Dyersville, Iowa to Monona, Iowa
Distance: 61.8 miles
Ascent: 2,075 feet
Cumulative Distance this tour: 612.4 miles
If Iowa could get any more beautiful, it did today.
A late rise for me in the Dyersville park, and it seems I farted around more than usual this morning while Jack and Phil waited. Finally ready to go, I then couldn’t find my baseball cap, and was about to unpack my tent to see if I’d rolled it inside. Fortunately, Jack and Phil produced it – I’d left it in the park rest room.
We rolled south a mile to find the Country Junction Restaurant for a good hearty American breakfast, then back north and west through town. The lighting in the morning was better to photograph the beautiful church, so I stopped for a few.
Muggy this morning as we continued our roll west and north on farm roads. Another pretty church begged for photographs in Petersburg. Then north to Colesburg. The three of us shared pleasantries with a couple in front of the Farmers Savings Bank. I had to laugh at a front yard sign, too, one that read “Hillary for Prison 2016.”
North of Colesburg brought us into the beginning of a different sort of Iowa, one less flat, with views from ridges over magnificent sculpted farmlands and forests. Grandview Road, north of Elkport, was particularly beautiful.
As we approached the town of Elkader, the road dropped unexpectedly a few hundred feet to the Turkey River – that was fun! The road, IA13, was less fun, no shoulder and lots of trucks. Once in town, we sought out the Burger Barn, which promised the region’s “best Wisconsin ice cream.” Imagine our disappointment on a hot Wednesday at lunch time to find the place closed!
Phil grabbed some recovery time, so we hung out in the parking lot for a while with cold Pepsis, then eventually rolled back into town for a Subway lunch.
IA13 improves a little bit for bicycles north of town. Still, the shoulder comes and goes, and even when present is only 10” wide right of a rumble strip. Jack and I were fine riding the 10” but Phil rode out in the car lane. Sharing such a road with semi rigs is definitely a cooperative thing. Sometimes the trucks slow down to properly time their passes. Sometimes we ditch off the road into the grass to accomplish the same thing.
13 miles to Farmersburg, and I was quite happy to get off IA13. Jack and I found a tiny bit of shade next to some corn on a hill and waited to regroup with Phil. Have I mentioned the heat yet? Wow, nothing but hot and muggy today, heat index officially 93F.
From there it’s another 7 miles to Monona, up X28 and US18 involving about 300 feet of climbing. That’s no big deal, but felt like quite a chore in the heat. I arrived at our campsite at Gateway Park and waited for what felt like ½ hour. Worried about Jack and Phil, I retraced back down US18 and found them lounging beneath the shade of some pine trees. Phil said he’d bonked bigtime on this final stretch and was working his way through it.
Gateway Park in Monona turned out to be a very nice campsite. $10 self-pay, electricity, water, potty, and a pavilion. A half-dozen full sized statues were arranged as a memorial to the town’s veterans, which were actually a little bit creepy every time you’d catch glimpse of them in peripheral vision. Like zombies or something.
Across US18 was TJ’s Pizza for much needed pizza and beer. Oven-baked frozen pizza and canned beer and we didn’t mind a bit. America’s Got Talent on the tube.
Back to camp, and Phil hit the tent early. I found myself thinking that Phil had gone from 55 hours of weekly office work to the hills and heat of Iowa on a 90 pound touring bike. Jack and I have a little more time for some conditioning rides, but Phil, in a way, really jumped into the deep end on this tour. Still building a base, but doing well and I admire it.
Jack and I started ribbing Phil about his sneeze. Difficult to describe. It starts out normally but then comes out something like,” Ah-skMMmmp,” exhausting through nostrils instead of the mouth. As if trying to inflate the sinuses. It conjures images from the old classic Lemmings video game – remember the lemmings called bombers who blew themselves up? 5-4-3-2-Ah-skMMmmp… boom.
Jack says we’ve done 612 miles so far this tour, all of them in Iowa. It seems kind of funny to have ridden this far north and slightly west when we’re ultimately headed east to the Mississippi River, but the Northern Tier route is keeping us away from traffic I suppose. Anyway, tomorrow we’ll finally hit the river and Minnesota. Really looking forward to that!