Monday, February 4, 2013

BLURRR Bus Ride To Perry

The Red Phoenix and Mary's bike.  Look at the back ground.  Nothingness.  this is what you see during BRR.  Desolate tundra, winter in Iowa.  Few trees, few buildings.  A desert.

Once again we made the annual pilgrimage to Perry for the Bicycle Ride to Rippey.  I think I did my first BRR in 1992.  The official SAG wagon hand out Budweiser in Rippey on that occasion.  Since then the ride grew and grew.  My rowdy friends began to show up in subsequent years.  Pretty soon it became a frozen Ragbrai day complete with cops in Rippey forcing us to dump our open containers before entering into the tundra that fills the void between there and Perry.  Back in the day BRR was a 12 hour drinking and biking endurance event.  Start at 9 am and quit at 9 pm when the Ballyhoo started charging cover for the band.  Perhaps the booze helped us deal with the 12 miles of nothingness.  Flat, windy, white and cold.  As far as rides go, dull.  One year I think Team Mystery Machine left for Rippey at 3 pm.  Lights became standard equipment.  But if it aint the ride and it aint the place we must return to see our friends.  Perhaps it is cabin fever, a signal to ride a bike.  Not that we always complete the ride or even bring bikes.  An opportunity to spend quality time with kindred spirits.  Let loose and run away.

The trailer that the bus pulled.  FULL!  No bikes lost!

Waiting to get on the bus.  Notice that Klob looks like a thin pretty Crabb.  

The plan this year was simple.  Take the Bar Fly bus to Perry and head east.  Target: Trestle.  The only thing that could stop us was beer and snow.  Mary and Craig were up for this.  We tried to recruit others but despite agreeing they were lured by the Sirens call to the bar or beer tent.  Trying to organize drinkers with biking problems is like herding cats.

3 troublemakers

M&M, Mary and Melanie
We were good.  Damn, we were near perfect.  Consumption on the bus was no more than two or three and a shot of FireBall and the new offering from Yukon Jack that tastes much better than FB.  Klob brought a bag of airline bottles of FireBall and threw them to the back of the bus as if he was in a parade throwing candy.  By the look in his eyes i could see that dangerous kid.  He said it was better than any parade.

Reaching Perry we prepped the bike and rolled to the bar.  The town looked deserted.  I was immediately overwhelmed by the lack of people at BRR.  Then again this had its advantages.  No crowds, no lines and we could get in the bar and beer tent.  One and done at the Rockin Horse.  One and done at the Iowa Craft Beer tent and bikes were rolling east.  But the Rockin Horse is notable.  When we walked in BV Heather was sitting behind a table loaded with stuffed animals from a game machine.  I never seen this before and immediately thought that some sort of shenanigans was occurring.  But T-Bone assured me that if learned anything at all during his career as a bartender was the ability win at that machine.  Heather said that he could not stop until she got the pink pig.

Craig finally reappeared and we hit the tent for beer #2.  Then time to hit the pave.  The road to Bouton is easy.  Head east from the Rockin' Horse, ride past the Casey's, turn left at Auen's Radiator, turn right after the school and take the first left.  When forced to make a turn take a right and follow this to the highway.  Turn left on the highway and take the first right which is very close.  This road takes one to Bouton, Iowa, home of Carmen's Bar & Grill.  Don't ask me the names of these roads.  Google Maps that shit.  Rumor has it if the bar is closed that some local will get someone to open it for you.

One and done at Carmen's.  They had a tent with a DJ is expectation of a large crowd.  We did encounter people leaving Bouton that told us that Carmen's was rocking.  There was a bus, Team Wrong.  We recognized no one.  The place wreaked of BO and hot dogs and sauerkraut. One and done was good.

Craig insisted on this photo session.  We took a photo here during our long ride last year.  Now we have a winter shot.  Got to admired Bouton's contribution to freedom.

Head south from Carmen's and take the first right.  Paved county highway!  5 miles or so to Woodward, Iowa.  Craig suggested that we stop at the country club but it was closed.  Our hearts dropped and anger rose  when we rounded the corner to the trail head of the High Trestle Trail.  It was not plowed.  A major tourist attraction was denied because we did not bring cross country skis.  Rumor has it that it is clear from the east end starting in Madrid.  In the future our winter $$ will be spent there.  Food and water at the Whistlin' Donkey pub helped to calm us down.  After dinner it was getting dark and snowing.  The best part of our ride was about to begin.

Mary and Craig got ahead of me.  Instead of cutting through the lawn like I did on the way in I opted for the trail just to see how difficult it would be to push though the snow.  Approaching the wooden bridge at the entrance of the the WD's campground found my rear wheel sliding out from underneath me.  I landed on my right side, got up and rode off.  The snow on the trail would have made our 2.5 mile trip to the trestle a 30 minute ordeal.  Once on Main Street I spied my partners waiting for me.  One final light check before hitting the highway.

The night was at full darkness.  The snow and wind were at our faces.  We had a super light on each bike and an assortment of  blinkers, flashers and headlamps.  To someone who saw us we must have appeared like UFOs.  The road was white.  I could not tell where the shoulder began.  Yet the snow was not deep enough to slow the bikes down.  No more than two cars passed us on that 5 mile stretch.  It felt epic.  UFOs or ghost emerging from the storm.  After the second rise in the road we could see the lights of Bouton, both of them.  Not long now.  In moments this journey will end.  we can brush the snow off our faces and drink soma like the warriors we are.

The Bar Fly bus was parked across the street from Carmen's.  95% of the bikes were loaded.  Since some of our companions opted to overnight in Perry we had room inside the bus for our bicycles.  the fat bikes were already loaded, their riders decided to stay with the bus instead of traveling to Des Moines in the snow and booze storm.  Our three bikes also got to be placed inside.  After shoving them in I grabbed a beer and went into the bar.

Carmen's was packed.  It was hot.  Took some elbow magic to work my way to the back.  I could tell that BRR had taken its toll on our riders.  Some were talking slow, others falling down.Tough to criticize them since some started drinking at The High Life at 6 am for Ground Hog's Day.  That was 11 hours ago.  Another one and done.  Mace walked through telling us to get on the bus, time to go home.

The snow was still falling and fleeting thoughts of an overturn bus were quashed by Coors.  No need for negative waves.  It was a great day.  We managed not to let the beer overtake us.  We had a hell of a night ride in that storm.  Craig, Mary and I were not hurt.  It was great to see everyone again.  In a few short months we will be riding without dressing like astronauts.  Until then we will overdress and ride with studded tires or knobbies and plan for future rides with green landscapes.  The snow will be a memory.

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