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.