Tuesday, July 31, 2007

RAGBRAI XXXV - Cedar Falls to Independence - Day 5

July 26th, Cedar Falls to Independence - 62.9 miles, 1505 feet of climb. Went through Cedar Falls, Denver, Klinger, Dunkerton, Fairbank, Otterville and Independence.

This shall be referred to as THE DAY JOHN DITCHED ME! That's right. Left behind to rot without so much as a tube and tire wrenches, and he wouldn't answer his phone. I blew yet another spoke, but this time close enough to a town to double back a mile and a half to get it fixed. I told Dad to meet me in the next town, to which he agreed as he sped off. So when I reached the next town, he wasn't at the beginning of town. And he wasn't at the end of town. Then after another complete loop, he wasn't at the beginning or end again (I was worried he'd hidden in a porta potty). So I called. And called again. And his phone would pick up immediately because it was off. So finally I left him 2 or 3 grumpy messages and biked off toward the anchor town...where he was waiting for me. Grumble. I hate riding without a spare. In the end, it didn't matter, but that's for day 7.

There were some interesting people on the road. There were two young women in bikini tops pulling a dachshund in a burley. It doesn't get much more Freudian than that. It really struck me as something Tall Brad might appreciate, had they been kissing the wiener dog, and each other.

And there was once again a guy rolling along in his recumbent listening to Chicago 16 on his iPod speakers. How can you bike to Chicago 16? When I was fifteen or so, I had two girls give me copies of Chicago 16 for the same birthday. One was my girlfriend. I suspect the other wanted to be. But even so, I didn't load it up on my walkman (oh yeah, walkman - I had one, and it was sometimes strapped to the bike with speakers) and go tooling around Monti blaring it at the world. If I had, someone would have beat me up. Appropriate '80s biking music is Eye of the Tiger and Funkytown and Prince. Not the mellow sounds of, "It's hard to say I'm sorry...I just want you to know...after all that we've been through, I will make it up to you...I promise to..." It's just too hard to pedal while you're crying to breakup music.

And the jogger was out again. 62.9 miles of biking, and then she was out running for 2 hours after the ride. Crazy - short, deeply tan, hot-bodied, crazy woman. I can only assume there are many triathlons in her future.

We had a particularly unique shower experience. It was in the local carwash. They ran pvc tubing to the sprayers and hung dozens of yards of blue plastic tarp to make individual showers. There was a big tarp between the men's side and the women's side, and you could see the naked shapes drying off behind the tarp, like when George is watching the nurse give a sponge bath on Seinfeld. There were a few thirteen or fourteen year old boys in the showers trying desperately not to watch the silhouettes with their father standing there.

Here's a Dad with his kids in a burley. Twenty-four ice-cold kids with tab tops. He was pulling around a cooler full of beer in his Hooters-adorned trailer. It's good to be so focused on your priorities.

I saw a few Ron Paul signs before this one - but this is the first candidate sign I saw in someone's yard.

The Armstrong bus and Armstrong RV. Forward attack vehicles for the Livestrong Army, complete with generators, LP tank, and large screen t.v. Needless to say, I'm sure he slept more comfortably than I did.

I wanted to provide a picture of the baggage trailer, so you can see how much luggage is hauled from town to town. There's actually a little more than this hauled on the communal transportation, because the Army stepped in to haul some of it in their trucks when there was overflow.

When the truck gets to the other town, they sort of tip and and just dump the baggage out in rows. So don't take luggage you love, it's going to get scuffed. And don't strap a pump to the outside of your luggage that you love, it's going to get dents and scratches. And pack your breakables in the middle surrounded by the softer items like your sleeping bag and mattress and pillow, so they're safe. Safe from the scuffing and breaking - I still had things like the lining in the stuff bag for my sleeping bag and some gel tablets that were beginning to melt as the luggage sat in the heat. Here's a picture of the dumped luggage. Until 6:00 p.m. they put two people in charge of it who match the tag on your wrist to the tag on the luggage. After 6:00, it's out there sitting in the lot unclaimed. We saw a lot of that - it seemed to be people who were spending the night at someone's house, and would show up in the morning to load it back onto the semi.

Some people slept under the semi on cots. Instant shade. Probably much better than in the little ovens that were our tents.

I had to put up my picture of this guy - the one on the far right. He stopped our shuttle bus to ask the driver where Iowa Avenue was. The driver told him, and he said he didn't understand. A passenger explained. He said he didn't understand. Finally, one of the other passengers said, "Why don't you ask the guy on your team with the sign, Dumbass." Another passenger piped in with, "We were all thinking it."

I didn't take kindly to being ditched. They had to bury poor John in an unmarked grave in Independence, Iowa. This picture is for my grandmother as I'm sure it will get her all wound up - bad karma and all. It's not like it says his name.

I guess you don't want to be a skank on RAGBRAI. Someone will play tricks on your bike.

This bastard biked his sail bike all the way across the state. He wasn't a single day rider - he rode every day. And almost every day, the wind was going against the ride. That made it less of a sail and more of an anchor. Nevertheless, he pulled into town about the same time as us most days.

There's a big mill in Independence where unnameable hoary shamblers dwell, awaiting to arise and devour body and soul. What? That's the Necronomicon Mill, not the Wapsipinicon Mill? Sorry. But the rock you sit on to be the king of Scotland was there... Get it? Probably not funny if you don't know my name is Scott. Probably not funny if you do. The mill was open until a few years ago, grinding flour. Big place - there are some more pictures below.

Entertainment for the evening consisted of a guy riding around on a giant tricycle doing tricks. I wasn't there for the actual tricks - just the aftermath of when they carted him away and tossed him in the river, leaving behind his giant, silly trike.

The Mill from the other side of the falls. To the right you can see one of the shady campgrounds you'd have access to if you have private sag. Independence may be the town where one of the riders went for a swim in a tributary and got pulled down under the dam. Another rider, a gym teacher, pulled him out, and by the time the ride was over, he still hadn't come out of his coma. Someone noted that it's not a RAGBRAI until someone dies - which is horrible, but apparently almost a truism. He might have almost drown in Dyersville - I was never certain.

The grain bins inside the mill - just to give you an idea of how big they were - they go up from the second row of windows in the picture above to top floor.

And the mill from the front, as we were coming back from a run for beef jerky and milk. Mmm.... Their sign says they'll deliver anywhere in town.

For a while, in the evening, everyone was watching the weather on the high school television trying to see if it was going to pour 2" in an hour and wash us away, but by 9:00 the potential storm had been downgraded. My Dad wasn't watching the weather, because he was getting a massage from a sneaky masseuse who had snuck under the radar of approved masseuse-vendors to give him a leg massage. Creepy - but way less creepy than the old guys on the sides of the road in some towns who were offering roadside massages on what looked like massage tables they'd hauled out of the basement. You kept wondering why they had one, and if they were licensed, or if they just liked to rub firm, tense bikers.

The rain did show up, just not 2". And when it did, our waterproof Target tents sprung leaks. I stuffed all my equipment, including my sleeping bag, into the plastic bags and slept under my raincoat so the dripping water wouldn't wake me up - although the resulting sauna caused me to reposition now and then. My Dad, on the other hand, stayed in his sleeping bag and all the water leaking into the tent ran to where he was sleeping (because that's where there's a depression) and soaked into his sleeping bag. I tried to wake him up to tell him we should throw our ground cloths over the tent, but he wouldn't wake up, so I gave up.

Moral: make sure your waterproof tent is waterproof. I recommend setting it up in your back yard next to the wave sprinkler and then sealing anything that leaks with cheap nail polish. We're lucky it didn't rain for a few days in a row or we'd have been pretty miserable.


Anonymous said...

So was your tale of not taking the "luggage you love, it's going to get scuffed" your way of telling me you beat the crap out of my blue duffle bag? ;)

PTW said...

No way, eh. He bought himself a cheap Target duffle bag. It worked out better than his cheap Target tent.

Anonymous said...

Why the hell didn't he take the blue duffle bag? It made it through trips to Wyoming & back and Florida and back without mishap. I bet he wouldn't have gotten those many broken spokes if he had taken the blue duffle bag along.... ;)

Scooter said...

I commented in Day 7 that the wheels were super helpful. Yours didn't have wheels. I had a premonition.