Monday, July 30, 2007

RAGBRAI XXXV - Spencer to Humboldt - Day 2

July 23rd, Spencer to Humboldt - 77 miles, 1494 feet of climb. Went through Spencer, Dickens, Gillett Grove, Webb, Marathon, Albert City, Laurens, Havelock, Rolfe, Bradgate, Rutland and Humboldt.

Once again...more pancakes. This time at the Dickens fire station pancake breakfast near a cornfield. The fire fighters were up at 2 a.m. stoking wood fires outside to cook what seemed to be fresh pork sausage. Too spicy for John - but I thought it was tasty.

This is Chris Caking in action...lots of rows of white dough. Lots of rows of golden goodness.

In the truck on the right one of the older fire fighters kept repeating over the loudspeaker, pancakes $5, all you can eat, pancakes, sausage, $5, all you can eat. A n amused group of bikers gathered nearby and would yell between his announcements, "How much?" and "What are you selling?" and "What's it cost?" and "Does it come with sausage?" It went on for the whole time we were there. Very funny.

Corn stalks and bikes. Usually seeing a bike and no biker near corn stalks meant they were taking a leak somewhere in the foilage, but in this case it was just breakfast. If you took a leak, it seemed to be customary to grab a corn leaf and tuck it in your helmet, so people knew you were one of the club. Sort of like a sign that said, "I took a leak/dump today in a semi-public place." Mostly, it gave you an idea of who you didn't want to shake hands with - I can think of other places that might come in use.

Here's some random footage from Webb, Iowa. If you see tractors, they're usually there because there's a cable strung between them over which riders can hang their handlebars, providing maximum bike parking. This also gives you an idea of how crowded towns could be, particularly in relation to the porta potties.

There's always the possibility of doing enough mileage one day during RAGBRAI to finish a century. That's one of my goals this year - but John and I were running slow, so I didn't do it. I figured I want to go to Madison anyway, so it's covered. But the extra 23 mile loop was near Marathon this year (you get a patch for completion) and the guy in Marathon kept pointing backward to tell us where the loop was - I was sort of offended he didn't just assume we'd already done it. On a positive note - if you did the loop, for at least 10 miles you probably had the wind at your back.

At about 30 miles, I lost my second spoke. You can't ride RAGBRAI on a bike stand.

The town of Laurens went all out. Their mayor seems to be Hawaiian or something, so they had a Hawaiian theme with a volcano in the center of town and pictures with the mayor and a woman in Hawaiian garb, and lots of young women giving out leis as you rolled into town. But the most impressive thing wasn't the volcano, it was the corn silo that absolutely dwarfed everything else in town. The thing looked like they'd chopped off the bottom half of a silvery IDS and dropped into some backwoods berg. It was sort of like what you expect it will look like when aliens land in massive ships - it was dominating.

Many of the towns, Laurens included, had free water - usually pretty good, just watch out for the Iowa well water, that can taste a little rusty - and ran hoses to the end of PVC with holes drilled in it so a bevy of riders could rehydrate at once. Sometimes the holes were a good size and you could fill up quick. Other times they'd been drilled with a 1/32" drill bit and it took ten minutes to fill a water bottle you drained in ten seconds before refilling.

Bonus trivia. Alvin Straight, of The Straight Story, drove his tractor from Laurens to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin. Here's the tractor. Doubly weird because Kyle and I had been talking about the straight story just days before I left on RAGBRAI.

And I thought the no bikes/no bicycling signs were hilarious when I could find them. I really wanted a cop to just start handing out tickets to see if people would freak out.

When we got to Humboldt, we were going to stay with my ex-boss' mother who lived there, but we pulled in closer to 5:00 p.m. and the camping spots near the baggage truck were full, and the next closest spots had been given to RV's, leaving the next closest spots about a half mile to mile away. Way too far to hall your luggage. So John walked across the street and asked the Tulls (or Talls, hard to tell) if we could camp in their yard. I asked them if they knew Perry, my boss' father in law, and they did.

When our tents were set up, we showered in a big shed, dryed off with the paper towels they gave us, and then went to dinner at the United Methodist Church, where I also asked after my ex-boss' father in law. But he had left for the evening. Although one lady professed to have a daughter who lived in Rosemount whose daughter (her granddaughter) wore a Humboldt shirt to school and bumped into my ex-boss' daughter. Found a degree of separation - mission accomplished!

We had to listen to the quartet Godz Boyz before our dinner, but it was so pumped full of a/c in the pews that it didn't matter. We were fortunate to pull in when we did, because were in the upper 500s for being served and food ran out at 600. Once more - if you attend a church feed, get there early.

Humboldt was probably the worst place to camp during all of RAGBRAI. Because of the lack of close camping spots. Because of the HORRIBLE cover band 12 blocks away that cranked up the beginning of every song until it sounded like it was in your tent, because of the drunk RAGBRAI people laughing and screaming at 2:00 a.m., because of the motorcycles going around the police barricades and revving down the streets next to the tents (we were on the road), because of the crabby bus driver who wouldn't pick anyone up because she hadn't peed since noon (ok, that was actually funny, and she took us on a mostly empty bus to the Hyvee), and because some jerkwad actually stole one of my tent pegs, presumably having misplaced their own.

But the entertainment cheered me up. These two videos explain why my ex-boss is so keen on Erik's band. This, and very bad cover bands, are what pass for entertainment in her home town. There's not really any place to go but up. Almost...I have another video for you later in the week. By the way ex-boss, I saw the Hardee's where you and your husband worked in high school - nice. I hope it looked classier then.

Now, just listen to the soothing sounds of Humboldt Hank (I'm not sure if that's his name...but it sounds nice)

And then do the Humboldt Polka!

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