When I drew up the itinerary for this tour, I planned short mileage days for Iowa. The reason for this was that all my friends who hAve ridden RAGBRAI, the massive cross-Iowa bike ride, have told me that Iowa’s hills are horribly difficult.
It turns out they are probably right if you are trying to ride them with 10,000+ other people. When you are riding alone, they’re not bad at all. The tend to be long, sometimes longer than a mile, but not particularly steep. Compared to what I rode up during the first week of this tour they are easy.
The farms in Iowa follow the contours of the land. Instead of Indiana farm’s straight rows, Iowa farms are all curves and contrasts. For most of the day I admired them. The last 20 miles not so much.
It was supposed to be a 48 mile day of grueling hills but, as I already said, the hills were no big deal. I arrived at my planned destination, a cute town called Oxford Junction, at 12:30. I could camp in the town park for free or continue on to Cascade, 25 miles to the north. I decided to skip the all you can eat offerings at the town restaurant/bar and forge ahead.
In the town of Wyoming I stopped to consider riding beyond Cascade to Dyersville. I decided to delay the decision until I arrived at Cascade.
Off I went down a suspiciously winding highway. My map said this should be a straight road. Hmmm…
I was going the wrong way. Four miles. Uphill. Into a headwind. Doh!
At least the return trip was fun.
I stopped in Wyoming and had some comfort food: a blueberry fritter. Damn did it taste good.
On to Cascade. It was a slog to be sure. I tried to put those extra eight miles out of my mind. Just put my head down and pedaled.
I arrived in Cascade feeling pretty good. I sat on a bench outside a gas station considering my options. Camp for free in the lovely city park in Cascade or ride on 23 miles to Dyersville, my itinerary’s destination for tomorrow. I’d already ridden 81 miles.
A mechanic came out of the garage and started talking with me. He told me the 23-mile route was designed to take me past the Field of Dreams ballpark in a cornfield. I didn’t think much of the movie so when he told me that taking the highway to Dyersville was only 15 miles with only a few hills after about 10 miles.
When you get route advice from a non-cyclist you really should take it with several grains of salt.
I went for it. The first 10 miles were scenic and level. Just what I needed. The rest of the shortcut matched the mechanics description to a t.
Which is not to say I was enjoying the last few hills or the relentless expansion joints in the pavement that were beating my body up. When I saw the Dyersville water tower I knew I was home free.
Down a long hill into town. Rather than camp in the park I grabbed a motel room, after making sure it’s TV system carried tonight’s Stanley Cup game. Go Caps!!
Today’s mileage: 96 (thanks to those 8 bonus miles)
Trip miles: 1,267.
Tomorrow I’ll take it a bit easier.