Carroll to Ames, 83 miles, 1,479 feet of climb
I was looking forward to this part of the route which would feature a ride through the Iowa State football facility, Jack Trice Stadium.
It was starting to heat up on Day Three, and I was feeling the distance on my butt. There were plenty of pass-through towns, spaced about 10 miles apart, which made it more tolerable..
The ride through Jack Trice Stadium was a highlight. Riders headed up the concourse to the north end zone. I’m a Kansas State Wildcats fan, and we’re Big 12 rivals with Iowa State. It was cool to see the Cyclones stadium up close. Maybe someday I’ll attend a game there.
Heading out of the stadium I made another directional mistake by following the crowd. A staffer was waving everyone to the left, and so I did. My campsite this night was actually the Ames Fitness Center, for which I gladly paid an extra fee. But by following the crowd I headed in the wrong direction. Feeling like I’d made a mistake, I stopped where volunteers were directing traffic and asked for directions to the Ames Fitness Center, and was told it was the other direction. A long ways in the other direction.
So I called the charter owner and asked him how to find the location, telling him I had gone in the wrong direction leaving the stadium. He told me I needed to pedal in the direction of the stadium and look for charter signs. My Garmin is showing me that I’ve already ridden 85 miles as I wearily head back the other way.
Past the stadium I spot signage, which was encouraging, but still no fitness center. More signage, so I’m not lost, and I didn’t feel like I’d passed the facility. Finally the signage points to my left and there’s the Ames Fitness Center. I locate charter staff to find out where my luggage is stored, and they help me locate it.
I head upstairs with my duffle and backpack to set up in the weight room, which is pretty large, but space was at a premium. I find a spot between two lat pulldown machines, and set up my sleeping quarters. Included in the fee was a laundry service, indoor showers and a massage.
After a fantastic shower, I got my 30-minute massage and then headed to the bar for a beer or two. Food trucks were set up outside, along with bike parking for those who had paid for the indoor sleeping arrangement. I ordered a BBQ brisket sandwich and sat down in one of the camp chairs to relax. I had pedaled 87 miles in all.
Sleeping in the weight room was like a slumber party. No privacy, but I actually slept pretty well. Everyone started stirring early the next morning for the ride to Des Moines. I packed up my stuff, found coffee downstairs, and handed my luggage off to the charter staff. Ames to Des Moines would be the shortest ride, 50 miles, so I didn’t feel rushed to get on the route. But now the weather was heating up, a harbinger of things to come.