I rode the hill this morning, figuring that my planned “long” ride of the day was pretty flat. In that, I made one very significant error. But I guess more hill practice is a good thing.
Anyway, it rained overnight and was raining when I woke up this morning. But I checked the radar online and watched a weather spot on the morning news and generally just wasted a bit of time. My wife had woken up earlier and was at the gym, I was waiting for her to come home so I could drive there rather than get rained on.
Well, anyway, in fact by the time she got home, the rain was gone. I decided to get The Beast out and ride to the gym. The pavement was a bit damp, but that’s what chain lube is for, right? Anyway, after an hour of exercise, the sun was even trying to sneak a peek, and the pavement was drying.
That tall morning weather guy said the sun would shine. And that make me think “Sac and Fox.” And then, I reconsidered. We had a good amount of rain over night, probably ¾ of an inch or so—would that trail be too mushy, even for The Beast?
There was only one way to find out. I fixed myself what I considered to be a luxurious biker breakfast—one scrambled egg, a bagel topped with vegetable cream cheese and a serving of oatmeal with raisins, walnuts, peanut butter and honey mixed in.
|A biker-style breakfast. Fuel for the ride.|
And I was off. The morning was fine for riding, if surprisingly cloudy. I headed towards the Cedar River Trail, taking the route that leads to a sign company parking lot in Hiawatha. But I was intimidated by the road construction on my chosen route, and ended up riding a half mile or so on Boyson Road to the trail head there. I do not recommend biking on Boyson, and will endeavor to better avoid it in the future.
Anyway, I was finally at the trial. The day was getting a bit warmer and very humid, so I sipped a lot of H20. In fact, I emptied and then filled my bottle at the J Avenue park. Although mild and warm, it stayed breezy and cloudy until I got to downtown Cedar Rapids, when the sun started shining more and more.
Good, I thought. The more likely the trail will be dry. My plan was to try the south end of the Sac and Fox Trail by accessing it from the Prairie Parks Fishery. If it proved mushy, well, I would just turn around and return to the Cedar River Trail and ride it.
hilarious post, we got very mired in the mud.
Well, they’ve had a year to repair it. And surely the giant utility project the city had been doing should be complete by now, right?
In fact, right. In fact, pleasant surprise, the Sac and Fox was wet and mushy in parts, forcing me sometime to ride The Beast at the edge of the grass rather than chancing getting mired. But, between the giant utility project requiring trail reconstruction and the flood taking out the south part of the trail which has since been replaced, the Sac and Fox is practically a new trail.
|The Sac and Fox. Maybe I did it a day too soon--there were several spots like this. But The Beast easily navigated the edge, and I never was close to a spill or a nasty splash--and much of the trail was dry.|
I made good time. And I actually appreciated The Beast. This was the trail this bike was made for. I’ve ridden Francis on it in the past, and gotten a flat tire at least half the times I did that. With The Beast and it’s beastly fat tires, I could move at a decent speed.
There was one off note. Due to the giant utility project, some of the natural tree stands along the trail have been destroyed. They have been replanted, but the new trees are still tiny and the ground cover hasn't really taken over the barren landscape yet. The middle part of the trail felt like biking (on a fairly nice trail) through the worst kind of suburban construction zone.
And maybe half the new trees planted last year either died in the drought at the end of the summer last year or were claimed by this year’s harsh winter. I hope the city is requiring some replanting.
|About 3 miles into the trail, not quite halfway--nearly where Indian Creek Runs into the Cedar River. This is where Cate and I totally bogged down. No problems now, it's not a mud bottom anymore.|
All in all, the trail is in the best bike riding condition I have ever seen. It’s still a trail for mountain bikes like The Beast, or maybe a hybrid for a good biker who is alert. I personally would avoid a road bike—this is surely not a road. And—bonus—if I could ride 30 miles today and take on two substantial hills riding The Beast, well, I guess I would say the Raccoon River Ride wouldn't be quite as crazy as I thought.
|Views of Indian Creek, above, are quite nice along the trail. but in the area of the utility project, below, the scenery has been more damaged and will take some years to recover.|
I will be back on the Sac and Fox. Sometime soon, I hope to take Audrey and her bike to the trail—it would be a longish ride for her, but on a dry day it would be very pleasant. Maybe, with Francis back, Matt and I will do this trail when Amanda and family visit soon. The Beast has a trailer hitch, so even some grandkids might ride along. I’m sure Cate and I will get on the Sac and Fox before RAGBRAI sometime.