Austin bikers trek 204 miles in Iowa

Published 9:45 pm Monday, August 2, 2010

Andrew Greenman left and Mike Tschida pose in Manchester, IA before their final day's ride. --Photo Submitted

Two local Austin bike riders recently took on the challenge of biking 204 miles across Iowa in three days, and they weren’t disappointed.

Mike Tschida and Andrew Greenman, both 2000 grads of Austin High School, packed up their stuff and headed down to Charles City, Iowa to bike the last three days of the seven-day Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), which totals 450 miles.

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Tschida and Greenman were among around 25,000 riders from all around the country and the world. They saw many things — including the Field of Dreams from the 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner, a shark-bike, a tall bike with an eight-foot corn stalk on it, and even a dog in a poncho.

“Going on RAGBRAI is like going on a traveling circus, you never know what you’re going to see or run in to. It’s crazy to see how many people are a part of this,” Tschida said. “Arriving into each town was like a hero’s welcome. All the locals were very friendly and very encouraging for miles ridden and miles yet to come.”

Unfortunately for Greenman, there was another thing the duo, who rode with the team name Mechanical Animals, saw a lot on their trek across Iowa.

“I’m sick of seeing corn, I really am,” Greenman said.

Mike Tschida, left and Andrew Greenman pose in front of the downtown Dubuque, Iowa, clock tower. This was the ending location of RAGBRAI 2010. --Photo Submitted

The first memorable stop for Tschida and Greenman was Parkersburg, Iowa, where a tornado had cut through the town just two years earlier.

“There was a lot of new development where the tornado had leveled,” Greenman said. “Everyone was in very good spirits and the new high school was amazing.”

That night, the bikers settled in Waterloo, Iowa where they camped and saw a Beatles and a KISS cover band.

The next day saw strong winds and rain put a damper on the trip as Greenman and Tschida had to take cover in a local barn along with many other riders.

Tschida said the cold rain and winds got to him.

“At that point I just wanted to go home, but then I realized I was stuck in a barn in the middle of Iowa and our bags were headed to Manchester in a truck and our only option was to tough it out,” he said.

The riders made it out of the barn and passed through Quasqueton, Iowa, where the Wapsipinicon River had just flooded a week earlier. There were fences with grass stuck to the top of them as signs of the flood were still showing.

In Manchester, Iowa Greenman and Tschida camped out and enjoyed the music of the Nadas.

The first two days of the ride were mostly on flat lands that were easy to ride through. But on Saturday, Tschida and Greenman met face to face with Potter’s Hill, also know as Potter’s ‘Hell.’

The one-mile hill put about 90 percent of the bikers on their feet as it was difficult to ride on.

After the climb, the riders wend downhill at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour into Dubuque, Iowa, where their trip came to an end.

“It felt very rewarding after doing over 200 miles and conquering the hills,” Greenman said.

When it was all said and done, Greenman and Tschida put in a total of 16 hours on the bike and they had no regrets.

“The only muscles that were sore were our buns,” Tschida said. “I’d do it all over again.”

While passing through towns, there was also a caravan of vendors that traveled with the bikers. An especially popular stop was Beekman’s Homemade Ice Cream of Pocohantas, Iowa, which always had a twenty-minute wait.

RAGBRAI has been going for 38 years and it takes a different a route through Iowa every year.