Friday Fives: 5 reasons riding in Iowa ROCKS

by on July 24, 2009
in Friday Fives

I’ve often thought it would be nice to live in a state where the weather allowed for year-round riding, but lately I’ve been coming around to the notion that having a “winter break” is worthwhile.

Since I’ve owned a bike and ridden around a fair bit of this state, I’ve come to realize a few things that now make me glad I ride where I do.

1. We’ve got curves! Sure there are some spots in Iowa where it’s nothing but long, flat ribbons of highway. But, it doesn’t take long to find the kind of twisty curves that make riding a blast – Madison County, for one… eastern Iowa for another… the Loess Hills of western Iowa… and much in between.

2. We’ve got scenery! Whether you’re coming around a curve as Saylorville Marina comes into view, or cresting a hill on F48 with lush green rolling farmland laid out before you, Iowa is a beautiful state.

3. We’ve got four seasons! And only one of ‘em isn’t suitable for riding, usually from about late November through mid-April. But, here’s the thing: that forced winter break makes you really appreciate the riding time you DO have, so none’s wasted when the opportunity finally arrives. And, if you’ve got plans for major changes to your bike, you can make ‘em in winter so you don’t have down-time during the riding months.

4. We don’t have traffic! Someone mentioned this in the comments of one of my posts (or was it in a forum?) recently… she lives in CA and said yes, they have year-round (almost) riding but it takes TWO HOURS or more to get anyplace where there isn’t a lot of traffic, just so you can slow down and enjoy the ride. I don’t know about you, but I can find a beautiful twisty and low-traffic two-lane just ten minutes from home that’s perfect for a mind-clearing ride any time I need it. I can ride all summer without ever once using the major Interstate that runs along the north end of town, or even the freeway that cuts through the middle.

5. We’ve got road food! We still have lovely, flourishing small towns filled with local home-spun restaurants so you can spend your entire riding life fulfilling your quest to find the best pork tenderloin. And, as an added bonus, there’s usually a local roadside oddity or historic site to make the day more interesting.

My one gripe about Iowa as far as the bikes are concerned? Road repairs are getting shoddy… it’s not that they aren’t making them, it’s that there seems to be a trend to make a raised seam across the road when a repair is made. Everyone who works for the DOT – from engineers to road crews – should be forced to ride these repaired roads on a Sportster before they call it quits for the day. If Iowa wants to attract more bikers as tourists, they should mark my words and make nice, SMOOTH road repairs. (St. Donatus, are you listening?)

SO – your turn to share your view: why do you like riding in the state you live in? What do you NOT like? Do you STILL wish you lived in a year-round-riding state? Let’s hear it!

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    Comments

    6 Responses to “Friday Fives: 5 reasons riding in Iowa ROCKS”
    1. B.B. says:

      I’ve never been to Iowa, but it sounds like a place I might just have to visit.
      I love riding in California, but then again, I have nowhere else to compare it to.
      I can ride all year, but would love to have four seasons.
      We do have some areas where there is a lot of traffic, but we also have a lot of areas where we can just open it up.
      I can ride in the mountains and then along the coast, all in one day.

    2. Janet says:

      Hi BB – I do admit, I *dream* of taking a coastal ride one day! I haven’t been to CA for many years, but it was absolutely stunning. It always amazes me how different one region can look from another just from noticing the native plants. This’ll sound really silly, but on a bike trip to Colorado in 1989 I happened to take note that the “weeds” along the highway suddenly looked a lot different from Iowa weeds – LOL – for some reason that really reinforced to me that we were in a different part of the country. Well that, and the mountains. LOL

      Thanks for reading – great to hear from you !

    3. wendyvee says:

      I thought you were going to teach us how to ride through gravel (Iowa rocks) LOL

    4. PInky says:

      Well, I’m forced to answer this one, cause I surely have an opinion. I live in Louisiana, and year round riding is a given. I wouldn’t know what to do with a winter break. The Northwest corner of Louisiana is deemed Sportsman’s paradise, and that’s because we have lots of lakes, bayous and wilderness. Where I live, I, too, can be out of traffic and on curvy roads in less than 10 minutes. I can ride four states in four hours, the piney woods of Texas, the hills of Arkansas, the plains of Oklahoma and, of course, the bayous of Louisiana. Another border is only 2 1/2 hours away, before I can find myself riding across the mighty Mississippi into the historic Vicksburg. You haven’t seen nothing until cross a bridge or a dam and see the cypress trees in all their glory growing out of the depths of the lakes, with the osprey and the cranes, and, yes, the alligators dotting the scenery. The sun rising or setting, it doesn’t matter much, because you’re enjoying nature at its finest. You might have to stop for a turtle, an opossum, a snake or even an armadillo that has the right of way on the roads. You might even have to stop for a white tail that are abundant in these parts of the country, but these are all things you learn to watch for, and they rarely spoil a ride. The summers are hot, yes; I mean hot, and you have to deal with dehydration threats, sunburn, and the humid atmosphere that makes you feel like you can’t breathe, but it’s all worth it.
      And as for food, if you like it hot and spicy, Cajun is your dream. There’s nothing like biting the head off a crawfish (what the northerner’s call crayfish, or bait), and sucking the juice out of its head before you peel back the scales and savor the taste of the tail. Nachitoches (spoken Nack id dich) meat pies are the best ever, and gumbo and etoufee (e too fay) are staples in our diets. And don’t forget the sweet tea, there is no other kind here. And, the southern hospitality is everywhere. Rain is only a mild nuisance, although we have had some torrential downpours, tornadoes and even hurricanes. But, snow is almost non existent, ice is an occasional occurance, and most of the year, you just ride and have fun. No, I’ll take my year round riding any day.

    5. grammadixie says:

      As for road conditions, I work for the Iowa DOT as a Highway Maintenance Supervisor. Since I began riding my own bike four years ago, I look at our road repairs a whole lot differently. I ask myself, would I like to ride over what we have just finished. I have shared this thought with many of my peers and they say that they have never thought of it like that and will be more observant of what we leave out there. I do not have any pull with the construction side that leaves the uneven surface, but I have made the ones that I do come in contact with aware of the issue. I also love riding in Iowa. I really haven’t found anywhere that I don’t like riding.

    6. Corn Dog says:

      GD, THANKS for validating my observations – sounds like we need more bikers working on the Iowa road crews! I realize that with all our state’s budget woes right now, keeping bikers happy is a very low priority. Still, I believe it truly does or will affect our level of tourism, which translates of course into dollars and revenue. I hope you’ll continue to spread the word about the importance of quality road repairs! (Because “infrastructure” should be a priority, right??) :)

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