Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

Day 2 full post

Monday Day 2 - Denison to Jefferson

(I typed this over several sessions)

As I sit waiting for either the band to start or dinner to be served, I figured I’d type out a proper post on the notes app, which thankfully doesn’t require internet access, because Jefferson Iowa has none of it. Everyone here has 0.000000001% share of the available bandwidth, which means no one is getting shit in terms of access. I’m not sure it was this bad in any town in 2011! It’s remarkable. Even the library WiFi was useless. The staff was super friendly and they gave out free popcorn and water, so it’s hard to complain. They did have desktop computers with a strict 15 minute time limit, which is why there was an abbreviated post in the first place. And it was air conditioned. I haven’t been in A/C since I got out of my car Saturday morning (the bus A/C was on the fritz - it kinda worked up front by me but mostly it didn’t).

So let’s get to the day. Last night I didn’t sleep well at all. My sleeping pad sucks. I was hot, then cold, then hot. I was up pretty much every hour, and at 2:00 I even contemplated just saying screw it and throwing a headlight on my bike and going. I contemplated it for half a second. I’m having mental issues with downhills above 25 mph. Can you imagine how bad it would be in the dark? Holy shit.

So I got on the road a little after 6am. There was an immediate 200 ft drop in elevation as soon as we left the camp. Right through the residential neighborhood. Lovely! How the hell do these people go anywhere in the winter?!? Brakes are useless during an ice or sleet storm.

A metric shit ton of climbing followed. This ride was listed as 71.7 miles with 2527 feet of climb. Half the climb was in the first third of mileage. Most of it was done by mile 50. The first pass-through town wasn’t even until mile 19. The Iowa state trooper told us it was a mile to the left or go straight for the town of Manning, 4 miles away. I had 4 miles left in the tank, so I opted to skip that first town. It was called Aspinburg, I think. I stopped in Manning for breakfast. Three giant pancakes with scrambled eggs and sausage. It was a free will offering,and it appeared $5 was the going rate. Not bad. The weather coming into Manning looked pretty bleak. I could see rain shafts in the distance. How far away that was, I have no idea. It seems like in hilly Iowa you can see forever.

I figured if I booked it I could make it to the next town and at least if was raining it was a bigger town with things to do, mainly a distillery offering tours. By the time I made it to Templeton, any threat of rain was gone.

With about 20-25 miles to go, 95% of the hills were done. I looked forward to a ride more like the ones at home. Flat. Then the route turned north into a 10-15 mph headwind for 14 miles. Couldn’t catch a break!

About 10 miles into that headwind my legs were toast. I approached a roadside tent selling bananas and Gatorade. It also had shade, so I decided to rest for a few minutes. They also had free pickle juice shots. Between that and the banana and a 10 minute break all the cramping was gone and I continued on. Pickle juice works- it’s not a fad!!  A theme for today seemed to be crazy steep climbs into towns. One of them was at least a 10% grade. I wouldn’t want to leave that town in an ice storm, that’s for sure.

I got into Jefferson and discovered that there was no cell service to speak of. I thought maybe it was just by the campground, so I showered and got ready to take the free shuttle downtown. Surely the service had to be better there.

For the first time in my experience, a RAGBRAI overnight town charged $2 for the shuttle. They also stamped your hand with ink that disappears when in contact with sweat.

I got downtown and there was no cell service there either. (You know this because I bitched about it in the first paragraph :) ) what I didn’t mention is that the chamber of commerce put flyers in the porta potties with 10 reasons to move to Jefferson. One of them was that every home and business had fiber optic cable right up to the building. Oh really? And such a “connected town” couldn’t utilize that in any way possible for 30 hours, max?

Enough bitching about lack of internet and shuttle fees... let’s get to the trains. Holy shit, the trains. There had to be multiple tracks within 500 feet of the campground. Especially after 10pm, those trains ran by every 8-12 minutes.  They started blowing their horn a half mile before town, all the way through town, and a half mile after. Sleep was impossible.

That’s enough day two. I’m on day four in a town that doesn’t have very good cell service either. It’s a common theme in rural Iowa :)

Day 2 pics are up on my Facebook and marked for public viewing (search for Dave Brink)- no way can I post them from here. I’ll do that when I’m back home.