Tour Of the Mississippi River Valley
June 10-11 2017
If your are a first time rider or thinking about riding TOMRV, you may have some questions
that are not answered in the ride brochure and application. I will try to field the most
commonly asked ones here.
It is safe to say that TOMRV challenges every rider every year. Being a two day tour with
good milage and challenging terrain, there is opportunity for riders at any level to find
challenge. Additionally the tour is early in the summer, and seasonal riders are not at their
If you enjoy accomplishing long distances on your bike, then TOMRV is an excellent way
to try a longer tour. You will have the advantages of a well tuned route, other riders to
ride with and good food and drink supplied on the route. You will want to get some good riding
in before the tour. This is not a race, so find your pace and enjoy the weekend.
Here is a cyclist's altimeter download from TOMRV in 2002. Note that the route between
Bellevue and Goose Lake is changed to a less hilly route, removing about 1,000 feet of climbing.
You can see there are hills in Iowa after all. The land near Dubuque is a series of limestone bluffs
and valleys, sometimes quite striking. The result is numerous climbs and descents, some over 300 feet.
You may decide to change the particulars of your registration. This is usually easy to do.
Here are some common change requests, and how to get them done.
To cancel your registration, email to TOMRV with your request. Cancellations are accepted up to the late registration time, about 2 weeks before the tour. Clarke room refunds are available up to the ride day if you email the registrar, because we will then sell the room to another rider.
- Change your Clarke room request - Email to TOMRV with your request, and we will work out
- Change your start from Bettendorf to Goose Lake, or vice versa - you can do this by emailing to TOMRV.
You can also change your decision at packet pickup on Friday evening before the ride. There will be a color coded luggage tag, and you can swap your tag for the other color.
Some riders decide on Saturday evening to finish in Goose Lake after riding up from Bettendorf. To do this,
stop at the tables in front of the atrium at Clarke and request a Goose Lake luggage tag.
Add a jersey to your registration - Use the link to the TOMRV store.
- Additional banquet tickets - You can purchase extra banquet tickets at the tables in front of the Atrium at Clarke, or at the door to the banquet.
For some riders, the real prize is getting a suite at Clarke. Unlike the other dormitory
rooms, the suites are air conditioned, and provide several rooms adjoining with a common bath. This makes
them desirable for large groups of friends, and on hot years the air conditioning is a real plus.
The suites rent quickly. The 6 person suites at Clarke will be sold online only.
We field more riders than Clarke University can house, so we run a free shuttle between Clarke and many Dubuque motels. The shuttles will leave Clarke right on the half hour all afternoon and evening, and on Sunday morning.
On the other end of accomodations is tent camping. You can tent camp a part or your entire stay
at TOMRV. There is tent camping for no charge on the grounds at Scott Community College and at Goose Lake
on Friday before the ride. This is a low impact quiet affair. If you use this, be sure to respect
the property and leave your site clean.
On Saturday there is also camping on the soccer field at Clarke, and there is a charge for this. You
are entitled to use the dormitory showers as a camper, and a towel is provided.
The preferred camping area, one with restrooms available, and totally away from street noise,
is the soccer field behind the tennis courts, a nice flat watered and carefully mowed area.
Plus on Sunday morning, you walk past the bike lockup to get to the road.
If you are driving in on Friday evening, you will need a place to stay overnight. There are
many motels available in the Bettendorf area
and there is tent camping space available at Scott Community College.
Every year people ask which is the closest
motel to the ride start. You can see from the map that it is a close
call, but the closest motel by perhaps a minute driving time is the
Hilton Garden Inn on Middle road, listed on that home page link. You can stay
at the Holiday Inn in LeClaire. This on the route at 8.3 miles, so you
might arrange to leave your car at the motel over the weekend and have
no driving to the start at all.
If you are starting from Goose Lake, you can get a motel in nearby Maquoketa Iowa, or you can stay in Bettendorf
or Davenport and drive up to Goose Lake on Saturday morning. The most convenient motels for this option are on
US 61 to the North of Davenport.
When you ask a TOMRV rider about the ride, you will probably hear about the banquet. This is
a truely wonderful dinner after a hard day on the road. There are dozens of delicious foods to choose from
and all that you will want to eat. The banquet starts at 4 p.m. and runs until 8:30 p.m. So you can plan
when to drop in. Your wristband admits you to the banquet. If you have non-riding friends, they can
buy banquet tickets at the door.
The banquet will include vegan fare as well as traditional.
The serving dishes will be marked for you.
Spring in the Midwest is a variable time, sometimes warm, sometimes hot, and sometimes cold.
Although warm to hot is most common, in 2006 we had temps in the 40s with strong headwind
and rain on Saturday morning. It was foolhardy to ride without good protection for cold and rain.
Weather forcasts get better each year, but are still not perfect. In 2016 the weather on Saturday night and
Sunday morning was 20 degrees colder than the Friday forecast. So you want to bring clothing for a range of conditions. When you actually start to ride, you can select what you will need.
A tour the length of TOMRV has a fundamental difference from rides of lesser distance:
your body does not carry enough readily available energy to complete the ride, and eating along the route is
necessary to avoid bonking.
This means eating at each stop, and sometimes on the road between stops.
Your body gets power from three sources in roughly this order
- Fat metabolism, at a rate up to 200-300 calories per hour
- Carbohydrates and proteins being digested from what you are eating
- Glycogen stored in you body.
There is typically 1,500 to 2,000 calories of glycogen erergy in a rested person's body
See the chart below to get an idea how much energy you will use on TOMRV.
You can see that you will use energy much faster than 200 calories an hour (energy source #1 - fat),
so your body will use energy source 2 (food you digest on the ride) as well.
This preserves energy source 3 (glycogen).
The problem comes if you fail to eat enough along the route, and use up all of your glycogen. This is
fondly known as bonking, which feels a lot like dying. A 100 mile ride is easily long enough for this to
happen. So eat plenty along the route. We are giving away food at every stop, all of it just the kind
that you need. So eat and enjoy the ride.
Calories Burned During Exercise
|Activity (1 hour)
|Bicycling, 10-11.9mph, light effort
|Bicycling, 12-13.9mph, moderate effort
|Bicycling, 14-15.9mph, vigorous effort
|Bicycling, 16-19mph, very fast, racing
Along with eating enough, you must drink enough. When the
temperature goes up, your body can lose one to two quarts an hour
while riding. While being two quarts down is not dangerous,
it materially reduces your ride speed.
Your blood becomes thicker and circulates more slowly, forcing you to ride slower.
Dehydration also makes you susceptible to leg cramps.
You will want to drink well at stops, especially as the temperature
gets high. You will also want to carry water with you to drink between
TOMRV riders are a tough lot, and few are willing to quit even when
the going is tough. If you have adequate clothing, food and water,
you will finish unless a health or bike catastrophe occurs.
But every year a few riders have to bag it, generally due to real health
concerns. We run a sweep at the
back of the ride and pick up bicycles and riders who cannot complete
the day. This is not a lot of riders, and it is a slow way to get
We all know that cycle touring is a hazardous sport. An advantage of
TOMRV is that the route is carefully selected and checked for safety each year.
We are committed to a safe tour. We check each year for road construction, drive
the route each year, and post warning signs where we find a forseeable hazard.
That said, we cannot guarantee that you will not encounter hazards on the road.
You must be alert and cautious when vehicles are around, and must ride within
the road conditions. You are responsible for your safety on the tour.
I want to mention particular hazards in an organized tour that are not generally present
when you ride alone or with a couple friends. They are both in descents. The first
is overtaking slower riders and not being able to get around safely. You may be a crit
rider, but the people in front of you are not. You start to pass, but a car comes up around the curve ahead.
The second is riding too fast on a descent on a secondary road. These roads are former
wagon paths with crown grading and chip seal. They have not been engineered.
Commonly the lowest turn is the sharpest one. Resist the
urge to descend fast on these curving roads. It might work at home because you know the roads at home,
but the roads on the tour are probably not that familiar to you. Keep your speed in control until you can
see the runout at the bottom of the descent.
This is my plea to you the rider to ride responsibly.
There is a tendency for riders to engage in riding practices on a large group ride
where cyclists impede traffic on the more heavily traveled roads.
This results in angry motorists who may then engage in rude or aggressive
driving, stop and confront riders, or call the county sheriff.
There is bound to be some inconvenience to the daily users of the roads, but some
rider practices abuse the right to the road and make a real problem.
- Riding multiple abreast - riders enjoy talking while riding, leading them to ride abreast.
State laws ban this practice when it impedes traffic. When riding abreast, keep aware of traffic
behind and in front, and go single file whenever necessary to maintain vehicular flow.
- echelon riding - a practice where in a side-wind riders pace to the left of the bicycle in front.
This brings each bike in the line further into the lane. Keep pace lines short in this situation.
- Double pace lines - where cyclists ride two abreast in a pace line. Since there is no way to move
into single file, it is not a viable riding style for TOMRV.
- Long pace lines where slower cyclists are continuously being passed. Although no individual rider
is impeding traffic for long, the line as a whole does. Break long lines into short ones.
These riding practices come from a belief in the cyclists that because of the tour,
they have extra privledges on the road. This is most emphatically not the case.
We share the roads with all users as a common.
State laws allow cyclists to share the roads with the requirement that they
ride toward the right and don't unduly impede traffic. The sheriffs in each county regulate
this use. If they decide we cannot operate a safe tour, they can stop the tour for good.