Sunday, August 02, 2009

RAGBRAI Day 1: Council Bluffs to Red Oak (52.6 miles, 3684 feet of climb)

To start off each day, I'll link out to my sister and the Flickr Set, in case there's something you just want to peruse or read another viewpoint, or entirely skip my commentary. I've been known to be long winded.
We headed down to Council Bluffs on Saturday, July 18. My wife took Eryn [not riding] and I down in the Focus, while the rest of my family (Dad [riding], sister [riding], brother in law [riding], mother [RV, not riding], nieces [2, RV, not riding]) trailed along in the RV. There was a huge traffic jam outside Council Bluffs, primarily from road construction, which seems like a bad idea if you're routing RAGBRAI traffic through that stretch. The RV got a flat in the middle of the jam, which was bad, but they still got to Council Bluffs about the same time as we did as we got lost trying to find the overnight location.

Most of the first night was spent frantically trying to figure out where to start the ride the next morning. No one at our overnight (a church) seemed to know. But we called back to Minnesota for some guidance and consulted a few maps and came up with what was the most likely route, although it put us like 4-5 miles from the starting point. Day one we'd be adding ten percent to the route. Fortunately, that part was down hill and flat.

The route itself was not flat. but because it was short(ish) it didn't feel so bad. I hadn't trained particularly well (one 50 mile ride and two 10 mile rides in three weeks, although I focused on hills), so I could feel the effort. As a point of inspiration for others, however, if you're in ok shape, even at age 40, you can limp through a RAGBRAI with minimal training up front, even the 6th hilliest one ever.

I'd like to note that at least four different times during this day I said to myself, "That's the biggest hill I've climbed so far this year."

Your typical meeting stop, smoky with all the grilled pork being cooked for sale.

That was indeed a thong stand in the background. There were a number of individuals wearing thongs on the ride. I think one team had a thong Tuesday or thong Thursday. Thongs were not worn by themselves, but were sported on the outside of bicycling shorts. A bold fashion statement.

Very early on, near Mineola, a woman bicycled past me wearing a pair of bicycling shorts that said As Kyle couldn't go on RAGBRAI because of his nerve-damaged arm, I took comfort in the fact that he had supporters on the ride trying to snare bicyclists for him to date. I think the choice to play both sides of the fence was bold and opens up a lot of opportunities that weren't there before. I was also treated to a very large woman literally butt dancing on her bicycle to some song where 95% of the lyrics were "caress me" and another getting pumped up to Nickleback's "Something in Your Mouth". Both of these were better than the disappointment that Team Hooters was composed of nothing but men.

My brother in law walking his bike through the congestion inherent in each town. That's a banana bicycle in the background. The guy decorated his recumbant and himself as a banana and attached some very loud speakers. He received copious amounts of attention everywhere he went.

There is no way whatsoever I could have pulled Eryn along on a tagalong. Our 35.4 mile ride yesterday where I barely made it up the Pilot Knob and Cliff hill is proof. She had to help push me up the damn thing. So I don't pretend to understand how you can ride a tandem with one kid while pulling another. There were plenty of kids on the ride, many of them in the 10-12 year old range. One day I rode next to a dad/daughter combo where the dad was patient enough to listen to listen to Disney and boy band music the entire ride. Every time I passed them O-Town (they said they were O-Town in the song, and they were back. Ottumwa, Iowa, also referred to itself as O-Town, but I think they were unrelated) was on or Hannah Montana. I'm not sure I could do 450 miles of Hannah Montana.

My sister shows up her muscle while my Dad rides nearby. He made it through five days of the ride. At the end of day 5 he had a gigantic gum infection that required three holes to be drilled in his teeth/gums (post RAGBRAI) and a possibility of two root canals. He looked like an infected hamster. But he made it through most of the hilly stuff and his last day on the bike was solid, although wet.

A close up of John looking happy on his bicycle. Later he would be grimacing.

My sister taking a nap. She had children to attend to at night. Eryn just slept through everything. I got plenty of sleep. I think I slept better in the cool nights in the tent than I do in my bed at home.

John drinking water. He should have done more of this.

Eryn and John waiting for the bus at Red Oak. Their system wasn't very efficient, so we stood on the corner for a long time. I concerned myself with staying out of the sun as I'd had more than enough that day. 8-10 hours in the sun on a bicycle turns you into a piece of human toast.

A treat. Local entertainment. We assumed this was the mayor, because it was funnier to think of the mayor coming out to sing karaoke for a few hours.


Anonymous said...

I like "Eryn just slept through everything." Was LissyJo annoyed at that ability? -PTW

Scooter said...

Not annoyed. But she seemed very surprised and a bit jealous.