This was my third year riding RAGBRAI, and it has been a great experience every year. For me, the week serves as a way to step away from work, the news, and all other distractions of everyday life. Many people are intimidated by the task of riding across the state, assuming that it is geared for competitive cyclists. This could not be further from the truth. The ride is broken up into 7 days and follows an awesome route that leads you through “small-town” Iowa. I have lived in Iowa my entire life, but each year I am more and more impressed with the people and scenery that many of us have grown to take for granted.
So what made this year so memorable?
The Bus – If you have $100,000 or so laying around feel free to spring for an RV, live in the life of luxury for the week, and not miss a beat from your everyday life. What fun would that be? Why not just have your brother and a few other riders buy a 20 year old bus, 13 cans of black spray paint, and a makeshift bike trailer on the back, and ta da! You have a one-week party on wheels.
Team Bonding -A school bus that gets 5 mpg can take a major toll on the checkbook. Unless you find 4 complete strangers on Craigslist to split the cost with who are looking for a team to ride with, and transportation for the week. All you can do is pick them up, and hope they don’t kill you in your sleep. They turned out to be a complete blast to hang out and ride with all week. And what better way to get to know someone, than to spend six hours crammed in a bus together! Bonus team bonding? I was joined by my mom who tackled RAGBARI for the first time!
The Ride – It felt great to hit the open pavement the first day. There is a small town about every 10 miles that has its own party. The weather was great, and you get to meet riders from all over the world. Throughout the week, I got to meet riders from as far as Australia and Japan, and as near as a few streets down.
The Food – The weekend would not be complete without eating your body weight in pancakes, pork chops, ice cream and good beer. If you are hungry on RAGBRAI, you must have strayed off the route. Chris Cakes pancakes, Mr. Porkchop, Beekmans Ice Cream, and the Iowa Craft Beer Tent are places you must stop!
The Weird Bikes – 1, 2, or even 3 wheels…It really doesn’t matter. While most riders opt to ride a traditional road bike, this past week I saw unicycles, tandems, recumbents, a bike with fur dressed to look like an alpaca…and even an adult sized “big wheel”. If it has at least one wheel and pedals, it is classified as a bike.
The Last Leg – With one day of RAGBRAI left and our legs feeling great, we decided that it would be a great idea to ride back to Davenport a day early and run the Bix 7 road race. So, we packed our lights and reflective vests and logged 153 miles on Friday from Hiawatha through Coralville arriving in Davenport at 1am on Saturday. We were the first to do the traditional “dipping of wheels” in the Mississippi. Pretty sure that means we “won” RAGBRAI…and will never do that again!