Ames to Des Moine, 50 miles, 1.216 feet of climb
Ames to Des Moines was an easy ride comparatively, featured some nice scenery and a roll through downtown.
This section of the route was supposed to be the day there would be 50,000 or more riders. Originally the organizers were hoping to break the Guiness World Record for the number of riders in a single day event. But the Guiness part didn’t come through, and honestly, I didn’t think it was that crowded on the ride.
After rolling through downtown and over the bridge spanning the Des Moines River, I once again strained to spot signage for my campsite. After a relatively easy ride, I still had to pedal a ways to locate my charter campsite, and once I arrived around midday, none of the tents were setup, nor had luggage been unloaded. This was due to the fact that it didn’t take riders long to reach their destinations before staff could get everything ready for their arrival.
Without luggage, I couldn’t shower, so I hung around with other riders under the main tent and sipped beer in the sweltering heat. I even dozed off for a while. Finally, luggage arrived, and my tent was set up. The showers were about a quarter mile from the campsite, so I grabbed clothes and shower stuff and walked there.
Back under the main canopy, I chatted with other riders. The scuttlebutt was that hundreds, or maybe even thousands of riders were bailing after Des Moines. Main reason was that the next two days would be some of the hottest, hilliest, and longest rides.
The distance on Day Five was listed at 82 miles, and I was already factoring in the extra miles I would pedal getting to my campsite. Listening to other riders, many were planning on leaving at zero dark thirty to avoid the later day sweltering heat. That didn’t appeal to me. I don’t like intense heat either but leaving the campsite in the dark without any traffic control just seemed silly to me.
Sure enough, in the middle of the night I was awakened by cyclists passing by my tent with their headlights blazing. I had set an alarm for 5:00 am, so I was ready to ride as the sun was just coming up. It was already hot, even in the early morning. It was going to be a long day.