Denis Kertz, ©2008
It was a fairly warm night so I didn't want or need to zip up my sleeping bag. However, there were still a few mosquitoes who hadn't gotten the message that summer was over so I bundled myself up as well as I could in my sleeping bag for protection. About 1 am I woke up uncomfortably warm and decided sleeping in the open wasn't working. So I pitched my tent on the concrete floor next to my picnic table and moved my sleeping bag inside. That worked much better since I could regulate my warmth without mosquitoe consideration.
Packing up in the morning was a little quicker than normal since my panniers were still on the bike. I just had to fold up my tent along with my sleeping bag and pad and I was on my way. I rode to downtown where there was a cafe open for breakfast, right across the street from the pizza place where I ate last night. Since there was no good place to lock up my bike I leaned it against the cafe wall where I could see it from inside and sat at the table nearest the window. I ordered the pancakes and the elderly waitress brought me the house paper to read without my asking. The pancakes were fine if not the greatest of the trip and the whole package with coffee cost $3.50, the breakfast value of the trip.
I left town around 8:30 on
175 heading east towards the Loess Hills.
These are hills east of the
When E34 ended I picked up
Three miles from
I rode M36 south for a few miles, E53 east for a few miles, and then M55 south a few miles before re-connecting with 141. These county roads were good riding. On the other hand, 141 became a bit of a bear. It had no shoulder and the right 3 feet of the road were lightly scraped as if they were preparing to resurface it so it wasn't the smoothest part of the road. There were also some places where there were cracks in the direction of travel that were big enough to cause wheel damage if I wasn't careful. Then there was a fair amount of traffic and about half of it was large truck traffic. So I had to pay a lot of attention to riding this section. I didn't have any close calls but I bailed out to the gravel shoulder about a dozen times to avoid creating any conflicts with large trucks, often when they were coming up behind me on a hill and had no way of knowing if they could safely pass, being unable to see traffic from the other direction. This was pretty ugly riding.
At Manning after 68 miles I
stopped for another break. I talked a
bit with a group of older guys hanging out at the food mart and one of the guys
warned me that there were some big hills coming up on the way to
There were a couple larger
hills as I rode into
By the time I left the diner the sun was down and darkness rapidly approaching. I rode back to the other end of town on 141 and followed the sign to the city park. It was a very extensive city park from what I could see but was also very similar to Onawa's. It had a swimming pool and right next to it was a shelter with picnic tables under an overhang. Rather than repeat last night's fiasco, I started out by setting up my tent on the concrete floor so I could sleep without bug worries. However, I kept my panniers on the bike for easieer packing in the morning. I just hoped that no one would get excited to see me there since I had no opportunity to check in with the police.
After packing up in the morning I rode back into town. I didn't expect to find anything open for breakfast and I didn't but I stopped at the grocery store to pick up Post Select Maple Nut Crunch, a favorite cereal of mine for touring that I rarely find. Then I rode back to 141 to a food mart and had a cereal breakfast along with a breakfast sandwich they had. This was the local hangout with a group of guys with their coffee mugs congregated at a table. So I naturally got a few questions about my trip when I sat down for my breakfast.
I had a fairly straightforward plan for the day – ride 141 to Woodward and then 210 as far as it went. That looked to be a good day's ride. The only problem was I didn't know where I was going to stay. There were only small towns at the end of 210 and none of them were obvious good choices for a stopping point.
The good news from riding time was that the land pretty much flattened out. However, 141 still left a lot to be desired for riding. It started out with a concrete surface with some holes and cracks that made riding a occasionally rough. More importantly the shoulder was set a few inches above the gravel shoulder and that made leaving the road unappealing. Fortunately there was less traffic and less truck traffic and I was never forced to run off the shoulder.
It was 30 miles to Perry,
the first sizeable town along the route.
I wanted to make some copies of my
After 9 miles 141 turned
Later I learned that this
new trail was not completed to Woodward so I couldn’t have ridden it to Slater
as I thought. Most importantly, the
section of trail across the
I picked up HOINT just a
short distance from my break spot. It
was a crushed limestone trail that was almost as good as pavement. It had a short
break before Huxley but signs got me back on the trail after I rode most of the
way through Huxley. I was looking
forward to riding the rest of the way on the trail when it abruptly stopped a
short while later at
So I decided the best approach was to head south and pick up 210 again. Then just south of the trail there was a sign that pointed east on another road. So I followed it and it turned into gravel and then it dead ended with no further signs. At that point I decided to waste no further time and rode south to pick up 210 which took me to Maxwell. There some high school kids told me how to get back on the trail and then I found the trail surface wasn't so great. It was sandy in places and uneven in others so I got off the trail at the first opportunity and back on 210, and discovered 210 had a great surface and a reasonable shoulder width but it was ruined because some wise guy decided to put rumble strips in the shoulder that made the shoulder unrideable.
At that point I wondered what else could go wrong, having wasted maybe an hour getting back on the trail and then off of it only to find an unrideable shoulder. I soon found what else when 210 abruptly stopped at US65, where I no longer had to worry about an unrideable shoulder. There was a road that continued on but it was a gravel road. I decided to take it after some deliberation and then it ended too. That was a good thing because it forced me to relook at my map and I realized I had misread my map. I should have gone north on US65 a short way and taken the next county road east. I accomplished the same by turning north on another gravel road and within a short distance I picked up the paved county road. It did several left-right turns but I recognized those on my map so I was confident about where I was and where I was going.
Unfortunately, I still
didn't know where I was going to stay without any sizeable towns in the immediate
vicinity. That's when I decided to just
Shortly after I passed
When the trail ended I was fairly close to motels but didn't know how to get to them. I had no way of knowing how to get on US30 to get to an exit with motels so I took a road north over US30 and the first road east after that. Unfortunately, it was a gravel road and it wound around for a while, leaving me with an uncertain feeling as the sun was setting. Eventually I passed by a golf course where some guys were having a beer in the parking lot after their round and I inquired about how to get to a motel. I wasn't that far away but I certainly needed directions since it wasn't obvious.
By the time I reached
Back at the ranch I plugged in my PC and connected to the motel’s WIFI and got nothing from the Internet. I got a help number from the front desk and I learned that their system didn't work with a Linux PC using dynamic IP, even though this has been working every place else on this trip. However, I was able to get a static IP assignment and after setting that up I was able to connect to the Internet.
Using Google Maps I learned
that I was about 280 miles from home so in theory there was a possibility I
could make that in 3 days. However, the
route the rest of the way through
This was an “interesting” day, where the first half was relatively easy and the second half was a mess. If I had ignored the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail I probably would have saved about an hour of time and my approach to Marshalltown would have been much easier and most likely I would have found a better motel option.
I took full advantage of the motel's continental breakfast in the morning. I had a couple waffles and a couple small bowls of cereal.
I had hoped to make it past
It was slow going and I
kept doing mental calculations about the time it would take me to reach
Riding east on E36 from Clutier
was better with a flatter road and the wind didn't seem quite as strong. That was probably because the wind started
out from the east and was supposed to become northeast. In any event I started making better
time. When E36 terminated, I had to decide
whether to head north or south for the next leg. Originally I was planning to head north so
that I would pass through
After riding 5 miles south
I took E44 east and stopped in Van Horne for a break, just in time to join the
local high school kids just out of school.
At that point I was feeling pretty good about making
US30 wasn't my idea of fun riding with a 4-lane divided highway and a l foot shoulder but I managed and it was about a 5 mile section. After a few miles US30 became a limited access highway and bicycles technically weren't allowed but I waited until the 2 of 7 exits, 3 fewer exits than Atkins, to take US151 business north, which the exit sign proclaimed would lead to food and lodging, both which I needed. It was just past 5:30 so I was confident about finding a place to stay with more than an hour of daylight.
I rode business US51
through quite a bit of typical fast food and malls but I never saw the promised
lodging. After I passed
This room, and presumably the rest of the motel, had seen better days, particularly the shower area with some ugly tile work and a chipped porcelain basin. But it had a bed, a shower, and WIFI so I was happy even though it was at least $10 overpriced compared to my other motels on the trip. Right next door was a restaurant that had a Friday night fish fry and that was a reasonable meal.
Back at the ranch I worked
on the remainder of the trip. Although I
hadn't made it as far as I would have liked for the day, due to the head wind,
it still wasn't out of the question that I could make it home in 2 days with
about 200 miles to go. However, more
head wind was projected for tomorrow and Sunday was looking like a bad weather
day that could be a layover day.
Savanna, just across the border into
I ate breakfast next door
at the Country Kitchen where they had a Saturday breakfast buffet. It was very cool, in the upper 30s, when I
left at 8:00. My motel was on
Once across the river I
picked up Mt Vernon SE and rode that until the intersection with 13/151. I took 13/151 north about 4 miles and then
I stopped in Martelle for my second breakfast and continued on E45. E45 was a pretty decent road with little traffic but it jumped around a bit. Since I expected a long day I stopped at most of the small towns along the way for a cold drink. Progress was slow due to the head wind and the modest road undulations. I continually estimated when I could make Savanna and it was never looking good.
When I stopped in Oxford Junction, I pretty well resigned myself to not making Savanna. Then Maquoketa became my fall back because it was the only town in the area with a motel. E45 ended near Oxford Junction and I picked up 136 from there. As I got closer to Maquoketa on 136 I started becoming more optimistic that Savanna was not out of the question.
When I reached Delmar I stopped for another drink and then rode north on Y60 to reach 64. At that point I had to make the go/no-go decision. I had to either turn west to Maquoketa or east and commit to Savanna. It was just after 4:00 and it was a little over 20 miles to the river so I decided to go for it.
64 turned out to be a good
road with good pavement and a wide enough shoulder for riding even though it
had rumble strips. Surprisingly, the
road was pretty flat which gave me even more optimism. However, I could only guess that some cruel
fate awaited because the riding was just too easy and I was making good time
for the first time of the day. I was
riding on a ridge with some good views of the surrounding area and then I
Then the hammer
dropped. Big time. I was told at the food mart that the Savanna
bridge was closed and I would have to head south to
Nevertheless, I decided to
As I got near
I learned that the
Once across it was another mile or so and there was a Comfort Inn at the intersection with 84. I managed to get the last room at $89. I could only imagine what I would have done if that had not worked out. The only food option was a food mart next door and, of course, they had almost no edible food beside junk food. However, they had some breakfast burritos so I nuked a couple of them and hustled back to my room to watch the Mizzou-Nebraska game only to find I missed the first Mizzou score even though the game was only in its second minute. The game turned out to be an easy game.
After the game I did my usual Internet surfing and ride notes and didn't get to sleep until 1:00 am because of the football game. But the time didn't really matter since I didn't expect to be riding in the morning due to the rain forecast.
When I looked outside in the morning there was standing water on the pavement. Rain was predicted for at least the morning with some hope that the afternoon might be OK. I had the Comfort Inn continental breakfast which was pretty good – a waffle, some cereal, and some pastries.
Check out time was noon so I was in no hurry to leave with the uncertain weather. Around 11:00 it rained pretty hard and I was happy to see that from inside. But the weather radar picture showed the rain moving out by around noon which was encouraging.
I checked out at noon and rode back to the bridge, about a mile. I wanted to see what I couldn't see last night. With a levee along the river I couldn't really see the river itself. I would have liked to ride part way up the bridge to get a better view but the bike/pedestrian path was so narrow that there was no way I could have turned my bike around.
So I gave up on getting a
better view and left town around 12:30.
136, which I rode into
When I reached Morrison,
after a short stop, I turned north on
The sky cleared up and
became sunny and it turned out to be a nice afternoon for riding except for the
head wind that kept riding down to about 9 mph.
The nice thing about the
day was I didn't need to do any heroic miles.
It was almost 4:00 and I could have stayed in
I guessed Super 8 was the cheapest and it probably was. I got a room for $51 which was better than I expected. But there was a catch. My room was on the second floor so I had to carry my loaded bike up a flight of stairs. There was a Subway across the street so I made my final dinner a Subway one.
The continental breakfast was rather minimal so I only had some cereal and pastries but the pastries were Bear Claws so they were pretty good. Milk for the cereal was in small cartons in a small refrigerator but the milk was frozen almost solid. I started to heat up the milk with hot water in my room but then I realized there was a use for the microwave in my room. After packing up I carefully lowered my bike down the stairs.
I rode a mile back to town and took 38 to Franklin Grove, 9 miles away. Franklin Grove had a small cafe downtown which was right on my way so I stopped for a second breakfast of pecan pancakes. They were modest size which was fine because I didn't need a huge breakfast at that point.
I rode another couple
blocks south and picked up
I continued riding east on
US30 but quickly decided US30 wasn't for me with no shoulder and took the first
road south that I could. This didn't
last long and I went left at its intersection and then right again on a road
that turned to gravel but it was a good gravel road with a hard packed surface
that was almost as good as pavement.
This road wound around for a while until it reached
I rode this road east a
ways and then took Howison Road south, another road that turned to good gravel
and zig zagged a bit before intersecting with Chicago Road. Then I rode
I made my way to
The day ended up being somewhat longer than I anticipated mileage wise. I expected something in the 75 mile neighborhood and it ended up being 90 miles. This was apparently due to the meanderings I did to keep off a more direct route like US30 and use less trafficked back roads. It also didn't help that this was the fourth day in a row of head winds. Not a terrible head wind but one that probably reduced my speed by about 2 mph.
Copyright Denis Kertz, 2008. All rights reserved.