Saturday, November 07, 2020

Brown Season: Name Changing

Escape route: Harmon Road from the Cedar River Access.
 Wednesday I had a lot of maintenance to take care of and a doctors appointment to make, so I postponed my attempt at completing more of "The Quest" until Thursday. Wednesday the weather was spectacular, but it actually was a notch better Thursday. Absolutely stunning weather for early November. The temperature ended up being about 76°F, but it started out about 30° cooler than that. Definitely a challenge to dress for! 

The winds were light out of the Southwest. Barely enough to blow the dust from passing cars off the North/South roads. I had issues at a couple of points just being able to see anything due to the dust. It was super-dry out! 

So, with this challenging set of circumstances, it was a day where I dressed to work through transitions. I took some gloves, but it was warming quickly through the 40's as I started out and I ended up not wearing them at all. It was a bit chilly for about the first half an hour, but then I was fine with no hand coverings. The rest of me was dressed in a long sleeved Bontrager wool jersey over a Bontrager base layer, a 45NRTH windbreaker vest, GORE-Tex bibs, Twin Six 3/4's pants over that, and a Buff on my head with my trusty Bontrager helmet over that. Rudy Project Cutline glasses covered the eyes and on the feet I had some wool socks and shopping bag vapor barriers with Giant mtb shoes over all. 

The mission on this ride was to knock off the remaining gravel roads South of Highway 20, East of the Cedar River, and West of I-380. This would be my third ride in this area. There were going to be a LOT more out-and-backs and longer ones at that. But, despite all the backtracking and covering the same grounds, (one mile I traveled over three times!), I nailed all the roads in this area, finally! 

One more thing: There were so many barns I am making a separate "Barns For Jason" post. It was nuts how many I came across! So, following this post you will see that. Now, on with the show!

There were a lot more wooded areas on this ride. This is Ashley Road looking East.

A 'proper' barrier at the Eastern terminus of Bryan Road. The Cedar River is in the background.
I headed East then North from my starting point at the Cedar River Access Northeast of La Porte City. I was supposed to turn West on Bryan Road, according to the latest DOT map, but when I reached the intersection on Garling Road where I thought I would be taking Bryan Road, it was marked "Ashley Road". What?! 

I got out my iPhone and hit the maps app to double check things. No.....this was the road alright! So, I headed West. Ashley Road goes dead West for about 3/4's of a mile then takes a definite diagonal Northwestward. Then it bears left to go West again and it is at this point that the road name changes to Bryan Road. Huh! Weird. (I would come up with a hypothesis about why this is later) At any rate, I was now back in agreement with my DOT sourced directions and headed to the Western terminus of this road. It actually had a 'proper' barrier! 

Along the way to the end of Bryan Road the way took a hard left and went about a third of a mile, then back West again. This short section had its own name, "Craft Lane", again, not noted on the DOT maps at all. 

An interesting collection here alongside McStay Road.

Little Road, looking West. 

Running North up McStay Road, I came across a farm which the road pierced through the middle of on a narrow path. This was commonplace back in the 19th Century as many roads weren't yet 'on the grid' and the pioneer and Native American pathways were often settled on. These farms were situated, literally 'on the road' itself so travelers would have to pass right by the homestead, which made for an occasional visitor and an easy way for supply from larger towns to find these hamlets. Many times these farms would get post office rights from the government, which more or less guaranteed supplies would come to that spot. If these spots ended up on rail lines in the 1870's-80's, many times they grew into towns and villages. But not this farm. It was just a hold-over from the early days, apparently. 

I suspect that since this was in close proximity to the Cedar River, it may have been a trace used by early pioneers going North to Gilbertville from La Porte City. But who knows? I can tell you the terminus of the Southern part of Gilbertville Road is a mere three quarters of a mile away from this farm though. 

I then had a long out-and-back down Little Road. It dumped out where about a half dozen small homes were situated along the banks of the Cedar River. On my way back, I came head-on with a slow moving car and as I waved at the driver I noted a Black Hawk County sign on the door. Hmm...... Checking up on me, perhaps? Could be, folks are often suspicious of weirdos in November on bicycles going down dead end roads. I know I would be......

Jubilee Road looking West toward the Cedar River.

There was little going on in the way of field work despite the beautiful weather.

After coming back on Little Road, I headed back North up Gilbertville Road and this took me slightly Northwest to another intersection a little over a mile away with Jubilee Road. Here Gilbertville Road continues Northwest as a paved road until it reaches its namesake village. It's an old way, and this path may have been established by Native Americans traveling up the North side of the Cedar River, or would that be the East side? Whatever..... The Cedar meanders South and east for most of its way until it joins the Iowa River. It's a sort of diagonal waterway. 

Anyway, I had to do another long out-and-back on Jubilee Road's Western end. This "T'"-ed out at a very rustic, very 'Level B-like' double track going South and a gravel road going North. The sign said "Ness Road", again- not on the DOT maps. The DOT maps show only a stub going North here, so I did not tread on the Southern double track, assuming it was private land, although there are no markings at all. I will say it looked very tempting, but I didn't need any trouble, and I already had seen that Black Hawk County car. 

Ironically, on my way back down Jubilee Road toward my next turn, I came head-on again with the same white Black Hawk County marked car. Okay......this is more than a coincidence! At least I thought so. I determined that if I saw this car again we were going to have a conversation. But alas! I never saw it, nor the driver, again. 

From there it was South on McStay to get all of that road bagged, then a turn Southeastward on Ashley Road.......yes.....Ashley Road again! My theory is that this road was once an unbroken line from Gilbertville Road to perhaps Brandon, Iowa, which is situated further Southeast of this area. This would make sense with the three to three and a half miles of wandering road coming Northwest out of Brandon. But again, I am just spit ballin' here. 

Oxley Road

I was passed by a large LP gas truck. You can see how dusty it was on Wellman Road here.

Now my route was a bit tortured in order to get all the roads bagged in the area. Ashley dumped me out on the Canfield Road pavement which I took North to Wellman Road, then I intersected with Oxley Road which I had to take South, basically almost three sides of a rectangle here, to yep.....Ashley Road again! This almost one mile section took me back to Garling Road, which I needed to get the last bit North on to Wellman Road...again, and then East and South, which I covered in a previous ride. This took me to Jesup Road which is paved and where I turned back previously. However; there is a bit of Wellman going alongside I-380 I needed to do an out-and back on to fully bag that road off the list. 

The Eastern end of Wellman Road alongside I-380 which is to the left here.

A derelict windmill alongside Bryan Road

So from my out-and-back on Wellman I had to go South a bit on the pavement of Jesup Road to a right hand turn on a road the DOT map hadn't named specifically. It turned out to be Bryan Road, but just a one mile or so chunk of it, which looking at the maps made sense, kind of. 

From the "T" with Garling Road I had to go South a hair to......yep! Ashley Road again! This would be the third go round over this one-ish mile section until I got to Oxley Road, which I needed to go South on to wipe that last mile off the to-do list for the day and then be able to take pavement all the way back to the truck. That was about a mile and a half, and the ride was done.

By the time I got back it was 2.75 hours later and a LOT warmer! Had I needed to keep going I would have been over-dressed as it nearly topped out at 76°F later on. It was 70 when I stopped as it was. Crazy weather! 

Now there is only one big chunk of "The Quest" left to tackle. I have my route planned out and I look to be doing that as you read this on Saturday. Anything left over I might grab on Sunday, but we'll see about that. Stay tuned.......

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