Friday, August 5, 2011

RAGBRAI: More Pictures and a Few Other Thoughts

This is my last post on RAGBRAI.  I had a few other random thoughts about the experience:
  1. The food was awesome.  We had more pie and ice cream than I can possibly count.  We also had great breakfast pizza, pork chops, church dinners, and cinnamon rolls.  We basically ate our way from town to town.
  2. Training for the Savage Century made the first two days of hills and Twister Hill on day 3 a piece of cake.  I arrived at the bottom of Twister Hill and thought, "oh, well, you can see the top, so it isn't that bad." Riding Skyline Drive was time and effort well spent. 
  3. It was hot, especially the first few days.  We did 100 miles on day 3.  We found out later that it was 97 degrees with a heat index of 109 while we were riding.  The first two days were at least as hot.  It cooled down marginally towards the end of the week.  I coped with the heat by making sure to drink at least a mouthful of water at the top of each hill, which seemed to keep dehydration at bay.  We took breaks in the shade and dumped water over our heads to help stay cool.
  4. You are never alone on RAGBRAI.  Every mile on the ride was filled with cyclists, who would all have to crowd together when there was an oncoming car.  It was most crowded in the mornings and would thin out some in the afternoons.  The quietest, least crowded section of the route was the Karras Loop - the extra miles to make a century on day 3.  Towns were crowded, too and there were lines everywhere.  I'm not complaining.  We weren't in a hurry and it was a chance to chat with people, both other cyclists and locals.   
  5. The creativity of some of the cyclists never ceased to surprise us.   We saw all kinds of helmet decorations, clever jerseys, and crazy bikes. 
  6. As I said yesterday, the hospitality and generosity of the people we rode with, the people who provided support vehicles, and the people who provided accommodations, food, and/or showers continually amazed us.  We wouldn't have had nearly as good a time without all of them. 
  7. Bike touring is fun and I think we might try more of it at some point.  
Pictures (click to enlarge):
 Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower).  These were all over the roadsides in western Iowa.
 Sign outside the Methodist Church in Glenwood, Iowa.
 Another sign in Glenwood outside the Methodist Church.
 A tandem bike dressed as a banana on day 1.
 A bike ferris wheel at a welding shop in Carson, Iowa.
 Most towns would use two tractors to stretch a cable or rope to create bike parking.  This one was in Carson, Iowa.
 A Penny Farthing in Griswold, Iowa.
 Beekman's homemade ice cream at a farm on day 1.
 Cyclists heading into Lewis, Iowa.  Click to enlarge to see all of the cyclists on the road.  This also shows the rolling hills in western Iowa.
 The windmill in Elk Horn, Iowa on day 2.
 Our bikes taking a break while we eat cinnamon rolls.
A funny team jersey on day 2.
 Cornfields along the way.
 The grain elevator in Lidderdale, Iowa (I think.  I'm actually not 100% sure that is the right town).
 A barn quilt block along the road.  We saw a few of these (with different blocks) along the way.  My impression is that there are more of these in northern Iowa. 
 Sunrise on day 3 outside of Carroll, Iowa.
 Wind turbines on the Karras Loop (the extra 30 mile loop) near Dana, Iowa on Day 3.
 An 1895 Fred Spaulding safety bike in Grinnell, Iowa.  This bike had wooden rims, weighed 14 pounds, and the original box is behind it, according to the sign.
 One of the more unique bikes on the ride in Grinnell, Iowa.
The tent city on the lawn at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa.

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