After riding 155 miles in 2 days, I expected the 47 mile for this day to be easier. I didn't feel as if I had to push myself. There were plenty of hills, but they were manageable. Even though I took my time I still ended up at the lunch town by 10 am.
Hiawatha was our lunch stop. There was a SAG on the west side of town. I got my water bottles filled and went in search of an early lunch. It had been years since I was last in Hiawatha. I had forgotten how dreary a town it is. It seems to be a town without a soul. The business district looked bleak and utilitarian. No cafe nor restaurant was to be seen there. I found a Sonic, a Subway and Pizza Hut on the far edge of town. It was too early for Pizza Hut to be open. So I ordered a hamburger at Sonic. I figured I could take the risk because whatever I ate would be burned up before it had a chance to give my stomach fits. My usual term for Sonic burgers is "gut bomb". I later found that I missed a great cafe just down the road from the Sonic.
I had read about the Davis memorial in our route guide. John Davis built it for his wife, Sarah, who died in 1930. Eleven life-sized Italian marble statues depict the stages of John and Sarah's life. I found the memorial a very sad place. John must have loved his wife because the memorial shows his grief at losing her. But none of their statues show them in close proximity to each other. The depiction of them as a younger couple has them sitting at opposite ends of a bench. The others have them looking at each other from opposite sides of their graves. I was left wondering what they had really been like. The memorial was built before John's death. Why had he arranged their likenesses in this manner? I wished I could ask him.
After more miles of hills I had a 2-mile downhill run into the town of Robinson. Here was a main street with soul. Businesses on main street were well past their heyday, if they ever had one. I saw riders coming out of one of the buildings with "bomb pops", frozen sugar water on a stick. I went inside and saw that this was not quite a grocery store. It wasn't even quite a convenience store. There was on shelving unit running down the middle of the store and a couple of freezers and coolers against the wall. It was a place to buy milk or eggs when you ran out and didn't want to make the drive to Hiawatha or Horton. A woman was at the checkout counter "scooping" ice cream out of a square cardboard container with a fork. I stepped up and asked for an ice cream cone as well. I asked her, "How much?". She said she was asking for 50 cents but that people had been giving her a dollar. I told her I'd give her a dollar if she piled my cone high. She asked me to hold the box while she dug with the fork.
I sat on the curb and ate my ice cream. I chatted with others who had stopped and watched riders go on by. I didn't expect it and it seemed an unlikely place, but this was my moment. When I think back on BAK 2008, this is the moment I'll remember first: eating ice cream on the curb of a bucolic little town no one ever travels to. I think this is the real joy of riding the BAK, encountering these moments, however fleeting, when everything feels right with the world and you can just be in that moment and nothing else intrudes. These moments are blessings to be savored and remembered.