Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ragbrai Saturday (55 mi)

The last day was a short day, and we rode it quickly. Less than a mile from the end, we were given an option in Burlington to "rattle the snake," and take the bikes up a very very steep hill. Being one to like challenges, we rattled the snake without getting off the bike and rolled to the river.

After this pic, we quickly found my brother and booked it an additional 5 miles or so to the RV and booked it home. My father was falling fast and my children were impatient. We started the long drive home, and rolled into the hospital at about 8:30pm and literally dropped my father off to be admitted for IV antibiotics.
Perhaps the funniest videos...
Before (on the drive down):

After (on the drive back):

Total miles biked in 1 wk: 528 miles! I had a great time, the weather was perfect and the riding was excellent. I can't wait to do it again.

Ragbrai Friday (88 mi)

My dad was doing pretty darn good with the riding until he came down with a tooth infection, fever of 103F and chills so bad he couldn't move. He decided to sit out Friday and hope to come back strong for the last day. At breakfast, we ran into the duo above on a tandem. I believe the little one is wearing his dad's arm warmers on his legs. They weren't the only parent/child duo on a tandem. Surprisingly, we saw many young kinds on the backs of bikes pumping their legs away.

The ride was tough this day. Windy, hilly and hot and i don't believe i ate enough food the day before. It was a long day, and towards the end, i was sick of stopping at each town and i wanted to get the ride over with. Luckily, my husband made me stop, made me eat and drink and, shockingly, i felt better. At one point during my semi-bonk, my husband says, "I'm so glad i didn't have to train for this!"

In Mt. Pleasant, we stayed at a very large RV and campsite right next to the music stage. My niece had a fever, my dad looked like crap and my mother was having stomach issues. We took the kids and found a steam powered carousel and a trolley for the kids. As the day came to the end, we were seronaded with music that wasn't too bad or too loud.

Ragbrai Thursday (111 mi)

Above shows the thunderstorms that had passed in the night and luckily went away for the rest of the day. It was sunny by breakfast. We managed to find the Chris Cakes every day.

Below is a church in Blakesburg, IA with the best pie ever. I'm not even that into pie, but the pecan, strawberry and chocolate cream was SO good. Really. Good.

I convinced my husband to accompany me on the extra 27 mi loop to do a century (100 miler). The longest i've ever riden at once was 2 days before (87 mi), so i figured the extra few miles wouldn't be much. And it wasn't. Not too hilly, pretty scenery. I was pretty proud of myself and thought i was hot stuff, completing it without too much pain, but it did catch up with me (see Ragbrai Friday).

As we rolled into the overnight town (Ottumwa), the skies opened up and it rained hard. We huddled under the awning at the gas station along with 50 other cyclist and waited it out for about an hr. Instead of going into the town center, we ate at the closest "restaurant," which was Wendy's, which i hadn't eaten in since high school. Despite, i wolfed down fried sauce-drenched chicken and a baked potato and we headed for the Baptist church.

You can't tell from the below picture, but the gracious baptist church let the men pitch their tents in the church basement, which was air conditioned. I thought it strange that three men, who know each other were in three tents in the same room with no others. Whatev.

Ragbrai Wednesday (53 mi)

Above is our site at 5:30am with no rain, but heavy fog.

It took a while to burn off the fog, but no rain clouds above and not too cold, we couldn't complain. By 9am, we were in the 'star town,' or about midpoint and listened to some really bad karoke before the machine (thankfully) broke and a comedian took the microphone. He was a bit disgusted about the whole bike short situation. Most people clean out their shorts with them in the shower and dry them out on the fence--which is what i did and it worked quite well. I almost accidentally left a pair that was left on a bench outside a house we were staying by and i wasn't sure if they were mine or not, and did not sniff them as my brother suggested to see if they were mine.

We rolled into town pretty early this day, so my husband and i took our kids off my mother's hands who made a bee line for downtown by herself for some alone time. Below is a charming old school shop in the main square.

We stayed in Chariton, IA in a church parking lot the concrete jungle suburbs. Chariton did a great job organizing an efficient and cheap shuttle. We ate at a goopy chinese buffet and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon.

Ragbrai Tuesday (87 mi)

We had breakfast in the above barn in Orient, IA, which lead to many jokes by my brother. The day started with spits of rain. Below is another example of the historic buildings we'd come across in small town, IA.

Macksburg, IA had skillet throwing in the main square. For a small contribution, you can attempt to knock the basketball head off the body with a skillet. Why? I don't know, but it was hypnotising to watch. As you can see, they put a pretty high fence on the back, but didn't cover it with fence, so a few times, a skillet thrower would whip it onto the street and cyclists would scatter to warnings of "HEADS UP!"

After an attempt to find a vegetarian option for lunch, and settling for breakfast burritos (with sausage), the sun came out.

Below is a bridge of madison county, IA.

We stayed in Indianola, IA this night in another driveway of very generous people who let us bath, wash our clothes and relax on their porch.

Ragbrai Monday (81 mi)

We are starting to establish a routine of waking up at 5:30am, on the road shortly after 6am, and pancakes at the Chris Pancake stop with little lines that makes waking up so early worth it. The small towns of IA are pretty amazing with historic town squares with beautiful buildings which reminds me of how towns are made in europe. It's also pretty overwhelming the amount of bicycles on the road. Although they don't officially close the roads we're on, these are low traffic county roads that we have to ourselves.

We finally get a taste of pie in IA this day. It's sort of a RAGBRAI thing for all the church ladies to bake pies for the riders. I think i averaged 2 pieces per day and they varied in quality. Really not a bad food for riding.

Below is a rider with her dog in a carrier. You can't really see it, but she has a padded top bar of her bike where the dog's legs rest when she's riding. I overheard her say this is the dog's 5th RAGBRAI.

And here is ceri making his contribution to the corn. Easier for him, rough on my thighs!

This night, we stayed in Greenfield, IA in a campground. We had loud neighbors and the men in tents secretly wished adele would scream her head off in the middle of the night, which (thankfully), she did not.

Ragbrai Sat/Sun (53 mi)

Well, it's been a while since i've blogged last. I completed RAGBRAI, and thought i'd journal my adventure before i forget all the details. To prepare, i immersed myself in a training plan and was borderline obsessive, but was glad i did. I had a great time exploring all the trails of the twin cities, and impressed myself with how far and fast i could ride. I logged the recommended 1,000 miles of outdoor training since March and my last wk of training included a 72 mi ride and a 175 mi week.

As RAG approached, i became more confident on how my legs would do and more concerned about how my kids would do. My parents generously rented a big-assed RV and my mother volunteered to watch my 2 girls and my niece (19 mo, 4.5 yrs and 6 yrs) and meet us at the overnight town while my brother, father, husband and i rode. There is very little to see in these sections of IA, my youngest is only 19 mo, and it's a huge RV to handle with 3 little ones. The arrangement was three tents with the three men outside the RV, my mother and niece in the bunk, my oldest daughter in the fold out, me on the other fold out and my toddler on the queen bed private bedroom inside her pack n' play (so she could go to bed at 7pm).

On the drive down, we were stuck in road construction traffic and someone pulled up to our RV and said we had a blown tire. We struck luck in a very very small town, IA (Adair), because not only was there a place to exchange a tire and it was open, they had the very same tire we needed for this RV.
We rolled into Council Bluffs late, and didn't get into bed until after 10pm. I stayed awake until midnight, then woke up 2 hrs later to my youngest daughter. She still wakes once nightly, and 2am is her usual call. But she refused to go back down until 4:30! I had pretty much decided the trip would be a disaster and i wouldn't make it through the night, but after an hours sleep, i was excited to get on the road with my bike. The first day was an easy 53 miles, and we parked the RV in the driveway of very generous people who let us use their shower, water and electricity.

My father and brother, who did RAG 2 yrs prior told me we needed to focus on eating before anything else when we pull into the overnight town. Since we rolled in fairly early (2pm), we found the RV, showered and relaxed, then went to find food--only to find long lines, sold out food and me very very crabby. The LissyJo clan aborted the long spaghetti line and found goopy chinese buffet and went to bed. As i lightly grilled my mother on how the girls did with her and how did they behave and what did they eat and who pooped, etc, my mother said, "The girls are fine. You are not. Don't come back to the RV so crabby and hungry again." Lesson learned.