Sunday, August 02, 2009

RAGBRAI: Pie Edition

My sister has already covered quite a bit of RAGBRAI if you're too anxious to wait for my write up. But I'm going to make an effort to get a chunk of it blogged today.

Rather than start with day 1, day 2, day 3, I'm going to get the bulk of my photos out here in a single post: the pie post. You see, there's really only a few ways I'd go on RAGBRAI again - I have other places I'd like to bike instead - and that's a.) if my pie-loving boss-of-bosses asked me to go or b.) if Olivia Munn decided to go. I've been lobbying her and her co-host Kevin Pereira to attend because there's bike p0rn to be covered for a week. Because contrary to belief, bicycle technology is not static. Because there are thousands and thousands of eccentric people to interview for a week. Because I doubt anyone has connected Iowa to a tech show yet, unless it has to do with farming (see...farming tech as well). Because Olivia probably looks good in bike shorts (and Kevin for the ladies). Because Olivia loves pie.

And there's so much pie. There's pie oozing in the streets, directly out of the veins of little old church ladies and Amish folk. During RAGBRAI, Iowa bleeds pie, necessitating an ice cream drip. Fruit pie: raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, gooseberry, rhubarb, apple, peach, half a dozen other fruits, and then mix and match randomly. Bumble pie, which the Amish fed me in 2007, is a mix of pretty much everything (and not wikiable - so if you're feeling motivated, they could use an entry). So here is my pie journal, designed to attract Olivia's attention. If the idea of pie appeals to her, but riding 452+ miles does not, I suggest a Burley pulled by three interns. That would be something new at RAGBRAI.

Strawberry pie held by bike glove. A very subtle way to get bicycling into the picture. This was not my favorite piece of strawberry pie. I prefer less gooey pies with a lower sugar concentration. I should stress that the pie selection you're seeing is just a fraction of what I actually consumed during RAGBRAI. Which leads to the question, is this an eating event or bicycling event? It is both! And despite the vast amounts of pie consumed, I still lost almost two belt notches.

Packaged pie. I must have gone through more than a dozen plastic forks. If I go again, I may bring a metal fork in my pack.

Some people don't even sit down to eat pie. Or eat so much pie that for every bite that goes in, a bite has to come out, so they prepare by eating in a squatting position. There's something very RAGBRAI about grabbing a piece of pie and just heading off to a corner to quickly consume it.

For my part, I sit. This is Nodaway, Iowa, and I had blueberry pie here. Much of RAGBRAI can be remembered in terms of which pie you had in which town.

My blueberry pie, with my father in the background eating pie. He's not supposed to eat pie, but he gets a break when he's riding the road every day. The problem is he resorts to eating only pie and no real food and that won't get you through the day.

It would probably be amusing to make an animated gif of someone in the act of eating a few dozen pieces of pie on RAGBRAI. There's no shortage of shots.

It always seems as though the Methodists and the Baptists are big pie makers. There are hundreds of these signs along the road. I'm not sure why the pie on this sign looks sort of like a smelly clam, but it convinced me to find pie in Corning.

Church Ladies' Pies. Unintentionally funny.

There's more on this table than just pie, but you can see the variety of pies you have to choose from, and if you get sick of pie, there are many pie-like things to indulge your sweet tooth, all of them made by locals.

Rhubarb pie. Done correctly with a bit of green rhubarb to bitter it up, but it wasn't my favorite piece of pie. Rhubarb is one of those pies where I break my too much sugar rule. I like it a little sweeter so it has a tang on the back end of the taste instead of a crunch.

Looks good though, doesn't it?

Pie trivia! You can learn about pie while you bike. It's not just calories, it's education!

A list of possible pies. Pineapple. Raisin. Cherry. I missed quite a few earlier.

OMFG! This piece of blackberry pie was to kill for. Every RAGBRAI is a search for that piece of pie that is beyond all others. Last RAGBRAI it was from a farm lady selling them out of her front yard near I35. This time it was this piece of Blackberry Pie. I capitalize, because it was the form of blackberry pie. The universal constant. The form in the cave to which Plato referred, wherein all other pies are a reflection of the universal idea of blackberry pie. Blackberry pie can be difficult to find, because it disappears quickly. This piece explains why. I was drooling simultaneous to eating, which was no good, because I was concerned I'd overmoisten the perfectly flaky crust.

The blackberry was so good, I went back for raspberry. Two pieces of pie in 10 minutes. That was lunch. It wasn't as good as the blackberry, but it had an interesting cinnamon crust that was a surprising complement to the raspberries. The second best piece of pie I had on the ride.

Sometimes pie is delicious because you've been bicycling so hard that your body is craving the sugar to replenish your bloodstream. This was the case in Lockridge, Iowa, on the second to the last day of RAGBRAI, where the last 17 miles of our 81 mile day were a constant climb into the wind. By the time you got to Lockridge, where the air seemed rarefied, and you were sure you'd touch the faces of whatever deities you believed in, because they'd be hanging out eating church lady pie in some Olympian setting, you had very little energy left. That's where I had this gooseberry pie. Gooseberry is a tad bitter and it could have benefited from a scoop of ice cream, but the grapes were a sugary offset (know your pies, know how to complement them when faced with an ice cream's a good maxim for good living) and I was drinking so much water that it cut the bitter edge anyway.

Here it is again. Good looking piece of pie, eh?

Almost an identical shot to the one that graced our 2009 RAGBRAI Participant Guide. Some people take their pie eating much more seriously than I do. Mr. Pecan Pie Hunter was part of a team that wore pie hats, each of them touting a different flavor of pie for which they were searching.

Olivia? Are you convinced? Seven days of pie eating without any worries about it going from the lips to the hips (as long as you keep pedaling)? Tens of thousands of pieces of pie, only six to eight of any of them identical to their brethren and each lovingly hand-crafted by someone with decades of pie-making experience? The added benefit of actually feeling the pie coursing through your veins to replace the sugar you've lost that day? Mmm......

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