Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Up at the usual time (5am). Very long porta potty lines today. We got our water bottles filled last night at the Red Cross tent - not sure where we would have found water otherwise. Lots of dew on the tent and everything is wet. Went by the church to get a daylight photo - "info people" said it is a special church. On the road, we have a lot of energy. Phil and cousin Dick will meet us at the end. There is a great set of mainly downhill rolling hills for 10-15 miles. We stop for rolls and bananas and continue on another 5-10 miles. I really want pancakes - Bill isn't so sure as the line is large, but it moves quickly and we are on our way. Much more hilly today, including some up hills that are challenging. Bill hangs right in there. The line for food is really long in the next town and we are now glad for the pancakes. We get smoothies and sit next to our old friend, Cindy. A nurse next to me in line recommends Lantispetic for our rears. I will try it as mine is very sore. We continue on and in the last town stop. Apparently we are in a line that is supposed to be only food, nonetheless we get their last sandwiches, last candy bar and last of their ketchup. We leave quickly to find the next corn field as the porta potty lines are too long. I try Phil on my cell a couple of times on the road with no success, but we connected in the previous town and they know we are close. The big hill that Bill has looked forward to from the beginning looms ahead. He hits 42mph and I 40mph (had to hit the brakes as someone was in front of me). It is over too soon and Bill wishes there was more. We enter town and there is quite a traffic jam. Everything is stopped for 100+ Air Force riders. I didn't know there were that many as they were always in small groups. The bikes keep going. We finally get to the last street and as we start down the ramp to the Mississippi River, Phil and Dick spot us and say hi. I call to Bill and we all hug. I give them my camera as we get in line and get our photos taken dipping our front wheel in the river. We then move quickly to find our charter, break down our bikes and ship them UPS. I explain to Phil and Dick that the lines will only get longer - but strangely today they don't. Phil & Dick help us pack the bikes, we then ship them (no line!) and grab a hot dog and sit on the river bank to watch others do the same. Sara calls, we take pictures, and Dick walks 6 blocks to bring in his car. We load our bags and head for Washington and the family reunion. The ride is over and we did it!


For some reason I was tired today. We got a late start as we needed to dry the tent from the night before and hadn't been able to get everything ready before the morning. We were a few miles outside of town and then needed to stop to get Bill's brake adjusted. Finally on the road it tried to rain a little but never did. The cloud cover was nice, but we had more wind than we had the previous days. There was a stretch of several miles of headwind where I finally told Bill I needed a break - he then moved in from of me and I drafted the next couple of miles. It really helped. We finally had a pork chop with Mr. Pork Chop - turns out the line was very long - even by RAGBRAI standards - because it was his last day. He is retiring after about 30 years and turning it over to his kids. Never quite hit the food lines right and the day seemed to drag on a little. Started hitting hills toward the end. We are camped in the campground right next to the group's personal masseuse (didn't know we had one). I treated myself to a 20' massage after we got setup and showered. Bill sleep for awhile - spaghetti dinner at the church before the line got too long (we have learned what they will learn - that the line will never end - they will just run out of spaghetti), walked around town, listened to the free concert and now getting ready for our last night. As Bill said "it is with mixed emtions that we end this trip tomorrow."


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

RAGBRAI Days 2 & 3

Day 2

Started out rough with the wind, but then got much better. We got away from the wind, it stayed cool, and there were more towns. We also changed our strategy to slow down, stop in all the towns, and eat and drink regularly. I was really on Billy to drink more - which he did and it all helped. It is amazing how the towns really turn out for these events. Music, water spickets for cooling off and loading up, tons of different vendors selling food and sometimes even entertainment. It is really fun to come into town and often they are sitting out in the yard waving and clapping and cheering for us. Very cool. Each town has a different theme for the event so you never know what you will see. Had spaghetti dinner and met another dad and 15 year old boy from Wisconsin who loves soccer. Haven't seen them again unfortunately. Tonight we stayed at the home of one of the doctors in Humboldt instead of in the campground - we and 8 other riders. Bill and I and 2 others slept on the floor in the living room - the other 2 were real characters. A blind guy and his partner. They got in late because there luggage was lost and their tandem bike broke down. The others riders were also interesting. Our hostess was really wonderful, had snacks out when we arrived, ordered pizza for everyone. She even had her 15 year old son hang around for Billy. They didn't really hit it off, but it was a nice gesture.

We did about 80 miles today and they say if you can do the first 2 days, you can do it all. We feel pretty good, but tired.

Stats: 80 miles - 12.9 mph - 71 avg cadence - 6:15 time

Day 3

Great day. Good weather, cool well into the day and very flat. Had breakfast #1 in Thor, Iowa. Very small town. It sounded familiar to me and I finally remembered why. My father's first wife was from there. We really moved today and gained even more confidence. Billy got to draft behind 4 of Lance's team (LiveSTRONG) and he was totally pumped. He knew they were just cruising, but he loved the experience. The girl next to him (they were in 2 lines) had done it the day before and Lance was in the line then. I believe we saw Lance pass us in the afternoon when we were coming out of the corn field from a bathroom stop. They were flying. Enjoyable afternoon listening to concerts and watching school dancers perform in Humboldt. I couldn't wake Billy up for dinner so brought him something back. They ran out of the pasta dinners so I had to take the shuttle downtown to find something. The band played too loud and too late and we were too close to the road. It kep me up late last night. Also, the porta potties were way too far away and the water sources too few. I think we overwhelmed the community, but they really tried.

Stats: 73 miles - 14 mph - 71 avg. cadence - 5:15 time


RAGBRAI = Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. I decided to do this 477 mile trip across the state of my origin with my 15 year old son. I declared it a success before we even left as the process of training, and doing so with Billy, made it so. The following several posts are a diary of our trip.

Day 1

Well, it was quite a day. I now know what a drop of water flowing to the ocean feels like. You join a few people, then a few more join you, then even more and finally you feel like part of a river flowing. The towns and people are very friendly. People really go all out - selling everything to eat and drink. Had a head wind more than we might like and it got hot by late morning. Decision to not put on sun screen was a mistake. Biggest problem was Bill almost seemed to get de-hydrated. At one point he started weaving and was looking down - we stopped, rested, drank, etc. He was very tired. Now I feel tired and wonder how I can do this 6 more days. We'll see tomorrow.

It is very hot and we just want to stay in the community center to stay cool. Bill is looking forward to meeting Lance Armstrong at the session he is doing with the kids tonight. Our tour operator could do a better job communicating. Looks like we should have brought a sun shower to take advantage of his showers. - oh well. Onward and onward.

Stats: 79 miles - 13.6 mph - 71 avg. cadence - 5:48 time