Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday, July 30, ride from Waterloo to Manchester

Today’s journey to Manchester from Waterloo looked fairly easy on the map. A couple of thousand feet of climb over a 61 mile route didn’t sound too tough. Unfortunately mother nature figured heavily into the ride today.
When we went to bed we knew some weather was forecast. In fact we expected a shower at 11 pm that didn’t materialize. And the next day was 40 to 60% chance of intermittent showers for the day.
I left at 7 AM and the rain began. I rode about 4.5 miles in the rain from our host’s location until I was able to join the route near the Waterloo Water Park. It was just sprinkling by this time so when I got to Gilbertville I thought it was a good idea to stop for biscuits and gravy and a banana at the American Legion.
When I came out I heard thunder so I got on the bike and headed east rapidly trying to outrun the thunderstorm. The rain picked up until it was really coming down and the lightning was flashing around us. It was pretty spectacular. It teased us by dropping back to a sprinkle and I thought we might be alright. The sky lightened up,
Then “Wham”, a spectacular bolt of lightning struck about a half mile in front of us near a radio or tv tower and the rain began in earnest. It didn’t stop for 4 hours.
It is hard to describe riding this long (4 hours and 56 minutes) in a steady and sometimes driving rain with all those other riders. It was absolutely numbing. The miles just went by as you put your head down and pedaled away
Fortunately the road was good and the hills, though reoccurring on a regular basis, weren’t overwhelming – at least while it was raining.
I really felt sorry for the kids and groups who had set up shop along the way expecting to sell us beverages or food because we weren’t stopping for anything. We wound through the countryside (nearly all roads in Iowa run either north/south or /east west) until we came to a town where the call of nature and hunger forced me to stop. I was also out of liquids and the last thing you want to do on a multi day ride is to get dehydrated.
So Rowley got the benefit of my money with a chicken sandwich from the Tyson booth and a refill of liquids. Soaked doesn’t describe the day. As David said, “It just rained and got cold and then it got windy”.
I stalled a bit and then got back on the cold bike and pedaled on my way, determined not to stop again until I was at our Manchester host home. We’d come 35 miles to Rowley and there was about 30 more to go according to the map.
Through Quasqueton I pedaled even though it did look like a place where I would have liked to stop for a while. We had earlier crossed the Cedar River which was severely swollen from the previous rains. The Wapsie in Quasqy was also pretty full as I crossed it. No stopping and on I went. It really was a dreary day of riding without much of interest to report. I think it might have been more interesting, no, I know it would have been more interesting, if it had been sunny. The land we were riding through was the farmland of my youth and I could have enjoyed it if only the weather had been better.
I did reminisce a bit about my grandfather and going to some of the areas with him when he whitewashed barns or sprayed them with DDT to get rid of the flies, or sprayed barnyards for weeds with something akin to agent orange, I’m sure.
But mostly it was head down and pedal.
Finally we got to Winthrop, the last town before Manchester, about 15 miles to go according to the map. As we turned east, the rain stopped, but the wind slammed us in the face at what seemed like 20 mile an hour blast that set the flags out straight and the corn waving. And there were some decent hills to climb over the last miles too.
Finally into Manchester we came, across the Maquoketa River that had put Manchester in the national news only six days ago with a major flood. We could see what a sorry state it left some of the homes as we crossed the river.
Into the town we came and I had the chance to relax, take a shower at the nearby high school, and go visit an old family friend, Norma Hadrava, who drove up from Cedar Rapids with her daughter.
Then I got a message from a former business associate, Rick Werth, who now lives in Des Moines. He is riding tomorrow with his wife, daughter and son in law. We worked on Northern Telecom programs together for many years. He came to our host home and we talked for some time. It was good to see him and meet his family.
Our hosts brought us wonderful food tonight that they prepare. We had brats and burgers.
Tomorrow we finish in Dubuque, so rain or not it will be over. All is dried. I hope it can stay that way. We will say our goodbyes to our new friends and Barb and I will head home.
Oh, Barbara? Sounds like she’s not going to ride any with me after all. Maybe next year.
Remember, I just rode hard n a really crummy day but I didn’t have it near as bad as lots of folks in the Clemmons area who need your help. So send some money, maybe $68 to match the number of miles I rode today. Or $442 for the advertised route mileage for the week. Send your check to the Clemmons Food Pantry, c/o Clemmons Methodist Church, Clemmons, NC 27012 and mark “Roger’s Ride” on the check.
Thanks. I’ll post something tomorrow.

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