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
Fri & Sat - July 18 & 19th RAGBRAI spirit
OK, so we skipped RAGBRAI, but I still got a little "RAGBRAI spirit' in as I took off from Ankeny about 9pm on Friday, rode to Jefferson along the Raccoon River Valley Trail, slept for a few hours, then rode to Carroll, got on the Sauk Rail Trail and met up with some Emus and fellow Barflys in Lake View and rode to Marathon for a little BARmuda Triangle Action. We spent the night there, then the next morning I headed back to Rolfe to get a ride from Julie back to Ankeny so we could begin our road trip. Total mileage fulled loaded was 167 miles.
Tue - July 22nd - Day 1
Wed July 23rd - Day Two
George Wyth has dirt trails too. I brought the fat bike for
just that occasion. I hit a bunch of single track, but not sure I hit it all.
CVAST is working on signage which would help a lot. There was a place under the highway bridge
called “the bowls” that was a blast to ride on a fat bike with lots of sand,
large rocks, broken up concrete and a bowl-like terrain. Viewing this playground from the paved trail,
it looks much larger than it actually was, but it was still a good 45 minutes
of playtime for this guy.
I continued to explore the dirt trails for another hour or
so before venturing back to the campsite to shower up and get on the touring
bike for another paved ride with Julie.
Eatin’ – Latin American Style
We knew that Redgie Blanco, one of the founding members of
CVAST, recently opened a restaurant close to campus called La Calle, a Latin
American Bistro, that specializes in gourmet burgers and hot dogs with a Latin
twist. Check out this Cedar
Valley Business Feature.
His place was about 4 miles from our George Wyth campsite
with over half the distance on paved trail. We pulled up, parked, walked in and
Redgie was there to greet us. I met Redgie when he showed up at one of the Fat
Tire Rides in Des Moines a few years back. Then we’ve kept in contact ever
We got there about 11:30am and it was not long before there
was a line of folks out the door for lunch and picking up to-go orders. He has
an awesome spot on College Street that lends itself to the perfect spot for the
downtown lunch crowd.
We asked Redgie what was good and he made a recommendation
since I liked spicy foods, so I ordered
up a burger which came with sweet potato fries and some sweet coleslaw. Julie had a spicy hotdog with fries and slaw. He
also gave us some extra hot sauce that had a kick to it for dippin’ the fries. Both were super-tasty. Redgie bought the beers (thanks RB!)
After lunch we wanted to venture out more on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and decided to ride to Evansdale which was 20 miles
one-way. We rode trail through Waterloo
which has some great views along the river. We got another 8 miles before the
trail was closed. There was no way to bypass the closure as fences were up and
the trail was torn up. I looked on Google Maps for a detour, but did not see a
good one as there was the river on one side and woods and industrial areas on
the other side. We tried to take one dirt track for a ways but it led us to a
RR track with a train on it.
So – plan B was enacted and we cruised back to Waterloo and found this
little German bar called Volks Haus. We had a couple of beers there with some
tasty salt-n-pepper chips. They had a great Porter from the Broad Street Brewing Company in Reinbeck. There was a local at the bar who was friends with
The Bar-Handlers RAGBRAI Team. Discussions ensued and we had another beer.
We were off to another cycling hot-spot called Mulligan’s Brick Oven Grill. This is a place frequented by the CVAST dirt crew and several
road/trail rides start/end there. I
forgot it was Wednesday and we showed up just as two rides were leaving. Almost
perfect timing, but I wished I would have brought the fat bike to go on the
We saw several familiar faces in both groups. Kat from
cyclocross and talked with Cory, Chad and Dave from CVAST. All of whom are responsible
for the upcoming IMBCS mountain bike race on August 17th.
Both groups took off and we ordered beers and supper. They had that Reinbeck Porter on tap and
Julie had a Blue Moon. I ordered the
Buffalo Chicken pizza and Julie had the Sicilian Hoagie. Both were brick oven
fired and tasted great.
Mulligans sets right along-side the trail and it was cool to
see a constant stream of cyclists rolling by the patio area the whole time we
We left before the group rides got back to explore some more
paved trails before heading back to the campsite.
The “Cedar Valley Trails & Recreation Guide” was very
well laid out and our most important asset for getting around town via trails.
We also used Google’s Bicycle directions too.
As everyone knows… no trail system seems as familiar as your
trail system at home. There were a few times we had to make U-turns and
back-track a bit to get us. I had a few issues with getting the App to update
my position in real-time, and Google bicycle directions were pretty much
spot-on except for a couple of times. It is all part of the fun of exploring
Our advice is to use the “Cedar Valley Trails &
Recreation Guide” to get a lay of the land, and then if you want to, fire up
Google Maps with bicycle directions and let the voice commands guide you.
Did we see all we wanted to see? I think we did. We wanted to explore the
cities from a cyclist’s viewpoint. We rode paved and dirt trails, stayed at a
great camping spot less than 4 miles from downtown Cedar Falls, ate and drank
local fares, and got to talk with some cyclists, bike shops and local
PROs - Outstanding Trails System, George Wyth is a great
place to camp and connects directly to the trails system. Great bicycle-centric
places to eat and drink. Passionate cycling community for on and off-road
riding. Great maps, tons of signage and info kiosks. Easy to spend a whole
weekend riding trails. Bike shops are friendly and close to the action. Finally
got to stop by Single Speed Brewery and La Calle. The Cedar Falls/Waterloo area
is VERY bicycle-friendly
CONs - Some of the trail spurs could use a little more
signage. Closed trails offered no
detours. Finding a grocery store by bicycle close to the trails was difficult.
The MApp app did not show my location in real time.
Thu July 24th- Day 3
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?