Pedal, Paddle, Trail

It was warm September morning and I was midway through an intense mountain biking workout at Scott County Park. Just as I rounded return that would lead me into a grove of trees, a deer ran across the path just 3 feet in front of me. My initial reaction was to jerk my handlebars in the opposite direction of the deer, resulting in what could only be described as an amateur version of aerial acrobatics that unfortunately was not captured on camera. I stood up and dusted myself off, hopped on my bike, and finished my work out with a huge grin on my face.

I was recalling a day just two months prior when I was biking with my son, Alex, at Scott County Park. He was insistent that we ride Area 51 (the Double Black Diamond route…or REALLY TOUGH for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term).

My efforts of rationalizing with my then 15 year old about the difficulties of attempting such a course were fruitless. He just shook his head and shouted, “Go big or go home, Dad!” and he pointed his front tire down the first of many narrow and steep paths.

I did my best to keep up with my son, but it is amazing how quickly you can do something when you have absolutely no fear! We both made it through the course in one piece, but more importantly, he reminds me of this occasion from time to time…all while grinning from ear to ear.

The best part of this story is that a small investment of time yielded a memory that both of us will cherish for our entire lives. Whether we are mountain biking, kayaking, or going for a trail run; fun finds us.

I have long been a fan of the outdoors, and have likely run into you on a mountain biking trail, during the trail run, perhaps while kayaking on the Mississippi River. I believe one of our greatest responsibilities we have is to not just coast through life, but to enjoy and create truly amazing experiences. Many of my favorite activities in the Quad Cities involve a pedal, paddle, or trail.


We live in an age where it is far too easy to fall into the pattern of sitting in front of a screen, watching other people live their lives; all while saying we “have no time” to go out and enjoy the awesome opportunities right in front of our noses.

Do you remember what you received for a birthday gift three years ago? Probably not. However, if you think of your fondest memories over the past 12 months, you will likely recall a time (or times) when someone cared enough about you to share an experience with you. Time is the one commodity that we can never get any more of, yet without people investing time in us; we’re simply passengers on this journey of life.

You can carve a lifetime of memories in a short period of time right here in our community the same way that the mighty Mississippi River carves its winding path from Itasca, Minnesota, down to the Gulf of Mexico. The best part is that many of the resources that will help you create awesome experiences are available for free, and are unbelievably close to you.

Pedal: We have five awesome mountain biking trails throughout the Quad Cities Area (check for trail conditions). Also hundreds of miles of paved biking trails around our community.

Paddle: Do you realize that we have a big river flowing through our community? Whether you paddle the Mississippi, Rock, Wapsi, or are just lazily floating around in one of our small lakes; you are sure to enjoy an awesome experience! If you are unfamiliar with paddling, talk to one of our local outfitters for advice. Whether you are an experienced paddler or a novice, wear your life vest at all times. The water always wins…always.

Trail: I’m not sure exactly how many parks and trails are in our community, but it has to be close to a ka-billion! Whether you are taking a short stroll over your lunch hour, or are going for a full day hike; the Quad Cities has you covered.

As I was walking this morning near my house along the Mississippi River, I witnessed a breathtaking sunrise, eagles singing to greet the morning, and even saw a little girl playing with her puppy. While you could never put a price on any one of those experiences, they are invaluable.

What do you do you to enjoy the outdoors in the Quad Cities community?


About the author

Dave "The Shef" Sheffield Dave "The Shef" Sheffield is a keynote motivational speaker and author. He is an avid kayaking, mountain biking, and trail running enthusiast. He lives in Pleasant Valley, Iowa, and also loves cooking, playing guitar, photography, and spending time with his kids.

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