Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Touring Tuesdays: We're Off On A Hundy!

Here's the next installment from the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". Today we get a chance to see my first century unfold. We also see that I learn a few things about cycling on the road as well.

We pick things up where the ride had just started from Dewar Tap and left north on a quiet county blacktop.....

By the time we had gotten to the Wapsi Valley High School, about 10 to 15 miles in, I had an intense feeling come over me. Hunger! I was famished! So, I called for a stop and I ate most of Troy's dried fruit mix. Next trip I will have to remember to bring some "road food". As we quenched our hunger pangs, we looked around and noticed that it was very peaceful and quiet on this morning. There was nary a car on the roads, and the birds and animals must have still been sleeping. A dreary mist hung in the hollows of the fields. It promised to be a humid summer day, with a good stiff southerly wind. This was good! We were going north with the wind and the road was our own.

As we made our way across Highways 3 and 92, I thought about the hills to come. The gently rolling countryside had proven to be an easy challenge. I knew that greater hills lie before us and I wondered if I would be up to the task. Then my thoughts would be broken by a comment or a joyous whoop made by one of my companions. We could all ride side by side and converse. This made the miles slip away under our wheels.

We reached Lawler Iowa at mid-morning. There we stopped at a convenience store and had some refreshments and filled our water bottles. We would make many stops like this during the week. Generally we might find a bite to eat at one of these stops. Most often though we just had soda pop and Gatorade. We would hang out in the front of these stores, just sitting right on the ground in the parking lot.

This, of course, attracted a lot of attention. People generally would look askance and not give us so much as a "hello". Only children, as a rule, would be curious enough to talk to us. We obliged them and were amused by their curiosity. Sometimes they would even be enthusiastically supportive of what we were doing. There were no children at Lawler this morning; however, just disdainful looks and a bathroom to use. Steve bought some fake chewing tobacco that he cursed for its nasty taste, but he chewed it for the rest of the trip!

We got a little turned around here since we couldn't find the northward black top we were looking for. We finally figured out we had to go east out of town to find that road. Once we were on our way again, it became like before, quiet, an occasional car, but only now it was bright and sunny. It was getting hotter. I had ridden 40 miles now and I felt the miles coming harder. By the time we reached Protovin Corner, I was starving again. More munchies; Pop Tarts and water. We had gone over 50 miles and it was approaching the noon hour.

The next stretch between Protivin and Cresco is a county blacktop that receives as much or more traffic as a State Highway. This was my first experience with "true" highway riding. It also was more hilly. I did not know about drafting techniques. My climbing abilities were not developed yet either. So, I fell off the back often. I would grit it out and catch back up though. This ended up really draining me. After another convenience store stop in Cresco, we had another 12 miles to go to get to Lime Springs. Then another two miles downhill to the park. It was hot, very windy, and 12 o'clock noon when we left. Most of the last leg was in a crosswind, as we were obliged to go west. It was here that Troy broke the wind for me and began to teach me how to draft.

Those twelve miles took forever! I wasn't sure I could make it. Add in some major hills and I thought I was done for. I was in pain and I was cursing myself for being so dumb to think I could go on with this for a week! I thought these hills would be nothing compared to what lie ahead, so therefore I was toast. I was going to have to die because I was stupid enough to think I could do this. Perhaps it is hard to understand, but sometimes, well.........you just have to do what you have to do. I did, and somehow I made it.

Next week we see the Lime Springs stop and the end of Day One of "The Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". Stay tuned!

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