Bike Month Activities
May is National Bike Month and two bicycling events will be celebrated locally here in the Dubuque area. Bike to Work Week is May 14-18, 2018 and all are encouraged to get out and commute by bicycle to work, the coffee shop, the grocery store and the farmers’ market – anywhere that fits into your schedule. Has your bicycle been idle? Visit your local bike shop and see how they can get you back up to speed (cookies and brownies are always welcome). Don’t have a bike? The Dubuque Bike Coop is offering free bike checkouts for the week of Bike to Work Week – for more details, please see their Facebook page or website www.dubuquebikecoop.org.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 is National Bike to School Day. To promote safe and fun bicycling among our youth, the Dubuque Bike Coop along with the City of Dubuque will be holding a Bike Rodeo the day before – Tuesday, May 8 at the Bee Branch Trail from 3:30PM to 6:00PM (exact location TBA). Volunteers with the Dubuque Bike Coop will be performing safety checks on bikes and installing front and rear blinky lights. The Dubuque Police Department will have a bike course set up to teach safe and respectful riding techniques. For more information, please contact Rob Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review of 2017 for TMBR Mountain Bike Riders
By Brett Erthum
When the snow settled on Cloie Creek trail this winter, it marked the end of the fall riding season and a big year for the Tri-state Mountain Bike Riders (TMBR).
At the opening of Cloie Creek Trail in June of 2017, 200 supporters turned out to enjoy Dubuque’s first publicly accessible mountain bike trail system. All 3 local bicycle shops were on hand to provide demo bikes. The Bike Coop provided experienced mechanics to tune up any bikes in need. Speeches were made, regional TV media were present, a ribbon was cut, and yes…. people rode the trails until the sun went down that night.
Dispersed throughout the crowd, various members of TMBR smiled and enjoyed the sight. Cloie Creek was the culmination of 18 months of planning. When the City of Asbury offered the land, the fledgling non-profit had bold plans, but little to show for it. Cloie Creek was an opportunity to raise funds and execute the kind of trail plan that mountain bike advocates seek out in other communities. Now, Cloie Creek is a great addition to the community. Perhaps more important to TMBR’s board, it’s a validation of the public/private partnership that they believe can lead to a better tri-state area community.
Last year, the Cloie Creek trails hosted a kids’ race, a mountain bike skills day, and countless social rides. It’s become a favorite “short” loop for runners and hikers in the Asbury area Neighborhood youth are frequently testing their mothers’ nerves on the jumps, banked turns, and creek crossing offered in the park. It’s also spawned a group of lady mountain bike riders who take to the trails regularly for social outings.
When it snowed, the trail continued to see usage from fat-tire bikers and winter walkers. The snow didn’t stop the traffic through the park, and TMBR hasn’t slowed down either.
In April, construction begins on TMBR’s next project. The trails at Interstate Power Preserve (IPP) will open around July 2018 with 6 miles of cross-country singletrack that navigate the steep bluffs and unique rock formations found in the preserve. The primary loop will provide a shorter lap for beginners. Each of the 3 additional loops will provide a unique experience for the rider and offer varying levels of difficulty.
TMBR is immensely grateful to its supporters and to the public land managers that have made the investment in these first two trail systems possible. As the snow settles on the trails at IPP next winter, TMBR will stay committed to its vision of creating destination-worthy public recreational woodland trails in the Tri-State Area.
Follow TMBR for updates on these projects and more at http://www.facebook.com/MOUNTAINBIKERSTMBR/.
City Engineer Jon Dienst visited Tri-State Trail Vision on August 24 to update members on the city trail projects. He reported that the recent citywide input envisioning meetings show street and pedestrian projects ranked high on a recent city survey. Jon Dienst shared the following information on several projects.
- Chavenelle Rd. Hike/Bike Trail will be completed in the spring/summer 2018. The project is currently in design and will be a 10’wide asphalt trail from the NW Arterial to Seippel Road.
- Several ADA ramps, also known as Public Works Pedestrian Access Ramps, were recently installed in the Rhomberg-Windsor-Merz area, funded by the 10-cent gas tax increase. The City had around $300,000 in pedestrian ramps installed over the summer. Some mid-block crossings were completed due to obstacles, like electrical and water mains. The ADA ramps are a Department of Justice requirement to update ramps when doing pavement overlay projects.
- The Alice Street Stairs connecting Grove Terrace to Alice Street was recently completed.
- The Bee Branch Creek Greenway Project is completed and has been well accepted. Several Tri-State Trail Vision members present commented on the beautiful landscaping and layout. Another side project is to connect the trail under the railroad. Two large unused culverts will be converted to bike/pedestrian passages while six 8’ water conveyance culverts will carry the Bee Branch drainage water in a large water event.
- Heritage Trailhead parking on John Deere Road and Hwy 52 is now open and is being used. This was built with a combination of city, county, and federal funds.
- East-West Corridor – The city is ready to release a Request For Proposal (RFP). This will include three roundabouts on University at Pennsylvania, Asbury, and Loras. Public meetings will occur soon and construction in 3-4 years. The city will be looking at on-street bike lanes.
- The University and Grandview Roundabout is currently in the design stage and will be constructed next summer with minimal impact to Allison-Henderson. Park. It will swing towards the laundromat and fire station.
- The Alliant Energy Solar Farm Trail, located at 12th and Pine, will be a 10’ wide trail on the south side of the Bee Branch detention pond. It will connect the A.Y. McDonald Floodwall Trail to downtown’s new Jule Building and the Millwork District. Alliant is installing an informational kiosk that explains the solar farm.
9. HUD Resiliency Projects will occur at 17th St./W. Locust and 22nd St./Kaufmann Ave where smaller old drains will be replaced by larger drain tunnels, wider sidewalks, and bike sharrows. There may be concerns with parking, archeological, or mechanical issues in some places. So limestone or brick accents or the replanting of trees to keep historic character of the neighborhood may be required. Parking is at a premium in these areas. Bike sharrows are likely.
10. The NW Arterial Trail is now complete and Bergfeld Pond Bridge has access on both sides.
Thanks goes to Jon Dienst and the City Engineering Department to keep us informed of recent trail projects.
Dubuque hills can create a good workout for the cyclist. However, sometimes health issues make riding nearly impossible or at least not comfortable. So electric assist bikes offer a good option as noted in the accompanying article by Art and Dianne Roche. After her knee replacement surgery, Dianne was not sure she could do 30-mile rides. So the electric assist bike came to her rescue.
The typical customer are baby boomers who have enjoyed riding in the past but are struggling with health issues or are desiring to keep up with faster riders. They can ride on their own power until fatigue sets in and then turn on the electric-assist to finish the ride.
Brian Walsh with Free Flight Cycling explains that the bikes can go up to 35-60 miles depending on the setting used. The “amount” of assist can vary from 120% to 300%, which translates into the effort expended. A 300% assist would be triple the biker’s effort. With the “turbo” setting of 300%, the distance range could be less than 40 miles. A lesser percentage would increase the mile range to as high as 60 miles. Walsh noted that “hills are the reason people in Dubuque buy them. They really make going up hills significantly easier and the ride more enjoyable.” He has observed that everyone who takes an e-bike out for a test drive comes back with a smile since they are fun to ride.
By Dianne Koch
The Bee Branch Greenway Project is finally a reality after several years of planning and building. The Grand Opening was July 19th with speakers, organizers, city personnel, and city officials sharing in the celebration. The open “day-lighted” project allows for excessive rainwater to rise as necessary and drain in a timely manner rather than being forced through a single narrow century-old tunnel that could not adequately carry large rain amounts. Six national disaster declarations between 1999 and 2008 prompted the city to give serious attention to alleviate dangerous basement flooding, electrocution, and mold issues for residents in the affected area. In fact, the city’s website even noted a family’s situation when they were in their basement during a tornado warning and the rainwaters came rushing in the basement. The family was facing the choice of going to the first floor and endure the winds or choosing to stay in the rapidly rising waters of the basement and face drowning. Hopefully those days are in the past.
Today, the landscaping and grass has matured, residents are using the paths daily, and the daylighting concept has allowed the Bee Branch waters to rise as necessary but also recede to normal levels. Signboards explain the project and the prairie plantings along the path. Trees, shrubs, and flowers provide accents through the four-block area. Architectural features add artistic flair to retaining walls, the bridges, and main channel itself. Come on down and enjoy Dubuque’s newest trails. It’s worth a hike or a bike ride.
By Dianne Koch
Walkers and bikers can now access a new parking lot on John Deere Road and Highway 52/3. Situated on the north side of John Deere Road near the Dubuque Driving Range, Mini-Golf, Bar, and Grill, the new lot provides pedestrians and bikers access to go west on the trail to the Northwest Arterial Trail or go east to the 32nd St. Trail. This centrally located trail will ease the parking situation on Peru Road, where trail users previously parked in the driveway of a utility substation, blocking utility workers. The close proximity of the new lot to the Dubuque Driving Range Bar and Grill offers trail users a chance for a cold drink or sandwich after exercising on the trail. The trail was a joint project funded by Dubuque County, the City of Dubuque, and state funds.
By Art Roche
We were on a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest last year, and we noticed that the rivers we were on had beautiful paved and much-used bike trails, often on both banks. Then our friends from Chicago, a couple our age, learned about a barge biking trip in Europe and went on it last fall. They invited us to join them this year on a similar trip on the Moselle River, from Metz, France to Cochem, Germany. Here’s the concept: at Metz, we arrived at the Iris, a small ship fitted out for 24 passengers and five crewmembers. Besides the passenger cabins, the ship had a dining room, a lounge, and an outside deck- not all the other things you associate with a cruise ship. Each day at around nine or 10 o’clock in the morning, we would get off the ship with bikes provided by the outfitter, and bicycle about 30 miles along the bike path on the river. We were led each day by Wouter, our guide, who was a history major as well as a very competent tour guide. He and the other for members of the crew were all Dutch, as was the registry of the ship.
When registering for the trip, we included our physical measurements so that the bikes were almost perfectly fitted to us when we arrived. I was pleased that my bike was large enough for me because I am tall. Dianne had reserved an e-bike since she hadn’t had a lot of experience in doing long road rides over multiple days, and because she had just had knee replacement surgery at the end of January. Five of the 24 people in our group used e-bikes, and they were all very happy with their performance. The bike does between 20 and 60% of the work (three levels—20, 40 and 60%) and you do the rest. It’s not like a moped– you still must pedal. It also has a readout that gives your speed, distance, and battery power.
The bikes we used didn’t employed derailleurs but instead had gears inside the rear hub that worked very smoothly with the two lever system on the handlebar. Most of the bikes were Gudereit hybrids, a German brand. All the bikes had front and rear lights, which turned on automatically, and were powered by a generator device inside the front hub that involved rotating magnets, so there was no friction. I was impressed with the smoothness and comfort of the bike I was given. The outfitters provided the bike, a pannier, and a helmet for each cyclist. Helmet use was not required but highly recommended.
The nice thing about the bike paths along the Moselle River is that they were quite level, with only occasional small climbs when we needed to go up a ramp to cross a lock and dam for a bridge, and once when we made a little more of a climb to get up onto one of the tiered roadways in the vineyards. The Moselle Valley is wine country, and there were vineyards every day in every direction. Every morning we made a coffee break in a small town, and later we stopped again for the lunch we had packed that morning before leaving the ship. Each day, we’d see the Iris passing us on the river on its way to that day’s destination city, with Jacques, the captain, waving from the pilot house. On two of the days, we could opt to stay on the ship longer and join the other bicyclists enroute, or leave the ride early and “sag” on the ship. Guests also had the option to just stay on the ship all day and not bicycle if felt they needed a day off. But most biked the entire way.
Our trip was in early September and the weather was pleasantly cool, usually in the low 60s to low 70s. We were prepared for rain, but never got any while we were bicycling. Most of the guests on the ship were American, but eight were Canadians and four were New Zealanders. Our bicycling speed was about 9 mph, with periodic stops to allow the group to stay together. Usually the stops were at places of historic or scenic interest, and we learned a lot from our guide about the influences of the Romans in Luxembourg and Germany, the ancient and modern winemaking arts, and even the formation of the Schengen Area (similar to, but not identical to the European Union) at Schengen. Schengen is the town at the juncture of France, Luxembourg, and Germany, like Dubuque’s placement at the intersection of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois! We frequently crossed the Moselle from Germany to Luxembourg and back again. Dianne even got to bicycle through and explore the town of Wormeldange in Luxembourg, where her family came from several generations ago.
We highly recommend the company that arranged our trip, and where more information can be found: www.tripsite.com.
By Dianne Koch
Want to lengthen a beautiful fall season? Why not travel north of Dubuque to Allamakee County to catch the height of the color season there and then enjoy the color peak again when it arrives here in the Dubuque area?
Lansing, Iowa, is beautiful in all seasons, but now a new building devoted to the Driftless Area graces a hillside just south of Lansing, commanding a view of the Mississippi Valley below. The Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center Museum on Columbus Road just opened this past August. Ragbrai riders were treated to a sneak peak in late July. Learn about the Driftless Area and the glaciers that created this impressive landscape. Discover more at AllamakeeCountyConservation.org.
Lots of other opportunities exist nearby as well. Hiking or biking through Yellow River State Forest in provides lots of memorable scenery. Biking from Waukon Junction to Harpers Ferry, west on Lansing Harpers Road to Lansing and back on the Great River Road to Harpers Ferry and then to Waukon Junction makes for a gorgeous 30-mile bike loop. Visiting any of the Allamakee County Parks will provide more hiking ideas as well. Canoe access points are also listed on the Allamakee County Conservation site.
Enjoy the fall twice by going “up north.”