Tag Archives: iowa bike trails

learn all about cycling in Iowa/RAGBRAI at Iowa’s State Historical Museum next year

State Historical Society Building, Des Moines.

Word has it that the Iowa State Historical Museum will have an exhibit next year on cycling in Iowa – which of course will include lots of stuff about RAGBRAI – the Registers Great Annual Ride Across Iowa.  I’m sure it will feature lots of places and people we know – should be fun.  There will also be a Hollywood in Iowa exhibit in spring 2014 which is awkward given the Iowa film tax credit scandal that occurred a few years ago, killing off much of Hollywood’s interest in filming here.

An example of a RAGBRAI team bus

Here’s more info from the DM Register:

A new exhibit at the State Historical Building will feature the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa as part of the state’s cycling history, officials announced Friday night.

The exhibition will open in summer 2013 and “will highlight RAGBRAI as one of Iowa’s iconic traditions, largest cultural events and biggest economic drivers,” according to a news release.

RAGBRAI XLI will be held July 21-27, 2013. The overnight towns will be announced Jan. 26.

Here is a news release on the cycling exhibit and other announcements from a Friday night gala for the State Historical Museum:

Information about the two exhibitions and the announcement follows:

•    Riding into History –  this exhibition will open at the State Historical Museum in Summer 2013. Riding into History will showcase artifacts, stories, photos and videos that reflect the cycling experience in Iowa. Moreover, this exhibition will highlight RAGBRAI as one of Iowa’s iconic traditions, largest cultural events and biggest economic drivers.

•    Hollywood in the Heartland – In Spring 2014. The Blank family, along with the family of Robert Fridley, represents a rich theater history in Iowa and will be invaluable resources to the Museum as the exhibition comes to fruition for all Iowans to experience. Hollywood in the Heartland stems from a State Historic Preservation Office survey that documents Iowa’s historic theaters and connections to the film industry in Hollywood.


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bye bye ithaca header

Time for a new header photo and to reveal the location of the previous header photo above – the gorgeous Enfield Glen gorge at Treman State Park  near Ithaca, N.Y. Can any one figure out what the location of the new header photo???

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Daring to ride a bicycle on Iowa’s county roads – Chichaqua Trail east of Des Moines

You can get very spoiled riding bikes on Iowa’s trails – no cars to worry about except at infrequent intersections with usually pokey gravel roads. But yesterday – in part because one of our favorite trails, the (unpronounceable) 20-mile Chichaqua Valley Trail from Bondurant to Baxter, east of Des Moines,  is partially closed – we decided to try riding on a few county roads paralleling the trail.

It helped that the roads we were (S52 and F24)  were chosen by the Iowa Bike Coalition as good – and included as part of a recommended loop on their new biking map that I recently picked up for $2.50 at a bike shop in Des Moines.  On a gorgeous fall Sunday, the two-lane roads were mostly quiet – but every once in awhile a car or truck would come up from behind and scare the be-Jesus out of us. My husband was particularly worried about combines and grain trucks – since it’s harvest time.

The roads were very hilly – so a challenge to ride from that standpoint too – with visibility limited. When I could banish my fear of approaching cars, riding the country roads was fun – you get a really different feel for the countryside than on the trails where you are more insulated and your view more restricted. You’re riding in the middle of the corn field rather than on the edge of it, if that makes sense.

Anyway, by the time we got to the small town of Mingo on county roads we were very ready to return to the safety of a trail – and we gladly hopped on the Chichaqua Trail, riding  south to Valeria, where the trail was closed thru to Bondurant, due to damage caused by flooding last year.  We had the trail from Valeria to Baxter (via Mingo and Ira) almost to ourselves – about a 10 mile stretch – because, I’m guessing, 1)  people think the trail is completely closed and 2) the High Trestle Trail has become so popular that it’s siphoning off riders on the the Chichaqua Trail.

The weather was a balmy 75 degrees or so and the trees and light were in their autumnal glory – we rode through tunnels of trees changing color, our tires crunching on fallen leaves, the sun making shadows that dappled the path, gliding past fields of browning corn and golding soybeans, past the occasional combine harvesting away or tractor in the distance making hay bales. Iowa in its glory.

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Cycle Central Iowa – great new map with 17 loop rides!

(forgot to post this yesterday): One day after riding a day of RAGBRAI and I’m feeling just fine – maybe a little creakier than usual but not aching at all. So maybe this weekend I’ll set out with the new Cycle Central Iowa map which has mapped out 17 loop rides around central Iowa on bike trails and county roads. They all look great – and the descriptions include handy info on things like where to stay and eat. My one reservation is that we’re somewhat reluctant to ride our bikes on country roads, given the bad reputation they’ve developed for being inhospitable to cyclists. There have been some bad accidents where cyclists were hit by vehicles. Still the loops look like fun – and i far prefer a loop to going back and forth on the same trail. I bought my map for $2.99 (I think) at a local bike store – and it was the last one available but with hope, there are more available. To order contact: info@dsmbikecollective.org

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Alert – now is the time to ride Iowa’s bike trails (while Ragbrai is going on…)

Okay, it was very hot and humid (still) Sunday. But we had the Raccoon River Trail from Redfield to Yale (Iowa) almost all to ourselves, which was a treat, thanks to Ragbrai, which many regular trail riders are now riding. My guess is the trails will be relatively empty most of this week. (Ragbrai ends next weekend!

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Places to check out along the new High Trestle Trail in Iowa

The High Trestle trail just north of Des Moines officially opens today and here are some places the DMRegister recommends checking out along it:

– Woodward: Lake Robbins Ballroom, Woodward Hardware’s Antique Toy (nuts and bolts and antique toys and other antiques)

– Madrid – Baldy’s Chill and Grill opening soon in the old American Legion building

– Slater – Snus HIll Winery, with a tasting room, a mile north of the trail along a gravel road

– The Bridge, of course: A 13-story high bridge originally built in 1973 that has been redesigned with six overlooks, four art installation/towers at each end and 41 steel frames overhead that light up in the dark.

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Cycling in central Iowa – beware of headwinds

We learned the hard way about headwinds while riding our bikes on the High Trestle trail from Ankeny to Slater and back yesterday. The ride to Slater on a surprisingly summer-ish October day was lovely – even though the trail through flat and sometimes gently rolling farmland is a bit straight and wide open for my tastes. We stopped in the tiny town of Sheldahl for a picnic in a small park, then rode into Slater and tried out the first leg of the Heart of Iowa trail – which is where we first encountered the headwinds. (Maybe this is why so many cyclists gathered at the Take Down bar in Slater for some fortification.)

The Heart of Iowa trail goes east for some 37 miles – the small portion we rode toward Huxley was crushed gravel/dirt, easy to ride on although not as easy, obviously, as pavement. We felt like we were on a country lane – with big trees shading the trail in spots and otherwise wide open farmland.

Fortunately we didn’t ride that far on that trail because our ride back to Ankeny was exhausting . We rode straight into strong wind for about 15 miles. Fortunately the route was flat but still, it was taxing, physically and mentally. Some fellow bikers we met seemed well-acquainted with the headwinds on this trail – which we hadn’t encountered during two previous rides on it. Ride and learn.

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