the Downtown Farmer's Market going on.  Well, the Farmer's Market ended for the year and we got our downtown back.  Special ride for us today.  Last week a stick went through the drive train of my Campy bike and destroying a wonderful original Campagnola derailleur.  The bike never missed a beat but riding it with a saggy chain is not the best thing to do.  So as a fond farewell to the noble gear switcher of the past 23 years I though Coffeeneuring would be apprope.  The place as a bit busy but we were greeted immediately by the hostess and once we told them that we were here for coffee we were able to grab a window seat.  As usual, I had an Americano and Mary had a hot chocolate.  For once our bevies were not in disposable cups.  Mary's received the arty foam touch.  My request for cream was granted in a tiny cream pitcher.  Nice!  I wish we would have had more time to study the menu.  service was fast!  When it came time to pay we were stuck behind a family of slow ordering people but the owner saw our dilemma and tendered our payment on a different register.  Thank you!  we shall return.

Theme Within A Theme (The Accidental Coffeeneurer)
November 8, 2017
Large Medium Roast from Java Joe's
15 miles

Coffee sitting on the Salsa Anything cage.  Thank you DMPD.

So I stopped at the store to pick up dinner.  While loading the bike at the rack next to a gentleman with a fatbike and putting gloves, headband, lights back on a police officer walks up and asks if I'd like a coffee.  "You bikers must be cold.  They gave me two coffees and I can't drink both.."  I responded immediately, yes, I'd like a coffee.  I was not cold but it is hard to explain to muggles that 47F is not cold for a year round cyclist.  She gave me a large coffee and I thanked her.  PIPING HOT and black.  So I went back inside and purchased a small container of half and half, the one with the screw top, to cool the coffee and mellow out the bitterness.  She said it was from Java Joes's, a local coffee shop across the street.  I drank it while finishing my journey home.

Inspired Grounds Cafe
November 11, 2017
16 miles

I should have removed the lid.  The back of my bicycle can be seen with a large bag of dog food on back.

If it would have been warmer we would have enjoyed our coffee outside.  It was a cloudy day with the temps in the 40s and the possibility of rain constant.

Mary inside in yellow.

Somewhere to coffeeneur where we had not coffeeneured before.  This time in Historic Valley Junction.  I like this place and will most likely be back.  Not only do they sell java but books and art as well.  Good place to do some Christmas shopping.  My coffee was good but much better when half gone.  They had real half and half here which is a plus.

Madhouse Brewery
November 18, 2017
Sumatra Coffee Stout
2 mile Round Trip

Thought I'd finish this with an Americano, didn't you??  Nope!  We tooke the streets and rode bike lanes mpart of the way.  not much traffic.  This coffee stout is one of the finest local stouts in my city.  Sadly, they are no longer producing it so they can make room for new beers.  No longer available on tap either which explains why I purchased the bottle.  When I heard the news that this brew was to be no more I knew I had to get it from the source.  Brewed with cold brewed Sumatra grounds from Zannibar Coffee. From Madhouse's website, "We then partnered with Des Moines based Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure for house roasted Sumatra coffee beans. The coffee is cold pressed and added just prior to carbonation of add depth and flavor to the beer."  Delish!

Also in contention for coffee beer was Reclaimed Rails' UnRailed Porter which is a normal looking beer with coffee flavor.  Mind bending since it looks like beer but tastes like coffee.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Will You Ever Drive?"

I was asked this tonight by a co-worker.  I just wanted to tell him about the POS car he owns and drives and what a money pit it turned into.  And the car that his nephew destroyed last week.  But I lacked the crayons to draw him a picture that he would understand.  I simply replied that I enjoy riding a bicycle to work and enjoy the freedom of a car free life.  No payments, not insurance, no big repair bills ect.  If my bicycle won't start in the morning i.e. flat tire of something wrong, I just grab another from my fleet.

Cars cost about 1/4th of people's income.  That's a sacrifice I enjoy not making.

So I wonder if he thought of me when he stepped out into the drizzle tonight.  Yeah, he probably chuckled knowing that he would be dry while I spent an hour getting wet.  But I was not unhappy.  Quite the contrary.  It was a warm ride home and warm rides home are becoming a resource we are running out as winter approaches.  I also carried home 4 unopened bottles of wine left over from tonight's special event on my bicycle.  And that made me smile.

Wet clothing.  I'll wear something different tomorrow.  Perhaps with the money I'm not spending on a car I will buy some better rain clothing.  Or bicycle parts.....or a new bike....

Will I ever own a car again.  Probably.  But I do not feel the need for one now.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Silent Rider

There is a person that I see every so often cycling his way to or fro work.  Usually I spot him at 517 am in the Windsor Heights/Clive/West Des Moines area.  Many times I did not realize it was him.  Back a few years ago when Mary worked in Urbandale (crap generic name for a city but it was named after Mr. Urban) we would ride together and part ways at the end of the Windsor heights trail where the Clive Greenbelt begins or as it is known for its landmark, the Burger King on 73rd by the Wal Mart.  Occasionally we would see this guy riding on the street and heading up Buffalo Rd.  One time when I was riding my slow Soho with the horrid Nexus 7 speed internal hub,  I did catch up with him at the intersection of 22nd and Westown Pkwy but he did not acknowledge my presence.  Oh well, I climb that hill on Buffalo Rd like a demon and I was happy enough with that.

Through the years my commute has changed and I started taking the Greenbelt all the way to 128th.  And on those days I'd occasionally see a bicycle blinkie heading the same direction on University Ave.  Who is that?  Where's he going?   How's his commute?  Or her.

Once again my route changed due to reconstruction on the Greenbelt.  Now I take the trail to 86th St and ride on the new trail access and enter the street, University Ave, across from the Casey's and Hardee's.  One morning last week as was on the bottom of the climb I notice a blinking red light about a 1/2 mile ahead of me.  Another bicycle!  I wonder if the rider is on this road because the trail is closed??  I better catch up.  So I put more effort into pedaling since by bicycle has only one gear.  And the effort paid off as I caught up with the cyclist around Valley West Mall.

This rider had a flasher on the bike, a flasher on the helmet and a reflective pant tie/strap on each leg.  Good visibility.    He also had a backpack on instead of using the collapsible rear baskets his bike had.  Then I recognized the bicycle.  It was the same one I'd see at 517 am heading to Buffalo Rd.  Must be the same one I'd see on University Ave when I was on the Greenbelt near 515 Brewery.  I reached deep and summoned more power to overtake and pass this commuter.

As I passed him I said good morning hoping to elicit some response and have a conversation about the ride.  Get some different perspective of commuting by bicycle in the metro.  Solicit his opinion on conditions and trail work ect.  Networking.  I have met quite a few people on my ride to and fro work.  We have each other's backs.  Now some folks are silent and never say a word unless it is to warn of a fallen tree, suspicious vehicle ahead, flood ect.  Others are friendly and will say good morning.

So my new encounter on University Ave said nothing.  I pulled along side him and said good morning.  No reply I responded with a hello.  Nothing.  No movement, no word, no waves, no middle finger just silence.  Not even a movement of his head.  He just stared straight ahead like I was not even there.  He looked to be in his 50s hitting his 60s.  Dressed as a normal human, no overpriced cycling clothing, jeans and a jacket.  Maybe he socially ill, some sort of mental health flaw.  Maybe he was so lost in thought that he was not aware of my presence despite my voice and lights.  May be just a loner.  Or a dead person.  Or an undead person.  A ghost?  Figment of my imagination?  Sign of of a diagnosed brain illness?  Deaf?  Headphones?  But he looked to be a serious commuter with all the lights and reflective stuff.  And this twat, me, pulls up and asks for validation.  Even a response like Ralph Feinnes gave to the train passenger in the film  In Bruges would have been preferred to silence.  Nada.  Add more power and leave this guy alone.  Would not be the first hill I smoked him on.

So he blew me off.  That's ok.  I do not need this validation of my life.  Just wanted to network.  Gather information on riding conditions ect.  Some people do not speak or smile or acknowledge others.  I saw him again and I know where he turns off of University.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dago Red and Death of a Campagnolo Derailleur

DISCLAIMER:  the use of an ethnic negative word feeds into this story of  life in Little Italy, Italian culture and was explained to me by an Italian American.

Mary and I stopped at Mullets for dinner last week or so and conversated with Joe one of the managers.  Riding the high from our eldest daughter's wedding we discussed the river of Hennessy that flowed from the family of the groom.  Mary and I were raised ethically Iowan which meant that beer was the liquid of a wedding reception or any occasion.  Perhaps wine and champagne, too.  And there was always someone in back with a flask of bourbon.  But Jesse's family, from Laos, were fans of cognac, specifically Hennessy.  Since that day I discovered that it is an Asian thing, usually someone's uncle brings it to big important family events.  Prior to this I thought it only existed in rap videos and as discarded empty bottles on the side of the road.  I did about three shots of this brandy before saying that I had enough and stayed with the safety of the Pinot Noir I brought.  I found Hennessy to be very strong and had the taste of extremely strong bad wine and nightmares.

Joe agreed and said yes, it is a huge Asian thing.  But when I told him it was made from grapes he was surprised.  Specific white grapes fermented and distilled twice in copper stills and then aged in wood barrels from specific areas of France.  Then he asked me if I knew what Dago Red was.  Since I did did not despite living in Little Italy he explained.

Simple put, Dago Red is cheap homemade red wine that Italian Americans are known to produce.  There was a marketed brand of red wine called Dago Red but they later changed the name.

Joe continued.  A prominent Italian immigrant and business owner who shall not be mentioned, had just lost his wife to cancer IIRC.  His buddies came over to help him get to sleep.  They went into his basement and filled him up with Dago Red and then carried him to bed so he could sleep his first night as a widower.  Joe and his friend went into the basement to see what those men had drank.  To see what knocked the man out.  Downstairs they found the bottle.  "Hey, isn't this the wine from the grapes that we stomped 20 years ago as kids," Joe asked.  Yes indeed it was.  Both of them took a pull from the bottle.  It was awful but awfully strong.  Kinda like Hennessy Joe said but stronger.

So what does this have to do with bicycles and this damn blog?  The connection is this.  My Campy derailleur died.  Today was its last ride.  I should not have ridden the bike but it needed 1 more mile for 500 miles for the year.  And I gave the trusty gear switcher a grand send off.  A ride for espresso and Italian wine.  A fitting tribute to a component that I have used since 1994.

I purchased a brand new road bike in 1994.  It was was my first brand new roadie.  The Trek 2200 was one of the rare bikes that came adorned with a Campagnolo groupo.  Shimano had its evil claws on most bicycle manufacturer's throat.  So when I saw a carbon bike frame with Campy components I could not resist.  Sure it was not a OCLV frame or the Record groupo but it was on a proven carbon frame despite its aged technology and had Italian stuff on it.  The Veloce group was produced to compete with Shimano's 105.  A mid level racing group.  A little heavier but all the fucntions including Ergo shifters.   I had a wife and little kids to feed.  I fell in love with that bike and still love it to this day.

23 years later I find myself riding it to work and back on days when I feel the need for speed.  No longer my front line roadie I find this bike doing more commuting duties.  So it is autumn in Iowa and the trees are littering the trails with leaves and twigs.  And the nasty north west wind is playing havoc on the trees so sticks are also strewn on the the trails.  I try my best to avoid the debris.

Then I hear the sound of a stick going through the drive train.  This time it is louder and nastier than usual.  The noise ends and not an ounce of speed is lost.  I continue as if nothing has happened.  I have a jet over 4 miles left until I reach the comfort of home.  I assume that shifted the back cogs during these last 4 miles but I may just have been going to and fro the 53 and 39T.

When I lift the bike to place it in its resting spot next to the other roadies in our house, I notice that the chain is sagging a bit.  Place the bike on the stand and take a look.  Yes the rear derailleur seems a bit forward so I pull it back and look for the adjusting screws.  But it is time to make dinner and forget about the bike.

The next morning I feel like I need to ride this bike again just because it is faster and easier to ride than the single speed commuter which has time times the miles this year and I have nothing to ferry to work.  Nothing unusual about the ride to work.  After work I see that the chain is sagging again and I place it on the Fixtation that my employer provides at work.

Then I see the trouble maker.  I see the fresh exposed metal of where the stick tore off  the piece of the derailleur that connects with the drop out and keeps the chain at proper tension.  I would say that the derailleur sacrificed itself to save the drop out.  Aluminum stays and probably the dropout is made from Element 13 as well.

So what does this have to do with cheap bootleg red wine of the Italian Americans?  I'm just mourning in my own way.  Since I do not possess any Dago Red I purchased a bottle of proper Italian vino.  La Fiera  2015 Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, a full bodied red wine.

I'm not really this upset about it or dramatic.  I'm just pissed off.  Now I need to shell out at least $40 for a new part when I need to be spending that money for other projects like a better set of studded tires for the red bike, a new crankset for the Soho, new bars for the Trek 660, a new touring bike for Mary, at least 3 sets of wheels, tires for the car, a new lawn mower, replacing all the food that spoiled when the freezer was unplugged last month, the Thanksgiving Day feast, a new gaming computer, more vinyl records, concert tickets, a room in Minneapolis when we see Peter Hook and the Light perform Substance,  airline tickets when New Order make their Spring visit (I hope and pray) ect ect.  Goddamn stick!!!

Brev Campagnolo!