TRIP 2012

Update #17 - August 20th
Decorah, Iowa
1,399.00 miles (2,238.40 KM)

The fifth and sixth week of the trip have been pretty good. The weeks were kind of short in cycling because I took extended breaks in Sabula, Iowa and here in Decorah, Iowa. I needed to give my right knee a little more rest.

Tuesday (August 07th) - Burlington, Iowa to Muscatine, Iowa - Once out of the city limits of Burlington, US 62 became a divided highway and there was a narrow concrete shoulder with a rumble strip. After a climb up to the top of the plateau, the ride became pretty level. I was making pretty good time. I rode through Dodgeville, Mediapolis, and Northfield without taking a break. Right after I crossed into Louisa County, the wide concrete shoulder disappeared and there was a tiny paved shoulder and a rumble strip. I got into Wapello around 10:45 AM. I stopped for a short break to get something cool to drink. There was a lot of traffic. Most of the trucks went around me but there were a couple of truck drivers who didn't give me clearance and they ran me off onto the stone shoulder.

I decided to keep on going to Muscatine. I crossed over the Iowa River. The river was pretty shallow. I was surprised at getting 32 miles (51.2 km) in my noon. I stopped at a gas station outside of Grandview for a some lunch. I spent more than I thought I would on a small pizza and a can of soda. The rest of the ride into Muscatine went okay. Once on the outskirts of Muscatine, US 62 became a divided highway and there was a paved shoulder again but it was a little rough because it was grooved concrete.

I took a round-about route into the downtown area. I should have stayed on Bus 62 instead of going on hilly roads. It was around 2 PM when i stopped at the First Presbyterian Church. The secretary told me that the pastor was unavailable because he had to prepare for a funeral tomorrow. I was also told that the upstairs wouldn't be comfortable because the church was being renovated.

I went across the street to the First United Methodist Church. The lady office manager was really rude to me. She didn't let me talk with the pastor. She also insisted that I move on. I couldn't stay at the church during the night. She told me to either go to either go to the nearby mental health center that had some beds that could be rented. There was also some kind of Christian mission in town.

I was really upset after my experience with the lady office manager at the Methodist church. As I was leaving the building, I repeated the Matthew 25 verses on not showing compassion. I was going to head out of the downtown area to see if I could find a motel. I decided to try one more church and that was
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church . My reception there was quite the reverse from the last church. The secretary was pretty friendly. The pastor was out on vacation. The secretary called the lady office manager. After a phone call to check out one of my letter of references, I was offered the use of the church for the night. There was even drinks, popcorn, and some soup for supper.

Wednesday (August 08th) - Muscatine, Iowa to Bettendorf, Iowa - I had an okay night at the Lutheran church in Muscatine. Since there wasn't an internet connection, I watched a couple of movies on my Ipod. I got some rest even though the sofa was a few inches shorter than me.

I woke up around 5 AM. I left the church around 6:30 AM. I got on MO 22 which was the river road. The ride was mostly level and I was between a quarter and a half mile from the river. There were a couple of times when I was just separated from the Mississippi River by the railroad. The sky was overcast and cloudy. I got caught in a brief rain shower so I had to get my jacket on. It was cool enough that I kept my jacket on till the outskirts of Davenport. Truck traffic got heavier the closer that I got to Davenport because there were several large gravel and stone pits. MO 22 connected with US 61 about 5 miles out of Davenport.

About three miles from downtown Davenport I came across a bike path which took me along the river through several parks.

Skipper Statue in Davenport, Iowa

The path took me into Bettendorf. I made about 29 miles by noontime. The weather report on the radio said that there were more chances for storms so I stopped at a motel near the interstate. I got a room in the mid $40 plus tax.

Thursday (August 09th) - Bettendorf, Iowa to Fulton, Illinois to Sabula, Iowa - It was an off afternoon and night at the motel. The room was okay even though it was a block away from a busy railroad. The problem was that there were two pesky flies that I couldn't kill. They had an advantage because the lights in the room were dim and I couldn't see them until they got on me. They were too fast for me. They were so annoying that I had to cover up with the sheet. Having the sheet on, I got hot and sweaty even though the air conditioning was on.

I left the motel around 7:30 AM. It was only in the seventies. The high was going to be in the 80s. There was to be a 50% chance for showers in the afternoon. I got on US 67. There was some road construction going through the downtown area. I rode passed a very large Alcoa aluminum processing plant. There wasn't much of a shoulder. About 6 miles out of Bettendorf, I passed the 212,000 mile (339,200 km) mark since 1993. Traffic was heavy until I-80 on the outskirts of Le Claire.

I took an extended break at a gas station in Le Claire. I wanted to check out a business that I had a reality tv show on Discovery Channel. Aniique Archeology (American Pickers). The business didn't open till 10 AM. I was the first one there. The parking lot filled up before 10 AM. The main guys were supposed to be out in South Dakota. I did get to see some of the items that I had seen on the tv shows. Prices for the items were really high. Some of the prices were nearly triple from what they had bought the items for.

I took another break at a gas station in Princeton. I called up Zion Lutheran to see if my contact was there to see if I could spend the night in the church. The person on the phone was just a volunteer so she didn't know if my contact was in the church. I decided to go ahead and call back a friend in Sabula, IA because he said that he was doing some work on a house in Fulton, IL across the River from Clinton. When I got back on the road, my contact at the Zion Lutheran did call back and said that it would be okay for me to stay at the church. I told her that I had already made plans for the night.

The rest of the ride to Clinton went okay but there was no shoulder to ride on. About six miles down the road, I almost got hit by a truck. A driver in a large pick-up truck was coming up from behind me really fast and at the last second he slowed down some and swerved around me. This was the clossst that I got hot in a long time. The rest of the ride into Camanche went okay but I kept looking at my mirror. I found a paved bike path going into Clinton. At the intersection of US 30 and US 67, I stopped at a Burger King for lunch. The ride along US 30 was really hard. There was some road construction and the bike path was broken in a couple of sections. Once passed the road construction, the bike path was okay. Going through downtown Clinton, I had to zig-zag because they were doing more repaving.

It was a tricky ride to the north bridge where there was a bike path. Right before I started the ride up the bridge, a young boy on a bike came off the bridge. He was my friend's stepson Josh. I was amazed at how Josh had grown. The ride across the bridge was kind of hard because it was windy and the path was narrow. It didn't take long to get over to the house that Paul was working on.

Instead of having me stay over at the house and then ride over to their house in Sabula, Paul suggested that I go home with them instead. We loaded Alice and the rest of my things in back of his truck.

Friday through Sunday (August 10th through August 12th) - Sabula, Iowa - It was pretty good that I had three days of rest after four days of rolling hills. Sabula is a quaint town along the Mississippi River across from Savanna, Illinois.

Sabula, Iowa

Sabula is an island town of about 600. The house that I was staying in was built around 175 years ago and 11 years older than the state of Iowa itself. There is a bridge for trains across the River there and it had a section that opens up by a swing bridge. It was really neat seeing a towboat pushing a group of fifteen barges through the swingbridge on their way South down the River.

Towboat, barges, and swingbridge in Sabula, Iowa

Sunday (August 12th) - Sabula, Iowa - I went with my friends to their church, which is called Church On A Hill, between Mt Carroll and Savanna, Illinois.

Church On A Hill - Mt Carroll, Illinois

I'm quite familar with the church because I'm made multiple visits to it since it's start in 2007. The church has gone through a lot of turmoil during the past couple of years after it's founding pastor was killed in a motorcycle accident back in 2010. The pastor was killed just four days after my last visit to the church. I had helped the pastor and some of the other men move the pews and other things into the sanctuary after new carpeting was put down. My friend who I have been staying with in Sabula, Iowa feels very strongly led by the L-RD that he should be the pastor of the church and he will be starting seminary soon.

Monday (August 13th) - Sabula, Iowa to Dubuque, Iowa - I slept till around 5 AM. It took me two trips to get things down to the kitchen. When I looked outside it was raining. According to what I saw on the radar, this was a brief shower and it shouldn't last long. Most of the rain showers were to be south below Clinton.

I got Alice packed up but I couldn't find my gloves. I think that I had accidently left them at the house in Fulton, Illinois. My friend's wife said that she had some motorcycling gloves without fingers that might work. I had breakfast. After some prayers and pictures taken, I got on the road around 8:30 AM in some light drizzle.

Ride Out Of Sabula, Iowa

I got on IA 52. The first 15 miles was really up and down with a lot of curves. About 5 miles south of Bellevue, the road leveled out and I got close to the Mississippi River possibly for the last time on my trip North. I got into into Bellevue around 11:15 AM. I rode through the downtown area. There was a lock and dam across the street from the downtown area but I didn't stop.

The afternoon ride was long and slow. There were several really long climbs that I walked up. There a couple of downhill coasts between 6 and 7 percent. I didn't get close to the River again. About 3 miles out of downtown Dubuque, US 52 joined US 61. I went down a long coast and then walked up a long climb. About 2 miles from downtown, I came across a motel that had prices in the high $30s. I decided to stop.

I'm going to find an alternate route to US 20. I'm not going down a steep hill to get into downtown Dubuque and then have to climb up another steep hill to get back up the plateau.

Tuesday (August 14th) - Dubuque, Iowa to Manchester, Iowa - I had a pretty good night. My right knee didn't hurt after all. The room was better than I expected. There was one fly but it left me alone most of the night. I went to bed around 10 PM. I slept through the night and woke up around 5 AM.

I left the motel around 7 AM. The temperature was cool in the upper 50s. I rode up Grandview Avenue to US 20. I stopped for some breakfast at a gas station. I had to get on very busy US 20 for about two miles before I was able to get on Old Highway Road west of Center Grove. Once on the Old Highway Road, there was a really long hill that I had to climb up and over between Jilian and Centralia.

West of Centralia, I stopped to take some pictures of some black cows. I got them to come up and line up along a fence to take some pictures of them. A couple of miles down the road, I stopped to take some pictures of a herd of buffalo. I was amazed that they weren't behind high strong fences. They were just behind regular fences like what you would keep cattle behind.

Iowa Buffalo

There were a few more hills on the way to Epworth. I stopped at a gas station for a break. I struck up a conversation with a guy. He offered to pay for my break. It was an okay ride to Farley. I had to get on US 20 for about six miles. US 20 was a divided 4-lane highway with a speed limit of 65 mph. There was little or no shoulder. I had to ride my mirror. I had to get off the road onto the dirt shoulder to avoid being hit because a semi truck didn't pass me with any clearance. I missed my exit when I got to Doylesville so I had to go a mile further to the next exit.

I got about 25 miles (40 km) in my noontime. It took a while to find the county road to Manchester out of Doylesville. Once on county road D22, the ride was pretty good.

Barns of Iowa

I arrived in Manchester around 3:30 PM. The sky was clouding up like it was going to rain. I didn't find the motel that I was looking for on East Main Street. I decided to check out the churches. I couldn't find anybody at the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. I found some activity at the First Lutheran Church . The secretary was friendly and she offered me the parlor-library while I waited for the pastor who was on a home visit. Rev Oman was pretty friendly. We had a good talk about religion. Rev Oman contacted the pastor who was in charge of the ministerial association and they offered to get me a room at the Days Inn west of town.

Wednesday (August 15th) - Manchester, Iowa to Oelwein, Iowa - I had a pretty good night at the motel. My right knee didn't hurt much. I went to bed around 10 pm and I woke up a little before 5 AM. There was an okay breakfast. I left the motel before 7 AM. The temperature was in the upper 50s. The ride west was okay. There were a couple of hills but they were not that bad. I took a short break in Winthrop. Between Winthrop and Independence, there was some road construction. They were replacing the culverts and also a new power line was being put up. For a lot of time, I had the road to myself.

I got into Independence around 11 AM. I decided to stop and get an early lunch. I got on IA 150 heading north. I stopped to take some pictures of an old railroad station that was converted to a visitor center and also an old Illinois Central steam locomotive, coal car, and caboose. I took quite a few pictures.

There was a tailwind to push me along going north and the highway had a paved shoulder that was okay to ride even though there was a rumble strip. About eight miles out of Oelwein, I called up my pastor friend in Decorah, Iowa. He told me that he knew a minister at the ELCA church and he would call him for me.

I got into Oelwein around 1:30 AM. It took a while finding the Zion Lutheran Church. I stopped at a funeral parlor to get directions. The church was three blocks east of the downtown area. Pastor Leo met me. He had just returned from vacation in Florida. He offered to get me a room at a motel on the southern edge of town. Also, he gave me a voucher so that I could get a hot supper at a restaurant nearby.

I've got about a 53 mile ride to Decorah. It might be a wet morning because they are calling for storms tonight and about a 40% chance for more rain in the morning.

Thursday (August 16th) - Oelwein, Iowa to Decorah, Iowa - I had a pretty good night at the motel. My right knee didn't hurt much. I went to bed around 10 pm and I woke up a little before 5 AM. I woke up to a really loud clap of thunder. It rained some. By 6 AM, the parking lot was dry. I left the motel around 7 AM. I rode back through the downtown area. I went over to check out some old locomotives that at the old railyard. There were some old diesel engines, cars, and cabooses.

Chicago Great Western Railroad in Oelwein, Iowa

Once I got into the country, the wind got to me. The wind was coming from the Northwest between ten and twenty miles per hour. The ride was up and down with a lot of hills. By noon, I had only ridden 24 miles (38.4 km). I took a late dinner in West Union. I tried calling my pastor friend in Decorah but my phone was acting up. It wouldn't stay on. It's either the batter going bad or the phone itself.

It was around 2 pm when I headed out again. There were a lot more long hills on the way to Calmar. I got into Calmar around 4:30 PM. I was finally able to get hold of my pastor friend in Decorah by borrowing somebody else's phone. My friend, Rev Sorenson, came by around 5 PM. It was good that I stopped to get a ride because there was some road construction between Calmar and Decorah. I'm going to be house-sitting the assistant pastor's house while he is on vacation.

Friday through Monday (August 17th through August 20th) - Decorah, Iowa - I had four good rest days in Decorah. Around Around 9 AM on Saturday morning (Aug 18th), I took Alice downtown to the local bike shop. I've been hearing a crackling sound up front when I turn. I was concerned that I was having problems with the bottom bracket. It turns out that the noise was coming from the lower chain tube hitting the front fender. I checked out the local food market and also road some of the local bike path that had been recently completed.

When I got back to house, I took everything out of the panniers. I'm going to take Alice loaded up to the Decorah Lutheran Church and bring it inside. Around 4:30 PM, I got Alice loaded up and I rode her downtown. Once inside the sanctuary, I parked Alice near the small lectern.

Alice in the sanctuary of Decorah Lutheran in Decorah, Iowa

The service got started around 5:30 PM. After my friend, Rev Sorenson, gave the announcements, he introduced me and I spoke for about ten minutes. After the service, my pastor friend had me stand next to him and shake hands, My hand was sore because there were about a hundred people.

Around 7:30 AM on Sunday morning (Aug 19th), I started for the church. I got there about 25 minutes before the service started. I was able to speak for ten minutes right after the announcements. During the time that the offering was taken up, I moved Alice out of the sanctuary into the hallway so it wouldn't be in the way for communion. At the end of the service, I went out with my pastor friend and shook hands. Must have shaken almost 200 hands. We went down to the fellowship hall for a while. Today, Monday (Aug 20th), I haven't done much but stay around the house, get some rest, and get ready for a 7 AM start tomorrow to Prairie Du Chen, Wisconsin.

From Prairie du Chen, Wisconsin, I'll be swinging around Chicago, Illinois to the Ft, Wayne, Indiana area. After Ft Wayne, I'll be heading to Tipp City, Ohio, which is outside of Dayton.

I'll try and add a new update every week or two weeks along the way so the next one will be posted sometime between August 27th or September 03rd.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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