Thursday, March 23, 2017

Iowa's Not Bluffing


Made it down to my second ever OMG! Gravel and Adventure ride, apparently also somewhat known as "the hipster gravel ride"or so I've been told on a few occasions now. I'm not sure about all that but it's always been a good time when I've made it out. The ride generally meets on either the Iowa side or the Nebraska side of the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge and dependent on which side they meet on, they ride a bag of mixed road surfaces in that state. This week it was the Iowa side, oddly enough yesterday was the fist time I'd ever been on the Iowa side of the bridge... if you don't count crossing the line in the middle of the bridge.


The ride starts right around 6 pm, I recently stared a new job that is mostly the same as the old job but in a much different location. Not sure how long it would take me to get from the northwest side of Omaha to the east side in rush hour traffic I brought the bike and gear to work and tried to get out of there promptly at 5. I got there way early than I had expected and had some time to kill, the views from the Iowa side ain't half bad in their own right.


Building some sort of shopping complex on that side of the river, not sure what all is going in there but I bet it will get a fair amount of business.


Eventually met up with Robbie and Brandon and we waited a bit to see if we would get more fellow riders but on a day that was a bit chilly and a lot windy we weren't to optimistic.


I think the dog thought we were a little touched in the head going for a ride in this wind and maybe he was right but into the wind we were going none the less.




Promptly-ish at 6 something we headed off towards the gravel that awaited us but where exactly we were going I knew not. I really need to ride around here more and get familiar with the area, it's only been 3 years.


I've lived mere miles from this and never even knew it existed until yesterday, I could have been coming here weekly. Well, probably not but I could have.



Council Bluffs has trains, lots of them, I can't tell you how many railroad tracks we crossed last night. Luckily only got stopped the one time but Nelson just stared at us, mocking and laughing in that Nelson like "HaHa". Asshole!





A few more miles on the mean streets of Council-tucky and we were to the gravel, this I recognized barely because it was near the Wabash trail head.


For once I wasn't the only shutterbug on the ride, which was good as there was some great picture opportunities until it got darker.




Road was amazingly flat, and amazingly busy, which you would think would be great but it was straight into at least a 20 mph head wind, it didn't feel flat at all. Sustained head winds are not a strong suit of the fat bike, hills aren't either... actually not much is, so if you're going to ride fat you have to be willing to put up with a little suffering and there was plenty of it to go around last night.


Rode right by the gianormous Google data center, hadn't see it up close like before so that was kind of cool, when I could breath that is.


Other structures out this way were a little less awe inspiring.



Being a small group and Brandon and Robbie both being on skinnier tire, I was the slow one last night but they never complained or at least not loud enough to be heard over the wind. Stopped at the top of this little climb for a few pictures, Brohard Road, possibly the best named road in all of Council Bluffs.



Hit a little section of pavement which was a nice change of pace and we weren't directly into the wind so that was also nice. Had I known we were just beginning the hill climbs I probably wouldn't have been so jovial but sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Not much for pictures after this as it became too dark to get anything of quality but I can tell you that Applewood is a heck of a climb and some of those bluff roads get pretty steep. Should be good practice for gravel races down the road like Gravel Worlds, the Omaha Jackrabbit and the Solstice 100 so I guess the pain and suffering has a purpose.


This gem is from Brandon who was the other guy with a camera on the ride, pretty nice looking mirrorless setup. Been contemplating one myself once the G15 gives up the ghost, he's got a pretty good eye for photos and the camera takes great looking pictures. I particularly liked this one, which is odd because like most people I'm not real crazy about pictures I am in most of the time.

All in all it was another great ride with the OMG Gravel and Adventure club, I really hope to start making this a regular thing this year and get back to riding more often locally. Thanks for having me guys, great time as always!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Best Laid Plans


Saturday was the SMNDFBR of course, it's almost every Saturday but it was also the celebration of another trip around the sun for me so I brought some birthday donuts to help fuel our ride.


Joe even brought me some tasty barley pops from his trip down to Stillwater last week when he was playing in the mud during Landrun.


The plan for the ride was to head out to Elmwood and then circle back to Eagle and meetup with the Great Plains Bicycle Club folks at Baily's Local for their St. Patrick's Day festivities but that didn't exactly happen as planned, more on that later. They were also having a costume contest so Joe got all snazzied up in his St. Paddy's Day best. The rest of us sticks in the mud just wore the normal cycling garb, so in theory Joe wins our costume contest. I guess I'll have to come up with a prize for him now.





Scooted through town on the MoPac and on out to Walton where we switched over to A Street and hilly gravel.


Gravel was dry and winds were minimal so speeds were a little vigorous out of Walton, I had hoped it would have been a little sunnier or a little warmer but I suppose you can't have everything. The sun and warmth would get there eventually but not for a couple of hours yet.





While the clouds might have been blocking out most of the sunshine, they were kind of cool in their own rights I suppose.



Even ran into a traffic jam or two out on the gravel. Saw a few tractors out on Saturday, I wonder if they are itching for nicer weather as much as we are so that they can get an early start tilling the fields.





17 miles in a straight line on A Street meant that we got a little stretched out now and again as often will happen on rides like this.



Several regroups were in order but on days like Saturday, stopping a chatting for a spell isn't all that bad.




286th Street meant we were almost to the halfway point and a refuel stop in Elmwood.


Some of us stopped at the COOP for refueling and looked around only to discover that the majority had gone elsewhere but where could they have gone?



Following the large pile of bikes up the street at the Quonset we figured that this must be the place and decided to go inside.


Sure enough, there were the missing members of the group. Carlos has a nose for beer, if there is any within a mile he can sniff it out and Saturday was no exception and they already had frosty mugs in hand.




Not to look a gift beer in the mouth, Dave bought me a birthday brew, we decided that we might as well eat here and hope to catch the GPBC folks on the tail end of their event. Given that the slogan at the Quonset is "Fast Service, no matter how long it takes" how could we go wrong.


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Roy and Stephanie even bought me a birthday cookie, it was delicious. Almost as good as the ice cream cone from the Thursday ride last year. Actually all of the food there was good, the beer was cold and the service was pretty good. They've only been open for a few months so if you find yourself out in Elmwood on a ride give them a try, you won't be disappointed. Plus it's always good to have places like this to stop at on a hot summer day which is even more reason to give them a few of your dollars while you're passing through and help them stay in business. Always support local when you can, that way your dollars go right back into the communities they service.


They even have giant trikes in Elmwood, if it had rubber it'd be a lotta fun to ride I bet.



Since the hour was getting late we high tailed the 7 miles to Eagle. Not much for pictures since it was almost a dead sprint to the finish so to speak to try to catch them.




Despite our best efforts, we just missed the GPBC group but from the sounds of it they had a good turn out, waitress said there had to be at least 50 of them.


Racing to Eagle made us pretty thirsty so of course we had to re-hydrate, Sarah was especially thirsty and opted for a pitcher rather than a glass.



Once properly hydrated it was time to push on to the hut and another regroup, one simply cannot just pass up the hut after all. Many a good time has been had at the hut and Saturday only added to that growing list.

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I'd like to say that after the hut we all slow rolled back to Cycle Works but that wasn't the case, seems like there isn't much slow in this group but sometimes that's not a bad thing. While we didn't make Bailey's in time for the St. Patrick's Day ride, I'd have to say it was a great way to spend a birthday. Gorgeous weather, cold beer and a fabulous group of people to share it with, it really doesn't get any better than that.

We will have to see what next week brings for the ride, there are a few days in the forecast with rain but so far it doesn't look like it's going to amount to much. Hopefully we will find plenty of dry dirt or gravel to ride. Hope to see you next week and I hope you all had a fantastic St. Patrick's Day weekend. First day of spring is tomorrow!