(Blogger getting on) I really don't know how I went through all of my cycling life without hearing about this ride till last year when I dad did it. Ever since he told me about it I was all in and we made plans on attending this years event.
(Rough Grammer and Spelling Ahead) For those that don't know it is a 7 day ride across Iowa with mileage each day ranging from 50-100 (if you don't add extra). There are 8,500 registered riders and I imagine a few thousand that aren't that ride each day to a new town that is turned into a big outdoor festival including an expo, food vendors, and concerts. FYI for those that don't know RAGBRAI stands for Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.
So my dad drove down to my place and we loaded up his truck (picture left) and headed to Iowa. We would meet others on the east side of the state before dropping our stuff off with a charter group and hopping on a bus to the west side. I knew it was a 7 day bike trip across Iowa, but didn't realize how big of a state it was till it took 8hrs on the bus to get to the other side. (picture right) That was rather unpleasant.
I could drag this blog on by describing each day, but most of it would be redundant and most of it is now a blur. RAGBAI is not a race, but by the second day I was fairly certain most people race to leave and be the first on the bike. I couldn't figure out if it was either to avoid the traffic full roads of riders, to show you didn't need sleep, or try to be the first at the finish. I heard of riders starting by 4am and by 5am it was hard to sleep as most were up and tearing camp down.
(Slowing)This picture came from the first day. If I only knew getting up 5 minutes before 6 am was actually over sleeping.(Picture left) (Hole in blog)
It's not very often that I wake up and the first thing I put on is my riding clothes, but during RAGBRAI that is what you do. As soon as camp was taking down (maybe 15 minutes) then it would be time for breakfast. This was from the first day and other then 6 days later would be the only time we actually ate before we rode. (Picture left)
There really isn't any reason to eat at camp before you ride because as soon as you get a mile or two down the road their are vendors selling all sorts of food. The best deal I found was the all you can eat pancakes and sausage for $5. With so many riders doing the same thing it made me always want to go a few more miles to get out of the masses before I stopped for breakfast. I figured every time I passed a vendor or a whole town was about 500+ less people I'd have to pass later. This led to very light and quick breakfast. Here I am a mile into the ride and like most days the road is jammed. (Picture right) Check out the length of my shadow.(Picture left) You know the sun must be low and it's not low because it's going down, it's because it's just coming up. Just another early morning on RAGBRAI
Eventually things would clear as most were going slower, starting later, eating, or drinking. On the shortest day of RAGBRAI I decided I'd take an easy day ride with my dad and Will and take in the full RAGBRAI experience. I think a lot people thought of doing the same thing and was on the same time schedule as the roads were clogged to walking in some places.(Picture right) Although not uncommon for some of the early towns on RAGBRAI. (Joke ahead) Either would be walking into a bar around 9am to find it full like it was on this day. (Picture left)
So most days I would ride at my pace and arrive to the finish town pretty early. Most of the time around 10am or earlier. I would usually then add on some extra miles to take up some time as our gear hadn't arrived to the next camp site yet. Eventually it would show up, get unloaded from the truck and I would set up our tent and wait for my dad and Will to arrive. The good thing about arriving early was being able to pick out the nicer areas and most importantly the shaded areas. (Picture left)
Once they arrived we would have drinks and then figure out how to get cleaned up. You could either pay $5 for a shower, which is basically the going rate for everything on RAGBRAI or you could find an alternative. Alternatives included the mucky bottom lake, the nibbling minnows river and the well. (Joke Back) (Picture right)I tell you what though all those choses sure in the hell beat out standing in the old man naked lines for the showers in the community centers.
Then we would go into town and find something to eat for lunch and Will would find is next demo bike for the day. You see Will rode a nice touring bike out from Oregon including fatter tires and racks and all and wanted something a bit lighter and faster. Don't be impressed that he rode from Oregon as the first 3 people he met in the starting town the day before the ride started did the same thing, they all just took different routes.
Eventually we would need a break from all the sweating and head out to dinner. Most churches in town offered up a hot dinner and more importantly a break from the heat with some air conditioning. Once again it was all about timing to minimize the wait time, and of course to get in before the food would be sold out. Here we arrived to this church at 4:45 and waiting in line for a while before entering the church to only have to wait in the pews which served as a second line.(Picture right) Each row would be let up as roomed allowed. By the time our turn was up the pews were all filled up and the line out the door was around the block.
Then it would be back to camp and some more beverage time. Naps would have been great or going to bed early would have been nice, but with the heat it was practically impossible to get into the tent before the sun went down. Even then it was quite uncomfortable for all but the last two nights.
Even though RAGBRAI is not a race I am pretty sure that I won. How do I figure? Do you see anyone else from the ride posing with a trophy? (Picture right) (Blogger off)
What's with all the parentheses? Well just like everyone does on RAGBRAI I wanted to give you all a warning for everything. (STOPPING)