Iowa 2010 – Day 15

Lamoni to Clarinda: Ode to the spray of an oncoming cattle truck on a wet day

Thursday May 20, 2010, 70 miles (113 km) – Total so far: 658 miles (1,059 km)

Cold. Wet. Pruned. That’s how I end the day. When my alarm goes off at 5am to start the day though, I’m warm, comfy and dry after a good night’s sleep. I get through to my husband (it’s 9 pm there) and we talk for 10 or so minutes before I go back to sleep until 7. The Weather Channel forecast indicates a 90 percent chance of rain. High of 54. I’m getting used to this now, though. I get a good day of quartering tailwind, then the following day is rainy.

The motel continental breakfast is English muffins, Raisin Bran, Cheerios or donut holes. That’s not a choice, that’s a punishment. I force down some English muffins and head out into the rain. There’s not too much to Lamoni, even though there’s a university here (Graceland University – started by the Reorganized LDS folks). This town was even the world headquarters for the Reorganized LDS group for awhile – the headquarters are now in Independence, MO. I pass the Joseph Smith III house on the way out of town and settle in for a wet day.

I’m already wet within 30 minutes. It’s not a hard rain, just a steady rain. But my legs feel okay, even after all that sprinting on a long day yesterday. Today it is just more endless hills up and down watercourses. I will cross 8 named creeks or rivers and countless smaller ones before lunch-time. However, I make good time. With my head down, I’m just grinding out the miles and not paying any attention to my cycle computer. When I merge onto Hwy 169 after about 18 miles, I’m reminded how much easier state highway grades are. I get three different cars giving encouraging honks and waves in the 5 miles to Redding.

It’s a real outside chance, but I’m hoping Redding has somewhere I can get some food and get warm. But there’s nothing there but some decaying old buildings, some optimistic street names and a little park right in the centre. I get chased by a wet basset hound who’s all bark and no speed and whose owner keeps yelling at him to ‘git back here’ to no avail. I dismount the bike and head under the picnic pavilion and the hound loses interest. I finish off the trail mix, sitting there wet and shivering in the light wind while I listen to the rain dripping off the eaves. I dream of hot chocolate and a warm fire.

Back on the bike, the basset hound chases me out of town down a gluggy, muddy road. Back on pavement (J-55) there’s a long downhill to a river and then several small uphills climbing out of the drainage. Then more hills. There’s a couple more dog chases, some smelly cattleyards where the cows are standing in knee-deep muck and eventually the t-junction with P-14. I’m 3 miles away from the Missouri border. The folks of Blockton have a sense of humour with an interstate style sign at the junction saying ‘Blockton, Next 5 exits’. Each street is labelled as an ‘exit’. I then ride across the flats of the Platte River (no, not that Platte River) and get poured on for the next 10 minutes while climbing up to Hwy 2.

13 miles on Highway 2 to Bedford. I’m thoroughly soaked now. Rain has dripped into my jacket, I’ve sweated, etc. and I am saturated. There is no part of me that is not fully wet. It’s okay, though, as long as I keep moving. The grades are nice on Hwy 2, the truck traffic is pretty light and I have no troubles with traffic. I’m catching all the spray off the on-coming vehicles in my face when they pass, but I can’t get any wetter, so it’s okay. Until .. the on-coming vehicle is a full cattle truck. Before the trip I had thought of a million different things that could be unpleasant on a long-distance ride – but it had never crossed my mind: on-coming cattle truck on a wet day. Oh man, you do NOT want to catch a face full of spray off of an on-coming cattle truck. The smell lingers when it’s plastered to your face. It’s nasty enough I ride into the middle of my lane when I see the next semi coming, in an attempt to get a rinsing spray.

I get to Bedford, and the gas station as you come into town has a Godfather’s pizza buffet. It’s tempting, but I decide to have a look in town first. I head down the hill to the downtown district. There are nice historic buildings and the streets are all still brick. I see a fried food type of diner café and a nicer place called ‘The Eatery’, but I don’t think they’d appreciate my sodden state, so I take in the buildings and head back for the pizza buffet. I wish it were nicer weather because I think I would have enjoyed having a bit more of a look around town and the state park north of here.

Back at the gas station, I peel off my raincoat, pants and gloves and leave them to ‘dry’ on the bike. Once inside, I know it is warm in there, but I’m chilled now that I’ve stopped moving. I think half the town is in there at the tables, and they all look at me like I’m a ghost or something. I find an empty table, deposit my handlebar bag and go over to the pizza buffet table. I’m not really hungry, just cold, and oh goodness, I just want to lay down on top of the pizza underneath those heat lamps. I eat some pizza and salad, sitting there fully goose-bumped and chilly the whole time. Everywhere I walk I literally leave puddles behind from my soaked shoes.

I get back to the bike and start sliding my rain gear back on. Oh, I’m so cold, I need to get moving. Two guys come out and ask about the trip. They’re very nice and the older guy offers to let me come dry out in his garage. He owns the gas station and café up the road and periodically lets wet motorcyclists dry out there. The younger guy is there visiting from PA and offers to take me to Clarinda in his truck. I thank them lots, but I know I can’t get any wetter, so as long as I keep moving I’ll be okay. So off I go the last 17 miles to Clarinda on Hwy 2. It’s more hills, but gentler grades out here on the state highway. I have to get off the road for 3 of those huge wind turbine blades to go by on oversized loads, but other than that the traffic is fine.

With 7 miles to go, the rain finally tapers off to a drizzle and then stops at 3 miles to Clarinda. I’ve still got some legs so I toy with the idea of going on to Shenandoah. But I’m feeling pretty cold and I spot the Super 8 sign and just head there. I don’t have the mental energy to even check out the mom and pop place across the street. The woman who checks me in says she sees a couple of long-distance cyclists a year. I stand there in my own puddle, and I can’t stop shivering as she prints out the computer receipt. For the first time, I realize I may be just edging into the beginnings of hypothermia. Once in the room, I get everything spread out to dry and turn the heater onto ‘Australia hot’. I’m so pruned the skin on my hands is super soft. I spend a long time in the shower just standing under the hot spray getting warm.

I head across the road to the supermarket to get supper and food for the next 2 days. The place is busy and I ask the checkout lady what the population is. She says, ‘with or without the prison’? Ah, that’s why there’s signs of life in this town. I’m too tired and wet to go into town to have a look around, but it is the birthplace of Glen Miller and there’s a related museum if you’re interested in him.

That evening I go down to the hot tub and have it all to myself. I slowly get the body temp back up and discover that the achy tendon-muscle bit in my lower left leg prefers the heat to ice (which is what I had been doing at night when possible). I leave the heater on all night — didn’t realize I’d really gotten that cold in all that rain.

Ave Speed: 12.6mph

Max Speed: 34.7

Leave a Reply