Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Even Stronger Winds


I didn't wear any cancer apparel which would have come in handy today. Riding solo I came to Story City and saw the Spokes of Hope banner on the left. I hit the brakes then went over and introduced myself. 

I met Cindi and Ken Hart, "Cindi from Indy" as she says. Cindi and another rider left without me but I pulled over down the road when she had flatted so I could watch him fix her flat. (I really did offer to help but three people on a flat are two too many.)

Cindi Hart

It was another hot day (100+ degrees) day on our way to Marshalltown. Other than the brief encounter with Cindi, I met no one and just kept riding to the city. And looking to keep cool.

Cute kids selling water in McCallsburg, Iowa
Many groups or people sold water. Some gave away free ice water. The Air Force reserve had tanker trucks on the route at one location per day for free water. Residents had sprinklers next to the road and some had garden hoses and were more than willing to hose down riders who wanted drenched.

But my favorite stop was in Clemons where a sprinkler hose was stretched across the street. I removed my cell phone from my pocket then enjoyed the water.

Sprinkler hose stretched over the street in Clemons, Iowa

Arriving Marshalltown, I stopped at a convenience store and talked to the manager. I asked him where the locals ride and he told me of a river path on the levee that goes 10 miles out of town. Once set up I went for a quiet 10-mile ride and found a delightful nature center at Grimes Farm. I even climbed a steep hill, on a grass path, to an observation tower.

In Marshalltown I met Michelle Haalman, a fellow cancer survivor and friend of my sister, Brenda. She is working for Bubba's Pampered Pedalers and often buys Steelers tickets from me. It was nice to say hello.

Highest point in town
Maybe in Iowa*

After a catered dinner ($9) at the site, I went swimming in the Iowa River. The water seemed bath water warm and wasn't real refreshing. Plus there were small fish nibbling at me.

Art work on the bike trail underpass

At sunset a storm moved in. Not just any storm but a wicked storm. One hellacious wicked storm. Hunkered down in my tent, I thought the sides would tear. I'm guessing two gusts of wind hit hard. The first was 50 mph and the second 60. Who knows, they could have been 20 and 30 or 80 and 90 -- but the second was stronger than the first. If my body weight had not been in the tent it surely would have taken off.

Then lightning and thunder struck all around. This was one where you'd see the lighting and hear the thunder, almost simultaneously. Then the rain came. And I was scared. We were among trees and the fear was a branch could be struck and fall and crush us as well. And Marshalltown was the one place on RAGBRAI where they had no safe evacuation for us. No shelter in schools.

We simply waited it out. And no one got hurt although I heard of damage later.

A note about the mileage: I forgot to reset the Garmin after the ride so it includes the first 59 miles of the next day ride. It does not include an extra mile on the levee at the end of the day when I was charging the Garmin and it wasn't on the bike. Total: 101.5.

*It's not. Marshalltown is at 942'. The highest point is 1600'.

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