Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Touring Series: The First Hundy Part 1

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

When I returned home from this tour I wrote a rough draft manuscript of about half of the trip. It is 27 pages of hand written stuff, front and back, and this is what I will be posting to begin with. You'll be able to identify the 1994 manuscript material by my using italics to post it here. After the manuscript information ends, the rest of the story will be picked up from memories written down in 2008. That will appear as regular text here. As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant.

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 93, 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, just have to do what you have to do. I did, and somehow I made it. 

So, it might be good to remind you all that by the time I had reached Protovin Corner, I had ridden the longest ride I had ever ridden before in my life. My Mongoose All Mountain Pro had front and rear panniers, a sleeping bag, tent, and many heavy tools and replacement parts loaded on it. I'm pretty sure the entire bicycle and load weighed near 100lbs. I couldn't pick it up off the road!

Obviously I was burning calories at an unprecedented rate, thus the stops to abate my raging appetite. I probably ate more food that day than I had since being an adolescent. But more on that later.....

Next- The First Hundy Part 2

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