Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday News And Views

Got bicycle trails? Pretty nice, eh? Well, it wasn't always that way, and even when the first trails showed up, (around here anyway), things weren't as good as they are now. In other words, "those weren't the good ol' daze". Not when it came to trails- both paved and unpaved.

Back when I was younger and "bangin' my head", there was but two bicycle trails that one could use in the Cedar Valley. There was a point to point trail in George Wyth, and the Cedar Valley Nature Trail which was all pea gravel back then.

Geo Wyth was free to ride on, if you didn't go through the gates with your car, because they had a user fee back then, and everyone that came into the Park gates had to pay a fee. Only by bicycle could you avoid this, and the only access point that way was from Cedar Falls.

But the Cedar Valley Nature Trail was different. You could access it several ways from crossing roads. However; they did have a daily user fee that was enforced, and a yearly pass license that you could buy. This was enforced by riders riding up and down the trail whose sole job it was to stop any and all cyclists that were not displaying the tag. (An example of which is shown here.)

If you were stopped, and you didn't have the cash-ola to pay for a daily fee, you were escorted to the nearest access point and told to not ride on the trail! (I know- it happened to me once. I out-waited the impatient enforcer and got back on and went my way! I know- I am an outlaw!)

Of course, things are not done that way today. You can freely enjoy the trail at anytime without paying a fee directly. But- you never know, that sort of thing may come around again!

Off roaders had it no better back then. I've been sharing this lately again, but back in the late 80's/early 90's, there were only a few off road trails in George Wyth and the Green Belt. That was it. There was nothing else.

The Geo Wyth trails were actually meant for hikers and there was a fitness trail with a circuit layout. It featured stations where different physical activities could be practiced like chin ups, rope swinging, etc. These were spaced along a wide, mown trail on which you were supposed to jog between stations.

The mountain bikers took to these with joy, but the Park Rangers were not so accommodating to cyclists. There were several instances of rangers handing out fines to cyclists for riding off road/off-paved trail in Geo Wyth. Several stories were circulated concerning cyclists out-running the Rangers and how the park officials would sometimes rant on cyclists passing through on the paved trail because they were on mountain bikes. Maybe these stories were true, or not, but fines were levied and the rules were real against off road cycling in Geo Wyth.

Most of the basic, older trails that exist in Geo Wyth to this day were "rogue trails" done against the will of the State Park officials. Certain cyclist were known to be trail makers and would go out in the rain, or at night, and cut in new trails for mountain bikes. I was personally involved in showing the then new park Ranger all the off road trails in Geo Wyth in 1996, when he showed up at the shop to ask if we would do that. He was flabbergasted to find out about them. The State/Park Ranger had no clue about all the trails existed at the hands of renegade off roaders. This eventually led to the Park accepting off road cycling and dropping the fines/rules against doing such stuff.

Of course now CVAST and the State Park officials are doing things hand in hand to expand the trail system further than ever. Good stuff is happening now and it hearkens back to the halcyon days of the mid-90's as far as trail opportunities.

We've come a long way since those earlier times!

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: 

Tomorrow is the big day of gravelly goodness. The GTDRI  course is set, the motel room is paid for, and the bike is ready to go.  I would ride it alone, if it came to that, but it appears that several folks are planning to show up with a few more saying they are going to try. We'll see if we beat last year, which was a record, or not.

One thing is for certain- it will be hot and humid. Upper 90's will be the high, and the winds will be coming from the Southwest at 7-15mph.

We have a chance at, (much, much needed), rain tomorrow, but it'll be hit and miss thunderstorms if so. If the rains miss all or parts of the course, it'll mean we're in for a brutally dusty day on the bikes. Last 3GR I looked at myself afterward and there was a thick layer of dust on my legs. That was after only 27 miles! Speaking of the 3GR, I won't be here in the W'Loo/Cedar Falls area for that, obviously, but we'll pick that back up a week from tomorrow.

Well, like any of the past Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitationals, whatever happens should make for some great stories afterward. I can't wait! I think this marks the seventh year for the gravel version.

Happy Friday the 13th, ya'all! Don't be skeert, don't be afeard! It's just another Friday!

1 comment:

Steve Fuller said...

The Raccoon River Valley Trail here in Central Iowa charges a daily or a yearly fee for use of the trail. $2 a day or $10 a year. Not a terribly bad price to pay for support of the trail.