We set off with lots of optimism after yesterday's very impressive ride. The morning was cool again, although this time without the dense fog from yesterday. Every downhill chilled me and I looked forward to being warmed up with the sun fully risen. We knew that our legs would be sluggish as they always are first thing, but soon enough we were flying up hills just as we had yesterday.
Our good fortune of having a safe shoulder continued into Ottumwa. This city is nicknamed "The City of Bridges" due to its many crossings of the Des Moines River. We passed a pretty park and campground that was just out of our reach last night (would have been another 20 miles) and were soon crossing the Des Moines River. After our crossing we saw our first "Share the Road" bicycling sign. It was reassuring to see that other cyclists also ride on Highway 34, which at time definitely feels like the last thing we should do on it.
Leaving Ottumwa, Highway 34 became a true highway. Now a divided four lane highway, our shoulder once again became less than ideal. For the rest of the day, the majority of the shoulder would consist of 2.5 feet of concrete with periodic rumble strips ruining our smooth riding. Despite the bigger riding surface, the traffic was still light on this stretch of road and we were probably the safest that we have been in all of Iowa. Still flying along the Iowa countryside we reached Fairfield for our daily Taco John's breakfast.
We set off for another 20+ mile stretch to our next rest stop in Mount Pleasant. As is becoming routine in Iowa, we made great time. There were points today where we were topping 20/21mph as we pointed uphill. We had quite a climb into Mount Pleasant, but after a snack and some POWERade, we were ready to keep biking.
After Mount Pleasant, we passed through another Connecticut town, New London. Getting to Danville it was time to arrange our lodging. Hotels were busy overall but we found a good deal at a motel that we thought would be acceptable. With the motel refusing to hold a room, we had to hustle the last 14 miles down to Burlington. The motel room was horrible, but did lack a deadbolt despite having an interesting selection of neighbors. This just gave us one more potential use for our bear spray.
On the way to dinner, Subway, we descended the steepest hill we've seen this trip. It had to be about 12% grade. Unsurprisingly, we chose a different route back to the motel after we ate.