2009 Des Moines, Iowa, and National bike events calendar

by on January 16, 2009
in Events

A word to Mother Nature: YOU CANNOT BURY THE DESIRE TO RIDE UNDER TWO FEET OF SNOW. (so please quit trying…)

Now that I have that off my chest, just thought I’d offer up a list of known dates for upcoming 2009 area and national bike events. Think of this as your “gardening catalog for Iowa bikers.”

(UPDATED March 25, 2009 – Read Carefully, some dates have changed!)

April 4 – Blessing of the Bikes, Big Barn Harley Davidson, 11 a.m. followed by Chili Feed benefitting CMA
Indianola Bike Nights – Third Fridays April thru September. First I-town bike night is February 17! (www.bikedowntoitown.com)
Memorial Day Ride to the Wall – “Iowa Thunder” annual ride to the State Capitol and Viet Nam Memorial. Info still to come!
July 2, 3, 4 – ABATE Iowa Freedom Rally at Algona (www.abateiowafreedomrally.com)
July 17, 18 – Iowa State HOG Rally, Sioux City. (www.iastatehogrally.com)
July 24-27 – DATE CHANGED. SEE SEPTEMBER. Estrogen Ride (women only).
July 31 – East Village Bike Night, Des Moines.
August 3-9 – Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – www.sturgisrally.com
August 15 – Bikers Against Diabetes Ride (BAD), www.ripsbadride.com.
August 20-23 – Hawgstock, in Winterset www.hawgstock.com
October 2, 3, 4 – Ride for the Cure supporting breast cancer research (www.rideforthecureiowa.com – site coming soon!)
ABATE Iowa District 4 Toy Run – date TBA.
October 15-18 – Biketoberfest in Daytona Beach, FL. (www.biketoberfest.org)

And of course, BIKE NIGHT every Thursday night at the new Porky’s Pub/Radical Cycle Shop, 5125 NE 14th St., Des Moines – let’s fill that parking lot!

If you know of a Des Moines-area bike night event not listed here (and there are MANY), please add the info by leaving a Comment. Specify night of the week and at least approximate times if you can. Thanks!

The butt-puckering ride from Peru

by on January 12, 2009
in Iowa Rides

We took our next Passport trip on Sunday, May 25. This time we were headed southwest, through Madison County to the town of Peru. (Actually, East Peru.)

The thing about this is, although these towns share the names of famous cities, the names are often pronounced differently. In Spain they call the city muh-DRID, whereas in Iowa it’s pronounced MAD-rid. Peru, in Iowa, is pronounced PEE-roo, which I cannot say or hear without giggling.

Anyway, on Sunday the 25th we again gathered up Hollie, Kristin, Howard, Garry, Shirley, and new pals Austin & Shanon and Nate & Kate. We took off down Highway 28 through Norwalk and Martensdale, then headed west on Highway 92.

It had been my intention to then head south on County Road R35, which should have been an intersection in the town of Bevington. We missed the turn, though – in fact, never even saw the sign for it – so we headed west along 92 til we came to Winterset. Attempts to read and interpret Austin’s GPS device were frustrating, but Garry thought he knew how to get there and finally a local resident stopped to admire our bikes and gave us clear directions to what he called “PEE-roo Road,” which of course made me laugh. (You know how even familiar words can sometimes sound strange if you repeat them over and over? That’s what I found myself doing – repeating “PEE-roo, PEE-roo, Pee-roo” all the way down the highway.)

We headed south through Winterset on the main road, County Road P71. Having maternal ancestors from this area, I know that tucked deep back in Winterset City Park, there is a stone structure called the Clark Tower. You can climb to the top and look out over much of Madison County. It’s quite a stunning view. On the bikes, heading south out of Winterset, it struck me that we were “riding the view” from Clark Tower, and that it was just as beautiful from the ground as it was from the tower. (Really, Madison County offers some incredible riding, especially if you think that Iowa is flat.)

Howard took some great scenic pictures from his bike along the way – the shot at the top of this post is my favorite from all of last summer.

We turned off P71 at G68 and took that into East PEE-Roo (*snicker*), again a tiny town with a tiny post office and perfect photo opp for our passports.

After a short break to celebrate our serendipitous “missing of the turn” that had led us to the road just traveled, we reviewed the map and determined that we could actually pick up our missed road, R35, outside of Truro – and take it north into Bevington as part of the ride home.

We left PEE-roo and cruised east on G68, finally intersecting at the elusive R35. Heading North, the last part of R35 turned out to be the stuff of day-ride legends.

There was a point where the main road curved off to the east, but R35 itself actually went straight North – across the oncoming traffic of the curve, without benefit of traffic control devices.

Leading the pack, I made the switch off to the straight road with no problem – but in doing so, I noted two things: 1). Austin, a few bikes behind me, had missed the straight road and taken the curve instead… I hoped he’d catch up with us; and 2). Around the curve to the east a quarter-mile or so, there was a white mini-van approaching from the opposite direction. Someone in our group was going to meet them at the switch-off – I prayed the van would see us and slow down.

Add to these anxieties the condition of R35 itself, and you have one butt-puckering stretch of road.

To its credit, R35 here was still paved – at least I think it was paved, it was kind of hard to tell. The posted speed limit was 35, but you could catch some pretty good air coming out of the ruts and craters if you went that fast. And you didn’t dare slow down too promptly because of all the loose bits of pavement and “under-gravel” that had come to the surface through the craters. (Later, most of us reported Knievel-style landings before each having found the proper speed. Shirley reported the predicted near-miss with the white van. And, Austin had thankfully rejoined the group.)

Finally, after a few miles, we mercifully came to rest at the intersection of R35 and Highway 92 at Bevington – the turn we’d missed earlier in the day. And it was no wonder we’d missed it: Not only was it not marked at all, it was also completely unrecognizable as a viable intersection. Even if I’d seen it, I would’ve assumed it was an interior town road and wouldn’t have taken it.

Thankfully, the rest of the ride home was uneventful, but this little stop was the kind of moment that makes you stare blankly at one another in disbelief and check each other for broken ribs.

Unfortunately, this would end up being our last passport ride of the season – in the coming days, my dad would become gravely ill and flood warnings would become increasingly dire, and the rest of our summer was consumed with the aftermath of those developments.

I did find our “passports” the other day while going through some rescued flood stuff – that’s what prompted me to finally write up these two rides. I think maybe we’ll hang onto the passports and use them for destination ideas this spring. We can still take the rides, even if we missed out on the prizes.

Though it seems like we should get something for surviving the butt-puckering ride to PEE-roo.

Jamaica? No, she wouldn’t let me

by on January 7, 2009
in Iowa Rides

With temperatures below freezing around here for the foreseeable future, it seems as good a time as any to do a little “wishful remembering” about a couple of nice rides we took last season.

Our local Harley dealership, Big Barn Harley Davidson, had put together a riding challenge wherein they created a passport booklet containing a list of cities that you could ride to, document the rides, and then submit all your documentation at the end of the season for a chance to win prizes. The cities on the list were all named for famous places around the world. (I feel compelled to point out that I’d had a similar idea several years ago, only I just made mine a one-day adventure called the World Tour.)

It was our intention to complete as much of the passport as possible over the course of the riding season, but we had barely got started when our summer went to hell. We did, however, get in a couple of nice rides toward the end of May that I really enjoyed.

The first of them took us to Madrid and Jamaica, both small towns to the northwest of Des Moines. It made for a nice little day-ride, and in each town our “assignment” was to simply snap a photo of each person with their bike and passport in front of something that identified the town.

The ride to and from Madrid is actually one of our favorite shorter rides – it’s the trip we take when we only have a couple hours but really want to ride. We took the slower-paced “scenic route” past Saylorville Lake and Big Creek State Park, and once in Madrid we used the city’s landscaped welcome sign as our marker for documentation purposes.

We then headed west out of town on Highway 210, which T’d at 141. We took 141 to Jamaica, which turned out to be probably the quietest little town I’d ever passed through.

Once in Jamaica we didn’t have to ride more than a couple blocks before we found the post office, just off the main street and next to a little pocket park that contained a well-kept community garden. Easy to imagine that this intersection, with the community center on the opposite corner, was probably the social hub of the town.

We lined the bikes up in front of the post office and snapped our photos. Steve and Howard had traded bikes for the trip over from Madrid, so they compared notes about Steve’s HD Heritage Softail Classic and Howard’s Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500.

The ride home was peaceful and took us through Panora, down P28 and then east on scenic F59 and F60, into Adel and then east on Highway 6 for the final leg into Des Moines. When we got home we noted that, prizes aside, the passport would provide an easy answer throughout the summer each time we’d want to ride but didn’t have a particular destination in mind. 

Next report: our trip to Peru.

Update: Someone who went on this ride, please chime in! Is this the one where Kristin & Hollie peeled off in Adel for dinner? Or is it the one where we actually took the lonnnnggg way home  and had our last stop in Altoona? My mind is playing tricks on me… guess I should write these up while my memory is still good! LOL