Archive for August, 2010
The other day. I joined a ride that my friends ride with some people I don’t know. The text I got regarding the ride was sent to me on Tuesday and it read, “We ride aggressively from Legacy in Waukee on Hickman to Redfield back to Rendezvous in Adel, then Waukee. 36 miles.” Hmmm. Aggressively. Because I’m curious and stubborn (2 important ingredients for stupid), I was definitely up for it.
I knew three of the guys on the ride and rode with them during RAGBRAI. All strong riders, all faster than me. One of the 3 rode a fixed gear bike on RAGBRAI. Since then, I had ridden with him once and he rode a tandem. I felt confident that this would be the ride where he would show up with a road bike sporting some gears. I arrived in Waukee and I was not disappointed. Another of the three is a spinning instructor and has been for more than a decade. The third rides strong and never appears to feel the burn I know so well.
Already feeling like I could top out my speed in mile 2, I slowed from 21 mph to 19 mph just as the other riders increased to 22-23 mph. When that happens, it feels like I’m standing still. It’s incredible to see a group take off like that. I’m not sure what held me back on that ride, but I was stuck in a 17-19 mph pace. The guys were at a 25 mph pace. Before the last 7-8 miles, we regrouped at Rendezvous in Adel for a steak and a beer. From Adel to Waukee there is a slight hill. It’s a very gentle grade incline. It was dark. I was not riding fast. For the first time another rider (my new best friend) pushed me up a hill. It is a crazy feeling to get that kind of help. The stubborn side of me was disgusted with myself, but the gracious side of me was warm and fuzzy all over. Next year I will push him up a hill.
- Ride bike with friends
I had been waking up early every morning. Part of it was looking forward to the ride, the other part was the crescendo of snores that had become my morning alarm clock. After about 30 minutes of my unsuccessful return to sweet slumber, I would lay there, stretch, check email, peek on Facebook and consider my ability to get up without waking the team. By 7, I usually gave up and got up. That morning in Algona was no different. I crossed the street in front of our host house careful to avoid the sea of riders starting the day. I found a cup of coffee, a pear, an apple and a newspaper. Pleased with my stash, I set up lawn chair so I could watch my fellow riders seize the morning. I saw a family pass by. Twenty feet later, the little girl in that family hit a crack in the road and rolled. She walked away a little banged up, I walked away mindful of potential danger lurking in the remaining 300 miles of roads~kind of sobering at 7AM.
The team was stirring, I loaded up my gear, passed around the Trace Minerals and Clif Shot Bloks and saddled up with my team. The ride today would be a little shorter, a little over 50 miles with barely over 1,000 feet of climbing. We had a short 14 miles to Wesley with a plan to stop at Farm Boys (patterns are forming). This piece of the ride was particularly memorable because we rode with a team of Elvises. This isn’t a typo meant to say elves, these were Elvises wearing gold lamé costumes and black wigs over their helmets. One of my teammates has a sound system that is exceptional, so of course he busted out the Elvis tunes and I became part of a rolling Elvis posse.
We finally saw the Farm Boys sign outside of Wesley. They were located on the far side of town on Main. We were all in. Not only does Farm Boys offer the awesome breakfast burritos, fruit and coffee, they also supply chairs and even highly sought after shade at times. We joined the guys from Gary Fisher. I haven’t shown many pictures of Ira yet, so you may not know that Ira is a Gary Fisher road bike. I was not aware Gary Fisher made road bikes until I bought Ira (2009 Arc Super GS, Green Pearl). The guys had remembered me from the road as the girl riding the Gary Fisher road bike. They asked me where I bought it. I told them Pella, IA. “Oh, you bought it from Marty.” That was pretty cool. All of a sudden, 20,000 people seemed like about 30.
Happy with a belly full of eggs, we checked out Wesley. It was about 10 AM and the place was buzzing like a happy hour on Friday night. Johnny’s appeared to be the hot spot. Johnny’s was sporting a DJ and a full on party already at 10 AM in the outside beer garden next to the building. The Elvises were leading the dance charge front and center. There really is nothing like a morning mosh pit with Elvises. It was shiny and had it been any later in the day, I’m pretty sure the reflection from these guys would have easily blinded and burned birds and they would be falling from the sky.
What began as a routine breakfast stop became a very long visit. One factor was the missing bike lock key that had 3 of our bikes locked up by Farm Boys. How do you find a key that falls out of a jersey pocket in a town filled beyond capacity? Finally, one guy had the brilliant idea to announce it by the DJ over by Johnny’s. Success. The next obstacle was looking for more Clif Shot Bloks. It hadn’t occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to simply buy at will at stands in the various through towns. Boy was I wrong. Grudgingly, I settled for Gu. We picked up a friend of the team who had a fall resulting in some pretty severe injuries. One of our own was increasingly more dehydrated and looking less than well. Two or three hours had passed since I rode into Wesley and the heat index was climbing quickly.
We looked at the map. We opted to pass by Hutchins and go directly to Britt, still only a 10 mile ride. Once in Britt, I took off to find food. I bought a smoothie from Smoothie Revolution, a banana and a water. The woman from the Presbyterian Church who sold me the fruit was kind enough to also hand me a cold, wet paper towel. Brilliant! I accepted it, grateful for the thoughtful folks of Britt. It wasn’t difficult to find the boys I rode in with. I headed for the beer tent and stage. Britt was a fun place to take a break, but we were on the tail end of this convoy due to our overlay in Wesley. We needed to keep after it.
This was a short day, shorter for us than other riders. Our overnight host was in Ventura, 7 miles west of Clear Lake, the overnight town. We had 13.5 miles to Garner and an additional 12 to Ventura rather than the 22 to Clear Lake. In Garner, people were vying for a spot in the shade to rest. Chief was there with chairs set up under the trees across from a BBQ stand. I drank several bottles of water and tried unsuccessfully to find more Clif Shot Bloks. I settled into a chair in the shade. Everyone was moving a little slower in the heat. Looking forward to meeting our hosts (parents of a teammate) and also looking forward to the cool shower, we got back on the road.
It was a quick ride to Ventura. Although it was off-route, several people were taking the road through Ventura. I heard stories of a year when the parties got wild with RAGBRAI riders and the locals in Ventura and the unofficial rumor I was hearing was that Ventura had been blackballed from the official route. None of this mattered to me much, I was ready for a shower. We rode up to a welcome sign and the set up for quite a reception!
Ken and Deb set up a spread of grilled burgers and brats with piles of melon, strawberries, grapes, fresh garden tomatoes, broccoli and pasta salad. Incredible. I couldn’t get enough of the vegetables. The tomatoes were so good I couldn’t actually carry on a conversation. I just needed to keep consuming. Riders were still going by on the off-route road through Ventura in front of our host’s home. Several people stopped to say hello. A couple of teams represented at this late afternoon stop were the Road Pirates and Team Ska. The sun was setting when I looked up to see 2 drunken riders looking to hang by the bus. One rider swerved in and hit a couple of decorative flags while the other one swerved in the other way and hit the golden retriever, Buddy. Buddy was no wuss, he promptly bit the rider’s ankle. It was a spectacle that none of us had considered. One quick thinking member of my team loaded the coolers into the garage and the newcomers were shooed away. Most of the team wanted to take a ride into Clear Lake to check out the festivities there and the timing couldn’t have been better. Deb (the super-woman that she is) took over for Chief for the night and drove us in the Margaritaville Bus downtown. It doesn’t take long for the team to lose each other in the crowds. I managed to stay with 6 teammates and we looked in on the Spin Doctors concert. Suzanne and I tried unsuccessfully for a picture with the singer from the stage, but the camera failed. We still had fun. At midnight, we met at the bus for the ride back to Ventura.
One might expect this was it for the team. Oh no. Not us. There is always just a little more fun to be had. We rode back to Ventura, set up the chairs and watched as riders continued to stream by headed for Clear Lake. Many of these riders stopped. I looked up when someone mentioned a double-decker bus was coming. It appeared to be going extremely slow. This was no bus. This was a quadricycle. We all hollered after them and the quad made a loop back. The team swarmed the quad, circling to attempt to understand this amazing piece of equipment. The quad was made up of 2 tandem bicycles that the engineer connected. The steering and braking were both controlled by the rider in the front left position. The rig had a canopy, a stereo, lights and a bar through the middle between the two tandems. I think the guy said it had a solar panel charging the car battery which ran the lights and stereo. It was a self-contained team, so all the gear was stored under the canopy in a sling fashioned out of mesh. I neglected to ask how the quad got to Sioux City, but I would imagine a transport similar to a golf cart trailer.
Nothing could beat that. I laid down to watch the lightning storm outside the kitchen window. I fell asleep knowing Day 4 would be cooler after the storm that was coming in. I was thankful for another fabulous day and looking forward to the next.
After all of the fun I had on Day 1 one may think it was time for me to call it off, hop in the bus and SAG the whole week. Nope. Not me. Not once. Not ever. Despite my degraded state on Day 1, I was still psyched to be riding my bike. Good thing too, there was about 400 remaining miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing to the Mississippi dipping spot in Dubuque. I met Day 2 geared up. About 3 miles down the road from Storm Lake there stood a little girl waving the most beautiful fruit kabob I’d ever seen. Kudos on your marketing, little girl. It was so early to stop, we had Farm Boys on our brains, but I insisted.
If you know me, you know I have some hang ups about food. I have contempt for processed food and I resent the food industry for filling our bellies and with addictive garbage. In June, I began to ask questions to seasoned RAGBRAI riders about food options that would be available to me.
Day One: Sioux City to Storm Lake. Official Route 68.5 miles, I rode 72 to our overnight host. This was the most challenging food day and riding day for this Virgin Rider. I hopped on my bike with a cup of black coffee and gulped down some Trace Minerals. About 10 minutes after departure, the hills were wearing me out and I was barely out of town.
As I had anticipated, reality took hold of my week on RAGBRAI. During hour one of the first day, I made peace with the fact that I would not be focused on pictures but the facts and they were as follows: