Monday, May 09, 2016

Geezer Ride 4 Ride Report: Part 2

Working wind mills, huge gardens, and friendly folk were seen at every farm we passed.
NOTE: Part 1 of the Geezer Ride 4 Report was published Sunday. Check that out if you missed it. 

 Some of the Amish/Mennonite characteristics were informed by old, 19th Century ways, and were most evident in their dress, especially the women who all wore ankle length dresses, bonnets, and aprons if they were out working. We saw several women mowing, working gardens, or driving cars with children in them to and fro. We did go by one school where there was an end of year party going on for the kids. Each girl wore a brightly colored long dress and bonnet and seeing them against the green grass of Spring playing joyfully was a sight to behold. We had a rider, Landon Beachy, who grew up here, telling us about the various differences in Mennonite and Amish ways, so it was a lot of fun to see and learn about the culture of the area.

We finally made a turn Southward as we had reached our Easternmost point on the route. The road we turned on to was chip seal, very hilly, and wound around the area of Amish/Mennonite farms where we got to witness a man and a four horse team plowing a field. I'd never seen such a thing before, although my Grandfather had told me that was how all farming was done in the early 20th Century when he was a kid. I thought I had taken a time machine back to an earlier day for a moment while I watched the man turn the team to make another round. I quickly was reminded that I indeed was in the 21st Century when my Fargo hit a small depression and my attention was needed to pilot myself safely down the 30mph descent I was on!

An example of the farm machinery used in this area. Note that there are no rubber tires.
A steep climb up to a site of a former Amish school which has since been converted to a single family dwelling.
An "outhouse". This is where you would go to "relieve yourself" 19th Century style.
The man in the cart stopped to have a word with us at this stop on our ride.
We were still in Amish/Mennonite country when we passed a man in a cart being pulled by a single horse. This wasn't odd except that he was in the midst of an overgrown pasture and the horse was in full trot. The cart was bouncing wildly behind, and then right through the ditch and behind us! We pulled up to gather everyone together and the man pulled up the horse beside us to have a chat. He was curious as to what we were up to, naturally, and we were curious about his spirited horse. It was a seven year old, and you could see that the purpose of this animal was to pull a cart, because it's hair was considerably matted and worn where the harness was affixed to him. This horses' life was probably all about pulling a cart, and it knew the job well. After a few minutes of friendly chit-chat, the horse began to stomp it's fore foot and then it looked back at the man as if to say, "Hey! Come on! Let's go!". The man bade us farewell and off the horse and cart went in a commotion of noise and dust.

Barns For Jason
We had a water/restroom stop at the Iowa Mennonite School
The hills and fresh gravel were rough through here. We eventually made it to the Iowa Mennonite School and since the school was open for a dance recital, Martin was able to get permission for us to use the nice restrooms there and get water. We rested up a bit and then went back at it. Now we were headed out of Amish/Mennonite country, and the farms returned to what we are more familiar here with. No more sightings of horses and buggies now.

We got to a paved road and I decided to hold up so I could rearrange my cues and wait for Martin, who was bringing up the rear so we wouldn't drop anyone. He appeared after several minutes with the news that Steven had decided to pull out and take the pavement back to North English as the rough gravel was shaking him up too much. It was mighty rough and skinnier tires were not a good choice for the conditions on more than half of the route.

The paved road went down, crossed the English River, and then back up, up to Wellman, then we turned West again. Back to gravel, and now my stomach was telling me I needed to fuel up. Fortunately I had packed away several gel packets for the ride. They were getting me by, but the deficit was growing and I couldn't keep up. Later into the ride I actually got a head ache. My legs were tired and sore, but I managed to keep up okay.

Barns For Jason
Northwest of Wellman. That long, grinding climb ahead was full of fresh laid gravel! We went that way, of course.
The other side of the Hinkletown barn
Eventually we made it to the Westward turn where the route retraced itself back on the open miles of the Geezer Ride which brought us back the way we came out. The Hinkletown barn came and went, and then shortly afterward the Level B Roads we went out on were being ridden again.

The wind, which hadn't been an issue for the first half of the ride, switched from the North to the Northwest, so we had a quartering headwind all the way back from Wellman on almost all fresh gravel. That made the effort to pedal really hard, and with me in a bonked out state, it was really tough. I think the rest of the crew was feeling it as well since we made several stops in the last miles of the ride. Thanks to those Canadian wild fires, we never got full sunshine, which if we had gotten the full blast of the Sun, it would have been really rough. Still, it was an odd sky and it gave things kind of a dreary feeling due to the constant haze.

Eventually we rolled back into North English and the plan was to go to the EV Malt Shoppe for food and drink. I was starving, and Tony was too. He couldn't wait till we ordered food and so he hit up the Casey's for a bottle of whole milk. Then we rolled down to the Malt Shoppe where we met up with the rest of the riders.

The site of the end of T.I.v6
I hadn't set foot in the place since we ended T.I.v6 there because of insane weather and flooded roads. The place looked the same. I ordered light, because Tony and I decided that since we already had 55 miles on the odometer, we may as well go out afterward and tack on a few more to bag a metric century for our Cup-O-Dirt Challenge rides. I got a cheeseburger basket and a diet cola, and that wasn't enough, but I didn't want to feel like I had a brick in my gut on the last miles of the ride. That ice cream and malt selections some of the others got sure looked tasty though!

We bade the others farewell, and Tony and I were joined by Martin, who also decided to bag a metric century, on our final bit of riding out West of town on a road I knew from using it on a couple of Trans Iowa routes. It was hilly and it twisted and turned, so it was better than some boring old straight shot. We got out about four miles, turned around, and headed back into town where we said goodbye to Martin. Then Tony and I loaded up the truck and headed back North to our homes.

It was a great day on the bike and Tony and I thought the route was fantastic. Going through Amish/Mennonite areas was really interesting and a treat to have done. We saw some pretty cool stuff out there, and talking with the man in the cart was a highlight of the ride.
Metric century. Bagged.
I got my metric century in, my second this year, and I have a lot of miles and rides left to go to get my Cup-O-Dirt. This was a great ride to get on with that challenge. Now to just keep it going.


graveldoc said...

I really enjoyed meeting up with y'all and visiting the Mennonite/Amish areas! I think my teeth have finally stopped rattling from riding on that big chunky gravel! ;)

Guitar Ted said...

@Steven Butcher: It was nice to finally meet you in "the real world" and to have had the chance to chat with you and ride with you. Hopefully it will work out where we can do that again someday. Thank you for coming to the Geezer Ride.