RUSA Permanents in central Iowa (plus a few in Oregon)

Introduction (see RUSA.org for more details)

A Permanent is like a brevet but you can ride it any time, not just on one specific date. All routes are approved by RUSA. Most are at least 200 km (124 miles) in length but, unlike most organized century or double-century rides, there is no support. Like brevets, routes can be a loop or out-and-back that starts and finishes in the same location, but they can also be point-to-point. Most of my permanents are loop style routes and four are out-and-back (two with a terminal loop). In addition, I have six "Permanent Populaires" (five loop style & one out-and-back), which are shorter rides (100-200 km) that are also recognized by RUSA. Both permanent and permanent populaire rides are open only to RUSA members. They can be ridden alone or with a group (as long as all members of the group are RUSA members). Permanent rides in the US are validated by RUSA and do not count toward any ACP awards or as qualifying rides for longer brevets/randonnees (e.g., 1200 km Brevet or Grand Randoneé). However, a permanent can count toward annual RUSA Distance Awards or an R-12 Award. Permanent populaires can count toward the former but not an R-12 award.

Steps for Riding a Permanent (RUSA Members Only)

1. Request a Permanent Registration and Waiver Form from me (gwcourt@gmail.com), which I will send as an email attachment. Alternatively, you may download a PDF file. Then fill out all details, including the requested ride number, name, date and start time*, sign and date the waiver, write a check to cover any registration fees, and mail everything to me.

2. Upon receipt of your registration and waiver forms, I will mail you a brevet card (printed on heavy stock) and cue sheet.

3. Upon completion of your ride (or attempted ride), mail me the signed brevet card (with your receipts) within 10 days. If you don’t finish, I still need to know as I need to submit DNFs to RUSA.

*I will format the cue sheet(s) and brevet card(s) based on the start time you request (per RUSA rules). Note that the start or “Open” time at Control #1 is your official starting time and the basis for subsequent control times (even if you start late). The “Close” time at Control #1 is one hour later and is your latest departure time. Select a realistic start time and stick to it, so your official completion time is not jeopardized.

-- Greg Courtney, Ames, Iowa




Central Iowa Permanent Populaires


SCRAM (Story City - Radcliffe - Alden Metric) 104K (RUSA Permanent #755, approved in December 2009)

This is essentially the southern third of the Devonian Shoreline Shuffle 303K (see below). The route is an out-and-back from Story City to Alden, including mostly small towns, farmland, and county roads with little traffic.

Stats: 104 km (64.7 miles) with approximately 1500 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but March to November are best.

Start Point: Kum & Go General Store on the east side of Story City (Exit 124 off I-35, on Broad Street just west of interstate… on left).

Route map: click the following link 


Pufferbilly Populaire 110K (RUSA Permanent #1868, approved in February 2013)

An mostly flat loop east of Ames, but including the Des Moines River Valley and part of the High Trestle Trail (HTT). The route passes through mostly agricultural areas. Except for short sections in Ames, Boone, & Madrid, and a few miles on the HTT, the ride is on county roads with light traffic.

Stats: 110 km (68.6 miles) with approximately 2500 feet of cumulative elevation gain. And note that this route is reversible (i.e., you may ride it either clockwise or counterclockwise). Available all year, but March to November are best.

Start Point: Stange Road & Bloomington Road in north Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, go west on 13th Street approximately 4 miles, north on Stange approximately 1.5 miles). Start at either Casey's Convenience Store of Fareway Foods.

Route map: click the following link 


Around the Mound 112K (RUSA Permanent #754, approved in December 2009)

Although this loop could have been called "Triple Dip Jr." (see below), two of the three "dips" into the Des Moines River (DMR) Valley differ from those on the 205K. Among these is a drop into Ledges State Park, one of the more scenic parks in central Iowa. The first 20 and last 10 miles pass through mostly flat agricultural areas, but the middle section contains numerous rollers and the three dips into the DMR Valley, which make this the most challenging of my populaires. Except for short sections in Ames and Boone, the ride is on county roads with light traffic.

Stats: 112 km (69.6 miles) with approximately 3000 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but March to November are best.

Start Point: The Cafe, on the north side of Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, then go west on 13th Street, north on Grand Avenue, west on 24th Street, then north on Stange Road for about 2 blocks, turning east on Northridge Parkway. The Cafe will be on the right).

Route map: click the following link 


Polk City Populaire 112K (RUSA Permanent #1392, approved in January 2012)

An easy, relatively flat loop east and south of Ames. The route passes through mostly agricultural areas, but with a few forested rollers along the way. Except for short sections in Ames, Nevada, & Polk City, and a few miles on the High Trestle Trail, the ride is on county roads with light traffic.

Stats: 112 km (69.6 miles) with approximately 2000 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but March to November are best.

Start Point: Swift Stop in north Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, go west on 13th Street, north on Grand to 1 block past North Grand Mall… on left).

Route map: click the following link 


Gingersnap Populaire 136K (RUSA Permanent #756, approved in December 2009)

This is a shorter version of the Iowa River Ramble 212K (see below), with a smaller loop (the "Inner Ramble"?) and without the side trip to Marshalltown. The route is named after the control stop (Gingersnap Store) in Union, a scenic town nestled on the west side of the Iowa River Valley. Much of the route passes through farmland, but the middle section (near the Iowa River) has more forested areas and numerous rollers. Except for short sections in/near Ames, the ride is on county roads with little traffic.

Stats: 136 km (84.6 miles) with approximately 3150 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but March to November are best.

Start Point: Swift Stop in north Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, go west on 13th Street, then north on Grand to 1 block past North Grand Mall… on left).

Route map: click the following link 



Central Iowa Permanents


Brushy Trestle 202K (RUSA Permanent #1867, approved in February 2013)

This ride starts and ends in Ames, which is approximately 35 miles north of Des Moines. The route is a large loop mostly north and west of Ames. From the start in Ames, the route heads north to Story City, Ellsworth & Jewell, then west to the Des Moines River Valley north of Stratford. From there you'll travel north, crossing the Boone River, before heading west again through Brushy Creek State Recreation Area. From Brushy Creek you'll continue west to Lehigh, a small town on the Des Moines River. On leaving Lehigh, you'll climb out of the Des Moines River Valley, then head mostly south through Dayton, past Don Williams County Park, to the next control in Ogden. From Ogden you'll dip back down into the Des Moines River Valley and turn south toward Woodward, where the route leaves county roads and follows the High Trestle Trail (HTT) for just over 12 miles. This part of the trail includes the spectacular HTT Bridge over the Des Moines River. Once in Slater, the route leaves the HTT and joins a flat highway with wide, paved bike lanes for a mostly northern journey back to Ames. Although most of the early miles are in flat agricultural areas, the route includes several forested areas, lots of rollers, and a number of river crossings. Except for the HTT and short sections in/near Ames, Story City, and Madrid, the ride includes mostly county roads with light traffic.

Stats: 202 km (125.5 miles) with approximately 3800 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Note that this route is reversible (i.e., you may ride it either clockwise or counterclockwise). Available all year, but March to November are best.

Start Point: Swift Stop in north Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, go west on 13th Street, then north on Grand to 1 block past North Grand Mall… on left).

Route map: click the following link 


Des Moines River Triple Dip 205K (RUSA Permanent #651, approved in May 2009)

This ride starts and ends in Ames, which is approximately 35 miles north of Des Moines, and travels through three counties: Story, Polk, and Boone. It is composed of one large loop mostly south and west of Ames. From the start in Ames, the route heads east to Nevada, then south to near Chichagua Wildlife Habitat Park. From there it travels west through Elkhart, crosses I-35, and continues to near Polk City. Before reaching Polk City, you will leave county roads and follow the recently constructed High Trestle Trail for >18 miles. The western terminus of the trail, completed in 2011, includes a spectacular bicycle & pedestrian bridge over the Des Moines River (DMR). At Woodward, the permanent route rejoins county roads for a mostly northern journey paralleling the DMR Valley. Shortly before reaching Ogden, the route drops back into the DMR Valley then climbs west to the town. On leaving Ogden, you will travel north to Pilot Mound, turn east for the third and final crossing of the DMR, then continue more-or-less directly to Roland. From Roland it’s a few short miles south and west to the finish in Ames. Although traversing many miles of flat agricultural areas, the route includes several forested areas, lots of rollers, and of course three ventures into and out of the DMR Valley. Except for the High Trestle Trail and short sections in/near Ames, Nevada, and Madrid, the ride includes mostly county roads with light traffic.

Stats: 205 km (127.6 miles) with approximately 4500 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but March to November are best.

Start Point: Swift Stop in north Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, go west on 13th Street, then north on Grand to 1 block past North Grand Mall… on left).

Route map: click the following link 

Ride images: click the following link


Iowa River Ramble 214K (RUSA Permanent #522, approved in November 2008)

This ride starts and ends in Ames, and includes four counties: Story, Marshall, Hardin, and Hamilton. The route is composed of one large loop with a short out and back to Marshalltown at the southeast corner. After starting in Ames, you will travel east to Marshalltown (including a short detour to the town of Nevada), then northward along or parallel to the Iowa River, eventually reaching Eldora. From there the route heads south and west, passing the small towns of New Providence and Garden City, before reaching the penultimate control in Story City. From Story City you will swing east briefly through Roland, then south and west to the finish in Ames. The first and last portions of the route traverse mostly flat agricultural land, but the middle section (near the Iowa River) includes more forested areas and lots of rollers. Except for short sections in/near Ames, Nevada, Marshalltown, Eldora, and Story City, the ride is mostly on county roads with little traffic.

Stats: 214 km (133 miles) with 4465 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but March to November are best.

Start Point: Swift Stop in north Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, go west on 13th Street, then north on Grand to 1 block past North Grand Mall… on left).

Route map: click the following link


Tour de Trails 218K (RUSA Permanent #731, approved in November 2009)

This ride starts and ends in Slater, which is approximately 25 miles north of Des Moines. The route is composed of one large loop, including nearly 60 miles of paved recreational trail. You will ride briefly on the first of these, the High Trestle Trail, as you leave Slater, then pass along lightly travelled county roads until around mile 36. From there the route joins the scenic Raccoon River Valley Trail, passing through several small towns (e.g., Adel, Redfield, and Panora) before reaching the penultimate control in Jefferson. From Jefferson the route heads mostly east and south on county roads to Woodward, where the rider returns to the High Trestle Trail (HTT)... at the west end... crosses the Des Moines River on the spectacular HTT Bridge, then remains on the HTT for the final 9-miles to Slater. Overall, the route is quite flat but includes a few short climbs near Granger and after Jefferson. Expect to see wildlife along the trails, especially deer, raccoons, and fox.

Stats: 218 km (135.8 miles) with 3360 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but March to September are best.

Start Point: Casey's General Store in Slater (Exit 102 off I-35, go west approximately 5.5 miles, then through 4-way stop in Slater… Casey's is on the left).

Route map: click the following link


Three Rivers 300K (RUSA Permanent #1395, approved in January 2012)

This is a longer version of the Tour de Trails 218K (see above), with a start / finish in Ames. Like the Tour de Trails, it includes scenic portions of the Raccoon River Valley Trail and High Trestle Trail. The "added" sections include an outbound swing through Nevada and Maxwell and a final 15 miles (Slater to Ames) mostly on a flat highway with wide, paved bike lanes.

Stats: 300 km (186.4 miles) with approximately 5400 feet of culumaltive elevation gain. Available all year, but March to September are best.

Start Point: Quality Inn & Suites on northeast side of Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, go west on 13th Street approximately 0.4 miles… on right).

Route map: click the following link 


Devonian Shoreline Shuffle 303K (RUSA Permanent #663, approved in June 2009)

Picture Iowa not as a patchwork of corn- and soybean fields, but as a subtropical sea with abundant corals, sea lilies, and various other forms of marine life. If you had been around the place a few years ago... OK, a few hundred million years ago... you would have indeed seen some oceanfront property. The Devonian Shoreline Shuffle takes the rider back in time to Fossil and Prairie Park, where an abundance of Devonian creatures are exposed. The park, site of the former Rockford Brick and Tile Company, is known for its fossil deposits and for the fact that visitors are encouraged to collect fossils. Consequently, it is a popular destination for school groups. It and the nearby town of Rockford are the turnaround points of the Devonian Shoreline Shuffle. This route is mostly an out-and-back through "contemporary" Iowa (small towns and many corn- and soybean fields), with a short loop at the terminus. The ride starts in Story City, travels generally northeast to Alden and Sheffield, then loops to Fossil & Prairie Park, Rockford and Dougherty before returning to Sheffield and retracing the route back to Story City. Except for short sections in Story City, the ride includes mostly small towns and county roads with little traffic.

Stats: 303 km (188 miles) with approximately 4350 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but March to November are best.

Start Point: Kum & Go General Store on the east side of Story City (Exit 124 off I-35, on Broad Street just west of interstate… on left).

Route map: click the following link 


Heartland to Hills 400K (RUSA Permanent #732, approved in November 2009)

This challenging ride starts in Iowa’s heartland and extends westward to the Loess Hills before returning to central Iowa. The ride starts and ends in the picturesque town of Adel, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Des Moines. The route is an out-and-back with a 70-mile loop at the west end. The latter traverses the Loess Hills, one of the most scenic areas of Iowa. These hills encompass over 640,000 acres of distinctive topography along the Missouri River Valley (aka Iowa’s “west coast”). The Loess Hills were created thousands of years ago, during the last Ice Age, when massive glaciers covered much of Canada and the northern United States. When these glaciers melted, they left fine silt particles that were blown across the landscape, eventually forming thick deposits of windblown silt (i.e., loess) along the Missouri River Valley. Iowa’s loess deposits are among the most extensive in the world, and are largely responsible for the area’s scenic ridges, rippled bluffs, and outstanding prairies and forests. As one might expect, traversing the Loess Hills involves some climbing. However, even the segment in central Iowa is very hilly (and, ironically, the flattest section may be the Soldier River Valley in the heart of the Loess Hills). Other than the Soldier River Valley and the first- and last-few miles (on the Raccoon River Valley Trail), this ride is nearly always going up or down… a perfect route for anyone who likes rollers! Except for short sections in Adel, the ride includes mostly small towns and county roads with little traffic.

Stats: 400km (248.7 miles) with approximately 12,500 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but April to September are best.

Start Point: Casey’s General Store near downtown Adel (Exit 110 off I-80, go approximately 5 miles north on Hwy 169, to junction with Hwy 6... Casey’s is on the left / northwest corner).

Route map: click the following link 


Ames-Audubon-Ames (AAA) 400K (RUSA Permanent #1396, approved in January 2012)

This permanent combines parts of several other permanent routes, including some of the early miles of the Des Moine River Triple Dip 205K, Tour de Trails 218K and Heartland to Hills 400K. It deviates from "Heartland" route in Audubon, where it backtracks to the east a few miles before turning north toward Coon Rapids and Scranton, then northeast toward Don Williams Park. At Don Williams Park it re-joins another section of the "Triple Dip" route but continues in the opposite direction. After what is likely to be a spectacular night crossing of the High Trestle Trail bridge, the rider follows the same return route as in the Three Rivers 300K.

Stats: 400 km (248 miles) with approximately 8200 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available all year, but April to September are best.

Start Point: Quality Inn & Suites, on northeast side of Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, go west on 13th Street approximately 0.4 miles… on right).

Route map: click the following link 


Central Iowa Sampler 600K (RUSA Permanent #1397, approved in January 2012)

The "Sampler" is another combination of existing routes, including the entirety of my AAA 400K and a slightly shorter version of the Iowa River Ramble 214K. It deviates from "Ramble" primarily in the choice of controls (e.g., there is no control in Story City).

Stats: 600 km (374 miles). Available all year, but April to September are best.

Start Point: Quality Inn & Suites, on northeast side of Ames (Exit 113 off I-35, go west on 13th Street approximately 0.4 miles… on right).

Route map: click the following link 




Other Routes (in OREGON!)


Steens Summit Scramble 105K (RUSA Permanent #2264, approved in March 2014)

This challenging and scenic ride starts in the picturesque town of Frenchglen, gateway to Steens Mountain Recreational Area. The route consists primarily of a large loop on Steens Mountain, and passes some of the most spectacular scenery in southeastern Oregon, including several lakes, aspen groves, alpine meadows, and jaw-dropping vistas of Kiger Gorge, Little Blitzen Gorge, East Rim, and Big Indian Gorge. Because most of the route on gravel road, some of which can be a bit rough, a cyclocross- or mountain bike is recommended. Also note that services are limited to a couple campgrounds with bathrooms and water; otherwise, pack your own snacks! The final 10 miles, on pavement, includes a fun decent into Frenchglen.

Stats: 105 km (65.5 miles) with approximately 6870 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available only from June to October, because of snowpack at higher altitudes.

Start Point: Frenchglen Hotel or Frenchglen Mercantile on Highway 205.

Route map: click the following link



South Valley Circuit 205K (RUSA Permanent #829, approved in February 2010)

This scenic circuit of the southern Willamette Valley and adjacent parts of the Coast- and Cascade Ranges starts and ends in Corvallis, approximately 35 miles south of Salem and 45 miles north of Eugene. The route initially climbs over the Coast Range to the first control in Alsea, then winds up the South Fork Alsea River, climbing again over the Coast Range before descending back into the Willamette Valley near Alpine and Monroe. From there the rider traverses the flat southern end of the Willamette Valley, crossing several rivers and passing some of the most productive farmland in Oregon. Then, near the east end of the loop, the route climbs briefly into the foothills of the Cascade Range to the penultimate control in Sweet Home. After Sweet Home, just a few more rollers and a flat final push across the Willamette Valley to Corvallis. Except for short sections in Corvallis, Harrisburg, Sweet Home, and Lebanon, the ride includes mostly small towns and roads with little traffic.

Stats: 205km (127.7 miles) with approximately 8350 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available year round.

Start Point: Fred Meyer (Exit 228 off I-5, go approximately 8 miles west on Hwy 34, continue straight on Harrison Blvd (in Corvallis) for 1 mile, then turn north / right on Kings Boulevard for 0.3 miles. Fred Meyer is on right / east corner of NW Fillmore Ave & Kings Boulevard).

Route map: click the following link 



Round The Ridge 205K (RUSA Permanent #854, approved in April 2010)

This scenic loop starts and ends in Corvallis, approximately 35 miles south of Salem and 45 miles north of Eugene. The first part of the route traverses the eastern foothills of the Coast Range, past farms, tree plantations and oak woodlands, and along the western boundary of Finley National Wildlife Refuge, an important overwintering site for Dusky Canada Geese. After dropping back to the valley floor and the small towns of Alpine and Monroe, the rider turns onto Territorial Road for a few fast miles (and some nice wineries), followed by another brief sojourn into the foothills. A couple challenging rollers and the second control, then it’s back to Territorial Road on the west side of Fern Ridge Reservoir. The route parallels Fern Ridge for several miles, en route to Veneta and the southernmost control at Crow. From there, the rider heads northeast to the outskirts of Eugene, then past the Eugene International Airport and rich agricultural areas along the west side of the Willamette River. After crossing the river at Harrisburg, the route intersects Oregon's first designated bikeway, the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway (WVSB). The permanent route and WVSB are comingled to the penultimate control in Brownsville and for several miles along the east side of the Willamette River. The rider leaves the WVSB six miles from the finish, then crosses the Willamette River one last time on entering Corvallis and the home stretch. Except for short sections in Corvallis, Harrisburg, and at a handful of highway crossings, the ride covers mostly roads with little traffic.

Stats: 205km (127.7 miles) with approximately 5400 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available year round.

Start Point: Timberhill Center, at corner of NW Walnut Blvd and NW Kings Blvd (Exit 228 off I-5, go approximately 8 miles west on Hwy 34, continue straight on Harrison Blvd (in Corvallis) for 1 mile, then turn north / right on Kings Boulevard for 1.5 miles. Timberhill Center is on right / southeast corner of Walnut Blvd and Kings Blvd).

Route map: click the following link



Frenchglen Frolic 205K (RUSA Permanent #2265, approved in March 2014)

This out-and-back ride starts in Hines, a "suburb" of Burns, and travels to the picturesque town of Frenchglen. The route is mostly flat (two short climbs both directions), passing through rangeland and marshes in/along Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Riders will also be treated to scenic views of Steens Mountains, Saddle Butte, Coyote Buttes, and the many other landforms between Burns and Frenchglen. There should also be plenty of opportunities for seeing waterfowl, antelope, jackrabbits, and the myriad other wildlife in the areaNote that services between Burns and Frenchglen are limited to a convenience store / campground at The Narrows, so you might want to carry extra water and pack your own snacks.

Stats: 205 km (127.5 miles) with approximately 2440 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available year round, but could be challenging in winter.

Start Point: Open Control, Hwy 20 and Hilander Boulevard in Hines (Options: McDonald's, Subway, Leather's Texaco, etc.).

Route map: click the following link



Denio Doubleback 243K (RUSA Permanent #2266, approved in March 2014)

This out-and-back ride starts where the "Frolic" leaves off, starting in Frenchglen. After a stiff climb out of Frenchglen, the rider will skirt the west side of Steens Mountain, with scenic views of Hart Mountain, Roaring Springs, and the Catlow Valley. The route then enters Long Hollow and soon begins the gradual climb over the south end of Steens Mountain. At the top of the climb the rider will be treated to scenic
views of Steens Mountain, the Pueblo Mountains and the Alvord Basin. After a fun descent into the basin, riders can stop at the control in Fields for one of their famous milkshakes. From Fields, its a relatively flat ride south to Denio, Nevada, the route's turnaround. Like on other rides in the area, there should opportunities for seeing waterfowl, antelope, jackrabbits, and perhaps even a few wild horses. Note that there are no services between Frenchglen and Fields, so please carry extra water and pack your own snacks.

Stats: 243 km (151 miles) with approximately 5885 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Available year round, but could be challenging in winter.

Start Point: Frenchglen Hotel or Frenchglen Mercantile on Highway 205.

Route map: click the following link


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