After 4 good days of fast riding, we took a drive-only day from Michigan, past Chicago to Coralville Lake Dam—an Army Corps of Engineers dam and recreation area. The camping was beautiful, the day was warm and we enjoyed a warm night. The morning was clear and dry and we hit the Sugar Bottom Trails early. They have a well laid out system with large parking lot, a bike wash and a Frisbee golf course. Again, like Michigan, the trails have very little in the way of technical riding. I am worried we will lose our mountain biking skills with so much smooth, flowy trail riding!
On the drive, most of what we saw was corn, corn and more corn and ethanol plants. I looked up info on corn in the US….it’s an inefficient system: 40% goes to ethanol, 36% to feed chicken, beef anad pigs, and most of the rest is exported. WE use a small percentage to make corn products and high fructose corn syrup. The inefficient part is that the calories of corn we grow per acre—without feeding it to animals would provide enough calories to feed 13 people a 3000 calorie diet for a year. When you feed the corn to chickens, cows and chickens, it produces only enough calories to feed 1 person per acre! I also learned that only 2% of land in Iowa is in its wild state! Yikes.
Iowa has 99 counties and there is a state law that every county must have a Conservation Commission and master plan for recreation and conservation. This has resulted in over 1800 miles of bike paths across the state, some as long as 125 miles. They produce a biking map of the state that also marks roads by the quality of their shoulders and the amount a daily traffic (ADT)–very impressive.