|Leaving Prairie Grove Park we were watched over by a large Red Tailed Hawk on the line.|
I never went back after that Saturday night to see if it ever was replaced. I figured that there was really no other choice for the county but to replace it, but then again, in these times, weirder things have happened. So, it was always a plan in the back of my mind. The idea to go search for the new bridge, if it was there. I went on that quest early this Spring but was thwarted by a muddy B Level road or two. This past Saturday was "take two" on the quest.
I was planning for a while to make this a combination of recon for the upcoming Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, and the quest for the bridge, so I had two motivations to get out there. A third motivation to get out on this long ride presented itself when I was texted by Marty, who asked if I was going on a gravel ride and if I was, could he join me? Of course, I said yes. So, we planned on leaving from the starting point of the upcoming GTDRI, Prairie Grove Park, and set a time of 8:00am to get started on the long day's riding.
|Looking at the old Geneseo School as we went on our way to Traer.|
The day could not have been more perfect. It was in the lower 60's when we left with a light Southeasterly headwind. The day was drier, with low humidity. Really, a picture perfect day if ever there was one for riding on gravel roads. We headed out on the original GTDRI route which starts down Aker Road, but then it turns East to get over to Ansborough via Orange Road. The route then went all the way into Tama County before we turned East for one more mile to catch V Avenue South and then to a right on D-65 where that bridge was out for this year's Trans Iowa. That bridge is all in and complete, boding well for our quest to find the bridge intact over the Wolf Creek later on.
|Barns For Jason: Some rural decorative choices are a bit hard to understand, but.......oh well!|
|Marty with his snack at our first convenience store stop in Traer.|
Anyway, after a brief stop and a chance to freak out the locals, we moved on. South out of town on P Avenue, where we would hit up one of my favorite B Level Maintenance roads. You can read about that and see an image in the post previous to this, so I won't get into the details of that visit.
|The corn is REALLY tall, and the gravel was REALLY fresh and deep in Tama County.|
|We hit up this super fast and smooth B Level Maintenance road just before getting to J Avenue.|
|The new bridge over Wolf Creek looking back South. The old bridge is forever immortalized in the film documentary, "300 Miles Of Gravel"|
|Leaving the Wolf Creek valley can leave a mark on your soul! That's only the first of a series of steeps that goes on for a mile and a half.|
Marty and I then climbed up K Avenue to Ridge Road and we cruised straight into the wind, as Ridge Road runs Southeast/Northwest, till we returned to Traer again. We could have gone North before getting back to Traer, but Marty said we should take the "prettiest option". That was Ridge Road all the way to Traer without question, so we went through the town again.
|You can see for many miles in any direction from Ridge Road.|
|Marty was taking in the views on Ridge Road from his trusty Fargo.|
Now, that was maybe enough oddness to expect for one gravel ride, but we came upon an even odder sight after we had taken a good long rest stop under a tree's shade on the road because my stomach was fighting me a bit. I had eaten a bit too much and my body was shunting energy to digestion and my mind was falling asleep!
Anyway, I saw a blinking light bar up ahead, which is odd enough out in the middle of nowhere, but this was a accompanied by a string of about eight school buses parked on one side of a crossing road and up along our path. As we passed, we could see that this was a convoy of corn detasslers and a few vehicles ferrying the porta-jons they have to have to accommodate the youngsters who are hired to do this task. Apparently one bus had run into the back end of another, causing some significant damage. The kids were all restrained to sitting in the buses, and as we passed they hung their hands out the windows, waving at us vigorously. It was all a bit surreal, actually. Hope everyone was okay there!
|Finishing up a long day out on the gravel roads of Black Hawk and Tama Counties.|
|And that's another for the Cup-O-Dirt tally!|
I was a bit surprised by the mileage total when I got back and checked it out. I was suspecting I had about 70 plus, but to have eclipsed the 80 mile mark was very surprising and satisfying. That will go on the Cup-O-Dirt Challenge totals for the year, and it will be a good base to build off of going into Gravel Worlds and the upcoming Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational.
Speaking of which, this ride was also a test, again, of how my dinged up shoulder will react to a bigger ride and that on the Gen I Fargo. I have determined that for now, the big rides will all have to be done on that bike, with that Luxy Bar, because my shoulder still isn't 100%. I can tell right away when I ride one of my other bikes and the left shoulder starts aching badly after about an hour into a ride. Not always, but many times yet, that is the case. This ride wasn't easy, by the way, and I fought the shoulder pain for most of it, but it didn't feel like I was really doing more damage. Just an annoying pain at different times during the ride. Being able to take advantage of all the different positions on the Luxy Bar rotates that left shoulder joint in different ways so I can keep from having it get hammered by the gravel vibrations. Otherwise I am not able to really get away from it on a more standard type bar.
Thanks to Marty for the great companionship and I hope to get out this way again sooner. It had been far too long since I've ridden that way.