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…..reprise ragbrai

August 1, 2017

…sigh, I did not ride RAGBRAI this year (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa).  Well I did not actually ride, but I rode it in my mind!  Certainly required less training!

7 years ago DS said he was thinking of riding RAGBRAI and I asked if I could drive his RV… he clearly stated that he was not going to cross the state of Iowa with his friends and his mother driving his RV!

hrrrrmph.  I immediately called a group of men who rode every year and asked if I could ride to the west coast of Iowa with them!  Truly, I had no idea what I was starting..

This group rented an RV and a driver each year, coordinated with a group of men/women from Iowa to spend a week riding over 400 miles.. and partying 24/7.

I was in.

Especially when the route was announced!  2010 the route would ride across northern Iowa,  the 6th flattest and shortest in the 40 or so year history of the ride.. AND, it would go through my home town… Britt.

Yup, I was in… This year 2017, the ride was again north and again crossing route 18 through my home town of Britt and my camp town of Clear Lake.

Briefly I considered riding.. and immediately knew that I was not up for the 800 miles of training I had prior to the 2010 ride, much less the intensity of the actual ride..

Apparently a 67 year old body may not have the same adrenaline push as the 60 year old body, at least for me!

So as the week went by, I rerode the route in my mind, and chatted about RAGBRAI with anyone who would listen to my stories…

2010, the ride was 440 miles.  I initially committed to 200… and upped my commitment to 300 as my training progressed.

I had no idea!!!!

the first day starts with putting your back bike wheel in the Missouri river and heading off across the state to the mighty Mississippi.  90 miles the first day… hilly along the west coast of the state.  I definitely walked my bike up some hills… but I made it!  I wondered if  I would be able to move the next day…. I could!  And off we went for another 70 miles!

The rest of the group rode lightweight speedy bikes, and I rode a mint green mom bike with pink accessories!  The faster riders rode on the left, with the lead rider in each group pulling a small trailer with a boom box blasting the tunes.  the middle of the rode (yes, the roads on route day were totally closed to accommodate 20,000 plus bike riders!) was filled with the moderate riders and over on the right… the slowbies!  ME!

Each day featured plenty of stops, the interim towns parked huge tractors on each end of main street, strung a strong cable, and everyone hooked their bikes over the cable and got down to business… eating and drinking!

Talking to my Iowa neighbor this year, Britt was out of sweet rolls by 9am and pie by 11am!!!  Serious eating happens along the RAGBRAI route!

There were moments, tough minutes… being lost in the country at the end of a long day, not knowing where my overnight stop and rest of team might be.  A friendly pickup truck stopped and deposited me where I needed to be, exhausted, near tears and yet exhilarated that once again I made it!

Riding into Britt on old highway 18 with the parade of RVs marching alongside on ‘new’ highway 18, was awesome.  I was a kid in Britt when the ‘new’ highway was built, bringing our small town it first and still only stop light!

I broke off at the west end of town, and headed to my old home!  One neighbor had a note in her door telling me where to find her uptown, and another neighbor and schoold teacher was home for a wonderful visit, catching up and tripping down memory lane..

Of course I headed right up town, snaring one of the last sweet rolls.. the frosting was amazing.. and more chatter.

… and then on to Clear Lake.. the hottest windiest toughest ride, punctuated with hysterical laughter as we stopped to enjoy a water spectacle.  A farmer with a water filled gravel pit (an Iowa thing) erected a tower… and thousands of bikes parked as hot riders made the dizzying jump into the pit.  By afternoon the riders apparently were jumping sans clothes… pit closed!

The next day, DH drove DD out to meet us.. just plain amazing.  DD and I rode together past corn fields, ate our way through towns and food trucks, split up so she could speed along in the left lane for awhile, and met up again to spend our last night parked on a lovely hill overlooking the riders still arriving late into the night.

The final day included a winding slow 20 mile descent through some of the most beautiful country side… and then a daunting 15% grade final climb into Dubuque.  She made it, I walked my bike up it!  Meeting at the top, we rolled through town… spotting DH on the side of the road by the river.. and drifting down to put our front tire in the Mississippi.  I was sobbing with competing feelings of exhaustion and joy!  The young men were lifting their 10# bikes above their heads and yelling … I needed to do that as well, the first try,m y 40# bike made it my chest and DH said that’s great… Hell no, said I… this bike is going above my head and then I am going to throw it into the river!  I made the lift, sheer grit and determination… but I didn’t through it in the river…

I would need my bike again!


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