Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011-05-31 Rest day in Muscatine, Iowa 0 miles

We awoke to a light rain, and we were all happy to sleep in and stay inside.  It wasn't long before the rain stopped, and the sun came out.  I cleaned my bike, and took advantage of the plan to go to Harper's Cycle Shop in the downtown area.  It was really fun to see Greg and Charlie Hopper, the owners of Harper's.  I have gone on 15 Ragbrai rides (the bike ride across Iowa), and for many of them we were able to get the repair guys to drive our vehicle to each town on the ride.  In exchange for doing that, the guys were able to ride in an air conditioned Tahoe and have lunch on us.  That way, all of us were able to ride every day.  In all that time, however, I have never been to their shop in Muscatine, so it was a real treat for me.

 Then Denise took us into downtown Muscutine and dropped us off.

 We went into the Muscutine Historical Museum to learn about the Pearl Button Capital.  They used to make pearl buttons out of the oyster shells in the Mississippi River here, and for 70 years over half of the population of Muscutine was employed in one way or another in the button industry.

 Just for fun we decided to stop and check out an antique store. 

Tomorrow the destination is Kewanee, Illinois for a 78 mile ride.  Hopefully with a left turn, the wind will be more at our backs.  I will be the sag driver tomorrow.

Monday, May 30, 2011

2011-05-30 Memorial Day Dyersville to Muscatine, Iowa 98 miles

This day we were to be riding between Dyersville and Muscatine.  We had some very challenging weather conditions, however.  You might say it was the perfect storm...head winds between 30 and 40 mph, temps at 95, hill after hill, and 98 miles of all that!

As we struggled to even ride downhill, it became apparent that we were getting exhausted trying to maintain 10 mph on the flats, and doing 5 mph on the hills.  At that rate, we would be lucky to get in before dark!  Physically there was no way that would happen, either.  Some riders took a bump up the first 20 or 40 miles, anticipating the 98 mile day, but I rode with Bev, Patty and Mary from the start.  By the time we had done 42 miles, we were done!!

As it turned out, we joined everyone else to ride in the van into Muscatine.  It took over an hour to drive there.  As we were driving we came upon a bridge that was closed.  That meant we had an additional 20 mile detour!  Everyone was so glad we did not have to add those extra 20 miles to the 98!

This has been an amazing Memorial Day!  Tomorrow is a rest day, although the weather report is predicting thunderstorms for this area.  That's OK.  After today's ride, I won't mind taking it easy. 

BTW, if you have not "registered" as a follower of my blog, please do so.  It is fun to see who is reading it!  And thanks for the comments, too!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

2011-05-29 Prairie du Chein, WI to Dyersville, IA (32 out of 46 miles)

Whenever the miles get this low on the route, I am always suspicious that it is going to be an especially hilly day.  The cue sheet said there would be a 1.5 mile uphill climb, but it did not mention several other long climbs!

We were to ride through the Pike's Peak area, Guttenberg, Luxemburg and New Vienna...aptly named, of course.  However, Bev and I, who were the front riders today, only made it to mile 32.

After the climbs, we thought it was going to be a nice ride into Dyersville.  There were rolling hills, much like the Ragbrai rides in Iowa, but then the clouds began to darken, and the next thing we knew it started to sprinkle...and the temperature dropped...and wind came up...and it started to rain harder...and the lightening flashed and the thunder roared!  Bev and I were at the 32 mile mark when the van flagged us down.  Denise strongly recommended we call it a day because of storm warnings.  Bev was ready to make it in the last 14 miles, but we convinced her that would not be a good idea.  Being in the front, we were the last ones to be picked up.

Between the long hills and the rain, I did not take any photos while riding my bike today!  I finally was able to take out the camera while in the van, however.

One of our riders, Lee Murphy hurt her ankle yesterday.  She sagged today, and decided she better get it checked out.  Denise concurred, so she took Lee to Dubuque Hospital ER.  They did not take an MRI, but took a wait-and-see approach.  Lee is thinking she would go home to the Chicago area for two weeks, get it checked out there, and rejoin the ride in Cleveland.  Bummer, eh? 

The prediction for tomorrow is for 90 degrees, with 20 mph headwinds, and a 98 mile ride into Muscatine, Iowa. 

2011-05-27 Wabasha, MN to LaCrosse, WI 75 miles

Today was my turn to drive the Sag Wagon.  It was an interesting day because there were two different route options, and as a Sag driver, I had to keep track of everyone!  It went well until we got to where the routes split.  Some took the unpaved trail, and the others took the road.  Then part way through the trail, some went back to the road, and two others got turned around in the trail!  Almost at the end, a few others took an option of their own and went down a highway that took them directly into LaCrosse.

Some decided to stop in one of the towns to have lunch, and later another small group did later.  As a result, the entire group was split apart, and by the time I had everyone accounted for at the end of the day, it was almost time for dinner!

I really appreciated that Denise was able to stay with me in the van as long as possible.

The good news was that I did have a lot of wait time as the riders came through, and I tried to get at least one photo of everyone!  So below you will find those along with some of the photos of the day.