2014 Illinois – Day 4 – Kewanee to Muscatine, IA: Lost in Mercer County

Thursday May 22, 2014, 80 miles (128 km) – Total so far: 274 miles (440 km)

The roads do not do what they are supposed to today. Well, yes, they provide a surface upon which to travel somewhere (when I can find the right ones), but I encounter gravel where there is supposed to be pavement, gravel too big and thick to pedal, and roads that do not match the map. Through all of this, I get totally lost for the first time ever on tour. Read more

2014 Iowa – Day 5 – The $1 investment that saves my butt

Friday May 23, 2014

My original plan for today was to ride out to one of the recreation areas or the state park near the river and do some hiking. But my butt says, no way. So today becomes a rest day. After a few errands, I spend the day on my stomach or side, trying to keep off my butt and trying to keep the forming scab from sticking to the skin of my leg and pulling off. Yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.

Most importantly, I find a $1 small roll of black duck tape at a nearby Dollar Tree. I tape up my seat to smooth/eliminate the torn ridge that has caused the blister. (I end up carrying this roll of duck tape with me for the rest of the tour. I use it to repair the tape when it starts to deteriorate every few weeks or so. It is my best or next-to-best $1 investment of the entire tour. Once my butt heals this time, I have no more problems).

I get lunch at Wendys – a small chili and plain baked potato is one of my favourite meals. There’s a lot of nutrition, protein and carbs packed in that meal for less than $3.

I also go back and look at Google maps and my IL bike map to try to figure out where I went wrong yesterday. I study the maps for a very long time and still have no idea where I went wrong or just where I actually went! Many times you can go back and say, “Aha! That was the problem”! But this time, I’ve got no clue. I very rarely get lost on road or trail, but this one is destined to remain a mystery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Iowa – Day 6 – Muscatine to Kalona: The interrogation

Saturday May 24, 2014, 39 miles (62 km) – Total so far: 312 miles (503 km)

The tall, thin woman at the library circulation desk in Kalona gives me a disapproving glance. She has on a grey blouse which matches her short, stylish, grey and white hair. Slim, angular reading glasses perch on the very end of her long nose. The deep maroon lipstick emphasises her pursed and pouted lips. Read more

2014 Iowa – Day 7 – Kalona: Small town Sunday

Sunday May 25, 2014

Kalona, Iowa is the center of the largest Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River. 1300 Amish, in nine church districts, live nearby. There are many Mennonites, as well, and local tourist brochures explain how the groups differ in religious observance.

You can take a tour of the area and visit Amish furniture stores, the cheese factory and an Amish buffet. I do not partake, Read more

2014 Iowa – Day 9 – Kalona – Montezuma: More days like this, please

Tuesday May 27, 2014, 58 miles (94 km) – Total so far: 371 miles (597 km)

Ah, if only more days could be like this one. Never too uncomfortable, good roads, courteous traffic, an easy but decent distance covered, a pleasant afternoon in a scenic location, and strong storms that provide a good show of cloud formations and lightning but never threaten me. Cue up more days like that described below, please. Read more

2014 Iowa – Day 10 – Montezuma to Yellowbanks Park: A run-in with ‘the law’

Wednesday May 28, 2014, 58 miles (94 km) – Total so far: 429 miles (690 km)

I am not an early morning person. My body naturally says that 8.30am is a good time to awaken. But on the road, I love early mornings. Most often I do not even resist my watch alarm (which I set because I naturally do not awaken in the pre-dawn, even on the road). I often pack in the dark as the birds first begin to tweet their songs of greeting, and then I’m on the road at first light. Read more

2014 Iowa – Day 11 – Yellowbanks Park to Ankeny: Gettin’ my nerd on

Thursday May 29, 2014, 32 miles (52 km) – Total so far: 461 miles (743 km)

I have to restrain myself. I really like to get up and get on the road in the morning. I don’t eat breakfast, so usually I go from sleeping bag to pedalling in about 40-45 minutes. I can’t eat for an hour after taking the thyroid pill, and I’m not a breakfast kind of gal anyway, so usually I ride for about 20 miles before I stop for fuel. But this morning, I’m just hanging about, spinning my wheels metaphorically, waiting for all the commuters to drive into Des Moines and get off the road. Read more

2014 Iowa – Day 12 – Ankeny to Ledges State Park: Hiking trails and rail trails

Friday May 30, 2014, 39 miles (64 km) – Total so far: 501 miles (806 km)

Someone needs to grab the sky over Iowa and give it a good squeeze. The atmosphere could do with a good wringing out. The blanket of humidity is tucked up tight as far as I can see, the atmospheric insulation already becoming oppressive as I slip down the rail trail at 6am. The skin on my arms is already shiny with sweat. The moisture beads on my forehead and soaks the liner inside my helmet. Read more

2014 Iowa – Day 13 – Ledges State Park to Audubon: Alphabet soup

Saturday May 31, 2014, 78 miles (125 km) – Total so far: 579 miles (932 km)

It’s a bit of a gamble.

The least risky way to start the day is to ride back east for a few miles to Hwy 17, then ride south for a couple miles to Luther, then head west on E57. This would be like riding the two long sides and one short side of a rectangle. But all of it would be paved and we’d know exactly where we were and where we were going. Read more