Muscatine, Iowa to Oxford Junction, Iowa
Distance: 50.1 miles
Ascent: 1,186 feet
Cumulative Distance this tour: 496.2 miles
Jack and I were packed and outside the motel by 7:00AM. Incredibly, Phil nearly overslept, but came rushing out only a few minutes behind us. In the meanwhile, a local resident pointed us down the street to the Muscatine Family Restaurant for breakfast, where we found good eats and good service. Jack and I even had grits – yummy!
North on SR38 and then Y14. OK, it’s officially official. Phil is now a touring cyclist. All three bikes were loaded down but I can’t recall feeling the weight much. The RAGBRAI riding had been a good warm-up for this.
The southeast breezes were ideal, providing some tailwind but also a mild cross current to cool us off. Perfect easy miles to start this tour leg.
25 miles took us to Bennett, where we found a post office to mail home those duffels. No need in lugging them around. Phil and I even managed to cram both of ours into a single top loading Medium Flat Rate box. Stopped at a C-store afterwards.
In Lowden, we stopped again at a C-store, and then at a bar & grill for beverages. Despite the noon hour, it turned into Leinenkugal’s Summer Shandy for all three of us. In fact, the stop also turned into a nice plate of roast beef, potatoes, and gravy for Phil, who couldn’t resist. Gotta love the soaring appetites.
Under the great conditions we were covering the miles quickly, and so “decided to decide” on tonight’s destination when we reached Oxford Junction. Outside town, we ran into a “Road Closed” sign with a detour onto gravel farm roads. Most often, we go around such signs and take the reasonable chance that a bike can navigate it, but this time we sensed that wouldn’t work. Turned out to be about 2.5 miles on gravel. That’s short enough to classify as sorta fun, and fortunately our Surlys can handle it well.
Spinning around town, we found Schakeys for lunch. Fun-loving proprietor Donna made us milkshakes, followed by burger plates and beers for Jack and me. She and a friend asked us lots of questions about our bike travels, and they confirmed that we could not have passed through the road construction east of town. When they learned we would tent in the city park tonight, Donna became insistent that we instead stay at the senior center, with a roof and facilities and air conditioning, etc.
We ended up explaining that, well, we’re on a bicycle camping trip – we actually WANT to tent. Donna’s quick reply: “Well you guys are dumbasses,” which totally broke us up. Yep, that sounds about right! A bit later we were recounting the past week at RAGBRAI, tenting in Muscatine Saturday night, and then our stay at the Travelodge last night. When Donna heard that, she added, “You are guys are pussies too!” Now SHE is a real crack-up.
Donna then provided us advice us on tomorrow’s route options up around Farley. As we left, she provided us her number just in case the weather got angry tonight. Jack made an entry for us into her book for touring cyclists, and we dutifully signed it “Team Dumbass.” All touring cyclists need to stop in to see Donna in Oxford Junction.
Off to Wapsie Park. This place is really great. Sprawling and very nicely kept, complete with a ball field, a Frisbee golf course, porta john, water spigots, and with big trees and mown grass perfect for tent camping. Jack and I hit the nearby Cenex for dessert (chocolate milk), and the lady there warned us of “substantial” rains tonight.
After setting up, we had several hours to kill. Phil found a swarm of frogs up by the street. I played 2 rounds of Frisbee golf using the now-empty chocolate milk bottle half filled with water (distance was a problem). We looked at corn. Jack and I engaged in a round of the ever-popular ideology battle between Apple and Android.
Other than that, we all enjoyed the huge trees and the singing cicadas and other insects while the sun set. We shall see about “substantial” rains tonight.