Eastern Iowans greet 2021 outdoors on bikes, skis and snowshoes

'I like the idea of starting the first day of the year in nature'

Bikers ride their fat tire bikes New Year's Day on the Woodpecker Trail in Coralville. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Bikers ride their fat tire bikes New Year’s Day on the Woodpecker Trail in Coralville. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CORALVILLE — Juerg Tschirren rode nearly 6,500 miles on his bicycle in 2020, according to his Strava app, but he was back on his fat tire bike for a ride through the snow New Year’s Day.

“It’s beautiful out here,” Tschirren, 51, of Iowa City, said about the Woodpecker Trail single-track bicycle course in Coralville. “Especially when it’s snowing.”

While New Year’s Day brings many indoor pleasures, such as watching football and eating holiday leftovers, some Eastern Iowans sought the outdoors to jump-start 2021 with nature and exercise.

Tschirren joined David Heitbrink, 42, and Adam Harding, 40, both of Coralville, for a ride along the 3.4-mile east loop of the trail that dips and loops through the woods by Clear Creek. Fluffy, wet flakes of rapidly falling snow added to the 9 inches that fell earlier in the week.

The Iowa Coalition of Off-Road Riders grooms the trails, which are meant for fat tire bikes in winter. Fat tires — 3.8 inches or wider — float over debris and don’t cause ruts on the trails, Heitbrink said.

“It’s nice to get out,” he said. “The treadmill is boring as hell.”

Cross-county skiers and snowshoers also were enjoying the snow this week.

The Iowa City Nordic Club on Wednesday groomed trails at Kent Park near Tiffin and also prepped a cross-country skiing trail along the University of Iowa’s Ashton Cross-Country Course, according to the group’s Facebook page.


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources usually does guided hikes on New Year’s Day, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency instead challenged Iowans to check in with the State Park Passport at one of 50 state parks through Sunday.

Every check-in counts as an entry into a prize drawing for a free two-night stay in a two-bedroom cabin at Lake Darling State Park.

Jennie Morton, 36, of Cedar Rapids, planned to go hiking with a couple of friends at Lake Macbride State Park on Friday afternoon.

“I like the idea of starting the first day of the year in nature,” she said. “It feels symbolic. Plus it’s a healthy note that sets the right tone.”

Morton said she and her spouse have always been “brown sign enthusiasts” who stop to explore nature areas.

“But this year, it’s also been one of the few ways we’ve been able to safely be around friends,” she said. “To laugh and hold conversation while in the fresh air has taken on new importance.”

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