Monday, June 9, 2008

Riding in Defiance of Rain

Sunday we were originally supposed to put some finishing touches on the new trail at Banner, but the Middle River had other ideas. I had planned on riding to Banner, mostly via gravel roads, so Saturday I drove out to do a little scouting. Found water over 140th and these fancy chickens. I think they're called Peacocks. It was quite odd seeing exotic birds traipsing down an Iowa back road.

Sunday, my friend Corey and I were determined to ride - in the dern rain if we must. The day clearly called for an urban assault of downtown. So, we rode from Corey's place which is just south of DT to the Capitol. It quickly became clear that Corey was a bit of a urban expert, knowing lots of little drops and cut throughs. We trucked behind the police station and stopped to talk to a nice round officer about the bevy of bikes chained up and rusting in the rain. He was a very nice fellow talking to us about the auctions and such. He told me they have thought about just giving the bikes away to kids, since they "don't make much on most of these." I told him I thought that was a pretty good idea and told him about the Bike Collective.

They've done a lot of work to the Capitol grounds.

We then cruised over to the Judicial Building on Court and bombed down the big sledding hill. Remember when Governor Brandstad broke his jaw sledding on this mama? Yeah, well in defense of his jaw, it is a big hill with two rises toward the bottom, perfect for grabbing air on a sled, or a bike, and breaking a mandible. That new Fox shock on the front of the Trek really wants to hug the ground, so over the first rise it did just that, popping the rear into the air a bit. I thought about trying to launch off the second rise, but there wasn't much time for calculations, so I just rolled it, trying to get my weight back a little further. The rear rose again, this time higher and a little off camber. Whew! I survived. Bike handling skills 1, Gravity 0.

From there we cruised through DT, exploring various alleyways and staircases. We came to the Nationwide Insurance parking garage and decided to do some climbing. At 8 stories, this has to be one of the taller garages in town. I am the KING of this parking structure. Death to all those who oppose me.

After hanging out a bit we decided to head on. I told Corey, "I'm going to descend this sucka." He said, "Be careful, its wet in places." Yeah, whatever. I will have plenty of room to widely arc the turns. Well, about the 3rd floor down Gravity evens up the score 1 all. The concrete was only a little wet and I wasn't really leaning into the turn. I figured I'd be fine on the wider mountain bike tire, but someone (like me) didn't take into account the rubberized car tire grime mixed with the water. Boom goes the dynamite, rider down. I mostly caught myself, so there were no injuries save a little scrape on my knee. Oh and my camera, which apparently didn't like kissing pavement any more than I did. Jackie, in her infinite wisdom, thinks (hopes) she purchased the full mamba jamba accident coverage plan for the camera, so I might be able to go get a shiny new one to eventually (re)destroy. I think its possible that I might be riding too aggressively.

After eating a tasty but 'spensive chicken gyro at the Gateway Cafe, and realizing I was way too smelly to be in such a trendy little bistro, we headed over to the Woodland Cemetery. Man, what a neat - and spooky - place. Many old mausoleums and impressive monuments. They just don't commemorate like they used to. We were very careful to maintain reverence and be respectful. I certainly didn't need any bad karma entering my even-up contest with Gravity. In one area we found an engraved stone saying the first Bishop of Iowa had established a cemetery south of town in 1880 (something), but that it was rather quickly abandoned. Then, closer to the turn of the century, another clergyman had the bodies exhumed and moved to this spot. All around were the resting places of many holy men. Including a very impressive Celtic cross marking the final resting place of the priest (for 41 years) of St. Ambrose. Very cool. I would've taken a lot of pictures in the cemetery, gum it.

Seeing the storm clouds roll back in, we thought it wise to head back to the east end of downtown and closer to Corey's homebase. We got over by the new Science Center and it just opened up. We quickly retreated to the little parking garage next door. When the rains let up we made a break for it. Almost on cue it opened up again just as we got to where the trail passes under the 7th street bridge. Like drowned rats we scurried up the embankment (which was slick as snot) and hid out underneath. After another short respite it was only a short jaunt to Corey's and done for the day. All told only about 12 miles of riding in about 4 hours (how's that for some killer mph?) but enjoyable because it was done in absolute defiance of Mother Nature. Ha!

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