RAGBRAI XXXVIII: Confessions of a Food Snob Day 7
I may have slept two hours in Manchester, probably less. We got in late the night before and most of the overnight guests were planning to leave before 6 AM. To avoid waking people, I decided to leave my air mattress on the bus and just sleep on the Dojo mat. Well, the floor felt like concrete and the room had a distinct echo when about 40 or so people got their individual snores on. There were noises coming out of people that just couldn’t be right. I didn’t sleep much.
My team was grouped in a far corner of the room and all appeared to be sleeping soundly when I got up to find coffee at 6:30. Ira was locked up outside the building all night. Unfortunately, it was bumped or something and there was a new scrape along the top bar of the frame. Bummer! I pushed it out of my mind and went to find coffee. The first opportunity for coffee was a little bar (?@!) where I sat and had coffee with a bar owner who told me stories about his own bike travels across the country. After two cups, I headed back to my team.
I had a couple of Clif Shot Bloks left, I took a few and passed them around. I couldn’t find my supply of Trace Minerals. Bummer. We saddled up and rode through Manchester. It was a gorgeous morning. Just as we were hitting a good pace (about 2 miles out of town) the all to familiar sound of a blown tire put us on the side of the road watching as thousands of people rolled by to finish up the remaining miles of RAGBRAI. Bummer.
We were about 17 miles from Dyersville and we expected a little over 600 feet of climbing to get there. Chief made a stop about halfway between Manchester and Dyersville. As usual, Chief and the Margaritaville bus were a welcomed sight. The short stop was short-lived and we pressed on to Dyersville. Never having seen a Farm Boys, I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I was out of fuel. With no more Shot Bloks left, I rode into Dyersville on empty. The first place we saw, a pizza place, advertised a breakfast buffet. This was the worst thing I ate all week. The food tasted like processed cheese flavored cardboard with a healthy scoop of salt. Bummer. It was desperate times, I knew the consequences would be unpleasant. At this point, my only remaining food rule was no pork. I would deal with the fallout later.
After a very unpleasant meal, I took a look around town and saw all kinds of good stuff, Garden of Eden, Smoothie Revolution and Hanni’s. Bummer. We had about 11 miles and over 600 feet of climbing to Bankston. It was as if I put lead in my belly in Dyersville. I was not riding fast. My legs were screaming about the hills and I knew Potter’s Hill, the mother of all hills on this ride, was coming closer and I wasn’t ready.
Just as we pulled up to the Margaritaville bus in Bankston, the Clif Bar SUV was about to pull away. I almost laid my bike down to stop them from leaving without giving me a few Shot Bloks for the final leg to Dubuque. Relief set in as I opened the package. I called my sister who was planning to pick me up in Dubuque. It was about noon and we had only about 20 miles left. I couldn’t imagine it would take longer than 2 hours to ride into Dubuque. It seemed the timing may work out, we agreed to meet at 4PM at the dipping site. This gave us a couple of hours of wiggle room to get to Dubuque. We were encouraged to leave as the bus was parked on the road and our chairs were also in the road on the right fork where the route took a left fork. Less than 3 minutes passed when the officer stopped encouraging and started threatening us. Bummer. We saddled up and left for Graf.
The descents were amazing. The views were amazing. The dreaded Potter’s Hill would be on the other side of Graf. I knew that climbing out of the valley I was riding into would be a difficult climb. There was a last chance party going on in Graf, but we continued on. The Graf to Dubuque leg was about 14 miles with over 1200 feet of climbing.
Potter’s Hill was everything that was promised/threatened. The official word on it is 75% of the riders walked up Potter’s Hill. There were 8 remaining riders on our team and not one of us walked. 3 of the guys didn’t even stop. I stopped more than once. The length coupled with the degree of incline on this hill was an assault on my already tired and abused body. People around me were tipping over from riding too slow. I tipped over when I caught my front wheel on my unclipped foot. One guy told me he wasn’t sure that he could even walk up this hill. I was certain this would be the end of the climbing for the day and it kept me going. Our team gathered at the top to congratulate each other on the very difficult ride up. Most of us took a rest at the farm at the top of the hill and enjoyed a beer under a tree before continuing.
I couldn’t believe it when the road still had rolling hills to climb. I felt like someone had lied to me or cheated me somehow. I know now that this was just delirium setting in. We started to get close to Dubuque, the long incline through the industrial park was enough to spin my brain. I was desperate to see a downhill to the river. I heard someone yell out “This is the last hill!” “Really?” I asked. The man paused and told me no. Why did I ask? Bummer. Just then, I spotted the Margaritaville Bus up on the left. Relief washed over me and I hoped there would be a snack.
I found some tortilla chips and a banana on the bus. Awesome. Two of our teammates only joined the ride for the last 2 days. One of them was initiated through a ritualistic shaving of the chest, only 5 miles away from the end of the ride. It was almost 4 at this point and we needed to get to the river. The Mississippi was calling me and I needed to get Ira dipped. More hills, but I had adrenaline now. This was it. The final push.
As we rode into the parking lot next to the dipping site, I saw my sister cheering me on. What a great way to end an amazing ride.
Entry filed under: Cycling, RAGBRAI. Tags: bike, Clif Shot Bloks, cycling, Dubuque, Dyersville, Graf, Iowa, Iowa Bike Ride, Margaritaville Bus, Me and Ira, Mississippi River Dipping Site, Potter's Hill, ragbrai, Team Got Beer.