Monday, October 24, 2016

The Four County Tour

The gravel was mostly pulverized by the recent harvest machine traffic.
Saturday I woke up kind of late, but I knew I wanted to ride. It was going to be a gorgeous Fall day, and missing out on something like a day like that was unacceptable. So, I decided I would do a modification on a route I did last year in the Fall which I enjoyed immensely. It covers ground in four different counties, and mapping it out is kind of a pain because of that. So then I thought, "Hey! Why not call it the "Four County Tour"?" So, I have.

I had ambitions for doing some big miles, but because I woke up late, that made me modify my plans even more. Still, it was a good long ride, and I will just have to work on a longer ride later. This day, I wasn't going to sweat that. It was just too good out to be negative. That said, not being negative for other reasons was tough. 

Sometimes we all have those days when we just are not feeling right on the bike. I was starting out having one of those days. I couldn't breathe the way I am accustomed to. I felt awkward pedaling. All these layers! They constrict you more than wearing next to nothing when it is warm. Well, since it was in the 40's when I started, I had to have on a jacket, a pair of knickers, and gloves. All little things, but taken in total, they were conspiring to bring my mind down. I just decided that I would take what the ride would give me and keep pedaling.Whatever happened would happen.

Harvesting is wrapping up in Iowa for the year.
A tiny rural cemetery on the border of Butler and Black Hawk Counties.
You know what? Things got better. I "warmed up", and so did the weather. I stripped off my gloves and coat about an hour after the start and I felt great. There was a light Southwest wind, which was not a factor, and not a cloud in the sky. This was about as perfect a day for cycling there can be. I was out there riding, and eventually, smiling.

I touched Grundy County after riding West through Black Hawk County. Then I turned North and West a bit to ride the border of Black Hawk County and Butler County, eventually turning into Butler County for a bit. The other interesting bit about this ride was that I crossed all the major tributaries of the Cedar River and the Cedar River itself on this loop. The first was Black Hawk Creek, then the next was Beaver Creek. In Butler County, I crossed the West Fork of the Cedar River on an old, iron bridge.

When you see a line of trees ahead in Iowa, you can bet a river runs through it!
I passed some virgin sand prairie at the Cedar Hills Sand Prairie reserve.
The old bridge over the West Fork of the Cedar River.
Riding up out of the West Fork's valley I kept climbing and climbing until I crossed county road C55 and then I topped out on a high stretch of ground with a view for miles. I decided to have a stop to eat a bite and take it all in. How could one not stop and enjoy this beauty, I have no idea.

Climbing up out of the West Fork's valley.

I could see the communities of Waverly and Janesville from this point, both of which were at least five miles from this spot. 
By this time I had reached Bremer County, and my fourth county on the ride. I also would be reaching the furthest North point of my loop. Soon I would stair step down Southeastward on gravel toward Janesville and on the way, I would cross the Shell Rock River. Before that, I would bag another rural cemetery. I have been stopping in front of various cemetery gates in rural areas to get my bike's image in front of those gates as a kind of way to celebrate these forgotten burial grounds.

I ran into some good sized hills up in Bremer County.
Formerly known as Waverly Junction Cemetery when Waverly Junction was a town.
I came down a big hill and rode by the former site of Waverly Junction down to cross the Shell Rock, and then on down past Barrick's Home. The Barrick name is synonymous with Janesville as it was a settler with that surname that founded the town. From there I rode across the Barrick Road pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Cedar River on the site of the former Wagon Bridge.

The Fall colors are mostly muted this year. This outburst of orange was notable then.
Crossing the Cedar River at Janesville.
The dedication plaque for the bridge showing the former Wagon Bridge which used to be on this site.
I stopped in Janesville to resupply, having been out for three hours. With the "Orange Crush" rig only having three bottles on board, I needed that stop. I ran across an acquaintance at the convenience store who just about had to slap me to get my attention. Sorry! I was so used to being in my thoughts on the bike I was "spacing out" pretty badly!

I left Janesville and headed East and South to get back through Bremer County and in to Black Hawk again and finally to Waterloo.

I ran across this murder of crows sitting across the road and in both ditches. Weird!
A harvesting machine clearing up the last of the corn.
I made it over to St. Paul's Church on Gresham Road and Burton Avenue. The place looks different now that Fall is half done. Nothing like it did when things were still green during the last Geezer Ride, that's for sure. From there I went straight down Burton to Waterloo, finding out along the way that the small bridge before Dunkerton Road has been repaired/replaced.

St. Paul's Church from the West.
I haven't figured out how many miles I did on the Four County Tour, but it had to be around 50 or so. Whatever it turned out to be, I liked the route. I think I can tweak it out to go a bit into Grundy County and take in Zion Church as well. Maybe make a metric century route out of it.

I got home and took it easy the rest of the day. I then went on a family walk later on, which made me realize just how sore my legs were. I don't think I drank enough water. Oh well! At least I felt 100% better at the end of the ride, and day, than I had when I started out.

3 comments:

Ari said...

Did you not use the lezyne gps thingy you got?

Guitar Ted said...

@Ari- It hasn't come in yet. I'm supposed to get it this week. hopefully in time for the Fargo Reunion Ride.

Robert Ellis said...

Here in Missouri I heard we have had the 5th warmest October on record. None warmer since 1963. This has been some superb bike riding weather! Hopefully it will last on in to November, why not December!!