In the Middle of Iowa
Welcome back to
In the Middle of Iowa
I woke up on the morning of the 5th for the second day of riding. It was safe to say that the ride the day before thoroughly kicked my ass. It’s very typical of me to have to relearn things, its essentially my favourite pastime. No manner of planning can really get your body ready for that many hours on the bike – particularly without a screen. So to make up for just a bit of that, I slept in a bit that day… at least later than I’d intended. I was up just in time to get some of the basic bike maintenance done and bags packed before hitting the road a bit after day-break.
I stopped for gas quickly, a new ritual in the morning hours… and every 150km, and realized just how far off path I ended up last night in finding a motel. Oh darn, it looked like I would have to cut through some dirt paths and backroads to get back on track. After twisting my rubber arm just bit and with a smile on my face, I headed off away from the rising sun.
Although you can’t make really decent time if you spend all day on dirt and gravel roads, they sure are a hell of a lot of fun! It didn’t take long for me to be back on paved surfaces, if only for a few turns. The morning was full of gravel and dust and it was just glorious! Thinking that I was riding much slower and it was a great opportunity for some ‘on the road’ recordings, I set it all up and headed out again.
Now seems to afford a great opportunity to wax lyrical about Iowa. It’s really quite easy to make assumptions about entire States, and as someone that grew up in North America, it’s ridiculous. Our States/Provinces are generally larger than most countries, so it should go without saying that the wide variety of topography and geology you see as you cut through an entire state would be more than just the stereotyped fields of corn and wheat. There are a number of assumptions that are easy to make about states like Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska… flat. Painfully flat. And I’m excited to tell you, it’s just not the case! Granted, this trip only allowed the slightest bit of Kansas to slip through, but Iowa and Nebraska are far from flat – at least off the main highways. Farms and fields were intercut with breaks in the landscape from forests to rivers, cliffs, hills and everything in between. I passed swamps and lowlands that reminded me of South Carolina and forests that reminded me of New England.
Back to the reality of that day – it was a day full of the unexpected. Unexpected roads, since I thought I had a day of flat, straight roads ahead of me. Unexpected weather, since I thought I’d left the rain behind the day before. And as one more pesky item, I forgot some rather crucial maintenance before I left for the trip this year. I have that worry in my mind when suddenly the electric gremlins from the day before arise again.
Pulled over on the side of a rural road in the middle of nowhere, Mauls just won’t start back up. To this day, I’m not super sure what the issue was but my belief is that I had a grounding short in a cluster of wires that leads to the starter solenoid… long story short, just the right wiggle now and again gets Mauls to fire right up and puts off investigating too deeply.
Two additional elements will plague me on this trip, much of which isn’t noticed until I get to the editing room – bugs and rain drops. Over the course of this trip I develop a good habit of wiping the screen of the camera from time to time, but today’s footage had some rather glaring issues.
If reading isn’t your thing, be sure to check out Day 2 in video format right here!
Something I find myself leaving out of the videos after this episode is all my talk this trip about wanting to do some camping. Allow me to clarify – in 2018 I was very ambitious. My gear includes everything from a drone for filming (which I managed to use once I believe), tent and hammock and various camping essentials. I intended to split my time between motels and camp sites. In the end, the distances I needed to cover on any given day meant that wanting to stop long before dusk and take the time to setup camp in addition to the other maintenance I needed to do made the prospect a serious no.
I dream of that trip, campsite to campsite, but I’ve also learned that a trip like that shouldn’t include 14 hr riding days and quite possibly be more enjoyable on a trip with at least a second biker. The ability to split the needed chores and setup to make and break camp would make it a far more enjoyable activity. At least that makes sense to me from my writing chair. Let’s get back to how this particular day progressed.
Shortly after mid-day I arrived at the Great Mississippi. Options for crossing the Mississippi are fewer and farther between than your average river, so crossing through Fort Madison, a larger than our typical town for this trip, put me back in gorgeous rural farmland and unexpected terrain.
Each day of this ride I attempted to record some ‘on the road’ narration. The audio quality is questionable at times, but really glad I recorded what I did. Years later, it helps bring me back to that moment and what I was thinking and feeling. If you’re interested in checking some of those out, each day contains some and a separate series of “Road Ramblings” is available for your viewing pleasure.
I quickly stopped to shovel some food into my mouth before getting back underway because beauty aside, time waits for no one and night quickly came into view. I left Iowa behind and pulled into Nebraska. Turns out I seriously underestimated the distances I had left to get to Colorado that morning, but very happily pulled into Lincoln, Nebraska for the night. Tired, sore and forgetful, I did the basic bike maintenance Mauls needed and managed to lose my only pair of sunglasses in the process.
The bed called, I’ll see you all on Day 3.
Thanks so much for joining me on Day Two of this journey. A total of 15 riding days and some downtime in Arizona makes for quote the trip I’d love to take you all on.