Banner Bunny Ride followed by Garden Prep...

The beautiful weather on Saturday morning had Summerset State Park full of fishermen, cyclists, walkers, and mountain bikers.  I rolled in to the park right at 9 AM following closely behind the tail end of Al Boone's pickup.  In the Summerset State Park front entry parking lot just off of Highway 65/69, there were about a half a dozen guys getting their mountain bikes unloaded off of the car racks and getting ready to hit the trails.  Great to see everyone grabbing some dirt after the long winter!!!

Al and I rolled our trucks on back to the east side dirt parking lot where we traditionally do the post ride bacon, eggs, pancakes, etc... cooking and drinking.

The DNR recently added rock to the shoreline.  They also added some gravel chips on top of the dirt parking lot next to the new shoreline, and placed one picnic table on top of the gravel this Spring.  They built some nice platform/overlooks for fishing and the park is taking good shape this year with these minor changes.  This is a park that is getting a lot of public use due to the location.  So we put a few of our items on the table to reserve it before heading out on the ride.


I wanted to mention the excellent work that Bob Matthews and Jeff did on Friday (they put in about a 12 hour shift) painting bikes in the bike lane every 100 feet using a stencil Bob had hand made from a picture.


Bob purchased all of the supplies to do this himself as the DNR probably does not have the funds or the manpower to do this, but gave him permission to do this.  The flooding over the past couple of years had washed away all the original stencil paintings of bikes.  This created an unsafe situation where park users no longer had any idea where to drive or where to ride making it unsafe for cylists and motorists alike.  Bob to the rescue - BIG TIME!!!  Thank him when you see him and consider making a donation to help cover the costs.  He spent about a hundred or so he said on the supplies, so I am going to donate at least $20 if not more to the cause.

These new stencils will inform park users who should be in what lane and remove a lot of confusion...


Considering the mountain biking trails use the pavement to connect from section to section, it is nice to have the stencils on the road again so cars will keep in their lane and not play chicken with us.

Back to the Saturday Bunny Ride...

Al Boone, Garrett Byers, and myself headed off for hot lap #1.  On tap for me - training wise - was a 2 1/2 hour tech skills development day, so I was glad to be riding with Al as there is no slow riding with him.  He likes to scramble from the get go and takes everything at speed which is just what I needed.  The handlebars are 40cm narrower on my RIP 9 than the ones I use on my JET 9, but the HT angle is very close to the same with only about a 1/2 a degree difference.  Still, these are two different handling bikes and I have to fight not to lean in so much on the RIP.  That's actually good as it forces me to turn with proper technique.

We got separated before heading into NewEd Beach, and I finished the first lap just behind the group that took off from the main parking lot.  I dropped my jacket off at the car, and went back to hook up with Al and Garrett again.  I saw quite a few out on their mountain bikes, but didn't recognize anyone.

Lap 2 was a bit faster with Al and I trading off who was leading.  We worked a bit on the bunny hopping technique of logs as Al wanted to know how I hopped over them.  I told him how to preload his full suspension bike and jump/fly over the logs at speed.  I'm sure he'll master it once he is not afraid to come at a log at full speed.  We also wanted to try a couple of new lines on some corners.  One in particular is going to be very beneficial for a faster corner after taking a different line all these years that is much slower and sucks your flow.  So, I was happy working on these tech skills and trying a few new things (like really pumping the sections that could be pumped) which were all making this lap very useful.

The dirt that was so baked in and fast on Thursday was now getting rather loose and making me wish I had a front tire with larger knobs.  I almost biffed it once when I let the RIP go way too fast on a tricky little descent.  It was one of those moments where your mind starts looking for a crash, but the body takes over and saves you from crashing.  I run the 2.3 Renegades front and rear which are plenty fast and if treated well, offer plenty of grip.  However, I'm not sure if this year turns into a drought year that they will be the best choice for Banner's loose and dry...


The Ikon 2.35 may be the better ticket up front on the RIP for more aggressive, yet still XC worthy singletrack bashing...


If rain dosn't come that much this year and things remain loose and dry, I have the Nobby Nics waiting for deployment.  I would probably start with my Ikon 2.35 up front with a Renegade in the rear to see if that is enough.  If not, well some more knobs on the rear would be the next step.

We finished the lap and rolled back to bacon camp to begin the cooking and drinking festivities.  We saw even more out on their mountain bikes hitting the trails at this point as it was nearly 11 AM.

The dirt parking lot had a few of us congregating for the Bunny Ride...


We had pancake batter, juice, beer, eggs - but no bacon!!!  Bob was bringing the bacon and sausage, but due to his long painting hours the day before had not arrived.  So I had no grease or butter to put in the cast iron skillet.  This meant pancake and egg sandwiches as we had no syrup either.  Bananas, apples, dry pancakes, eggs, and beer were the Bunny Brunch of choice this time around.


After a few beers and plenty of chat, we were visiting about what we were all doing for Easter weekend.  Garrett said he was going to get his mower running and ready for use.  That inspired me to say I was going to go home and put the snowblower in the shed, and maybe rent a tiller for the weekend from the hardware store to till up the garden (which is usually done by now, but the weather has prevented it).  Al said I could borrow his tiller and before you knew it, I was packing up and headimh over to Al's house to pick up his tiller!  Just like that.

I cleaned up the picnic area, packed up and rolled out about 12:15.  Guess who was entering the park just as we were all leaving?  Bob with the bacon and sausage!!!  I stopped and talked to him about the painting and he said he was exhausted from it all. 

I stopped by Al's and loaded up his tiller and headed home.  My son and daughter were just about to leave and go play golf.  I rolled the snowblower to the shed, and then I pushed the tiller to the backyard where our garden plot is.  I came back around to the front of the house and the kids had closed the garage door and left me locked out of the house!!!  I went next door and used my neighbor's phone to call them and of course, nobody answered their phone so I left a message.  I filled the time hooking up the garden hoses, getting a rake and gloves ready for tilling from the shed, and what not.  Finally, they pulled back in the driveway and apologized as they opened the garage door for me.  I changed out of my cycling clothes and into my gardening clothes.

Before the garden can get like this...


You have to till up the garden, and haul in about 1000 pounds of manure, compost, and soil conditioner, and work it all into the ground.  It struck me that the casual conversation out at Banner post-ride had led me to hauling 1000 pounds of bags on a day I really had not planned to do this.  But the weather was perfect to take it on now and get it done.  This inolved loading the 24 bags of poop, compost, and conditioner up in the car, unloading them and carrying them to the backyard, and tossing them over the fence into the garden.  This was quite a workout for my core, upper, and lower body all built into one heave ho session.  I knew my back was going to pay for it.

Here are all of the bags before I ripped them open, dumped their contents and raked them into a nice mix for the final till...


I finished the garden work, cleaned up Al's tiller, and took it back over to his house about 5 PM.  Then I came home, showered, had dinner, and went to Wal-Mart with Tara to get a few things for my leg of lamb that I needed to marinate overnight for our Easter dinner.  I got the marinade paste made and rubbed into the lamb, cleaned up the kitchen and hit the hay where I slept 9 hours!!!

Today will include a myriad of things going on at our house for Easter.  Tara is helping serve dinner at a shelter in Des Moines (actually doing the prep work for the dinner), I will be smoking the lamb this afternoon, memorizing music for the gala concert that is next Saturday, and planting some of the early garden things that one can plant here in Iowa (onions, beans, etc...).   

I'm glad to have Monday off from work to recover...

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