Tuesday, July 30, 2013

RAGBRAI XLI 2013 - Perry to Des Moines, 49.9 miles and 1,308 feet of climb

I don't think I mentioned that when we were in Perry it rained.  Hairball was playing that night and we were thinking of going, but first we went and found some fruit and turkey and vegetables at the grocery store.  On the way back Adam asked some of the locals sitting in front of a house near the campgrounds, "Have you heard, is it going to rain?"  To which one of the women replied, "Why, are you a witch?"  Apparently Adam looks like he might melt.  We closed up our tents and then went in the community center where we'd paid the extra $2 so in addition to a shower, we had access to the pool, which we didn't use, all we could eat A/C, and any facility we could break into including the senior area with some tables.  We were still eating when people began rushing in from outside absolutely drenched.  The rain continued for quite a while and included some hail.  Nothing tent damaging and not even noticeable if you were inside eating strawberries and cucumbers.  Hairball was cancelled, so we didn't miss anything.  We'd have probably just gone to sleep anyway.

I also forgot my Day 1 quote that Adam enjoyed: "My pocket is really hot. Is that my phone?  Oh, no, it's just me."

It was also in Perry that we stopped for fast food, only two days into the ride.  We hit the McDonald's for lunch.  To give you an idea of why, it was so hot that we heard the rider who had been in our area of McDonald's right before us had passed out and had to be hauled away in an ambulance.  A chocolate shake was definitely in order.

So where were we?  Day 3.  Perry to Washington Township.  Washington Township to Minburn.  Minburn to Dallas Center.  Dallas Center to Van Meter.  Van Meter to West Des Moines.  West Des Moines to Des Moines proper.  A true city at over 200,000 residents.

A version of this was what greeted us most mornings because of the dew.  A lot of people cover their bikes with a tarp or some piece of cloth and a seat cover.  For the most part we just wiped down in the morning, hoped there wouldn't be excessive rust, and got pedaling.  But this is the result of the rain.  Everything had to be put away or ridden wet.

Chris Cakes at Washington Township.  This was the only real Chris Cakes place we stopped, sponsored by the local Lions.  Real in that there was someone in charge of the pancakes who had obviously made a lot of Chris Cakes.  The pancakes on the ground are the result of folks who are scared of pancakes and can't quite figure out how to catch them on their plate.  Admittedly, he was blazing fast with the flipping, but I caught all four.

Adam didn't have breakfast.  He chose to embrace the out aspect of PIPO (pancake in, pancake out) while he had access to indoor facilities.

We were behind this guy at one point during the day.  The funny thing isn't just the muffin top and shirt, or the jeans shorts, or the sandals, or the lack of a helmet while 29,999 other people are wearing one.  The funny thing is he looks like Boss that I work with and bike with and geocache with.  Enough so that a good friend of his wife's who saw this photo today asked if it was him.  If you look up the hill, the guy that's off his bike is actually pushing a woman on a hand-driven recumbent up the hill while pushing his own bike as well.  It involved push, let her do 3 or 4 rotations while he pushed his own bike, go back to pushing her.  He didn't want to leave her behind at the top, presumably because she seemed developmentally disabled, so he coordinated all of it simultaneously.  Some definite dedication, and a caring human being.

Minburn.  Not so important for this sign and the cycles...

...but for this piece of raspberry pie ala mode.  The Methodist Church lady that made it (could have been a guy, but usually they're mid to older age women) layered an extremely thin layer of crust between each layer of raspberries.  It removed some of the tartness of the raspberries even without the ice cream.  A supremely well architected piece of pie.  And delicious.  I sat right there on the sidewalk and ate it, despite having seven pancakes not much earlier.

Dallas Center.  The meeting town.  This was near the color wars, a more localized version of the colored powder runs they have in these parts.  Later, there were a bunch of guys near our tent watching people walk past on the sidewalk (more about them later) and one of the color war guys walked past with green powder all over his head.  They asked him if he'd been in a fight with a leprechaun.  To which he good naturally replied that he'd thrown down with a pile of leprechauns and it had turned into a real orgy.  AND IT WAS GREAT!  That orgy was slightly to the right (viewer's right) in this picture.

In West Des Moines.  I stopped for a cup of coffee.  Excellent Americano, but the bathroom was out of order.  All I wanted was to make space for the coffee.  But I fully understand the desire to hang a sign on your precious bathroom to assure that half a dozen clenching RAGBRAI-ers don't overload its capacity.  This was an interesting store because the owner was taking old truck parts and turning them into sofas.  Great idea for trucks that might not be repairable.

In Des Moines, we decided to find a laundromat and wash clothes to avoid a last minute search later in the week.  No one really knew where to go, but the bus driver helped us narrow in on the safest laundromat he knew of based on our directions via smartphone.  This was the safest one.  In the Latino district with a couple of guys who didn't speak English.  They were pretty cool and loaned us two loads of laundry soap when it became obvious there wasn't any for sale and wouldn't even take payment.  It was a haul to get there, but there were plugs for recharging phones near the mural, so we managed to do multiple chores at once.

After washing clothes we headed downtown to find food at an Italian restaurant and then to the river to check out the booths and people and watch the bands.  Live, Sponge, and a couple of other sort of big name bands were playing.  We left before they were done because, for the most part, they were sort of boring.  The only exciting part was when the sprinklers on our hill went off and about a hundred people sprinted off the grass.

Here you can enjoy the not-so-exciting concert for yourself.

And some more of it.  The venue was cool.  It was a great place to sit in the shade and watch the river.  According to the Des Moines police, no riders were arrested this evening.

Back at camp.  A very patriotic tent.  I hope that rope was really long if he was doing the same thing in the high school football fields.

One of the many buses.  We were seeing new buses right up until the moment we pulled out of the luggage pick up on Day 7.  There are what seems to be an infinite number of teams.

Some teams, like The Donner Party, went with trailers instead.  I was worried about tenting right next to a team with that name.  There was another trailer on the ride that was half this size, but the side opened into a luxurious two bed bedroom with all sorts of amenities built into the walls.  Sort of a hard top tent.  It was beautiful.  Reminded me of those wooden boats the Kennedy's drove.

I think this was near the Dream Team.  A group of high school students Iowa picks to do the ride.

Big pole, little bike.

The shower line.  I can honestly say the only time we were ever in a line of this size was at the Community Center in Perry, and that was inside, there were chairs, there was A/C, and there was a big fan.  The Perry experience traumatized Adam.  He did not like the single temperature showers with about 100 naked guys in a space designed for 10.  And the Harlan shower had been hot water only, which was bad in a different way.  To be honest, we didn't even take a shower in Des Moines.  The 49.9 miles, 1308 foot climb, day didn't lend itself to much sweat.

More buses!

Our campsite for the evening.  That's Heather's tent to the right, through the wheel.  Heather was there with her dad, brother-in-law, and sister.  To the other side of us were the sidewalk-walker taunting guys who made fun of leprechaun man and anyone else walking past.  Mostly in a good natured way.  Heather was over talking to them for quite a while.  It is entirely appropriate to use the phrase, "Feeding the bears."

So later that night.  1:45 a.m. to be exact.  The guys came loudly crashing back into our area, yelling about the lake, how they got back from the lake (running), a variety of other things that had us worrying they were going to stumble over or tents or worse, puke on them, finally punctuated by "HEATHER! HEATHER!!!"  After a number of neighbors told them to shut up, it finally quieted down.

Which leads to the following story that happened two days later in Fairfield.  I may be paraphrasing, but it's very close.  I call the story, Heather's Midnight Stretching.

Me (with Adam, surprised after turning around at the water hose near the tents): Heather! We owe you a thank you!
Heather (with her sister, neither of who knows us): For the late night stretching? 
Heather’s Sister:
Adam: ….
Adam: ….
Me: Um…no. We were in the tent between you and the guys in Des Moines who came back drunk to yell about the lake and scream, “Heather!!!!!” at 1:45 in the morning. 
Heather’s sister: We’re so sorry about that. 
Me: It’s ok. It’s funny now. We were worried they’d fall on our tents at the time. 
Sister and Me: Have a good ride!

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