Hank – Tara, Randy, and Tracy, whom we met yesterday, and their friend Robin Bennett, showed up at the hotel this morning to escort us to St Ansgar. Tara’s daughter, Riley, joined us when we got to Mason City. She’s 12 and wanted to sleep in a little. I can’t say I blame her. During our brief stop in Mason City Randy gave me and Kathy the quick tour of the historic Park Inn Hotel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The heat and humidity grew more oppressive each hour. Tracy and Kathy swapped bikes so Tracy could see what handling a loaded bike was like. Tara and I swapped bikes for a short time too. You want to know how much of a badass Tara is? She’s riding a fixie for what turned out to be a 60+ mile ride for her. Wearing flip flops. And she dropped four of us while she was on my bike.
Tara took us to Carpenter, IA, where her friend Steve Braun was ready to show off his collectible and homemade bikes. Steve has a ton of Schwinns in what used to be the old City Hall and fire station. He referred to one of his homemade trikes as a suicide bike. You steer with the two rear wheels. Turn with too much speed, which didn’t have to be that much on this thing, and it would tip over and dump you out. I came close enough to feel it want to go over a couple of times. He also had a homemade recumbent tandem that had an ashtray for the stoker–Steve’s wife. We got to check out a whole lot of neat old bikes. We thanked Steve very much for sharing his passion with us.
A few miles later we rolled into St Ansgar. Since it was so hot and humid we checked to see if there was a room available at the Blue Belle Inn Bed and Breakfast. Luckily the answer was yes. I asked to reserve the room and we then went to Paradise Pizza for ice cream. While there I got a call from a newspaper reporter from the Mitchell County News. She showed up an hour later and interviewed me and Kathy. The article should be published next week some time. It’s weird being treated like we’re newsworthy. After the interview we studied possible routes for the next few days while we waited for Tara’s son, Travis, to show up and give everyone a ride back home. It looks like tomorrow we’ll take a short day to Austin, MN, where we’ll check out the SPAM museum. Yes, you read that right. After that we’ll head towards the Root River Trail and take that towards La Crosse, WI.
Travis came and after eating dinner we thanked Tara, Riley, Tracy, and Randy for riding with us (Robin left us earlier) and said our goodbyes. We really hope we get to ride with these wonderful people again.
Kathy – Well today we had a fantastic 51 mile ride that went by so fast with all of our conversations going on. It was 94 degrees but with the humidity the heat index was 106 degrees. Yes, it was HOT, but it was bearable with a nice wind to cool us most of our ride. Riding with this group of avid cyclist was a real treat. I was more of the newbie bike rider compared to the years of experience and the many thousands of miles these guys and gals have ridden. This is the first time we have had a group of riders hang us with us and I must say it was very enjoyable. With our heavy loaded bikes they even went at our …s.l.o.w… pace when they could have easily left us in the dust. I just can’t say enough about how I loved our ride today. As we mingled between everyone the easy flowing conversations never ended along with the frequent laughter. We could of talked to Tracy and Randy for days, just great people! Such a fun day with truly amazing people. Hoping to see them all again sometime soon. And a huge shout out thank you to Tara Brick whose generosity, hospitality and willingness to introduce us to so many outstanding individuals was simply fantastic! You ROCK missy!! A heartfelt thank you to all our new friends in Clear Lake, Iowa and Mason City, Iowa!!