RA51: Biker Bar

Onawa IA to Missouri Valley IA

A soupy night of heat in my tent, but I really slept quite well.  As we tore down and stowed our camp this morning, I marveled at how Jack and I go about it.  Some mornings there is conversation, sometimes a “good morning,” and sometimes just a nod.  But there is no longer talk of packing up or when to leave.  The sleeping bags get rolled, the mattresses deflated, the tents disassembled and stowed, and almost on cue Jack and I are simultaneously ready to roll, helmets in place and gloves fastened.  And we always agree on the next step: Breakfast!

We rode 3 miles in to town where we stopped at the Onawa Café, and again met friendly residents who were interested in our tour.  The first question is usually some form of “Where are you coming from?”  To me, it always seems a little bit too big to say, “Ocean Shores, Washington” or the “West Coast,” so I usually say something like, “Well, this, morning we started from the KOA,” and let the conversation progress (or not) from there.  Breakfast was great –  eggs, toast, and yes a pancake.

South out of town to Blencoe IA.  Serious heat was already happening, and unfortunately we found almost nothing in town, just a single 1960s-era Coke machine on the corner of a building.  The price was only 60 cents for a can, which rolled out of an old mechanical dispenser.  Oddly, the machine did not accept dimes (or dollar bills), so we struggled for a minute trying to find the right change.  As we did a fellow came walking over with a rake in his hand and we launched into a 20 minute conversation, mostly about himself.  He was a well-spoken friendly guy who had worked for more than 40 years at the State Bank in Blencoe, and he talked of the many hats he’d worn, of the economic fall of the Blencoe (like so many small towns), and of his post retirement activities.

Rainbows in the heat

Our next stop came in Little Sioux IA.  The oppressive heat makes the riding between towns a chore, and by the time we reach each town I am already yearning for cold liquids.  Little Sioux sports a small food mart a hundred yards off our road, but it was closed.   The town itself appeared to be a mile plus off route, but we decided it would be worth the ride for something cold.  We rolled into the town of Little Sioux to find a little bit more of nothing.  A post office.  A barbershop.  No other businesses.  Not even a Coke sign.  We rounded a corner and found a small plain-on-the-outside bar and went in.  Two guys were drinking beer at the bar, and this place was a real live Harley biker bar, with American flags on the wall.  One of the guys was apparently the owner Jeff and he brought us 2 Pepsis and 2 really frosty mugs.

Biker bar in Little Sioux IA

They thought what we were doing was pretty cool, and we talked for a while about their adventures in Sturgis and the things that go on there, and their plans to return in a couple weeks.   There were several signs that read, “At the first sign of violence or disturbence you will be thrown out,”  and one behind the bar that read, “You Have My Pernission to Shut the F%!k Up.”  We stayed probably 30 minutes laughing and talking.  They even had a video from a couple days ago when someone brought 2 horses inside the bar.  Good stop, and well worth the multi-mile detour.

Roadside flower near Little Sioux IA

The next hop was short to Mondamin IA, with temperatures still rising.  We made only a 15 minute stop at a Casey’s General Store for drinks and air conditioning, then headed out for the final leg.   We knew this last leg would be the difficult one, about 17 miles in the peak heat of the day, starting at 2PM.  Temperatures peaked at 97F and the humidity during this period was right at 50% RH – these are steamy conditions.  We rode about 10 miles and I started to feel just the slightest bit light headed.  That was all the symptom I wanted to feel.  I actually think it was more from my lack of eating anything since breakfast (I’d only drunk fluids), but I’m sure the heat was a factor.

Can you feel the heat?

I found a few square feet of shade beside a pine tree and stood for about 10 minutes studying some hemp plants, nibbling some trail mix, and sipping water.  I soon felt better and continued on to the edge of the town of Missouri Valley IA, where Jack was waiting.  We spun around town and found the Dairy Den, rewarding ourselves with treats, fixed a flat, and then found Jesse’s and Frank’s motel, where the rest of gang was already gathered.

Missouri Valley IA

Really amazing when you think about it.  Jesse and Frank had departed 1,140 miles ago in Wolf Point MT.  Roger had departed about 300 miles ago after Chamberlain SD.  All had gone on to their version of adventure, family matters, route, and style.  Now, in variety of modes and paths, all seven amigos are now regrouped here in Missouri Valley IA, only a day’s ride away from the start of Ragbrai.  Pretty cool.  It was really good to see everyone.

A refreshed Frank and Jesse
New bike and new doo for Roger

Jack and I decided not to battle the heat and checked in to the motel, called the Oak Tree Inn.  Subway next door for dinner, brought back to the room.  As we sat watching the tube munching away, we asked ourselves, “Can it get much better?”  I spent some time this evening working up a possible route tomorrow, since it will be off our AC maps and through congested Council Bluffs.

You know, Roger put together a new and improved bike (one he says might be 4 mph faster than the Huffy), all within a half day in Omaha, and then made the 40 mile ride here to Missouri Valley.  What an amazing guy.  Frank and Jesse look very refreshed and ready to roll.  If you are reading Jesse’s blog, you know that he’s decided to carry on with this crazy tour.

Almost 50 miles today in some oppressive heat and humidity.  Forecast says this was the worst of it and that the heatwave will be moving east tomorrow.  We’ll hope for the best.  We considered staying here for an extra night, since the Ragbrai campgrounds are not open until Friday, but Roger has convinced us that Glenwood (the Ragbrai start town) will be “wide open” for unofficial camping so we’ll plan to ride in tomorrow, then rest a couple of days before the event.