Monday, August 30, 2010

Ok, Iowa Has Some Rough Weather.....


Its a TORNADO and its made of FIRE. That just can't be safe.

So, the next time you're thinking "Dang, its humid out here" or "I wish it weren't so overcast", just be thankful there isn't - oh I dunno - a FIRE TORNADO.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Small, But Full, Circle

Dear Springbrook State Park,

You were the campground of my youth, but I haven't seen you in 25 years.

Even though I was here all the time as a boy, I doubt you remember me.

That's ok, I remember you.

Your lake for swimming and fishing,

your creeks for wading,

your trails for exploration.

Lots has changed since we last saw each other.

I'm grown now, with a family of my own. I'm sorry, introducing them to you is long overdue, but Dad coming along really plugs the ends together, doesn't it? After all, he started it.

You remind me that, if you're lucky, life's best moments recycle. A simple, beautiful place - like a campground - can complete a circuit in your soul.

Yes, you are just like I remember. Riding my bike on your trails, wading in your creeks with my kids and soaking up the campfire with my Dad - you give all these things without hesitation. You do this for my family, as well as countless others, every summer as the years march on.

Thanks Springbrook, you're the best.



Thursday, August 12, 2010

Enough Already, Volume 1

Sometimes I just get fed up. Since this happens periodically I think “Enough Already” might turn into a multi-volume installment of crotchety complaining.

For starters I’m focusing on the indisputable fact that we’ve completely run out of ideas for reality shows. Isn’t it ironic that we’re running out of reality? Maybe not as ironic as Alanis’ song “Ironic” being mostly devoid of irony, but still….When a show about two Iowa boys rummaging through old barns and garages for rusty junk is a runaway hit, you know the end must be near.

TO and Ocho Cinco have dating shows. Yeah, I get it; these guys have trouble meeting women. I guess one of them is named Ocho Cinco.

The MALL OF AMERICA security has a show (yes, MALL cops have a show). They authoritatively cross their arms and stuff.

I will say they do have an inexhaustible supply of topics - Episode 21: The Gum Stuck Under the Table Caper. Episode 22: Runaway Shopping Cart in the Parking Lot.

This show reminds me of the first time I went to the MALL. A buddy from the area was showing me and another friend around. He was quite proud of the facility which inspired him to keep spouting off MALL factoids such as the number of shops, total square feet and how long it would take you to visit every shop. I just kept saying, “I don’t think it’s that big” and “Yep, it’s definitely about the size of Merle Hay”. This made our tour guide quietly fume a bit, which was the object of the game. Now the MALL “cops” have a show. I guess he gets the last laugh.

Next, The Real Wives of (fill in the Blank) shows are irritatingly ubiquitous. I do think “real” is a bit of a misnomer. These programs feature a wholly different brand of “real” wife from what I’m used to seeing (careful now, thin ice directly ahead). Oh sure, I could write a little ditty about making a “Real Wives of Polk County” show. The compare and contrast of our ladies to those primped, poofed and orangy spray tanned broads might even be funny, but then again you don’t live at my house do you?

No, you don’t.

It just-so happens a real wife of Polk County does live at my house and I don’t want to have to move to another county.

Moving on...having 6,7,8,9 kids all at once, or 19 over the course of several years, does NOT qualify you as must see TV. In contrast, pretending to float your kid 5,000 feet in the air in a balloon might qualify your crazy ass for the airwaves, provided the show airs from jail.

Lastly, I guess two or three cake shows just wasn’t enough. Now there’s multiple cupcake spinoffs. I’m sure the studio execs got together and said, “You know these cake shows are strangely popular, but they’re getting a little stale so, I’ve come up with the next best thing in bakery based broadcasting.........(dramatic pause as the underlings prepare to be dazzled and)……….we do smaller cakes and….wait-for-it……..put them in cups!

Underlings: Ingenious.

Execs: I know.

Execs: Then, to zazz it up a bit more, we will put “Wars” or “Battle” in the title.

Underlings: Glorious.

Call me old fashioned but if its going to be a “war” or “battle” shouldn't those frosted little delights explode or something? I mean, frag some snooty lady with an actual sugar bomb and you might have something worth watching.

Until then…..

Enough already.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lime Creek, Check

I like to ride my mountain bike.

I like to ride in fun new places.

I live in Iowa.

There are no mountains in Iowa.

Still, some fun can be found.

I've found most of it.

I've ridden:
Lewis & Clark
Brushy Creek
Red Rock
Elk Rock
Scott County

Its a good list I think.

Not quite complete, but close.

Add Lime Creek now.

North of Mason City, it has...

some good fast doubletrack

and tightly hidden singletrack

Do the Quarry, Turkey and Old Stage loops.

Don't bother with the Red Hawk and those prairie trails.

Can you ever really know a trail without seeing a hanldebar shot?

We camped at Clear Lake.

There was a cool classic car show going on.

(sorry no photo)

it made it easy to have fun with friends and fam and to check off another mountain bike trail in Iowa.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quad Cities Trifecta

We call it a mountain biking "daytrip". Its like a "fieldtrip" only for adults (or quasi-adults).

To execute one of these you must take the day off work, haul your behind out of bed earlier than what is reasonable, and head out of town for a good trails in a far (but not too far) away land. Then you reverse it all and wind up back at home before the sun rises on tomorrow. The beauty of the daytrip method is that it allows for some fine adventure without disrupting the home and family life too much.

Our daytrip radius has only recently been expanded to about a 3 hour drive. It used to be a shorter 2-2.5 hours but we've basically ridden everything in that radar range and daytrips are primarily about riding new trail. After this doozie I think the radius should stay at 3 hours and below.

We originally had our sights set on one of two big destinations; Lebanon Hills near Minneapolis or Landahl Park outside of KC. One north, one south we would pick the one with the best weather and trail condition reports. It was indeed a fine plan but, as with most fine plans, it was doomed from the start. Rain, of course, threatened both sites and trail conditions were iffy as well. Last minute I offered up the Quad Cities as an option. It was slightly closer to Des Moines than the other two and had several (reportedly) good places I had not been before. The forecast wasn't great there either with spotty rain predicted, but the trails seemed to be in good shape, so with a little prayer we departed early Friday AM and headed due east.

The local club, Friends of Off Road Cycling or FORC, builds and maintains these trails; big time howyadoin' to those guys ova dare.

First up was Sylvan Island in Moline. This little labyrinth of trail is actually on an island in the mighty Mississippi. Once being the site of a factory, the trail is embedded with steel and concrete features that give it a cool industrial reclamation feel.

Man gives way to nature; what else is new? Here's a very nice video I found on Vimeo. Sylvan is great for a warm up, which is exactly how we used it.

Sylvan Island PreRace Riding from Jordan Hanson on Vimeo.

You knew there would be a handlebar shot

Corey dodges, dips, ducks, dives and dodges.

Next up was Sunderbrush Park. Located on the western edge of Davenport, these trails were trumpeted as the "crown jewel" of QC riding. I hereby deem this crown title proper and in well keeping with the accepted standards of trail jewelness.

Right away you could tell it was going to be interesting.

They've named the trails here after other regional trails of high acclaim. All of it flowed quite nicely, with Sugarbottom (not surprisingly) being one of my favorites. There's not too much elevation gain and plenty of roots, creek crossings, switchbacks and funky bridges to challenge you. It was sprinkling a bit and the trail was just wet enough to make a lot of those root switchback step-ups slicky tricky, including one that rudely introduced me to a tree I was trying to climb past.

I don't know if this big log pile has a name, but I'm calling it Slick Rick. I came off Rick a little to the left and barked my knuckles on a itty bitty tree. No biggie, I'm tough and stuff.

We finished up the day at Scott County Park. Apparently the goal here was to create many miles of flowing trail with long sight lines and lots of available speed. They have done a really nice job laying it out to that affect. There's a significant sections of twisty prairie riding, full of wild flowers that drop into nice wooded singletrack. There really is something for everyone at Scott. My favorite was the Cannon loop. Pair that up with a big park featuring several nice campgrounds and beautiful facilities and you've got a real winner.

I came away impressed and a little jealous of what they've got going on over there. Several nice trail systems are already built and more are being added all the time. They are also fairly close to places like Sugarbottom to the west and Peoria to the east.

I will definitely be back, maybe next time I won't have to drive home.