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  • Posted Apr 23, 2006

Whether you're a recreational rider, bicycle tourist, or hard-charging hammerhead, Bicycling Iowa is your guide to low-traffic roads, scenic trails, and wonderful bicycling in the state of Iowa

Biking Iowa takes you on a bicycle exploration of the Hawkeye State, with 50 rides ranging in length from seven to forty-eight miles. You'll discover the surprisingly steep hills of Iowa's northeastern corner and the historic river towns along the Mississippi River; glide over idyllic riverside trails in the Cedar River Valley; watch hawks gliding in an enormous sky over never-ending fields of corn in Central Iowa; delight in the rolling terrain of Southern Iowa; visit the deep blue waters of Iowa's Great Lakes; and test your legs in the rugged Loess Hills of Western Iowa. Each ride includes a map and mile markers, and the ride descriptions point out places of amusement, interest, and historical significance. Whether you're a recreational rider, bicycle tourist, or hard-charging hammerhead, Bicycling Iowa is your guide to low-traffic roads, scenic trails, and wonderful bicycling in the state that hosts RAGBRAI, America's oldest and largest cross-state bicycle ride.
Des Moines Register April 23rd 2006 Article New guide to trails, country roads beckons bicyclists MIKE KILEN REGISTER STAFF WRITER April 23, 2006 Tired of your same old bike trail? It's time to discover new scenery. It's easier now with Bob Morgan's "Biking Iowa: 50 Great Road Trips and Trail Rides" ($19.95), which showcases 50 road and trail rides with maps, instructions and expert narrative. It's the latest from Trails Books of Wisconsin, the publisher responsible for a new collection of Iowa outdoor guidebooks that are easy to follow and filled with useful information. Morgan, 59, of Cedar Falls has been a biking enthusiast since 1995. He was familiar with trails in eastern Iowa, but eagerly tackled the project in summer 2004, in part to explore the rest of the state. He was impressed. Morgan put 2,100 miles on his road bike that summer, and found Iowa biking more varied than he thought. "I was looking for interesting terrain and nice towns to visit. And I like loop rides," he said of choosing rides that combine trails and road rides and range from seven to 50 miles. "Some people like a lot of miles, but I prefer to smell the roses," he said. A segment in the book's appendix combines loop rides to create routes of 100 miles or more. He found the Iowa terrain so varied that there is a geography lesson in the book. He explains how the steep hills of northeast Iowa exist because it avoided glacial flattening, how the Southern Iowa Drift Plain valleys and hollows were formed by melting ice and wind and how the western Iowa Loess Hills rise 200 feet or more from blowing silt to create challenging biking. "Cyclists are more aware of the slopes of the land than most. They can feel it in their legs," Morgan said. "It's nice to know how it got that way." Morgan said he was largely unafraid of car-biker crashes on the rides that use many country roads. He chose roads that had the least traffic, using the Iowa Department of Transportation's "Iowa Transportation Map for Bicyclists" as a guide. "Iowa is perfect for road riding. We have some of the best roads in the country," he said. Iowa drivers have become familiar with watching out for bikers, an outgrowth of biking's popularity in the state that he said was launched by RAGBRAI. Morgan's highlights: • Favorite trail: "You can't beat the Cedar Valley Nature Trail (52 miles from Cedar Falls to Cedar Rapids)," he said "It goes along the Cedar River, there is variety and it's all connected." • Favorite discovery: Morgan likes the relatively unknown trail from Lakeview to Carroll on the Sauk Rail Trail (31.7 miles one way) for a "glimpse of what Iowa was like before it all turned to farms." Wetlands, prairies and wildlife are abundant because it travels through many patches of public land. • Favorite road ride: Not far from Des Moines, Morgan found what he calls a beautiful country road ride, a 36-mile loop from Winterset to St.Charles and Truro and back to Winterset. • History trail: The rails-to-trails movement in Iowa started on Cinder Path traveling southwest out of Chariton. It was developed in the early 1970s and takes riders through forests and wetlands along the Chariton River. • Disappointing: North-central Iowa comes up short, with few rides in the book. "It's flatlands with cornfields to the right and bean fields to the left," he said. • Des Moines area: The trails, he added, were largely "boring" compared to the rest of Iowa, although he called the Clive Greenbelt Trail "a little gem" in an urban setting.

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