The ride with the ugly soul

by on June 6, 2012
in Iowa Rides

Just wanted to share my little solo ride from back on Memorial Day. Now I have to be honest, it wasn’t so much that I really wanted to go for a ride, it was just that it was a beautiful day and I wasn’t at work, so I felt kind of obligated to take advantage of it.

I thought I would ride down to Winterset again, and pick up the St. Charles/Truro loop that the girls and I had missed out on due to closed roads last Fall. So I set off along my usual route to points South – down R63 to G14, across G14 through Norwalk and Cumming and over to 169 South. (Yes, Iowa has a town called Cumming. Go ahead and snicker quietly to yourself, I’ll wait.)

Ready? Ok. So anyway, I was really close to Cumming when I had the big idea to stop at this small old gas station and take a picture or two. It’s a neat little place I’ve wanted to photograph for awhile, so being by myself I thought it would be the perfect opportunity.

I pulled off the highway onto a narrow concrete approach alongside Sweeney’s, put down my kickstand, and snapped a few photos. Getting back on the bike revealed the problem I had created for myself: because of the angle of the approach, which I had thought was flat and level, I couldn’t lean the bike over far enough to the right to get the stand back up, without tipping the bike all the way over. I tried a couple strategies to correct this, but they only served to inch me forward so that by the time I decided it really couldn’t be done, I had run out of approach and was left with very sketchy footing on the right-hand side. For the second time in as many weeks, my right foot was holding up the entire weight of the bike and I was in danger of going over, with no immediate “fix” and no companion around to help me out.

Fortunately for me, this is a well-trafficked highway and it was only a moment before another vehicle came along, so I managed to flag them down. A very nice guy named Troy pulled over and helped me steady the bike, get the kickstand up, and get on my way.

I beat myself up plenty over this little faux pas for the rest of the day – I admit it clouded my enjoyment of the remainder of the ride, but at least I did get to experience the Madison County loop I’d been studying all winter.

Make no mistake, it was a very scenic ride – though I did get the feeling I was seeing it from the backside, as though it would have been prettier going the other way. My route was to head south out of Winterset on P71, east on R50, south on R35, then back to the west on G60 to P71. The problem with this part of the ride wasn’t the view, though – it was the incredibly poor condition of the roads!

At one time I thought these bumps in the road were the result of badly engineered repairs. But it appears they are actually places where the road has buckled up to the point of needing repair. In any case, they are raised sections of the road (always at a seam in the asphalt) that lift you up out of your seat and re-arrange your innards by the time you land on your ass again. (No kidding – I actually felt like I was sitting on my liver by the time I stopped.)

I had hoped to be able to call this the prettiest route through Madison County – but, just like elsewhere in life, it’s not worth being pretty if you have an ugly soul. And the crappy roads and the lingering bad karma were definitely the “ugly soul” of this ride. I did make it home without any further stupid decisions, so I’m happy to say I’m tanned, rested and ready for the next opportunity not to waste a day off!

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