Sunday, August 05, 2007

RAGBRAI Days 4 & 5

Day 4

A very good day. Excellent weather and we hit a rhythm and cruised. The last 20 miles were a little hard as it got both hilly and hot. But we were coming into a city with a university (Cedar Falls, U.of N. Iowa) and the signage (like Burma shave) was amusing and clever. Several interesting towns, spoke with several people on the road and at our stops, including a guy who was just "hitching" a ride on RAGBRAI for 3 days. The bikes are really amazing. You see everything. Plenty of regular rode bikes, some mt. and hybrid and then the parade begins: tandems, triple, fourples (for a family of 4 with 2 little kids), recumbents, tandem recumbents, bikes decorated with all kinds of themes, including cows, bananas, 1900 era boxers, etc. The people are often equally dressed up costumes, including several teams that dress up: the brides, achin' knees, ibuprofen, the day drinkers, etc. Quite a show and it was a good day to see it all. We came into Cedar Falls, checked into a dorm, did email, and called cousin Clare Hein. He got us and then we showered and had a great dinner at his house (pork roast, Italian dipping bread, cole slaw, and corn on the cob). We then went to the Unidome and heard Lance speak. Then back to the dorm for sleep. It was not air conditioned and it was very hot.
There is a sense of being in a media event throughout this ride. The Lance Armstrong factor takes it to the next level. Billy was interviewed on channel 7 on day 2 in Clarion because he was wearing his LiveSTRONG jersey. They asked him why he was wearing it and if he had even known someone lost to cancer. In main towns there is often a tv van and crew and the Register sometimes has a news van. However, coming into Cedar Falls was another level. They were expecting Lance (who typically watches the tour and leaves around 11 - so we only potentially see him on tour rest days). I think he was not far behind us today. There were news helicopters overhead as we came in, and msnbc had an outdoor interview setup between Lance and (I forget - the guy who does Hardball?). We also picked up in the paper about Edwards riding with Lance - which happened in a town we had already been through. To add to this, the Iowa National Guard had a unit returning this day from 2 years in Iraq. The Air Force did a low jet flyover to salute them. Very busy media day.

Stats: 71 miles - 13.7 mph - 71 cadence - 5:00 time

Day 5

We rode out and I think we picked up several thousand day riders and hitchers (the paper latter said the total was probably 18-23,000). It was very crowded. We stopped and got air in our tires on the way out. We ate very well today: Subway sandwich from the night before in our room, then stopped at Mr. Pancake Man for pancakes and sauage, then Pastafari for their great pesto. We were good till the end except for snacks and pulled into Independence. The food is interesting. On the road there are 3 sort of places: the towns which have everything from their regular restaurants to tons of vendors, then there are the ad hoc roadside coffee stands, and finally a number of vendors that are in similar points each day (lunch, breakfast, etc.). Those include Mr. Pork Chop, Pastafari, Beekman's Ice Cream (made on the spot), Farm Brother Burritos, Little Farm Fair Trade Coffee, Mama Raphael's, etc. Fun and you get to know them. We found out after arriving in town that our camping was several miles outside of town at the mental health institute. We weren't disappointed when we got there, however, It was great. Under the trees in the shade by ourselves with a bathroom. We went to the canteen for the institute and had great Philly cheesesteake sandwiches and sundaes. A little nap in the camp and walked to a great restaurant for dinner. When we came out there was a thunder storm and we got a little wet walking back. Went right to bed with the sound of rain, lightning and thunder, but we stayed dry.

Stats: 68 miles - 14.2 mph - 69 avg. cadence - 4:45 time


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