July 11, 1999 - Day 36 - Corning to Chariton, Iowa
83.3 miles, 15.3 mph average speed, 2210 total miles, 30 mph max speed
First, corrections. I feel badly that I got the ages of Michelle and Christa Stewart wrong. Michelle is 11 and Christa is 10. Sorry, you guys. Let me know if I made any more mistakes about you, ok?
Today was an absolutely beautiful day for bicycling. Temps in the high 70's, no wind whatsoever. I left Corning hoping for a 100 plus mile day, but it wasn't to happen. Partly because after Chariton, where I am tonight, it's a 30 mile trip to the next motel and I ran out of daylight. But maybe the real reason: I just never got in sync today, physically or mentally. I think my battery is draining. My butt hurts. I need to get home.
Iowa may have something to do it. First, it's just hilly. You just grind it up, slide down, then grind it up again.
And Iowa is the first state I've biked through that provides no paved shoulder on a busy 65 mph 2-lane highway. Hey Hawkeyes - even the Huskers have paved shoulders on their road.
And so, you're forced to ride on the highway. And then, of course, you have pinheads driving oversized vehicles who come up behind you and have to slow down because of oncoming traffic. They then lay on the horn or flip you off as they drive by, like it's YOUR fault you're on their road. I emphasize that the only people who do this are people who drive large vehicles, or more technically, vehicles THEY THINK are large. The real truckers are always polite.
And so, the day.
Iowa historically seems to attract splinter groups. It may have something to do with their central location and relative isolation. After the Mormons were driven out of Nauvoo, Illinois in 1846, the Icarians moved into their abandoned village. For awhile. And I guess some of them moved here, too.
I think it says something about human nature that none of the "perfect" societies that have ever been founded have lasted. Is there one I don't know?
Ah, the Greek Classics! Narcissus is so enamored with his own reflection in the pool that he is immediately turned into the Minotaur, who gives birth through his head to the children of Zeus and is then destined to forever roll a ball uphill with his horns, only to reach the top and have it roll down the other side, where it squashes the cyclops, whose death frees Helen of Troy after which she marries Paris, giving birth through her head to Oedipus who runs 26 miles from the Plains of Marathon to inform Juan Samaranch that Salt Lake City should have the 2000 Winter Olympics, then collapsing, but before dying, receiving 'gifts' from the selectiion committee and then giving birth through his head to Meno's pair o' docs, which of course led eventually to the Hippocratic Oath.
I love teaching history.
Another way that Iowa is 'thrifty'. They don't have separate county signs. They just stick that little thing on top of the U.S. Route sign.
Between yesterday and today I've been through Montgomery, Adams, Union, Lucas and Clarke Counties. Check the Info maps for your education. I'm just biking through.
I was getting my chocolate milk fix at this store in Osceola when Roy introduced himself and asked about the trip. He then said his son, Roger, biked the perimeter of the U.S. about 15 years ago; 8000 miles. Roger was a music major at Illinois Wesleyan, but is now one of the top ski instructors in the United States at one of the resorts in California.
Roy is on his way to Denver. He's a square dancer from Rockford, Illinois and is putting together one of the largest square dances in northern Illinois (in Belvidere) on Sept. 12. The band he contracted to play is having some unity problems and he is driving out to see if he can pull them together.
I asked him what group is putting on the dance. He said "Me." I liked his style. He had spunk.
Remember 'Boy's Life', the unofficial magazine of the Boy Scouts? I used to get it and was always intrigued by The Soap Box Derby. So I had to stop when I saw this one.
That's Stacey McCoy (8th grade) on the left, then Melissa Kistler (Senior) and Ty McCoy (Sophomore). The dog is Chance, the Rottweiler pup. It's Ty's racer. I asked him if he raced it. He said no, he just bought it and runs it on this hill. He showed me how the steering mechanism and the brakes work. Very cool.
All three kids go to Clarke Community High School, right there in town.
John L. Lewis
A few miles east of Osceola you go through the tiny town of Lucas. They have this sign. John L. Lewis founded the United Mine Workers and was a fierce defender of the mineworkers' rights.
As I rode on I tried to see what it could be in the lay of the land that would shape that personality to become what it was. No obvious answers, but Lucas is in a little river bottoms carved out of the rest of Iowa. You drop down in and for about a mile or two east and west of Lucas you just ride flat by the little Whitebreast River. Then you climb out again, back into "Iowa". No mining around that I'm aware of. Anybody know his biography? Throw it on the Message Board for everyone's edification.
When pioneers took their covered wagons on the Oregon-California Trail, they usually funnelled themselves through St. Louis from points east (thus The Arch), then west up the Missouri River to various "jumping off" points (like Independence or Plattsmouth, for instance).
But the Mormons got to their 'jumping off' point in Omaha in a much different way: they were forced out of their Illinois stronghold city of Nauvoo, on the banks of the Mississippi, in the dead of winter. The locals had already killed Joseph Smith and it sounded like they were getting ready to come in and burn the town and kill more Mormons. (You have to draw your own conclusions as to the roots of animosity. I think it was a combination of Mormons, like Jews, being "different"; Joseph Smith being something of a blow-hard know-it-all; and Illinois locals along the river being bigoted yahoos.)
So the largest contingent left in the middle of winter, 1845-46, under the direction of Brigham Young. They had no wagons, no oxen or mules. They made handcarts and pushed the carts with whatever possessions would fit in them. Everybody walked. They were pretty much fleeing for their lives.
That winter was brutal because of cold, but moreso because of thaw. Iowa was a mess of mud. It had to be just horrible. Nobody in their right minds would have done this.
Of course, they eventually made it to their destination, Salt Lake City, where Brigham Young looked out over the desert from the Wasatch Mountains and proclaimed, "This is the place" and his followers said, "You've GOT to be kidding", but they were tired of pushing the carts so they went with it.
I can't remember if I told you in the Utah pages that the word "deseret", used frequently in Utah, means "industry". And Utah's state symbol is the beehive. They made it work.
Closing thoughts on the U.S. World Cup victory. Thank you Christine Lilly for saving the game by doing what we coaches always tell our defenders they MUST do; cover the goal line anytime the keeper is out. She did not "just happen" to be there. That's years of discipline. That save allowed Brianna Scurry to make HER save. HER save allowed Brandi Chastain to make HER kick from the penalty spot. THAT kick won the World Cup.
Also, do not underestimate the job Tony DiCicco, the coach, did with the shootout lineup. Who kicks and in what order do they kick? Best kicker last? What if it's over by then? Best kicker first? What if it comes down to the last kick? Who's feeling good? Who had a good game? Who's been nailing them in practice? What does your gut tell you.
Which brings us to Mia Hamm. She's got to take a kick - she's not only your "star", she's a team leader, especially with Akers out. She's a proven winner. But... she's been having a nightmare of a tournament. All the publicity fell on her, and I think she paid an emotional price for it (and she may well have known this in advance, too). Her confidence level is... where?? If I'm Tony, I'm shutting my eyes and praying when she goes to the line to take her kick. These things are so easy to miss, and confidence is everything with them.
And she just nails it. To me, that made Mia Hamm, the "SuperStar" of the team, the unsung hero of the game. No one will ever know the million things that went through her head between the time she knew she was kicking and the time she kicked. Cool.
And so to bed. I should get somewhere close to the Mississippi River tomorrow.
No flat tires since Glenwood Springs!
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