Coincidental Forgetfulness

The Trail

The High Trestle Trail is 25 miles in length and travels through Woodward, Madrid, Slater, Sheldahl, and Ankeny.  The wide concrete trail is in fantastic condition and does not have significant grades or hills. The majority of the trail is flanked by trees. Trailheads with water and restrooms are available in Woodward and Madrid.  Parks in Slater and Ankeny can be used as locations for starting a ride.  

Less than 10 miles from of Ankeny is The Oasis.  It’s a trailside rest stop constructed as a memorial to a local cyclist.  With it’s shaded picnic area, water fountains, restroom and views of Iowa farmland, it’s a great spot for taking a break along the trail.  

The highlight of this trail is the bridge.  Crossing the Des Moines River it is 13 stories high and a half mile long.  The design of the bridge pays tribute to the coal mining industry that one thrived in the area.  The spiraling steel frames represent supports used in the coal mines and the designs of the entrance towers depicts veins of coal found in limestone. There are several overlooks on the bridge for enjoying the view of the river valley.  Educational signs are posted providing information on the bridge and habitat found in the area.

Trail Map

Trail Information


The Ride

When am I going to stop leaving things behind?  It seems like I'm always forgetting to bring something along on my bike rides.  Money, bike lock, and sunglasses, seem to be the most frequently forgotten.  Today it was my water bottle.  Despite having brought it along on the drive to Ankeny, in my haste to hit the trail I left it behind.  

The weather was cool and windy so I wasn't worried about over-heating.  Plus, there's water available along the trail less than 7 miles from Ankeny's trailhead.  

Turns out I wasn't the only distracted cyclists out on the trail.  Pulling over at The Oasis for a drink from the fountain I noticed another forgotten water bottle.  This one was sitting on the picnic table. What a coindicence! Someone else forgot their bottle too! I couldn't help but laugh and take comfort knowing my bike wasn't the only one on the trail with an empty bottle cage.

Happy Riding!



Fun on the Fourth

The Trail

The High Trestle Trail is 25 miles in length and travels through Woodward, Madrid, Slater, Sheldahl, and Ankeny.  The wide concrete trail is in fantastic condition and does not have significant grades or hills. The majority of the trail is flanked by trees. Trailheads with water and restrooms are available in Woodward and Madrid.  Parks in Slater and Ankeny can be used as locations for starting a ride.  

About 5 miles from of Ankeny is The Oasis.  It’s a trailside rest stop constructed as a memorial to a local cyclist.  With it’s shaded picnic area, water fountains, restroom and views of Iowa farmland, it’s a great spot for taking a break along the trail.  

The highlight of this trail is the bridge.  Crossing the Des Moines River it is 13 stories high and a half mile long.  The design of the bridge pays tribute to the coal mining industry that one thrived in the area.  The spiraling steel frames represent supports used in the coal mines and the designs of the entrance towers depicts veins of coal found in limestone. There are several overlooks on the bridge for enjoying the view of the river valley.  Educational signs are posted providing information on the bridge and habitat found in the area.

Trail Map

Trail Information


The Ride

Meeting at my sisters house in Ankeny we set out for the High Trestle Trail.  It was a beautiful July 4th, with the sunshine, temps in the 80’s and a light breeze.  Our plan was to ride to the bridge with stops in Slater and Madrid.  

Just outside of Ankeny the trail travels through a farmyard.  If you’re lucky you can get a glimpse of the bison that lives here.  If you’re even luckier, you can get a cold beverage from the vending machine tucked under the trees.  The trail was busy and a group of cyclists were taking a break at The Oasis as we passed by.

Slater was celebrating Independence Day along with their 125th birthday!  Lots of activities were going on at Nelson Park when we arrived.  Food and craft vendors were open for business, families were picnicking, and adults were relaxing under the beer tent.  We grabbed some delicious sandwiches and sides from Fabulous BBQ and headed to the beer tent. After our lunch we made our way back to the trail.  There were so many cute homes decorated for the holiday and vehicles having participated in the parade were parked along the curbs.  Riding through Earl Grimm Park we caught glimpses of folks having a great time at the pool.  Slater was certainly having a great birthday.

Flat Tire lounge is well known by central iowa cyclists.  It’s a popular pit stop as it sits only feet from the trail.   Flat Tire has a bike repair stand outside and tubes, tires and even lights for purchase at the bar. Tons of bikes were parked outside!  I always enjoy looking at what others ride and how they personalize their bikes.  Another group out celebrating the holiday with a bike ride had decorated their steeds in red-white-and-blue.  

The last time I was on the bridge was back in March.  Then, shallow waters of the Des Moines Rivers traveled in a narrow path in between the banks.  This visit was a different story!  The 13 story high bridge didn't seem so high with the water at it’s highest levels in years.  

Back in Ankeny we visited Firetrucker Brewing.  The new trailside brewery just opened and we were excited to try their beer and see how the former fire station had been renovated.  It didn’t disappoint.  “Beer is art” at this brewery and their taproom complements their philosophy with beautiful displays of paintings from Ben Schuh.  The five kinds of hops used to create the First Responded Red Ale made it a perfect match for me.   

The High Trestle Trail continues to be my favorite trail to ride in Iowa.  Beautiful views, smooth concrete and beer just off the trail make a fantastic combination.

Happy Riding!


Riding Past The Oasis

Trail: High Trestle Trail

Location: Ankeny to Slater

Ride Length:  Long

Surface:  Asphalt

Terrain:  Flat with a grade going into Sheldahl

Date:    4-15-2014

Time:    10:30

Weather: 30’s/Breezy/Sunny

Starting Point: Ankeny Public Library

Ride Map 

Trail Map

Trail Information


Overview

  • The High Trestle Trail is 25 miles in length.  The wide concrete trail is in fantastic condition and travels through Woodward, Madrid, Slater, Sheldahl, and Ankeny.  The trail portion traveling east to west is the most popular segment with the artistic High Trestle Bridge.

  • With most trailhead facilities not yet open for the season I chose to start my ride at the Ankeny Public Library located at 1210 NW Prairie Ridge Drive.  After crossing the street to the trail I headed north with the town of Slater as my destination.

  • About 5 miles from of Ankeny is The Oasis.  It’s a trailside rest stop constructed as a memorial to a local cyclist.  With it’s shaded picnic area, water fountains, restroom and views of Iowa farmland, it’s a great spot for taking a break along the trail.  

  • Several concrete bridges cross streams while trees flank the trail north of Ankeny.  The segment past The Oasis is more out in the open with NW 58th Street running parallel to the trail.

  • On previous rides out of Ankeny The Oasis was my turn around spot, but not this time.  After making a quick pit stop I continued my ride towards Slater curious to explore this segment of trail.

  • Reaching Slater I took my break at Earl Grimm Park. Ball fields, tennis courts, horseshoe pits,and  picnic areas provide lots of opportunities to have fun. I took a snack break, soaked up some sun, and then headed back to Ankeny.

Considerations

  • There are multiple highway intersections to cross.  Slow down and be sure to get a good look for oncoming traffic.  Motorists seem to travel faster on these highways so be on the alert.

  • This stretch of the High Trestle is ideal for recreational or fitness riding.  With their park, ice cream shop, and restaurants, Slater is a good community for a destination ride from Ankeny. The Oasis is also a good destination for young or beginning cyclists.

Stops

  • Earl Grimm Park and The Oasis were stopping points on this ride.  

Sightings

  • Entering the trail in Ankeny I spotted a happy looking tree trunk that had been yarn bombed.

  • Just across NW 18th street a trailside memorial is dedicated to a former Ankeny resident.  The weathervane on top of the picnic area caught my eye along with a forgotten helmet next to the picnic table.  

  • A trail tattoo communicating peace, love and happiness was spray painted on the asphalt.

  • A slice of train track serves as an artistic bike rack at The Oasis.

  • Greenhouses from Central Iowa Floral are along the trail in Sheldahl.

  • Through the trees on the outskirts of Sheldahl I saw an old church.  Later I learned it is the First Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  I also learned that this tiny community of 300 people sits on three different Iowa counties; Polk, Story, and Boone.  Polk County is the controlling county.  

  • The park in Slater has some “vintage” playground toys you don’t see much of anymore.  

  • I found a tennis ball to add to my growing list of stuff found on bike rides.

  • Along the High Trestle Trail you’ll find signs indicating how many steps it is to the next community.  They also include inspirational quotes.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the quote might have read had Charles been a cyclist.

Treats

  • In Slater I had a mini picnic with a PB&J.  Nothing fancy but when is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich not good?

  • I use my Tupperware Sandwich Keeper quite a bit on rides.  It keeps snacks safe from being smashed in my bike bag.

Wrap Up

I was so pleased to have finally witnessed what is beyond The Oasis.  Hopefully this season I’ll be able to ride the trail in it’s entirety instead of in segments.  Now that would be a great Iowa bike ride!

Happy Riding!

 

Tootling Around Ankeny

Trail: Ankeny urban trails and side streets; High Trestle Trail    

Location:  North central  Ankeny and DMACC campus

Ride Length:  Moderate

Surface:  Asphalt trails and concrete city streets

Terrain:  Flat

Date:    1-12-14

Time:    1:00

Weather: 40’s/Cloudy/Breezy

Starting Point: Residential neighborhood North of Faith Bible College

Ride Map


Overview

  • To celebrate the departure of the Polar Vortex (good riddance!!!) my sister and I decided to cruise around her hometown of Ankeny.  She conveniently lives close to the High Trestle Trail (lucky her!).

  • My sister has a bike which is a former friend of mine.  I bought Mr. McFeely back in 1997.  This past summer he relocated to Ankeny to get more rides in and not have to compete with the Iron Giant.  If you haven’t already guessed, this Trek got it’s name from a character from the television show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.  Riding it always reminded me of the bike Mr. McFeely used.  “Speedy Delivery!” Ding! Ding! 

  • Snow + warmer weather = puddles.  There were lots of them on our bike ride, but we didn’t mind a bit.  It was wonderful being outside on our bikes.  We saw a couple of other cyclists who, based on the big grins on their faces, were thinking the same thing.

  • From the northern part of central Ankeny we biked south to the DMACC campus where an asphalt trail circles their pond.  It was funny seeing their sign with the phrase “Where are you going?” since at that point our ride was turning into an somewhat of an exploration.

Considerations

  • When riding a bike without fenders on a route littered with puddles be prepared to use the stain remover when you get home.  I had a big splattered streak of grime up the back of my jacket.  

  • With over 73 miles of paved trails, Ankeny has lots of bike riding options for days where riding a rural trail isn’t conducive.  It's also a great community for cruising around town.  

Sightings

  • Ankeny has several Little Free Library locations.  These “take a book, leave a book” mini libraries are built by residents wanting to foster the love of reading.  The library we rode past had been designed and built by a young man for his service project for the Boy Scouts of America.  

  • Not only was it a good day for a winter ride, it apparently was a good day for ice fishing.  All around town we spotted men out on the ice trying their luck at catching fish.  The DMACC pond was a popular spot along with the pond at the corner of NW State Street and NW 18th Street.  

  • The High Trestle Trail starts/stops at West 1st Street in Ankeny.  The city will be developing this area into Ankeny Market and Pavillion which will include two pavilions, restrooms and parking.  There are also plans to eventually connect the High Trestle Trail to the Gay Lea Wilson trail.  

  • What a tease!  Opening the summer of 2014 is Firetrucker Brewery, located in a former fire station conveniently located south of the planned Ankeny Market and Pavillion.  They have put a sign up on a portion of their building to help folks keep them in mind until their arrival.  It will be exciting to have another location in the DesMoines area for craft beer.  

  • How could someone lose their hand knitted Cyclone colored scarf!  Were they upset with their loss to Oklahoma and tossed it into a puddle?  It has found it’s way to the home of a fan who’s not so “fair weather”.

  • We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw a Woolly Bear Caterpillar on the trail!  It was alive and moving...very...slowly.  How it escaped the deadly polar vortex we’ll never know.

Stops

Towards the end of our ride we decided to stop at Wheelhouse Pizza and Pub, for a beverage.  Outside are convenient, and creative, spots to park your bicycle.  Inside, the artwork behind the bar and table top designs are tributes to the High Trestle Trail.

Treats

At Wheelhouse we savored beer from Exile Brewing in Des Moines.  I had the Ruthie while my sister chose the Betty.  Great conversation and flavorful beer made a lovely treat.  

Wrap Up

I’ll tootle around Ankeny any day.  It’s easy to navigate around town on bike trails and quiet side streets.  It can’t get much better than going on a bike ride with my sister!

Happy Riding!


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Prematurely Pedaling - Gay Lea Wilson Trail

Trail Map

Trail Information

Overview

  • Work has been underway to connect Ankeny to Pleasant Hill via the Gay Lea Wilson trail.  After hearing rumors the trail was open for business, I decided to go find out if it was true.  Turns out I was a week early.  

  • Since there isn’t an official trail head where the trail begins in Ankeny off of the 400 block of SE Oralabor road, I used the parking lot at Sportsmans Warehouse.

  • The trail starts off as asphalt but changes to concrete where the trail has been extended.  The new trail is wide and smooth with well groomed shoulders.  This trail link includes some significant grades along with a few curvy spots alongside and I-80.

  • Other than the short distance of wooded area traveling south from Oralabor there is no tree canopy.

  • Despite it visibly continuing on towards Pleasant Hill, the trail was designated as closed in Berwick at the corner of NE 29th and NE 54th Ave.  As tempting as it was to pedal past the orange barricade and continue my ride, I followed the rules and headed back towards Ankeny.  

  • The only convenient location for stopping for a break was the Carney Marsh area.  However, since it’s only a mile from where the trail begins in Ankeny I didn’t really need to to stop to rest.

Considerations

  • Watch out for traffic when crossing NE 66th and also SE Delaware.  

  • This trail segment is a good one for getting a biking workout in.  The long inclines left me huffing and puffing but were spaced out well enough for some good recovery time.

  • Since the majority of this trail segment is out in the open be prepared for sun or wind depending on what Mother Nature might be serving up.

  • Today was a lesson learned as I returned home to find information online about the trail opening on October 30th. Next time I’ll check the internet for updates before I head out on a the trail!

Stops

  • I took a short stop at Carney Marsh to check out the view and warm up my frosty fingers.

Sightings

  • About a mile into the ride you’ll find Carney Marsh  It was a quiet day on the marsh.  With the weather turning colder and many birds having begun their migration south I wasn’t surprised by not being able to spot any wildlife.  I will have to keep this trail in mind when it’s birding season as the marsh is a popular spot for getting good views of heron and other water birds.

  • The remainder of this ride travels through industrial areas.  Views include lots of warehouse buildings and huge power lines.

Treats

  • Boy was I cold when I returned to the car!  Thankfully Caribou coffee was right next door.  I got a hot latte to enjoy with my homemade muffin and a Honeycrisp apple.