Midday Meadering on the Clive Greenbelt

After days of gray the sun finally showed itself.  To celebrate I took a midday meander along the Clive Greenbelt.   I left my baggage behind and rode off on a borrowed bike.  It always feels strange riding without the accouterments.  No handlebar bag, no bell, no bottle cage.  Bare bones indeed!  

The trail was quiet, which was good.  It made it easier to dodge puddles and slippery spots.  I think I enjoy this trail best when there are no leaves on the trees.  It makes it easier to see who might be coming around the next bend.  The highlight of the ride was spotting an unidentified owl species.  I'll have to check my bird book to see if it's native to Iowa.

Happy Riding!

Change is Good

The Trail

Considered a critical trail within the Des Moines metro area, the Clive Greenbelt has been undergoing significant transformations over the past two years.  This summer, improvements were made to western portions of the trail and within Campbell Park.

Enhancements will continue over the next three years and will include connections to neighborhoods, flood control for Walnut Creek, trail signage, replacement of trail surfacing  and the opening of trailside businesses.  

Project Updates

Trail Map

Trail Information


The Ride

Having heard the trail had re-opened it was time to check out the new construction.  I also wanted to contribute to the Clive Greenbelt Rehabilitation fund by purchasing a trail t-shirt.  It would be a fun addition to my ever growing collection of biking shirts.  

Making my way over to City Hall I enjoyed the new wider and much smoother surface.  The entrance to Campbell Park looked great!  It's now much easier for users to get on/off the trail.   Also spotted were new benches and also a extremely cute Little Free Library.   

Art Along the Trail was still on display.  I stopped to check out "Fowl Play" installed along 114th street.  It was created by Tim Adams, who also had "Seahorse" displayed last year,  It is now located just off the trail at the aquatic center. 

At City Hall I was informed t-shirt sales were going well with an average of ten sold a day. Not too shabby!  I also learned about the Open House scheduled for Sept 17th from 4:30 - 6:30.  Trail users will have an opportunity to provide input on the trail project, along with partaking in food and fun.  

Oftentimes change can be challenging to accept or seen as a negative.  But along the Clive Greenbelt, change is for the better. It will be exciting to see it continue to evolve over the years.

Happy Riding!


The Changing Clive Greenbelt

The Trail

Located on the western outskirts of the Des Moines metro, The Clive Greenbelt is an asphalt urban trail that runs for eleven miles through the heart of Clive.  It winds through the Greenbelt Park Forest and Woodlands, past Greenbelt Prairie, and several city parks. The Clive Greenbelt is also known for it’s yearly sculpture exhibit, Art Along the Trail.

Trail Information

Trail Map


The Ride

Mimicking the twists and turns of Walnut Creek the Clive Greenbelt is a fun trail to ride.  It can get quite busy resulting in the need to slow down and stay observant of others enjoying the trail. Bumps and dips caused by tree roots are another reason for being on alert.  However, overly cautious riding may soon be a thing of the past due to trail improvements.  

Between NW100th and 86st the trail has changed significantly. New asphalt is smooth as glass and the removal of curves takes away the surprise of finding pedestrians around the tight bends.   Despite the removal of several switchbacks, there are still plenty to lean in and out of west of NW 100th. It will be interesting to see what additional changes will take place on the trail over the next year.

Like most rides, I took my time and even ventured down trail spurs to see what I could find.  Most had interesting views of the creek and bridges to cross. The white mottled branches of a sycamore tree caught my eye.  A favorite, these grand trees beautifully stand out against the browns of winter.  

The 1-80 bridge had quite the fresco spray painted on one of it’s supports.  I wonder how long it took the artist to complete, what it means, and if it too will have changed the next time I ride by.

Happy Riding!



Clive Greenbelt - Art Along the Trail

The Trail

Located on the western outskirts of the Des Moines metro, The Clive Greenbelt is an asphalt urban trail that runs for eleven miles through the heart of Clive.  With it’s windy curves, lack of shoulder, and frequent use by walkers and joggers, this trail is best for slower bike ride.  The Clive Greenbelt travels through the Greenbelt Park Forest and Woodlands and past a restored prairie.  There are several city parks and trail access locations along the trail.

Trail Information

Trail Map

Exhibit Information


The Ride

I took a midday break for a leisurely ride along the trail to enjoy Clive’s outdoor art exhibition.  The art varies each year and is on display May through October.  Artists receive a $1,000 stipend for their work.  Clive residents vote for their favorite sculpture and the overall favorite is put on permanent display.

The horse sculpture titled At the Edge of the Cliff by Steven Huffman, from Ottumwa, was my favorite. All sorts of scrap metal was used.  Idiot Wind by Paul Konchagulian made me think of a piece of broken windmill.  It would be interesting to know the inspiration and stories of the creative process behind the pieces of art.

Along with the art, there were other eye catching elements on this bike ride.  Between the bike trail and the Flying J truck stop there’s a remnant of a windmill, proof that years ago the land was once a working farm.  This rusty artifact isn’t part of an exhibit, but I consider it an art form representing Iowa’s farming past.

Monarch butterflies had begun their migration south and were drifting along on the breeze or taking a break on blooms along the trail.

A note attached to a squared section of construction fencing read:   “Can you spare this pine tree?  We planted it as a memorial tree.  Thanks.”  It was nice to see the workers who cleared the trees left behind the little pine.

Towards the end of my ride I took a peaceful break next to Walnut Creek, to listen to nature, enjoy the view and eat a snack.  

If you haven’t had an opportunity to ride the Clive Greenbelt trail and see the Art Along the Trail project, make plans now as the installations will be removed at the end of October.

Happy Riding!



Testing The Fender

Trail: Portions of the Raccoon River Valley and Clive Greenbelt

Trail Map

Clive Greenbelt Trail

Raccoon River Valley Trail

Trail Information

Clive Greenbelt Trail

Raccoon River Valley Trail


Overview

Finally!  I’ve got a rear fender for the Iron Giant. It’s from SKS and easily mounts to the seat post for days when the riding can be sloppy.  Today was the day.  With the temperatures jumping into the 60’s the snow was finally melting and creating lots of puddles.

Unfortunately my schedule for the day didn’t allow the luxury for a longer ride so I headed out from home with plans to bookend a local ride with errands.

Considerations

  • Puddles and street sand put the fender to the test.  It worked like a charm saving my jacket from needing to be laundered when I got home. 

  • Icy patches of trail prompted me to detour my route using city streets.  The tunnel going under SE Boone drive looked extra hazardous.  

  • Spring is pothole season on streets and trails.  Stay alert to avoid any mishaps.

  • The stretch of Raccoon River Valley Trail between Clive and the Waukee trailhead has  lots of street crossings, loud traffic and the aroma of exhaust.  For riders traveling further on the trail, this link is a necessary evil.  Keep your eye open for cars turning into parking lots and intersections and assume motorists are unaware of cyclists.  

Stops

  • My first stop was the Waukee Library to make a return.  I was tempted to go inside and browse, but knew if I did I would end up with a heavy bike bag for the remainder of the ride.

  • I took a little break from the ride and sat in the sun at Campbell Park.  

  • The last stop for the day was the post office.  Exciting stuff!

Sightings

  • Centennial Park in Waukee really doesn’t have a pond, but the sand volleyball pit was doing a great job impersonating one.

  • Despite having ridden this path countless times, I had never noticed the forgotten piece of farm equipment along the trail.  A perfect example of how each ride can be a different experience.

  • The fields of Walnut Creek Baseball had hills of sand waiting to be spread out before the spring season opener.

  • Let’s hope the flood marker by Walnut Creek doesn’t have an opportunity to be used this year.  A super tall cyclist from Team Road Pirates had graced the marker with their team sticker.

  • Abstract  snow sculptures dotted the shoulder of the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  Mother nature was showing off her creative side.

  • The geese have been using the Waukee area for pit stops during their migration north.  I’m not sure what is attracting them to the suburbs.  Most likely it’s a migratory path that was once in the country. Hundreds of them were taking a break in a bit of cornfield just off of Alice’s road.

Treats

  • While enjoying my break in the sun at Campbell Park I snacked on some homemade trail mix.  Eating outside on a beautiful day always seems to make food taste better.

Wrap Up

  • The fender passed the test and will be sure to come in handy again this spring.

  • I’ve ridden this route numerous times.  It’s not a favorite route as I prefer to get away from suburban life when on my bike. But on a day where I don’t have time to visit an Iowa trail, this route will do just fine.  

Happy Riding!