|At the beginning....|
Been a long time since we rode to Pella, Iowa. Done this a mere handful of times and nothing in the last decade. In the early to mid-1990s the DMACC (Des Moines Area Cycle Club) would occasionally hold a ride to there. Ragbrai, of course, brought us there. But the time it takes to get there from our place is the main deterrent. Our house to Pleasantville is a 30 mile round trip. Why not cut the trip short and ride from Pleasantville, Iowa? That would save us 60 miles. Start at Smokey Row café in P-Ville and ride to Smokey Row in Pella. We like expresso and they are open. Get to ride on the Volksweg Trail on the north side of Lake Red Rock.
We took our best road bikes and started in front of the empty grocery store near the coffee shop in Pleasantville. The first stretch was on the blacktop of County Highway G40. As in the past, an smooth empty road with a decent shoulder if a car needed to pass. Minor rolling hills makes it a fun road for biking.
|Buzzard Beach. Mary pondered if the branches were arranged for the vultures. Nobody does anything for these important birds except kill animals for them to eat.|
After 9 miles Highway 14 is reached. Been on this a few times. As it is near the lake people are not surprised to see bicycles. We head north for two miles and cross the Des Moines River and eventually take a right on G28 and climb a short hill to Cordova Park. Looking to my right I see 5 turkey vultures sunning themselves on a log and because I have a young grandchild I start singing a song about it. "5 Lil' turkey vultures sitting on a log. One fell off and hit his head. I called the park ranger and the park ranger said "that's how turkey vultures get red heads." Yeah, dumb.
|Looking north. Keep that rain away!|
My recce on Thursday revealed that they are extending the Volksweg to Cordova Park. This is where we chose to get on the trail. Technically, it's not open, shoulder work, signage and clean up still in need, but we take it. It is a great gentle curving asphalt surface! Two Bobcats were parked signaling that nobody was working on the trail this Saturday. Be careful because there is a section near an access road that is not complete. One needs to dismount and walk through the intersection unless they want to bury their tires in red sandy clayish soil like we did on the way to Pella. Lesson learned. Other bicycles and pedestrians were using this new section. The new segment ends at the Robert's Creek Lake Trailhead. Here we found construction people working on the parking area. Time to ride the old segment.
|One of the more helpful maps of any trail.|
The original trail starts or ends at Robert's Creek Lake which is to the north. To the south is Lake Red Rock itself. Asphalt again with cracks every 20 feet or so as if they were placed there for summer/winter expansion/contraction. Mileage markers begin at the trailhead with 9.5 miles. The trail is winds into canopy and prairie and rolls over several bridges and appears next to an occasional road and residential area before disappearing into the park and rolls along playscapes and other park amenities. It has many short climbs and descents. It was on this summer weekend busy with other trail users. Solo bikers, groups of 4 or 5 bikes, families on bikes and groups of pedestrians were encountered. Many people camping here were enjoying the trail like we were.
With about 2 miles left on the Volksweg we encountered a TRAIL CLOSED sign. This was on the eastern shore of the lake and the road that leads to the dam. Studying the sign conveniently placed at the shelter and restrooms we were stopped at we saw the way out. Go north on the road and take the first right. Maybe a half mile to Idaho Drive. Take Idaho Dr and intercept the trail leading into Pella. Simple. The trail appears at intersection of the Pella road and the Red Star gas station. The only thing this detour prevented us from seeing was the spillway and tons of people. The road was safe and lightly traveled.
|Smokey Row in Pella, IA|
|A tile wall outside of Smokey Row. Pella was founded by immigrants from the Netherlands.|
|Obligatory photo of our coffee. Really, just a coffeeneuring ride!|
Once back on the trail we rode all the way into Pella only having to cross the road once at Central College when the people's path stopped and a new sidepath emerged. We took this for a while before opting to taking the street to move around a family on the trail. Stayed on the street until we saw the town square where our destination awaited nearby. Smokey Row Pella Edition. Mary ordered an iced vanilla latte and I had 3 shots over ice with half and half. Pella is a lovely town and we looked around a bit before heading back.
|A lovely canal in Pella. My filthy bike.|
|Mary's bike on the proper side of the canal bridge (sunlight). We called this the "reflecting pool." Spotted this on our way to the coffee shop and knew we had to visit.|
|A bicycle artwerk on the trail leading into Pella.|
Reverse the course. It was appearing to be a 55 mile day according to my computer. It was also getting warm because the sun was out and the humidity was high from recent rains. We were sweating but there would be opportunities to pull off and rest if necessary. We only stopped at the restroom where the detour began and one other time.
Heading back to the new segment I was getting weary of the almost rhythmic thump thump of the cracks. I was looking forward to the fresh asphalt. Looking over to the right I saw fishing boats in Robert's Creek Lake and to my left I saw the spillway of that lake into Red Rock and the Des Moines River system which eventually connects to the Mississippi River and dumps into the Gulf of Mexico and evaporates into the air and floats back to Iowa in the form of rain. Endless cycle. I also saw the construction people working. One machine had a pair of umbrellas to keep the sun off its operator. Time to veer left and go around the sign to reach the smooth trail.
Wow! I'm on the ground! Look forward and then I look over my shoulder and a second impact as Mary is doing her best Superwoman impression flying over me still clipped in! Stand up and look at her then my bike wondering what caused this. A man with an electric assist fatbike asks me if I'm OK. I tell him I'm alright, keeping the obvious fact that I hurt and stunned. My left leg has road rash as my left arm. The palm of my right had hurts. Construction workers ask me if I am OK. Yes. I stand and stare assessing the situation. Looking around I see the Ziploc baggie that holds Mary's phone and money and I pick it up. She appears as stunned as I am. No visible wound but she says her helmet hit the tarmac. I hand it to her and walk back to my bike.
"Is your bike OK?" our new friend asks. "Were you going fast?" I don't think so. Maybe 14 mph. Needed to slow down for the curve and then even slower to get around a sign blocking the trail. No I was thinking about these things and not going fast. Mary said she thought we were doing 20 mph but that seems a bit high. Must have hit at a bad angle that grabbed my wheel and threw me down. I pick it up and spin both wheels. No wobbles. I do the same to Mary's bike. Finally I turn around to look at the cause of my pain. A significant drop in the trail surface is evident. I reach for my phone to photograph it but first take a photo of my leg. "This has been getting worse during the past 4 years. My pannier fell off here just now. Send that photo to them. They need to know. They need to do something about it." In my head "To whom it concern. I am a veteran cyclist who just reached 3000 miles for the year and your trail nearly killed me and my wife."
|Apparently the knee hit first.|
"Make sure your bikes function. I've a truck nearby." I pick up my bike and look at the computer. Exactly at mile 40. 15 more miles until we reach our CR-V in Pleasantville. A little over an hour given our condition. This could hurt but just keep moving because when we do stop the pain will increase as everything stiffens up for repair. I throw the good leg over and not quite manage a proper seating position. Chain suck! Coast and get off but somehow I am in a much higher position than normal or my right leg lost a few inches and I have to wait until the bike stops rolling to reach the ground. Never simple. The bike needs to be turned upside-down to fix the chain because I am still in shock. And then shift into granny while wheels up. Damn triples! I have to follow the cable from the derailleur to the shifter to figure out which shifter to activate. Scratch the carbon. Then the test ride. Everything but the cyclist is working. Mary has her bike running. 15 miles. This may hurt.
I was happy to be on the new and smooth section. My right hand was finding some difficulty in retaining a comfortable position. Brakehoods were ok. Riding in the drops did not bother the hand but not the most comfortable position when one is tired and injured. A more relaxed position is what really bothered the hand as gripping the flat section of the bars was not good for the hand. Noticed a purple bruise almost on the 6 o'clock position of the palm. So I changed positions quite a bit.
Finally we reached the end of Cordova Park. Checked with Mary to see if she needed to stop. This would be our last opportunity for restrooms and water for the next 11 miles. We were good. Downhill to Highway 14. Cross the long bridge then a right on G40. The wind was a new factor as it was from the south. Head or cross depending on what road we were on. Just roll. Wind hitting the leg did not feel gentle Occasional sensation of some drop rolling down the leg. Was it blood or sweat? Keep riding. I carry a handkerchief with me to blow my nose. Allergies this year are bad. Today it was used for wiping sweat off my face. Stay as comfortable as possible. All the photos of this highway were taken at this time mainly as an excuse to stop. Hit the bottle and drink water. I had cut it fine and had one swallow left when we reached the vehicle. Casey's was on my mind. I need two quarts of Gatorade for myself. Just a little further...Finally we arrive in Pleasantville. No time to stop at Smokey Row. People would freak out to see my bloody mess if I walked in. Pandemic. No needed to walk in looking like a zombie attack occurred. "3 shots of espresso over ice and fill the rest with half and half. It's been a beastly day!"
|Those clouds and a questionable history.|
|Another sign we saw on the way out but did not photograph until our return. Just 2 or so miles out of Pleasantville.|
Load up and hit that convenience store. Both quarts were gone by the time we reached home. Mary only had one as she is not a glutton. Hose off the bikes and let Mary hit the shower first. Make that tequila drink and relax. Order a pizza and shower while Mary picks it up. Look for Neosporin. We have none. Suggested that I use hydrocortisone. Well, not a bug bite or genital rash but maybe it will calm the pain. It burns. Early dinner and early to bed. I had a feeling I would still be hurting in the morning. 55 miles. The first 39.99 enjoyable.