Off Road at Peterson Park West

The Park

Known as Peterson's Pits to locals this park is found north of Ames.  It's a twofer of sorts with the Skunk River dividing the park into East and West.   As former gravel quarry, three small lakes were left behind for recreational use. Winding around the water in a series of loops are eight miles of off-road trails.  

Park Information


The Ride

This was my first visit to the park with a mountain bike.  As an off-road biking novice, I was hoping the trails would be scaredy-cat friendly with an easy terrain.  I was in luck!   

Wide, easy to spot dirt trails took me through timber.  Smooth grass trail flanked the edge of a prairie.  Things turned sandy in spots along the river bottom but wasn't difficult to manage.  All were in good condition and a perfect match for my lack of riding skills. 

A fat bike would be fun to ride here on snow covered trails. There's also a great picnic shelter overlooking a lake that would be a great spot for coffee outside.  

I had the place to myself and had a blast.  It was fun to roll the small hills.  I felt zippy around corners and wondered if maybe not all my nerve has disappeared! Perhaps there's hope for this old dog to learn how to shred (as the young whippersnappers would say) off-road trails.

Happy Riding!

Animals Along the Jordan Creek Trail

West Des Moines has a new outdoor art installation.  It's called Surrounds and is found in five locations along the Jordan Creek Trail.  Earlier in the year residents voted for the native animals to be included.  The winners were fox, beaver, squirrel, rabbit, hawk, and owl.  

On my ride to find the brightly colored critters. I discovered the bridge just east of the I35 closed.  The sign posted was backwards indicating a slippery trail instead of a closed bridge.  I took the liberty of turning it over. The detour options are to either return to Prairie View Drive and use the southern sidewalk along EP True or to ride the grassy field through Jordan Creek Park.  I chose the field. 

To avoid spoilers I didn't take a picture of all animals.  And, I won't mention where they are all are in the event you want to go on your own hunt.  But, if you don't like surprises  or want to make sure they're all found, visit the city of West Des Moines website for locations.

Happy Riding!






Fall Colors along the Bob Layton Trail

Visiting Urbandale's Bob Layton trail is a great way to seeing fall colors.  It's proximity off the Raccoon River Valley Trail makes for a logical side route this time of year.  Only two miles in length also it's a lovely spot for an autumn walk.  New parking off street parking is now available along Aurora with a picnic shelter coming soon. 

Changing Seasons

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.  

Happy Riding!



Coffee Outside VI - Clive Greenbelt Trail

The Ride

With crisp temperature the morning was ripe for coffee outside.  The agenda: ride to the Campbell Recreation area for a breakfast brew up.

My route there included the Waukee-Clive portion of the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  I dislike this trail segment...very much.  It includes crossing numerous intersections, entryways, and riding alongside four noisy lanes of traffic.  One can not/should not ride here without being "on alert".   

Using a different route, the ride back was enjoyable.  The pretty greenbelt, quiet neighborhoods and easier intersections are my preferred way to pedal between Waukee and Clive. It's definitely one less traveled.

The Brew Up

Sure, there are plenty of picnic tables at the park, and yes it was a cloudy day, but I couldn't resist setting up my little breakfast camp underneath a beautiful Weeping Willow.

I recently acquired two new additions to my kit.  A camp mug from Omaha Bicycle Co and a burr grinder by Tanors.  Turns out grinding beans is a fun way to kill time while the water heats. My pouring was a bit sloppy but the results proved positive.  

Cross your fingers temperatures stay conducive for morning activities like these.

Happy Riding!

*Jam Jar beans from Kickapoo Coffee Roasters.