Tag Archives: neal smith trail

More Central Iowa cycling news: gnats on Neal Smith trail, BRAMCO ride Sat. in Madison County

So the good news is the Neal Smith trail from downtown toward Saylorville is largely open and not flooded (although word has it the area around the Saylorville marina is closed due to flooding). But my husband, who rode it yesterday, reports there are  lots of gnats. So ride with your mouth shut and wear glasses or goggles.  Meanwhile, there’s a good training ride for RAGBRAI riders (and anyone else) this weekend just southwest of Des Moines – – The 17th annual BRAMCO Ride (Bicycle Ride Across Madison County) is on Saturday. The weather forecast – of great pertinence especially this rainy spring/summer – is for temps in the 70s and a 20 percent chance of rain. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at the North shelter in Winterset. (Not sure where that is.) The ride starts at 9 a.m. and costs $30. Riders have a choice of two loops – the 45 mile and 60 mile. All paved. Promises to be hilly!Snack and sag wagon provided.  For more info see: the Madison County Cycle Club website Madison County Cycle Club website.

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Spring construction report from the bike trail in downtown Des Moines

Grays Lake

Gray’s Lake (above)….For fantastic “zoomable”  Des Moines area trail maps see: http://www.dsmbikecollective.org/mapcentral!

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.

 

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Scary fall en route to the Neal Smith Trail near Johnston, Iowa

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.

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