Morning rides are my favorite time for riding the trails. It's quieter, it's cooler, and I'm more likely to see wildlife. Then there's the morning light. It always soothes and repairs the soul.
With a few extra hours in my day and weather uncharacteristic to February, I packed the handlebar bag and set out for Minburn. It's one of the sleepier towns along the Raccoon River Valley trail with a handful of houses, a grain elevator (of course) and a tiny "downtown". A bit of planning is required if choosing Minburn as a stopping point as trail amenities are scarce.
The ride was as lovely as the weather. Spring technically isn't here yet but hearing a Meadow Lark sing and seeing a turtle sunning itself in the warm sunshine indicated otherwise.
The Iron Giant cruised along nicely. I have been very happy with the change of handlebars I made late last year. Recently I removed the pedal cages and so far have been pleased with that decision as well. I suspect the next downsizing will involve the bike computer. I find it unnecessary to be constantly reminded of my slow speeds. The only useful information it does relay is how many miles until break time. In this instance, it was twelve 'til tea.
Yorkshire tea and Voortman Almond Krunch cookies were enjoyed at the Minburn town square. The trail mix ended up making the return trip home.
Rides have few and far between this winter. A lack of snowfall has kept trails clean so my only excuse for ignoring my bike has been cold temperatures. I've turned into a winter riding wimp!
Maybe it was the sunshine and lack of wind. It could it have been seeing cars parked at the trailhead. Perhaps it was guilt for the lack of riding. Regardless, I found myself bundled up and riding towards Dallas Center.
Noteworthy observations were a recently installed bench, a bald eagle resting in a tree, and additional stickers on the John Cisar memorial. The most significant thing was me having ditched my library book, cozy blanket, and cup of tea for a cold winter ride.
Halfway to Dallas Center I turned the bike around. Because it seems winter riding wimps are easily swayed by thoughts of books, blankets, and teacups.
This bike ride on the Raccoon River Valley trail had two objectives: 1) Admire the fall colors 2) Test out new handlebars.
The Redfield grain elevator was busy when I arrived at the trailhead. Roaring dryers, semi trucks circling, and airborne corn chaff are also signs of fall in Iowa. Leaving the noise and dust behind I headed towards the river and checked out the spillway before hopping onto the trail.
The falling leaves were just as crisp as the temperatures. Colors were on the yellow side of the pallet. The trail wasn't covered completely yet and was free of limbs and walnuts so it was easy to pedal along and admire the changing scenery.
One of the gravel crossings had recently been paved. The new designs encourage cyclists to slow a bit and help with seeing oncoming traffic.
A few days prior I had replaced the handlebars on the Iron Giant and taken short spins to test them out. I was looking forward to see what they felt like on a longer ride.
I love the look of the new bars, and the different vantage point from behind them. The upright posture is a way better fit. The set up isn't aesthetically perfect since I'm using the same shifters, but it worked just fine and was very comfortable grip.
Handlebars and the weather don't appear to be the only thing changing. My bike riding is entering a new season as well. Another mile away from the norm that is Iowa cycling and closer to what is unique to me.