Wednesday, July 31, 2013

RAGBRAI XLI 2013 -Des Moines to Knoxville, 49.9 miles and 2,920 feet of climb

Wednesday.  Des Moines to Adelphi to Runnells to Monroe to Knoxville.

The ride had a beautiful start, routing past the Capitol.  The building is enormous and beautiful.  It certainly seems to outsize our St. Paul version.

I like this picture.  I thought about photoshopping the cyclist onto the pillar where the two men on horses are hanging out, but it looks good as is.

I didn't take pictures, but after Capitol hill the ride meandered through the state fair grounds.  The food stands were open for breakfast and although they weren't running when we went through, the skycars/gondalas opened for rides later.  We didn't eat at t he fairgrounds.  To me, it conjured the idea of eating cheese curds and corn dogs for breakfast.

Instead, we ate in Runnells.  Adam found the equivalent of a McMuffin down the street, and I stopped at the church for a Christmas breakfast of biscuits and gravy.  The whole of Runnells was done up with a Christmas theme and Santa Claus - a living one, not an animatronic sort - sang me a carol as we rolled into town.

When you run out of Christmas ornaments, improvise.  In this case, a festively decorated banana tree.

Here's the historical society.  I couldn't quite figure out why the LDS no longer had their church.  It seemed like it probably had something to do with the Mormon Trail (alt link to a free online book at the National Park Service), but it wasn't obvious.  Google street view for the Mormon Church in Runnells shows the historical society, so it's not like it just moved down the street.

I liked the local color on their timeline which included phrases like "torned down".  Very rural Iowa and Minnesota.

Cyclists and the back side of the historical society.  An old townsguy told Adam we could get water if we just walked around to the door on the back.  We walked in and I tried the second door and it wouldn't open.  So I went up here near the tractor to the water fountain and Adam went to tell the old guy.  He led Adam to the back door at a glacial pace, telling him there was no way the door was locked, and then simply opened it with a some sort of magical old guy wrist action.


Rhubarb Strawberry ala mode.  A very good piece of pie even with the flatter crust instead of the flakey crust.

On Wednesday they routed us over the river.  We were required to stay on the right to avoid the separation gaps and told, "Do not stop!"  There were three cops there to ensure we kept moving.  Halfway across there were two cyclists pressed up against the side replacing a flat tire, so there were exceptions to the rule.

Live motion river action.

In Knoxville we ate at the church.  I'm not sure whether to title this picture, "Go home bench.  You're not a gate.  You're drunk."  or "Bench, stop hanging out in Gate's friend zone.  She's making you carry her saying while she hooks up with Jesus."  In the end, it's a mean trick by Jesus and/or the bench.  There's literally no way to be saved in this context.

Although I don't drink and bike, or even drink at the end of a bike day or before a bike day, drinking is a big part of RAGBRAI for some people.  You can get an idea of how much alcohol is expected to be consumed by counting the trash cans in the beer garden.  Unlike previous years, this year there were a few microbreweries selling beer on the side of the ride and even a few stands for Templeton Rye.

The advantage of having a bus.  Portatoilets and shade.

Team Mayhem.  It seemed to have a number of Minnesotans on the team.

This guy rode his Fat Tire facsimile all the way across Iowa.  Looked like a lot of work and it made a lot of creaky/squeaky noise.

Keep Calm and Chive On!  These were not the drunk guys.  Or at least not the same drunk guys we encountered yelling for Heather in Des Moines.

The Cutters bus.  That's a good name for a team, ala Breaking Away.

By the way, this was our entry into Knoxville.  Definitely different than our entrance anywhere else.

A day four crowd.

Back to Knoxville.  If you can't see it accurately, go to the very large version of this photo and check out that charging station for the team next to the Budget truck.  I'm surprised it doesn't just explode or melt.

Bikes, bikes, bikes in our sleeping field.

This guy, who Adam called Pinky, set up next to him with the exact same tent.  Adam asked him if he had custom poles and he said yes, he had indeed replaced them, because the poles that came with the tent were total crap and constantly broke.  You can see the dent from Adam's broken pole in the picture.  That's a good picture of our luggage semi behind Adam.  From where we were camped we could enjoy the nearby karaoke which included an awful rendition of Sweet Caroline, which we heard at least five times during the ride.  It must be the Ring of Fire of Iowa.

Later in the day I walked across the road and discovered that there was a historic town, cheap pancakes in the morning, free water, and a beautifully laid out camping area.  The grass is greener on the other side of the road.  We never wandered too far from the luggage trailer, but apparently sometimes it's worth a short excursion before setting up tents.

And more random cyclists.  Find yourself!

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