This Friday, my wife had to run an errand to Des Moines. The weather was beautiful so I took the afternoon off at work. I was surprised when she suggested that we bring our bikes. I have been trying to get her to ride since we were in high school (A long time ago in a galaxy far away …) So I was pleased that bringing the bikes was her suggestion!
She wanted to ride the High Trestle Trail again but I suggested that we ride the Neal Smith Trail in Johnston up to Saylorville Lake. We used to live in the area and i had ridden the trail many times in the ’80s. I think I read that it is the lodes paved trail in central Iowa.
We started heading up the trail towards the dam. The trail is largely wooded and the leaves were just beginning to change. The day was windy but we were largely protected in the trees. Along the way we ran into two obstacles, one that I expected and one that I did not.
The first (expected) was the hill leading up to the top of the dam. Jan is still not comfortable climbing so she walked a portion of the hill. I am still to big to really climb so I rode up the hill, albeit slowly. I remember the last time I rode it (about 25 years ago) I took the hill standing up on my racing bike. This time I took it sitting down in my 24×24 bailout gear 🙂 When we got to the top we rode across the dam into the wind. It was a beautiful day and we watched the sailboats playing on the lake as the hawks and gulls road the strong winds over the dam. In the picture above, our bikes are actually about 100 feet above the water on the top of the dam.
The other obstacle we encountered was walnuts. If you have seen walnuts in their natural form you know that they are just about the size of a baseball. They also blend in with the fallen leaves along the trail. Hitting one on a bike is a rude awakening. My wife’s bike has skinny racing tires (23mm 120psi) next season I plan to put her on some 28mm tires for stability. As a novice cyclist it was difficult for her to navigate the leaf covered sections of trail, especially going downhill. I had to coach her and remind her to grip the bars loosely in case she hit a walnut with her front tire. While she found it a little scary, she surprised me, she is becoming a better bike handler each time we go out.
We rode until just about dusk and explored the cottonwood area south of the dam. The weather was in the upper 60’s and we had a great day on the bikes.