Thursday, October 08, 2020

Fall Views: Harvesting

Escape route: The municipal bike path >> CVNT>>Gravel.
Wednesday was forecast to be beautiful, actually more "August" than October, so I planned on another foray out in the country. This time I was going to do a little more 'mopping up' along HWY 218 South and West of La Porte City on some roads I needed to bag for my quest. You know.....that quest. The one I am attempting where I ride every gravel road in Black Hawk County. 

The harvest is still in swing here. Lots of corn to be picked yet. It seems the farmers, at least where I was, are more concerned with bringing in the ripened soybean crop first. That stuff is fragile and yields can be lowered when those beans start dropping on the ground, and the pods are super dried up. in fact, everything is pretty dry out in the rural areas. 

I went out just before 9:00am so it was still pretty chilly. I wore arm warmers, a 45NRTH gillet, a Twin Six wool jersey, and bib shorts. I wore a Buff on my head and I used the Handske Gloves I reviewed on . I also was using the Atomik/Berd Ultimate wheels I am reviewing along with the Hutchinson Touareg tires which will get a final write up soon. The bicycle I used was the test mule for Riding Gravel, the Nobel Bikes GX5. 

The escape route was South, more or less, on the bike paths to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, (CVNT), and then off on Foulk Road due South at that point to access the roads I needed to ride. This would entail a lot of out-and-back riding since many of the roads I needed to get on were truncated by different things or ran out onto paved roads. Kind of a hassle, but it is part of the game I am playing, so it has to be done.

This tractor towing two grain wagons went by me in a cloud of dust. Things are tinderbox dry out here!

Wagons awaiting the next loading of soybeans from this field.

One thing about this area I was in- It is very flat. It is mostly Cedar River flood plain, but that isn't to say I wasn't on some hills. There were notable climbs, mostly going up from the highway if I had to be around that area. But for the most part, this was not a climbing exercise. That meant a lot of pedaling!
Nearing the Northern end of Cotter Road

The Eastern end of Ripple Road, maybe....

I ended up finding the way to get the Eastern bit of Miller Creek Road done without much fuss, so I bagged that one. That was unplanned. I figured I'd have to make a special trip to get at that one since it is the only gravel bit East of HWY 218, South of Gilbertville, and North of La Porte City of any import. There are a few stubs of roads as well. Those stubs being mostly access roads to the CVNT which comes hard against the highway about 4-5 miles from La Porte City. I figured out how to get to one easily. A road which the maps showed as continuing West past the highway, and that it was called Ripple Road. 

Well, I had to stop on the CVNT to verify what I was looking at, which was little more than a two-track dirt road, was, in fact, Ripple Road. It ran out to the highway, but by the time you get closer, there is a large "McMansion" to the right and Ripple is chip sealed from their property to the highway. This looks a bit more "private road" than public although the county maps say it is a public stretch of road. 

From a high point on Cotter Road. This is a climb N.Y. Roll likes coming from the North.

Barns For Jason #1

One climb I had which was over a mile in length was up Ripple Road to Cotter Road. It starts out gradually, and like most Iowa hills it gets worse the closer that you get to the top. It's a characteristic of many rolling Iowa hills. I haven't ever really experienced anything like that in other states I have ridden gravel. 

It's rare to see a White Farm tractor anymore, much less two of them! My dad used to work where these were made.

Barns For Jason #2- Near the East end of Quarry Road.

I was getting things knocked off the list alright, but all the out-and-back, running loops thing was taking up a lot of time. I had maybe two hours to get down there and do what I could, then a solid hour to get back home. Maybe it would have made more sense to haul my rig down to La Porte City and base operations out of there, but that seems like cheating. That being said, I may have to consider doing just that to get all this mess cleared up before the snow flies. 

Barns For Jason #3

Barns For Jason #4: This at the East end of Quarry Road and HWY 218.

One thing I had to also get out of the way was to run the remaining ends of Quarry Road and Reinbeck Road to their Eastern terminations. This was another time consumer. Oh well. Now those are off the list. Finally, I had just enough time to start knocking off a couple of short North-South roads just West of La Porte, but I'll have to get back to finishing up those. 

Barns For Jason #5- This one has a nice barn quilt and is on a Century Farm from 1869! 

Lots of harvesting activity in the soybean fields for now. 

I ended up at the Eastern end of Reinbeck Road and decided I had to get back to Waterloo or I'd be toast and gone all day. I pretty much time trialed it with the exception of stopping for a 'nature break'. It ended up being a shade over a three hour ride, which was a good amount of time. 

The next bit I want to knock off I have been eying for several weeks now. It will be the last long chunk of road I need to bag. Then it will be bits and pieces of roads Southeast of Gilbertville, the last crumbs around La Porte City, and a convoluted mess way up in the Northeastern corner of the county. Then I will be double checking my roads against what I've done and see if I have missed anything. I figure on at least having four more outings to knock all of it out. Like I mentioned, most of all this is far from home, so I probably will end up hauling the bike to a destination and doing my business from there. We'll see....

Fall colors are about midway through. Soon it will be Brown Season, and that means time is running out in 2020.

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