Friday, August 16 – 2148 miles down, 1126 to go
Technology failed me today.
I know several people who will laugh heartily at that statement as I’m a known Luddite despite being employed in the high-tech industry. Regardless I put a lot of trust and faith in the Garmin to keep us on the right route each day. Today it urped when I loaded the daily route and said, “route calculation error“. Hmm. OK, so I always have a backup plan, and that’s written instructions that we keep in the sag for the driver and referral. So I had a look and led us out of Ottumwa. But I went awry somewhere and we ended up heading the wrong way. It took some time and friendly highway crewman and (thank God) Lori to get us sorted out, but we finally did, and added about 5 miles to our journey, which meant another century today. I was quite upset and wasn’t pleasant for awhile, but the team picked me up and we got past the situation. So “Thank you team!” (you have to say that like Tim Gunn on Project Runway for full effect).
Beautiful day for biking with a little chill in the air that meant jackets for the first 10 or 15 miles. We headed into the Iowa countryside and it was really nice scenery and little towns you’d pass through and lots of corn fields, bean fields and cows. My voice and cold were better today, and I’m on the mend (those home remedies work) so that’s good news. Tom moo’d at the cows to channel Carl Ames, and to keep him with us as we ride. Idyllic, Pastoral, pick your favorite. There was some sense of urgency as we had a big greeting planned for us in Muscatine with a stop at at bike shop and then a dinner with the local Parkinson’s Group.
We once again begged Lori for coffee and she acquiesced so we took a stop around 25 miles for coffee and bad Little Debbie donuts. Yum. We were on Highway 34 for a stretch and it’s a bit terrifying as there’s no shoulder and people are really moving. But for the most part they were respectful and gave us a wide berth. Except for one 18-wheeler. At the time Tom was last in line and I was in front of him when all of the sudden there was a blast of an airhorn right behind us. Scared the living…crap out of Tom, and me too. Come on! The guy had plenty of room to get around us, but just was one of those people. Hope it made his day. That woke us up.
We dove off onto old Highway 34 west of Fairfield and began to enjoy nice country back-roads. At times there was no traffic for long periods and we spun along in peace. Very nice. Idyllic. Pastoral. Had another stop for cantaloupe and eggs, and lots of pickles of course. And we all enjoyed a natural break in the cornfields that surrounded us. Rick tried a new Sham Song Of The Day on us, but it wasn’t well-received. It was a play on “Guantanamera” by the Sandpipers, but it just didn’t work. We told him he’d have to do better. On a more positive note Kathleen did pose for a “Sham Like An Egyptian” picture to honor yesterday’s song.
Once we got close to Muscatine we were on Highway 92 and that was another fright-fest. Traffic was flying there, but now we at least had a shoulder that we could ride. We’d put the hammer down due to our late off-course beginning, and did some 20 mile stretches before we stopped, so we were making good time despite the neverending Iowa headwind that blows no matter which way you turn. We pulled into Harper’s Cycling around 2:15pm as we’d been told they were ready to look over our bikes. Charlie Harper greeted us, and man is he a character. Soon he was showing us his old big wheel bike and riding it around the lot. Greg Harper tuned each of our bikes and did a great job. Charlie took me on a 1/2 mile ride to see the Mississippi and to show me the bike trail that led to our next stop. And they ended up not charging us as well. Talk about generous. So, thank you Harper’s!
I loved seeing the Mississippi. I’ve always loved being near the water, so not sure why I live in one of the most land-locked states in the union. And talk about a Big River. Wow. Trivia is that it flows East-West and not North-South at Muscatine. Or at least that’s what I was told.
We then proceeded on to the Mississippi Brewing Company which overlooks the Mississippi for our event. We met with a number of members of the local Parkinson’s Support Group. To name some we had John Schaub, Jerry Geohagen, Wayne Corriel, Mary Chalupa and Dave Parker (no, not the former professional baseball player, although he was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s as well). We had a beer and some food and chatted with everybody, and it was once again invigorating to listen to their stories, how they’d been diagnosed and what struggles they were going through.
Dave Parker especially struck me. He’s done many long-distance rides and 24-hour challenges, and from 2000 to 2010 was a member of a group who vowed to ride a century every month, no matter the weather. So he did that for 11 years in a row. He told me of one time in December he found a 2 1/2 mile stretch of their bike path that was plowed, and rode it back an forth until he got his century. I mean, what?! That’s what these PD folks bring to the table. This fierce determination to Live Well and not be stopped by anything. Would I do 40 laps in the middle of December on a plowed bike trial? Hell no! But Dave did. Dave is going to ride out of town with us tomorrow with three of his buddies, so we’re looking forward to that.
All the caregivers were present as well, so we had quite a group. Also had Kathleen’s family in attendance again as our nephew Nate lives and works in Muscatine for Hon. So we got to see him again and meet his girlfriend, Nicole. Also saw Kevin McGrew, our brother-in-law whom we missed in Red Oak as he had to work. Wayne and Mary were also in attendance, and Mary brought us more cookies (YES!). A great get-together.
We did our presentation and we had a very attentive audience. Lori and Dave Parker had been to a Victory Summit 5 years ago as well, and have done fundraising for the DPF through their Ultra-MidWest Bicycle Races. The local Group is very active and were asking if Crissanka could provide more support and ideas, so they have her contact info and will reach out to her. Also, several of them are hoping to make it to the Twin Cities Victory Summit on September 21st. We received many donation checks (these Iowa people give, I’ll tell you what) as well as a couple of cases of water (always needed), two watermelons, a carton of hard boiled eggs and get this: 6 jars of Claussen pickles! Wonderful people.
My favorite part of the evening was when we had finished our presentation and the questions, and Dave Parker stood up. He’s been in LOUD treatment and his homework assignment this week was to talk loudly for 3 minutes in front of a group. Well what an opportunity! So Dave held forth, and it was amazing. He was a bit soft at the beginning, but then hit his stride and told his story about the Century Club and how he had to quit because he fell and broke four ribs while jumping up and down on his trailer hitch.
When he started talking he was tentative, but as he talked more and his voice got stronger he became more confident and was smiling and joking by the end. He did his three minutes, and it was like a Presidential Address to that crowd. We all clapped and he beamed with satisfaction.
Satisfaction of Living Well another day with Parkinson’s. I love these people.