Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Country Views: Checking An Escape Route

An escape route to check an escape route? Yes.
 Maybe over the course of the last year you've noted that the first image in any of my route reports is always captioned "Escape Route:....". That is because in the last year these routes I've been riding have been 'my escape' from whatever happens to be on my mind. The 'World', the pandemic, or whatever. Getting to 'get away from it all' is a way I maintain my sanity. I saw something on Twin Six's social media the other day that relates to this. They posted an image of one of their bikes on a rural road with part of the caption saying,"The dirtier the bike the cleaner the mind". I like that. It should be on one of their t-shirts. 

Anyway.... I have an 'escape route' that takes me South out of town that I like to use. In fact, the idea for this route was spawned by N.Y.Roll, if the truth be known. It is really his escape route idea. I am borrowing it. It includes a lot of municipal bike trail and a bit of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail to Foulk Road which then gets you to a lot of gravel roads South of Waterloo and just to the West of La Porte City. I wanted to scout the bike trail portion out to see if it was clear of snow and ice before I committed to a big ride out that way. 

Of course, the weather is unbelievable right now. More like a late April than an early March. Sunny, very little wind, and very warm. Like into the 50's. I dressed accordingly, grabbed the Noble Bikes GX5, and headed Northeast to hit the first section of bike trail. 

Crossing the Cedar River on the CVNT. This is looking upstream.

I hadn't gotten very far when my watch pinged me. (An Apple smartwatch) and I checked it only to see a name and then I had immediate remorse, sadness, disgust at myself, and a tinge of embarrassment. You see, I completely spaced off a meet-up I was supposed to be at. Oh well! I texted the person later and all is well there. The price of being 'connected' and for being 'Mr. Space Case".

Anyway....the route. The municipal bike paths were all good. No problems at all. Even the CVNT was okay to Foulk Road, so that meant I had free passage to the Southern gravel roads. Not today though. I wasn't quite up for a 50-ish mile effort. I'm still working up to this. So, I set my eyes on maybe diddling around on some of the lesser known roads surrounding this end of the CVNT that I explored last year on "The Quest". 

The Cedar Valley Nature Trail (CVNT) was pretty clear to Foulk Road. This was the worst I ran across. 
McKellar Road. A Level B Maintenance road that you can ride in March? Wow!

I decided to try McKellar Road, which is a Level B Maintenance road. Why? I'm crazy like that. I figured it may be impassable by bicycle, but you never know. And guess what? I could ride it! Amazing!

So, at this point I figured I would circle back and come back on Rottinghaus Road, to Shaulis Road, then back to Foulk and then retrace my route back to the house. I was thinking about taking the CVNT where it crosses just after you bail off of McKellar, but that plan was scuttled as soon as I saw that down this far there was a healthy covering of ice and snow on the paved trail. It looked the same going South for as far as I could see to, so if you are thinking you might try this route to La Porte City, ah.....not yet. Maybe next week?

So, a successful recon, of sorts, and now a bigger route plan down this way shouldn't ba an issue in March. This is a bit unprecedented as we don't usually get rid of snow and ice this quickly. We generally do not see temperatures in the 60's either, but here we are. I'm going to take advantage of this. The best part is even if we do swing back to typical March weather the routes are going to be clear and good for bicycles.

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