Sunday, August 31, 2008

A little of dis a little of dat

My mini-vacation started on Wednesday with a muddy mountain bike ride and test pilot session on the spin trike. See previous post for pictures.

Thursday it was time for CYCLONE FOOTBALL BABY. You would think after 9 months of waiting something couldn't sneak up on you.


Adding to the ambush The Sheesleys have been tragically separated from our tailgating group this year. That's right, for one reason or another, all of our multi-family tailgate group spilt on us. That includes our incredible leader that, for years, would get there early to get a good spot, bring the grill, set up tables chairs etc. Heck he even brought games. Mike, you are the best! Where did you go? Will you come back? Now I know how that couple in Open Water felt.

All sharks and drowning aside, we handled our first solo flight like pros. We had plenty of beers, burgers and munchies. Jill and Ronda came along. It was different for me, tailgating with just the ladies, but I adapted. Having no one to toss the rock with hurt a bit, but I coped. I kept it tucked under my arm most of the time, being careful to observe the 4 points of ball security. Okay 3 points, my off hand was needed for beverage conveyance and flipping burgers. We took up residence by the portas, that's what you call ambience folks.

The Clones put on a pretty good show. Both QB's looked sharp and the defense really got after it. It was nice to see us dominate a team we're supposed to dominate.

Friday I headed out to Prairie Meadows to try my luck a bit. I actually did okay for myself getting a little up on blackjack.....and then I met back up with Jackie. Before I knew it all my winnings were gone. She's such "good luck". After that I hustled over to the north trailhead of Sycamore to meet Squirrel for a ride. We peddled down to Fish Camp. Squirrel did his best to resurrect his fish lure totem pole and I tried to rehab a discarded chair.

Saturday I sat on my lazy rump and watched college football all day. The Big Ten took a beating - that's really too bad.

Sunday I didn't do much either. I cleaned up the road bike to sell. I've done this a couple of times before but haven't gone through with it. Now that I have the cyclocross bike the roadie is expendable, its sale will finance some other bike projects. It must die so others may live. If you read this and are interested in it leave a comment and a way to contact you. Hey, its my blog, I can hock stuff if I want to. Its a 56cm carbon fiber Trek with full Ultegra.

After that Katie and I took Trail Dog for a little hike at Easter Lake. He was having a good time, but those hills got to him on the way back to the car. We came to a fork in the trail where we needed to continue heading up the hill but Trail Dog was doing his best to convince us the downhill or sidehill path was a better way. Trail Dog is cunning, but he lost this time.

Tomorrow the plan is to ride down to my friend Joe's house on the cross bike via county highways and gravel for his fantasy football draft. He lives near Pleasantville so its only about 20 miles one way. I've ridden in that area before and there's some really picturesque rolling farmland. I'm looking forward to it.

I know what your thinking and yes, I do pretend football. I started before hardly anybody knew it even existed. I was somewhat serious about it for a few years, winning a couple of different leagues and what-not. These days I only play in Joe's, which is basically his family and about as low key as you get. Its an auction league so you buy players for your pretend team with invisible money (I hope I get Rex Grossman this year). I mainly do it for the draft day experience - its tough to beat a morning spent with good people, good food, witty banter and friendly competition. Oh, and Joe's wife Nicole makes these bacon wrapped little smokies. Anytime you start the conversation with "bacon wrapped" you have my attention, and these are just outstanding. This time I'm riding down, so I'm earning my little smokies.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Denman's is back just in time for Football Eve

I'm going on record right now saying there should be a holiday known as Football Day and subsequently, the less formal build-up, Football Eve.

You see, the first game of the college football season is just so great its like Christmas....except this holiday just keeps on giving. Christmas only lasts one day, plus some left over turkey, then its gone. Football Day rings in a whole season. Are you following me here? A whole season; two if you count the NFL separately.

I have many more football related theories I need to expand upon, but that will have to wait for another time. I need to get to the story about the spin trike.

This Football Eve was an especially festive event because I got to leave grant deadlines behind at work and skate into a 5 day weekend. What goes perfect with football and vacation? A ride in the newly reopened Denman's Woods trail at the Center, that's what. This trail is a favorite of mine and its been closed since the floods. We had rain earlier in the day so it was sure to be a mudder but we were going anyway.

A good group showed up including some new to mountain biking. Welcome one and all:

I didn't take many pictures during the ride as I was busy smiling and coating myself with top soil. The one and only trail picture.

After a muddy haul we blew off some debris circling the Grey's Lake trail. We must've appeared pretty raggedy to the latte crowd.

As per custom we egressed to Giffs for tacos and libations. After allowing for some digestion of tacos the infamous spin trike entered the picture down the road at Squirrel's house. Mr. Miyagi say, "Daniel you must TRUST the TRIKE. Spin always like wax on, wax off."

Squirrel The Architect (terrible picture but if you enlarge it you can kinda see him)

Justin The Natural

Matt The Visiting Dignitary

Sam The Conqueror

Me The Me

We shared mud, mosquitoes, beers, tacos, spins and laughs.

Good times.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Riding and reviving the old Sycamore trail seems to be what and the cool - kids are doing these days. I hadn't ridden out there in a couple of years so Corey and I decided to hit up the old stomping grounds.

Sycamore starts, on its southern end, where the old Target store was on Euclid. Now there's a snazzy building of some kind. I think its governmental.

The trail winds along the Des Moines River for 7 miles until it reaches NW 66th Street in Johnson. This trailhead is just a few hundred yards from the Sycamore Access to the Neil Smith trail, so heading on up to Saylorville Lake is easy. You just need to do a couple of miles of paved goodness and tackle the winding hill, that we've always called "Grand Dad", and you're at the Visitor's Center.

Sycamore is super fast doubletrack. Its not technical at all save for an occasional rut or downed tree. You have to be careful/lucky not to break/bend a derailleur because there is usually a lot of debris on the trail. There's also sand. Sycamore has always sported plenty of misplaced beach. Since the flood there's more of it toward the southern end.Where's Misty May when you need her?

I was feeling a little guilty not pitching in to help revive Denman's, so we put in a pretty fair amount of trail work, clearing several obstacles along the way with our handy-dandy handsaws, Mean Green and Orange Crush.

After a couple miles you reach the old brickyard area. You can't miss it, there's a big rutted hill looming, just saying "climb me, there's fun trail up here".

You are kinda-sorta not supposed to ride up there anymore. The Tai Dam cultural group bought this land awhile back and strung up no trespassing signs. From what I've heard they mainly wanted to keep the motorcycles out, not us innocent bikers. The signs are gone so its probably okay to ride here a little as long as you don't do something stupid like take pictures and write about it on the internets. There's options: A, B and around the corner C and D. Option D isn't nearly as steep as these so we usually take it.

We will descend any of these options which registers high on the pucker factor meter.Here's option D:

Above the rocky hills it turns back to good ole' Iowa dirt. There are some very steep climbs back here. This stuff is fun for awhile, but it doesn't connect and flow too well. That, along with the kinda-sorta no supposed to be here factor, means we don't stay too long.

As I mentioned earlier we headed on up the NS trail to Saylorville Visitor Center. There's a nice observation deck with a view of the lake.

Off to the side there's a little nature trail. It seems these short loops are meant for hiking only but there isn't a sign prohibiting bikes soooooo... Its probably-maybe okay to ride here as long as you don't do something stoopid like take pictures and write about it on the internets.Here's yours truly about to take the plunge. These stairs used to activate my pucker, but not anymore.

Coming back up:

Toward the back of the little network there's a long railroad tie staircase. Going up no es posible; coming down es muy entretenida.

The Garmin said 20.37 miles with 1,551 feet of climbing. I was pretty tired after the ride because we were hauling the mail (fast) most of the trip. It was fun. Can't wait for the Spooky Woods Ride here this fall.

View Larger Map

As for the other kinda-sorta maybe not supposed to ride there parts of this report:

You didn't see anything.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Daniel Boone Attitude Applied to Mountain Biking

Daniel Boone was tough, in part, because he wore a dead raccoon for a hat. I mean really - to hunt, kill, clean and eat the varmint is pretty rugged all by itself, but wearing the carcass as a hat?! Well, that's just a message to all comers - don't mess with me. I'm crazy.

Seven Oaks Ski Resort, near Boone, is tough too - just in a different way. This Boone doesn't need a fuzzy, gruesome cap. It gets its toughness from luring area mountain bikers into a continuous 6+ mile loop of killer hills that has no reasonable route for bailing out midway.

If you would've asked me in February how many times I would have ridden Boone by now I would've said at least 4-5 times. Unfortunately, the flooding made that plan impossible, so this was my first Boone ride of '08. The loop starts out climbing and climbing to the top of the hill seen in the background, then winds its way down via tight downhill, hairpin switchbacks. When it nears the bottom it turns and heads back up the hill via tight, uphill switchbacks. Do you see a pattern developing here?

There are a few areas of sketchiness along the way. It wouldn't take much to fall into the creek along here. They've added several mini northshore style bridges and fortifications in areas the 08 floods washed out. This section was always sketchy, but there were more trees blocking the view of your potential demise. I did a rather tense trackstand (balancing on a stationary bike) to maintain my balance right where Corey is in the first picture. There was a rut that wanted to direct you off into creekland. I didn't capture the creek in the picture, but there's about a 5-6 foot drop into the creek. Along those bridges there's at least a little bank before the drop, but where Corey is the drop is pretty straight off.

I think it scales and descends the backside of the ski hill at least 3 or 4 times before getting to the top corner seen in the first picture. Its hard to tell how far you've come because of how much the trail bends back on itself. There are several spots where you could see riders above or below you riding parrell because of the hairpin switchbacks. From the top of the ski hill the trail mellows out a little, but it keeps throwing in enough long slogging climbs and hairpin uphills with roots and ruts to keep things interesting. They have a gravity cavity too. Its not nearly as big as Sugar Bottom's Cyclocross Hill, but it is pretty tough in its own right. The sticks/logs that are at the bottom rob you of momentum that is sorely needed on the ascent up the other side.

The last section of trail isn't too technical or hilly, but it winds around all kinds of trees and roots while snaking in and out of the campground. It is some of the most entertaining trail here. On the second loop I hooked a tree with my handlebars and went down, but it was only a minor hiccup. It had been several years since I had hooked a handlebar and, I have to say, I would be okay if it was several years before I did it again.

The trail used to pop out at the top of a smaller skill hill which made for a pretty exciting bomb down. Now there's this:

So we headed down the gravel road next to the resort. Serious speed is available here. I registered 39.6 mph the second time through, just a little better than the 39.1 the first time around. That was without really pushing it much. 45 mph is very doable if you have the coon hat (or nerve) for such a ripping descent.

My Garmin didn't accurately track the first time around, but our second loop totalled 6.66 miles. Creepy eh? Yeah, I thought so too, so I tooled around the parking lot until it clicked 6.67. The Garmin said just over 900 ft of climbing in one loop. I had actually heard it was more than that, so I'm not sold on my accuracy. We did 2 loops, which was just under 14 miles and 2000 ft climbing. I've heard it is almost tiwce that in elevation change, which would jive better with Garmin readings from Hillside and other places. So, I don't know. The bottom line: it is a lot of climbing.

I'm sure some bikers have no love for Boone because its too hard. I love Boone because its too hard. Maybe I should buy a furry but disturbing hat too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CDNM Presents: What would you do?

First off, how cool is it that I have an acronym? Don't be jealous if you don't have one. You don't have to be like that. Just get your own blog, name it and you'll have your own.

Anyway, I know there's a few of you CDNM readers out there (like 5 or 6) and several (okay a few) have said, "Ha, read your blog, I was going to leave a comment but...they wanted me to register and/or I forgot my password...I couldn't make it work so I gave up."

Okay, First - suck it up. If you can't get through a little Google account sign up how are you ever gonna function in your daily life?! Would Phelps have won 1,289 gold medals if he had let a little registration issue get in his way?! No, that's right, he wouldn't have.....(dramatic coach pause)

Sorry for the tough love, but sometimes its just necessary. Even though I think registration is an obstacle that can be overcome, I have, for you more follow-through challenged people, figured out (I think) how to adjust the comment permission so you don't need to register, just comment away.

Feedback is the life blood of a blog. Without food it dies. You don't want CDNM to die do you? Why would you wish ill on poor CDNM?

I've also activitated a thingamabobber that allows you to email a post to a friend, although I would never dream of asking you to forward a post. That's just too much blog pimpin' for me.

Anyway, as if sent from above (or below?) I have encountered a perfect situation to solicit comments.

This is the "shed" that my neighbor put up today. You are looking at the view from my deck. Just through the trees behind the "shed" is Easter Lake. Once the leaves fall you have (or had) a nice view of the lake. We were told awhile ago they were putting up a "shed" and they said they would show us the dimensions and such before building. Today there was a "shed". I don't remember any consultation. What would you do?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

And on the 6th Day the Lord Said, "Let there be sweet corn."

And He said, "this place will be called Adel, and it will be good".

And the Lord sayth, "let there be a Fest where all the faithful come to enjoy sweet corn".

"And All Ye People, save the best ears of corn for those who peddle their bicycles to the Fest".

A small group of riders, including Squirrel and his family, met at Rasmussen's Bike Shop for a ride out to the Adel Sweet Corn Fest.

This would be about an 18 mile ride, one way, and our route would connect several of the area's bike paths. Katie was joining me and Jackie's cousin Cale for the ride. We would try to get some dirt on Cale's disturbingly clean bike and Katie would try for her longest ride ever - but to best her previous 20 miler (which now, in fish story fashion, has grown to 25,30,35 miles) she would have to ride out and at least part of the way back.

The night before the ride I changed the tires out on her bike for some old slick touring tires I had bought years ago but never used. I also put a shorter stem on her bike. She liked the new rubber, while tooling around Rassy's parking lot she declared, "the most thing I like the best is the tires." I think she put in close to 5 miles just zooming around the parking lot. While the smooth tires helped her roll easier the skinny tread was harder to control. I would look back and see her zig zagging her way all over. I'm sure that contributed to her energy getting pretty zapped. She also said she didn't sleep well the night before. Ah yes, pre-ride jitters - been there.

It probably goes without saying but, Katie was pretty fired up for this ride. She observed her tradition of wearing her helmet in the car on the way to the trailhead. This time she also wore it, along with her new sunglasses, into Quick Trip. Its just how she rolls.

My camera died after only a couple of pictures. I think the battery is bad now (I swear I didn't break it this time). Jackie let me take a couple of Fest shots but she doesn't trust me with her camera (or really any of her stuff).

Jackie's friend Jill stood in line to provide her family with sweet corn. Her family wasn't in the immediate vicinity so the Sheesley's took care of her "extras".

Jill and her husband Dave do their own version of the Iowa Corn 500 race. Dave won and it really wasn't close.

Their youngest daughter, Sophie gives a suspicious look. Someone might be trying to steal my corn. You, with the camera, back off.

Katie about to do some carbo reloading. Allie hides behind bangs. She doesn't do corn because its not a Chicken McNugget.

The band featured a guest blues guitar player. He was five, but he rocked hard.

The Fest was awesome. You could quite easily eat yourself to death here. FREE (yes, I said FREE) all you can eat sweet corn was augmented by burgers, dogs, walking tacos, corn dogs, kettle corn, homemade ice cream and any number of other fabulous treats. All of it was cheap, darn near ridiculously cheap. It was the anti-Fair.

After munching our fair share of what the Fest had to offer Cale and I were on our way peddling back home. Katie decided to hitch home with Mom and little sister in air conditioned SUV comfort. She put in a great effort during the 18.5 miles out. I was really proud of her. Next year its out and back for sure. I think Cale had a good time too on his first major ride.

And the Lord looked down to see all that was the Adel Sweet Corn Festival and it pleased Him.