It's been almost a week, and I haven't yet written about my RAGBRAI trip. I had been thinking about writing a long post with lots of details, but I just can't find it in me. Instead, I'll post some pics and add a few comments. If you'd like to skip my ramblings and just see the slide show, click here
We started in Aredale and rode west to the overnight town of Hampton. The next two days took us from Hampton to Cedar Falls, and from Cedar Falls to Independence. Twenty miles the first day, and around 70 each of the next two, for a total of 162 miles.
Right off the bat, I'd like to say that the people on the ride were the best part. I had lots of impromptu conversations with those passing me or those I passed, since it was easy to ask a question about a rider's bike, or what the slogan on the team shirt meant, or where the next food stop would be. The best were those that were out of the ordinary. Roger said that his 16" wheeled bike was the smallest in the ride, and I never saw another that could challenge him. When I asked if I could take a picture, he said as long I as I took it while moving. I got the impression he was asked that a lot. The barefoot man was riding with a minimal amount of clothing. Ms. Sacramento felt that she should wear a tutu and her bra over her shirt (she was a hoot to talk with). And everybody wanted to know where we were from. I met a guy who grew up in Lafayette, and I saw the Purdue unicycle guy (who had his unicycle stolen last month and had to spend $900 to replace it). Plus, I talked to people from all over.
In addition to Roger's tiny bike, I saw all kinds of rides: Road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, comfort bikes, touring bikes, fixies, racing machines, cruisers, home made rigs, Franken-bikes (including a "tall" bike), recumbent bikes and trikes, tandems of all flavors, trailer bikes, hand powered bikes, kids' bikes, old bikes, new bikes, expensive bikes, cheap bikes, and even the unicycle from Purdue.
My sister and I were some of the few to actually carry our gear. Most only had a water bottle and maybe a small under seat bag to hold their money and ID. There were portage trucks that would carry tents and bags from one overnight town to the next. Also, many teams would have a camper, bus, or truck with a driver that would travel ahead and setup camp for the rest of the team. We got a lot of comments, especially because she was carrying two aluminum camp chairs along with the rest of her stuff. They weren't very heavy, but it looked like a big load.
There were a bunch of great small towns we road through, and they were all friendly and rolled out the red carpet for the riders. My favorite was the town that had all of the charities work together and split the take at the end, rather than competing for our food and drink dollars. The locals setup lawn chairs in their yards and watched the constant parade of cyclists go by. As we entered Independence, there were crowds cheering us on and spraying us with cold water. Each night featured food booths, a beer garden, and lots of entertainment. I patronized the food booths operated by local non-profits as a thank you for the great hospitality.
I spent a bunch of money on gas, bought a bunch of food and drinks in the towns and at the roadside stands, and had to get a new tent before I started. But, I think the biggest cost came when I waved at a passing truck and sent my wedding ring sailing into the air. I heard it hit the pavement a couple of times (ting! ting!), and then I never saw it again. My sister, along with a good Samaritan that stopped, searched the road, the gravel and the grass to no avail. It's probably embedded in the treads of the Tyson Chicken truck whose driver had honked his horn. I was pretty bummed about it, and I felt all of the stress that had finally left my body lunging back in.
It was then that we passed a rider who had caught her wheel in a crack in the road and had apparently gone down hard. There were plenty of people helping, and the rest of the riders were asked to keep moving. After that, I didn't feel like my life was so bad, especially compared to the rider carried off in the ambulance. I'll ask my insurance guy if the loss is covered, but I'm not holding out much hope. We'll go shopping for a new one this weekend.
As I mentioned above, I really felt all of my work stress go away for a couple of days during the ride. All I thought about was what was ahead, things already passed, and the neat people I had been meeting. Although, I did miss my family a bit. I'm sure that I'll do this ride, or something like it, again.
See a few more photos here