Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Under Water

Today I took a bike ride to survey the Missouri River flooding. Parked at the Wabash Trace trailhead. Not sure how far I would be able to ride.

The first think I noticed was that Mosquito Creek is lots higher. Only needs about another foot of water and the trail under the railroad will be under water. The next low spot is just before the trail climbs up onto the levee (just West of the nature trail). Only takes a few more inches and the trail will be under water. That trail section is on the other side of the levee from the river!

Forecasts are for another 5-7 feel ride in the river. At that point, seepage through/under the levee could flood Lake Manawa!

When I got toward the river boat ramp road, there were new barricades with cable/chain across the road. The above photo is what I saw when I got to the levee closest to the river. The parking lot is almost covered in water. Its gonna be a long time before we get out to ride Manawa singletrack.

My next stop was the Western Historic Trails Center. There, I was advised that the water if over the trail past the Center. Higher water than last year. Even the trail bypass is also underwater.

After a granola bar and some water, it was on over to the bike shop. Visited a little and made arrangements for first annual inspection for the road bike. Planning to leave it at the shop while attend Festival of the Trails and Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Missouri Rising

Yesterday, as I took my bike ride, I dropped off the Lake Manawa bicycle trail to check the water level at the mountain bike trails. From water near the trail, I could see that the river was higher. Sure enough, it is. (See photo).

On the news, I heard that the Corp of Engineers will have to release more water from flood control dams because of the fast snow melt in Montana. This is the 3rd year in a row that the singletrack at Manawa has been flooded.

An article in the Omaha World-Herald confirmed what I heard. Basically, we can expect that the river level will continue to rise in the Council Bluffs/Omaha area.

After that disappointing scene at the river, I headed on over to the Western Historic Trails Center. They were having their Thursday "Jam and Bread" so just stopped in to sign the guest register and using the bathroom.

On over to Xtreme Wheels. Visiting a bit and talked about printing note cards. Watch for news about sale of note cards with scenes of the Wabash Trace.

After my ride, it was time to start up the lawn mower and begin harvesting the hay crop that is my lawn. Had to stop to refill gas - and the mower now will not start. Have to find out the problem.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

World's Most Spectacular Pedestrian Bridges

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is one on the World's Most Spectacular Pedestrian Bridges, according to Travel + Leisure Magazine. From my experience with the Big Dam Bridge in Little Rock/N. Little Rock, Arkansas, I knew the "Bob Bridge" would become a destination in the Council Bluffs/Omaha area.

Here's what Travel + Leisure said about the importance of bridges like the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge...

"The most successful fall somewhere between spectacle and conduit because they blaze a path where no one felt the need for one before. The newly built Bob Kerrey Bridge linking Omaha, NE, to Council Bluffs, IA, surely attracts tourists, but it has also changed life for the locals. Footbridges encourage new patterns of development geared toward human-powered pace, especially along the nearby waterfronts."

On top of that, the cover photo of the 2011 Iowa Transportation Map (free road map) is of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Recovery Ride

Yesterday, it was about all I could do was get out of bed in the morning. Just exhausted from the ride on the Trace Sunday. But, weather was sooo nice, had to stretch my legs with a pavement ride.

It was about 11:30 when I parked the car at the Wabash Trace Trailhead. Noticed Dennis' truck parked there. Unloaded the road bike from the car and geared up for my ride.

Light breeze, think it from the West or NW. Temperature was in the mid 70s with bright sunshine. Great riding weather.

Stopped down by the riverside boat ramp area (mountain bike trails). As I expected, the Missouri River is higher - more flooding between the levee and the river. Today's photo was taken at the entrance to the West mountain bike trail.

On over the the Western Historic Trails Center. Visited a little with Dewey. Rode on over to I-80 for a little more mileage. Then over to Xtreme Wheels. Rested a little there. Zack was busy selling bikes so did not much time to visit with him.

On down to the car. Chewed a Shot Block to get ready for the climb over the tracks. Turned out to be a good recovery ride - just short of 20 miles at about 10.5 mph.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bike Ride, Beer, and Buds

The day started as a normal Sunday morning - coffee at Panera Bread with John & Dennis. Dennis said he rode The Trace yesterday - I thought it would have been soft from the rain. With the wind forecast for this afternoon, I suggested we ride The trace Silver City to the West Nishna Bridge. Unfortunately, John has to work and Dennis was not sure he had the legs for that ride.

After coffee, I had to stop at the grocery store for my salad. Rested a little and then prepared for a ride on The Trace. Looking forward to checking out my new cycling computer.

Wind was picking up as I unloaded the bike in Silver City. Just as I was about to head down the trail, Chris and Joe (friends of Zack's) arrived in Silver City, headed to Malvern. Visited a little with them as we started down the trail. They were soon riding too fast for me.

It seemed that I was riding into the wind or at least a cross wind (wind from the SW-WSW). Was looking forward to a tail wind on the way back. Saw them again at the Silver Creek Bridge. Took a couple photos there. The upper photo was taken on Silver Creek Bridge (pushed with Photomatix Light).

Their destination was "Excuses" in Malvern for beer and sloppy joes. When I got to Malvern, I rode on through town and climbed the hill to Marh Road. Wanted to get in my 20 mile ride today.

Back in Malvern stopped at the bar. I did not have my cable lock with me. Chris said that recently a bike was stolen on the street, so he locked my bike with his and Joe's. Grabbed some grub and a couple beers. Saw they had 312 beer - had heard of it. Was offered a taste - its NASTY stuff. Settle for a Boulevard.

Decided to get a photo of the three of us at the bar. Things got a little crazy there, with the photo. (Lower photo - By the way, what was the bartender studying?) After a couple beers and sandwiches, it was time for me to head back up the trail.

As I headed North, it felt like I was again riding into the wind or a cross wind. The wind and the slightly soft trail surface, really gave my legs a work-out. Made my 20 miles, but was exhausted when I got home.

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Cycling Camera

Over the last few months, I have been carrying my new D-SLR camera during bike rides. When not able to carry that camera, I used my point-and-shoot camera (Canon A1100). As I started doing more HDR photography, the A1100 just did not meet my needs.

The only photo format available on the A1100 is JPG. While it does a good job, I wanted a camera that shoots RAW and bracketed exposures. Looking online, there just did not seem to be many cameras that do RAW and bracketed exposures, and those I did see, where way to large to carry in my cycling jersey packet.

Today, it was time to hunt in earnest. Sam's Club - Kodak Z990 - too large. Best Buy (Council Bluffs) - just no decent selection at all. Nebraska Furniture Mart - Voila! The sales clerk (Courtney) showed me the Canon S95.

The camera is actually smaller that my A1100. Perfect for the cycling jersey.

PRO: Photo format is JPG, RAW, or JPG & RAW. Can set shooting mode as "Bracketed" exposures. Bracketing +/- 2EV (corrected from previous version of this post). Video recording is MOV. 3.8x optical zoom (enough for my purpose). SD, SDHC cards.

CON: Li-Ion battery (prefer AA). No optical viewfinder. 10 MPix (would have preferred large count, but sufficient).

Took a couple test photos. Soon found that the CR2 (Canon Raw) format is not the same as the CR2 on the EOS T1i. Once I loaded the software disc, I could process the photos.

Working on software issues. Photoshop Elements 9: Updated version 9.0.3 on the Vista desktop works with the S95. Cannot update Elements on the Windows 7 laptop (keeps saying the server is busy). Without the update, the S95 RAW files are not readable. Wrote inquiry on the Photoshop Elements Forum.

Photomatix Light: I had been using version 1.0. Did not work with the S95. Updating to version 2.0 did the trick.

HDR Photo Pro: While it will load the file, the colors are wrong. Same problem on both computers. Wrote inquiry on the EverImaging Forum.

Hope that the problems can be resolved as I like the camera. Watch for some test photos when the rains are gone and I can ride my bikes again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cedar Rapids Trails

This morning I met a friend for breakfast. From there, dropped off the Fuel EX7 at his Apartment in Iowa City. Drove up to Cedar Rapids, picked up his bike, and headed to the C St. Trailhead.

We rode South from the trailhead on the Cedar River Trail. It was a beautiful day for a bike ride. Another mostly sunny afternoon, temperature about 70. Lots of folks on the trail. Not sure how far the trail was open (maps show "proposed" on the South end). There were a couple places where the trail fooled us. Thought the trail was ending, only to find a sharp turn and the trail continues.

After about 5 miles, we were at Wright Brothers Blvd. The trail still continues, but we decided it was time to head back North. Wanted to check out the trail toward downtown. We found that the South end of the trail is called the Hoover Trail.

Stopped at the car to get another bottle of G2 and the tire pump (forgot to pack that on the ride) Heading north we only got under a mile when the trail was closed. Doing some tree removal along the creek.

Plan B - load the bikes and head downtown CR, picking up the Cedar River Trail there. It a very urban trail. There are detours downtown due to the 2008 floods. Followed the trail and detours to Cedar Lake.

The photo above was of the Cedar River Trail at Cedar Lake. At the lake, we turned back to the car, which was parking in Czech Village. It was time for some food. Found The Red Frog. Had a great burger and fries.

Dropped my friend's bike in Cedar Rapids and headed back to Iowa City. Time to relax after our 17+ mile ride. Logging the ride, I learned that the ride took me over 500 miles for the year.

Sugar Bottom

I was looking for some new trails to ride. This week I got the opportunity to ride in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, Iowa area. For a couple years I have wanted to check out the dirt trails at Sugar Bottom Recreation Area. A trip to Iowa City was planned (pending trails being open).

Print a couple copies of the Sugar Bottom trail map to take with you.

The weather was perfect as I checked into my motel. Dropped the hybrid in the room and changed into my riding kit.

First stop was Sugar Bottom Bikes. The battery in the computer on the Fuel EX7 was dead. Visited with the guys at the bike shop as the battery was changed and set the computer. Gave them one of my THOR cards. They gave me directions to the trails - fair trade.

The mountain bike trails, beach, and disc golf share a parking lot. At the bike wash rack, head down the gravel road. Trails in the 100 series are North (left) side of the road. At the first short hill is the shelter and the Novice Loop (on the right).

I rode that trail to get the feel of the trail. Stopped many times to take photos. Novice Loop is trail #305. Trail 305 is on the South (right) side of the gravel rode. The photo above is on Trail 305 with Coralville Lake in the background.

From there, on up the second hill (had to walk section of that one). At the fire road, turn right.

Here, you will find the 200 and 300 series trails. 200 Trails are on your left from the fire road. 300 trails are on the right. I headed down trail 201. This trail was more difficult than the Novice Loop.

Trail 201 has switchback down to the lake and back up. Some climbs and descents. This trail was just at my riding ability. Some climbs I had to walk. Half way down this trail it is back at the fire road. I decided to head back to the 100s to see that those trails look like. The lower photos was taken on Trail 201.

Back on the gravel road, I found the entrance to Trail 105 - a Blue trail. Trail was 105 was a enjoyable trail, except for the steep drops and climbs. One section that dropped down to a wet spot, I was able to ride. The next section included a very steep decline ending with a turn onto a bridge. then climb back up. That section I walked.

Ended up with a second ride (non-stop) of the Novice Loop. Railed that lap. Felt great! Perfect end to a awesome ride.

I did not check out any of the Black trails. What I road, I would classify Sugar Bottom as a large version of the Swanson trails. Roots, climbs, descents, log crossings, bridges, etc.

If you are looking for a trail system that provides a little of everything - head out for Sugar Bottom. From Sugar Bottom Bikes, head North on Front St. After you cross the bridge, turn right into Sugar Bottom Recreation area. Turn left down towards the beach (if you get to the campground, you went too far). Park at the far section of the lot. Enjoy your ride!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

97 on May 10th!!!

That's right, it was 97 degrees officially in Omaha yesterday. Shattered the previous record. Glad I was able to get out an ride early.

Normal Tuesday morning - blood draw then breakfast. Ham radio/cycling friend rode his bike to breakfast. I had my hardtail with me. We left breakfast early: John - to ride home; me - to ride the Trace.

This was going to be my first ride this year up Dumfries hill. Loaded the Trek 4300 with the D-SLR, 2 bottles of G2, full fill of water in the hydration pack, and my emergency tools.

Glad I had the hydration pack to drink some water regularly. Stopped a couple times to slow down the heart rate and drink some G2. Made it up to Margaritaville in just under an hour.

Stopped to rest. Visited "Steve", another rider. Took a couple photos and started back down the hill. Took a couple other photos on the way down. Even stopped to take a couple shots of some trees/branches that couple use some trimming.

When I got home, it was 89 degrees at 11am! In the afternoon, I had to drive to the post office. The thermometer on the car was reading 98/99. Too hot for May 10th.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Death of Pro Cyclist Wouter Weylandt

One cyclist's thoughts...

It was a tragedy on the Giro d'Italia when pro cyclist Wouter Weylandt crashed on a fast descent about 25km from the finish line. My condolences to his teammates, friends and family. I admit, that I am not an avid road race fan. Yet, as a cyclist, I feel a loss.

On the other hand, we lose cyclist ever day - killed or injured on the roads and trails. It brings me back to first time I saw a "ghost bike" along a trail in Albuquerque, NM. That day's blog post was entitled "RIP David Anderson". I learned that an out-of-control car "flew" off of the Paseo del Norte onto the bicycle path. The driver has crossed 3 lanes of traffic, through/over a barrier and landed up an embankment where the path is.

I have ridden that bicycle trail. When I saw the ghost bike, I wondered how a rider could possibly be killed this far from the highway. I would bet that David Anderson thought he was safe from cars on the bike path.

Wouter Weylandt died on a closed race course. David Anderson was killed on a bicycle/pedestrian path. The Chicago Tribune reported that in 2009 6 cyclist were killed and 165 severely injured in collisions with cars in the city.

Facebook light up with the news of the crash during the Giro. I understand that the "cycling community" is in mourning. I do not mean to diminish the loss. Yet almost every day my facebook news feed includes a notice of the death of a cyclist when crashing with a car.

Lets use the loss of Wouter Weylendt remind us of the other cyclists that have died on their bikes. Wouter Weylandt died as David Anderson died - riding his bike.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spring on The Trace

Sunday, Mother's Day. After coffee at Panera Bread, it was time to prep for a bike ride. While kitting up, the wind from the SE was picking up. Temperature was climbing through the 70s. A good day to ride on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail.

Drove down to Silver City. When I unloaded the bike, it was 79 degrees and the wind was still strengthening. I headed toward Malvern into the wind. Thankfully, the trees have started leafing out, giving some shelter from the wind.

Stopped at the Silver Creek bridge for a break and drink of G2. Sure glad I had my hydration pack on my back. With the sun, wind, and temperature I was consuming lots of water. With the wind. I was surprised with the large number of riders out on the trail.

On down to Malvern. Stopped at the "depot" for a rest, drank more G2, and ate a granola bar. The trail surface was much faster (more solid) than my ride a month ago. Still, it was a slow ride, traveling the 8.5 miles ay 57 minutes.

With a tail wind, I thought I would fly up the trail back to Silver City. Think all the pedaling into the wind sapped some of my legs. Ended up with doing the whole ride of 17.12 miles in 1:45, for 9.78 mph. By the time I reached Silver City, the wind was even stronger and the temperature climbed to 85 deg. Hope it drops down over night for a ride tomorrow.

OH, when I got home from my ride I called my Mom to wish her Happy Mother's Day.

For maintenance folks of that section of the Trace, there is a tree that is about to drop across the trail between 305th St and Hwy 34.

Platte River Battle Royale

Yesterday was a near perfect day for a bicycle ride. Over 150 riders braved the race course at Platte River State Park. Platte River Battle Royale was the 4th race in the Psycowpath Nebraska Lottery mountain bike series. Host for the race was Cycleworks/Moose's Tooth of Lincoln.

This is the 5th year I have been shooting photos of the races. One of my customers commented that I needed to change the photo composition - to get the rides AND bike in the photo. I tried to remember that as I shot photos yesterday.

The other change, the races used a "Le Mans" start of the races. Racers ran from the starting line to their bikes and on into the course.

The photo above is the start of one of the races from yesterday.

All of my photos from the race can be found on my race photo site http://win-photo.photoreflect.com.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tour de Bluffs

Tuesday was blood draw day (to check on my coagulation) and group breakfast. I was itching for another bicycle ride.

Once again I parked the the Wabash Trace trailhead. As I was prepping for my ride, Dennis drove into the parking lot for a bike ride. We visited a little as I finished loading stuff on the bike.

As we started down the trail, Dennis said "see you later" as I would be riding faster than him. When I got to the Indian Creek bridge, I stopped for water and see if Dennis caught up (his goal was riding to the Trials Center). After over 5 minutes, I headed up Indian Creek into the wind,

Stopped by the Trails Center to visit, spending about 20 minutes. No Dennis. At this time, I was was feeling good enough to ride on around town - our "Tour de Bluffs" route.

Under the Harrah's parking lot, I stopped for a couple photos. Wanted to get a photo of the swollen Missouri River and the road bike. The above photo also captures the Omaha skyline.

On up Iowa Riverfront Trail to Big Lake. Stopped there for some G2 and granola bar. From there, down N 8th into town and Xtreme Wheels. Stopped there for a visit and order some ShotBloks.

Down through town and South on Harry Langdon to the trailhead. Good ride. After the ride, went to Sam's Club for some groceries.

Road Bike Ride

After walking the trails Sunday, I was very tired. Had problems getting moving on Monday. After my morning chat, I was back in bed for a nap. Eventually go up and found it was good weather for a bike ride.

Quickly gathered up my kit. Aired up the tires on the Super T (road bike), and headed to the Wabash Trace Trailhead.

As I approached the Mosquito Creek bridge, I noticed new bicycle lanes markings. (See photo).

There was a fairly stiff breeze from the North. With that, I flew down the trail to Lake Manawa. Stopped at the river boat ramp/mountain bike area. Wanted to add the portion of a miles from the ride and check the river level. Took a couple photos of the flooded trails.

Slugged up Indian Creek Trail into the wind. At Veteran's Memorial Trail I turned over toward the Trails Center. Had not been there since surgery. Stopped there to visit with Dewey.

From the Trails Center, back East to Indian Creek and north into town. Stopped by the bike shop. Ordered another Sigma PC3 heart monitor. After a visit with Zach, it was south with the wind to the trailhead and my car.

Clean-up Day 2011

A little backed up on posting. Should have written this a couple days ago. Just been tired from picking up trash and riding bike.

After coffee at Panera Bread last Sunday, I went home for a little and change clothes for the Lake Manawa Clean-up Day. Steve and I (from THOR) attended and lead the clean-up efforts in the mountain bike trail area.

Since I was less than a week out of the hospital, I took it easy. Walked West Sidewinder, picking up trash. By cleaning the 1/2 mile trail, I was tired. Rested at Steve's truck.

The turn-out for the clean-up day was smaller than previous years. There were about 7 of us in the river boat launch/mountain bike trail area. The above photo is of that crew (and 2 that did not stay around for the photo).

After crews returned to the staging area, door prizes were awarded. I won a multi-tool and knife set. Steve won a food certificate (which he gave away - yup, Steve gave away food).