While visiting family in Center Point. Iowa, my wife and I had some time to take a one day loop ride to Harpers Ferry and back. Some of this route we rode was part of the Iowa Great River Roads National Scenic Byway, and the Driftless Area Scenic Byway.
The planned map and markup is below, along with the Google map of the ride here: https://goo.gl/maps/r46UHruZFmH2
I must be honest with you, riding a motorcycle in Iowa was tough. And is not something I’ll do again if I can avoid it. Most of the state of Iowa is agricultural. There are lots of pig farms, and the smell that goes with them, as well as acres and acres of feed fields of corn and bean. These crops are not as pleasing to look at as the fields compared to my Illinois run. The corn stalks are of varying sizes and shades of green that take away from the beauty, whereas the sweet corn fields in Illinois are much more consistent. Sounds extremely critical, but it’s a notable difference. However, the 1000s and 1000s of acres of them is quite impressive.
The roads in Iowa are made from sturdy cement to accommodate the wear and tear of tractor traffic and grain haulers. Not really designed for smooth riding a good motorcycle route calls for, and what a good asphalt road does. These roads are hard and bumpy, straight and flat, and heavily used by 18 wheelers hauling at great speeds. And there’s plenty of a variety of colored and moist flying insects, I can attest based on my messy greasy shield.
The scenic byways here are more intended for automobile adventure than for motorcycle, I suspect. Some portions of the scenic route led to gravel roads!
The marked-up map was the plan for the day. But we found ourselves on long detours due to road closures, that somehow didn’t get reported to Google.
We started a little early for a 3 hour ride to avoid getting caught in hot and humid weather that was forecast for the day. The high was 84. But with the humidity, it would feel more like 94. We ride a lot in the southwestern part of the country. 84 with high humidity is equivalent to 107 in the dry desert. This measurement is effectively the same in any of the mid-western states and southeastern states we’ve ridden.
We did enjoy the roads around Harpers Ferry and the Yellow River State Park. Stopped for a breakfast and coffee break in McGregor, at the Cafe McGregor. But these places are up against tough competition for wooing motorcyclists, I trust the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi is lots nicer.
Not directly related to this ride, but notable for motorcyclists traveling through Iowa, a stop in at the International Motorcycle Museum in Anomosa, Iowa (www.nationalmcmuseum.org) is worth it. This museum boasts having over 500 motorcycles on display, many models of Harley Davidson, India, BSA, Thor as well as Honda, Kawasaki and others. Too many to list. It was quite an enjoyable stop for us, motorcycle enthusiasts.