Sunday, August 1, 2010

Little Switzerland

Camping is in-tents. We agreed upon this fact. On our last morning in our tents, we were all in such good spirits. We laughed a lot, something which didn't normally happen so early before everyone was fed and caffienated. Joyce and I were back in our craziest shorts, which we started and ended the week in. We rode about five miles before stopping for a gross breakfast sandwich of sausage, egg, and cheese. I think I hit the point at which I don't want to eat red meat again for a LONG time. I got a year's worth or more (by my standards) in the past seven days.

Next stop: the field of dreams outside of dyersville where we spent almost an hour, hitting baseballs and taking pictures. Ben also pitched, played catcher and scored a run. I hit a single and got out at second. Running in bike shoes is fun, you should try it. We left, not heaven, but Iowa after some good old-timey baseball playing with lots of men and women in spandex.

We carried on, ready to ride "little switzerland", as the locals called the area. Ben says, "I don't think these people have ever been to Switzerland." Either way, it was hilly, pretty, and very different after all the corn and soybean fields we'd seen all week. There was a hill about 35 miles in that people had been talking about all week. Potter's hill. It was bound to be like no hill we'd ever seen. I accepted this but brushed it off thinking I can take anything. After miles and miles of downhill into this valley, I came to the hill. There was a sign at the bottom saying it was a mile long. "That's ok, I can take it" I'm thinking. It wasn't too steep at first but you could see it curve around and become very steep. I just kept saying "oh my god" looking at it as I approached. Over and over. Still, looking at its steepness didn't begin to do it justice. It was nearly impossible. I think three quarters of people had gotten off their bikes to walk which was discouraging. Real bikers with nice bikes were off and walking which was more discouraging. Two stupid guys on an old polluting moped rode up the hill by us with a video camera which pissed me off as I breathed in their exhaust. I kept thinking how I came here to ride my bike across Iowa and I was going to do it. I would not walk. The hill curved a few times so you couldn't be sure exactly when it ended. I was breathing heavier than I have since my real soccer days. I'm sure I'm wrong but I felt like people giving birth don't even breath that hard. Ben passed me near the top which was the perfect little bit of encouragement to get me through. I pushed on and made it, my legs jello. I learned after that the hill was a 19 percent grade meaning that you go approximately 2.5 feet over for every one up.

The five of us met at the top where Tender Tom's Turkey, another popular lunch spot was waiting to feed us. We sat for a while recovering... It would all be downhill from there. Metaphorically, yes. Physically, no. There were lots more hills, up and down, but none even began to compare. And we were ten miles from the end, we had accomplished so much! We stopped to shotgun a beer in some welcoming stranger's driveway, and pushed on with a little buzz. All five of us rode the last three or four miles together and in no time, we were at the river!! We had done it! What a bittersweet feeling. We dipped our front tires in the Mississippi, took pictures, and that was it. it was over and time to jump in our cars and drive home. It is an anti-climactic ending, because the whole trip is so much fun and you're pushing for the finish line but when you get there (if you live in dc) you need to hit the road asap to make it home in time for work Monday. Luckily, we all like each other and have enjoyed the last 18 hours laughing and reminiscing together. We broke up these hours with 5 hours of sleep in a motel in Dayton.

I'm not so sad to be done. I did really miss Josh and my friends so I have things to look forward to at home. But it is just sad when something you've looked forward to for so long is over just like that, and it was so great and you loved it and your memories are perfect but it's over. And some people say that 7 days is the perfect amount but I could have gladly kept going. It makes it even harder that tomorrow morning, Joyce leaves DC for a series of road trips that will eventually land her in Boulder next month. And we're not sure when we'll be together next. So tonight is it with her for a long time. It is sad but we have many biking things to look forward to like biking the rockies, bike tattoos and, someday, biking america. The party ends and life goes on and home will be really nice and comforting but I miss stress-free, in-tents, ragbrai living already.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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