TOMRV is a great event. For a great price ($65 or so) you get two days of excellent, friendly sag support for a 2 day 200 mile bike tour. The Tour of the Mississippi River Valley starts in the Quad Cities and heads north to Dubuque, Iowa. I have finished it twice and last year I did the first day and bailed on the second (a family compromise, let’s say). This year I had clearance to the do the whole thing. No backing out.
Except I did. I bailed big time. I wanted to get in some miles, but I was not tied to sleeping on the ground after 108 miles. The hotels in Dubuque were filled and I had not applied for an approved Tomrv dorm room, so I was too late and too lame for words.
Thusly, I decided to make my own Tomrv. Which I called MyTOSEI, which very obviously stands for My Tour Of South East Iowa. The plan was to start from Iowa City and make it all the way to Clinton, Iowa, which is next to the Mississippi between Dubuque and Bettendorf. Dorothy was going to pick me up and we would poke around the town, eat, and head home. Around 103 miles according to MapQuest.
Here’s the intended route:
I woke up at 6 to get an early start, but it was raining buckets. When the rain let up at 9, I scooted out the door. The minute I turned onto Sycamore Street, it started to rain again. Nice.
I was cold and wet 6 minutes into my 100 mile day. I decided to ride for a couple hours and see where I was. Well, I ended up in Tipton, Iowa. Not very far at all, about 33 miles. The headwind was nasty, the rain was unpleasant, but the birds. Now they were a show-stopper. The Red Winged Black Bird is my One True Nemesis For All Time. The dive-bombed me relentlessly all during the late spring and early summer. And all the way to Tipton, they were upbraiding me with screeches and scratching my helmet and generally making me whimper and swerve in unsafe ways. I mean, why me? What am I doing to them? It’s not as if I was invading their territory while they were preparing for the miracle of birth, or anything. It is not as if I was riding two or three feet away from their bedroom.
Some info: “The Red-Winged Blackbird can be very aggressive while defending its territory. It will attack much larger birds, such as crows, ravens, magpies, hawks, and osprey if they enter. They have even been known to attack humans who encroach upon their territories.” (Wikipedia)
But as we all know, Wikipedia is not really all that and a bag of chips. For the inside scoop, I always checkout Scrapsipedia: The Street Theorists Encyclopedia. According to Scrapsipedia: The Barn Owl is the RWBB’s natural enemy. And so I thought that putting an image of a scary owl onto the top of my helmet would do the trick.
Scrapsipedia also related that although the RWBB will attack anything smaller than a semi, 737, train, or combine, they are afraid of certain sounds. Rigorous experimentation has revealed that two sounds are effective at making them run to their nests and cry in terror–at certain times of the day. First, the barn owl’s hoot: hooot hooot hoooo hoooo. Second, a Pterodactyl sound: Kngiai-kngiai-Kngiai-kngiai. Although the exact times at which these sounds force the RWBB to cower and blubber like the True Pansies That They Are are not known with precision, I have used them with guarded success.
End of Part I. Stay tuned for Part II: Retreat and Re-calibrate the Route