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100 Down, 700+ to Go: My DSM USA Century Ride

Century Ride in DSM USA

October 24, 2019

Imagine the perfect fall day. The morning starts off cool, the sun is shining bright on the changing leaves. Where do you picture yourself? Strolling through the Downtown Farmer’s Market? Enjoying lunch on a patio? Watching your college team play football? Well for me, I’m on my bike. I’m riding on one of Greater Des Moines’ (DSM’s) 800 miles of trail networks, most likely with friends and family. Although it may not be as warm as cycling in the summer months, the comfort of moderate fall temperatures keeps me pedaling for miles.

A True Iowa Experience

I originally got into cycling with the help of some family members. Now, I find myself lending my extra bikes to friends so they can immerse themselves in the joy of riding. As an avid, recreational cyclist I’ve explored many miles of the trail system that's offered in DSM and surrounding local communities. And let me tell you, DSM’s paved trail system is unmatched. One mile you could be riding through a cornfield, the next through a lush-forested area and then rolling into the town square of one of the area’s diverse suburbs. It doesn’t get much better than mixing all things Iowa in one silky smooth ride.

Bike, Brunch, Brew, Bike

A usual ride starts with picking a destination which is most likely a trailhead or a cycle-friendly restaurant. One of my favorite things about the trails is the accessibility to local vendors. There are so many spots along the trails to get off your bike and enjoy brunch, have a pizza, listen to live music, or drink an Iowa-brewed beer. Some of my favorite bike accessible restaurants include; Mullets, The Chicken, The Nineteen14, The Whistling Donkey, Exile Brewing Company, and so much more!

It's not uncommon to run into other cyclists that you have come to know from spending time on the trails. My fiancé and I use cycling as a catalyst for both wellness and time to socially connect with others. We use cycling as time to spend together outside the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There are endless opportunities to connect with friends and other cyclists while on the trails.

The Century Ride

This past summer I had the chance to check off a bucket list item. Because of the extensiveness of the region’s trail network, I was able to complete a 100-mile ride in one day (also known as a Century Ride). A majority of the ride was on the Racoon River Valley Trail (RRVT) which I accessed from paved trails in DSM suburbs Clive and Urbandale. When planning the route, it was quite easy. I knew that the RRVT alone could get us close to the 100 mile mark. Many large cities don’t host this convenience. DSM is fortunate enough to have “gateways,” as I like to call them, to the city’s surrounding towns. These gateways are trails that connect you with many of the towns you would not normally visit unless it was via bicycle. How cool is that? Because of my love for cycling, I’ve explored parts of DSM and Iowa that I would have never had the opportunity to before.

Feeling inspired or like you want to hit the trails this fall? Greater Des Moines (DSM) offers more than 800 miles of connected walking, biking and running trails throughout the region. Make it an evening outing, or a weekend adventure. Happy trails!

Courtney Norelius

Courtney is a young professional currently residing in Ankeny, Iowa. She enjoys cycling, being outdoors, and spending time trying all the new restaurants in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Courtney is the Marketing Coordinator at 3E and volunteers with the Windsor Heights Chamber of Commerce.