Iowa is Not Flat
June 16, 2012
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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!
Thunderstorm, winds, and hills aside we finally crossed over into Nebraska. Arrivederci, hill country and hello flatland Nebraska!
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.