“As a kid, I had a dream — I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe in the world. I lived for that bike. Most kids left their bikes in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors and the first night I even kept it in my bed.” — John Lennon, British musician
It was a roller-coaster ride. I’m not talking emotionally. My spirits are high and for a good reason.
I’m speaking literally. The routes through the Iowa countryside are a puncheur’s delight. The rollers roll here. Each one with a top and bottom, and you always know where you are.
The hills are a welcome departure from the false flats that go on forever with just enough uphill resistance to be a speed and patience-draining annoyance. Or the climbs that don’t have a crest but rather another ridge, or two, further up the road.
The rollers in this world are an exciting and challenging lesson in momentum and rhythm. The vertical feet accumulate rapidly with the lactic-acid-fueled quad fatigue as the downhill speed relents at the right moment to jump from the saddle and pop over the top.
It was fun! The vibrant and attractive scenery is a bonus.
As I ride closer to the coast, the reintroduction to civilization is compelling and engaging. The cities in the Des Moines suburbs are bike-friendly. Interacting with aware motorists in their environment is entertaining when you ride confidently and take the part of the road that belongs to you. I shared the road with mutual respect and enjoyed the flow through Atlantic, IA.
Once back on the country roads, the hidden treasures are there to take, like this historical site and a bike route sign in the shadow of massive wind turbines dotting the farm landscape.
The most rewarding aspect of the journey is in the relationships we’ve made along the way. Speaking of, guess who I ran into in Adel, Iowa? Just esport’s top-ranked female cyclist, Liz Van Houweling!
I say “just” because Liz’s modest and unassuming nature belies her tremendouse talent and racing tenacity. Liz, her husband Ryan, and their two children live in a beautiful home on the outskirts of Des Moines with acres of outdoor fun and a lakeside beach outside their backdoor.
It was nice to see a friendly face. The children were curious and cute. Unfortunately, a business meeting kept Ryan from joining our brief greeting, but it is clear that he is a “stand-up guy.”
Not every day do you have the opportunity to share some time with a world-class athlete. It was a highlight and a delight. Thank you for the hospitality, Liz!
It was another great day!
About the DIRT Dad Fundo Pledge for Day Thirty-Five—Alastair Loney
Here is what Alastair had to say—”I had never really ridden a bike post the age of 15 but have done pretty much every sport there is going. After having a 10min commute for 10 years, after moving to Dublin my 45 min commute was a bit of a drag so started riding to work when the bike to work scheme pretty much gave them away free. The 1st week of covid lockdown my brother in law convinced me to give Zwift a go. I’m not one to do things by halves so within 2 weeks I’d bought one of the last Kickr Cores in Europe, joined a team (you may have heard of them!), dragged him along to join me, and my involvement somewhat snowballed from there. You can now find me corraling the Bs Herding on the weekend, helping organise the DIRTy Beasts ZRL team and riding for the Hellhounds, as well as riding for the DTC, Steamers, Sprockets, Cobra Kai, Rascals Revolution and anyone else who will have me!! I now venture out for an outdoor ride once a week and am loving it, but still need the intensity of Zwift!
Initially because of lockdown, but also as I’m living away from family and friends in a ‘foreign’ country, the community at DIRT has given me more than I thought possible and i try to give a little back if possible. There are so many people that clearly care about helping others, even knowing they’ll never likely meet face to face. Itsh heartwarming to see. Especially in a world where the bad news takes centre stage too often.
If anyone is ever in Dublin, come say “hi!”. There’s a cold pint of the black stuff with your name on it.”
Amount Raised to Date—$7,957
Thank you, Alastair!
Now off to Altoona, IA!
To support Chris in his effort to raise awareness of The DIRT Dad Fund, the non-profit he created to assist members of the worldwide cycling community, check out this link to learn more.
Find out where you can pledge a donation and subscribe to The ZOMs newsletter to follow along on the journey.
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!