Hammock Ride to Hanging Rock Park

The morning had only two items on the agenda:  Bicycling and hammocking.

Iowa-Bike-Rides-Hanging-Rock

With my gear tucked away in my pannier I headed out on the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  My destination was Hanging Rock Park in Redfield.  It's a secluded gem with it's sandstone ledges and shady spots for a restful bike break.  (For additional information on Hanging Rock Park check out this previous write-up.) 

I made a stop at the Adel "plaza" to admire the new trail signage and then experienced disappointment when finding the water fountain inoperable.  A pretty trailhead is nice, but I think this is an example of where function needs to be the priority.

Wild plums along the trail still need ripening time.  I picked a couple and found them super tart.  The tree canopy was in it's glory and the trail surface in better condition.  Kudos to the folks who filled the gaps and smoothed the bumps!

Arriving at Hanging Rock I set up the hammock and then explored around.  Man the water was muddy!  I had a the place to myself until I heard the noon whistle blow in town.  Then a gentleman arrived for his lunch break.  He said hello and asked a few questions about my hammock before heading back to the brick plant. Lucky me didn't have anywhere to be but hanging among the trees.

Happy Riding!

Always A Reason for Stopping

There's always a reason (excuses??) to stop on my bike rides.  The most frequent cause for dismount is to take a picture of something spotted and deemed interesting.  Today's instigators: 

  • Didn't even leave the driveway before stopping to take a picture of the  newest addition to my handlebar bag.  Nothing says "I'm out here for fun" better than  a big clip-on daisy.  
  • A squirrel with a phobia lives along a tree-lined stretch of trail. It hates dirty paws and stashes corn in trees rather than burying nuts in dirt. 
  • Vindictive rabbits in Dallas Center have spent winter stripping bark from saplings.  
  • Yes, I stopped to take a picture of a weed.  It's likely a thistle of some variety, but I found its purple-red hue pretty on a gray day.

Sometimes I think I should go on rides and not stop.  Just ride.  Work on speed.  "Put the miles in". Get stronger.  But then I come to my senses.

Happy Riding!


Snowshoeing - Raccoon River Valley Trail

No, I haven't bought a fat bike yet.  There's plenty of other ways to enjoy a snowy bike trail and on this sunny winter morning, my snowshoes fit the bill.

Like biking, I have my unique style to snowshoeing and it closely resembles me on my bike.  Walk a bit.  Stop.  Take a picture.  Walk a bit.  Stop.  Watch some sort of wildlife.  Walk a bit.  Stop. The only thing missing was a snack and beverage.  Undoubtedly both will make appearances before winters end.

If you come snowshoeing with me (you're more than invited by the way) just prepare for it to be more of a traipse or any of it's synonyms.  Trudge, tramp, tromp, plod, they all work.  But who is going to take up an invitation to go plodding?  Snowshoeing it is!

Making my own set of tracks I enjoyed a crisp morning out on the Waukee to Dallas Center segment.  I was the first down the trail on snowshoes, but others had arrived earlier.  Deer, birds, rabbits, a fat bike, folks on foot, and snowmobiles.

I'm not sure how I feel about snowmobiles.  There are times were I feel their presence "ruins" things.  The smell, the noise, the litter, the rutted tracks are all irritants.  The Raccoon River Valley is a shared use trail, so share it I will....if I have to....I guess.  

There were some thin spots along the trail where snow skimmed the surface.  Snowmobiles had taken a detour  into a farm field.  I used the shoulder. 

Snowshoeing  a bike trail provides it's own vantage point.  I had time to admire the artistic touch wind gave the snow, sets of unidentified footprints, and a raptor spying on me from overhead. Observances I could only have made on foot.  

If you're like me and don't own a fat bike, or use winter as a bike break , give snowshoeing a try.  It's a fun way to spend time out on the bike trails and see things from a different perspective.  

Snowshoe rental is available around central Iowa at:

Active Endeavours

Jax Mercantile

Polk County Conservation Offices

Rasmussen Bike Shop

Wimping Out?

With another winter storm scheduled to arrive I wanted to get out and enjoy a ride.  It wasn't too cold (low 30's) and the wind was calm.  The only unknown was the condition of the trail. Would there be leftovers from Thanksgiving's freezing rain?  

Setting out from Waukee with Adel as my destination I quickly discovered signs, trees and grasses still coated in ice.  However, the trail was dry and ice-free.  Arriving in Ortonville I was a bit apprehensive of the wooded area ahead.  Would it be dry too?

I was in luck.....until the first bridge.  It was a sheet of ice.  I dismounted and shuffled across.  This was repeated two more times before reaching Adel where I called in a rescue. Thankfully my husband was willing to fetch me for an ice-free and warm ride back home.  

Waiting for my ride I headed over to the Adel spillway for a bit of exploring.   The Wiscotta Bridge is on the west side of the spillway.  It's one of the oldest iron truss bridges remaining in Iowa.  Built in 1879, it spanned the south Raccoon River in Wiscotta (now considered Redfield). In 1996 the bridge was moved to Adel for preservation and enjoyment of those visiting Island Park.  

I suppose one could call me a wimp for not returning home by bike.  Some may view this ride as abandoned.  I'm certainly not chalking it up as a failure, or incomplete.   Being chauffeured home in a warm vehicle while sipping hot cocoa is  just another type of Happy Riding!

A Ride Before the Storm

Only a few hours ago I was out on the bike trail pedaling away as though autumn was going to last forever.  Unfortunately the snow storm everyone has been talking about for DAYS has finally arrived.  What a difference a few hours makes.

Hopefully winter will be kind with warmer days and clear trails.  Cross your fingers.

Happy Riding!