I knew that this was going to be a difficult day. The weather forecast showed that there would be a gusty wind coming out of the south, while the majority of my day I would be riding south, meaning a stiff headwind. If I hadn’t extended yesterday’s ride as much as I had, today might have been impossible.
As I arrived in Postville the night before, I was torn between camping out and getting a hotel room. Both were available in town, and I had not camped out lately. Ultimately, I opted for the hotel room, and I am glad I did. A batch of strong thunderstorms rolled through in the morning, and kept me from getting an early start. I holed up in my hotel room, watching weather reports and finishing up my Week Six stats report.
Finally the storms cleared out and a beautiful clear sky emerged, so I grabbed lunch in Postville and hit the road. It was the latest start of my trip, getting underway around 1 PM. Because of the late start, the winds were already howling fiercely from the start of my ride.It was a short day, distance-wise, but after just 5 miles against that wind, I was tempted to call my nearby relatives and have them come and get me and my bike. I’m not sure just what I was accomplishing by continuing with the ride, but I put my head down and pedaled.
Rather than riding for the 5 mile increments as I have done in the past on windy days, this time I went from town to town. They were frequently spaced enough — 7 miles, 9 miles, 7 miles — that I used them as motivation to go just a little further.
Complicating the matter were the condition of the roads. For the vast majority of the day, the roads had no paved shoulder at all, and had fast traffic, and lots of it. I had to constantly pay attention to any traffic behind me, and whenever there were vehicles in both directions, that meant no room for me and I had to pull off into the gravel shoulder and wait for traffic to pass. This was particularly true of semis, which went around me with plenty of space if no one was coming in the other direction, but wouldn’t even slow down if someone was.
Because of the wind and the lack of shoulder, I made slow progress. My bicycle jersey and shorts were quickly soaked in sweat, just as they had been in previous days biking into the wind, and I made sure to take salt pills to allow me to stay hydrated. At least I learn from past mistakes! I didn’t experience any cramping this time around, which I consider a plus.Later in the day, the wind started to die down, finally, and I turned to the east to avoid the headwind. After that, I made pretty good time, and I pulled in to Strawberry Point, where my mother lives, right at 6 PM. She lives in a retirement community, and almost everyone living there had gathered to meet me and hear me speak.
When I arrived, dripping wet, I rolled my bike into the dining room where everyone had gathered, and I received a round of applause, which is a first for me. After a quick shower, which I deperately needed, and some food, which I also deperately needed, I gave an impromptu talk to everyone gathered, talking about my trip, how it came about, things I had seen, how I had prepared, and finished with a question and answer session. Everyone there showed interest, it it was nice to know that people have an appreciation for what I am doing.
Tomorrow is another rest day, in order to spend time with my mother. Although frankly, after the day fighting the wind, I could use a rest, even though I’ve had so much rest lately. Today’s 50 miles were much harder than yesterday’s 83 miles.