Friday, December 23, 2016

The Cold Way Home

  •     Well, it was too nice of a day this past Tuesday to stay inside and waste the day. 41 degrees at the end of December, I couldn't say no to a ride.

What...this can't be right...
So I loaded up and headed for the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail, the nicest little trail around. Too bad that they paved a s!all section of it within the city of Huxley. This trail really shines in its natural form. Its a converted rails to trails type format. The rest of the surface is a nice crushed limestone. Perfectly dusty in the right season. Not dusty right now, but soft enough to leave a track in the snow or the stone.
I'm not the first to track this section.

Now, I have ridden this trail innumerable times over the years. I have even raced on it as a section of the Iowa Games Gravel Race. I was surprised, however, to find a couple of things on this ride that I had never noticed before. One of these new discoveries was an ages old spur line stuck in the overgrown side margin of a ravine. I caught the sun's rays reflecting on the rails, even though they were rusted, and patina from years of weathering and non-use had left them nearly invisible otherwise. Some time I'll stop and look closer at this pair of rails. The other discovery on this ride was a frozen beaver pond. It was completely flat, frozen quite solid from edge to edge and end to end, and I had no clue that it was there. Not twenty feet from the edge if the trail. 
Pretty sure I put first-ever tracks on this!

I'll be back to this spot with my other fat bike for some delicious donuts.
Like any great ride does, this one drew to a close before all of the fun could be extracted from it. On the briht side, that leaves something to come back to. Good perspective to keep on so many things in life, I think.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Despite my best intentions, I ended up riding in pure hell today. I had intended to drive my dad's van to Ames to get an oil service done on it and then ride gravel back to Boone on top of a fresh snowfall. That's roughly how it went, except the snow melted into snirt (snow dirt) and I ended up pedaling straight into a west wind, in 2 inches of slop. On soft gravel. Add to this formula a pair of jerk motorists who refused to slow down while passing me, and you may just be able to imagine how muddy I was when I arrived home 90 minutes later. Oh well, it was still satisfying to ride it home. That never gets old.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

56 For 51

I rode my annual Birthday mileage yesterday, a day ahead of the actual date of my birth. I decided to hit a trail that had always caught my fancy, the Three Rivers Trail. It is one of our few crushed rock trails, running a total length of 33 miles each way between Eagle Grove and Rolfe. It is about as flat as the stereotype of Iowa would suggest. There are 22 bridges on it. They vary from 15 footers over drainage culverts to a couple of longer100 footers over the rivers.
I just love the sound that crushed limestone gives of under big fat tires. I could go into my theory on negative ionization from the disruption of varying gravel substrates here, but I'll save that for its own post. What I will write about is the lack of food stops on this trail. I should have carried my own food, that's a given. But I didn't and I nearly had to pay a price for it. I blew through Humboldt on the out bound leg, thinking I could surely grab something in the next town. Well, all they had in Rutland was a pop vending machine. It would not accept dollar bills, so I was SOL there. So I set my sights on the next stop, Bradgate. This little town was hit by a terrible tornado about a decade ago. I had hoped that there was some sort of convenience store at least, if not a bar or somewhere to get food. Well, I was wrong again. There was not a morsel to be had unless I was willing to eat some of the corn that was being piled in the middle of main street. Not a good day nutritionally. I finally suffered my way back to Humboldt and ate some nice salty fries at Hardee's. Ok, so the mileage I turned out was about 56, so I banked a few extra above and beyond my years. I got schooled on not being smart enough at age 51 to bring real food. Still, a day in the sun at age 51, I'll take it.
Some photos, if my phone and Blogger will allow.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Weird, even for a weird person like me, is a little piece of history I just rediscovered. I'm not sure where I even got this bike computer. May have been a gift, may have been grabbed off of a prize table back in the days of racing. Either way, it has been on an old single speed road bike in the rafters of my garage for over a decade. I dug it out, snapped in a new battery, re calibrated the wheel size, and now it's back. I was never a person to quantify my rides. It was always just about going out and having fun, or"hammering it" for a couple of hours. Gravel riding doesn't seem to require much quantifying either, but it might be fun once in a while to know how far I've actually traveled in that mindlessness I call riding. That is, if I always and only ride the one bike it's on, which almost never happens. Later!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Yella Death

This is worth a post. This post might save somebody from weeks of agony. If it saves even one person from the pure evil of Wild Parsnip Poisoning, then I'll post it every week. This is the little, harmless looking plant that seems to be getting a lot of press lately. If you see this plant in a ditch, or along some single track, DO NOT GET CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH IT!!!!!
I got into some of this a few years ago and it burned my skin so badly that I had a weeping rash and blisters for 5 weeks. It killed the hair follicles my legs and now I have what look like half shaven legs! It's not a good look.
The plant grows to about knee high. The yellow flowering part is about the size of a pea, growing in a bunch about the size of a silver dollar.
I guess that there have been numerous cases of people unknowingly contacting this plant this year and so it is getting a lot of Facebook press especially. Don't you dare look at Google images of the rashes unless you can control your mind's desire to itch things. It will take you there, trust me.
Tons of it out there, on the gravel I ride anyway.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Vive le Tour

Seriously, even if you're not into cycling or bike racing, you would have to appreciate the drama in this year's Tour de France. You'll watch for a very long time to find an edition of this Grande Boucle with more going down. The leader of the race was running up the most iconic climb in cycling, without his bike, because he was involved in a crash while cruising uphill!
Wow! #fanagain!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

This Ain't No Dream

I stopped at the Boone Casey's to grab a pop the other day and saw this guy. He had his bike prominently displayed in front of the store with a banner tied to it. You know I had to talk to him, so I walked up and said, "Dude, you're living out my dream!" As in, the dream of recreational homelessness, cycling aimlessly, answering to nobody, scrounging resources, the list goes on. His response is where I took the post title from. He gave me the quick take what he is doing. He is 42 years old, had cancer that really beat him up, was paralyzed but came out of it somehow, and is now riding from Toledo, OH to Seattle to raise awareness for the causes that you see on his banner. He has a Facebook page under cctherider which is chronicling his journey. He is big on the love of people, strangers, and about how he's just taking it a pedal stroke at a time. Doesn't have much for gear. He is on a Walmart bike, has one extra shirt, a touring pump, a tarp, a rain poncho from the Indiana National Guard, a flashlight/stun gun from the Chicago
police, and ten bucks cash from yours truly. That's some raw toughness right there. Just following a lark. Not really a big planner, but he's getting there. He said others have given him lodging, food, showers, etc. But his main theme was love from people. Can you dig it?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

First Chance, First Ride

So I bought an ultra cheap fat bike. A Mongoose Malus for $130 ! Brand new, in a big old box. Being that it was 70 degrees on my day off I decided to hit the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail for a little shakedown cruise. I guess nothing's going cheap, unless it's mutiny. The Trail was wettish, very grabby even for 4" tires. I'm glad that nobody has insisted on riding their 1.9 and smaller tires on it. Nothing much to note for this ride except that Logsdon's Grocery in Maxwell was awesome,as always. Can you imagine the coolest small town Grocery store, run by middle aged brothers, part store, part personal hangout, part community center? Some time soon I will do a full post on this place. Trust me, you have to go there and experience it for yourself.
Anyway, here's to the promise of more interesting rides to come. I did find a stached away geo-caching drum. That's always cool. Tucked in behind some downed trees.

More Deeper Gravel

That is, more gravel today, and it seemed even deeper than the last time I rode it. I can get a quick hour and a half ride if I go out to the Iowa Arboretum and back. Some decent gravel, a nice state park (Ledges) and as many hills as I care to ride. There are three really good hills in the park that I can ride up and down time and again. In fact, back in the days of"workout rides" I used to do climbs there until I didn't dare go back down one more time for fear of not getting back out! The down side? A 20 mile ride is about half pavement.

Can't see the bottom from the top!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Deep Thoughts

I was fortunate today to work with one of my old biking buddies and his wife, Paul and Christy Varnum. Between our discussions of biking and the good old days they were actually able to pick out some furniture. We were both (Paul and I) mentioning that we have come real close to doing some night rides. You know, to the point of charging up the lights and getting serious, then not quite getting the point of throwing a leg over a top tube. Close, but no cigar.
Well, tonights once in a lifetime concurrence of the summer solstice and a full moon has me thinking of going out late for a little ride of some sort. Gravel? High Trestle Trail ? Who knows. If I actually ride either, I'll  post about it later. Here's a snap of my last ride:-)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

With Malus Aforethought

Lucky day for me yesterday. I was about to go to Ames to look at a Craigslisted  Mongoose Malus, the web's second most hated fat bike, after the Beast. So I thought I would check the web to see if I could buy a new one for similar money. Low and behold there it is on for $40 less than the clist price. Soon enough I'll have a fat grin on my face.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Well, well, well, well, well indeed...

I'm back in business for blogging. I finally have a smart enough phone to blog on a 5.5" screen. Amazing.
I'm pretty sure I can even post pictures without having to get a cord out, stick it in a USB, download the shots from the camera, put them into the body of the post, position get it, right?
I have managed to get in a bit of ice-fat biking this winter. I thought the river wasn't going to cooperate at first because of the warmth and high water. In fact, it froze while it was up high, then retreated and left car-sized shards of ice all over. Side left glassy smooth pools on the upper banks. Perfect for some fat icy donuts.
Last fall and summer were full of crushed limestone trail travel, along with a departure from biking. I ran (if you can call it know when Forest Gump had his leg braces, yah). I ran 74 consecutive 5Ks while my son was at AIT for MP School. I sure did loose a lot of weight, for my build anyway. I dropped from a comfortably fit 172 down to about 160 for the last 3 weeks. It has since come back to about 170, but I think I'll be running a lot this year, as I started to like it. Biking is still number one though. At least with biking I can ride in the sunlight. My running stride is so weird that I only ran at night.
What was fun about biking last year was seeing how many of my bikes I could ride at least once during the summer. I was aiming for 20, but only made it to 11. Still, that's ten more than anyone else around here. Some pictures (if it works)