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