We decided to do things a little differently on “RAGBRAI week”. There are lots of trails, bike shops and breweries in Iowa that we have never been to, so we took this week to do a little BIKEIOWA Road Trip.
We also wanted to hit some less-known trails and destinations around Iowa.
We packed up the RV, loaded up the touring bikes and Fat bike and headed out for the week. We had identified some points of interest and had a general direction where we were going, but nothing was set in stone.
As it stands, we stopped at 14 bike shops, 16 trails and 9 new breweries/bars. We met a lot of new people and saw lots of new sites.
Did we miss RAGBRAI? You bet we did, but this trip was something different and a different kind of fun. It shows there is PLENTY to do in Iowa on your bicycle close to home.
2014 BIKEIOWA Road Trip Stops
- Raccoon River Valley Trail
- Sauk Rail Trail - Breda, Carnarvon, Carroll, Lake View, Maple River
- The Three Rivers Trail - Rolfe, Bradgate, Rutland, Humboldt, Dakota City, Thor and Eagle Grove
- Big Woods Lake Trail – Cedar Falls
- Cedar Valley Nature Trail – Cedar Falls
- George Wyth State Park – Cedar Falls
- Cedar Valley Lakes Trail – Cedar Falls
- Lone Tree Road Trail – Cedar Falls
- South Riverside Trail – Cedar Falls
- Cedar Prairie Trail – Cedar Falls
- Greenhill Trail – Cedar Falls
- Kewash Nature Trail - Washington,West Chester,Keota
- Fairfield Loop Trail – Fairfield
- The Ottumwa Levee Trail - Ottumwa
- Cinder Path Trail – Chariton
- Volksweg Trail – Lake Red Rock - Pella
Shops with (*) have BIKEIOWA swag – stop in and get some!
The Cedar Falls Visitor Center also has swag (*)
- Bike Tech – Cedar Falls (*)
- Europa Cycle –Cedar Falls (*)
- Northtowne Cycling – Cedar Rapids (*)
- Hall Bicycle Company – Cedar Rapids (*)
- Broken Spoke - Iowa City (*)
- World of Bikes - Iowa City (*)
- Geoff’s Bike & Ski - Iowa City (*)
- 30th Century Bicycle - Iowa City (*)
- AJs Bicycle Shop - Fairfield (*)
- Riverside Cyclery - Ottumwa
- Connecticut Yankee Pedaler – Chariton (*)
- Iowa Bike & Fitness – Pella (*)
- MoJo Cycling - Newton (*)
- Rasmussen Bike Shop – Altoona (*)
Breweries / Bars
- Single Speed Brewing Company – Cedar Falls
- Mulligan’s Brick Oven Grill – Cedar Falls
- Volks Haus – Waterloo
- La Calle Latin American Bistro - Cedar Falls
- Albia Brewing Company – Albia
- Brick Street Pub & Eatery – Albia
- Peace Tree Brewing Company – Knoxville
- Brewhouse No. 25 - Altoona
- Founder’s Irish Pub – Bondurant
We took a bunch of Road Trip photos. Anything from trails to breweries to store fronts to food, bikes and friends. There are almost 200 photos. click through the gallery below, or you can view the entire gallery here
This gallery starts with Day 4.
Fri & Sat - July 18 & 19th RAGBRAI spiritRead Review
Tue - July 22nd - Day 1
Wed July 23rd - Day 2 Read Review
Thu July 24th - Day 3Read Review
Fri July 25th -
At 2 am the rain came. More rain and even more rain. Over 4 inches of rain fell in 10 hours. Standing water was everywhere. At 9:30am we called it and said the 16 mile Fairfield Loop would have to wait for another day.
We got to-go food from Arandas so we had breakfast in the RV before leaving the campgrounds.
Before leaving town we stopped at AJs Bicycle Shop on North Court Street in Fairfield. It will still pouring rain and that rain jacket packed in my panniers finally came in handy. This was the first bicycle shop that I had to explain what BIKEIOWA.com was. We chatted for a while about the loop trail and how it connects to Jefferson County Park.
Off to Ottumwa, home of Riverside Cyclery on E Main, Amtrak and the Ottumwa Levee Trail. Riverside Cyclery was closed, the Amtrak station was not as cool as I was hoping and the Ottumwa Levee Trail had “closed” signs on it… plus it was still raining. We did not get a chance to drop off any BIKEKIOWA swag at Riverside, but took some trail photos.
Our next stop was the Albia Brewing Company. We had called Bus Driver Bill who drives for the Barflys. We knew they go home Wednesday night and he was going to meet us in Albia at the Albia Brewing Company at 1pm for lunch. UN-Lucky us… the brewery did not open up until 5pm on Fridays… argh! Bill knew a good place around the corner called Brick Street Pub & Eatery on A Ave. a couple of blocks from the downtown square. I had the jalapeno cheeseburger and we caught up with the BAREFLY RAGBRAI Debauchery with Bill. We’d definitely stop in again if we were in town. We’ll still stop another time to check out the brewery.
We drove from Albia to Chariton to see Connecticut Yankee Pedaler (CYP). CYP resides in an old movie theater in downtown Chariton. I had known the shop was large from photos, but was still surprised at the massive amount of space this shop has. Their specialty is recumbent trikes. Dave Hendricks owns the place, Josh, Dave’s son introduced himself. We had met briefly at the Iowa Bike Expo in Des Moines last January. CYP is an officla RAGBRAI bike shop, so Dave was onroute and this was the first RAGBRAI Josh had not worked in 8 years. Josh took some time to show us the different brands and models of trikes they carry. TerraTrike, HP Velotechnik ,ICE ,Catrike ,Worksman Cycles ,Trident Trikes ,Trailmate ,Sun ,KMX Carts and Greenspeed are just some of the trikes they carry. I am not aware of any other shop in the Midwest who has more trikes in stock.
Then Josh proposes the question “Would ya like to take one out for a spin?” Hell Yeah, I replied. He set me up with a full suspension HP Velotechnik Scorpion and Julie up with and ICS Sprint 26. Both had adjustable booms and chain tensioners so we were ready to go in a couple of minutes.
Josh told us to have fun and if we wanted to test out the full suspension that there was a cobble street a few blocks away.
If you’ve never ridden trike, you are in for a treat. The low center of gravity, cock pit feel and super-quick steering brings on a smile in seconds as you careen down the road! A real go-cart feel!
Of course we headed for the cobble road to see how well the full suspension handled. I was impressed with the dampening. It was very comfortable over the cobbles and the nearby railroad tracks and it accelerated and tracked nicely as well. Julie was right behind me giggling all the way.
We rode maybe a ½ mile and switched trikes. The Sprint had no suspension and felt much more nimble. The seat was more conformant too. A few more blocks and alas, our ride was over. We cruised onto the sidewalk and right into the shop. We were still smiling as we said thanks to Josh.
Josh said the Cinder Path Trail was right down the road a couple of miles. The Cinder Path Trail is 14 miles long and goes from Chariton to Derby, to Humeston. We decided to go check it out. When we got to the trailhead there was a sign stating the trail was closed in 2.5 miles. With leaving Fairfield so late, we did not afford the time to ride the entire trail, so we walked it a bit and took some photos. By the looks of things, it is a low-maintenance trail that is best suited for bicycles with thicker tires.
Our next stop - Peace Tree Brewing Company in Knoxville. We had drank their beer plenty of times, but had never been to the brewery. We did not even make it there the last time RAGBRAI came through.
We walked in a bit early for the Friday crowd and got a spot front and center at the bar. I tried the Rye Porter and Julie the Sidekick Kolsch-style. Both beers tasted great and the brewery had a great atmosphere. It was not long before I had twittered a photo of my beer with the bar in the background, and minutes later @PeaceTreeBrew favorited my post.
We knew Dan McKay was part owner of Peace Tree and was still on RAGBRAI. I had saw Scott, Dan’s Son in law across the bar, but he was working. The food truck out by the patio was now open. It was called Magnolias Kitchen & Grocery which were a sidekick of Flying Mango in Des Moines. The offered 2 brisket sliders topped with coleslaw on pretzel buns for $8. I was not even hungry, but it sounded so good. And… it was… I paired it up with a Red Rambler and Julie had another Sidekick. We grabbed some hot sauce called “Pain 100%” Hot Sauce from Original Juan from Kansas City. Now I LOVE hot and spicy food… This habanero based hot sauce kicked me in the mouth. After two dippings, I was tearing heavily in both eyes, sweat was running down by forehead and my back and my tongue was numb. Wow! I had to suck on lemon slices to get control of myself. I had been beaten severely by “Pain 100%”. I pushed the rest of that demon hot sauce across the bar and out of reach from anymore damage it could unleash on my mouth. My Red Rambler was used as a fire extinguisher, so I order up another and finished my sliders and slaw.
About this time Megan McKay walked in and said hello. We told her it was out first time there. She was their social media guru and has saw my post. They were getting ready for a band to start outside on the patio. We debated on town camping that night, but decided to roll to our next destination.
Only a 35 minute drive from Knoxville is Lake Red Rock. The 13 mile Volksweg Trail connects Pella with Lake Red Rock. We chose the Wallashuck campground area since it was close to the trail. The campgrounds were fuller than our previous night’s stays due to it being a Friday, but we still got a nice remote spot just shy of dark thirty.
I wish I would have gotten to ride the Fairlfield Trail Loop and the Cinder Path, but time and weather did not work out. I definitely got a good feel for both trails and their surrounding communities. We should have checked out the Amtrak station in more detail too. I guess not riding those trails let us spend more time with Bill and Connie in Albia and Peace Tree Brewing Company in Knoxville. Another busy, but great day of exploring…
PROs -Definitely worth the trip to both Fairfield and Knoxville. We could have easily spent a day in each community checking out the trails, businesses and sites. If you are in the market for a recumbent trike, you should check out see Connecticut Yankee Pedaler in Chariton.
CONs -Albia Brewing Company does not open until 5pm on Fridays. Boo…
Sat –July 26th – Day 5
Road Trip Complete
Well – There you have it. The 2014 BIKEIOWA Road Trip is in the books! 14 bike trails, 16 Bike Shops and 9 breweries/
bars in 5 days. Was it long enough? Heck
No! We made a good dent, but there are still plenty of places on our list that
we did not get to, but will on the next road trip!
Where do YOU BIKE IOWA?