With the advent of new mountain bike trails in the Dubuque areas, numerous opportunities allow for riders to enjoy the trails, scenery, and challenges. However, the chronically wet conditions have caused concern. The Tri-State Mountain Bike Riders (TMBR) have Facebook group pages devoted to listing conditions for their trails. It is advised to check these sites out before venturing out. From the TMBR Facebook page, bikers can join Interstate Power Preserve Trail Conditions Facebook Group or the Cloie Creek Trail Conditions and Rides Facebook Group for updates.
Construction on the long-awaited Chavenelle Road Bike Trail may start this fall. It would connect the Northwest Arterial Trail to Sieppel Road. Eventually, plans are to connect to the newly constructed Southwest Arterial. City Engineer Jon Dienst reports that the western section between Seippel Road and Radford Road may be started this fall and will lay on the north side of Chavenelle Road. The Radford Road to Northwest Arterial segment will be finished in 2020. A multi-use trail, it will extend over 2 miles and be 10 feet wide. Designated for walkers, joggers, and bikers, this trail will be a welcome addition to Dubuque’s westside.
Graf to New Vienna – A Scenic Ride with Good Roads and Beautiful Churches
Newly paved county roads are always a cause for excitement for road bikers. My husband Kevin and I recently discovered that the New Vienna Road just west of Holy Cross Road was improved and was cause for a beautiful early evening ride.
In May, we loaded up the bikes and drove to the Graf town park. We took Graf Road south, took a left on Thielen Road, and then a right on Girl Scout Road. As we ascended the steep hill, we admired the Lattnerville Church Inn, now an AirB&B, which has been beautifully remodeled. We continued on Girl Scout Road in a fairly strong wind, heading northwest. After climbing a second hill, we rode the ridge past the Camp Little Cloud and scenic farms. After a quick right on Gun Club Road, we stopped at St. Clement’s Church in Bankston and marveled at the inside and outside architecture. The church was built in 1898 with detailed craftsmanship.
We headed west to find the New Vienna Road was freshly paved. How pleasant! We rode all the way to New Vienna. Since churches seemed to be the theme of the day, we walked around the outside of St. Boniface Church in New Vienna. The church was dedicated in 1887 and has a 200-foot tall spire overlooking the countryside. Unfortunately, it was closed for the day, so we could not tour the inside. We will catch the inside on our next ride through town.
On our return trip, we flew back to Graf as we had a strong tailwind and smooth roads. Beautiful scenery and countryside churches added to a perfect evening. Life is good!
Tri-State Trail Vision is participating in the Great Give Day tomorrow. Please consider giving a donation to TSTV’s Community Foundation Fund. Scroll down, find Tri-State Trail Vision, and fill out the needed information. Past donations have gone to bike racks on the Bee Branch Trail, bike lights for Bike Rodeos in conjunction with the Bike Coop, and a future bike storage shelter for Loras College.
Thanks so much!
Once again Bike to Work Week is coming up May 13-19th, 2019. In preparation for the week, the Bike Coop is holding two Bike Rodeos for students: one is on May 7th from 3:30-5 pm. at Audubon Elementary and the other is May 10th from 3:30-5 p.m. at Bryant Elementary. School students can ride their bikes to school, get a safety check-up, and receive front and rear lights for visibility. An obstacle course will be set up to build skills, and students can visit with Dubuque Police Officers on safe riding techniques.
Prepare for Bike to Work Week!
- May 10 Bryant School Bike Rodeo
Friday 3:30 p.m. Bryant Elementary
For the adults, during the week of May 13-19th, try to ride, walk, or do a combo Jule bus/bike ride (see the poster below) to your place of work as many days per week as possible.
by Dianne Koch
Spring is finally here after a brutal six weeks of winter from mid-January to the end of February. March was colder than normal but spring finally started showing itself by the middle of the month. I was back commuting to Senior High School where I work by March 18th.
This is the tenth year I’ve been commuting to school. My self-imposed rules are simple: 1) no wet, icy, or snowy streets; and 2) it has to be above 20 degrees including the windchill. I live 1.9 miles from school, so I scouted out the flattest route because my bookbag can easily add another 5-10 pounds of weight. I live south of Washington Middle School, so Grandview is easy. But since Grandview narrows after Allison-Henderson Park, I take Custer Street for a block, and then Auburn, Delaware, and Avoca. I come back to Grandview at the Avoca-Rosedale corner, go up to Clarke Drive, and ride over to the Nora Parking Lot bike racks.
I use my only bike, a Trek 2.1 Women’s Specific Design 2009 model. I wear my regular clothes but I do use ankle biter Velcro straps to keep my pants legs from getting greasy or eaten by the gears.
I lock my bike to the rack via a large U-clamp lock that I keep on the school rack. I carry in my helmet, bike straps, headband, front light, and bike computer to store in my classroom during the day.
In cold weather, defined as windchill below 35 degrees, I wear my winter coat and a headband under my helmet. To be honest, I am warmer biking than riding in my car where the heater takes forever to warm up. Between 35-50 degrees, I usually go with a spring jacket but keep the headband.
In addition, I invested in strong head and rear (USB rechargeable) lights to cut through the dark mornings and be visible to other motorists.
My pedals have a dual combination function where they clip on one side and are flat on the other side. Initially designed as trainer pedal for those transitioning to clip pedals, these work perfectly for commuting. I can wear regular shoes to work using the flat side and flip it around when I am using my clips for longer recreational rides.
Regarding weather, I check weather reports for 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. If either time has a 70% prediction of rain or higher, I drive. But with anything less than that, I’ve beaten the odds for the most part. Okay, I’ve gotten a bit wet a couple of times on my way home but not soaked. Not bad for ten years of bike commuting from March to December. The wind is really the most aggravating factor, but most days are joyful riding days.
As Bike-to-Work Week is coming May 13-19th, it is a good time to consider riding one, two, or maybe all five days. Making it a priority was easy for me, and it’s turned into a great healthy habit; it impresses the high school kids (so I literally have “street credibility”), it efficiently uses 17-18 minutes of time exercising every day that I would normally be sitting in the car, and it racks up the miles. I gain nearly 20 miles per week riding from mid-March to early December.
Consider biking or walking to work to create a new habit that can truly be rewarding. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions regarding bike commuting.
by Dianne Koch
Want a nice day trip getaway hike within 90 miles of Dubuque? Want to see interesting scenery? Want to explore a 1200-mile continuous trail that is designated as a National Scenic Trail? What??!!?, you say. Near Dubuque?
Yes, the Ice Age Trail, a National Scenic Trail on par with the Appalachian Trail and John Muir Trail, follows the glacial endpoints of the last glacier that crept from northern Wisconsin southward. The geological features, such as moraines, kettle ponds, kames, and drumlins that remain provide an interesting backdrop for hikers. With the help of the Ice Age Trail Handbook, hiking has never been easier.
Over the past few months, Kevin and I have traversed three unique segments: the Devil’s Staircase in Janesville, Wisconsin; the Kettle Moraine State Park South Unit near Eagle, Wisconsin; and the Table Bluff Segment in Cross Plains, Wisconsin.
The Ice Age Trail Handbook, available from the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s website IceAgeTrail.org, is full of useful information; detailed maps of trails; amenities such as parking lots, restrooms, and restaurants, and Trail Town features; as well as wildlife, plants, and geographical features. The trail is kept in fine shape by county volunteer groups.
All three segments proved to be unique, interesting, and worth seeing in all seasons. Visiting IceAgeTrail.org for day hike options is a good way to start. Invest in their Handbook as a good way to study hiking possibilities and support the organization. In addition, a topographical atlas is also available for each segment of the trail. Finally, a downloadable app can also give pertinent details; however, cell service can be slow in new territories where the phone is constantly searching for towers, thus running out of energy sooner than normal. That’s why we recommend buying the physical book.
Bontrager’s latest helmet reduces the possibility of a concussion due to a revolutionary new WaveCel technology. Bontrager explains that the collapsible cellular structure “absorbs the force of the impact before it reaches” the rider’s head, thus reducing by 48 times the likelihood of a concussion compared to a standard helmet. The cells “flex, crumple, and glide” the energy away from the rider’s head. The helmet also sports a Boa dial and fit pads to adjust comfortably to every head. Receiving a 5-star rating—a perfect rating—by Virginia Tech’s safety rating system, these helmets retail from $150-299.
While the cost may seem high, concussions can be very serious to overcome. When suffering a concussion, patients can struggle from long-lasting memory issues that can hinder thought processes for months. What’s protection worth to you? Check your local bike store for more information.
by Renee Tyler, City of Dubuque Transportation Services
Dubuque is a community rich in culture, located in the Driftless region of the Midwest. Unlike many areas of Iowa, our city is hilly, and some of our streets are narrow, leaving us with very few bike paths and lanes to encourage the use of bikes as an alternate option for travel throughout the city. As the Director of Transportation for the City of Dubuque, I grapple daily with the challenge of promoting bike riding as more than just a pastime in the world of transportation management.
So what can we do to turn the concept of walkable communities, high-quality bike lanes, and a strong public transportation system from a host of pipe dreams into attainable goals that will make our region more sustainable, healthier, and more equitable?
Let’s look at some fun options that will incentivize people to ride bikes. Beginning with organizing a walk audit, this audit allows bike enthusiasts to band together to assess street conditions. Your audit can assist in identifying bike lanes and areas that are most suitable to build biking routes throughout the city.
Engage your council members, and invite them out to meet with you. Have a plan of action that is workable.
Encourage your employer to use incentives to get people to bike to work. These incentives can include free lunch, monetary stipends, gym memberships, etc. Don’t forget to ask for bike racks at your place of employment to secure your bikes.
From the City side, I encourage you to participate in Bike to Work Week. This is the week that you can ride to work, and you have the opportunity to ride the bus back to your neighborhood for free. Your bike will ride safely on the bike rack affixed to the front of the bus. Participation in one bike to work day can garner enough support for a bike to work week, month, or when weather permits year-round. Who knows? You might just like the concept of riding your bike and riding the bus!
Our community is a great community. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and maintain the wonderful quality of life that is offered here. In order for me to do my part in supporting this initiative, I need your help, your input, and your support. Please share your ideas and suggestions with me. My contact information is: Rtyler@cityofdubuque.org and my office number is 563.589.4341.
by Kirstin Hall, City of Dubuque Bee Branch Communications Specialist and the City of Dubuque Engineering Department
The Bee Branch Trail will have a new element to enjoy by 2021. A tunnel traveling under the Chicago Pacific Railroad at Garfield Street will connect the Upper Bee Branch Trail to the Lower Bee Branch Detention Basin Trail. The contract has been awarded, and construction will start this spring.
The Railroad Culverts Project is a critical phase of the larger Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project and, once completed, will increase the flood mitigation system’s capacity to protect the area from a 75-year rain event to a 500-year rain event. The railroad culverts project involves using micro-tunneling methods to install six 8-foot diameter culverts under the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) tracks along Garfield Ave. This will allow stormwater to drain more efficiently from the Upper Bee Branch Creek to the Lower Bee Branch Creek and 16th St. Detention Basin.
When the City sought public input on the design of the Bee Branch Creek improvements, residents voiced a desire for pedestrian passage under the railroad tracks. The proposed plans and specifications include the City assuming ownership of the two existing Bee Branch box culverts and utilizing them for both flood control and as a hike/bike path under the railroad tracks when creek levels permit. This will allow for the direct connection of the trail systems associated with the lower and upper sections of the Bee Branch Creek.
All the culverts will be installed and functioning by summer 2020, and the prep work for the bike tunnel will be completed during the culvert project. Then, the trail connection project will be bid separately in the spring of 2021, with paving taking approximately 3 months, so all will be completed by late summer 2021. The city is currently seeking grant funding to help cover the cost of the trail.
An 8-minute video can be seen at https://www.cityofdubuque.org/2579/Bee-Branch-Railroad-Culverts with drawings and timelines.