Monday, August 8, 2011

RAGBRAI-ish

Day two of my journey started out late by RAGBRAI standards. I got up at about 7:45 and made my way down the hill to the Wal-Mart Super Center that I had camped near. I saw this bike in front of the entrance. Must be a veteran rider with all of those wrist bands wrapped around the brake line!

Knowing the way out of town made getting going easy. I took the same sections of gravel and B road from Sunday. Passed this cool octagonal house again, so I took a picture this time.

B roads are plentiful down here, that's for sure. Flat sections, sections with corners, even up/downhill sections. And all dry and rideable. Smooth and quiet. Lucky dogs down there have it made. I often wonder if I am the first to track a road, B or otherwise, on a bike. Ever think about that?
This section was 3 miles long!Upon returning to gravel I began to see tire tracks. I could tell that many other people had chosen to get on the T Bone Trail and ride a little "off route" for the day. This was a great choice as the trail goes through many small towns as it tracks up to Audubon.I had a couple of other sight seeing targets to hit, and they were interesting in their own unique ways. The first was Plow In The Oak Park. The back story? A farm hand had been plowing a field, Civil War era mind you, and upon learning he had to go to war leaned his plow against a shed. A volunteer tree sprouted up and grew around the plow, eventually consuming it and continuing to grow. The shed collapsed and left the tree/plow for posterity. You would have to know your way around a horse drawn plow to recognize it today, but luckily some folks do, and made a park to go along with it.A little further up the road was Audubon. Home of Albert The Bull! He was freshly painted for the possibility of riders coming through, and I guess the tradition of signing your name on his balls must have been lost on the RAGBRAI crew. They were unmarked as far as I could tell. I just turned my head, coughed, and rolled on.I did stop at Casey's for some grub and a pop, and asked a guy if he was "from here" so I could make sure I was going to find my gravel connector out of town. So he says he's from Audubon, and I ask him if this road would take me to the county road blah blah, and then to Jay Avenue. "Oh I don't know the roads" he says. What the... what, you just know the way to Casey's and back home? Thanks for acknowledging that you were from Audubon moron! Anyways, I made it to Jay Avenue, and road a lot of rollers along the way. I went through 2 very small, let me repeat, VERY SMALL towns along the way. One looked like it might have had 30 people if everyone was home, and the other was about 50 or so. The second of these was Roselle. A small town with gravel roads leading in, and gravel roads leading out. Small. Yet despite its small stature, there was a gigantic Catholic church there. I could see it for miles.
The signage in the front of the church told of how the materials were taken to Halbur by rail, then transported by wagon to the site. It was very cool. Also, there was a tavern, Roselle Tavern, attached to a guy's house. Like he built an addition and called it Roselle Tavern. The OPEN sign was on, but I wasn't ready to slow down too long, so I boogied out of there.
My next three miles were very interesting, as a county crew was in the process of turning B road into gravel road, so I had to talk to the crew foreman about getting through their work area. Another occasion arose of someone suggesting that I was lost, and that RAGBRAI was way over there! Don't they realize that I choose to ride alone? Silly people! RAGBRAI is way too mundane for an adventurer! Another few miles and I landed in the town of Templeton. Home of Templeton Rye Whiskey! I was looking forward to this stop, as a tasting party had been arranged for this special day, and you never pass up a taste of the good stuff! Unless there are 300+ people waiting in line, in the sun, to get a taste of the good stuff! No Way! Eat, drink, leave in short order. Back on the chunk and I knew it was only a few miles to Swan Lake, where I planned to set up camp, swim in the lake for a while, then crash. Well, "$10.00 No Exceptions" just to tent camp didn't feel like a welcoming mood, so I took a dip in the lake in my riding gear and headed for Carroll. You know, scamming the overnight towns on the route so that I can ride gravel all day is a great deal, but charging $10.00 to put up my own quarters was a bust. I found a nice place on the grounds of a grade school and set everything up, dried out my kit, and went in search of more food! Greasy pizza was just the thing. Get a belly full of dough and cheese and you'll sleep like a baby. Now, a sense of normalcy overtook me, and realizing that I hadn't talked to wifey in two days I decided to call home. Pull out the cell, no service. Must be a dead spot, I thought, so I walked to the downtown area and tried again. "No Signal, Emergency Calls Only" in big bold letters. Nice. Come to find out there is NO AT&T service on the Highway 30 corridor. Great. Now what? Ahh yes, I'll find a payphone and call. So I got $3.00 worth of quarters and walked around trying to find a payphone. For 2 hours! Did you know that there is no such thing as a payphone anymore? Now you do. Alas, I was hanging out at the Walgreen's, and I saw a customer from work coming out the door. I begged the use of her phone, explaining the situation, and quickly called home. Turns out Kelli wasn't worried about me at all. Thanks Honey! What a day. About 65 miles of gravel/B road. As I lay there drifting off to sleep to the strange sounds of classic rock songs, sung in an 80s Hair Metal sound (strange is a mild term) I re-planned my final day for this year, and wisely so. But that will have to wait until next time! Later!


2 comments:

Matthew Moggridge said...

Hi, Just to say I've posted on RAGBRAI on NoVisibleLycra. So you finally managed to sleep rough! Are you camping in sites or on your own? RAGBRAI sounds really good. How many miles are you riding in total?

Travel Gravel said...

Yes, sleeping out in the big old world, no shelter that I couldn't carry with me. It was fun to use imagination to set up, thankfully the weather was not a problem. I think I rode past a dozen sites that would have been great until finally stopping to set up. Ragbrai is a great Iowa treat to the world. Free, or close to it, supported cycling. I rode mileages of 60, 68, and 74 in three days.