Monday, November 09, 2020

Brown Season: Barriers, Winds, and History

Escape Route: Indian Creek Road from a roadside wildlife area.
 The Saturday ride had been solidly planned all week once I saw that the forecast called for mid-70's again. This was going to be a big ride. A one-shot, wipe the slate clean take down of the largest chunk of gravel roads I hadn't ridden in Black Hawk County yet. The route would include a lot of dead ends and lots of out-and-backs. Some a mile and a half long, some shorter. I would end up in the triangle of roads made by the three sides consisting of the Eastern county line, Intestate 380, and Highway 20. I didn't know if I would ever get a day like Saturday the rest of the year. It was so nice that the only nod I made to cool weather was to wear a vest. Otherwise I rode in standard fare for Spring/Summer/Fall riding. 

Thursday when I rode last week it was not at all windy. Well, the opposite was true Saturday. The wind was almost straight out of the South and was at a consistent 25mph with gusts to 30+mph. Fortunately my route which I had devised was back and forth, East to West with short jaunts of a mile South at a time for much of the beginning of the ride. The Sun was up, and I did not have any clouds, so it stayed pretty warm despite the strong winds. 

This time I decided to start from a wild life area on Indian Creek Road just outside of Black Hawk County to the East near Jesup, Iowa. My route would end up doing a mostly North to East ride to the finish, but before that I had a big stretch in the middle of the ride due South. I was not looking forward to that bit. This would be a tedious ride due to all the dead ends and stopping to get images. I also ended up stopping quite a few times just to rest after pushing into the wind. Even going East or West was a chore since the wheels wanted to 'sail' and the bike was pushing which made handling an issue. East was better than West though, so I figured there must have been a Southwestern component to this gale force wind. 

Finally, there were barns aplenty. Tons of them! I think I got images of 32 different barns on this ride. So, I may not even post them because that's just ridiculous. If I decide to go ahead, it will be broken up into two separate posts. But yeah.....I hardly had time to put the camera away and I'd see another barn! This consumed time as well. But, I like the break in the mental games with the wind, so I just kept shooting the barns. Never fear though! I have other interesting bits from this area to share. 

Indian Creek Road looking West. Lots of fresh gravel out there this past weekend.

My first barrier! This is the end of Garling Road at the Southern edge of HWY 20

I got started at quarter after 9 in the morning, so the winds weren't full strength yet. My first out-and-back was up Garling Road. Then back to Indian Creek Road and the next mile was another out-and-back to get the dead end bit of Oxley Road out of the way.

This large Black Lab wasn't letting me get to the end of Oxley Road. Ah....good enough.

I did get to see the Northern terminus of Mc Stay Road @ Hwy 20 though.

Up Oxley Road for what I was thinking should be my next barrier pic. But there was a home right at the barrier and a big black lab came out to meet me like a bullet. He wasn't having me go up the road further than I was already. His barking got one of his humans out of the house and they angrily called him back. I figured I had done enough to upset the woman here, so I called it good enough and turned back. 

Fortunately I had no further dog encounters nor did I have any humans with ill will toward me either. I made my way up to the next barricade on McStay Road and had no issues getting that picture for the album.

The end of Indian Creek Road is a Level B maintenance road.

It's a pretty good bet that no one has been down here at the end of Indian Creek Road for a long time.

There was a home right at the entrance of the Level B part of Indian Creek Road and I was thinking I'd get someone to lean out the door and yell at me as I disappeared over the hill out behind the place, but nothing of the sort happened. That was good! But as I made my way back to McStay Road to go South, I remember remarking to myself that there was a LOT of traffic out here. I probably saw two dozen vehicles during my five hours out in this area. 

McStay ends around this corner, and you go Right a bit then it is Fenton Road

Fenton Road peters out into a Level B Road which is not marked. Here I am looking back from I-380.

I'll tell ya. This area of Black Hawk County has a few mysterious road name choices. I covered the Ashley Road thing in my last post on "The Quest", but this one really was a head scratcher. 

McStay veered around a grove of trees and came out on a corner with Fox Road. You had to take Fox Road a hair to the West to pick up the North/South road way again, which you'd assume would be McStay as before, but nope! It was signed Fenton Road. Now Fenton Road is an East/West road on the other side of I-380. I don't know........ Weird! What is more, the road that falls in line with this dead end on the other side of I-380 is....McStay Road. 

Fox Road East. This is high, wide open country with little cover.

A combine with a corn head attached sits idle along Fox Road.

Now I had to traverse the entire length of Fox Road going West to East with only one break to take in an out-and-back on Oxley Road South to Poyner Road which is paved at that point. Back up on the Fox Road, you come out of the valley of Indian Creek and end up on some really high ground. You can literally see for miles up there. 

The wind was an issue by now and the push South to get in that mile of Oxley Road was taxing. Coming back to Fox Road? It was as if I had a motor attached. More high country with zero cover on Fox Road meant the wind was viscous and caused a lot of handling issues. Then the road descended into the valley for Spring Creek and my next turn was coming up. 

That black splotch ahead is where Poyner Road turns into pavement and where I turned back East.

This lone tree sticks above the horizon line in stark contrast to the sky. Looking South from Rickard Road. 

Once I got to Spring Creek Road I was feeling a bit hungry. I had brought a few items with me and so I purposed to find a spot to stop as soon as I could. I also had to take a "nature break", and so this spot had to be out of the view of any house or passing vehicle. I finally found a suitable spot not far up West on Poyner Road, which I had to run for a mile and a half as an out-and-back to where Poyner turns to pavement. 

I found a steep ditch with a tiered sort of shelf-like feature to its grassy bank. Here I laid the bike down and I could hunker down so as to lower my head beneath the level of the roadway. Here I did 'my business' and then grabbed a stroopwaffle and sat down to munch  the tasty treat. Just then I hear a truck's tires rumbling down Spring Creek Road, then slow down, and sure enough, come up to pass me by. 

I lowered my head and sat stone still. I figured if I heard the truck slow down I'd reveal myself, as I figured I probably was spotted, but the truck zoomed on by. None the wiser, I guess! 

Again, Black Hawk County marks the county line if it doesn't fall on a road. This is where Jubilee Road starts.

Shady Grove Store on Spring Creek Road.

After the Poyner Road out and back I had to push down into the teeth of the strong wind on Spring Creek Road. Only half mile excursions to the county line eastward broke up my efforts. These were done to bag the ends of Rickard Road and Jubilee Road. 

But then I had a tough slog to the Southernmost part of my route. A hilly mile and a half run to the end of Spring Creek Road and two short East/West out-and-backs on Wellman Road. Just South of the intersection of Jubilee Road and Spring Creek Road I came across a wood structure that looked like an old retail structure that you might see in an old village. On the crown of the facade it said "Shady Grove Store". I noted advertising in the windows which made me think that this place had been in business maybe 40-50 years ago. 

Well, when I got home I found out I was correct, but that wasn't Shady Grove. The original town was platted a half mile or so East in Buchanan county. When the town dwindled down to fewer residents who shopped elsewhere, the place closed, apparently in the early 1980's. The building was moved to its current site on Spring Creek Road then. Odd, but a cool find. But that wouldn't be the only hsitory I would come across. 

Another barricade. This one at the West end of Wellman Road on the East side of I-380.

The cemetery on Wellman Road named "Spring Creek Chapel aka Township Cemetery".

I finally made the last push to Wellman Road and did the out-and-backs each direction. On the Western end I acme across a cemetery that seemed like it must have had a church along with it at one time, but I cannot find any information on that.

From here it was a joy to head up Spring Creek Road to Jubilee Road and go West to get that road bagged completely. I had to get to the overpass on I-380 and I could come back. I wouldn't have to come back all the way as I had a short bit of road to bag called Collins Road which was a North/South road between Rickard and Jubilee. 

Zion Lutheran Cemetery on Jubilee Road

Zion Lutheran Church is a mile further to the West.

 From Rickard Road I had to bag the 3/4's of a mile to the intersection with Spring Creek Road and then head back West again. As I crossed Jesup Road, which is paved, I came across two more interesting bits of history. One was a sign, the other was a big farm about a quarter mile to the West. 

The original site of Jubilee, Iowa.

The end of Rueter Road On the east side of I-380.

I came across a sign proclaiming the original site of Jubilee Iowa was on that corner. Hmm.....I assumed the site of the church and school were the markings of the old village, but no. A further review after the ride turned up a name which was on a barn about a quarter mile up the road. This in turn gave me the information on Jubilee, Iowa. The town died out after the railroad went through Jesup, to the North, instead of Jubilee as originally promised. Interesting!

Then I proceeded to bag the ends of Rueter Road and the Western end of Rickard Road. Then It was up Oxley, a mile or two east on Fox, and up a mile on Garling. From there it was about three miles to finish up. 

Five hours later, almost to the minute, I rolled up to my truck. This ride hurt! The wind was just awful, and normally I wouldn't have tried riding in that sort of wind. But the way the route laid out and the fact that I probably will not see another 70°F day which I can spend on riding again before the end of the year meant I was going for it. I am very glad that I did.

This brings me very near to the finish of "The Quest". I probably have less than fifteen. miles to go which entails bits of road all over the edges of Black Hawk County. There's a bit down by LaPorte City, a bit up near the Finchford-Janesville area, and a couple of stubs around Evansdale. Anyway, these all will get done soon enough and then that will be that for this goal. 

Stay tuned.....


Tomcat said...

Nice ride report, GT! Your quest really opens my eyes to a lot of roads that I haven't been on out here in Blackhawk county.

I cannot believe how dusty these roads have been. I'm looking forward to the upcoming rain that's forecasted.

blooddoc23 said...

A great ride on a real handsome rig!