Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ride Report - Loess "Hells"

Temperatures were hovering close to 50 degrees here on Saturday.

Of course, it was time to get out and ride. I wouldn't say some of the bikes in my stable have been neglected, but it has been a while since they've been out for a nice long roll. I pulled the LeTour out of the mix and put it up on the bike stand for a quick once-over.

The brakes, front and rear, were off-center and dragged a bit. During my adjustments, I noticed the front hub was making that hollow grinding growl know, that tasty 'my bearings are bone dry and need grease now' noise. So the front wheel came off and hub came apart. After a good cleaning, greasing, and re-tightening everything was ship-shape. The tires were aired up, chain lubed, and brakes adjusted. We were ready to roll!

It's been a while since I've been able to spend a whole afternoon riding. I took off Saturday morning for Persia, Iowa "gateway to the Loess Hills"...because the sign says so. Plus, I'll throw in a link here for informational purposes

Persia is a typical small Iowa town. I think the population hovers between 300 - 500. This is Main Street, pretty much all of it.

The main highway running past the town is relatively flat. The 12 mile run to Persia was a breeze, in fact, I had a nice tailwind so I probably averaged around 20 mph getting there. The hills come in to play when you veer off the highway to take the scenic route. County Road F58 West takes you on a nice, steep roller coaster ride to Highway L34 South, which then takes you on a nice, steep, roller coaster ride to Beebeetown (not joking!).

I took this picture at the top of one of hills, and it really doesn't do F58 justice because there are several lung-busting climbs here. I'd say in a stretch of approximately 10 miles there are eight nice big hills here, and the last two are extra special.

The 'church' climb, as I call it is a bit devious. It's one of those climbs that starts out deviously shallow, and as you progress gets rapidly steeper with a nice 'vertical' finish. I stopped at the top to take a snapshot of the church...not that I found the church building that interesting but I really needed to catch my breath!

Here's a shot from the top of the hill I just climbed. Again, this picture doesn't do it justice.

The second lung-buster is what I call the 'brick silo' climb. I didn't stop to take any pictures because I was too busy pedaling like crazy in my lowest gear, trying to make it up this thing. I should have taken a picture at the bottom of the hill, but I didn't want to lose any momentum I had...and you need all the momentum you can get.

L34 is a bit more forgiving, but there are some good stiff climbs here too. L34 is the Loess Hills Scenic Byway running through Beebeetown, a wide spot in the road with a few homes and luckily, a saloon. Voorthman's Corral is a nice little bar/restaurant and is a great place to rest and replenish. I managed to get there for the second half of the ISU - Oklahoma men's b-ball game. I stuck around for the finish and although they played well, the Clones couldn't pull off a win. My wife, the Sooner, was quite pleased however.

After a cheeseburger and a couple of malty beverages (remember, beer is a food), I was rested up and ready for the rest of the trip. Back on L34 and heading south...more hills, then Mahogany road east to Underwood. Underwood lies on Highway 191, and that completes the loop. It's a nice flat run through Underwood, Neola, then veer off 191 to Hwy 83 (Tamarack Rd), back to Minden. Total distance: 54 miles.

It was a challenging ride, and I'm feeling it a bit today. With the changing weather I should be spending lots more time on the bike and I'll be riding this route more frequently, especially if I get a spot on the grid at Leadville. I should know something mid-February.


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