Over the years I've been inspired by the ride reports provided here on BF. Last week my 13-year old son and I had a great ride that I thought some of you might enjoy...
The sun had been up a while already when we left -- I'd been up early but let my son sleep in a bit before rousing him at 8:15 to see if he was up for a ride...
It's an easy 6 miles of doodling through Ames, then you pick up the nice wide bike-lane on R38 and keep going straight south towards Slater. The only problem with the bikelane are the drivers that think it's a license to keep rolling 65 mph without giving you more than about 12 inches clearance. Thankfully traffic is pretty light, and my son is good at riding a straight line...
In Slater you've done 16 miles and pick up the High Trestle Trail. Go west to the gorgeous bridge over the Des Moines River, or south (as we did) toward Ankeny. On this morning, we must have passed 60+ riders of all ages coming up from Ankeny (and going a lot faster than us with that 15 - 20 mph wind at their backs rather than in their faces!)
After getting to Ankeny ~ mile 25, you sneak through town on bike-paths next to roads for about 6 miles, before dropping onto the winding and tree-lined Neal Smith Trail that runs from downtown Des Moines up to Saylorville lake, next to the Des Moines river. We head south on the NST, and here's an over-the-shoulder shot of my riding partner as we wind down toward DSM. Probably 36 miles in or so at this point.
My son and I did the first four days of RAGBRAI last year (including two 70+ mile days of 120 F heat index conditions), but his longest ride this season was probably 7 miles until today. He's a lot stronger this year and only did the "how many more miles" a few times when we were within about 10 miles from the end. At this point we're just a mile out from our destination in downtown.
My wife met us on Locust St and we grabbed some food before loading my son's bike on the car. They headed home courtesy of our friends at Internal Combustion, and I pointed the Tailwind north and retraced our steps -- this time with the wicked wind at my back. It was a lot easier (16 mph avg home vs 11 mph on the way, despite there being a reasonable net elevation gain going home -- lots of mile-long segments between Ankeny and Slater at 21 - 22 mph). Other than taking a bit too much sun, the 86 mile day was surprisingly easy -- despite looking a bit goofy, the '01 Tailwind I've been riding since last summer is a brilliant machine to tour on. And while I understand (and partake at times in) the incessant "what is my next BETTER bent conversation?", the truth is that nothing beats just getting out and riding!