Trout Run Trail

We drove to Decorah to ride Trout Run which was an 11-mile loop around the town – sort of a short ride for us, so we planned to ride it twice.

As soon as we started, the climbing began.

The trail continued upward and curved to pass the cornfield in the distance:

Still going up, but I could still pedal. I was going 4 mph:

By the time we got to the top of this hill, we’d ridden less than 2 miles and Billie said, “I do NOT want to ride this trail twice.” Whew! She said it first, but I’d already made the same decision.

It was more flat at the top with beautiful vistas, the wildflowers were spectacular:

The glorious downhill run. That’s Billie in the distance:

The trail wound downward to the far bank of trees:

Billie took this picture of me rounding the curve:

Upper Iowa River:

One more tough climb at the end of the ride:

Not an easy ride, but so worth it. 12 miles. We’d parked in front of the grocery store that had a Starbucks so our well-earned reward was soon to be enjoyed!

Prairie Farmer Trail

We drove about 11 miles from the campground to a parking area near Cresco.

It was foggy which also meant it was cooler. We started early nevertheless. There were many signs like this on the trail. While this one seemed to be a mystery – yield to what? – most of the others were cut-throughs for farm machinery.

Leaving Ridgeway Park:

Our turnaround point was in Calmar:

Calmar is the location for this county’s “freedom rock”. The goal is to have one in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

In between the fields of corn, a head looked up and watched me until I rode away.

Another beautiful trail. 35 miles.

Heritage Trail – day 2

We drove to Graf Park to start today’s ride.

Same excellent surface. A day to look forward to! Leaving Graf:

Looking over the side of a bridge:

Corn, corn, corn, and soybeans everywhere:

The trail ended in Dyersville. Time to turn around. But there was another option, an attraction about 5 miles away, riding country roads with no shoulder and essentially no traffic. I wanted to do it, Billie agreed and we took off. About a mile later, we stopped and Billie said, “Arlete, I am NOT riding these rolling hills, but you can go on.” Ok … and we discussed our plan to meet up later. Billie turned around and rode (downhill) back to Dyersville, then a left onto the Heritage Trail. We would meet up later near Farley. Today’s ride for me was 32 miles. The detour I took will be the next blog post.

However, there is a postscript to the end of the ride. I met Billie on the Heritage Trail at a rest area near Farley. It was gently downhill back to Graf and a great downhill run. However, Billie’s rear tire lost air and she found a rock in the tire that would continue to leak air. Back to Bicycle World, open from 12-4 on Sunday! Once again, hurray!, the young man fixed the flat tire in record time. Great bike shop!

Field of Dreams

I rode on zero-traffic country roads, up and down hills – at one point I got up to 30 mph going downhill which allowed me to get to the top of the next hill!

Billie made the right decision, she would not have liked this. About 5 miles later …

The movie set! It was crowded, a big line of cars waiting to get in. I rode up the side, gave my donation in between cars, and rode in. To the right, the Baseballism Store. Tours of the home are available plus a group of 7 people can share 3 bedrooms and a full bathroom overnight for $500+/night.

Bats and balls were available on the field for families to enjoy.

The concession stand, behind that is a cornfield with a path through it somewhere. Beyond that is a MLB-quality stadium that seats 8000 people. On August 12, the Yankees and White Sox will play here. Tickets are available but only to residents of Iowa.

Time to head back down the country roads I’d already ridden. One of them – Black Hills Rd – provided me with a first-ever experience. On the way TO the Field of Dreams, it was slightly uphill for a long stretch before some steeper ups-and-downs. At one point I heard a loud “CAW” as a bird flew over my head. On the way back, the same stretch turned a bit more violent. I was repeatedly “divebombed” by one or more birds many times. I could hear the wing flap above my helmet or something touching the helmet briefly and the same screeching “CAW” – I was a trespasser and unwelcome. Thank goodness, it was a bit downhill on the way back, I pedaled faster – 18 mph – all the way to the corner, turned left, and they finally left me alone. Another good reason to wear a bike helmet!

Bright Box

Bicycle World in Dubuque was open and was able to quickly determine I needed a new rear tire. The wobble was quite pronounced when I wasn’t sitting on the saddle. And Parish, the owner of Bicycle World, had a tire perfect for my bike and fixed it immediately. Great service, greatly appreciated by people who are traveling!

In the course of casual conversation, Parish told us about a nice drive to Balltown high on the bluffs above the Mississippi River. And when we got to Balltown, we should eat at Bright Box and told us a bit about this 6-generation family-owned restaurant. We were both hungry after our ride, so we headed there next. We went first to this scenic overlook:

The Mississippi is barely visible in the distance.

When I entered “Bright Box in Balltown IA” into Google maps, it knew exactly what I meant: Breitbach’s.

This is our kind of restaurant. Very good food.

Heritage Trail – day 1

We drove across the Mississippi River to Dubuque Iowa to start the ride.

The trail was paved through the city, about 3.5 miles.

When the trail changed to hard-packed dirt with very light gravel, we were on the Heritage Trail.

The trail was in excellent condition, the surface was excellent, just as good as asphalt!

Our turnaround point was Graf Park.

Great trail. Currently on the Top Ten Trails list. 31 miles.

I had noticed a “thump” in my back tire with every rotation and Billie thought it had a little wobble. So right after the ride we found a bike shop and hoped we could get it fixed immediately … that little story comes next.

Your bike rides this week

Sunday July 12. Shiloh took this picture of her daughter:

Monday July 12. Dani took this picture of Cindy, Cheryl, Leo, and Kathy:

Tuesday July 13. Dani, Cindy, Kathy, Cheryl, Leo:

Wednesday July 14. Dani, Leo, Kathy, and Dave (new!):

Thursday July 15. Leo took this picture of Kathy, Dani, and Cheryl:

Friday July 16. Cheryl, Dani, Kathy:

Moving on

The campground in Colona had no sewer connection so we practiced the art of RV water conservation, which also meant using the bathroom/shower house every time it was even remotely possible. We were here for SIX days of possible bike rides. Because of so many rain showers, we were only able to ride TWO of those days. Which meant many more trips to the bathroom/shower house per day and mostly when it was raining. It was a short walk but we drove it many times. So many times that Versie – that’s the name of the Nissan Versa that we drive when the RV is parked – LEARNED the route herself. I wish you could see this little video of Versie navigating all the way by herself:

I backed her out of this space, then she took off on her own.

Final destination:

Just when a valuable skill was learned, it was time to move on. It was a relatively short drive to Kieler Wisconsin and we couldn’t arrive before 2 pm. It’s always exciting to move on to a new destination and Rustic Barn Campground turned out to be quite special from the moment we arrived.

After setting up, finishing errands, and having dinner, we took our chairs to sit in front of this tiny chapel.

The sunset wasn’t as good as we’d hoped, but the views were great.

Hennepin Canal Parkway

We started at Lock 29, the final lock on this 104.5-mile long trail, which empties into the Rock River.

Note the small green sign. Lock 26, Mile 54.7

Aqueduct 7, Mile 50.3. Geneseo Creek runs perpendicular to the canal under the aqueduct.

We were going to ride 1/10th of a mile farther, then turn around. Instead we listened to Mother Nature when she gave us this sign:

Only 15 miles out of 104.5 available. I would come back here and ride more. Great weather and ride. 30 miles.

Great River Trail

From Rock Island to Rapids City Illinois and back. We actually started in the middle and rode out and back in each direction until we’d ridden the number of miles that felt good.

Some of the trail was on top of a levee, the Mississippi River to the left:

Behind a John Deere manufacturing plant:

In the village of Hampton IL:

We turned around in Rapids City and rode back and then beyond our starting point. Beautiful little pocket parks with benches and shade in the city of Moline.

The bridge across the Mississippi River to Davenport Iowa:

Excellent ride, two out-and-backs, 28 miles. Beautiful trail.