The tire fixing station near Mullet’s in Downtown Des Moines
We have come across two flat-tire repair stations along the bike trails in Des Moines – how great! Each station has a number of tools you need to fix a flat (all attached to cords that attach to the station so someone can’t walk off with them) and even a hook so you can hoist your tire up to fix it. How cool is that? (It would be even cooler if I knew HOW to fix a flat but that’ s my issue.) I found one at the start of the trailhead south of Ashworth Pool in DSM (en route to the Great Western Trail ) and another downtown by Mullet’s along the Principal Riverwalk by the baseball stadium.
Both were gifts from some charitable soul whom I need to mention here (when I collect her name.) Thank you!!
We really haven’t gotten that perfect spring weather for biking yet (except for last Monday, when temps rose to the 70s, but then plummeted a day later and it got rainy). But last Saturday under overcast skies and with a cold wind, we did our first ride of the spring on our favorite loop through Beaverdale/Drake neighborhood to South of Grand to downtown Des Moines and back to Beaverdale/Drake, which includes bits of several officially-named trails (Walnut Creek, Bill Riley, Meredith, John Pat Dorian and the Inter-urban).
Each spring, we’re braced for various construction projects that may hamper our journey but the three c0nstruction projects we came upon all had handy detours that takeyou around the bridge construction at 63rd and Grand); past the closed footbridge west of I-Cubs Stadium; ); and around the construction at the Botanical Center. It also was nice to see that last year’s construction on the west side of the Riverwalk by Court Avenue appears to be done (or at least done enough that you can now ride along this stretch of the trail by the river.)
A more detailed look at our favorite 18-mile loop: We ride from our Drake/Beaverdale neighborhood house south from the Franklin Library to 56th Street, then south through the woodsy trail around there to 63rd street and Grand; then east along another wooded trail to Waterworks Park and Gray’s Lake, past I-Cubs stadium and the East Village downtown;, then back north along the river along the Dorrian trail (which I always confuse with the Neal Smith trail further north) to the trestle bridge that leads west to MLKing Blvd;and then uphill on the Urbandale trail and over to 38th Street (or so) and south to our house. Our ride was about 18 miles.
Photo by Dayne Magneson, Park Ranger – Saylorville Lake
Word of warning: be careful if you are riding your bike over the bridge in Johnston (Iowa) just east of NW Beaver Drive (i.e. NW 66th Avenue east of the Johnston soccer fields) crossing the Des Moines River to get onto the Neal Smith Trail at the Sycamore Access. My husband took a nasty spill thanks to some rough pavement at the southwest end of the bridge, which is narrow to begin with. Fortunately he fell towards the guard rail, away from the traffic. I shudder to think what would have happened if he’d fallen the other way – when the first of two very large and long trucks hauling hay bales passed us. I shared this adventure with another biking friend who said she’s sworn off riding across that bridge after she had a scare on it during rush hour traffic awhile back. Our encounter was on a relatively sleepy Sunday. Or so we thought.
It’s a bummer because we were hoping to do a loop – going north on the Trestle to Trestle trail to Johnston, then winding our way through some quiet residential streets – and one busy street – to get onto the Neal Smith trail heading south. Might not try that again.
One effect of the new signs posted along the many miles of trails in Des Moines, for us, is that it has tempted us to go in new directions. So yesterday, we rode along the Waveland Trail from the Franklin Library south toward the Walnut Creek Trail (Am I the only one who can’t keep track of the names of theses trails?) to a point just south of 63rd Street and Grand, where we decided to go west instead of our usual east and see if we could connect to the Jordan Creek Trail we’ve tried off and on in the past.
We were able to go further than we remembered on a trail, crossing busy 63rd Street just north of the river and riding on a levee. But not too scenic. Very industrial with a gravel pit. After awhile we ended up coasting along E.P. True Parkway – a little too suburban and close to traffic for our tastes. We ended up in a pleasant pocket park near Fairmeadows School where we had a picnic, then wound our way back east through Valley Junction (stopping briefly at an art fair there) then got back on the trail at 63rd and Grand and headed our usual direction – East. Which we enjoyed even more after our ride west. We also stopped for the first time at Mullet’s – just south of Principal Park where we had a drink on the top deck with a superb view to the north of the big city.
I did find a map today of Jordan Creek Trail http://www.wdm-ia.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=297 and next time, it looks like we should head west from Fairmeadows School. And we should check out the new trail extension circles the 230-acre lake in Raccoon River Park.