Tailwinds

My eyes open. I see the sunlight through the bedroom window. What’s going on? Must have slept in. What a sloth. I roll over. The big red numbers on my bedside alarm clock blare

6:45

Whoa.

Another lazy morning follows. Crosswords, newspapers, surfing the TV and the laptop, meditation and physical therapy delay me long enough to avoid the coldest hours of the day.

I put on a mask and venture out to the hardware store to pick up the lawn mower blade that I had left to be sharpened. The cold wind sharpens my mind as I pedal Little Nellie. It takes only a moment in the store to retrieve the blade and strap it to the bike’s rear rack.

I am grateful for the step through frame of the bike. Swinging my leg over the back end would risk an unpleasant encounter with the business end of the blade which sticks out of the back end of the rack.

I take off my mask and return home to drop off the blade and switch bikes. I switch to The Mule and light out for an easy spin. Northwest. Into the cold wind. Am I dressed warmly enough?

Pedal, pedal.

Yesterday’s soaking rain has left every yard and park soggy. The leafless trees are no match for the clear blue sky.

I ride ten miles to a book store. After locking my steed, I head for the store. I stop and cuss. I need a mask. I go back to my bike and quickly discover that the mask I had on this bike is on the hardware store bike.

No books for me.

Off I ride, a bit frustrated by my thoughtlessness. And annoyed for the umpteenth time by the damned pandemic.

By now the temperature is in the mid 40s. Not too bac. When I finally turn around to head for home, the wind is at my back.

No longer chilled, I take my time. I hear the front brake rubbing the rim. I ignore it. I have a tailwind. That’s how tailwinds work.

For a year we’ve been riding into Covid headwinds. Vaccines are about to become widely available. More tailwinds.

The sun sets tonight at

6:02

Whoa.

Any Road Tour: Day 16 – Tailwinds to the Mississippi

Drinking a half gallon of caffeinated soda at 9 p.m. might not be the best formula for sleep but I did it anyway. After yesterday’s beatdown from hills and headwinds I could not get enough to eat. I had PB&J sandwiches, a Snickers bar, two chocolate chip cookies, and fast food. And my pants are falling off. No lie.

I had two breakfasts because, well, no food be said “Stop!” I think I am going to get banned from some hotel chains.

I decided to stay on the due west Adventure Cycling Northern Tier Route because the Google instructions for riding into Iowa on a northwestern diagonal were much too complicated.

On the road around 8 I instantly felt regret. It was cool and there was a strong wind from the east. Perfect tailwinds for a fast bike ride. Why didn’t I get on the road sooner?

Leaving Kenawee I was cruising at 15 to 20 miles per hour. Hills? What hills?

The level prairie had given way to rolling hills. The main crops were corn and soybeans as before but they were planted in curves that matched the topography.

I didn’t take any pictures because I was too busy taking advantage of the fantastic conditions. I stopped for lunch st a 7-11 in Sherrard. I was half way to Iowa at 11:30,l. When I came back outside, the wind had changed direction. It was now a crosswind out of the south. It gradually shifted to the southwest creating something close to a headwind.

Still I was grateful for 38 miles of assistance.

I stopped a couple more times just to break up the grind.

Then I saw this sign. Not again. It was ambiguous.

I ignored it and never encountered the promised outage. At about the point where the outage was supposed to be, I caught a mile long curvy downhill on smooth pavement.

Zoom!

After a few more miles I stopped to orient myself. Next to me were acres of crops clearly in a flood plain.

My head was immediately surrounded by annoying flying insects. I won’t be camping near here was my immediate thought

Soon I was on a busy highway making use of my mirror just like in South Carolina last fall.

Then I saw this sign.

At the top of the bridge I stopped to check out the Big Muddy.

On the far side of the bridge in the city of Muscatine, I put a notch in my handlebars for the 8th state on my trip, Iowa.

A search with The Google turned up several hotels. After stopping for a celebratory ice cream cone, I pedaled onward looking for shelter.

Traffic was heavy and the highway unwelcoming, so I turned down a grassy hill into the parking lot of a Super 8.

Mission accomplished.

Today’s 78.5 miles were far easier than yesterday’s 62.5.

Tour total: 1,171.