Hankering to ride to Winterset. Have not done this for possibly a decade. Easy enough to get there. Ride to Cumming and hang a right on The Cumming Highway, G-14/G-4R. Hang a left on US 161. Once in city limits there are convenience stores and a big chain burger house. Refuel and turn around.
I used to ride out this way quite a bit. Concrete and some blacktop. The occasional 40 mph downhill and inevitable climb. Great road to train on. Usually in June I'd hit it. After all only so much training gets done on trails.
So I would drag my friends out. First it was Mystery Machine. I remember Amy Orlowski Greiger commenting that the small dogs chasing us were "dingos". We'd just go out 10 miles and regroup at a bridge. Just a rural bridge, have to go underneath to pee and get safe. Then the miserable climb out.
Then my high mileage years died out. People started having kids, others moved away. Others plain burnt out. A few years ago I started riding with a different group of friends. These people ride a bit more seriously, which in my case is a good thing. I like the challenge. Got the drinking and biking thing down. Need to work on both speed and distance. So we'd hit this road, usually on our way to Osceola.
Pretty soon we noticed that the road really had turned to shit. Never mind the stretch out of Cumming over I-35, very bad, it improves after the ramps have been passed. The rest of road is bumpy. Joe Hildreth had an axle break on him. A biker got hit out here or near there. Play it safe. We called it quits.
So now it is August and all the trails and destinations are getting old. Need new pavement. Joe said that the road had been resurfaced. Perhaps we need to check it out. So I did. Really need to get an early start, I did not. I left about 10 am.
The ride to Cumming was non eventful, good. As usual I feel like shit at first. Considered turning around. But I gamble that I will feel better once I hit Cumming. Jane Arpy and Sherri Halter are at the Lean To. I press on. At Cumming I pull up to the Tap for a Mountain Dew. It is closed, too early. Onward to the westy.
On the way to I-35 interchange I spy a dead skunk. Yeah! The road after the interchange sucks. No new pave. Did Joe lie? But this is ok. Bumpy roads amplify the road noise cars make. This helps. Always good to be aware of those approaching your 6 at 3 times your speed.
The hills seem much flatter than I remembered. Maybe I am that much better of a cyclist! I doubt it. I did not get near 40 mph on the downhill but the bridge was there. 5 miles out of Cumming. Maybe I had it all wrong, 10 miles there and back? I press on.
This is the sign at the intersection where Francesca's house is. Locals have added Braille for the visually impaired
After leaving the bridge one must climb a hill. I remember this one. I recall talking to Kevin C on this climb. At the top and too the right is the gravel road that leads to Francesca's house, The Bridges of Madison County. Never been there, it is on a gravel road and I am usually on a stick bike with skinny tires whenever I venture this way. The sign for the house is missing. Linda W says the house is still there, the back half tarped off after a fire. Might be an interesting drinking spot...
I continue, part curiosity and part desire to rack up some miles. Lots of big ring time, no reason to turn back now. I pass Howell Tree Farm, a great place to take the kids and kill a tree for Jesus. Later pass the dingo house, no canines give chase.
Suddenly the road smoothes out and a gorgeous down hill reveals itself. Yep, 10 miles out to the bridge which is not yet in view. Time to get serious for speed. I max out at 38.7 mph, disappointing. I blame a headwind as I stop at the bridge and think.
10 miles from Cumming. Another 13 to home. Mary is at Mercy with my ill grandmother. My sister is running my mother to Ottumwa to pick up clothing and her diabetes medicine. I have 3 Power Bars and a little bit of cash. My main bottle is dead. If I started a few hours earlier I would have pressed on. Time is running out. Perhaps another 5 miles to Winterset which would add nearly an hour on the return trip. Bicycle east and north.
I stopped to take the photo. No real chance to get a run for the hill. This type of hill needs a 30 mph+ jump. Not possible. False flat leaving the bridge. Climbing from a dead stop never killed anyone I knew. On the climb I see two bikers sans helmets. One sorta looks like Miguel Indran.
Honestly, it is steeper than it looks. I almost hit 40 mph today going down it!
On top of the hill I spot the Principal building, 801 Grand Ave. I estimate that it is 21 miles from my location.
I stop at the Tap. Refill my bottle and grab the news paper. trying to get Linda's attention and digging for cash I realize that I left it at home. No sugar and caffeine or beer for me. Guzzle the bottle, eat a Power Bar and refill. Outside I sit on the bench and talk to Sherri Halter and Jane Arpy. They planned to goto Martinsdale but bonked. Sherri says that they found a bunch of journals that Dave wrote. She related an entry about his ride from Colorado to Iowa. 86 miles without eating, nowhere to get food. Another entry he comments that he is tired and does not know why. I suggest she publish them. WTF it could pan out.
The Tap to home is fast. I feel good. This time I try to keep the average speed up. Just a game to keep me occupied. I do notice that the shoulders of the trail need to be mowed in Warren County. Have not seen weeds this tall since before the trail was paved. Polk County's section is well trimmed.
Ride time less than 3 and a half hours. I hope to do it and further this Saturday.