A strange night for me last night: camped at home with my own warm shower (I’d give me a positive review), but also still on the ride with Carl, who slept in our basement and ate fresh eggs from our chickens and tortillas from a grocery store.
We rode out early and hit Hwy. 2, where we bumped into Oregonian Terry Schuster, who escorted us toward a great view of the Black Hawk statue, more properly known as The Eternal Indian. As Carl droned on (not an insult, he sent a drone up Black Hawk's way and got some primo footage) we also met Scott Stephens, who -- together with Schuster -- runs the grassroots collective club Bike Ogle, though both were a bit cagey in a cool way about who, if anyone, was running it.
Carl and I pedaled on to Conover Square, where we met Aaron and Christy Sitze of White Pelican, who allowed us to live out a fantasy we’ve long harbored (since Monday) of actually being on the Rock River, instead of just riding reasonably close. Although the wind was fierce and there was some fear of us drifting into the dam (I think because of Carl), Aaron gripped our canoe and we safely experienced the thrill of the Rock River, the great pull of the thing itself. I thought of Bruce, the canoer we met in Beloit, and hoped his experience was as positive as ours. We were joined by several bike riders who wished us well and by Oregon Mayor Ken Williams, who told us about some exciting things happening with the river this summer: tugs of wars and music festivals.
We biked down to Dixon next and stopped at Porky’s for lunch. Bob, who runs the kitchen, saw our awesomely cool spandex and asked where we were riding. I get asked that a lot in the summer as I parade around like a peacock in colorful jerseys. But when I answer, Byron and back, people generally give me a "uh-huh" and tell me how much my breakfast slice and Gatorade cost.
This time, Bob got excited and asked, "Are you the guys on the radio? I’ve been following your progress every day!" And that’s how, for one brief moment, I understood what it feels like to be Dan Klefstad. Pretty nice, although when Bob said he’d buy us lunch and beer, Carl said we couldn’t accept it on account of the state ethics exams we’re both mandated to take as employees of the state. (Thanks Blago, hope the president gives you that pardon you so richly deserve).
Sterling was our next stop, and Carl was able to replace the hammock which disappeared from his bike somehow; and we took the Hennepin Canal out Prophetstown way. About eight miles out I got a flat tire and, after removing all my bags and the back wheel (natch), I was unable to locate the puncture, or — worse — the source of said puncture.
As a wise man (ironically, it was on my first RAGBRAI, when Adam Kaul got a flat and was saved by a stranger who rode up on a bike with no saddle: Bareback, the man we’re set to meet tomorrow on the final day of our ride) told me: You can fix the flat, but if you don’t know why it happened, it will happen again.
I could tell you how eventually I got the flat figured out, and how I used a patch instead of the spare, and that Carl and I found a camp site in P-town and that we went to sleep early, me in my tent and he in his new hammock, so that we would be well rested for tomorrow ... but it ain’t true.
I did fix the flat, but we spent the night at the Stumble Inn, eating awesome jalapeño burgers and drinking PBRs, round after round paid for by folks who didn’t know we were on the radio but liked us anyway. Maybe it was Carl’s hair.
Oh, and by round two, we stopped worrying about the ethics exams.
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