Monday, March 02, 2020

Leap Day Excursion

Coffee with Mrs. Guitar Ted and Special Guests at Impact Coffee in Decorah Iowa.
Saturday I had a date. On Leap Day of all things. I mean, how often in life do you get to do something special on Leap Day?

The deal had been set up for March 1st, initially. I was to travel to Decorah, Iowa, a place I was quite familiar with. I've been there to recreate, to put on bike festivals, and to put on Trans Iowa. But I hadn't been there since I had a sit-down with former Almanzo director, Chris Skogen, maybe close to ten years ago now. It'd been a while since I had been there, at any rate. The reason I went this time actually is sort of ironic considering the reason I was there the last time.

Things got switched to Saturday for the meeting at Impact Coffee Bar in Decorah. I was meeting one of the Event Directors of the newly minted Heywood Ride. Emphasis on the ride part. This is not a race, folks. No, this event is geared toward the adventure seeker and for those looking for a personal challenge. I was to interview a long time friend, Marty Larson. He was bringing his daughter along, and I brought along Mrs. Guitar Ted. We found ourselves sat in the spacious interior of Impact Coffee Bar around noon and I proceeded to record the interview which will air on the Riding Gravel Radio Ranch soon. I won't touch on that in this post. You'll have to wait until the podcast goes live. But suffice it to say that for my first effort at a remote recording, I did alright. I think it will turn out fine.

After the interview, two excellent Americanos, and some chatting, it was well past the time to be having some lunch. So, we bid Marty and his lovely daughter goodbye and made our way down Water Street in Decorah to find something good to eat. Mrs Guitar Ted had spotted something Asian when we rolled into town called "Koreana", so off we strolled to see if we couldn't find it.

Lunch. The place is called "Koreana"
After that we took our leisure and strolled the street full of people and shops where there are a lot of cool things to check out. It's amazing to think that this little jewel of a town is in Iowa, tucked away in the corner, as it were, out of the view of the mainstream. I haven't even touched upon the bicycling opportunities there. Mountain biking? Best in Iowa. Gravel? Same. Recreational trail riding? Check! Decorah has two bike shops. It's a stellar area for riding, all within reach of this bustling, vibrant downtown area. By that I mean, you can ride your bike to everything. Mountain bike trails, gravel, and rec paved trails are all within a mile of down town. Frankly, it is probably the coolest town, from a cycling viewpoint, in the Mid-West, and would be the "Bentonville" thing if anyone in the "influencer" crowd paid any mind to Decorah. But......they don't, and really, that's probably for the best. This deal in Decorah didn't pop up due to an inheritance of a billionaire's fortune. It's all grassroots. Take that for what it is worth.

Hallowed ground for those who know.
Of course, I had to give a nod as I passed T-Bock's Sports Bar. The place where two Trans Iowa's had their pre-race meetings at. T.I.v3 was actually on the third floor there, in the old Odd Fellow's space, and T.I.v4 was in T Bock's party room, I think that was in the basement. (Some of you T.I.v4 vets reading this might be able to confirm that) I should also mention that a few T.I. folks actually ate at Mabe's Pizza down the block. Rebels!

For me, T Bock's was where I met some long time friends who I wouldn't have met otherwise. Things change. Places come and go, and I know someday that joint will likely disappear, so it was a bit of a nostalgic feeling which I felt Saturday as I looked at that sign above that doorway and felt all those memories again. But that passed and we moved on into another shop.

It was fun to spend time with Mrs. Guitar Ted, doing things I don't normally get to do, and up there in Decorah again after so long a time. I shouldn't wait so long to go back again, I can say that much. Those hills are calling, and the gravel roads are top notch. Maybe a bit of a trip later this Spring?


Ari said...

We went there a lot with my family after I had "discovered" Iowa during TIV4. I have not been there in a while and would enjoy a few days there. It is a great place for sure. I am glad you went there. I am glad you saw Marty.

rth009 said...

You're such a good husband for not ditching Ms. Guitar Ted to go ride the singletrack.

R said...

back in 2002 or 2003, (when i was a Luther lad) - they offered a mountain biking course (for a gym credit)... it was a great way to learn the local trails and experience single track... however, if the trails were too wet or slick to ride - the prof (coach Hefty) - would lead a gravel ride instead (usually out to Bluffton and back)... gorgeous countryside for cycling (and probably a good thing for my GPA that neither craft breweries existed until years later)!

S.Fuller said...

I believe you are correct about the meeting being in the basement.

Guitar Ted said...

@R - interesting! i did not know that. Thanks for the comment! Another example of gravel grinding before it was "cool".

@S. Fuller - Thanks for confirming that for me!

Rydn9ers said...

That bowl of coffee looks delicious.