Iowa is Not Flat

June 16, 2012

Iowa

Population: cows

Typography: HILLS.

Weather: Devil’s wind.

Based on our latest entries, it would be easy to deduce that biking cross country is a jolly occasion comprised of good food, boat rides, big cities, and incredible hospitality. While all of that is very true, it would be a gross fallacy if we let you think that sunny skies and good people is the extent of our cross country experience.  Iowa has been a state of ups and downs; typographically, physically and emotionally.

We left Wheatland, but didn’t get far because I realized that I forgot my cell phone, turned around, escape from the headwinds. After retrieving my phone we turned westward, towards the stubborn and unceasing winds. Stopped to chat with a man who was running from coast to coast with short shorts and a baby carriage, at least that’s what it looked like from the distance. We stopped to exchange a little bit about our experiences and offer any kind of wisdom that we had gleaned from our coastal treks. It’s fun to track what becomes “topical” when traveling: road shoulders (or lack thereof) and head winds dominated the conversation.

Seth has been on the road for 72 day, is averaging about 30 miles a day (running!), and according to his blog he only took two rest days… quote Andrew, “This guy is an animal!” Best of luck to you, Seth! Follow his blog here: http://www.sethwolpin.com/2012/06/finding-my-way-out-of-iowa.html

Andrew had to turn around to retrieve our map from Seth…Onward to Tipton!

What followed was probably the lowest part of this trip for me. Andrew mentioned that water towers became beacons of hope for us, well at that point mail boxes started to look like water towers because I wanted so badly to see anything other than the hills and the corn fields that consumed my field of sight. And the winds. That day were biking against 30 mph winds gusts, which was both mentally and physically exhausting. The particular stretch from Wheatland to Tipton was only 25 miles, but it felt like all 100 miles that we biked the day earlier. Needless to say I was very happy when we finally made it to Tipton.

I was so happy to see that tower!

After lunch in Tipton, we were headed to Morse, and based on what we saw in some of the other towns that we passed Andrew stopped to make sure that they had a grocery store or restaurant or just “life” in that town.. The woman kindly fought back a chuckle and told Andrew that they have one VFW that serves a meal once a week so we should bike to the next town over. We did and we made it to West Branch (Herbert Hoover’s stomping grounds).

Sitting in front of Herbert Hoover’s house.

The Herbert Hoover Museum.

We parked our bikes and walked through a gorgeous park in West Branch.

Next morning we biked to Iowa City. With the winds at our backs, it was like we were on a whole different trip. Winds really do make a huge difference.

We stopped to have a fantastic breakfast at the Hamburg Inn, local hole in the wall diner frequented by locals and celebrities alike (Bill Clinton and Kurt Vonnegut to name a few).

Eggs Florentine: YUM. Delicious breakfast fueled us for the morning trek.

Our lunch break in Brooklyn: flag central.

On the way to Tipton, we crossed paths with three tourists from Arizona. Jordan, Sam, and Mike are biking from Washington to Boston and raising money for Charity Water and an organization that sends care packages to troops in Afghanistan. It was a lot of fun to bump into fellow tourists. Seemed like a group fun group of guys and wishing them all the best on their trip! You can follow their trip at http://mikeandjordanadventure.wordpress.com/

All hills to Newton, but what else is new? Love you, Iowa. The people of  Newton made up for the uphill struggle. Turns out we were only a mile or so away from the Iowa Speedway where they were testing cars for the big Indie Car race next weekend. We pulled up and were met by two really nice security guards: Dennis and Steve. After telling them a little about our trip, Dennis offered to give us a VIP tour of the track. Cool, huh? We thought so!

Iowa Speedway: super impressive!

You see Andrew down there?? Yeah, it’s that big.

Denni in the flesh! We were too lucky to have met him. He’s a man that goes a hundred miles a minute with many interesting stories to share. He loves the track almost as much as he loves Buddy Holly and the Crickets (He’ s a HUGE fan).

Dennis turned on his hazard lights as we followed him to the restaurant from the race track. Priceless.

Dennis then invited us to dinner at the Newton Family Restaurant. When we walked into the restaurant Andrew turned around and asked Dennis, “It’s Wednesday, right?” because the restaurant was packed out as if it was the weekend. After trying the food we understood why: absolute gem! After dinner, Dennis graciously invited us to spend the night in his home. Too awesome.

Dennis and the restaurant owner….great guys!

Dennis showing us his Buddy Holly collection…. it’s no joke.

Newton’s Law: what goes up must come down (hah, really it’s quite funny in light of our experience). After a wonderful night in Newton, we had another miserable ride to Casey, Iowa: hills, winds, and to spice things up a bit, a four mile stretch of gravel roads. BUT..we made it!

Andrew got a kick out of this..

Well Andrew had done a phenomenal job with navigation…up until this point. Nice job, Christopher Columbus. Four miles of rock, gravel, heat, and dust…needless to say these were not pristine biking conditions.

A Casey townie told us we could duck the rain and sleep in the community storage warehouse (not exactly sure what it was) …can’t beat Midwest hospitality!

Thunderstorm, winds, and hills aside we finally crossed over into Nebraska. Arrivederci, hill country and hello flatland Nebraska!

More tourists on our way to Nebraska. These two started their trek in Philly and headed to San Fransisco. Best of luck! Despite heading i the same direction, these two ended up taking a different route leaving Andrew to inquire, “Do they know something we don’t know?” My guess was they knew about all the climbs you have to go through to get to Nebraska! Although the downhills were a lot of fun.

After 88 miles we made it to Omaha! YES.

We’re staying with a friend of Andrew’s, James. They went to school together in Le Moyne. James is taking classes at Creighton University and was still able to find time to graciously accommodate the both of us. Much thanks, James! We are taking a rest day before continuing our trek westward. Andale!

Again, many thanks to everyone that we have encountered thus far. Talk to you soon.

Much love,

Anna

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7 Responses to “Iowa is Not Flat”

  1. Mitch said

    Thinking about you guys today! Enjoying your blog immensely! The riding has been great lately. The weather is spectacular back in CNY this weekend! ~Mitch

  2. Donald Maldari said

    OK. You got me: why the baby carriage? And Brooklyn? That must be a part of Prospect Park with which I’m not familiar.

  3. Favorite cousin said

    I should of came love you -favorite cousin (Danny)

  4. Cathy Lunetta said

    You guys deserve a day of rest!
    I am not at all surprised by the hospitality that you encounter!
    Anna, your writing is terrific!
    Love to both of you — Cathy/Mom

  5. Sue Schuh said

    ….and you haven’t even reached the mountains yet!! We love you guys, and are sooooo jealous.

  6. Montse said

    Que padre viaje! Disfrutenlo muchísimo!
    Estaré siguiendo su recorrido desde Nogales (I’ll be helping at the Comedor for 10 days starting today)
    Un abrazo! Montse

  7. Gail and Al said

    Andrew
    Making trip to New York third week in October.
    Want to meet up with you. Need HELP
    Gail and Al

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