October 6, 2002
Sioux Falls, SD to Spirit Lake, IA
90 Miles Google Map
For the fourth time during this trip, a mighty northwest gale carried me down the highway and I racked up some impressive mileage, flirting with a century day. Cleary no ill effects from yesterday’s extended, beat-the-thunderstorm effort.
It took a little more than an hour to get from from my motel down to the state border. Along the way, there were scattered branches lying about in front yards and on one occasion, a tree sprawled on the highway. Proof of the power of last night’s storm. I’m quite fortunate to have escaped the festivities.
Crossing into my home state of Iowa after five weeks of unending effort provided a high that lasted the rest of the morning. To think I’d actually ridden a bicycle all the way from Seattle! At about the same time, that welcoming wind kicked in and I began cranking. My new road, Highway 9, is more eclectic than the others I’ve ridden on, varying from scattered tiny clumps of red gravel to a sleek, just-finished surface. On the latter, I glided along like an Indy 500 race car.
My original goal, the town of Sibley, appeared around noon but there was no way I was going to call it a day at that point. One thing I have learned from this cycling expedition is that when you are on a wind-aided roll, push it for there’s no telling what tomorrow will bring. I continued on towards the Iowa Lakes region, some thirty miles away.
Spirit Lake is the name of both a municipality and a body of water. With an additional pair of nearby lakes (East and West Okoboji) the area is a popular summertime retreat, but the tourists had of course long since departed, giving the town that slightly sad, empty, off-season feel. Yet to my surprise, the Super 8 Motel I checked into only had a couple rooms available because of an antique auto convention taking place nearby. It certainly made for an interesting parking lot.
Being back on my home turf made me aware for the first time at how the season had changed. Less daylight for my customary after-dinner stroll, and the evening’s cold had an edge to it. Looks like I’m going to win my race against this advisary.
I got a real thrill tonight seeing the Doppler Radar on the weather report. Just three counties over was my final destination: Forest City! No longer a distant goal far beyond the horizon, it was now within range thanks to the phenomenal day I had put in.
So close. So suddenly.
Tomorrow I will be packing up my faithful bike for maybe the final time. One more long haul.
Riding through Rock Rapids in the early afternoon, I passed by a church where a wedding was just finishing. Caught a glimpse of the happy bride and groom accepting congratulations from everyone. Yet I found myself, strangely, feeling sorry for them. Northwest Iowa strikes me has a rather secluded, lonely place and it was hard to imagine any kind of future there for two young people starting out on their life’s journey.
Today: 90 Miles
To Date: 1,766 Miles / 2,842 Kilometers