The Ride Was Stormy That Day My Friends

Iowa City is a nice place to live but it has issues, sure it does.  Residents complain of parking shortages (ride yer bikes people), a lousy football team and even drunk college students that sometimes puke on their own shoes.  As of late the biggest issue here in yet another of our nations many self proclaimed “river cities” has been that river.

After a couple of days rising stinky waters, sandbagging and road closures Brian and I decided to get out of town and have a nice easy ride.  We had a tough time even deciding on a route as the many road closures are hard to keep up with.  We finally decided to ride our cross bikes for maximum versatility and to head south.  It had been a beautiful day and we were excited to go but just as we were about to leave a big storm appeared on the radar just north of town.  We were planning to head south so we rolled out anyway.

It was nice to be out and we wound through town before heading south on gravel.  The storm behind us was most impressive and it seemed to be either following us or spreading out to the south so we were constantly right on the edge where the sky turned from sunshine and happiness to dark gray and chaos.

As we rode south the storm seemed to keep pace right with us and after traversing our first B road, which was in great shape, we turned west where we could get a better look of things to the north of us and what we saw made us sad.  Then both of our cell phones with their damned payloads of coltan started ringing.

I am going to digress for a moment to discuss coltan.  I just learned of it last week over lunch and have been doing some reading and it is a complicated mess to be sure but there are some simple things you and I should do to help.  First, lets get educated!  If you just glossed over the link above why don’t you go back and click on it and read up?  My blog metric equipment will let me know how many of you do so make me proud!  Once we are all aware of the problem lets spread the word, contact our legislators and make smart decisions about our consumption.  Cody and I have been wondering if we need cell phones for a while now and if we decide we do do we each need one?  Also, do recycle your old electronic equipment, don’t throw it away!

Back to the ride then, our cellphones started a ringing.  I got a call from Ira and ignored it, then a text which I read but also ignored.  Then Cody called so I answered and she told me exactly what Robin was telling Brian, the storm was raging in Iowa City, dumping hail and the tornado sirens were going off.  Crud.  We were still skirting the storm but reportedly it was no longer moving northeast but southeast.  We decided to head to the Hills and take shelter!

The town of Hills is eight miles south of Iowa City and has a Casey’s and not just one but two bars.  We had to go through road closed signs and then pass through concrete barriers set up in the road to prevent people from crossing the bridge that was just barely over the raging Iowa River.  We should not have crossed but the storm was still right on us so we did it.  Just on the far side we see Alex from WOB riding our way and we tried to deter him but he just laughed and kept on his way.  The town of Hills was totally sandbagged in, we had to climb over the wall to get in.  There were some people milling about and I must say I felt a bit like jerk tourist being there, out for a pleasure ride while their entire town is facing some rather serious trouble.

Nobody paid us any mind and we rolled into town and decided to go to the bar where we imagined they would have a television showing the weather.  And beer.  It was as we figured, we had beer and chips and salsa and watched the radar.  Calls home urged us to make a break for it as there was more to come.  We made a plan, finished our beers and took off.

We had decided to head west a bit more and then ride gravel into town.  The storm continued to follow us, we were still right on the edge, and as we turned north the wind switched from south to north and the temp dropped.  We saw a big picture perfect lightening strike right in front of us and decided that maybe we should go all the way out to Sharon Center and ride in from there.  The sky sure looked inviting over there.

So we headed that way only to remember that there was a bridge that way and we had no idea if it would be open or flooded.  We stopped and discussed and in that time it seemed that the storm with its incredible cloud formations finally decided to move on and the gravel into town looked like the way to go.  There was, of course, a bridge to be crossed taking this way but we went for it and the water was where it belonged, down in the creek.  We made it!

Back in Iowa City safe and dry and the sun came out and it was kind of a nice day.  We had been out longer than we had hoped and the whole town is in a weird state of mind right now so it was kind of eerie.  The stoplight at hwy 6 stopped us and there were very few cars there and the left turn arrow was on so I said lets run it and we did, just to hear a police siren kick on behind us.  Shit.  We stopped, the light turned green and the officer pulled up.

She asked us to explain why we ran the light and I went into some kind of weird trance like state and just laid out stream of consciousness style that we had been out and got caught by the storm and made it in and sometimes big stoplights like that don’t trip for cyclists and we saw the arrow and assessed the situation and saw it was safe so we went and all we wanted was to get home safe and if she wanted to write us a ticket we would take it.  She maintained the cop-like stern demeanor and told us that the storm was gone and that if we wanted to ride bikes we should avoid roads with stoplights or something like that.  Which is ludicrous, but we had just blatantly run a stoplight across a four lane state highway so we did not contest this issue.  She told us to be on our way and we went.

Quite an exciting easy ride!  We were on the wrong side of the Iowa River and there is only one bridge in town still open now so we rode across and saw the raging water and the incredible sandbag defenses of the University of Iowa up close and we made it home in time for dinner.

6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    […] if all the activity with the house building but g. steve pickle put together a good account of the flooded experience. water is still in good supply with our own well on the farm along with the fresh veggies and some […]

  2. 2

    20 cent said,

    Epic ride! Glad to hear you’re still getting out.

  3. 3

    Mom said,

    I’m trying really hard not to act like a mother but what were you thinking!

  4. 4

    brian said,

    I love when I come to your blog and learn new things. Thanks Steve.

  5. 5

    cully todd said,

    could you hear reo speedwagons” ridin the storm out ” while you were riding? I have a bunch of stuff to donate to the bike library, when can I drop it off?, Cully

  6. 6

    John said,

    Blog gosh darn it!

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