|First Gravel Of The Day|
The mood was good and we had a great group of guys gathered together. A couple of surprise showings in Dan Buettner, who decided to come over dinner the evening before, and Aaron Schnee who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, but was up visiting relatives in the area, so he drug along his bike and showed up to ride as well. Michael Lemberger was in from Madison, Wisconsin, and Jeremy, Mike, Tony, and I were representing the Cedar Valley. A really strong group of riders and I knew I had my work cut out to be able to keep up with them.
The first part wouldn't be too bad though, since it was relatively flat and there were paved sections coming into Strawberry Point and leaving there. "First gravel" wasn't hit until almost three miles into the route. We passed by the Backbone Bluegrass Festival, and it looked pretty busy there already at a little past 6:00am. While it was tempting to turn left into the venue, we kept rolling!
|Our first "encounter" with RAGBRAI. It wouldn't be the last one!|
Our first major road was "Amission Road", or in old parlance, "Old Mission Road". It is an oddity in a state of roads set on a grid, since it was an early Army road, then an important route to ferry supplies and people to the Northern parts of Iowa as settlers came in after Statehood was granted in 1846. It wanders Northwestward out of Strawberry Point for several miles before it eventually disappears into the gridwork imposed by the government. Our time on Old Mission Road was notable for losing track of two of our riders, Michael and Jeremy. It turned out that their "nature break" ended up becoming a flat tire repair for Michael. We were just heading back down the road to find out where they were when we saw them coming back to us.
|Old Mission Road escapes the grid, but not forever!|
|Barns for Jason: Michael Lemberger checks out a family farm's barn.|
|Big views early into the ride near Volga, Iowa.|
|A stretch along the Volga River|
Moving past that point, not very much further on up the road, we came upon a crest of a hill, and much to my surprise the riders in the front decided to stop and we all ended up taking a break. It was really humid, and the heat was beginning to make us feel our legs and I guess it was good to stop and cool down. I was a bit concerned about not getting to the lunch stop before 12:00pm, but there was plenty of time to go before we got to Elkader.
Wadena was our town to first stop and refuel and we were all wanting to get there to resupply on water and maybe find something to eat. The last stretch to Wadena was a straight shot Westward on relatively easy road, but as I remarked on the ride, I don't know why those miles there seem to take so long. Then it dawned on me. You cannot see anything off to the sides as the road is lined with trees for much of the time through there. It makes seeing progress harder. Or not. Just my theory there.
Next Up: Part 2