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Back before the kids came along, Laura and I would go on LONG bicycle rides, frequently riding 30 to 50 miles (~48 to 80.5 Km) at a time. Once the kids came along, coupled with demanding work schedules, bicycle rides became something we only did every once in a while. Oftentimes, there were long gaps between bicycle rides.

But now that the kids are older, and since I've started cutting back on the hours that I work, those opportunities for bicycle rides are (happily and thankfully) coming along more frequently now. We like to ride on the multi-use trails, particularly those in Iowa. We are drawn to the trails in Iowa. They are old, converted rail lines, which means going through countryside in areas many don't get to see if you stick to the roads.

Riding on the Raccoon River Valley Trail, in Adel, Iowa.

Specifically, our favorite trail is the High Trestle Trail, which goes 25 miles from Woodward, IA to Arkeny, IA. It's just north and west of Des Moines, and the entire trail is paved in either concrete or asphalt. We load the bicycles into the truck and make the three hour drive to the trailhead in Woodward, IA. In fact, it's a popular destination with the kids. They LOVE that bike ride. When we tried to check out a different Iowa trail (the Raccoon River Valley Trail) in Adel, IA, both of the kids let us know how much they "miss the bridge."

The namesake attraction on the High Trestle Trail is ... of course ... the "high trestle." From where we get on the trail in Woodward, the trestle bridge is 2.6 miles (4.2 Km) east. The bridge is one-half mile (~0.8 Km) long and 13 stories high, going over the Des Moines River. The vistas from the bridge are spectacular. You can see for miles all around.

Ryan has been able to ride without training wheels for over three years now. Lexi just learned to ride without training wheels. After some extended time of not being ridden for a while, we had some minor tune ups to do to our bicycles. My road bike, a Raleigh Revenio 2 that I purchased in 2012 (and pictured above), fared the worst. The shifter cables that came on the bicycle from the factory were coated in a plastic that is derived from vegetable oil. That probably would have been alright, if I had somewhere to store my bikes, like in a garage. But, since I don't have a garage, my bikes are locked up on my covered front porch. It keeps most of the weather off of them, but doesn't keep the critters away. And, as you would know it, the squirrels found my bike's shifter cables ... and thought they were a buffet. They gnawed on the cables, hastening the deterioration of the shifter cable plastic coating. Plus, their sharp little teeth caused the metal cable inside of the cable housing to start to fray. Yep. They bit right through some of the metal strands that make up the cable.

So, I had to take my bike to one of my favorite local bike shops to have the shifters recabled. I typically do the vast majority of my own bike repairs, but the shifters on my road bike are nothing like the shifters on road bikes from 50 years ago (I have a "classic" road bike that I've rebuilt, a 1973 Nishiki). The shifters on the Raleigh are built into the brake levers, and I had no idea of the finer points of how to adjust them. So, I figured it was a task best left to those who deal with them all of the time.

While there on a subsequent visit to buy new handlebar tape, we happened to mention that we were trying to get Lexi to ride her bike without training wheels. We had already removed one of the training wheels. The bike shop guy, who I've known for quite a while, gave us a tip on how to get rid of the training wheels quickly. Take off the training wheels AND the pedals. It effectively turns the bike into a strider bike, forcing them to focus on mastering the balance part of riding a bike. Then, once the balance is mastered, put the pedals back on. He assured us it would take less than a week.

He wasn't kidding. When I got back home, I took the pedals off of the smaller bike. Within two days, she had the balance part of riding a bike mastered. On day three, dad put the pedals back on the bike. She took off on it, pedaling away as if she had ridden a bike for all of her life.

Of course, when we go on bike rides, we don't do the 30 to 50 mile distances we used to ride. The longest the kids have ridden is 11.5 miles (18.5 Km) ... and that was while Lexi was still using training wheels. I'd say that's pretty good, especially for an eight and five year old! We usually ride around eight miles (12.9 Km) when we go on bike rides, depending on how hot it is. The hotter it is, the shorter our rides tend to be.

Still, it feels great to be back out there riding the bikes again, and even better to be able to share it with my kids. It's a fun activity that our whole family enjoys!


This month's cover by Meemaw commemorates International Literacy Day on September 8, 2021.


Until next month, I bid you peace, happiness, serenity, prosperity ... and good health. Please, stay safe ... and get vaccinated!

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