Since my last writing… Dordt continued to treat us like kings and queens, fried chicken and pizzas for supper. Home made pies for dessert, and I do mean pies in the plural, there were so many pies there that we sampled a bunch of varieties each, myself: apple, peach and key lime. Key lime was the best by the way. Now if you think that’s not quite a cyclists diet you’re right but I was trying to drown my sorrows away as I had just had an opportunity to weigh myself on the first accurate scale in more than 5 weeks and the results were not good. I am down 6 whole pounds, that’s bad news for someone who was hoping that he could crack 200 lb for the first time in his life. I guess the upper body is really really gone, I haven’t swum in months nor paddled a canoe for a bit.
Well, or a more positive note the celebration service last night was once again a real blessing for us. To see so many people come out on a Tuesday night from North West Iowa and check up on us was encouraging right off the bat. The speakers then really re-enforced that idea with their words, thanking us for being a reason to re-think about poverty, something that doesn’t always seem terribly close to home in this rather affluent part of the country. These communities have been following along closely as the tour progressed, they spoke of their excitement as we grew nearer, how the news from the tour is a common topic of discussion amongst the people in town. While it feels a bit odd to say this, not like I know the minds of everyone in Sioux Center it did come across as though the tour had re-focussed attention and re-excited a community about being God’s hands and feet to the poor. Plus, singing “Be Thou My Vision” in a room with such beautiful acoustics is a treat unto itself.
We woke up this morning to a downpour. It was raining and raining hard! Within half an hour the rain had slowed from deluge to steady rain and by the time I had eaten breakfast it would probably be most accurately classified as light rain. It was one of my earliest departures to date 7:05 am. I rolled out of town in the midst of a bunch of people unsure of who my riding group would actually become. Within a couple kilometers though Hilena Zylstra, Eritia Smit, Nathan Beach and Katrina Miller had hooked up behind me and we were rolling along between 26 and 28 kph. Two churches from the area had set up support stops in town parks 25 kms and 50 kms out of town. The first had donuts and water that was so cold that it didn’t exactly feel good to drink when we were already on the chilly end. I guess it was the thought that counts and with all the discussion of heat they did have their heads on straight. The next stop had Protein Plus bars which I gave a big thumbs up to and gatorade. more smiles. We also joined up with Steph Webb here as she got a ride out a ways as she didn’t want to try and ride the whole day because the knee is in recovery mode. Anyhow we were now six.
From then on we proceeded to have a fantastic day, the rain grew lighter and lighter as we progressed and eventually stopped. The tailwind grew stronger and stronger and we found ourselves flying along in the upper thirties (kph) with no effort at all and really enjoying our day. The roads were paved very nicely and the sun eventually started shining and the discussions were great to boot. Before we knew it we had passed the 100 mile mark and were into unknown territory for a few riders as we pushed on to 114 miles. Just as were approaching Algona Marc VanOtteren and John Vanderveen came past. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity for a city line sprint to finish the day I went with them. The final hill into town found us rolling along at 60 kph… uphill. But no sign was to be seen.
Evening entertainment included a serious amount of fooling around on the slackline and some stargazing as the sky was clear and Algona was rather remote so the sly was dark.
All the slacklining pictures are of me because when I gave Hilena the camera she didn’t take any others. Maybe she was mesmerized by my beautiful new jersey?