Saturday d.p. and I planned a big ride on some awesome Jasper County roads. Originally, we were going to use some of the T.I.V6 course that never got used in the event, and that d.p. hadn't laid eyes on yet. Things were left open for discussion, and we only agreed to meet in Grinnell for an early breakfast before heading out. The ride started at 7am. The first thing we saw that was cool was this old Grange north of Grinnell.
We only had one B Road on the whole route today, but it was interesting in that there was a bridge that was blocked off due to massive errosion around the bridge pilings. Still, we crossed safely. The counties are so poor with regards to road funds that we doubt this bridge will ever get fixed. Too bad! It was a cool B road.
Not long afterwards we came up on this masive line of cottonwood trees on a hill top. The wind was starting to pick up by now and this southward stretch was taxing us, so d.p. felt I ought to take a photo or two of these massive giants and we could also catch a breather.
Here is a picture of the largest of the bunch. Check out my bike at the foot of this behemoth! The top of the tree I couldn't get into the photo, (I was standing in the far ditch as it was!) and I can't show you how the top of this old giant is shattered from a past lightning strike. Yet it still lives. Awesome stuff, but I admit, I have a thing for trees!
I wanted to show d.p. a certain section where I thought the T.I.V6 course had an awesome view and some killer hilly roads. Here's a view from that part. This goes on much further than my camera had a view for. Those are cattle on the far hilside, for reference. It is a beautiful valley and the view is like looking at a live Grant Wood painting. Pretty cool.
We also rolled through Baxter, Iowa, the home of the late Phil Wood, he of bicycling fame and lore. Lots of cyclists roll components with his signature on them. This was his home in Baxter after he sold the company.
Here's another one of countless farm scenes that you could take photographs of. If I stopped to take a picture of every cool scene, we'd still be out there! Speaking of still being out there, I thought the wind was going to stop us in our tracks. By this time the wind was like a 30mph constant blast. Going south was a major energy suck. Hills that would have been no big deal on a normal day turned into monsters.
Here's another Grange. It is being restored, as you can see by the gravel piles and what not. The Granger movement was instigated after the Civil War in an effort to advance the cause of agriculture and farmers in the late 19th century. Some small percentage of the Grange still exists. Here is a bit from the Wikipedia on what the Grange represents today:
"The Grange provides opportunities for individuals and families to develop to their highest potential in order to build stronger communities and states, as well as a stronger nation."
The Grange is nonpartisan, and only supports policies, never political parties or candidates. Although the Grange was originally founded to serve the interests of farmers, because of the shrinking farm population the Grange has begun to broaden its range to include a wide variety of issues, and anyone is welcome to join the Grange."
So there is a bit of Iowa history that still lives on in the countryside. As for d.p. and I, we were about to become history! The wind increased in intensity and gustiness to the point where it was getting pretty rediculous. In fact, going down the steep grades at 35-40mph was getting positively hairball! Gusts of wind would knock you sideways a few inches and the ability to keep the bike upright and calm on loose gravel at those speeds was calling out every bit of skill and courage I had. The last two descents befor hitting Highway 6 for the three mile paved run in to town were about all I could handle.
Not only were the descents increasingly dangerous, but the wind was blowing gravel dust down the roads like snow, and going into the wind was about a 5-8mph, all you could manage affair. To say we were wishing for it to all end was an understatement. But that said, it was a great day out, and we were riding bicycles.
Afterwards we repaired to a local eatery and kicked down some well deserved burgers and 1554's. I had almost reached a point where riding again sounded good after that meal. Almost!
The bike is ready, the legs have been tested. I will do some small maintenance on the bike and just ride normally for the next week. Then I'll start kicking it down a notch in preparation for the DK 200. I'll tell ya one thing though, if it gets as crazy windy as it was here in Iowa, I'm turning around, heading back to Emporia, and drinking a beer. That kind of wind is just too much in terms of safety and fun.