|Escape route: Gilbertville Road|
The ride on Wednesday could have been called "Barns For Jason" as there were so many barns in this area that I almost never had the camera out of my hand. I have never ridden or driven these roads in my life, so I did not know exactly what to expect. What was a bit of a surprise was that this area was not in the flood plain, so it was made up of gentle rollers and there were some places that were high enough that I could see for miles all around me.
The ride started in Gilbertville, Iowa this time, and I rode Southeast out of town from a park right at the edge of town. I don't know why I don't hear more about people road riding down this way because the bit of blacktop I was on was fun and had spectacular views of the Cedar River Valley. I was on that road for a bit over a mile then I dove off Eastward on Rickard Road.
As I said last time I reported on a ride, I had to forego riding in shirt-sleeves. It was now in the low to mid 40's, mostly cloudy, and a threat of rain was in the forecast for later in the day. The winds were light, but they were 'there' out of the Southeast. So, I wore my heavier Bontrager windbreaker, a wool jersey, a base layer, inner short liners, and Twin Six 3/4's pants. I used GORE-Tex Mid-Stretch Gloves, a Walz Caps wool cycling cap with ear flaps, and my trusty Bontrager helmet. On the feet were Sock Guy long wool socks and Northwave boots. My only complaint was that I maybe was a tic too warm up top.
This ride featured the Black Mountain Cycles MCD. I haven't ridden that bike much in a while now and I was struck by a couple of things that I've gotten used to with the Standard Rando v2 and the Noble Bikes GX5. That mostly had to do with stack height and the saddle tilt which can be adjusted on the MCD to more closely match that of the other two bikes. It's funny because I thought the MCD was 'spot on' from the moment I got it built up and now it feels like it needs tweaking.
|Rickard Road looking East.|
|Barns For Jason #1|| |
Interestingly, this ride featured roads which weren't dry and dusty! In fact, with the recent misty/rainy days, there was enough moisture at times that my downtube was caked in gravel dirt and it was also splattered on parts of the frame. Riding in these conditions hasn't been seen since Spring.
|Rickard Road dumps unceremoniously into this field adjacent to I-380. (I'll have more on the dog)|
|Barns For Jason #2|
At the expected end of Rickard Road, according to the map, the road turned slightly alongside I-380 and then stopped. This is what I found, but there were no gates, no warning signs, nothing! The road passed by a farm on the South side of the road just before this so you cannot see how the road simply dumps out into a cornfield until you get there.
To make matters worse, the gravel is freshly maintained right up to the point of the field border. At night, with speed, going around a corner, this is a recipe for potential disaster. I found this out to be true due to the dog pictured above. Yes- the dog led to the discovery of the truth behind this strange road ending. You see, this large, yellow dog of indeterminate breeding was the cause of a chance meeting with the landowner of this particular farm.
As I approached the farm from the West, I saw the yellow dog first. Glad I saw it because it never barked, and this animal was ginormous. I would place it in the same size range as a Great Pyrenees or a Saint Bernard easily, but it had very short hair for such a large dog, and its eyes were pale yellow-green. As the dog approached me, I dismounted and was chattering to it in a calm manner, as is my way with rural dogs, and I could see that, while it seemed friendly enough, there was something odd going on here.
|Post-harvest poop spreading. They were pumping out the fecal matter at a nearby hog confinement to do this with. || |
|Barns For Jason #3|
As I was allowing this large yellow dog to check me out, I saw another dog coming out to join in the fun. It looked like an aged Blue Healer, maybe, or was a cross with one. It was over-weight and older. Not inclined to chase or get into any extra-curricular activities. It also did not bark. Weird!
Anyway, I decided these two dogs were friendly and were going to allow my passage to see the ends of Rickard Road. As I motioned to them that I was moving along, the yellow dog got excited and was coming along for the ride. It took off with a spring and was leading me to the end of the road up around the curve as if we were going on a fun romp. This was when I noted that this dog was powerful, fast, and indefatigable. It showed no signs of working hard and could sprint away from me like a bullet, return just as fast, and look at me like I was some kind of slow-poke. By the way, the older blue dog was content to sit up on a round bale alongside the road and watch.
|Barns For Jason #4|
|Barns For Jason #5|
This was all well and good. I like a fun dog, but now the worry is that the dog will want to run with me until who knows when. I haven't had a dog run with me in years, but I know it happens. We had an instance of this phenomenon during the last Trans Iowa and it caused me no end of grief that weekend. Anyway, thoughts of that dog running away from home following me and an angry owner tracking me down danced in my head as I passed the farm where the dog belonged and the blue dog stopped, but the yellow dog kept right on running. And guess what?
|The much more traditional end look to Rueter Road where it truncates due to I-380 on the South end. |
|A lone windmill looks small in comparison to the modern cell tower, both near I-380 .|
Yep.....the dog kept running. Despite my repeated calls to it to go home, it just kept right on going. And then.......you guessed it, the purr of a side-by-side ATV could be heard coming from behind me. I heard the engine slow as it approached, and I knew it was the dog's owner without even looking. Self-fulfilling prophecy earlier in my head? Coincidence? Whatever, here I was face-to-face with a disgruntled, middle-aged farmer.
After I told the man, in no uncertain terms, that I tried to get the dog to go home with no luck, he softened his look and slumped back in his seat. "Yeah", he said with a distinct resignation in his voice, "That dog is just too dang friendly". Thus started a fifteen minute conversation in which I learned a few things.
|Barns For Jason #6 - And another ugly cell tower.|
|Barns For Jason #7|
I learned of the landowner's frustrations over working with the County to get the dead end road signed better. I learned of this man's frustrations over people being ignorant and just plain stupid when it comes to driving into unknown areas. I learned that GPS data hasn't been updated for this area since at least the mid-1980's, when I-380's construction truncated these gravel roads. I learned about how that very interstate still ruffles feathers amongst the local residents. And, I learned the big yellow dog was half wolf.
Okay, that explained a lot! That and the dog's seemingly friendliness with anyone he met. The man told me the dog would climb in a car with anybody that stopped on the interstate to collect him if he was out on the road. The man claimed once he had to track the dog over 50 miles away. Apparently he usually is leashed, but had gained a reprieve recently due to good behavior and this is why he was free to roam when I saw him. The man said he was going back on the leash again when he got him home. I felt kind of sad.....
|The skies cleared later on into the ride. This is Oxley Road looking North. |
|Barns For Jason #8|
I took my leave of the man and his dogs, (the blue dog was along for the ride as well), and headed West, the way that I had come. There would be a few out-and-backs during the ride. I ended up skirting I-380 for much of the first parts of the ride. Then, after running across another landowner out in the yard right at a dead end sign, I turned back and went West again. I didn't want another encounter and have to spend time explaining why I was going riding on a road that obviously went nowhere. People in this area are friendly enough, but they are also very suspicious of strangers, and outright hostile toward anyone they feel is trespassing or being a nere-do-well. I will come back for that end later.
|Barns For Jason #9|
|Barns For Jason #10|
So, I was successful at ticking several miles of roads off the to-do list for "The Quest". This is the biggest area left to mop up and once I get this area done all that will be left are mere 'crumbs' to sweep aside to reach the goal. I suspect the larger part I'm chipping away at now will take about three more rides to get done and maybe four depending on my time allowed and weather. The 'crumbs' part will be a day of hitting them all up via traveling to each by truck and riding the small, short gravels I need to complete my goal.
So, that's where I am at now. This deal is pressing on toward November now and time is short and weather is less predictable and less kind. It will be nip and tuck, but I am not giving up on it now. This weekend will be taken up with another task I am committed to, so that's a concern, but it'll all work out.