Monday, September 14, 2020

Fall Views: Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost


Escape route for Saturday's ride- Moline Road.
After four straight days of dreary rain, the sort of weather that can bring a joyous heart dismay due to its incessant nature, I was ready to get out on the gravel. Whether the roads were good, or whether we would have showers or no, it did not matter. I was going out riding. I packed a rain jacket just in case, and took the Noble GX5, with a stinger rear clip on fender installed, and headed North and East to bag some more roads in my quest to ride every gravel road in Black Hawk County. 

The roads were wet, there were puddles everywhere, and it looked as though it could shower on me at any point. Didn't matter. I was heading out on a mission that I had outlined for myself while sitting around during those previously mentioned rainy days. It would be a big ride to bag several more roads out in Northeastern Black Hawk County. One of the furthest sections of the county from me that there is. 

It is also is one of the most messed up sections, in terms of "The Grid". This means there are a lot of paved sections, truncated roads, and river obstacles to deal with out that way. Crane Creek raises Cain with the roads, and so does the Wapsipinicon. I sat and went back and forth for hours trying to come up with a logical way to attack this area. I also did some research to see which roads I had actually already been on, and that proved to be fruitful, as it eliminated a one mile section of Ordway Road that would have been a total pain to get into the plans. 

The final plan, which I detailed out on a piece of paper to guide me, was to hit the Eastern end of Bennington Road, hit up Lester Road, a couple of short bits- Duffy Road, Owen Road, and Triborn Road, and then head South on Rice Road to clear that off the slate. With this plan I headed out on Moline Road to Airline Highway and then North on Schenk Road to get to Bennington. 

St. Paul's Church on Mt. Vernon Road.

The Eastern terminus of Mt. Vernon Road.

On my way out I didn't bother looking at the signs on the roads, rather relying on my memory of the area. Bad decision.....or a good one? I passed St. John's church and remembered when we went by there for a Geezer Ride once. Hmm..... Was this Bennington Road? Well, I crossed Canfield Road, a paved highway, and then I suddenly realized I was on Mt. Vernon Road! I needed to score the Eastern Terminus of this road as well, but to do that required almost a two mile back-tracking to get back to a North-South gravel road again due to Canfield being paved. Gah! Welp......might as well as long as I'm here...... 

The road terminated unceremoniously at a gate where you could see a grassy two-track continue onward toward Crane Creek.  To the South, right at the gates, there was a hog confinement and I could hear men working inside. I stopped to take my image and then I stuck around to eat something and drink a little water. In the meantime the five guys working there all shuffled out, apparently to go to a gas station, from what I could gather from their chatter. None of the five looked at me, or gave me any recognition. I figured they had to realize I was there, right? Well, if they did, they ignored me well. Off they went in a beat up white Ford van and I followed them Westward. They were probably thinking I was lost. 

All that glitters is not gold,

Not all those who wander are lost......

 J.R.R. Tolkien from "Lord Of The Rings"

Bennington Road near Crane Creek

The gate at the terminus of Lester Road to the West/South.

I eventually got back on track. It was easy going Eastward since I had a great tailwind, and I was making fantastic time. I got a text from Ari and stopped to send him an image from where I was. then I headed back on toward my next new-to-me road, Lester Road, and another out-and-back section. Once that was done it was back East on Lester to a short little stub of Northward road back to Bennington called Owen Road. I didn't expect much but I found an interesting thing. 

Lester Township Cemetery

The paved road a quarter mile West of here is called Canfield Road.

So I came across another cemetery, this one was unmarked, and I had to wait until I got back home to research out the name. But at the time a gravestone and the name on it jumped out at me. It was the Canfield family plot. The interesting thing about Black Hawk County is that all the road names are for pioneers in the area. There is a major North-South blacktop a quarter Mile West of here named Canfield Road. Probably not a coincidence. 

The closed off bridge on Bennington Road.

Barns For Jason #1

The DOT maps for Iowa are, probably, the most reliable source for road information we have. I usually use their PDF maps, which are color coded as to road surface, for my route planning. That said, you cannot trust maps. There still is no resource in 2020 that is 100% accurate for making routes on gravel roads in Iowa. That is another story for another time though. My point here is that the map for Bennington Road showed a bridge over the Wapsipinnicon River. I had my doubts. 

My doubts were founded too. That bridge is closed, although cross-able by foot. I made my way over and then into the very Eastern edges of Black Hawk County. There I finally saw barns! Up to that point, I either was going by barns I'd seen many times already, or through new territory to me devoid of barns. 

Barns For Jason #2

The end of Triborn Road, a small stub of gravel off Dunkerton Road.

After crossing Duffy Road off my list, I had to get on Dunkerton Road, a paved highway, to get to a small stub of gravel I needed to check off called Triborn Road. That got nicked and off I went to find Rice Road, a Southbound gravel off of Dunkerton Road just after re-crossing the Wapsipinnicon River. 

Barns For Jason #3

Barns For Jason #4

Rice Road was another new road for me and would end up dumping me out at a "T" intersection with Barclay Road, which I was unsure if I had done all of that. So, another big section of roads marked off the 'to-do list'. 

I got caught out in some light rain on the way back to Waterloo.

I did see the Sun and patches of blue sky by the end of the ride.

So, I made it back home after some light, misty rain, more mud, wet roads, and headwind. I tallied around 50 miles for the day. (Sorry! No computer on board for this ride!) It was a day that reminded me of many a Trans Iowa. Wet, the tires were cutting into the roads, and there was some wind to deal with. My legs were fried when I got back home! 

It was a good kind of 'tired' though, and I made some major headway into getting all the Black Hawk county gravel ridden. Wandering around like a lost person, but little do they know! I am on a quest!

Tomorrow I will share a small photo dump of other images from this ride.


DT said...

Sounds like an awesome ride! Are those gates just there to stop vehicular traffic, or are they for everyone (including cyclists)?

Guitar Ted said...

@DT- Thanks! Generally the gates mean that access to the remaining road is limited by the adjacent landowner,but still belongs to the State. (Level C) Or it may indicate that it has been decommissioned and is private land. Since neither shown here was signed, I am left to assume that both are now in the hands of the landowners, OR that's what they want you to think. (Aha!) Rural folk are quick to assume land control so you just never know.