7/19/12 Osmond to Sioux City, IA – 71 miles
We got off to an early start at 6:30 am again in an effort to beat the heat, and because we had a long ride ahead. The air was actually cool, the road flat, and we had a slight tailwind. Approximately 10 miles down the road, we stopped for breakfast at the Hill Top Cafe, which had been highly recommended from a local in Osmond. She was right, breakfast was terrific.
During breakfast, a man who appeared to be a regular asked if he could refill our coffee. His name was Joe Hansen, and it turned out that his wife Gail and in-laws ran the Hilltop Cafe. He was extremely friendly and told us that he, Gail and his mother-in-law had recently read Riding with the Blue Moth by Bill Hancock. Also he had brothers who were bike riders. Joe seemed very enthusiastic and intrigued by the idea of riding a bike cross-country. I happened to have read this book as part of my preparation for this ride and enjoyed it immensely. Bill Hancock ran the NCAA March Madness basketball tourney for many years. His son was killed in the Oklahoma State plane crash several years ago carrying members of OSU’s basketball team. Bill’s bike ride was part of the grieving process for him. His wife would drive their camper ahead to the end destination for the day. Bill included many interesting insights that he experienced during the ride. At any rate, I told Joe that I had read the book and thought it was terrific. Also, the book gave a good description of what it is like to actually be on a cross-country ride. I asked if I could take a picture of Joe and his wife to put on the blog, like those people mentioned in the book, and they were delighted. I told them to check out the TBT website for their picture, and Randy also gave them the cite to his blog. Randy encouraged Joe to start riding with his brothers and consider touring. (Randy is always encouraging people to get their bike and ride along – no takers yet). I think Joe and Gail would love doing this type of ride. Joe is one of those people who actually “get it” as to why we are doing the ride. Others think we are out of our minds.
Joe was also a wealth of information regarding the surrounding area. Randy had been intrigued by the irrigation systems in place in the vast fields and Joe told him that some of the huge rolling “sprinklers” (not sure what else to call them) were 1/4 to 1/2 miles long. It is an amazing sight to see. We also talked about how much more you see on a bike as opposed to driving, i.e. it is really a sensory experience. I discussed this in an earlier journal while in Oregon. Joe also filled us in on road conditions we would face on the way to Sioux City. We had such a good time talking with Joe, we almost hated to leave.
After breakfast, we still had another 60+ miles to go. While we had a slight tailwind the first 40 miles or so, the road was of that really bumpy, rough variety. While I was making 16-20 mph on average, I had to be attentive to the road conditions. (These touring bikes really are amazing when you consider all the jolting they take and the junk on the highways). The traffic was pretty heavy, and it started getting hot. Not only hot, but humid. I was soaking wet within the first half hour. And all that jolting was wearing me down.
The last 20 miles or so became even more challenging as the flat road morphed into rolling hills of the moderate to steep incline variety. Up, down, up, down, up, down …. So, we got a good workout. The good news is that at least the downhill coasts following climbs were rewarding. The scenery was essentially corn fields as far as you could see forever. Finally, we reached Sioux City. And FINALLY we crossed into Iowa. Seemed like we were in Nebraska forever.
Tomorrow is a rest day, then we bike the 45 miles to Sioux Center, IA on Saturday for the start of RAGBRAI on Sunday. I plan on savoring every moment in the motel since we will be camping all next week. That may be the bigger challenge than riding for me next week.