|Escape Route: Sergeant Road Bicycle Trail|
Please forgive me this, but I did my annual 4th of July Ride on the 3rd. It was Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and in the mid-80's for temperatures. In other words, almost perfect riding weather, and almost zero chance of being electrocuted. That's always nice.
So, I took off about mid-morning for a Southern route because the winds were out of the South. Not a gale-force wind either, like we've had most of the riding season, but a stiff breeze none-the-less. And as mentioned, it was plenty warm, but strangely enough, not very humid, which ended up being a good thing later on.
|Starting off down Eldora Road|
|It's about as green as it gets out here now.|
This route was a bit different in that I took the entire Sergeant Road Bicycle Trail. Along the way I ran into my old Trans Iowa recon partner, Jeremy Fry. I stopped for a bit and chatted with him, then I continued onward down the trail all the way down to Hudson, Iowa and then found my way West from there to the beginning of Eldora Road. This is a remnant of an old stage coach route/trail which was made over original Native American paths and went Southwest from Waterloo overland to points Southwest along the Iowa River, and Eldora in particular.
Some of this trail remains as "Eldora Road" and is 'off grid' to the rest of the roads here. Because it follows the Black Hawk Creek valley, it is relatively flat. But I turned due South at the Grundy-Black Hawk County line and headed toward Tama County on Grundy Road.
|A Prairie Rose along Grundy Road.|
|This shed is along M Avenue, which is what Grundy Road becomes in Tama County. |
I was working the headwind pretty well, not being too held back by that or the fresh gravel. It got more hilly as I traveled South into Tama County, but I would not be going South into Tama County long before my Eastward segment of my route had me turning left.
The first three miles going East would be on 110th Street, a Level B Maintenance section. It generally is a dirt road which is in excellent shape and I expected it to be fast and smooth. I was not disappointed. I stopped for a quick "nature break" and continued going East.
|Looking back at 110th Street from R Avenue|
|Between where I took this image and the top of the next hill is the Tama-Black Hawk County line|
I was making pretty good time and now with the wind out of my face, it was easier going. Once I turned North it was game-on. The speeds increased, and I started ticking off the miles back towards Waterloo.
|A couple of weeks ago, this corn was barely out of the ground. Late planted, but still 'man-high by the 4th of July'!|
I started looking at my watch about this time and was trying to figure out if I was going to make it home for a late lunch. I calculated that I might make it by 1:30pm, if all went well. I was tossing around the idea of going East up Petrie Road's Level B section, but if I didn't, and went straight, I'd get home faster. But I hadn't been on that dirt road in a while, so.....
|Day lillies in the ditch give a splash of orange color to this scene. |
|And this field was covered in yellow blossoms.|
I debated and debated on this and in the end, I was making such good time with the wind I figured I could add that into the route. I had to go a mile east at some point anyway, so why not?
|The West end of Petrie Road. You'd ride right by this if you didn't know it was there. |
|It gets easier to see the road as you go East.|
Anyway, I ended up the ride by doing a bit of speed work evading an aggressive troupe of Red Winged Blackbirds on Aker Road. That zapped me pretty good, and I was on the fringes of a pretty good bonk by the time I made it home, about 3 hours and 45 minutes, total, after I started. That's including four brief stops.
I feel like I rode well, despite not bringing anything to eat, as I should have, so I was pretty pleased with that effort. And I was very thankful for the freedom I enjoy to be able to do a ride like that.