Another day of riding where I completed the ride by 11AM.  It’s not that I’m getting faster.  It’s that the short distances are working in my favor.  That and I’m not sleeping.  Internal reveille is waking me at 4AM local time.  I lie there for a half hour or so, quietly get up, start packing my stuff, do the bathroom routine, and am I’m generally ready to go between 5:00 and 5:30.

One of the interesting side effects of leaving that early is I’m towards (not at) the front of the pack.  It’s a pretty thin crowd riding at that time of the day.  For the most part, if you’re trucking along with the masses, you don’t have to worry about things like . . . oh, you know, directions.  There’s always someone in front of you.

But that hasn’t been the case for me for two days.  Yesterday morning it came to bite me.

I was following two other guys.  It was a little after 5AM.  Completely dark.  I was third in line, hoping they knew were they were going.  We finally spotted some direction signs . . . but we all missed a critical one telling us to turn right.

Instead of turning right we zipped up a small incline . . . and the road turned to crushed gravel.  The gravel extended for maybe 15 feet . . . and then the road ended completely.  Except for the 10 to 15 foot drop.

The two guys in front of me knew each other. The fella in the lead was riding a recumbent.    He braked, skidded to the left, and twisted sharply.  The guy behind him cursed as he braked sharply.  “Dammit, Mike, are you trying to get us killed?!”  I was a little further back so I wasn’t in any danger of hitting either of them, but it was definitely an accelerating braking job.

The three of us finally found the sign.  It may have been readable in the sunlight . . . but it was on the left hand side of the road.  That just isn’t where we would have expected to see a sign telling us which way to go.

I took the sign down and trotted over to the other side of the road to tape it on a road sign across the street.  I had to start flagging other riders down, pointing the correct direction to ride.

This morning I didn’t have any Wile E. Coyote “dropping off a cliff” moments, but there were so few riders it was difficult to make sure I was headed in the correct decision.  The camp was so far off the route there were no signs for a couple of miles.  I knew the general direction we needed to be heading, and I knew we were headed to Fairfield, but I didn’t know the exact route.  It all worked out.  I eventually found a few other riders, figured we’d all go off a cliff together.

Last night as we were coming back from town, the sky had become completely overcast.  The weather forecast promised a 60% to 70% chance of rain starting around 3AM and continuing on through at least 9AM.  It did rain overnight, but by the time I got on the road it had ended.

The skies stayed overcast, though.  That kept the temperatures very cool.

The true Iowa weather comes to life

Today’s route was the flattest so far.  Less than 1200 feet of climb.  A few hills just to make us sweat a tad.  (And me without my “do-rag”!)

While flat, the rain had brought some serious headwinds.  I’m beginning to think wind is a far worse bicycling enemy than climbing a hill.  A 10 to 15 MPH headwind just wears you down with the constant buffering.  Didn’t come close to riding my average speed today.

The sun only poked its head out once during my ride.  I caught the picture below.  It looked like a heavenly pronouncement.  As if God picked up a celestial Google Groups account.

Appropriately enough, the building in the lower right is a church.

Instead of camping out last night I stayed in a day care center.  Tonight I’m staying in the Pre-K room of a church.  I think Karma’s trying to tell me something.  “Act like a kid and you’ll be treated like one.”