Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Saturday's ride was a 130 mile trip to Cedar Rapids to see family for Easter. I left at 4am after getting about two hours of sleep. That's the way I usually do these things. For the first few hours I was in the dark. Highlights of this section were seeing the horizon to the east covered in the flashing lights from the tops of windmills and getting chased by a dog I could barely see.

Around sunrise I was crossing the Iowa River at Albion and on to the straight flat section from there to south of Vinton. As the sun rose the winds picked up. There wasn't a lot of wind, just 5mph or so, but it was constant and in my face for the whole ride. The wind took its toll on my by the end of the ride making me much more sore than I would normally be after a ride of this length.

There isn't much to say about Marshall county, but as I entered Tama county I was expecting a B road section, but instead got a dead end. I know that I rode on that road two years ago, but now it's a plowed field. I detoured north a mile and continued on. I shouldn't say that it's all flat between Albion and Vinton. There was a long section in Tama county that was rolling hills. I didn't remember it from the last time I had been there.

A few B roads broke up the monotony and were a relief from the often new, soft, and loose gravel I encountered for much of the trip. I wished that I had brought a camera for a few of these classic sections of road. By the time I got near Vinton I was ready for a change of pace.

A few miles north I found myself riding along the Cedar River on a road that I think is one of the best in the state. Not only does it go right along the banks of the Cedar, but it is a minimum maintenance road that has flood warning signs along it. It doesn't hurt that there is a nice park there, the Benton City Fry Access, and it includes a hill to rival those on the Des Moines river. I stopped at the park for my first rest of the trip at mile 107 and drank a Boost and a Monster along with a few Daddy Ray's fig bars.

The food and caffeine woke me up and let me ride the last 20 or so miles into Cedar Rapids. I crossed the river on the Lewis Bottoms bridge and then rode along some fast smooth gravel south into Cedar Rapids. I felt great and the winding roads were just the kind of road that I like. I even managed to find a few B roads in the last few miles before being dumped out onto the pavement.

It always feels weird arriving at my parents' house after biking there. Almost as though I've passed through some sort of space/time warp and gotten somewhere that I shouldn't be able to by bike. I hope to do it again this year, hopefully exploring some new roads along the way.

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