Friday, August 12, 2011

Short Ride from the camp.

We’re camping at the Prairie Flower campground at Saylorville Lake while in the Polk City area. There is a trail heading both north and south from the campground. Going south the trail eventually ends up in Des Moines and north to Big Creek State Park. We decide to ride south to the flood control dam this morning before family events kicked off. The ride south was completely different from the rail-trail. It was also very smooth but that’s the end of the similarity. This trail has rolling hills and blind turns. The hill required the granny gear and the down hill sharp turns required leaning into them to keep the inside wheel from lifting.  A Great Ride! Rail-Trails can get boring like an interstate highway, but this trail is like that special back country road were you take you sports car to on a Sunday morning before the rest of civil society wakes up. There are other users on this trail even mid-week and with the blind turns it imperative to maintain the right side of the trail. We were blasting down one right hander keeping tight to the inside when a pace line of three bikes came up the hill in the left at an impressive speed. Had either of us not been where we should have been the results would have been ugly. Frankly I think the trikes would have had a better change of evasive maneuver but even a slight clip of the bikes…

This trail was especially enjoyable for what is wasn’t anymore. We had ridden this trail back, I think, in 2007 and it was awful. The pavement had frost heaves and root cracks everywhere. We had rode our hy-bird bike about 3 miles and gave up that time. This time we were wishing we had more time to go all the way to Des Moines and north to Big Creek Lake.

Trike Specific Section:

Brake Steer: As I understand it that term means when a single front brake is used it’s the tendency of the trike to turn into the braking side. From Trike advertisers it seems “neutral”  or no tendency to turn is the most desirable. I’ve only ridden about a half dozen trikes and everyone of them brake steer and every manufacturer says they have neutral steer. So either I’m hyper critical or they all lie. Then I’m not sure that some brake steer is necessarily a bad thing. After all if I have to brake hard I’m always using both brakes. Next when slamming down these tight hill corners I many times use one brake to control speed and help turn in while just covering the outside brake. And with our Catrike and Trident the Trident brake steers a little harder, but then again I’m not sure this is a bad thing. The brake steer difference wouldn’t be in my book a reason to select one over the other in the end.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Polk City Iowa: High Trestle Trail

Near the start in Ankeny IA
 After a two and a half day drive we're in the Polk City Iowa area for a few days to help celebrate an aunt and uncles 40th wedding anniversary and a birthday. The parties don’t take all day and we got here a day early especially to ride the High Trestle Trail which was just completed this spring. We started in Ankeny IA and headed north for Slater. The trail then intersects a rail-trail going east to where I don’t know but it goes a long way, and west to the High Trestle.  The trail is smooth with just a few road crossings and gentle ascents which seem pretty typical for eastern US Rail-Trails. The most notable thing was the grasshoppers all over the trail. As we approach they hop for their lives but only about half hop out of the way. The other half hop into our trikes. Unfortunately the hoppers max altitude seems to be about 2 ft which lets them hit us from head to toe. I suppose a bicycle rider might not even notice these little creatures other than as background visual noise and the occasional tingle on the shin.
The ride ended up being about 45 miles for the the day and on the return trip it started to get hot and limited shade.
Fire Department test hydrant

I think these are grain silos

Bridge as art