Shirley Love knows Iowa. For most, that wouldn’t be too exciting. But the visiting assistant professor of finance loves it because her knowledge doesn’t come from a travel book or atlas, but rather from the seat of her 27-speed bicycle.
Last summer, she rode through the state as part of the “[Des Moines] Register Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa,” in which 11,000 riders pedal through cornfields and small towns, giving them a taste of Americana.
“I got a recipe for rhubarb pie, I saw the site of Jesse James’ first train robbery, and I rode an old-fashioned tricycle that was in a World’s Fair,” says Love. “I’m so sad that I had no idea this was going on, or I would have been doing this all my life.”
Love’s biggest thrill wasn’t the ride itself, but the people. “I met story after story,” she says. “By the time I’d finished talking with other riders, I felt like I left behind old friends. I met people from all 50 states. I can’t wait to send Christmas cards.”