Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Day 1: Johnston to Montezuma
I left the house around 8:30 after packing the final couple of things in my panniers and topping off the tire pressure. I took a steady but easy pace as I headed east towards Saylorville. This is supposed to be a vacation and I have nothing else to do other than ride my bike. I might as well make the day last. After a couple of hours of riding, I stopped at the Mitchellville Casey's and ran into Richard who was out for a 50 miler. We had a good chat about touring bikes and the LHT in particular. He was interested in getting a touring bike for RAGBRAI as well as some other rides he has planned for the next year. I really have nothing but praise for mine so far and had no issues recommending that he purchase one.
Leaving Mitchellville I headed towards Colfax and then into Newton, following the route from RAGBRAI in 2006 (other than skipping the big hill in Colfax). This was a good route to take considering how hilly they are saying this years RAGBRAI is going to be. The road from Mitchellville to Newton is filled with rollers and some long hills. It was a good opportunity to practice my spinning, as well as getting used to seeing single digit speeds while climbing. I had to keep reminding myself that I had no particular time to get to Montezuma, other than "before dark". I stopped at the Midtown Cafe in Newton around noon for lunch on the recommendation of two guys I talked to at a stoplight. Turned out to be a good recommendation. The service was quick, my chicken sandwich was quite good and the malt I ordered was top notch.
Leaving Newton, I tuned south towards Reasnor. More rollers and a bit of a quartering wind since it was blowing out of the SW. I took a quick spin through town to look for a convenience store. Striking out, I headed east and started the climb out of town and worked my way towards Sully. More rollers and big hills on this section of road, with some really nice scenery at the tops of a few of the climbs. I stopped in a church parking lot and put on some sunblock after I noticed my arms and hands getting very red. I opted for the SPF80 to minimize the amount of damage for the rest of the day.
I arrived in Sully around 2PM and was really looking forward to finding a bar and having a beer. The weather was in the mid 80s and it was a bit on the humid side. I was shocked to find out that neither Sully nor Lynnville further up the road has a bar. With this bit of information in hand, I headed for the Casey's and grabbed a Gatorade along with a tasty adult beverage and re-hydrated myself. The ride into Lynnville was pretty uneventful. More rollers and hills and more heat, although the sun was starting to lose a bit of it's punch late in the day. The final stretch into Montezuma was, again, full of hills, as well as a number of concrete trucks. I could hear them coming up behind me from a distance, and usually pulled over onto the shoulder if I thought I was going to have them behind me going up a hill. I'm all for taking my lane, but the drivers were generally in no mood to slow down or give me a lot of extra room as they went by. I opted for living to fight another day, rather than try and make my point on the roads of rural Poweshiek county. The last bit of road going into Montezuma was nice, as the shoulders were fully paved on both sides of the road. I kept the bike in the middle of the lane going downhill and then moved to the shoulder once I started reaching "minimal velocity" on the climb.
I stopped at Diamond Head park and registered for a camping spot. $10 for a site with no power, which seemed in line with what I had heard others paying on their trips. After registering for my camp spot, I opted to head to town and find someplace with a cold beer (or two). I ended up at the County Line bar on the square. Talk of the evening centered around the smoking ban (which went into place yesterday) and how long people were going to last before they needed to go outside for a smoke. Quite a bit of curiosity about me being a lone biker out for a trip that's not RAGBRAI. All the typical questions were asked and answered. One or two cold beers turned into quite a few more after the owner and others decided that I needed another one before hitting the road. I finally left around 7:30, grabbed a quick sandwich and something to drink at the local quick mart and headed to the park to set up my campground for the evening. After setting up my tent and camp chair, I took a well earned shower, applied bug spray, checked in with the wife and sister and ate dinner.
I had a nice conversation with some other campers that had ridden a a few days of RAGBRAI and some other other of the social / party rides around the state. Afterwards, I snagged a couple of pictures of the lake at sunset, read a book for a bit and then turned in for the night. After a few minutes the noises of the other campers (and their air conditioners) faded into the distance and I was fast asleep.
My route for the day is here.
Photos are here