Located in western Iowa, the T-Bone Trail travels 21 miles from Audubon to Dunbar Road (3 miles south of Interstate 80). Part of the American Discovery Trail System, the flat asphalt and concrete trail travels alongside US 71. Communities along the trail are no more than 6 miles apart.
The trail is named for Operation T-Bone, a campaign to transport beef to Chicago markets and bring publicity to the Iowa cattle industry.
The T-Bone Trail appears to be a well kept secret. This was the second time I've ridden the trail and once again I had it to myself. Perhaps it's just good timing, or perhaps most central Iowa cyclists prefer to stick to the Raccoon or High Trestle Trails. Regardless, a quiet trail this time of year is certainly a treat and I was looking for some solitude.
The morning began with breakfast at the campground in Audubon. My quiet dining companion set the tone for the morning. He looked on with his baby blues while I enjoyed a thermos of tea and some fig bars. Breakfast with Albert the Bull might have to become a yearly tradition!
My favorite portion of the ride was the stretch between Audubon and Exira. It's more serene and had the prettiest views. Whatever the cycling equivalent to ambling is, I was doing it. I paused where the bike trail crosses the East Nishnabotna River. There looks to be a campground of sorts here along with a portion of the old railway bridge.
In Exira, folks at the Red Barn were getting the grill ready for the morning. I could smell a hit of bacon and contemplated having another breakfast. Maybe next time.
The coolest part of my ride (photographically undocumented of course) was seeing a Pheasant hen. She flushed from the trail shoulder about 12 feet in front of me and flew into a corn field. My best wildlife encounter of the year!
Those traveling to Audubon may consider taking the Western Skies Scenic Byway via Highway 44. I took this route on the way back home and was glad I did. The prettiest portion was between US 71 and Panora.