Got off to a later than usual start this morning because we were looking at another relatively short ride and weather did not seem to be as much a factor. I took the opportunity to re-establish my usual morning ritual of reading, study and prayer after a hiatus for RAGBRAI. I find that it helps to get a good cup of coffee and start my day this way as it helps center me and my thinking. It is especially nice when there are no time constraints and I can just go with it. It also helps to have something that stimulates your thinking. For me that has been Richard Rohr the past year or so.
So, we started riding about 10:00 am, and I was surprised at how warm and muggy it was. I started sweating immediately. The road was smooth, but very little shoulder, which always means you have to pay more attention to traffic. Also, we had anticipated (wrongly) that the road would be more or less flat like yesterday. Instead there was rolling hill after rolling hill, some of which were fairly steep. So, we were working a little. Though some corn fields and soybean fields re-emerged, the scenery was still reminiscent of the Carolinas where I grew up, and I liked that feeling of familiarity.
Physically, I felt stronger than ever, especially my legs. Thanks RAGBRAI. But I had a sort of weird lightness in my head and I was hungry all morning. Nothing alarming or that bad, just made me aware. I kept stopping to snack.
We stopped for lunch in Shannon at a really cute cafe and had our traditional grilled cheese. Randy hopefully asked whether they had sweet potato fries. The waitress said no – we later found out from a man I assume was the owner that they actually could have made sweet potato fries. A missed opportunity. When I went to the restroom to wash my hands, there was all sorts of paraphernalia, including a scale. It appeared to be calibrated, so I got on. Taking into account my bike shoes and everything, it appeared that I may have lost 2-3 pounds during RAGBRAI, which is astounding to me in light of all that I ate. However, it is also consistent with my clothes feeling a little looser and the lightness I was feeling in my head this morning.
The man I assume was the owner of the cafe told us about the back way to Freeport that was less traveled. Another example of local knowledge that helped us out. Still, it was approaching a very humid 92 degrees or so and I was feeling quite hot by the time we reached Freeport. We headed for McDonalds to get one of those strawberry lemonade brain freezes and use the WiFi to search out a motel. One option was right next door, but I talked Randy into riding a mile down the road to check out another option. I asked the manager what the very best rate was he could give us. Then we looked at the rooms, and came back. By then he had lowered the price another $5 for the “senior” rate, which was $20 cheaper than the other motel option. He noticed my bike helmet and started asking questions about our ride. Out of the blue, he said, “I am going to give you the best rate I can,” and proceeded to lower the rate by another $15 dollars, which was $35 less than the other option. I mean, we paid next to nothing for very very nice and clean rooms and breakfast. I was flabbergasted the rest of the evening trying to figure out why that man just took it upon himself to do that. Randy kept looking at me like I had some sort of magical power or something. We both just shook our heads.
My room was awesome and had great TV for Olympics watching and excellent high speed WiFi. Also, a great tub for soaking.
For dinner we walked across the street to an Italian restaurant called Ciminos’s Little Italy. For $7.95 we got lasagna that was one of the best ever with a wonderful salad and bread. We split cheesecake with strawberries for dessert and the entire bill was like $ 29.00, including a glass of wine. We agreed that Ciminos’s takes over first place in the traditional Italian category, while Luciano’s in Sioux City, IA remains the favorite in the urban/contemporary Italian cuisine category.
Tomorrow we continue the journey towards Wisconsin. There are several bike trails that we hope will provide legitimate alternatives to state highways.