Saturday, May 23, 2009 - Warm with more sun and a tail wind too!
- Start: Battle Creek,Iowa
- ATW: Anthon, Climbing Hill, Sergeant Bluff
- End: Sioux City, Iowa
- Day Miles: 72.8 Ride Time: 8hr 2min Total Trip Miles: 1428
In Iowa there are 5 miles between turns on paved roads so we had intended to ride from Anthon to Bronson as it was the straightest way. But a bridge was out and we followed the detour to Climbing Hill. We stopped shortly after the detour began to talk with folks sitting on their porch. Jokingly I asked if Climbing Hill had earned its name. I received serious head nods all around.
We'd climbed gradually most of the morning but into Climbing Hill we had many down hills followed by shorter inclines which led us into a false sense of complacency. Maybe Climbing Hill wouldn't be so bad, maybe it was just a short steep one, maybe we'll enjoy the hill. One last rise sent us flying down the backside into a tiny town with nothing open and a cemetery decorated with flags all around. Looking ahead we saw the way out of the valley and it didn't look too bad. Maybe we'd come down the hill that the town was named for. Out of the valley we gently rose as we twisted and turned on the roads pleasant surface.
Today was supposed to be a rest day but with a pen running out of ink and having no replacement we gave up catching up in our journals for riding a tail wind. Having already done 180 miles in the last two days and pushing uphill at around 40 for the day we were starting to feel fatigued. Then the last slope of "the hill" began. We were already in the lowest gear so all we could do was just keep pedaling and pedaling and breathing. Any other time we'd have passed out from hyperventilating but as we churned up the hill our lungs kept asking for more air. We haven't had to push up a hill yet this time we began to wonder... but we wouldn't give up. Not yet.
Muscles screaming and lungs collapsing we felt the stress on our bodies begin to slacken. We hadn't crested yet but the worst was over. At the top of the hill I told Dave to stop before we sailed down again. With nearly a 360 degree view we allowed our breathing to return to normal as we surveyed our accomplishment. Climbing Hill had earned its name.
After that a few hills challenged us but we mainly raced closer and closer to Sioux City. We crested one hill and saw another coming which didn't look too bad and our coasting took us almost completely over the rise. Once at the top of that one we gawked at the view. We could see forever on top of that tiny hill. The terrain suddenly flattened out and the river was visible in the distance.
Our next turn took us on a scenic hills route (yeah more hills) that skirted all that flat land. We picked up D38 and raced into Sergeant Bluff in need of food and a break. Eating outside a grocery store we started to revive and plan for the evening when someone told us that it was Memorial Day weekend. Ah... all the flags we'd been seeing. How we lost track of days and time... it was now later in the evening. We had wanted to spend the next day in Sioux City but being in the city of Sergeant Bluff we were having trouble finding a place to sleep. A lot of people talked to us but as soon as we asked about sleeping in a yard they made their excuses or told us about campgrounds that were already full.
Our last chance was calling my dad in Michigan and asking if he'd look up warmshowers.org to see if someone in the area would help us out on short notice. Warmshowers was a group we joined before we left but never thought we'd get the chance to use it because we didn't bring along a computer. My dad was able to use his blackberry to log in for us and found 1 person in Sioux City. For his special instructions... "Do your best" was all he asked. Having done our best all day we took the chance and made the contact. We got a green light and raced for his house with the sun hanging above the horizon.
We tried to ride a bike path through town but it ended after a few miles. We turned around, back tracked the whole way then got set straight. We passed getting onto another trail (which would have been nice seeing it the next day as we toured the city) deciding to work our way through town on the streets. Several areas had no street lights or we were near overpasses that shadowed dark rail road tracks. Dave kept saying "this has the making of a horror movie."
We just kept pedaling and finally finally found ourselves where we needed to be, walking our bike up a gravel hill in the dark looking for a specific house among many with no address numbers. Just then our host for the night rolled up and led us the rest of the way to his house. Instead of passing out, we jumped into his car and headed out to an after party for an art opening. Next came a trip to about the only place open, an authentic mexican restaurant, where we loaded up on grub and headed back to our hosts' house. Pumped with adrenaline from our ride and trading stories with another cycling enthusiast we managed to get to sleep by about 1:30am.