Monday, July 26, 2010

Iowa Sucks

Tuesday, July 1st. We awoke promptly at 8am. We showered, shaved, and got ready to hit the road. We again went to Bubba's, this time only gorging ourselves on the well-priced blueberry pancakes. We had a long day of riding ahead and knew there would be few if any stop from here to the next closest town. Josh thought it might be a good idea to load up, so we stopped and purchased a gallon jug of yellow Gatorade. Would it be piss warm by the time we drank it? Yes. Would we stay hydrated in the Summer heat? Well, I hope so.

We left Cody heading East on the main highway. We knew that about 100 miles ahead we were going to face some of the Rocky Mountains at what were called the "Big Horn Mountain Range." I obviously was not looking forward to this and was considering my options. There was a Northern path (along highway 14) and a southern pass (along highway 16). I decided to ponder the decision while on the road since no matter what we had to head East to Greybull. The road was pretty easy. A couple rolling hills but for the most part it was flat, dry, and rather pretty. Josh had decided to purchase a bandanna to cover his bald head. It was a good idea I thought, I didn't think sunscreen alone was going to be enough to protect his ghastly scalp. Sadly though, Josh was still learning how to tie a bandanna.

Seriously, he's not joining the KKK..

The ride was going nicely. I felt a lot better knowing the 55 mile trek wouldn't be much of an issue with our extra gallon of fluids. After stopping for a break I took a look at the maps and noticed there were some small towns slightly south off the main highway. If we were going to take the southern Teir of the Bighorns it'd actually save us time to shortcut down highway 30. So, that became the plan! Not too long after (about 30 miles outside of Cody) we were biking down a nice slope when we saw a man by himself pushing a bicycle up the hill. We of course stopped to see if he needed some mechanical assistance and to see what was up.

When we met him we discovered he too was a transcontinental cyclist! He was a Japanese student who was studying in the US and had decided to see America. This kid (his name was Toshi I believe) was insane. He had started in New York and was headed to the West Coast. He literally went to a Walmart, bought a 200 dollar mountain bike and hit the road. No special seats. No bike shorts. No special packs. Just an old rugged backpack and a tent. I felt like a total pussy after meeting this kid. We shared stories and he had this piece of advice for us....

If you're having a hard time understanding, he's saying "Iowa.. Iowa sucks. Sorry Iowa."

We had a lot of laughs and he told us all about his adventures. Getting caught by the police camping in parks in Chicago, biking through the shitty corn fields of Iowa, he really was an awesome guy. It turned out he was running low on water and was walking up the hills to conserve fluids. We promptly took our gallon of Gatorade (we hadn't drank much) and gave it to him. No way we were letting an awesome dude like this go another inch without all the Gatorade he could drink! Either way, now that I had changed routes it wouldn't be much further before we were at a town to fill up, and we had more than enough. Seriously though, this guy rocked.

We took our detour down route 30 and we came across another cute town called Burlington. Made me think of my buddy Matt who went to school in Burlington VT! This one's for you buddy. On the way out of town we hit our 1100th mile!

Milestone 11 of 35ish

We filled up our bottles and kept moving. We were making great time and for the first time in a long time I had taken the lead over Josh. I'm not positive if he just let me or I was actually in the zone but either way we were flying!

We got to Basin (the junction of route 30 and route 16) and grabbed a few burgers. They were just too cheap not to pass up. Nothing too heavy though, we still wanted to make it further today. Ultimately our hope was to get to the foot of the Bighorn mountains today. That'd leave us fresh and ready to take on the uphills the day after!

We made our way South getting to Manderson, a nice little community. We stopped at a local diner where people were curious what the hell we were doing. We ate and told everyone about our trip. A local family (the Schwedes- pronounced Sweetys) said they lived a couple miles down the road, and if we made it to their house by night we could stop and fill up our water bottles. We were quite appreciative and said we'd certainly try to make it there by nightfall. It was getting late however.

We were full. Uncomfortably full. But thought it'd be best to do a few more miles since we were still 40 miles from the base of the mountains. We had decided if we got the Schwedes and they offered us a place to stay we'd definitely take it. It was late, the wind was blowing hard against us, it had been a long day and I was tired.

It was about 20 miles further to the Schwedes house. We were about 10 miles down the road when we started to notice some figures on the side of the road. When we got closer we discovered four figures with bicycles! How odd to two run into two sets of cyclist in a day. We had been hearing about these people for a couple days actually. They were a family of four who had started on the West coast (California I believe?) and were working East. Apparently we had finally caught up to them. The troop consisted of a mother/father (early 50's I'd guess) and their two daughters ages NINE AND ELEVEN! How crazy is that? These kids were spending their Summer vacation biking cross country with their parents. I personally would had never stood for it at that age. I didn't even like biking to the next town (5 miles each way) when I was a kid. I'll give those kids some props. While talking we started to notice lightning off in the distance and figured it'd be best to get moving and find some shelter.

About a half hour later we rode up on the Schwede's residence. When we got they filled our bottles and offered us a few brews. The father told us he had a travel camper and we were welcome to stay in it. Of course we gratefully accepted! It was a really nice and large interior. We tarped our tents (preparing for the impending storm) and slept like rocks. Good day!

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 78.13
Total mileage- 1135.04


Mark said...

Iowa sucks? Ross- that seems like the kind of comment that a child would make because he doesn’t get exactly what he wants.
What is it, is it because Iowa looks different than Seattle? Where I lived for 7 years) Is it the people who suck, the cities, the country side? Take a moment to talk to Iowans and to look around as you peddle through our state. Are you talking to yourself in this blog or the people that are watching your journey? Is it that you have to be cleaver or cool, and its what you’ve always heard or thought about Iowa; that it sucked?
Take some time as your biking across the country to learn new things and the places you’ve heard about and are traveling through. Talk to people.
I think you'll find that a lot of places that you have never been to before and you assume suck, don’t really suck at all.
I don’t imagine you'll post this but I wanted to let you know that while I think what youre doing is amazing, I disagree with you. Iowa is awesome.

Ross said...

Dear Random Person,

Hey Marky-Mark, if you're going to bother to criticize my blog do yourself the favor and actually READ some of it. The "Iowa sucks" comment was clearly not made by me. Although I did bike through it and I will say Iowa sucked more than anywhere. And I say that exclusively to piss you off.