Following a quick breakfast at the Best Western Plus, we were on the road by 7:30 AM. According to our GPS, we had about a 6 1/2 hour drive to the Wabash Trace trailhead in Iowa. During the drive, I tinkered with the GoPro Hero3+ video camera that James, my son-in-law’s father loaned to me for our trip. After borrowing the camera, I purchased a handlebar mount and wanted to figure out how to use it before getting on the trail. Hopefully, I will be able to post some video clips on our blog :-).
We ate lunch at Panera Bread in St. Joseph, Missouri. Since today was Jim’s birthday, we split a carrot cake cupcake and sang Happy Birthday to him. After a few more hours of driving through the Heartland, we reached the Wabash Trace trailhead.
Because our time was limited, Ed and I decided to just ride the 14-mile portion of the trail from Silver City to Council Bluffs. This stretch of the trail is known as the “Taco Ride” because, for several years, bikers rode from Council Bluffs to a bar serving tacos on Thursday nights in Silver City.
When the bar closed, the bikers continued the Thursday night rides; however, they changed their destination to a steakhouse in Mineola. On warm Thursday evenings, there may be thousands of cyclists participating in this weekly ritual. Today wasn’t Thursday, but we were surprised by the number of riders on the trail.
The Wabash Trace parallels the Loess Hiils, which take their name from a German word meaning “loose dirt.” The hills were formed by windblown silt from the Missouri River after the last ice age. Up close, the hills resemble staircase ridges covered with prairie grass. Farming on the ridges looks challenging, but the terraces probably help protect the crops from wind erosion :-).
Although the trail was primarily under a tree canopy, there were vast acres of farmland on both sides. We spotted a few wind turbines in the distance as well as a couple of power plants. The crushed limestone trail was in good condition, but the scenery was somewhat lackluster (flat farmland).
We crossed several wooden bridges that felt a little unsteady as our tires roughly bounced across each slat. The weather was perfect for our ride – sunny in the mid 60s with a slight breeze.
While Ed and I rode the trail, Mary and Jim explored the Loess Hills and then met us in Council Bluffs. It took about 2 hours to ride the 14 miles, including several stops to take photos and adjust the GoPro camera.
After loading the bikes and grabbing a couple of cold drinks from the cooler, we were back on the road toward Sioux Falls. Along this portion of the highway, we passed a billboard which read “Eat steak, wear furs, Keep your guns – The American Way!” This statement seems consistent with the way of life in South Dakota.
We finally arrived at our Sheraton hotel in Sioux Falls about 7:30 PM. Mary found these rooms on Hotwire for $49, and we were very pleasantly surprised by the remodeled convention center accommodations. Our modern room had a large flatscreen TV, king bed, sofa, and upscale bathroom – what a treat for an affordable price! Ed & I ate a hamburger in the hotel restaurant and Mary & Jim ate dinner in their room.
Tomorrow, we head to the Badlands and our cabin destination in Hill City!