Northern Tier 2010

August 11, 2010

It’s True! Iowa Isn’t Flat (at least not entirely)

Filed under: Geology, Iowa, Section 07 — Henry Scott @ 1:00 pm

Might I be getting used to the heat and humidity? I was a sweaty mess all day, but I felt very good riding — certainly better than yesterday and way better than two days ago. Feeling good today was a bit of a surprise because I haven’t slept well the past few nights, so I decided to stop relatively early today at 74 miles in Elkader, IA to give myself more time to relax, and hopefully cool down, before going to bed.

As mentioned in the title, I found truth in the claims of my Iowan friends: not all of Iowa is flat. Rather, the riding today was quite hilly — it was either up or down all day, and the hills rivaled anything I’ve encountered so far other than the named passes of the West. They were long enough that I could get into a good climbing rhythm, steep enough to get me out of the saddle, but short enough that my legs could recover from one to the next. With the high humidity, my fluid intake easily matched that of Loup Loup pass.

Eastern Iowa truly is gorgeous, with ubiquitous outcroppings of sedimentary rocks and extremely steep and high blocks of crust creating an incredibly rugged landscape. Again I questioned the wisdom of the Northern Tier route as it repeatedly had me jog west up significant hills only to then drift south and east back towards the river, but I loved the scenery. As an added bonus, the route brought me by Effigy Mounds National Monument. I only stopped for an hour, but that provided a much-needed break from the sun and time to watch a video about the mound-building cultures.

I stopped for a late lunch in Monona at the newly opened Jodi’s Americana Grille. As Erika mentioned in the comments yesterday, my friend Bruce must be calling ahead on my behalf because the hospitality I received was extraordinary. Surely I looked like hell: I had just come up a long hill from Marquette during the hottest part of the day, but they welcomed me in, got me plenty of water and fed me extremely well. Plus, the owner, Jodi (at left in the photo), gave me a T-shirt and spent quite a while chatting with the waitress and me. I asked if I could take a snapshot, and Jodi insisted we all pose together behind the bar — I believe it was her daughter who took the photo. Definitely a great experience!

From there I had an easy, but still quite sweaty, ride to Elkader where I’m camped for the night. I met Jim, a westbound cyclist from Nashville, in town, and we’re sharing a campsite in the city park and exchanging notes about where to camp for the remainder of our respective tours.



  1. Henry: I promise that the hospitality you are enjoying is genuine and not a product of my calling ahead. Ask anyone who’s seen me since Tuesday; I’ve come down with a pretty extreme case of laryngitis and can’t speak much above a raspy whisper. I am truly happy that my fellow Hawkeyes are nothing less than I described. On Iowa, on forevermore!

    Comment by Bruce — August 13, 2010 @ 2:33 am

  2. I understand that most of Iowa is very, very wet today. I am glad you are only dealing with the humidity and not the floods.

    Comment by Erika — August 13, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  3. It’s great reading Henry. Following up Uncle George’s comments, it does look like the route goes through North East and Barcelona. I’ll keep reading to see when you’ll get there. I’m oding some cross pollinating of websites: This was in Facebook today, and I posted a link to your blog there. Maybe NPR will be intersted in what you’re doing? Check it out if you have a chance.

    NPR Tell us your favorite bike stories..and most importantly where you like to ride.
    11 hours ago via Facebook for iPhone · Comment ·LikeUnlike612 people like this.
    View all 1,333 commentsWrite a comment…

    Comment by John Scott — August 13, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

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