The Odell park treat us well that evening despite somebody the previous evening telling us some cyclists had there gear set on fire by some unruly youth recently. We met another westbounder outside the gas station who was heading to see his son in Iowa, he was riding a recumbent and we shared Indiana dog stories before setting out ahead of him. Arriving in Henry, IL to mid afternoon highs of around 95F we hit up the visitor centre where the friendly old ladies asked us to sign the guestbook before ringing the sheriff to verify we were ok to camp for free in the city park by the river. Heading up to the local dairy queen to get and ice cream fix the sheriff was just coming out and clocked who we were straight away. He shook our hands and said a squad car would check up on us throughout the night. It was a nice quiet little town but we did observe what appeared to be some teenagers scoring drugs by the park swings of and older guy in a clapped out car.
I failed to take a single picture between Henry and Orion, IL. Not that it was dull I just enjoyed the riding and then it was over! We did meet two more westbrounders, Jakob from Germany who leaves the northern tier in a few days and also Flavia who is heading all the way to Seattle on the northern tier, no doubt we will ride with her at some point, but for that evening they had a warmshowers host lined up in Cambridge whilst we headed a little farther to camping at a golf resort.
It was time for another change of state as we headed towards Iowa and over the Mississippi river. The riding took us through some impossibly small towns all of which still had thriving little libraries though which was nice to see. It was another hot one in the heart of farm country. We saw a plane looping back and forth over and isolated field spraying something over the crops each time he passed over as low as possible. State border crossings always alert us to the fact alcohol laws may change, so its always a relief to see branded beer neon signs in store windows. We scored a motel on the edge of Muscatine in the hope we might finally catch some Olympic action. We spent most of the afternoon watching various events, the coverage is obviously tailored to the american athletes events so the only brits we saw were the kayakers winning Gold and Silver, good job!
Muscatine to Cascade was an uneventful if hilly ride, Eastern Iowa is the one terrain exception in this area of the country, its rolling and nothing overly steep but more than a workout than we have had in the past couple of weeks for sure. Upon arrival in the cute town of Cascade we located the sheriff and checked in camping by the ballpark which he said was fine and gave us some directions, nice spot and another free camp. The city pool once again provided the daily shower.
Leaving Cascade the next morning there were flags blanketing every street corner, it was a Saturday and many locals were out setting up chairs in the town square. We learnt some recent military causalities in Afghanistan were Cascade locals who were being remembered this weekend. I tried to take us on what seemed like an obvious short cut that soon led to a gravel road which a another cyclist then told us was impassable, so back we turned after adding an extra 4 miles to our daily total.
Midway through the ride a signpost pointed us to the “Field of Dreams movie set”. We couldn’t pass up seeing a piece of movie history from our childhood so rolled down the farm road to find, field, baseball diamond and house all still persevered from the film. It was light-hearted with other tourists taking up the plate to get their picture taken swinging a bat, but the sky began to turn black and looked pretty menacing so we hit the road again.
We passed by the town of Dyersville with the clouds still holding but the situation was looking increasingly bleak. It was stick or twist to the next town which was another 14 miles. We decided to twist, just 5 miles in the first forks of lightning began to spark down in the distance. We picked up the pace to the point at which we were both stood up riding as hard as ever as the bolts started to strike closer, accompanied by shotgun like blasts every time they struck down. Finally reaching the town of Petersburg as the storm hit town we ducked inside The Detour bar. It was 2pm and the locals were already wasted but still friendly enough to buy us dinner and some beers, it was a great time waiting out the storm for a few hours with Engus, Wes, Beaver and the rest of the gang who kept verifying that we were indeed from Great Britain. One guy even remarked with a straight face “you speak pretty good english” I think he was being serious. 😐 We left to breaking clouds with fuzzy heads and wobbly bikes but soon sobered up in the fresh post storm air to reach the nice city park of Elkader where we setup camp for the evening and hit the hay pretty early despite offerings of more beer from a group having a family reunion.