Day 5

This was the day that was dreaded by many. Charles City to Waterloo. It was 82 miles of hills. Not big hills but still one hill after another. Practically non stop. (GeoBike Chart) It was about 70 miles of riding south before heading east again, thus the concern earlier in the week of the wind direction. Luckily the storm in Clear Lake changed the wind and a very gentle ENE wind helped along the way.

As I was leaving Charles City the small chain fell off the sprocket. I put it back on and knew that it went on way too easy and was way too loose. If the chain wasn’t tightened I wouldn’t be going anywhere. Usually there was a portable bike repair service tent set up just as we were leaving overnight towns. Hopefully there would be one this morning. There was and it was only three blocks away. Within a few minutes the chain was tight and I was on my way. If that had occurred miles down the road a long wait would have been in store for me. If I was going to have a breakdown that was the place to have it.

I was off and my goal was to get to Parkersburg, the half way point of the day, by 11:00 with a goal of reaching Waterloo by 4:00.

As I rounded the corner entering Parkersburg I could hear someone on a loud-speaker talking to the crowd. Just as I passed the Master of Ceremonies he said “That’s the kind of ride I like.” I knew he was talking about my seat. All the time I was getting remarks on still being in the ride, the number of compliments on my sheepskin covered seat easily outnumbered any other discussions with me.  It seemed that hundreds of time I heard “Can we trade seats?” …  “That looks comfortable.” … “I like your seat.”

It was shortly after Parkersburg that a gentlemen about my age made a point of riding up to me.

“Are you OK?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure you’re OK?”

“Yes, why?”

“You never stop. You never stop to drink. You never stop to eat. You never stop to rest. This is the sixth time today that we have passed you.  We pass and leave you behind, then stop, and when we start again there you are in front of us again. You never stop.”

I explained to him that I stopped every hour for 5-10 minutes but take few long breaks. Later that day a couple in my Bicycle Club also remarked to me that they passed me six times that day. People were noticing me. Some were even concerned about me.

Shortly after that encounter as I was peddling down the road I noticed a food stand coming up on my right side. I wasn’t going to stop but I did notice one of the people in line was looking at me. It was very obvious to me she was looking at me. In fact this young lady was staring at me. As we made eye contact and I was passing her by she nodded her head up and down and mouthed to me, “You are awesome.” This was now the THIRD very attractive young lady within 24 hours that went out of their way to compliment me. This doesn’t happen to me. That is not “near impossible” for me to imagine happening, that is impossible for me to imagine happening to me.

Meanwhile back to reality…

Our campsite in Waterloo was at the Hawkeye Community College. When I found the site I immediately noticed no chain link fence for my tent to be attached to. The crew did find the only tree in the area to tie my tent up to however. I was much more tired at this day’s end than the previous two. After all this was a much harder day. But supposedly this was to be the last difficult day. Supposedly. In fact I purchased my first tee-shirt this day. I had decided earlier in the week I wouldn’t buy a tee-shirt until I knew I was going to finish the route. When I reached Hudson and started to head east I figured the worst was over. The shirt said, “Smooth sailing from here.”

Yea, right.

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