July 31,2016

2 Aug

RAGBRAI ended today after cycling 433 miles across Iowa with cyclists of every age and size. 

  We began this journey in Glenwood, Iowa where we camped along with thousands of other riders.

 On Saturday,July 24th,we rode with Linda and Rob Young,9 miles further west to dip our bicycle tires in the Missouri River. 

Today we finished this ride by dipping our bike tires in the Mississippi!
The scenery of souhern Iowa is rolling hills amidst many farming communities! 

As we did cycle in an easterly direction the hills did lessen and the daily climbs decreased from a high of 4000 ft to only 1500ft . The sun was strong and shade always at a premium.  Our comfort level improved dramatically with cloud cover on Friday and Saturday!
 Each day we improved in managing the crowds of cyclists.

 We had thought it was only 10,000 riders but we learned later that the number of cyclists was between 17,000 and 18,000 each day. Manny did an amazing, excellent job of steering us safely though the masses. The hill steepness could be assessed by the throng of cyclists working their way to the top.We were surprised to see some cyclists walking their bike up the first hill on  the first day. But we never saw anyone give up! There were some unique ways of completing the route. One man rollerbladed,

one man ran each day from dawn to dusk pushing a baby stroller which held his supplies ,not a child.One guy rode a pennyfarthing cycle, at least one of the days. There were 2 guys each on their own unicycle.Two people each  on their own elipitical with wheels which meant they stood the entire time,and 2 ladies on what can best be explained as a side by side bike like you would find at the beach. We also saw riders with artificial legs,riders with leg paralyisis using adaptive bikes so they could use their arms to pedal the route and on a tandem the captain of the bike a man from San Diego who was with a veteran from Florida  who was blind, being the stoker. These sights only increased one’s determination to complete this event. 

Of note also was The United States Air Force Cycling Team. We saw them each day and they were extraordinary!  At every accident,yes unfortunately there were some,and every bike  breakdown they were there providing first aid to both people and bike and also directing bike traffic.We did learn that they are not first a cycling team in the fact they really are our Air Force men and women.

On their own time they gather together to train and also  learn every nuance about bike repair. They are given orders for the week to do exactly what we saw them doing. Their presence certainly was needed! They did not need to take PTO time for the week which was great to hear! Certainly also  great PR for the USAF.

The food is a story on it’s own! Each day along the route are vendors! These vendors set up each day along the route at about the same mileage. Initially, it was overwhelming to figure out when to stop. Of course,you can stop anytime you wish but the idea is to finish the day’s ride certainly before sundown! There is much discussion along the route and at the end of each day as to which foods were not to be missed!  These included the breakfast guy gridlling up fresh eggs or pancakes,Mr. Porkchop, Beekman’s Amish homemade ice cream,Mr. G’S Burnt Brisket ends and Iowa Corn on the cob! We did manage to sample them all and  many more during the week. I must mention here,that despite all these wonderful food offerings,the vendor of the week for us was Munchkins! No fancy food here just good old PB&J and cold chocolate milk. It is what we usually have when we are biking. It powers us on to get those hills done! We learned to stay true to our usual biking style especially with eating!

The food story contines with pies! There were pie slices everywhere!  Take your pick of flavors- cherry,peach,apple,rhubarb,rhubarb-strawberry,blackberry,gooseberry and raisin- or have one of each! Every pie was delicious!  I did ask one of the lowa women if the pies were just unique in Iowa during RAGBRAI and she replied,”No,we like our pies through out the year!” 

At each town ,the riders amass in large numbers so everyone has to dismount as you cannot ride thru the streets! 

 We walked thru town with 3 main objectives. Finding the shortest port a potty line,getting a cold drink and ,for Manny and I,getting out of town as quickly as possible!  This did relieve the bike congestion for quite a few miles as so many bikers stayed in town for a awhile

For the first few days,we thought it best to get our luggage and tent first when we arrived at the day’s destination. The campsite was always crowded and not usually level. But this always took a good bit of time and we were hot,tired,hungry and thirsty as well. Once we talked about how miserable that part of the day was we decided to ride directly  to one of the churches in the destination town. They all served a fabulous meal in an air conditioned hall where we could sit down at a table  in relative quiet with a nice restroom with no line! It was a great thing to figure out! We always got some tent site and certainly felt more relaxed with  setting up camp for the night  

Friends from Kansas City ,Michele and Mark Maur joined us for the ride!

Also ,Susan and Dan Kutvirt from Alburquique  joined us as well! We came in close together at the end in Muscatine. 

Here is as close as we got to a group picture.

We thank these friends for coming to enjoy RAGBRAI with us! 

What an adventure,what a ride! 

Love,

M&M 

One Response to “July 31,2016”

  1. Rene August 4, 2016 at 3:20 am #

    Wonderful ride ! Thank you for sharing it all with us ! On to Texas !!

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