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 3.
Fri & Sat - July 18 & 19th RAGBRAI spiritRead Review
Tue - July 22nd - Day 1
Wed July 23rd - Day 2 Read Review
Thu July 24th - Day 3
We left George Wyth State Park bound for Cedar Rapids.
Every Thursday at work the guys in my office hit Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. Guess where we ate lunch when we got into Cedar Rapids? Yep… I broke my own rule of not eating at chain restaurants for the week, but me love Wings...
Our first “official” stop - Northtowne Cycling. Northtowne is one of 4 Bicycle Friendly businesses in Iowa that have a Silver designation. Northtowne is a 4th generation family owned and operated business that has served the Cedar Rapids community for over 80 years. We met most of the staff (Barry, Don, Bill, Dan and Derek) and had some advocacy discussions with Derek. Derek was responsible for their Bicycle-friendly Business designation and was very in-tune with the cycling scene. We found out that Cedar Rapids adopted a bicycle master plan last year and the local MPO hired a full-time staff person (Brandon Whyte – a multimodal transportation planner) to work on bike and pedestrian facilities and amenities for the corridor around Cedar Rapids including Linn County, Marion, Hiawatha, Robins, Ely, and Fairfax. It was very cool to hear about the progression. Derek informed us of a bike corral that was just installed that morning downtown. We dropped off a bag of BIKEIOWA swag and headed out with two Northtowne and LAMBA water bottles.
Our second stop – We stopped by Hall Bicycle Company which was a couple of blocks away from the new bike corral. Hall has been serving cyclists since 1898! Wow! There is a great history lesson here. We met Karl (the owner), Kyle (Karl’s son) Seth, Andy, Steve, Scout and Sadie. They just had a last minute tandem dropped off that needed a rush tune-up cause the couple was going on RAGBRAI the next day. Good ol’ biker and their procrastination… Otherwise they were chugging away like any normal day. More BIKEIOWA swag delivered.
Just 2 hours before we got into town, the City of Cedar Rapids installed the 1stbike corral and we believe the second corral in the state. The corral sets between two businesses – Zins and Lost Cuban on 2ndAve east and will hold 8 bikes. Both businesses have outdoor patios that consume what was once a single parking spot. The bike corral fills the middle of both their patios. A perfect fit! On our way to see the corral, we also noticed the green bike stopping zone on 3rdSt SE. We love seeing bicycle amenities in Iowa.
Our next destination – Iowa City. We wanted to stop by four bike shops that we had never been to. Broken Spoke, World of Bikes, Geoff’s Bike & Ski , 30th Century Bicycle. All the shops are on the University of Iowa campus and within a half mile radius of each other. As expected, there were bicycles all over the area.
Broken Spoke - Pete greeted us at the door and was excited that we stopped by with some swag. We spoke briefly about the BIKEIOWA calendar and how they folks to BIKEIOWA for rides, news and Iowa cycling info.
World of Bikes – Owner and fellow gravel lover, Ryan Baker, was in Utah, so we introduced ourselves to the staff on hand, and handed some swag over and let them get back to the line of customers in the store.
Geoff’s Bike & Ski – We know Geoff and most of his staff from cyclocross and gravel races. We were greeted by Bran Abbott who called out to Geoff who was in office making his 2015 order for Specialized bicycles. Geoff was leaving on an Alaska motorcycle trip the next day and was trying to get last minute items wrapped up. The shop was busy, so small-talk was brief. We hand over some swag and Geoff said he’d take the BIKEIOWA coozie with his to Alaska.
Our final Iowa City stop was 30th Century Bicycle owned by Steve Goetzelman and Cody Gieselman which is a simple utilitarian shop which pushes the mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” We chatted briefly about the shop and Tom Teesdale’s death and left cause we were taking up about 6 parking spaces at a nearby plumbing shop.
We debated on the next stop… Either head over to Dubuque and Bettendorf, Muscatine or Fairfield. There were a few shops and breweries we’d never been too in the Dubuque area, but wanted to get home on Saturday, so we chose Fairfield. There was a trail loop around Fairfield, plus we bagged off-route a few years ago and like the eclectic nature of that town. The far East side of the state will have to wait until another day.
Washington, West Chester, Keota
On the way to Fairfield, we stopped at the Kewash Nature Trail, a 13 mile crushed limestone trail that starts in Washington, goes through West Chester and ends in Keota. For the essence of time, Julie dropped me off in Washington with the Fat bike and drove to Keota. The trail reminded me of the Wabash Trail on the West side of Iowa where there is grass growing in the middle of the trail which gives it a single-track feel. The rail-trail was mostly tree covered and felt like it was downhill to West Chester. After West Chester it felt flat and slightly uphill in a few spots. There were more open areas and gravel crossings from West Chester to Keota. Bunnies were abundant on the trail. Pretty much every couple hundred yards, I saw at least one rabbit. Other wildlife was killdeers which are birds that act like they are injured in order to protect their nests.
Other trail highlights were Willow Pond and the Crooked Creek Bridge. There are mileage signs that start at mile 1 from Washington. The signage is part of a Healthy Initiative made possible by fund from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (IDPH).
The city of Washington has plenty of Amenities (food & lodging). All I saw in West Chester was a Coop, a mechanics place, a few houses and a pop machine. Keota has a nice main street with a bar and there is at least one convenience store.
The Fat bike was a fun choice, as would be a cross bike or hybrid. Road bikes would be Ok, but some of the crossings are pretty rough and there are some thicker gravel spots too. All in all, the trail is flat with the exception of two very small climbs; one right out of Washington and the other right before West Chester.
Onward To Fairfield….
We found the Jefferson County Park online. It was less than 4 miles outside of Fairfield. They had restrooms, showers and electric hookups for $15 per night. There are 25 spots and only 5 spots were taken before we got there, so it felt pretty remote where we parked. We planned to park and ride back into town for food and drink, but did not see where the campgrounds were connected to the trail around Fairfield and the road to Fairfield was hilly, curvy and not very wide. I wanted to ride, but it was getting dark and we decided to drive back into town for food. We’d explore the surroundings in the daylight the next morning.
We knew Fairfield was rich with restaurants; Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Sushi, BBQ and the normal fast food places. We chose Mexican and found two on Yelp. The one we chose and drove to looked like it recently burned down, so we chose Arandas. Once inside we had a déjà vu moment. It was the SAME Mexican place we stopped at a few years ago on our off-route. They had expanded with an outdoor patio and more windows. The service and food was good, but not great. Their hot sauce was pretty tasty though.
As we ate, the folks walking by the Mexican restaurant were as eclectic as the food places in town. There was a cowboy, dude with a Mohawk, chick with dreads, a few hippies, plenty of hipsters , and Maharishi students, and even a few normal looking folks – go figure! Fairfield is home to the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment and Indian Hills Community College. We WERE impressed with the number of bicycles and pedestrians all over town.
This was one busy day! We could have easily split it into two days so we’d get more trail riding in, but unfortunately we only had one day.
PROs -Cool to stop into all the bike shops, see the new bike corral and ride the Kewash Nature Trail.
CONs -I wish we could have spent more time in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City riding the local trails. Know your surroundings. If we would have known the trail connected to the campgrounds, we could have rode to Fairfield that night.
Fri July 25th- Day 4Read Review
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?