TOMRV, the Tour of the Mississippi River Valley, was last weekend and what a great ride it was.
I have done this ride a few other times, but that was in the late 70’s, and early 80’s. In other words, a long time ago. The route was a little different from way back then. But then, so was I. In spirit though, it was essentially the same ride.
Personally I thought it was a challenging ride then and I still think so. On the first day though, we were blessed with fantastic weather. The temps were cool – starting off around 50 degrees at 6:15 in the morning – and later warming into the 80’s. We had light winds most of the time and what little wind there was at our backs or a cross wind. Not a bad way to start things off.
The morning of the first day was pretty flat, going by huge flat, fields of corn and beans. By late morning though we’d crossed over onto the Illinois side and things started to get rolling, then downright hilly. There was really only a few big hills though. The big one on the first day had a reputation that preceded it and was called “the wall”. It wasn’t really that bad though and Kem, who took the “country lane” alternative said that option was probably just as hilly.
The challenging part of the ride was mainly just the distance. By the time it was all said and done we’d ridden 107.7 miles (according to Kem’s GPS) on the first day. And that last hill up to Clarke college at mile 106 was just plain mean.
Sunday started off through some wandering tree covered roads. (See the upper right picture.) Very pretty countryside. Then it was up and down through one hill after another. The 2nd day’s hills were more interesting/challenging than the first day’s. Not really steep, but just long and they were plentiful. By lunch time we had gotten to Preston and I had really worked up an appetite for lunch. It wouldn’t be an Iowa ride unless somebody was selling pork chops, would it? And not surprisingly, the Lions club in Preston was cutting up some great chops at the lunch stop on Sunday.
In general, the food on the ride was awesome. Every rest stop (“sag stop”) had plenty of fruit, liquids, and snacks of all kinds. I loved those bagels and peanut butter & banana snacks late on the 2nd day. Perfect timing. The buffet at Clarke on Saturday night was massive and plentiful. All you wanted and more.
It seemed like not all that many people fully finished out the ride. Lots of folks seemed to bail out at the lunch stop on the 2nd day in Preston. Maybe there were more people doing the shorter alternate ride from Preston than I imagined. Anyway, the riders got pretty sparse toward the end of the 2nd day of 88 miles. My guess was that had more to do with the headwind we faced on the ride south of Preston and all the way to Bettendorf. We knew we had 40+ miles remaining once we left Preston and it was all into the wind. There was little or no cover either since this is the part of the ride through mainly open country. Just fields and not many trees.
All in all, a great ride. It’s a little out of the way for me, of course, but I’d certainly do it again some time.