Monday, September 09, 2013

To Church & Back Again

Since I was caught up on work, I decided after church on Sunday to go for a ride. The destination-church! Well, not a church in town, but a church I've wanted to go ride by for a long, long time. This particular church is a rural church in Grundy County and I used the road that went by it for Trans Iowa V9.

I "drafted" this hay train for a couple of miles.
It was a good day to go do this ride on, since the temperatures were decent and the skies were overcast, for the most part, which made the long ride I planned less brutal. However; it really makes for poor lighting for any images!

I laced together a plan which included a few miles of railroad grade bicycle path, and then a few miles of chip seal until I hit gravel I'd not been on before for the trip North and Westward. I didn't have a map with me and I was going off memory of a map I'd looked at just before I left at a little before 3:00pm.

The plan was mostly coming together well. I had made all my turns and got into a section where I had to pass six intersections and then turn right. About this time I was running up on a tractor pulling three hay racks with one round bale a piece on them. I followed him for at least a couple of miles. The roads were also not on every mile at this point either, making things a bit more difficult. There was plenty of dust and my focus was on trying to stay far enough back that I didn't get into the thick dust this rig was kicking up. I may have been distracted by this, or I  just plain screwed up, but I missed the turn by a mile! No worries though. I turned right and rode on the shoulder alongside a blacktopped road a mile North to my correct road and turned left.

This is not the church you are looking for! (Zion Lutheran Church.)
Barns For Jason
Some of the fields are really drying down and turning color out here.
The skies started to clear a bit on into the ride.
Eventually I reached the turn Westward that would take me to the church I was in search of. It was a long slog of about 13 miles or so, and since I had a way to go, I settled in to enjoy it as well as I could.

I hadn't considered it before, but I noted finally that I wasn't hearing the wind and it was easy to crest hills. Drat! An East tailwind? You're kidding me! Bah! This wasn't a good revelation, since I had also noted that the roads in Grundy County had plenty of fresh gravel laid down, and head winds with fresh gravel is a recipe for really tough riding. Oh well! I had to enjoy the tailwind at the time and get grinding along as fast as I could go, since the turn around point would show me slower speeds in the reverse direction.

Fortunately I was running the Rock & Road tires by Bruce Gordon. These 43mm tires really handle chunky gravel well. I was running 45psi in back and about 40psi in the front, which was perfect. Even with these capable tires there were sections where I was pinging around and I had to pay close attention on faster parts of the route where the rough, loose gravel might kick me to the curb. It wasn't uncommon to hear a rock ping off a crank arm, rim, or part of the frame as it came off the tires. Not only were the rocks bad, but there was plenty of dust to collect on my legs and bicycle during the ride. I was one "Dirty Sanchez" by the time it was over!

Grundy County has some of the richest and most expensive farmland in the USA.
Soon these bins will be overflowing with corn and soybeans.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church, near Wellsburg, IA
I was counting down the roads as I went Westward. The Grundy County roads are easy to navigate, if you understand the naming and numbering scheme. East to West, each road you cross is an alphabetically named road. Starting with the beginning of the alphabet in the west, the roads are sequentially named "A", "B" and so on down to "X" before you reach the eastern border. As you travel North to South, each road you cross is numerically named. Starting with 110 in the North, each mile is indicated with an addition of "10" to the road name- so 110, then 120, then 130, and so on until you reach the Southern border. By this system you can pinpoint within a mile where you are in the county if you are on a road!

Unfortunately, not every county does things this way, but Grundy does and I could know just how far I had to go till I reached "H" Avenue where I would turn Northward to pass by the church I wanted to reach. I had planned a little relaxing and resting when I got there, but upon arriving I checked the time and was a bit alarmed that I had taken almost two hours to get there. A quick lunch, a bit of water, and back on the bike it was then. I had planned on being home by 6:00pm, but that wasn't going to happen! So I was leaving St. Paul's behind me in a rush and heading for a brutal East headwind that was coming pretty much straight down the road at me. I would be lucky to get back by 7:00pm at this rate, I figured.

"Cheater" road!
Eventually I was needing a brief stop to take a break from the constant pedaling and buffeting from the wind. I saw that the road turned to pavement dead ahead. I realized then that this would eventually lead me to Cedar Falls' outskirts, all on pavement. There also was a bonus in that  I was going to go through Dike, Iowa on this road where I could resupply if necessary, and it was looking as though that would be the case.

So, straight on it was then, with a brief stop at a roadside park looking for water, (which was unsuccessful), and then the stop in Dike for liquids and a sweet roll. Properly fueled and watered, I trudged on into the city and made it home 10 minutes after seven in the evening. Nearly four and a half hours after I had left for the ride!

It was a tough ride, but I "bagged" the church I wanted to ride by, and that was one more thing to check off the bucket list for rides around here.

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