Bike Across the US - July

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Today we had the day off. We spent the evening with Tom and Ellen Lee, our hosts. Ellen, in addition to her hospital job, owns a Healthy Choice Dinners Solutions, so we went down and raided her store for some dinner, then took it to their house and cooked it up. I will tell you, we have been fed better in the Dakotas than anywhere else on our trip.

Photo Left: Supper with Ellen and TomPhoto Center: Pam on the boatPhoto Right: SD State Capitol Then for a low cal dessert (no cal) they treated us to a boat ride up the Missouri River. What a wonderful evening!

July 2 – July 6 2009

We flew home on the 2nd to tend to our fallen tree branch on our roof, the dishwasher that went out in one of our rentals, the broken water pipe, the plugged water line, and all the other items that landlords get to take care of. We flew back to Pierre on the 6th to hopefully rest up for our next assault on the US by bike.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pedaling Day # 31

Miles today – 61.2

Daily ride time – 5 hrs 32 min

Average – 11.1 mph

Daily Climb – 1,485 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 2,102

Weather leaving Pierre SD @ 0430 hrs–  cloudy sky, temp 67 degrees wind from the East @ 10 mph

Weather arriving Fort Thompson @ 1155 hrs – sunny, temp 83 wind from the SE at 15 – 20 mph

With the forecast high temperature at 95’F for today we felt it would be better to leave as early as possible. We woke at 3am and went for a couple of nice Omelets before leaving Pierre at 4:30. There were lighting shows off to the East, North, and West of us so we covered our clothes bag with a Hefty bag to keep our clothes dry and off we went into the darkness. We did not see our first traffic until 5:30 and sunrise was at 6:05.

Our route today would be of desolation with no towns or stops for the first 48 miles. The strange thing about today’s ride was the lack of animals. We did not see any deer until we spotted three around 9:30. We could spot only two pheasant. It was quite the change form the ride between Bismarck and Pierre. As the sun peeked up the wind increased and we found ourselves pedaling 7 – 8 mph at times on almost level terrain. Hills were 4 – 5 mph and we were very grateful we had minimal hills to climb today.

The biggest challenge for myself today was recovering form my cold. On the evening of the 2nd I could feel my throat feeling scratchy and the following morning I did not make it out of bed. My fever broke around noon time and the recovery has been slow but steady. Today when I awoke I sat up form bed and my nose started to run like a faucet. Pam had some allergy medicine that I took and that seemed to slow the flow down enough to eat breakfast and get us going on the road. Surprisingly while riding my nose (and cold) behaved and when we stopped at our destination for lunch it seemed to start to flow again. I guess my body is telling me it wants me to ride….

After our lunch we went across the street to our motel (the Lodestar Casino and Motel) and were able to get an early check in. A nap was also in order after getting up at 3am.

It really felt good to be back on the bike. I feel real privileged to be able to take the time away from work to ride but when we went home for the 3 ½ days, plus taking an extra day off to site see, it takes its toll on the old body. We are finding it takes about two days for the metabolism to slow back down – to where we are not wanting to eat 4,000+ calories a day again. But being back on the bike now feels more natural than taking time off – and that’s good because we are not quite half way done with our ride……

The casino has really cheap food, I had the chicken fettuccini for $7 and Pam had the Walleye for $10.95. Then it occurred to me, it was July 7th (7-7) and it was nearing 7 pm and my dinner was $7 – all these sevens…. We were staying at the only hotel within 40 miles it just happened to be a casino – was fate lining up for us to get lucky tonight??? Could this be the night??? So just after 7 Pam and I tried our luck – we both rolled over and had a great night of sleep – jackpot!

Until tomorrow!

BrianWednesday, July 8, 2009 Pedaling Day # 32 Miles today – 45.2 Daily ride time – 4 hrs 11 min Average – 10.8 mph Daily Climb – 1,834 feet Total BRAA mileage – 2,147 Weather leaving Fort Thompson SD @ 0724 hrs–  purple overcast, temp 64 degrees wind from the East @ 10 mph Weather arriving Wessington Springs SD @ 1215 hrs – mostly cloudy, temp 74 wind from the East at 15 – 20 mph Today’s headwind and unexpected hills both contributed to our WAY below average mph.  However, the temperature and cloud cover mostly made up for the discomfort of riding a bicycle with a strong headwind.  This allowed us to see a heard of buffalo, finally, up close complete with little ones.  The one dominant buffalo bull was HUGE!  He stood out from the rest in more ways than one.  The little ones are adorable, each one with a fuzzy tan coat.  I just finished a book by Dan O’Brien entitled “Buffalo For The Broken Heart”.  Our new friend Ellen from Pierre, SD, loaned me the book last Wednesday, and I finished reading it Sunday (had lots of idle time on the plane).  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  It’s about the author’s life in South Dakota, and his buffalo ranching experience.  I learned a lot about this part of our country, and our native buffalo.  Kind of makes you sad though thinking of all the buffalo that we slaughtered (6,000,000+) just for their tongues and hides…

The buffalo was our only real wild animal encounter today.  However, yesterday was an interesting morning when we passed a skunk, and I watched him turn around and point his business end at us in the blink of an eye!  We pedaled past him in the early morning light, and I didn’t notice him until we were right beside him about three feet away.  I think he scared me more than we scared him because he never did shoot us with his perfume.  Thankfully! We were happy to coast into our overnight town of Wessington Springs, SD (pop. 1,011) and call it a day.  Must get back into the daily biking exercise of 5-8 hour days! Blue skies! Pam

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pedaling Day # 33 Miles today – 75.0 Daily ride time – 6 hrs 13 min Average – 12.1 mph Daily Climb – 1,140 feet Total BRAA mileage – 2,222 Weather leaving Wessington Springs SD @ 0557 hrs–  purple overcast, temp 65 degrees wind from the SW @ 10 mph Weather arriving Madison SD @ 3:05  – mostly cloudy, temp 75 wind from the SW at 10 mph This morning we woke to lightning and rain, and in fact they said we received 2 ½ inches in less than one hour. I checked the weather radar and the front was moving through quickly and there was no more cells to the west of us. So we waited a few minutes then took off chasing the storm and the lightning, kinda fun! They were also forecasting a tail wind behind the front and for the first 7 miles they were right… but then we caught back up to the storm (only the wind) and the wind was blowing 20 – 30 mph from the SE and we were heading straight East. Seven more miles we stopped for breakfast (those 7 miles took us almost a full hour), drug our feet eating, then an hour later took off again.

We rode for 10 miles then caught the storm again (only the wind, no rain) with the wind but now the wind was coming out of the south so we only had a cross wind and not a straight head wind so that was better                                               A flooded corn field outside of Wessington Springs Just before noon we were entering the town of Artesian and they had the road closed off. We pedaled up the line and asked what was going on and they said they were moving a house and we needed to wait for 15 minutes. We had never seen a house come down the highway so we put this in our entertainment category. Just after Artesian it started to lightly sprinkle but with the 85 degree temp on my bike computer and the 90+% humidity it felt good. It was not enough rain to put on our rain gear or cover our valuables on the bike. After we ate lunch in Howard we came out to find the wind had started to shift again only now it was SSW which would actually help us a bit instead of hurt us – yeah! We rolled into Madison SD at 3:05 and found a Super 8. We are only 25 miles form Dave Holmvick’s (a skydiving friend) house so we gave him a call and he is going to come down and go out to dinner with us. (let’s observe Dave in his natural habitat…) That’s about all for today…..


Friday, July 10, 2009

Pedaling Day # 34

Miles today – 53.2

Daily ride time – 4 hrs 11 min

Average – 12.9 mph

Daily Climb – 1,109 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 2,276

Weather leaving Madison SD @ 0715 hrs–  thick fog, temp 64 degrees wind calm

Weather arriving Sioux Falls SD @ 2:07  – clear skies, temp 84 wind from the NE at 9 mph

We set off this a.m. in search of a breakfast stop.  The 2nd Street Café (not on 2nd Street anymore) was recommended.  The locals were very interested in our bike and our tour, so we visited with them during and after breakfast.  The waitress moved us to another table when we came in as there was a prayer group meeting for breakfast, so we talked with a couple of the gentlemen with the prayer group as they arrived.  Very nice people indeed!  When we finished up our waitress even offered to fill our water bottles for us.  As we rode out of Madison, SD, population 4,000+, we noticed they had a nice paved bike trail on the east side of town.  They also had a beautiful park with a pond and picnic areas.

Photo Left: A spider has his home in the grass

Photo Right: A baby calf can get through the fence to the "good" grass in the ditch.

The routes we’ve been on the past few days are off the Adventure Cycling maps, so lots of the people we meet are extremely excited to talk with cyclists.  We noticed during our ride today the drivers on the road seemed happier than the past few days as there were many more waving as they drove by.  The sun was out and in full force by 9:00.  The heat factor was definitely up!  We stopped half way

through the ride in Humboldt, SD, at a bar that served food.  This was the only place until Sioux Falls to sit down and rest, so we cooled off and pigged out on pizza.  Not on the diet really, but it sure was good!

We rode into Sioux Falls at 1:25 p.m., and decided to get a motel.  Today’s host was not available until after 6 p.m., and we wanted to shower, cool off, and rest.  Tomorrow our host home in Sioux City, IA, is available whenever we get there.  Much better! 

Soon it’s off to one of our favorite restaurants, Huhot Mongollion Grill!

PamSaturday, July 11, 2009 Pedaling Day # 35 Miles today – 93.8 Daily ride time – 6 hrs 41 min Average – 14.0 mph Daily Climb – 1,558 feet Total BRAA mileage – 2,369 Weather leaving Sioux Falls SD @ 0505 hrs–  clear skies, temp 64 degrees wind calm Weather arriving Sioux City IA @ 2:15  – cloudy skies, temp 82 wind from the E at 5 mphToday was the best day ever biking in Iowa! You could not ask for better July biking in Iowa than we had today! With dark high clouds from after breakfast and a virtual no wind day it was pure delight! We started out early (5:05) since we had a 90+ mile day to cover and took the fastest road out of Sioux Falls we could find. The roads in Sioux Falls that we rode on were all old concrete with giant cracks on most of the seams and many pot holes to boot. The lanes are skinny and the cars are not familiar with bikes. We only ran into two bikes the whole ride through town and they were just kids going to the 7-11 for candy. So we headed out of town first, then found then zig zagged on county roads until we found the highway we were supposed to be on.

Photo Left: Crossing the Big Sioux River into Iowa

Photo Center: Pam picking mulberries

Photo Right: A weed along the road

At 7am we made it into Canton SD for breakfast and found a great local diner. The farmer coffee club was all there and they were amused by our bike and our trip so far. If you want to get six bored farmers going ask them the best way to get 70 miles down the road…. we got six different answers and loads of fun. We also noticed at breakfast that we were at the official half way point of our journey!

At 10:06 we crossed the Big Sioux River which also means we crossed into Iowa. Three miles later we entered Hawarden Iowa and found a miniature old western style town along their main street so we stopped to take a picture and whoooops….. low and behold there were two mulberry trees with thousands of ripe mulberries. Pam and I took another break to eat as many mulberries we could get without climbing the trees. Today’s top photo shows the end result.                                          Photo Right: Pam jumps for joy at the Iowa Border The remainder of the day was on Iowa 12 which followed the Big Sioux River South and was as flat as around our home town so we made great progress. Averaging 14 mph without a tail wind and our load makes us happy campers. We arrived at Mark’s house in Sioux City (actually on the North fringe) at a quarter past two to find a deer grazing in his yard. Mark owns a duplex that had burned down a couple of weeks ago and was there trying to get the damaged assessed while the deer decided to get what he could out of Mark’s garden. We called Mark to let him know we found the house and he said he would be home in a few hours….. ok…. nap time. Mark arrived home after 7pm, showered, and then took us out to his favorite pizza spot. Mark is still set to do the RAGBRAI next week.(go team Marley!!!) Mark turned into be a wonderful host as we had so many things in common and we ended up staying up way past our bed time and finally went to bed at 10:30. Until Tomorrow!  -  Brian 

50% of Route Completed!

Here are the stats from the first half of our BRAA: (Bike Ride Across America)

Flat tires – 4

Time spent peddling through the rain – 4 hours (2.1% of peddling time)

Miles – 2,360

Days Peddling Time – 7.8 (based on 24 hour day)

Days in the saddle – 35 (Average miles per day 67.4)

Overall Route MPH – 12.6

Total Climb – 67,031 feet     (Mount Everest is 29,029 ft! - we’ve done it twice+)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pedaling Day # 36 Miles today – 47.1 Daily ride time – 4 hrs 5 min Average – 11.4 mph Daily Climb – 540 feet Total BRAA mileage – 2,416 Weather leaving Sioux City IA @ 0542 hrs– dark cloudy skies, temp 67 degrees wind SE at 10 mph Weather arriving Onawa, IA @ 2:15  – partly cloudy skies, temp 79 wind from the S at 10 mph A most unique bike riding day across America would definitely describe our ride today.  It began early, 5:42 rolling out of Mark’s drive way in Sioux City toward Onawa, IA (population 3,091).  Once on the paved road we headed toward the bike trail in Riverside Park.  The bike trail alluded us, and we decided upon the shortest way out of the city.  Within 10 minutes of the ride it began to rain, so we borrowed someone’s empty garage right off the road, dug into the hill below their home.  This garage worked great while we donned our rain gear and wrapped our bags in garbage bags.  Within 15 minutes we set off once again toward our destination.  We made it about eight miles into our ride when it really started to rain.  Amazingly there was a 24 hour diner on the corner, so we went inside for our morning feeding.  Once inside and seated, our waitress Rhonda said, “Oh, you are the people on the front page of today’s paper!.”  Our host for this evening, Tracey, who is also a cyclist, set up an interview with Tim of the Sioux City Journal, and Brian gave him our story last Wednesday.  We autographed a couple of papers and answered questions about our journey for the patrons and wait staff.  The cook informed us that the hotel across the street from the diner had free wireless, so off we went to look at the weather radar.                Read the SCJ article here

Photo Left: Brian's 6 egg omelet

Photo Center: Us with Rhonda, our breakfast waitress

Photo Right: Self Explanatory

We spent 15 minutes in the hotel lobby looking at the radar, and decided to ride once again.  Well, three or so miles we saw the rain coming, and found a Burger King with free wireless and a wonderful lounge to boot!  There we sat until 11:00 when we finally were on our way to Onawa.  At least we had wireless and a quiet environment!

Maneuvering out of Sioux City with wet concrete roads and plenty of Sunday drivers was challenging, but we made it without a hitch.  We stopped in the town of Sloan for lunch at a fifty’s decorated restaurant.  As we neared Onawa, we noticed an SUV coming from the opposite direction as we were riding, slowing down just before we were abeam them.  A lady had her window rolled down and as we road by she shouted, “She’s from Tucson!” pointing to her friend riding shotgun.  Today’s article said we were from Casa Grande, so I guess they’d read the morning paper too.

We arrived at Tracy’s home a little after two, and were greeted by her two precious children – Taylor who is six (of course she informed me she’ll be seven on August 1), and Brandon who is four. (See today's top photo)  As we made our introductions and spoke with Tracy, we were entertained by Taylor and Brandon who is a wiz at the Wii gaming system.  At 5:30 the kids left for their Grandma’s house, and shortly thereafter Tracy had to leave for the evening.  Brian and I are now fed, and ready for sleep!

Hasta manana!

PamMonday, July 13, 2009

Pedaling Day # 37

Miles today – 67.2

Daily ride time – 4 hrs 45 min

Average – 14.2 mph

Daily Climb – 917 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 2,485

Weather leaving Onawa @ 0528 hrs– clear skies, temp 67 degrees wind calm

Weather arriving Council Bluffs, IA @ 11:45  – mostly cloudy skies, temp 77 wind from the E @ 12 mph

Before I start today’s report, I must mention that as we walked to the restaurant counter to order food at our lunch stop yesterday the lady behind the counter said, “Wow, you guys smell like fresh air.”  She did have a smile on her face, and we didn’t know if she thought the fresh air smell was good or bad but we laughed anyway.

As the alarm sounded at 0500 both of us crawled out of bed to start the day.  This being our seventh day in a row of riding, we were a bit tired, but knowing we have a few easy days ahead inspired us to get going early.  After a quick light breakfast, we took off riding in the pre-dawn light.  Took an awesome Iowa sunrise photo soon after we started riding. (see photo above)  There were some wild turkeys, a few deer, and lots of bunnies to greet us.  As we rode by one home a fawn started moving toward us.  The homeowners must feed it treats because the deer usually run away.  One deer didn’t notice us as it walked across the road, and when it finally saw us it’s hooves slipped and skid as it made a get away.  Hilarious!

We stopped for a breakfast buffet in Missouri Valley about 30 miles into our ride.  Nice to be able to relax a while half way through the day’s ride.  With no wind to speak of and flat terrain it was another fine morning for cycling.  Good thing as both of us are tired!  We had four hills to climb as we headed through the Loess Hills Trail.  Beautiful scenery through this area!  We saw an earth house that peaked our interest, and several homes, workshops, and garages partially built into the hills.  This must be the gold finch haven, as we saw so many of these tiny yellow and black birds (the Iowa State bird).  So cute! Traffic was a bit dicey as we rode into Council Bluffs being so close to noon time and all… We took a shorter route to the Enterprise Car Rental office, and had our bike disassembled and were on the road to Hampton, IA by noon.  We’re going to visit Bob and Cheri, Brian’s parents, so we’ll be “off” the route officially until Sunday when the RAGBRAI begins.  We’ll be doing some much needed bike maintenance and test riding for the next few days to make sure it’s ready to take us the rest of the way across the US!  I can’t wait to taste the fresh raspberries waiting on the bushes in Cheri’s garden!  I’m sure there are some other garden goodies waiting for us as well.

Ah the beauty of summertime in Iowa!


July 14 – 18th

The third week in July is the Franklin County fair in Hampton so our days off we got to attend the fair. Pam got to attend her very first figure 8 race and her very first Supercross Freestyle event. My cousin Eric and his wife Angie came down from Minneapolis Minnesota on Friday and we went to the fair with them. My sister Christine also came down from Bloomington Minnesota with Garrett and Rachelle, Auntie Sue, Casey and the whole gang of 11 raided the Morelos Mexican restaurant for a meal that could not be beat. (sorry EJ about the St Paul thing! ha ha!)

On Saturday the 18th Scott flew in to Omaha and we picked him up for his first RAGBRAI. (boy does he not know what he is getting into…) We went to the Settle Inn hotel and somebody had checked into our room assuming our identity. The were sold out. Our prepaid room was already claimed….. After getting the manager involved we ended up getting a smoking room on the 2nd floor. (That means we can not bring our bike up to our room)

Photo Left: The Bare Naked Ladies in concert

Photo Center: We climb the "art" after the concert

Photo Right: Scott and Brian pigging out on pulled pork!

We went to the bike expo and the “Barenaked Ladies” were the concert for the evening. (Started at 9:40pm…way past my bed time) Dozens of converted old school busses arriving by the minute, bikers everywhere, tents set up on every stitch of grass… yup RAGBRAI is gearing up in full force! 

 RAGBRAI tomorrow!


Sunday, July 19, 2009


Pedaling Day # 38

Miles today – 53.8

Daily ride time – 3 hrs 41 min

Average – 14.8 mph

Daily Climb – 3,684 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 2,539

Weather leaving Council Bluffs, IA @ 0605 hrs– clear skies, temp 47 degrees wind calm

Weather arriving, Red Oak, IA @ 10:55  – clear skies, temp 77 wind calm

This morning the alarm clock went off at 4:30 – after the late night we were all slow to get out of bed. I had to go out to the parking lot, get the bike out of our trunk, and assemble it under the street light. Then Scott and I drove the 2 miles over to where the luggage truck was, dropped off our bags, and headed back to the hotel. Pam was waiting for us at the hotel and she drove the rental car back to Enterprise following Scott and myself on our bikes.

At 6:05 we left the Enterprise parking lot to go find the RAGBRAI official route and a half a mile South it was very easy to find as being the first day of RAGBRAI there were thousands of people already out, excited to get a start on this years ride. The morning was perfect riding conditions – we have never had such a great RAGBRAI day riding in Iowa. Fifteen miles into our ride we had our first stop at the Farm Boys breakfast burrito stand which has become a tradition for Pam and myself. At the Farm Boys we met JR and Pat from Cherokee Iowa who read about us in the Sioux City Journal. We spent 20 minutes with them and then it was time to hit the road again.

We hit the first pass through town shortly after breakfast and it already was so crowded we had to walk our bikes through town. We quickly pushed the bikes through town and started to ride again and now the “heard” was thinned out again so we could maneuver on the road. Around 9am we rolled into Emerson for our next break and some refreshments. We went into Spanky’s where they had the air conditioning turned way down and that helped cool us off. Even though the temperature was low, the humidity was 94% when I checked before we left Council Bluffs, making it uncomfortable.

At 10:55 we rolled into Red Oak, our destination and found the Firehouse Restaurant, an old firehouse. Again the AC was turned down so low Pam and Scott wanted to go get their jackets. We were some of the first to come into the restaurant, and by the time we left it was packed. Good call on that one!

Photo Left: Our hosts, Phil and Tracy

Photo Center: Our host Phil playing the bass.

Photo Right: Brian and Pam at their breakfast utopia

We went and picked up our baggage from the truck and headed to our hosts house. Boy it was sure nice not hauling our bags today – we had gone 2,400 miles hauling our bags and now it felt like Pam had fallen off the bike – the bike felt really light! Our hosts, Phil and Tracy Lamb, were waiting for us outside when we pulled up. They have a dozen or so of us RAGBRAI riders staying with them. They also had a snack table spread that could not be beat! Yup, we must be in Iowa!

At 4pm our host, Phil, was playing in a band as one of the local entertainments so we walked over to see him play. They played every type of music, a real good variety. We then walked around exploring the town until we got too hot so back to the refuge of the front porch, the padded bench, and the breeze. Bed time is set for 8pm for an early wake up… until then!


Monday, July 20, 2009


Pedaling Day # 39

Miles today – 73.7

Daily ride time – 5 hrs 15 min

Average – 14.0 mph

Daily Climb – 5,096 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 2,614

Weather leaving Red Oak, IA @ 0520 hrs– mostly cloudy skies, temp 67 degrees wind from SE @ 10

Weather arriving, Greenfield, IA @ 12:45  – cloudy skies, temp 73 wind South @ 15

Brian's Pulled pork plate for lunch

The day started with a pleasant dream… then the alarm clock sounded at 0430, time to get pedaling!  After the three of us prepared ourselves for the day, we went downstairs and the table was filled with a wonderful variety of breakfast food!  The coffee was ready too.  Tracy and Phil were definitely 5-star hosts, treating all of us (and I’m pretty sure there were more than 25 people staying with them last night) like kings!!!  Brian said last evening, “The food fairies were in again.”  Every time we walked through the dining area the platters were full of wonderful home made treats.  This couple in Red Oak, Iowa is hands down the winner for host and hostess of the century!  Tracy would make a fortune if she opened a restaurant with her delectable cuisine.  We slept very comfortably too!

0520 began the pedaling, and it was still dark but there were plenty of bikes out already.  We took off from Red Oak up hill… and I mean up hill!  This just warmed us up for the rest of the day’s ride.  Since it was slightly overcast, the temperature was perfect for riding.  We stopped in the first town, Stanton, a town with plenty of Swedish heritage, and enjoyed a breakfast burrito and a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie.  Yum!  After this town, Scotty began riding with an interesting fellow named Paul, so we didn’t meet up with Scott again until lunch in Corning where we all ate pulled pork.  Well, Brian actually devoured about two pounds of it all by himself.  The ride continued, and Scott left us once.  After a few more miles Brian and I felt as if someone was pulling us pack from pedaling, even down hill.  This only happened periodically, and Scott was nowhere in sight, so we knew it wasn’t him hanging on to us like he loves to do when we’re not looking!  So we decided to tough it out and wait until we got to the end town for today and take it to one of the many mobile bike shops around.

We arrived in Greenfield feeling pretty good, especially since we had a tail wind for the last half of the ride.  The guy at the bike shop couldn’t find anything wrong with the bearings or brakes and couldn’t determine what was causing the “pulling” sensation.  He told us to ride tomorrow and if it keeps doing it he’d tear into it…

Once we picked up the bag and met up with Scott, we found our hostess for this evening, Shirley.  Team Navy is camping out at her and James’ home this evening, so we located them at the Fareway grocery store, and Scott was able to put his bike in their trailer and ride with them the four miles down a dirt road to Shirley’s house.  Brian and I weren’t so lucky, we followed Shirley in her van.  It really wasn’t so bad, but we did discover that we couldn’t shift into our climbing gears.  Brian found the problem.  One of the gear cable housings separated, so we’re getting ready to head back into town to a bike shop to get it fixed.

Until tomorrow!                                                                                               A Navy seaman on his sail bike....


RAGBRAI Day 3 Pedaling Day # 40 Miles today – 79.2 Daily ride time – 5 hrs 43 min Average – 13.9 mph Daily Climb – 4,470 feet Total BRAA mileage – 2,698 Weather leaving Greenfield, IA @ 0543 hrs– dark cloudy skies, temp 61 degrees wind from NE @ 5 Weather arriving, Indianola, IA @ 1:30  – cloudy skies, temp 64 wind North @ 15 The alarm again went off at 4:30 this morning. We had a bit of a logistical issue – it rained all night so the 4 miles of gravel roads back into town were a little soft, so James was kind enough to load our bikes (and us) into his Ford pick up and haul us into town so we could get our baggage on the truck. (Thanks again James!) We then were able to start off at 5:43. There were many people who already were on the road early today. Six o’clock is the official start time but there we at least a thousand bikers who started off earlier than us. After the usual 5 mile gourmet coffee stop and the 15 mile breakfast burrito stop at the Farm Boys everything was going well for us. Then at 8:05 it started raining on us. Scott had decided that while donning his rain gear he would give us his fanny pack – no big deal – it had his money and cell phone in it. (more on this later) Just after it started raining the Iowas conservation people were giving out the free bananas and free water so Scott stopped but we did not.Photo Left: Scott shows off his "RAGBRAI VIRGIN" brandingPhoto Center: Tow hot air balloons over Indianola (out of many)Photo Right: Brian and the bike mechanic fixing the rear shifter problem 42 miles into our ride Pam and I stopped for lunch. Still no sign of Scotty. It was now 9:30 and the rain had just quit for the day. After a great Gyros and some cinnamon almonds we were back on the road. On the edge of town the Cliff Bars people were giving out free Cliff bars so Pam grabbed a dozen Cliff bars. (the price was right) The wind had started to blow 15 mph out of the North and we had just started to ride North. Because of our procrastination there now were many bicyclers on the road so drafting became fairly easy. At one point we drafted behind another tandem bike to find out it was Miss Iowa on the back. They have name plates on many bikes and it said Miss Iowa so I pulled up next to her wearing her crown and had to ask and she verified that she was in deed Miss Iowa, riding across Iowa on a bicycle.

 We turned South for the last 6 miles and Pam and I had the bike up to 30 mph even on the flats. Yoo hoo! At 1:30 we made it into Indianola and found the luggage truck on the Simpson College campus and low and behold, Scott was waiting for us, tired, hungry, and just had changed his shirt to a dry one he had with him. Alas the missing person report would not need to filed. We then called our host for the evening Roger, and he was only two blocks away so he rode his bike over to the campus to escort us to his house since all the streets we blocked off to car traffic.          Our hosts Roger and Joan At Rogers house we met his wife Joan and did visitations while each of us took turns in the shower. Both Roger and Joan were serving food at the church so I called my father, who drove up from Arizona, to drive us to go out to dinner. What a mess this town has with all the streets blocked off! The streets that do allow car traffic are so jammed up there are lines of cars. It sure pays to ride the bike around town! We spent the evening walking around with Deloris and my father taking in the RAGBRAI experience (the first part with Scott taking a nap in the car). The town of 15,000 people now has over 40,000 people looking to be entertained, including us! What a day!

Until tomorrow!



Pedaling Day # 41

Miles today – 48.1

Daily ride time – 3 hrs 17 min

Average – 14.4 mph

Daily Climb – 2,182 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 2,745

Weather leaving Indianola, IA @ 0705 hrs– fog, temp 60 degrees wind calm

Weather arriving, Chariton, IA @ 11:40 – clear skies, temp 75 wind NNE @ 10 - 18

Woke up at 0530, when Scotty’s alarm went off!  We actually had our alarm set for 0630, but Scott forgot to turn off his phone after a late night of carousing.  Oh well, guess he learned his lesson (or maybe not!).  It was a wonderfully calm and quiet morning with the fog, but we were still able to begin our ride with the “heard” as we like to call it when you start later in the morning.  Scott said he met a guy last evening at the bar who starts his ride after 0900 and the roads are almost clear.  I guess this year riders are starting earlier, but today there still seem to be plenty of riders everywhere no matter when we start.  When we left Roger and Joan’s home this morning, they were still asleep so we didn’t get to thank them again.  What wonderful people!  They were planning to ride their tandem today on RAGBRAI to Chariton.

Photo Left: Scott fixing his flat tire

Photo Center: Pam and Brian visit a 1847 log cabin while Scott works on his tire

Photo Right: Many bikers climb a hill outside of Lacoma

When we stopped at Farm Boys for breakfast there was a line of people down the road, bikers everywhere!  Scott got to experience the “heard” in every way.  I took a photo of the lady who is running the RAGBRAI this year.  Yeah, running it!  Scott chatted her up, her name is Joan from Tucson, and she runs marathons but this is much more than a marathon…  Scott said that she didn’t run yesterday because of a sports injury (imagine that), but she’s back at it today. (lets see, 52 miles on day 1 --- 72 miles on day 2 --- and then 44 miles today…..)             Feeding time at Farm Boys for breakfast

As we rode down hill into our second to last town of the day Scotty had a blow out behind us (30 miles into the day’s ride).  He was able to get it fixed right away in the town of Lacona at the Bike World mobile bike shop, and off we went to finish the last 14 miles of today’s ride.  ‘tis a short day indeed!  Our hosts Jim and Kim As we rode into our overnight town of Chariton (pronounced Shariton) we fumbled around trying to find the center of town and a sit down place for lunch.  And there it was… Grumpy’s!  Scott met us here at Grumpy’s for lunch, as we sat under the covered patio on comfortable cushioned lounge chairs with a cool breeze.  What more could you ask for after a hot ride!!!  We’re waiting for Scott to have his second order of food now, and then we’ll contact our hosts for this evening’s stay. That’s it for now.  See ya!  Pam


Photo Left: Getting Scott up at the crack of dawn resulted in  him taking this photo!

Photo Center: Two "dog tired" RAGBRAI participants

Photo Left:Pam smiles into the fog

60% of Route Completed!

Here are the stats from the first 60% of our BRAA: (Bike Ride Across America)

Flat tires – 4

Time spent peddling through the rain – 5.7 hours (2.6% of peddling time)

Miles – 2,745

Days Peddling Time – 9.2 (based on 24 hour day)

Days in the saddle – 41 (Average miles per day 68.5)

Overall Route MPH – 12.8

Total Climb – 84,113 feet    


Pedaling Day # 42 Miles today – 114.7 Daily ride time – 7 hrs 15 min Average – 15.8 mph Daily Climb – 3,388 feet Total BRAA mileage – 2,890 Weather leaving Chariton, IA @ 0645 hrs– clear, temp 61 degrees wind SSE @ 6 Weather arriving, Ottumwa, IA @ 11:40 – raining, temp 75 wind SE @ 5 – 7mph Today I need to start out finishing out yesterday’s report. We finally finished with Scott’s massage, our internet duties, and other RAGBRAI items and retrieved our bags from the truck at 4:30, then headed the 4 ½ miles out of town to Jim and Kim’s farm which was on top of the biggest hill in Lucas county. They have a really nice looking farm and also have a machine/fabrication shop that Jim and his son run doing fabrication jobs. (they looked like every toy imaginable for me!) After we showered the five of us drove back into town so Jim and Kim could see the RAGBRAI hoopla and also to eat our supper. Jim and Kim turned out to be the greatest hosts and we sure had a lot of laughs with them. (When we told Jim we were going to do the Karas loop around Rathburn Lake the next day he said, “hell I can drive you all around the lake in one hour and save you all the hassle”) Anyway we stayed up well past our bedtime and finally turned in past 9pm.Photo left: Sunrise on Jim and Kim's farm

Photo center: Scott hauling his bag back to the truck

Photo right: An Amish cookie and danish stand.

This morning we were awoke at 3:30 by a thunderstorm that was not in the forecast. I checked the weather radar and one more storm cell was coming and looked like it would pass around 5am so everybody went back to bed. At 5 am we woke back up to the thunder and started to get ready and within minutes the rain quit and there were blue skies chasing the storm at a reported 27 mph to the East. So with wet roads we hauled our bags the 4 ½ mph back to the baggage truck so we can start the official ride.

At 6:40 we officially started today’s ride a full 100 minutes later than we had hoped. Today is the optional Karas Loop which is an extra loop designed for those souls who want to do a century ride (100+ miles). The Karas Loop this ride was around Rathburn Lake which sounded pretty and we figured since we were pretty conditioned having already ridden 2,700 miles on this ride, ridden 41 days, and not having to haul our bags. The two previous years we were so tired and our muscles were aching so much we never even gave it a thought.

Photo Left: A roller blader rides RAGBRAI

Photo Center: Riding around Rathburn Lake

Photo Right: Stopping for a turkey leg

Today’s ride was pretty normal, coffee at “Fair Trade” gourmet coffee stand, breakfast at “Farm Boys”, and all the fun of RAGBRAI. The hard thing for today was, like us, nobody could leave before 6:30 so the roads were extremely crowded. On top of the people that leave early the storm had woke up the late sleepers so they left earlier as well. The road was jammed. Oh well, that’s part of the RAGBRAI experience.

Then for the first time at the 53 mile mark we ventured off the main RAGBRAI route on to the Karas Loop. The loop only had about a third of the riders on it so the road now was tolerable with traffic and there were some scenic views to go with that. After the extra 28 miles of the Karas loop we stopped in at Tender Tom’s Turkey  and got a couple of turkey legs to gnaw on and a couple of smoothies to wash them down. Scott took off ahead of us so it was just Pam and I for the last 30 miles. (along with a few thousand of our close personal friends)

12 miles prior to our finish town of Ottumwa we had a bicycler run us off the road while we were cruising down a hill going 27 mph. We were able to control the bike on the gravel shoulder and after putting on a clean pair of underpants we started counting blessings, saying how much we love each other, and how we need to keep up with family more often…. you know…. the after you have the bejesus scared out of you. Our hosts Tom, Kimi, and the twins We finally rolled into Ottumwa just before 5pm and it started raining like cats and dogs for the last one mile of our ride. We found Scott under a bike vendor tent and pulled in to keep from getting any more soaked. After 20 – 25 minutes the rain stopped and we headed to our host house of  Tom and Kimi. In addition to us they are also hosting “Team Attitude” which is 9 riders and two drivers who is more of a drinking club than biking club. I think they will be up late tonight but we have a private room down in the basement and hopefully we can sleep through the party. Tom and Kimi have two twin boys and they were smart enough to have them go to gramma’s house and not get corrupted. I just set the alarm for 4am and it is already past 8pm so it is bed time. After a 114 mile day of pedaling we should sleep through anything! Until tomorrow! Brian    RAGBRAI Day 6

Pedaling Day # 43

Miles today – 87.4

Daily ride time – 6 hrs 12 min

Average – 14.1 mph

Daily Climb – 2,841 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 2,955

Weather leaving Ottumwa, IA @ 0520 hrs– clear patchy fog, temp 61 degrees wind calm

Weather arriving Mount Pleasant , IA @ 12:22 – clear, temp 80 wind SE @ 12 – 18 mph

After a refreshing night’s sleep at Kimi and Tom’s beautiful home in Ottumwa, we woke up to a note that was quietly slid under our door by Scotty saying he would “catch up to us”. Evidently he stayed out too late.  WE began our ride at 0520 after pedaling an extra four miles to the RAGBRAI baggage truck.  It’s definitely worth the extra few miles not to carry fifty extra pounds!  It took us a while, but we finally located the route out of Ottumwa after scaring several deer grazing in a residential area.  On the way out, past the college, a couple of ladies gave us free bottles of water and a couple of doughnut holes. 

Glad I ate those and the Chia bar this a.m., as we didn’t stop for food until 25 miles into our day’s ride.  A couple of hours later we stopped at “The Peanut Butter Jam” for the first time to try it out.  You fill out a personalized peanut butter sandwich request (if you want chips, pickles, sprinkles, or a choice of other bizarre fillers on your PBJ you simply circle the options on their menu) then proceed through the line and wait for them to prepare it.  I chose to add pretzels and banana to mine, and I think Brian just added banana.  Yummy!  While you sit in the shade and eat your sandwich, anyone can pick up one of the guitars provided and play for the others around.  Food, shade, and entertainment all provided along the roadside.  Nice!Miss Iowa, Anne Michael Langguth, gets back on her bike with her father after breakfast

Quotes form the road:

In Indianola when Craig posed with Miss Iowa for a photo. After the photo was taken Craig says to her” Your not as pretty as Miss Arizona” The look on her face was priceless…..

Our ride today was a lot more stressful as the wind started blowing against us a couple hours into the ride, and the sun was out in full force too.  I know that both of us are extremely tired mentally and physically, especially after yesterday’s 114 miles.  In fact, I just heard Brian snoring!

Photo Left: Vern and Carolyn, our hosts in Mt Pleasant

Photo Center: A recumbent rider caged in her stuffed animals

Photo Right: Every day we had to find our bags

After we rolled into Mt. Pleasant, we stopped for the town information paper and headed over to one of the local pizza places and grabbed a chef salad.  That’s about all we could eat after the hot ride!  We retrieved our bag, bought a couple RAGBRAI T-shirts, then headed over to Vern and Caroline’s home where we were greeted by Vern himself!  What a lovely home they have!  We are in the basement, completely finished with a huge family room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and office space.  Wow!  What comfort!  Vern and Caroline are wonderful hosts.  Caroline loves to cook, and she prepared us a home cooked meal this evening. (Sweet corn was part of the Iowa home cooked meal, of course)

Good ye for now!

PamRAGBRAI Day 7 (Final Day) Pedaling Day # 44 Miles today – 68.8 Daily ride time – 4 hrs 37 min Average – 15.1 mph Daily Climb – 1,553 feet Total BRAA mileage – 3,024 Weather leaving Mount Pleasant, IA @ 0522 hrs– clear, 67’F wind NW @ 5 mph Weather arriving Fort Madison, IA @ 12:02 – clear, 82’F wind NW @ 9 mph Today being the final day of RAGBRAI we were excited to complete our trek across Iowa for our third time and also excited to continue our BRAA adventure on our own. We set the alarm clock for 4:15 since we have not seen Scott now for 36 hours and figured we could get ready in our usual 30 minutes. As we were getting ready we could hear Vern quietly in the kitchen getting some coffee made up – so how could we say no to a good old cup of Joe.

Photo Left: We all stop when the odometer turns over to 3,000 miles on our BRAAPhoto Center: Scott dips his front tire in the Mississippi

Photo Right: After the RAGBRAI we start on the Great River Trail

We dropped off our baggage at the baggage truck and hit the road at 5:22 and one minute later we heard a familiar voice from Scott. Evidently here was the story: Two nights ago team Attitude and Kimi (our host that evening) were telling Scott that since it was his first RAGBRAI he had to go out with them to see the RAGBRAI festivities. (If you remember we had just finished a 114 mile day….) Pam and I had woke up at 1:30 to remove some ballast and when we re-awoke at 4:00 there was a note shoved under our door. So sometime between 1:30 and 4:00 Scott must have come home. The note said to ride without him and he would catch up. We rode all day, no Scott. Finally at 7:00 pm we got a phone call form an Iowan saying that Scott lost his phone along the route. At 7:30 Scott called and said he would be in around 10:30 – 11:00 and I told him the house we were staying in all went to bed at 8:00. So evidently he again slept at the same house as Team Attitude on their couch. He set a alarm clock and was again now again on the same page as Pam and myself. We finally met him again at a church 32 miles into today’s ride. (this of course is just the highlights of the story….)

Today Pam and I tried Mama Raphael’s breakfast buffet and were pleasantly surprised. They had all you can eat eggs, sausage, bread, coffee, mushrooms, cheese, juice, oatmeal, cold cereal, etc…. all for $7. We had been patronizing Farm Boys for the last 3 years but I think next year we will be defecting to Mama Raphael’s. Yum!

Just before 8am we pedaled through Geode State park. Very pretty! Even nicer was the tail wind was now grabbing us and we were cruising on level ground around 20 mph. Nice! No sign of the girl who has been running the RAGBRAI – we saw her run the first, second and fourth day of the RAGBRAI. Now that is nuts!

We arrived in Burlington, on the Mississippi River, and just after we came into the city limits our bike odometer turned over to 3,000 miles on the BRAA. (yeah!) At 8:50 am we arrived at the boat ramp to dip our front tire in the river water. Scott had rode with us for the final 8 – 10 miles so it was almost like he was with us the entire ride – not. After photos we proceeded to the baggage truck which was 4 miles back up the bluff at the Notre Dame college campus. After retrieving the bag and loading up the bike with all our gear again we said goodbye to Scott and started out for our overnight town of Fort Madison which was another 21 miles down the Mississippi River.

We arrived in Fort Madison and checked into our hotel, the Knights Inn, at 12:05pm. The plan now is to decide if we want to take tomorrow off or not. We have to get to St Louis by the first to catch our plane ride home. We have a couple of extra days to take off so we may do that since we just rode 525 miles in the last 7 days. More on that later.

2009 RAGBRAI stats:

Total miles: 525.7

Total Time: 36 hours flat

Average: 14.6 mph

Total hill climb: 22,806 feet

Top ten best memories of RAGRAI 37 (2009)

10. Over 525 miles without a flat!

  9. Having Scott along for constant entertainment.

  8. Not having to carry our luggage on the cross country ride for a week. It was like a vacation from our vacation.

  7. Being in such good shape from riding across the US that by the time we got to the RAGBRAI we were in such good                                               shape that our muscles did not ache like the previous years.

  6. State troopers stopping car traffic at all the highway intersections.

  5. Being able to leave your bike anywhere and not having to worry about it or your stuff being stolen.

  4. Below average temperatures the entire week! (Average high usually 87’F)

  3. The food and water stops every mile – especially after riding through Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas! What a change!

  2. Completing the Karras Loop and did a 114 mile day!

  1. The overnight hosts – We had such great hosts this year (again!). We feel so fortunate to get to meet and know so many great                              Iowans. “Is this heaven, no it’s Iowa!”

Most bazaar sight: The woman running the RAGBRAI.

Best Meal: Tie – dinner at Phil and Tracy’s (day 1) and dinner at Vern and Carolyn’s (day 6). Nothing better than a home cooked meal while on the road!

Best RAGBRAI hosts: This is a tough one but we have to give it to Phil and Tracy (night 1). Anyone who can house over 30 people and feed them for dinner and breakfast are some incredible people and some down right determined hosts!

Best pass through town – Truro, they really went out of their way!

Best overnight town – Red Oak, just a really cool small Iowa town.

Best view -.Riding next to the Loess hills outside of Council Bluffs.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pedaling Day # 45

Miles today – 66.8

Daily ride time – 4 hrs 53 min

Average – 13.9 mph

Daily Climb – 1,388 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 3,091

Weather leaving Fort Madison, IA @ 0635 hrs– clear skies, 61‘F wind from WNW @ 8

Weather arriving, Quincy, IL @ 2:15  – partly cloudy skies, temp 83 wind WNW @ 12

Hello from Illinois!  We decided to ride another day, and take tomorrow off instead.  Both of us were a bit weary, but Fort Madison had a bad vibe to it…  So here we are in Quincy, IL.  The ride today was gorgeous!  Riding along the Mississippi River for about half of our journey was great.  We left an hour and a half later than normal, and it was pretty hot the last hour or so.  We are back on the Adventure Cycling map:  The Great River Trail.  The vehicle traffic was light, especially being Sunday.  The first town we arrived in was Nauvoo, IL, about 10 miles into our ride.  Nauvoo used to be the largest town in Illinois until 1846, with 11,000 people.  Brigham Young led the first Mormon contingent out of town along the Mormon Trail at this time.  We ate breakfast at an awesome buffet at the Summer Kitchen (the only restaurant opened in town on Sunday morning).

After fueling up off we went!  The homes and landscape continued to be breathtaking as we rolled along the mighty Miss.  At about mile 30 we stopped at a Casey’s convenience store in the town of Warsaw, which was our last opportunity to rest comfortably until Quincy.  We spoke with two other female cyclists who had ridden yesterday’s RAGBRAI, and were pedaling around the area for a few days themselves.  They were self contained, and camping out for a few days and seemed to be having a great time.  The exercise and freedom of cycling probably has a lot to do with attitude!

We rode the remaining 34 miles with only one quick bathroom break.  Other than the heat from the direct sun, we were feeling really good.  The clouds did shade us periodically, which was great!  When we reached Quincy we climbed up for a while as we went in search of a restaurant.  We ate Mexican food for lunch, and found our motel just about a half mile away.

Today’s ride was a bit lonely without Scotty and the other 20,000 or so riders…  Also had to pay attention to our route again.  Back to the maps!  Scott e-mailed to let us know he made it home safely.  I think he really enjoyed himself.

Time for some much needed rest!  -  Pam

                                                                              The mighty MississippiTuesday, July 28, 2009

Pedaling Day # 46

Miles today – 77.7

Daily ride time – 5 hrs 30 min

Average – 13.9 mph

Daily Climb – 1,688 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 3,169

Weather leaving Quincy, IL @ 0510 hrs– Purple skies, 72‘F wind calm

Weather arriving, Hardin, IL @ 11:55  – clear skies, temp 90’F wind from S @ 3 mph

This morning we awoke and checked the weather radar and just to the North of us there were big storm cells – and we were heading South. We were finally out the door at 5:10 due to Pam not feeling so well. I told her we should stay another day to rest but she wanted to continue – so we did. As we pedaled out of Quincy into the darkness we could see to the North the storm cells and by 5:30 we could start to see the sun trying to peek through some of them and start to light up our day.

Photo Left: An old windmill in the Mississippi River valley

Photo Center: Now that is cheap living!

Photo Right: Kudzu vines overtaking the trees in the Illinois river valley. It is incredible how fast the topography has changed in just one pedaling day!

Today’s ride was great in the fact that now that RAGBRAI was over, and we were starting so early again, we could see the animals again. This morning we saw deer and fox and now the birds were again singing to us. (During the RAGBRAI there were so many bikers we never did hear the birds…)

We changed our route today – our original route was to cross over into Missouri and go through Hannibal and Louisiana Missouri but since Pam and I had already driven through there before and there were twice as many hills than is we stayed on the Illinois side we decided to go it on our own (without the Adventure Cycling maps). Going our new route also lets us take a ferry across the Mississippi instead of taking a bridge. So for our route today 90% of our hills would be in the first 18 miles then we would be down in the Mississippi river valley and be nice and flat. Yeah! We stopped for breakfast (finally!) at the highway intersection of US54 and IL96 (no official town) which was 40 miles into our ride. That was the longest we have ever ridden without breakfast but there just was not anything sooner or we would have stopped. From there the road just followed the Mississippi closely, winding through the trees along the bank of the river providing for some very dramatic back drops for us. Then with 14 miles to go we turned East and climbed over our last hill and back down into the Illinois river valley and started to follow the Illinois river South into our overnight town of Hardin. We arrived into Hardin (pop 1,000) just before noon to find the city water main had broken and we would not have any water until 4 – 5pm. (no showers?? Bummer!) The temperature on the bank thermometer read 90’F (my bike said 95’F) but the humidity was so high it felt much like Florida in the summer. After meeting the nicest hostess (Sue the owner) at our 9 room hotel (the hotel) we dropped off our bags and went for lunch. Lunch was almost like a picnic as they served everything on paper plates and used plastic utensils due to the water outage – but the quality of the food was top notch! Amazingly after lunch we went to the small store in town and they still had gallons of water for sale so we purchased our water for tomorrows trip. By the time we returned Sue had cranked down the AC in our room and Pam finally got a big old cheeser on her face as she said “nap time!”. And now as I am typing (3pm) the radar shows a large storm cell coming so I looked out the window and it is starting to rain – getting up early pays off again!

Until tomorrow!

BrianWednesday, July 29, 2009

Pedaling Day # 47

Miles today – 54.2

Daily ride time – 4 hrs 6 min

Average – 13.2 mph

Daily Climb – 1,319 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 3,223

Weather leaving Hardin, IL @ 0625 hrs– Cloudy skies, 71‘F wind calm

Weather arriving St. Louis, MO @ 11:55  – clear skies, temp 82‘F wind from NNW @ 9 - 17 mph

We began our day a little later than usual, in order to avoid getting wet.

Our stay last evening was very comfortable at the Hardin Hotel, which is more like a bed and breakfast.  The Hardin was built in the early 1920’s, and Sue, the lady who purchased it several years ago has put lots of work into the hotel.  Originally it had about 19 guest rooms, but now there are 9.  Each room now has a bathroom, and there is a shared kitchen area, which turned out great for us since we were the only guests last night!  Also included was free wi-fi, which is how we knew it was raining toward St. Louis early this morning.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Hardin, even though when we arrived yesterday afternoon there was no water for the entire town.  Apparently the water main broke, but it was up and running again by late afternoon.

After a quick breakfast, we rolled out of Hardin toward the Golden Eagle Ferry, and St. Charles.  After crossing the Mississippi River from Illinois to Missouri on the ferry, we continued our journey on a very nicely paved county road which was also labeled as a bike route.  There was plenty of beautiful scenery on this morning’s ride.  Neither of us expected Illinois to have a jungle appearance!  It turned out to be a very pretty ride with all the trees, vines, flowers, birds, and hills (yes, the hills were beautiful even though we had to climb a few).  And of course mixed in with all nature’s beauty were of course a few fields of soybeans, corn, and surprisingly peach orchards.  When we boarded the ferry we noticed a pick up truck loaded with various fruit and vegetables, so I asked if we could buy a few peaches.  The Calhoun peaches are delicious!  Calhoun County is where the town of Hardin is located (where we spent last night).

After three hours of riding we were both hungry, so we stopped at the nearest restaurant, a Waffle House.  The omelet and grits tasted great as we were both famished.  After eating we continued on to St. Charles.  We found a touristy area with red brick streets, and plenty of shops right next to the Katy Trail.  We pedaled through St. Charles a bit to see if there were any mom and pop motels around, and when we didn’t find any we rode back to the tourist area to the coffee shop with free wi-fi.  Isn’t life grand!  We met a couple there who biked up just after us during their morning ride.  We chatted with them about cycling and all the wonderful benefits both mentally and physically, and they invited us to stay with them at their home in St. Louis.  Brian had just booked a cheap Ramada room for us ($44/night-yeah!), and besides, we have three days before our 48 hour trip home… so we opted out of this “warm shower” opportunity.  There are so many interesting and incredibly nice people out there!

We ended up riding on the Katy Trail and an adjoining paved bike trail for about 8-10 miles this afternoon en-route to the Ramada hotel.   What a lovely and stress free ride.  We plan to visit a few museums and local St. Louis attractions for the next couple of days.  Saturday morning we will ride more of the Katy Trail to keep our legs conditioned since we won’t continue our BRAA ride until the 5th. Until then, happy pedaling! Pam 

70% of Route Completed!

Here are the stats from the first 70% of our BRAA: (Bike Ride Across America)

Flat tires – 4

Time spent peddling through the rain – 5.7 hours (2.3% of peddling time)

Miles – 3,223

Days Peddling Time – 10.4 (based on 24 hour day)

Days in the saddle – 47 (Average miles per day 68.6)

Overall Route MPH – 13.0

Total Climb – 95,882 feet    


July 30 - 31, 2009

We spent two days riding the Metro around St. Louis and taking in the sights. The most depressing sight was the holocaust museum and the most bazaar was the city museum. The city museum is a great place for all ages especially children. There are more hands on displays and slides than anywhere we have ever seen. There is also an aquarium, architecture exhibit, and a make your own section that people can make anything from paper snow flakes to leather pouches. They also have a circus training facility, Ferris wheel on the roof, and a shoe lace factory. Yes, quite diverse and bazaar.

 GOTO August