Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bike America Day 47: One Last Hoorah on the Mississippi

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day's distance: 41.71 miles
Overall distance: 2,412 miles

In my mind, Ragbrai ended the minute we dipped our fronttires in the Mississppi River. But my parents andI weren’t quite done with Iowa.After dropping the boys off in Davenport,we went to dinner in a nice restaurant on the river. From our table, we had aview of the water through beautifully large glass windows. I had a salmon dishwith spinach crab sauce and we shared a massive, decadent slice of chocolatecake. My dad commented that it should be illegal to serve such a large slice ofcake to one person. I argued that I could finish the whole thing myself. Butthe three of us couldn’t even eat it.

There were only a few other tents in the Ragbrai campground. It seems that everyone goes straight home when the ride ends. It was a little depressing but the clean porta-potties with no lines made up for it big time.

In the morning, my mom picked up coffee, oatmeal, and yogurt parfaits from McDonalds and my dad and I were refueled and ready to ride by a little after 9. We rode through town and then climbed up a blue suspension bridge over the great river. Riding on the bridge was scary because there was no sidewalk and very little shoulder. I don’t like to ride close to the rail on bridges because it scares me to imagine falling over so I was well into the driving lane. I sped over it as fast as possible and, in no time, my dad and I were on land in Illinois, our eighth state and the land of Lincoln.

We rode 42 miles south on The Great River trail to Rock Island, Iowa.The trail hugged the Mississippi River but it also had many twists, turns and detours through small towns and neighborhoods. 

We speculated about how many miles we could have saved by staying on the main highway but it was fun to see the local attractions. Our favorite was the outdoor exercise park by the water in Cordova, IL. I did some ab work and my dad did squats before deciding that we were getting enough exercise on our bikes and continued on.

We saw some other bikers but very few with helmets on. We saw pretty views of Iowa across the river and I snapped a photo of this building for my dad.

In Rock Island, one of the four quad cities, my mom picked us up and we drove across the Mississippito Davenport, another quad city and my mom’s hometown. We drove by her high school and then stopped in Greatest Grains, a healthfood store and cafĂ© that her friends from high school, Julie and Clyde have run for 30 some years. I got an avocado chicken wrap and a mini greek salad to go.

We jumped back in the car and drove a few miles to the farm of another set of my mom’s high school friends, Susie and Ron Kardell. We were sitting around the table eating and talking when Susie looked at me and said,“feel free to go take a nap, you look pooped!” I really was. I skipped a swim in their personal pool to shower and nap. Soon it was time to make the trek back to Illinois for a quintessential Davenport evening.

We met a large group of 1970 Central High School graduates at one of their second homes in Rapids City, IL right on the river. We ate snacks and drank wine on their porch and I had fun talking to everyone.

Sally and Budge had to leave after cocktails and the rest of us hopped on Caroline and John’s Mainelobster boat turned Mississipi pleasure boat for a cruise on the river. We rode around drinking more wine and docked in LeClaire, IA for dinner at Sneaky Pete’s. I knew I'd like this place when I saw the cut-off ties hanging from all the rafters and the menus plastered to old liquor bottles. My mom and I shared a salmon filet and a steak and I shared pitchers of RollerDam Red Ale, brewed up river, with Susie, Ron and Randy. Iowa was really coming through on the localbeer front! And they served it to us in mason jars!

After dinner, we had a short ride in the dark and then headed back to the farm. It’s always wonderful to socialize with my mom’s oldest friends and hear stories about her life. It further proves how awesome the people of Iowa are and I think it’s so cool how well they’ve kept in touch after all these years.

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