72 miles in 7.75 hours – Max Speed 32.5mph
On leaving this morning I immediately crossed the Missouri River, and passed into the state of Iowa.
After crossing I stopped at a Subway for some breakfast, and talked to a truck driver who toured around the Midwest some years ago for around 15 minutes. After that I got to enjoy around 10-15 miles of flat land, but then that all ended pretty suddenly.
I had been asked once or twice when I would really feel like I was home, and I had said when I got to Pennsylvania, that would probably be the moment that I really felt like I had just about done it. However, as soon as I hit the hills in Iowa, it felt like I was home. I was in a forest that looked like it could be 5 miles away from where I grew up. I had to keep telling myself that I had another 1000 miles to do and not to get too excited.
After a short time I left the forest behind. But while the trees had been replaced by farm fields, the hills remained with me.
Now some of you, particularly experienced bike tourers have noticed that something has been absent over the last 3200 miles. Notably dog attacks. I have been lucky in that I had not been chased by a single dog the entire trip. Well, that all changed today. Once I got through the forest, immediately five (!!) dogs came bolting from a property to my right. I saw I couldn’t outrun them, so I stopped and got off the bike and faced them, and we stood there for a while looking at each other. Eventually they got bored and went away. Then just a little while after that, from the left two dogs came flying down a hill after me, and one looked like a pit or half-pit. But, what they didn’t see (there were bushes on the edge of the property) was that a truck was coming the other way. The dogs literally got out into the street and across not even a full second before this truck came through. A half second later and they would both have been dead. And I know from reading other journals (dogs die chasing bikes more than you may imagine), that while the accident is 100% the fault of the dog owners, often times they are very emotional, own shotguns, and blame the bicyclist. Clearly something I want to avoid. Anyway, there were a few more dog encounters today as well, and in total I had 12 chasing me at one time or another. Welcome to Iowa indeed.
Anyway. I went through a few very small towns and ate lunch in one while it looked extremely threatening outside. It never did rain though, and I went on my way after my pit stop. I chugged along until I reached the town of Bedford at around 5:00. I went inside a cafe for dinner.
I haven’t really talked about small town America much in this blog. It is a part of America that some people never really get a chance to see. Even when people travel around the country, generally the stops are in cities, but I imagine that a very large portion of the country lives in towns of 1000 or less. Bedford was a perfect example. So this cafe was really crowded, and a little while after I got there every seat was taken. But, no worries, everyone knows everyone else, so the guy who owns the store just starts sitting people with other people who also have just arrived. Everyone seems happy with this arrangement. The only person who does not get anyone sat with them is the sort of dirty looking, smelly, outsider (me). This is a pretty good example of what small town America is all about.
After dinner I went down a big hill, and then turned off onto a side road, and climbed three miles to a state park with a campground.
I got there, looked around for the most remote spot that was available, and chose one and got set up. I went and took a shower in by far the dirtiest bathroom of the trip (State of Iowa! Clean your damn bathrooms!). After that bit of nastiness was done with I sat at a picnic table and did some work on the blog that does not require the internet for about 3 hours. I also talked to a guy who was camping who owned a long haul trucker. He said he really wanted to go on a bike ride like mine, but couldn’t for the usual reasons I hear (work, family, money). He talked about how he finally became clean a few years ago after being on drugs and ‘ruining his body’ for the 10-15 years before that. It seems like biking and camping really attract a lot of people who used to abuse their body. I think something about the outdoors really ends up helping a lot of these people heal.
Anyway, I crawled into the tent, listened to the loud party going on a few campsites down for a while, and then got to sleep at around midnight, again swearing I would never again go to a state park on a weekend.
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