June 10, 1999 - Glenwood to Corning, Iowa
Day 34?? - 56.4 miles, 13.8 mph average, 2127 total miles, 27.6 mph max speed
USA 1 - China 0 (United States of America - World Champions)
Turns out the only mountain Michelle Akers couldn't climb was Mt. Scurry. More later.
Field of Dreams
Meet the Stewart family of Glenwood. Micheal (YES it's spelled that way - I don't know - Ask his mother), his wife Cheryl who is working on her PhD in Occupational Therapy (she did a great job with my neck, thank you), then Christa (10), Cassie (7) and Michelle (12).
Mike, one of the few government workers in Mills County to list his email on the Mills County website, was contacted by DGN student Jennifer Greaney while working on the Route 99 assignment. (Check out her page on the Info Maps). Mike contacted me early in the trip and offered their place to stay when I came through Glenwood.
We had a great time. They made me feel completely at home (so comfortable that I asked for a peanut butter and bacon sandwich for breakfast. MMMMM.).
We all had a laugh doing this picture, but we were really undecided on what the caption should be. I picked this one and I think I got it right. Here's why.
Mike and Cheryl both grew up in Glenwood and went to high school together there. They went steady, went to different universities, the relationship held, and if I remember right, it was 12 years later they got married. Mike took a job in Phoenix, Arizona, where the kids were born. They lived there ten years, getting more and more concerned about the Phoenix school system for their children. Where could they go? A job opened in.... Glenwood. They talked about it... and grabbed it. They're right back in their home town. They built their lovely home five years ago on land surrounded by Cheryl's dad's corn farm (no irrigation). They're very happy with their education system, and life seems very good for them. They're engaged in their community life. It's like they found their place. Their Field of Dreams.
Michelle's new sign
This is the new sign Michelle made for the back of my bike. Isn't it beautiful? I'll add to the black line as I move across the nation. (Mike donated some permanent felt tip pens, courtesy of the Federal Government.)
Mike's wood shop
There is a large aluminum outbuilding on the property. It's about 2/3 garage space and 1/3 Mike's wood shop. Here Mike is standing in front of a rack of milled walnut. It seems a local farmer was going to chop down an entire walnut grove so he could plant soybeans (AAAIIIIEEEEEHHH!) and sell the wood as firewood. Mike asked for it and got it for the cost of clearing it off the property. He took it to a sawmill and had it cut into the various widths you see. He makes beautiful things with that gorgeous wood. He's holding a laminated picture frame. His big goal? A grandfather clock. It'll be beautiful, Mike.
Before leaving the Stewarts to hit the road, we were visited by LeAnn Konfrst and her daughter Emily. LeAnn and her husband moved to Glenwood from Hinckley, Illinois a few years ago and LeAnn has started Glenwood's internet newspaper and Mike had emailed her to see if she wanted to come out to interview me. She's really sharp, has a great attitude, and her web newspaper is truly professional, with truly interesting local stories, not the school board minutes and post office hours. It's updated once a week. Here's the address: www.glenwoodnet.com. Her story about Route 99 will appear, I believe, July 13.
And so it was about 1:00 before I got on the road. Is that a headwind or not?
The road goes due east. I'm standing at exactly the spot where the Pizza Hut smell hits you in the nostrils. That means...
Headwind. As a result, it's going to be next to impossible to reach Red Oak in time for kick-off of the World Cup Final. After some initial gnashing of teeth over that, I got the priorities straight: a wonderful time with a great family or missing some of the game. I made the right choice.
Even though I was hurrying, I had to stop. My family knows this is one of my favorite rivers for no other reason than I just love saying the name over and over. Go ahead. Try it. (Not the 'West' part, knucklehead).
Tonight I'm in Corning. One of the high school students there told me that the name of the river in his town, the Nodaway, means 'Crosses without a canoe', and that Nishnabotna means 'Crosses with a canoe'. So now I know what it means, but I still just love saying it.
2:30 - pre-game coverage starts. Fighting headwind and hills, 9 miles to go, averaging about 12 mph.
2:50 - kick-off. Fighting headwind, etc. 5 miles to go.
William's Recreation of Red Oak, Iowa - Your World Cup Headquarters
3:10 - I arrived in Red Oak, asked at the fire station for directions to a bar with tv. They gave me a couple. I'm in a hurry. Stopped at one. Mood was wrong. A line of quiet men lined up in front of their beer bottles, watching golf. Outta there (especially in my bike tights).
3:15 - Two blocks away, William's Recreation (it's a bar and pool hall, ok?) had the game on, tied 0-0. And there we sat in the heartland of Iowa watching this game.
It was the greatest. Almost noone in the bar knew much about soccer, but if Red Oak, Iowa is any indication of the mood of the nation, these women had captured their respect. As the game went on, you should have heard the place. The game mattered! I quickly made friends and became the soccer expert. We laughed, cheered and groaned together as the game momentum ebbed and flowed.
At one point I said I knew why we weren't scoring, and I went and got the American flag from my bike. That got a cheer. Merrell the bartender/owner got a frosted mug and we put er in.
Not a word about the "lack of scoring". Not a word about "women". Many comments about the President ("Monica's there - you just can't see her") Real admiration for the fitness level, the skill level, the attitude, the determination. And a pretty good understanding of what was supposed to be happening on that field.
Akers goes out of the game after a collision with Scurry. We're not the same team - we've lost our dominance in the midfield.
And then to shoot-out. The crowd in the bar was growing. Every kick so crucial. I explained to Jim Fisher next to me that US coach Tony DiCicco, a goalkeeper himself, has said that if a goalie saves one PK in shoot-out, she's a hero. If she saves two PK's in shootout, they build a monument in her home town.
And then... Scurry saves!!! And for the first time in the tournament she let's it all out. I got as excited seeing HER excited as I did about the save. That emotional demonstration from the totally-reserved Scurry had to be a huge inspiration to her teammates.
Well, you know the rest. You could read the lips of many of the players as they hugged each other in the minutes after Brandi Chastain's winner. Did you notice? They were saying "I love you" over and over to each other. THAT is sport at it's best.
If my own experience is accurate, it will not be the medals or even the title that will live the longest with these women: it will be that for just a little while on this planet they loved each other very much. Any winning team I've ever played for or coached had this bond. And it's sweet.
So they DID find a way, didn't they? And they DID give the credit to the fans, didn't they?
New friends in Red Oak
On the left is Jim Fisher, then Leslie and Jim Anderson. I want to thank them especially for making a wayfaring stranger feel so welcome in Red Oak. I will carry very special feelings about their community for the rest of my life as a result. We had a ball. They presented me with a 'William's Recreation' hat, which I WILL wear! Thanks and God Bless You.
You're in IOWA now, bud
As the sociologist I am, I'm always looking for the subtle clues to the changing of subcultures. I've been working on interpreting this one using several sociological models, but I believe we can safely conclude that "Husker-itis" is behind us now.
Hokey Pete!!! Overtime! Shootout!! Saying goodbye to new friends. It's 6:30!! I've only gone 25 miles today!! Hit the road, Jack.
Montgomery County Courthouse...
Or are you noticing the uncanny resemblance to the DuPage (our fair) County Courthouse in Wheaton, Illinois. I was riding past, looked up, and thought I was in space warp.
So who copied who?
Iowa is just hilly, that's all. Up one down the other, etc. etc. etc. The bear went over the mountain, etc. etc. etc.
About ten miles east of Red Oak (and 20 miles shy of the next motel) I was climbing a hill and just felt myself go weak all over, like somebody just pulled the plug. I got to the top and pulled out the old M&M peanuts/raisin combo from the pannier. Hadn't been touched in weeks, so the heat of Nebraska had done a number. Didn't matter. I needed that stuff.
Stephen Blackmore of Nottingham
And while I'm eating on the shoulder of the road, in a kind of stupor, I see a touring cyclist coming up the hill from the east heading west. I just looked at him. He just looked at me. He was almost past when I said, "Hey, where you going?" He called out "San Francisco" and pulled over.
Stephen had flown from London to Newark Int'l Airport, put his bike together and started riding. He had not seen another touring cyclist for over 1400 miles until he saw me. He was in kind of the same stupor I was. He said he didn't even see me or my bike until I called him. We swapped information for about a half hour, encouraged each other about what we would both be facing, exchanged route info, wrote down our addresses, shook hands and both took off at the same time with "Stay safe" and "Don't look back". As we pulled away, I thought to myself, 'If the cars that were passing this scene right now understood the rarity of what they're seeing...'
Stephen is averaging now $18 a day. He sleeps in his tent, except a really bad storm the other day broke one of his tent poles. He has been bucking headwind almost the whole way. He said he had wondered if America had a prevailing wind or not. Now he knows.
Twenty miles to go, the temperature had dropped into the low sixties, the wind died to nothing, the sun went down. I pulled into Corning at about 9:45, my latest night yet. It was dark. Got my motel room, then went to the only place open in town with a dinner, Pizza Hut. Walked in and the server said, "If you wanted pizza tonight, I'm sorry, but we've run out of cheese."
I'm not speechless very often, but I honestly couldn't think of a thing to say. We invented a cheddar cheese, pepperoni and black olive pizza that was actually pretty good.
Corning is about 325 miles from Naperville. I have three and a half days to make 300 miles and then meet my friends, family and students in Sandwich, Illinois for our ride into Downers Grove. I'm hoping for a 100 mile day tomorrow. Tailwinds, baby, come ON. I want to get home. I miss my family.
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