The Thursday night “taco ride” on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail started with about 30 cyclists.
“We were just riding to ride, have exercise and go have fun,” said Greg Losh.
The group rode to a bar in Silver City, Iowa, for its Thursday night taco special. When the bar closed, the destination became Tobey Jack’s Mineola Steakhouse.
Eventually, Losh began organizing the ride, and it has since grown into an anticipated weekly event.
By word of mouth, the Thursday night ride along the Wabash Trace Nature Trail grew. It averages 1,000 to 1,600 cyclists during the summer. One ride saw 2,600 participants, Losh said.
“We have no clue who shows up and does it,” Losh said. “It’s not so much that I’m running it anymore. It’s on autopilot.”
Participants have come from all over the United States and from across the globe.
“It’s kind of getting to the point where I’ve seen it all,” Losh said.
Slightly past the halfway point, many cyclists take a break at a picnic area called “Margaritaville.” Some stop for drinks and others grill out.
Anyone able to complete a 20-mile bike ride is welcome to join, Losh said.
Cyclists are asked to pay a fee, $1 per ride or $10 per year, to ride on the privately owned and managed Wabash. Participants should wear helmets and have front and rear lights on their bikes.
For those who get in over their heads or who only want to ride one way, a shuttle service is offered. Known as the Bus, the shuttle takes cyclists from the restaurant to the Council Bluffs trailhead. The shuttle is offered during the summer and usually makes multiple trips.
Two to six Pottawattamie County deputy sheriffs patrol the trail. They take care of the occasional rowdy rider and help any injured cyclists, Losh said.
“They’re a really good team of guys,” Losh said.
Though Losh said the destination can be “chaotic” and “nutty,” the ride is scenic.
“The trail itself is basically like a tunnel of trees,” Losh said. “It’s a beautiful ride.”