MUSCATINE, Iowa — All bike rides are good — even those held to celebrate the birthday of the 76-year-old guy who led nearly every mile of the 14 we rode today with the wind at our back.
Carol Ward, Chuck Vesey and I joined Charlie Harper to celebrate his birthday. For March 6 in Iowa, it was a beautiful day: 73 degrees and sunny, but also really windy with gusts of more than 30 mph out of the southwest.
Earlier in the day at the Muscatine Community Y, Chuck had said we would probably ride on the trails and not leave the city limits because of the wind. The plan was to leave from Harper’s Cycling & Fitness at 1:30.
Knowing all of this, I left my road bike at home, grabbed my fat-tire hybrid and headed for the bike shop at around 1 p.m. The distance to there from my house is 2.6 miles. I ride it often. But riding into 30 mph wind gusts, I never got above 9 mph and it took me nearly 20 minutes to reach Harper’s.
I arrived to find out the plans had changed: Charlie’s wife, Jean, was going to haul us and our bikes somewhere to the south so that we could ride back to Muscatine with the wind at our backs. This was great except it meant I would have to work a little harder to keep up since I wouldn’t be riding a road bike.
We started in Louisa County near Lake Odessa. We rode a little over 14 miles and I averaged 16.1 mph. By the time I made it home, I had ridden 20 miles. Another 980 or so and I should be ready for RAGBRAI, which is only 136 days away.
It was a good day and a great way to celebrate a birthday. Only God knows if I’ll make it another 31 years. But they will have been well spent if I make it to 76 and am leading the group on that ride the way Charlie did today.