Friday, July 31, 2009

49 Miles on the Single Speed Schwinn Le Tour II. She's a Keeper.

I took Friday off work to burn some vacation, and to enjoy the excellent, mild summer weather. I also wanted to give the newly converted single speed Schwinn Le Tour II a good spin. I'd been wanting to see if a ride to Hitchcock Nature Area, north of Crescent, Iowa, would be a good ride for bike camping.

I selected a route and headed off this morning, stopping by Blue Planet for breakfast. The route took me over the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, along Iowa's riverfront trail, then through Big Lake Park. Then I went north to get on Old Lincoln Highway.

Here it got scary! I wasn't expecting there to be little to no shoulder, and fairly narrow, fast moving traffic. I showed no shame in a couple of instances by ducking off the road where I could hear/feel a lumbering 18-wheeler coming up behind.

Finally I went through Crescent and found that the road I wanted to take to Hitchcock was gravel. I wasn't prepared to ride loose gravel. Just for fun, I tweeted my predicament when Bryan responded. I then messaged him with my phone number asking him to call me. Bryan phoned me, and using online maps, and his knowledge of local roads, he suggest a longer, but safer route back to Council Bluffs. This route was a little hilly in places, but proved to be a very fun ride with some nice views. Bryan says dead customers don't bring in much money to the bike shop, so it was all about profit margins. :)

I had some trouble with my headset getting loose. I overhauled it last night and I'm not sure if everything is tightened down right.

Six and a half hours, including stops for tools at the hardware store, munchies, water, breakfast, lunch, and photographs. 49 miles, and lots of fun on the single speed.


I'm going to try showing the photos in a Picasa web slide show, rather than uploading right to the blog. You can link on to the Picasa album here.

Lessons Learned
  • Research roads more. Talk with other cyclists to get recommendations.
  • When trekking in the Great Plains, maybe consider a geared bike, with gravel tires.
  • There's no shame in walking. I did in a couple of spots.
  • Bring a camera when trekking. Camera phone in good, but higher quality camera is good to have.
  • Take a day off from work to go for a nice ride during these top-ten weather days.


erik said...

hitchcock's inaccessibility always bothered me, old lincoln highway is a good place for vehicular homicide and little else.

Here's my secret route though, come at hitchcock from the west. It works. There's a gate on that side, and you'll need to ride some gravel from a connecting road to get there, but it's very easy. Look at google maps, and look at a hitchcock trail map. You'll see the entry point, and then the nearest roads (I only know the way by sight, I road in one way and out the other). WALK YOUR BICYCLE ON THE SINGLE TRACK THERE, HOWEVER. No bicycles allowed on trails. Some of fireroads however (as far as they go around Omaha) make for some decent sites.

You don't need or want knobbies just for riding gravel once and awhile (you'll lose speed for the commute). Seriously, get some 33mm jack browns (or pasela tourguards, if you want to save some cash--you can often find them online in places as low as 20 dollars/tire and they're wonderful and just as good). 35-38mm isn't overkill, even for a single speed (especially if you want to go camping). You have plenty of clearance with those brakes, which are designed for large tires like that.


Scott Redd said...

Hi Erik:

I remember that west entrance. I discovered it once while inside the park when out there geocaching. I just couldn't remember enough to find it on the map. I couldn't see any roads on the map, either.

How do you approach the area without using Old Lincoln Highway? Is there a way to hug the riverfront once on the Iowa side? Is there a way other than I-680 to cross the river north of Omaha?

My cross bike has 32m tires with light tread. It also has rack mounts on the rear and on the fork, so it could be a handy camping bike. I've ridden it on Nebraska gravel and it performed pretty well.

Please tell me some other good spots for S24HO bike camping trips.

Steve said...

I thought I saw you riding around on that red bike yesterday. Good call on skipping work.

Scott Redd said...

Yikes, a motorcyclist died yesterday just a little bit north of where I turned back on Old Lincoln Highway.

Other reports say it was a single-vehicle accident, but it's still kind of freaky to have just been there and have been concerned about safety and the read this.