Thursday, September 25, 2008

Home at Last

And we’re finally home. There are quite a few hills between Marengo and Pella and we pushed into a gentle westerly breeze, so it truly was a leg burning, lung busting day. I thought this would be an uneventful 68 miles. By now I should know better. I must be a slow learner

The most dangerous roads of the entire trip were within 10 miles of Pella. Close to Peoria, IA, on the road from New Sharon, there is a stretch of asphalt with a crack in the middle of the lane about 200 feet long. It was once tarred, but the tar has dried and it too is cracked. Water has eroded the crack so that it’s now 2-3 inches wide and goes through to the gravel below. Although I was leading, I didn’t notice it as my mind was beginning to wander thinking about home and work. Ron pointed it out to and commented on its dangerousness. I agreed. Then a water eroded sink hole suddenly loomed directly in front of me. Without thinking or warning Ron, I swerved to the left, hitting the side of his front tire with my rear tire. Ron briefly lost control and ran off the road. Fortunately he recovered without flipping off or falling over. Many years ago, I did wipe him out. He’s forgiven me he hasn’t forgotten it. He still teases me. After this incident I said he better stop biking with me because the next time I might kill him.

And then we got Pella. Just east of Vermeer Mfg, we ran the four way stop sign with the flashing red light. Immediately we were pulled over by a Marion County Deputy Sheriff. His lights were flashing. We didn’t se him so he used his siren to get our attention. As he came walking toward us, I prepared to explain that I was just so eager to get home after a 3,800 mile ride and after all I checked both ways before running the light. He met us with a big grin. Apparently the staff at the Pella Clinic called the Sheriff requesting he help play a practical joke on us. He thought it was a great idea and this was the outcome. Now the deputy, Matt B, wanted to return the favor so we developed a story. He called the clinic, saying he’d found us but he startled us with the siren causing us to run into each other and crash. One of us said his collar bone hurt and the EMTs were taking us to the ER to get checked out. Then he asked if there was somebody who could come get our bikes. They almost fell for it. It was great fun. What goes around comes around.

Probably Saturday, I'll complete the last 50 miles to Des Moines. I'm really looking forward to it. I compare it to last last day of the Tour de France; celebratory and largely symbolic.

The days are shorter. I saw soy beans being harvested. Milkweed pods are drying and opening. I’ve seen (and avoided) lots of fuzzy caterpillars on the road. It’s time to be home. It’s great to be home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congrats Cal - I'll give you a call on Sunday; hopefully no cracks or "The Fuzz" to contend with in an uneventful ride to the state capital. (I've been wondering why the Iowa contingent and/or friends & family around the country haven't been resonding to the blog? YOur oportunities are now over floks!)