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  1. #1
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Successful Iowa crossing

    My wife and I are hosting a nice, young (17 YO) German boy this summer. His name is Josh, and he is the two-time German national pentathlon champion (for his age group). He's probably about 6'3or 4", and a strong rider. Josh and I just completed a successful Iowa crossing last Monday, and here are the details with some photos attached. The total mileage was about 300. We started in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday morning at about 8 A.M. (too late), but since we had just arrived in Omaha at 1 A.M. earlier that morning from Utah, we decided to "sleep in" for at least 4 or 5 hours. It was hot for the whole trip with high temperatures hovering around 100-105F on all 3.5 days. But the real killer was that famous mid-west humidity. I'm not sure of the exact humidity reading, but several people told us it was around 90%!!! Now I'm a high desert, low humidity kind of guy, so it was very uncomfortable for me, and Josh is a cool, wet weather German guy, so the high temperature was difficult for him, too.

    We crossed the Missouri river at about 8 A.M., over the old Omaha bridge, and Janet (Ms hammer boy) rode ahead in the car about 50 miles and fixed us a wonderful picnic lunch (see photo). After lunch, she headed on to our hotel to wait for us. It started to get really hot about this time, so the second half of our first day was challenging. About 10 miles before our hotel I started to get chills, which is a sign of heat exhaustion, so we found a nice tree and drank, drank, drank. I figure we drank about 10 gallons (40 liters) of water all 3.5 days. Anyway, soon I felt better and we made it to our first hotel where Janet was waiting. We did 82.6 miles the first day. That's pretty good, considering the late start, lack of good sleep, challenging hills, and that terrible heat.

    The next morning we got out a bit earlier (6 A.M.) and that made things much better for the first half of the ride, but boy, did it heat up after lunch. We said good bye to Janet at about 10 A.M., near Winterset, Iowa (the home of the movie, Bridges of Madison County, and the birthplace of John Wayne). Now we were totally on our own. It was a long and hot afternoon and Josh had a real difficult time keeping up. It wasn't a good day for him. Once, while we were stopped cooling off under a nice big tree, some wonderful Iowa woman stopped her car and brought us two nice big bottles of ice cold water. She said she saw us some miles back and then went to the store to buy the water but had a hard time finding us, lying there under that shade tree. She said she was sure happy to see we were okay. Josh couldn't believe how nice the people were, but I explained that Americans take care of one another, especially in our heart land. This cold water gave both of us a nice boost and we arrived at our hotel at about 3 P.M. When we got to the hotel the lady at the front desk said she was worried about us and was glad to see that "her cyclists" made it okay. I went out into what felt like a bake oven over to a nearby Subway and bought two huge sandwiches and Josh and I inhaled them. By 9 P.M. we were both very much asleep. We made about 85 miles the second day.

    On Monday morning we got out of bed at 5 A.M. and with our blinkie lights a flashin' we hit the road, headed for the next Iowa town of Washington. The day went well, and we were both strong, hardly feeling the many hills. When we stopped for lunch, Josh discovered that he had forgotte his (expensive, prescription) sun glasses some 15 miles back. Man, I didn't want to add 30 miles to the day, but we discussed our options. The manager of the Subway sandwich shop overheard our conversation and offered to drive us back to find his glasses. Who's gonna pass up an offer like that? Not me! So this wonderful lady took us back to the place Josh remembered where he left his glasses, and there they were, lying in the grass, right where he left them. The woman refused to allow me to fill up her gas tank, so I hid a $10 bill in the back seat of her car. We'll send her some photos of our adventure. (her name is) Madona, bless you. If you're ever at the Subway in Seagorney, Iowa, tell Madona how much we appreciate her.

    We arrived at our last hotel about 2 P.M., having put 87 miles under our sorry butts, and we ordered out a Pizza Hut thick crust, sausage, mushroom and green pepper pizza with bread sticks. Again, we inhaled the pizza and slept like a couple of babies. Both of us woke up about 4:30 A.M. the next morning and hit the road with our blinkie lights flashing as we tooled through Washington, Iowa, headed for the muddy Mississippi, only about 50 miles away. Since we had such a short ride, we stopped at a truck stop for a nice bacon and eggs breakfast. About 10:30 A.M. we hit the shore of the Mississippi river in the Iowa town of Muscatine. Janet and her sister had just arrived in town, too, so we cell phone connected and met them for lunch. Josh and I dumped all of our dirty clothes, bags, snack bars, and other stuff off and headed for the bridge over the Mighty Mississippi with much lighter and faster bikes. We crossed the river into Illinois about 2 P.M. and about 5 miles into Illinois we were picked up by the girls to head to Janet's sister's place, about 40 miles away. I would like to have ridden my bike, but we wasted too much time in Muscatine. We've been at Janet's sister's place since, but Josh, Janet and I have ridden nearly every day, tearing up the country roads here in Illinois.

    I'm looking forward to an across America trip next summer, but I don't think Josh will have the time to join me. He's been a great companion, never complaining and working hard to keep up. I'd bike with him anywhere. We found out that southern Iowa is quite hilly. The route we took included 9,400' (3,200m) of climbing, but being a mountain rider, it was quite easy, jumping over those many little hills. I sure look forward to doing it again some day, but under cooler conditions.

    Hope you enjoyed the photos. OHB
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Now thats what I call a ride. Hope you didn't wear the lad out too much, and the hospitality from your County is unbelievable. Must be a ride both of you will remember for a long time. All you have to do now is indoctrinate Josh into the pie culture and his break should be made for him. Problem now is- How do you top that for the hordes of people descending on you for next year?
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  3. #3
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    Congratulations on a job well done,
    and it sounds like it was quite an
    adventure. Again, congratulations.
    I doubt I could have done that in
    the time allowed.
    Ned Goudy, Glendora, CA USA
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    http://www.rhoadescar.com/4w1p-j.jpg

  4. #4
    Email for new group DnvrFox's Avatar
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    WOW!

    What an experience. ANd such great support from your unknown SAG team!
    Almost gone from the 50+ forum. - Email me at dnvrfox@aol.com for another fun new group of 50+ folks

  5. #5
    Road Runner DougG's Avatar
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    Hills in Iowa, eh? That would be a surprise to me, too. I've only gone across that state by motorcycle, but must have been more in the flatlands.

    It reminds me of an episode on the TV show "24" a couple years ago. They were tracking a terrorist's truck that was carrying a missle or something through Iowa, and they reported that they "lost it in the mountains." The show is very West-Coast-centric, so my wife and I had a good laugh about those Midwest Iowa mountains, but you're at least confirming that it's not all totally flat!

  6. #6
    Elite Fred mollusk's Avatar
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    Nice ride!

    I can see some +'s and some -'s versus doing this the RAGRAI way. Personally I'd rather do it your way, except for that chance of riding with Lance bit.

    40 minutes from Muscatine in Illinois puts you smack dab in the middle of the region where people add R's to their words: "warsh"=wash, "earl"=oil. I'm not from there, but I've spent a lot of time in that area and have several friends from there.
    I'm the world's forgotten boy. The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy.

  7. #7
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    It amazes me how much I enjoy (and I think all the 50+ers) reading about other peoples' rides. It just makes you want to get out and ride. And, in this case, what a wonderful way for this young man to take home a story about what the real America is like. Nice job. I'd ride with you any time. Can we have onions on our pizza?

  8. #8
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    [QUOTE=DougG]Hills in Iowa, eh? That would be a surprise to me, too. I've only gone across that state by motorcycle, but must have been more in the flatlands.
    QUOTE]
    Probably.... if you went across on interstate 80 it would seem kind of flat. Northeast Iowa is quite hilly and southern Iowa is somewhat hilly.

    Incidentally It's Sigourney, Iowa.
    Carpe who?

  9. #9
    Older than dirt...
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    Welcome to Illinois! Smart ride going West to East. We normally have winds of 15-20 mph from the S, SW, W this time of the year which adds a little extra challenge even if the land is flat. However, there are often long grades that you don't notice on a motorcycle or a car but you know they are there as you keep gearing down (up) on the bike. I am surprised you did not mention the corn fields that go on for ever ... nice big shade trees are the exception. Are you going to ride across Illinois or ride back? Thanks for sharing the ride!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Probably.... if you went across on interstate 80 it would seem kind of flat. Northeast Iowa is quite hilly and southern Iowa is somewhat hilly.

    Incidentally It's Sigourney, Iowa.
    Sorry, I was too lazy to look it up.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by never_be_rich
    Welcome to Illinois! Smart ride going West to East. We normally have winds of 15-20 mph from the S, SW, W this time of the year which adds a little extra challenge even if the land is flat. However, there are often long grades that you don't notice on a motorcycle or a car but you know they are there as you keep gearing down (up) on the bike. I am surprised you did not mention the corn fields that go on for ever ... nice big shade trees are the exception. Are you going to ride across Illinois or ride back? Thanks for sharing the ride!
    Actually, any wind we did experience was from the south. It was welcome, too. We'll be leaving back for Utah on Wednesday, but will be driving I-80 all the way. Perhaps next year I'll do the whole country (west to east). This short "tour" gave me a real taste for it, and I think I'm hooked. I will, however, build up a Surly LHT and carry a tent, only staying in motels once a week or so. That's the plan...

    BTW, I'm 5'10". Josh makes me look a whole lot shorter.

  12. #12
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    Sigourney

    I live quite near there and pass thru occasionally. I also eat at Subways all the time and will ask for Madonna next time there.
    "Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take many small steps" -Helmut
    Schmidt

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  13. #13
    Poky Oxymoron's Avatar
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    What a great trip. It is sort of flat in north central Iowa where the glaciers hit, but it rolls everywhere else. Don't believe everything you hear on TV! They say Ragbrai is Iowa's practical joke on the world. People go b/c they think it will be flat and easy. One must look at TOTAL altitude gain: 9,400' in this case.

    If you're heading across I-80 you must stop for lunch in Iowa City (not Coralville, it stinks). Downtown IC has two Indian restaurants, sushi, and a bunch of pubs - Micky's is good, and the Yacht Club has BBQ. Find the Hamburg Inn on N. Linn St. for the best burgers in town - an authentic 50s diner. The New Pioneer Co-op in either IC or Coralville has a great deli. So does John's grocery in IC.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Great ride report and pics!! I think that's a ride you both will remember and a great experience particularly for Josh. It's a real plus for non americans to see what the real country of America is like.

  15. #15
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    Thanks! That is fun to read and see!

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