Friday, August 8, 2014

Great Western Trail (West Des Moines to Cumming, Iowa) / Bill Riley Trail (West Des Moines, Iowa)

This is part 1 of a 4-part weekend trip to ride a couple of trails in Central Iowa.

Part 1: Great Western Trail (West Des Moines to Cumming)
Part 2: High Trestle Trail (Slater to Oasis and then Slater to Woodward)
Part 3: High Trestle Trail Full Moon Ride (Madrid to the Trestle Bridge) -- post pending
Part 4: High Trestle Trail (Ankeny to Oasis) -- post pending

Anniversary Weekend

Day 1, Friday evening:

Happy anniversary to us! And what a wonderful anniversary weekend it was! We drove up to central Iowa

to ride a couple of the many great trails in that area. Our Friday ride was the Great Western Trail

We parked at the northern trailhead at the edge of Water Works Park in West Des Moines. The trailhead is located along Valley Drive/George Flagg Parkway, near Park Avenue (across from the Izaak Walton League Clubhouse on Valley Drive). The stoplight where we turned to get to the trailhead was also actually where the trail crossed that street and we were greeted with this huge orange trail closed sign.

A momentary flash of disappointment until we read further and saw the dates were for next week. Good deal!

So the plan was to ride to Cumming and back. It was a great paved trail, but there seems to be very few bike trails that are not paved in Iowa. Jealousy inducing for sure.

I got to ride beside this good-looking dude.

Lots of twists and curves in this great trail. Keeps the ride interesting and fun.

A little mini stop sign.

Lots of neat relics from the trail's former life. The concrete base of a signal.

Construction being done on trail, likely related to the week-long closure scheduled for later this month.

The road currently to nowhere.

Ah..... Trail got a new box culvert.

I would say 90% of this trail is forested/tree covered.

Here's a shot of one of the few open areas

Trees formed a neat archway effect (which we stood in front of and therefore blocked, but take our word for it. It was arched.  Really.)

Probably my favorite relic of the entire weekend. A marker that we assume is giving the mileage from that point to Kansas City.

According to this blurb from Wikipedia, the trail follows the route of an abandoned line of the Chicago, St. Paul and Kansas City Railroad, constructed in 1899 and last operated by the Chicago and North Western Railway.

Waiting for a train? Buddy, you might be there for a while! :) (I could wait all day looking at you! :) ~~S)

Then we rolled into Cumming, greeted by the playground ......

....... a plethora of party buses available for rent. I was partial to the pink one. This also was an item on our August Bicycle Ride and Seek. School bus triple score! Didn't say they still had to be in service as a school bus. :)

.............. and their long, tubular water tower proudly proclaiming Cumming. I'm pretty sure no one has ever made a joke about that before.    Especially not your dork husband! :) ~~S

We crossed off another Ride and Seek list item with a picture of a Porta-A-Potty from inside (right???) We found this Port-A-Potty at the Cumming Tap, a popular bar and destination for riders of this trail, and while we did not partake of their services on this ride, we did take advantage of the photo op.

Yes, here I am, holding the Port-A-Potty door open so my darling could get a picture of the bike and the Port-A-Potty from inside. I have no doubt people think we are nuts. :)  For those wondering, that is the lip of the urinal on the wall :)  ~~S

We also saw a lot of wildlife on this trail, of course your standard rabbits and squirrels. We also saw 2 deer on the trail many yards in front of us, but they bolted before we got too close. But then, a little further up the trail, we saw this sweet little guy munching on grass and leaves.

We never saw Mama, but I'm sure she was not far away. Baby still had his spots.

And then there were the chipmunks! Oh, the chipmunks. LOL When you see this sign, understand that the wise person who put it there was not just whistling Dixie.

Chipmunk anecdote: Sweetie and I are riding along side by side, I'm on the left, he's on the right.  Now, understand, this was before I had been alerted to the possibility of chipmunk attack. I hear a rustling in the grass to my left and I look down only to a fist-size blur of brown shoot itself right under my moving bike, and while my brain is trying to process "what the h*@# IS that?!?! Is that a chipmunk?", he reverses direction and shoots back out from under my -- yes, still moving -- bike and back into the grass at the side of the trail. He was a fast little bugger. Seriously, all I saw was brown blur/brown blur in the space of less than 1.3 seconds.

By this time, my brain had finally caught up and my mouth said what it was thinking.

Yes, it said "What the h*@# WAS that?!?!  Was that a chipmunk?"

And husband is beside me laughing hysterically, and said "Yes, that was a chipmunk and he actually looked like he was contemplating climbing your leg to safety before deciding that back into the grass would be a better option."

I inquired if I hit him.  Didn't think I had, didn't feel a thump.

He said, "No you didn't hit him, but I wish I'd had the video camera running."  It was a hilarious site to see!  It would have been an AFV worthy video if I had captured it!  ~~S 

This was not my suicidal chipmunk, but one I came upon later in the ride who sat there so obligingly while I took his picture, before darting at similar warp speed down that hole in the concrete you see right beside him.

Here's another great old railroad relic still living its life on the trail. Assume this was alerting the engineer to blow his whistle for an upcoming road crossing.

Is this not an awesome picture? Can't you still hear that whistle blowing?

All the trails we rode this weekend had emergency call locators about every mile. Call 911, give them this number and they will be able to find where you are. Thankfully, we never had to test that out.

This trail actually goes right through a golf course.

I guess just another reason to wear your helmet. FORE!

But then we were once again off the golf course and back into the trees.

And before we knew it we were back to our car, but were still up for more riding, so we decided to follow the arrow in the direction of the Bill Riley Trail.

We had no idea what the Bill Riley trail was so we decided to go find out.

The 0.9 miles to the trail takes you onto a low-traffic park road where we met 4 or 5 vehicles. No biggie. The road curved around the Raccoon River.

We had almost given up that the Bill Riley trail actually existed, but decided to "go see what might be around that curve up there." And good thing we did, because we came upon this crossroads of trails. Seriously, central Iowa is absolutely bike trail heaven.

And this super cool bridge over the Raccoon River. Could this really have been a bridge built for cars? Sweetie insists it was.... think model A era.

We were glad we persevered in finding the Bill Riley trail, because that bridge itself was worth finding. We went on and rode several more miles of this trail, (including going on-street for a mile or more looking for another Ride and Seek list item, but we were unsuccessful in that particular search).  I would classify the Bill Riley Trail as a park/neighborhood trail.

In all, we finished the evening having ridden 26 miles. Back at the parking lot we talked to a nice couple who were fascinated with our folding bikes. They stated they were headed up the Great Western Trail to go to the Cumming Tap. I said "Won't it be dark by the time you're headed back?" They laughed and said "Yes." I'm not sure I would like the combination of that trail, darkness and chipmunks, but I admired their courage and fortitude.  :)

So, we changed into some dry clothes, tried to cover the sweat smell as best we could with foo-foo spray and headed for supper.  Since it was our anniversary, we splurged at Bravo Cuchina Italiana.

Thought it was sweet that we were seated at our table at 8 pm on the dot, the time of our wedding ceremony.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this excellent show of your ride. As an Iowan, I have ridden some of the Des Moines area trails, but not this one. Interesting that it goes through a golf course. ... and those chipmunks have no fear! We were biking in Idaho, stopped to take in the mountain view, when one darted out and bit our guide on the ankle. They are dangerous wildlife everywhere. Thanks again. Bob Thompson