Lots of Local Disc Golf Courses

by Dianne Koch

Several disc golf courses are in the area, providing a fun way to get outdoors, sharpen your Frisbee skills, and walk your way to fitness. There is an art beyond the basic tossing of a Frisbee. Involving several different kinds of professional discs, the game takes on an entirely new feel. Those new to the game should learn the difference between the distance and fairway drivers, the mid-distance discs, and putters and when to use certain discs. With several different kinds of professional discs, the game takes on an entirely new feel.

At Veteran’s Memorial Park behind Wahlert High School has a great 18-hole hilly course that is challenging and scenic. Well-maintained as always, the course has been in place for many years but is hidden from Kane Street. Turn onto Northview Drive, head into the Veterans Memorial parking lot and the first hole is down the hill immediately on your left. Also in Dubuque, a new course is being planned at the new Proving Grounds County Park out near John Deere.

Elsewhere in the county, Swiss Valley Park, just outside of Dubuque, a 9-hole course is at the picnic and campground area. Dyersville, Iowa, has a 9-hole course on the west side of town at ironically Westside Park. Hole number one is off of 3rd Street Southwest. Online reviews say it is a well-kept course. North of Dyersville, Dubuque County Conservation park New Wine Park also has a 9-hole course. Monticello’s Willow Park, described as mostly flat and wooded, is home to a disc golf course. In Peosta, the Kelly Oaks course on Cox Springs Road just north of Seton Catholic School is a 9-hole moderately hilly, wooded course.

In East Dubuque, Dunlieth Park on Parklane Drive and then Dunn Street is sporting a new 9-hole course called Nubbs Nine. The website DGCourseReview.com describes the course as hilly and heavily wooded with short, technical holes.

Over in Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, a disc golf course lies on Greenwood Avenue and another Platteville city course is at Westview Park on Camp Street.

With so many courses nearby, now is the time to get out, discover new places so close to home, and challenge yourself with the intricacies of a new hobby while hiking.

Bike to Work Week Moved to September!

While May is a lovely month to ride or walk to work, the Coronavirus pandemic has made it trickier this year. So for 2020, Bike to Work Week will be moved from May to September 21-27th, according to a recent announcement from The League of American Bicyclists. May is still designated at Bike Month, so you can still plan to get out as much as possible.

A new development locally is that Dupaco Community Credit Union has engaged Candace Eudaley, the former City of Dubuque Transit Manager, as a consultant to work with their employees and the wider community to develop sustainable transportation efforts not only during Bike to Work Week, but year-round. When plans are confirmed, she will let us know what is in store for September Bike to Work Week.

TMBR Trail Update

by Brett Erthum, TMBR President

            Tri-state Mountain Bike Riders (TMBR) is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization focused on development of natural surface woodland trails. Our trails are tailored to appeal to cyclists, but are also enjoyed by walkers, runners, and others that appreciate being in the wooded environment.   TMBR is in its fifth year of operation in 2020.   

This time of the year is challenging for soft-surface trails because of the moisture retained from winter.  As the weather improves, our users are eager to get on the trail.   The trail surface is shaped to shed water.  However, tire tracks and foot prints will compromise the trail’s ability to drain water because these create pools and ruts that keep the water on the trail longer.  Because of this, the land owner will close trails if the conditions are too soft to support traffic. TMBR is working with these land owners to communicate trails status at the following website: https://tmbrtrails.org/  . Volunteers are working to maintain the trails surface for the enjoyment of everybody.  Please show your support of their commitment by honoring trail closures.

2019 closed with groundbreaking at our latest trail project at the new Proving Grounds Park on the North end of Dubuque.  Bike trail specialist Pathfinder Trail Building was onsite in November and December to start construction of the 6 mile, $240,000 project. The Pathfinder crew is expected to return when ground conditions and C-19 containment improve. Expect to see them working in the park during the late spring and early summer.  Most of the constructed trail will remain closed to all users until appropriate signage is put in place this spring. The entire system is expected to be open this year.  It will include Mississippi River views and challenging terrain.  Until then, users can enjoy the 2 miles of ‘easy’ grade trail that already exists at the park.

Interstate Power Preserve trails enjoyed a landmark year in 2019.  Backyard Trails took over the project to complete the final loop.  IPP now boasts nearly 7 miles of the best mountain bike trails in the state of Iowa.  As a matter of fact, Trailforks.com lists IPP as the #1 area to ride in the state of Iowa. Congratulations to Dubuque County Conservation and TMBR for creating a remarkable trail system in our community.   Our citizens and generations of Dubuque area residents will enjoy this resource for decades to come.  Dubuque County leaders were surprised by the popularity of this trail, and they are currently evaluating improvements to the park that will further enhance the user experience.

TMBR continues to seek new opportunities to expand our network of woodland trails.  It wouldn’t be possible if not for the people that commit their time to make this happen. If you appreciate what TMBR does in our community, consider getting involved by volunteering for a board position or become a member supporter at https://tmbrtrails.org/join/.  TMBR enjoys great support from the Dubuque Community. Thanks for all the help we get making our trails something that we can all be proud of.

Bike Coop Update

By Rob Williams

At this point, we have our annual Bee Branch Bike Rodeo on the calendar – tentatively Tuesday, 5 May 2020.  It would be after school – most likely at Audubon, but as with everything else, all plans are in “pencil”. 

The Coop is operating on an appointment basis.  One of our volunteers, Josh Roer, has taken lead and has photos of all available bicycles listed on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DubuqueBikeCoop/.  Patrons just need to message us via the page and we can set up appointments to collect.

Any other activities will be announced via the page.


Dubuque County Water Trails

In the Covid-19 era with social distancing, what better way to explore the outdoors than kayaking or canoeing the Dubuque area water trails?

               In the city, the Dubuque Water Trail extends from A.Y. MacDonald Park on Dubuque ‘s north end to Massey Park Marina. Established a number of years ago, the 11-mile trail provides accesses at the A. Y. MacDonald Park, Schmitt Island, the Waterfront Pavilion on the RiverWalk, Mines of Spain Catfish Creek, and Massey Marina. Water travelers can hug the shore or check out the backwaters. More information can be found at: https://www.cityofdubuque.org/1595/Dubuque-Water-Trail

                Several paddling options are offered by the Dubuque County Parks. Behind John Deere on Riverside Drive, a ramp at the John Deere Marsh parking lot can lead to more river and marsh exploration of the Mississippi. Going around the peninsula on the left, floaters can go to the mouth of the Little Maquoketa and travel upstream. 

               At Mud Lake Park, paddlers can access to the Mississippi and a long backwater protected channel also allows for spectacular nature viewing, particularly water birds, up close. 

            Fillmore Park offers an access point for Whitewater Canyon trail with a take out point at Bellevue-Cascade Road bridge.

            More information on area paddling sites can be found at Dubuque Kayakers & Paddlers Facebook Page.

While the water may currently be high on area rivers, we can always plan for warmer days with lower water levels.  In the next edition, we will review some Jackson County water trails.

Signage for Dubuque County Bike Route

by Dianne Koch

The Dubuque-1 Bike Route is considered one of the most scenic bike rides in the Midwest, according to the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. They have secured signage for this route, which should go into place this spring or summer. This 66-mile route loops through Dubuque County. It includes scenery, low-traffic roads, a couple of challenging hills, a brewery and a winery. 

 Starting at the Heritage Pond Trailhead is recommended because of its spacious parking and bathroom facilities. Turn to right out of the lot, and then turn left onto Highway 52 North.  After a mile of this busy road, take a right onto Sherrill Road. Although this is the longest climb of the route, there is a wide dedicated bike lane for the next 13 miles as it is part of the Mississippi River Trail.

            The pretty town of Sherrill has The Barn Restaurant and the Black Horse Inn, a stone dwelling built in 1856 which housed a tavern, restaurant, dancehall and hotel all at once.

             Veer to the right onto Balltown Road and for a 2.5-mile side trip take Circle Ridge Road to the Bishop Winery and Vineyard if you are need of refreshments.  Back out on Balltown Road, travel north along a series of ridges and hills with beautiful panoramic views overlooking Iowa and Wisconsin. A visit to Breitbach’s Country Restaurant, the oldest continuously-operated restaurant in Iowa dating back to1852, is always a great experience. A spectacular view awaits the rider at the town’s western edge. Be sure to take a few minutes to enjoy the Driftless Region with this birds-eye view.

            Stay on Balltown Road for a couple more miles, and then turn left on Tollgate Road. Gentle rolling hills will go to Holy Cross. Noonan’s North is recommended as a potential stop before heading south on Holy Cross Road towards Farley.  Take a right on Dyersville East Road. The Field of Dreams movie site is close by on Lansing Road. Dyersville East goes into Dyersville and the Textile Brewing Company sells their craft beer in the great atmosphere of a restored sewing factory.  The Dyersville Basilica Catholic Church with its impressive twin steeples is close by.

            From Dyersville, the rider has options. One way back to Dubuque is the 26-mile Heritage Trail. The finely crushed limestone trail requires a $2 fee but the scenery is beautiful with various ecosystems—bluffs, meadows, bogs, woodlands, and the Little Maquoketa River visible almost the entire way. Be equipped with water as only one community is directly on the route.

            If you choose the road route, take 2nd Avenue SE and turn left onto Prier Road to Holy Cross Road. Take a right into Farley and take Olde Highway Road to Epworth and Centralia. Junction 21, a bar and restaurant, can provide more refreshments if needed, Turn left on Sundown Road, take a right on Asbury Road, wave high to the Sundown Ski Area, a great winter time play area, and head into Asbury. At the Northwest Arterial with the Culver’s Restaurant, turn left onto the bike trail, cross at John F. Kennedy Road, and continue down the hill to the Heritage Trail. A left at the T will take you back to the Heritage Trail parking lot. 

            The route is worth the effort in beauty, hospitality, and the challenge.

Two Summer Rides Across Iowa

by Dianne Koch

Assuming we are past the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak, this summer will hopefully see two bike rides across Iowa: The traditional Ragbrai and the new Iowa Ride.

The Iowa Ride emerged last year when former Des Moines Register Ragbrai organizers broke from the Register and began to promote the new ride as an alternative. At first, the dates corresponded with the Ragbrai dates, but when that posed logistic problems within bike groups, such as which group gets the team bus for the week, then the Iowa Ride was moved to the prior week and will travel from east to west. Now, die-hard riders can go west on week one and return east on week two.

The Iowa Ride will begin in Dubuque on July 12 and travel to Monticello, Vinton, Eldora, Clarion, Emmetsburg, Sheldon, and end on July 18th at Rock Rapids. With 10,649 feet of climb, the route will cover 416 miles. Like Ragbrai, it will offer entertainment and street celebrations daily. Half of the profits will go to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and the other half will be divided among the host towns. Check out IowasRide.com for further details.

Ragbrai planning is also in the works at this time.  The July 19-25th ride will start in LeMars with overnight stops at Storm Lake, Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Waterloo, Anamosa, Maquoketa, and Clinton. This 420-mile route with 12,306 feet of climb is ranked as the sixth shortest ride, according to the Ragbrai website. The usual traditions will continue and more information can be found at Ragbrai.com.

What Iowa Student Drivers are Taught About Bicycles

By Art Roche

I thought it might be interesting to see how bicycles and bicyclists are discussed in the Iowa Driver’s Manual (the state’s instruction manual for people wanting to be licensed to drive an automobile.)  I’m referencing the June 2019 revision.

I was happy to see that the word bicycle or bicyclist appears 46 times in the manual.

Please understand that these are not laws about bicyclists (or motor vehicle operators, for that matter.)  These are simply instructions for car drivers about watching out for bicyclists.  I’ll follow up in a future newsletter about bicycle laws in Iowa and bicycle ordinances in Dubuque and Dubuque County.

The first mention is in the discussion about Driver Education.  The thirty hours of classroom instruction should include four hours substance abuse education, and a minimum of 20 minutes (emphasis mine!) on railroad crossing safety, information on organ donation, and information on bicycle and motor cycle awareness.

The section on signage shows the standard color for bicycle and school warning signs:

Fluorescent Yellow-Green, a new color that is much easier to see in low light and foggy/rainy weather.  Next in the section on Reserved Lanes, there is a depiction of the bicycle lane sign.  “Do not travel in one of these lanes unless operating that type of vehicle.”

When to Yield the Right-of-Way: “Where vehicles or pedestrians are likely to meet one another and there are no signs or signals to regulate traffic, there are rules that say who must yield the right-of-way. These rules tell drivers who goes first and who must wait in different traffic situations. The law says who must yield the right-of-way; it does not give anyone the right-of-way. You must do everything you can to prevent striking a pedestrian or another vehicle, regardless of the circumstances. Be alert for bicyclists. While bicyclists and motorists must share the rights and responsibilities of using public streets and roads, motorists should realize bicycle riders are very vulnerable in crashes. Therefore, motor vehicle drivers should use good defensive driving skills to avoid collisions with bicyclists.”

Intersections: “…You should watch out for bicyclists. Be ready to yield the right-of-way, even at times the bicyclists should yield to you. They have no defense against a car or truck, so it is your responsibility as a driver to watch out for them.”

Space to Cross or Enter: “…Before you pass, look ahead for road conditions and traffic that may cause other vehicles to move into your lane. You might lose your space for passing because of…people or bicyclists near the road.”

Changing Lanes: “…When changing lanes, you should …check for other road users. Remember there are other road users such as motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians that are harder to see than cars and trucks. Be especially alert when you are entering the roadway from the curb or driveway.”

The most extensive discussion on bicycles in the Manual is in the section titled “Sharing The Road.”  “Bicycle riders are common on Iowa’s roads. You will meet them in cities and on country roads. Bicycles are a recognized form of transportation. Under Iowa law, bicyclists and motorists must comply with the same rules of the road and be given the same rights. Sharing the road means sharing these rights and responsibilities. Just as motor vehicle operators have different levels of skill, you will find bicycle riders with varying levels of skills. When you approach bicycle riders, assess the bicyclists’ capabilities. A skillful cyclist rides predictably and holds a steady line.  Common signs of bicyclist inexperience may include:

• riding near the gutter;

• swerving unpredictably;

• ignoring traffic signs and signals; and

• riding without a light at night.

If you see these signs, be ready for any sudden movements by the bicyclist. Give bicycle riders the room they deserve and need for safety. When passing a bicycle rider, pass as if the cyclist were a vehicle and move into the other lane (emphasis mine!). On narrow, two-way roads, wait for a break in traffic before passing. Do not pass if oncoming traffic is near. After passing, cautiously return to your lane – a bicyclist could be in your blind spot. Do not honk your horn or flash your headlights at bicyclists. They may be startled and lose control. Bicycles often travel nearer the right edge of a traffic lane. However, they may swerve to avoid road hazards such as potholes, glass debris, drainage grates, or a strong crosswind.  Failure to see bicycle riders can cause vehicle/bicycle crashes. Use extra caution during peak morning and afternoon traffic – the sun’s glare may hide a bicyclist in your path. An experienced bicyclist on a multispeed bike can maintain a speed of 15 to 25 miles per hour on level pavement. When making a right turn near a bicycle rider, move to the far right before turning. If there is a bicycle lane, merge into it to prevent being overtaken by a cyclist. Do not race around a cyclist and make a right turn across his or her path. You may be setting up a collision if the cyclist cannot stop in time. Be sure to check the blind spot over your right shoulder before beginning to turn. Some bicyclists may choose to ride on the street even though there is a bicycle path available nearby. If so, give the rider the needed space. Some studies have shown there are more bicycle collisions on bike paths than on the roadways. Be careful when opening your vehicle door. Road widths can force bicyclists to ride close to parked vehicles where they may be injured by an opening door. Give bicyclists the extra courtesy they need to negotiate railroad tracks and narrow bridges. When in doubt, yield to bicyclists!”

Driver Responsibilities: “Because motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles have narrower tires, they can get caught in cracks easier. Railroad tracks, steel bridge expansion joints, sewer grates, metal grating on bridges and other metal surfaces are dangerous for cyclists. Give riders plenty of room to move around when approaching these road structures.”

Schools, playgrounds and residential streets: “These areas often have children present. Always be alert for them crossing the street, or running or riding bicycles into the street without looking.”

Roundabouts: “…Generally, cyclists should walk their bicycles across the pedestrian crosswalk using the same rules as pedestrians. Experienced cyclists may navigate roundabouts like motorists. Do not hug the curb. Bicyclists using the roundabout should follow the same rules as motorists. Ride in the middle of the lane to prevent vehicles from passing. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.”

Watch for the next installment in this series: bicycle laws in Iowa and bicycle ordinances in Dubuque and Dubuque County.

Bellevue State Park connected via hiking trail bridge

by Charlie Winterwood

You can now walk from Bellevue Butterfly Gardens to the city of Bellevue on trails. Drive to the Bellevue State Park by turning right immediately after the Highway 52 bridge over Mill Creek in Bellevue and head uphill. Turn right at the top of the hill and park in the parking lot.

            From there, hike through the restored prairie to the butterfly garden. Keep to the right and head past the butterfly garden and turn right on the Quarry Trail. At the bottom of the Quarry Trail, you will see the new bridge over Mill Creek. Cross it and to the left is a new city park along Mill Creek or head to your right and you will eventually arrive in downtown Bellevue.