too little | too much

It has been too long since my last post. To be honest, I haven’t done a whole lot of “fun” riding. Just bundling up in the mornings for a chilly commute and enjoying the autumn colors. My days have been filled with walking the neighborhood, working and studying for the GRE. So, I haven’t had a lot to share about cycling and I’ve had a lot going on.

Andy and I did finally make it out to the High Trestle Trail. The view from the bridge is definitely worth a visit, especially in the fall. We drove to Madrid and then biked to Slater and back. There were a few neat views but it’s a flat, straight trail overlooking cornfields. We went on a Sunday and for a few miles on either side of the bridge, there was a lot of pedestrian and bike traffic. I enjoyed the ride and the bridge but I’d rather ride Neil Smith, Bill Riley or Great Western.

Riding and taking a picture? Be careful!

View from the top!

Lovin’ the view!

Mid bridge break.

River valley.

Photo Credits to the amazing Andy!


wildlife and the wild life

I’ve been on the path to recovery but this cold has been sticking around. First, I couldn’t shake the cough. Then, I’m pretty sure I’ve pulled a muscle, torn some cartilage or cracked a rib from all that coughing. That has been slow to heal. It doesn’t hurt when I’m upright and riding but if I cough or twist or exert too much force… Ouch!

Anyway, I’ve been feeling better, so I’ve gotten a few good rides in. One evening last week, I went to Cumming Tap with my friend, Alicia, for some Taco Tuesday fun. Tacos! Beer! Bikes! We saw a few deer on the trail and had a good time catching up.

I rode the Neil Smith Trail from Beaverdale to downtown. Construction crews have been working on the 6th Street bridge and up until last week, you’ve been able to ride on the street in a makeshift bike lane. But now they’ve got the whole road closed down. It took a little car dodging and off-roading but I got around it. I don’t know how long that will be shut down.

Closer to the Botanical Center, they’ve been working on the Riverwalk and there’s been some trail closure there. The detour signage for that wasn’t the greatest but now they’ve got it partially open and you can ride through.

Last, but not least, I’ve seen this little guy several times on the trail between 73rd and 86th. I finally got a good shot of him coming home from work last week.

The Clive Greenbelt Groundhog

I just saw on Facebook that one of my friends had an encounter with a raccoon on the trail… Have you seen any fun animals on your rides?

all about perception

This past week, I have been battling a summer cold. When the symptoms first appeared, I was quick to blame allergies but after a little physical exertion, I was wiped out. I took it easy for the next two days and then tried to go back to work. I prefer to commute by bike and since I was feeling decent, I pedaled in for my shift. After I arrived, my condition deteriorated rapidly. Within an hour, I was getting chills and was completely fatigued. I finished a couple tasks and by noon, I knew I had to go home to get some rest.

The problem with that… I had my bike. Looking back, I probably should have called someone for a ride but I am a stubborn and independent type. So, I took some ibuprofen and cycled my way home. The way back is about 8.5 miles with a couple of good inclines. I can normally get home in about 40-45 minutes depending on traffic. This trip took me over an hour and 15 minutes. I was trudging along the trail at a slower speed and about two-thirds of the way through, I had to stop to take a break. I was so glad to get back, take a shower and crash on the couch for a two hour nap.

I’ve been slowly recovering but I can’t seem to shake the last of the cough. It sure makes me appreciate all the healthy days and good rides I’ve had.

One of the things this cold provided was a rare opportunity for me to bike my usual path during the weekday lunch hour. I’ve puzzled over the condition of a certain stretch of the Clive Greenbelt Trail between 73rd and 86th. On the north side of the trail are a couple nondescript warehouse buildings, one of which always seems to smell like an Easy Bake Oven (not the one cooking delicious mini treats, the one melting the colored beads in the metal bug molds). The south side has a little creek, some foliage and an exorbitant amount of litter. I hypothesized that four bachelors shared an apartment, ate at a different fast food restaurant for every meal for a week, loaded up on processed snacks at the convenient store, filled a pickup truck full of the garbage and then drove through the warehouses’ parking lot shoveling the filth out of the bed.

Turns out, I wasn’t too far from the truth. During the lunch break, the mostly male workers from the warehouse were sitting on the edge of the parking lot eating their fast food/convenient store sack lunches and just getting up and leaving their trash to blow around and end up in and around the water. I’ve seen the Clive public workers cleaning out that area so many times and it makes me so mad that they have to continually pick up after this lunch crew. I wish the people enjoying their picnics would appreciate their surroundings and take the extra three seconds to take their own rubbish to the bin. I wish the management would or could enforce that behavior.

How you’re feeling, who you are with, what time of year it is, what time of day… Any number of factors can change the same old ride into a whole new experience.

where do you ride?

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – Des Moines has a great trail system. Sure, there are places where the ride gets bumpy and the surface could be repaved. Yes, it seems sometimes there is an inordinately large amount of trash scattered along the trail. Okay, I’ve occasionally gotten slapped in the face by errant shrub growth. Fine, the wait at stoplights can be excruciatingly long more often than not.

One of the “problem areas” on my morning commute is the dashed trail on 56th Street that claims to be a 5 foot sidewalk but it’s probably more like 3 foot and super close to a jungle that grows much faster than it can be maintained. And the traffic on that street travels too fast for safety, in my opinion.

All that aside, I am amazed at how many places you can get to on two wheels. Trails weave north, south, east and west. More and more streets are converting to “complete streets” or adding bike lanes. My personal preference, if I can’t ride on a trail, is to find quite residential areas with low traffic roads. Not only do you get to explore a new part of town, it’s a great way to avoid exhaust fumes and stoplights.

So many businesses are welcoming and even encouraging riders. Gusto Pizza Co. offers a Bike Night, I believe on Tuesdays, if you ride your bike, you get 20% off your bill. Signs are popping up all over on the trails for establishments inviting riders to take a break and enjoy all this town has to offer. Jasper Winery is just a hop, skip and jump away from the trail. And many neighborhood joints open their doors as starting points or destinations for cycling groups. Bars and restaurants are popping up along trails in the greater metro area.

There’s a push for more bicycle legislation, including the 3-foot passing law and the City of Des Moines even put an article about some biking rules in their mailer. Cycling has been gaining more popularity and Des Moines is doing a great job of trying to promote it. I think there is always more that can be done but at least they are aware of biking and it’s benefits.

Do you know the bike lane rules?

Even with all of the improvements, there are still a few moments of negativity that astound me. From know-it-all pedestrians (“Get on the street, you can’t ride here!!) to know-it-all drivers (“Get off the street, you can’t ride here!!”), I’ve been shouted at by nearly every type of hater. Though, I have gotten shouts of encouragement and support too. Other communities are much better about this but Des Moines service vehicles are frequently parked directly on the trail, allowing for absolutely awkward avoidance attempts.

What great things do you see happening on the trails you ride? What things do you wish would be done differently?

I haven’t been feeling the greatest the past two days. So, hopefully I can rest up and have some fun stories for next week. Also, happy birthday to my Gma Trusty!!

adventures up north

I just got back from spending a week and a half in Minnesota. I had an incredible time and took every opportunity to be active but I also was able to relax a little too.

While in Minneapolis, Andy and I had some really nice walks with Chester through the Lake of the Isles neighborhood. We also borrowed wheels from the in-laws and biked to a Twins game. I highly recommend using bicycles as transportation to the ballpark. There are lots of racks for parking and the trail leads right to it. The Minneapolis trails system is amazing! It is kept in great condition and is pretty well marked. You can get a variety of places without the hassle of finding and paying for parking. They are always in use by other cyclists, runners, walkers, rollerbladers and every other transportation sport imaginable, yet the traffic is much more tolerable!

The next leg of our journey took us to Ely and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We are accustomed to escaping the modern world by visiting my husband’s family cabin on Ojibway Lake. This year, we decided to really rough it and got entry permits for the BWCA. We packed the tent and all our gear in the canoe and took off into the pine-scented, loon-filled, awe-inspiring wilderness. We had several portages, the longest of which was 190 rods. That’s not quite two-thirds of a mile but when you’re carrying a canoe or double packs full of gear over rugged terrain, you get a pretty good workout! Our canoe adventures were accompanied by a lot of headwind. We saw some beautiful falls and serene forests. Chester seemed to really enjoy riding in the canoe and chasing ground squirrels.

Home is where the tent is!

View from our campsite.

One foot in front of the other…

After returning from the camping trip, we hung out a few more nights at the cabin. We went for some walks, took a few hikes, went swimming, took advantage of the wood stove sauna, ate some extremely fresh veggies and did a good deal of reading and relaxing.

We returned to civilization and spent some time in Duluth. Activities included walking the Lakewalk and the Congdon neighborhood with Andy’s parents, hitting balls at the driving range, playing with our triplet nieces, eating out at some good restaurants and even some cycling!

Prior to our first outing, Andy was inflating the tires on his parents’ bikes and they weren’t holding any air. I took a look and there was definitely some leaks in the tubes but the tires themselves were brittle and a couple had some chunks missing. So, we took off to a local ski and bike shop and inquired about 27 x 1 1/8″ and were quickly turned away. We went a few more blocks and checked out another ski and bike shop and they didn’t think they had any tires that size in stock but they called another shop to inquire if they did. It seemed there were only two tires that size in Duluth and we needed four. After a little online research and a quick call to my mechanic, Ed, we decided to bump up to the 27 x 1 1/4″ size. We went back in to the second shop and purchase four tires, four tube and a couple tire levers.

After our bike repairathon, I enjoyed two nice shorter rides with my husband. Our first trip took us north and east on the Lakewalk and then south and west on some on street bike routes. There were some nice views and some killer hills. The second trip was south and west on the Lakewalk to the Fitgers Brewhouse for lunch. A few fish tacos, an oatmeal stout and a wild rice burger later, we were back on the path and exiting a few blocks early so we could stair-step our way up the big hill.

The wind was strong enough that we were getting sprayed with the water from the waves crashing to the shore.

I went out on my own one day, riding from the Congdon area past Canal Park and down to the beach on Park Point. I rode the Lakewalk in it’s entirety and circled back in similar fashion to the first loop but I took a detour up Skyline Parkway’s Hawk Ridge for a nice view of the lake.

A shot from the beach on Park Point. I’m not sure where on the shoreline my starting point or Hawk Ridge would be.

Snapped from Hawk Ridge looking toward the Canal Park area and Park Point.

All in all, I rode about 40 miles in Duluth. I had a good time getting out and feeling the wind whiz (or glue me in place) as I pedaled. Even with the leg tiring hills, it really is a good place to ride. I will say that though the views are tough to beat, the trail system there is lacking. Besides the Lakewalk, most “trails” were either shoulders of heavy traffic streets or unpaved paths. I like the interconnectivity of Des Moines’ trails and how easy it is to get from one area of the city to another.

Have you gone on any vacations lately that had some fun rides or great trails? Let us know!!

trading pedals for paddles

I’m heading for Northern Minnesota! I hope to have the opportunity to bike for a few days but I’m really excited about our canoe camping adventure. I’m off to enjoy the peaceful wilderness. Perhaps I’ll see some moose, a bear or some wolves. 

I’ll share my adventures upon our return. Take care and ride safe.


ragbrai week

The last full week in July always marks the Des Moines Register’s Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). This year is RAGBRAI is celebrating 40 trips from river to river. The whole concept began in 1973 as sort of a challenge from one co-worker to another and has been evolving ever since. I love the idea of cycling from town to town through more diverse scenery than can be seen from I-80 but I’ve never participated in RAGBRAI.

Most people are surprised by this… I’ve lived in Iowa my whole life but long cycling trips were never part of my childhood. I rode quite a bit around my neighborhood growing up, to work at the pool across town and all through college. I guess I never really hung out with anyone who had done it until the last couple of years. So, I’d say that my lack of involvement in RAGBRAI up until then was due to the fact that though registration is open for all, I’d never been invited.

I still don’t understand the registration process. As I understand it, you can register as an individual but have a better chance of getting registered through being part of a team. I believe there is a lottery for week long riders. Day passes can be purchased at certain locations in overnight towns. So, if I were to participate, it would be nice to have a veteran show me the ropes and explain things.

Another reason for my hesitation, I’m not big on crowds. I can rock a presentation in front of audiences that are larger than 200. I have no problem sitting back in the shade during the Downtown Farmer’s Market. I can stand and cheer on a favorite musician or sports team in a packed arena. The problem comes when I have to get from Point A to Point B in these crowds. As much as I tell myself to go with the flow, I often get frustrated when I want to go one direction and I get swept in the other. When I’m on my bike, I want to be riding. I want to enjoy the sights and sounds around me. Someone told me that RAGBRAI is a crowd on steroids and that just doesn’t appeal to me.

I have heard that it is possible to time a day ride just right in order to avoid the mass chaos that can surround the inevitable process of thousands of riders taking off at nearly the same time. So, I’m not going to knock it until I’ve tried it. I am just saying that I’d have to have an experienced friend help me out, tailor the adventure to my preferences and keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

Maybe I’ll ride some day… Or maybe I’ll take my own path from border to border… Perhaps visiting all of the wineries…

A shot Andy took on a visit to Penoach Winery.

I hope everyone is staying safe and hydrated!