My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 5 - Chuck Town to Waterloo

Today's blog is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Briggs of Team No Name.  Stephen was doing something he loved, riding his bike, and riding RAGBRAI. On the way out of Charles City, Stephen clipped the wheel of a rider in front of him and went down.  Even though he was wearing a helmet, the injuries were catastrophic.  As we approached the scene, we could tell something went horribly wrong.  Team Air Force was off their bikes and engaged in traffic control.  First responders weren't there yet when I went by.  I found out later - actually in Dubuque on the last day - that he passed away.  R.I.P. Steven.  Our hearts go out to you, your family and your teammates.  More information is here.

Big thanks to Team Air Force for recognizing the situation and quickly taking charge to ensure everyone else's safety while also keeping 10,000 other riders as far away from the scene as practical on a two lane road. (The link takes you to a YouTube video of their 180-member team arriving at the Port of Dubuque on Day 7 in formation.)

There was another incredible memory from that morning leaving Chuck Town and this is one I want to remember.  I passed this rider while we were still in town heading out:
Truly an inspiring and inspired rider!
She was riding with two teammates - one ahead of her and one to her left.  Her teammates would give her directions and information as they rode.  She was also riding to raise money to fight polio.  Truly amazing and inspiring!

Ok, for today's route, we road pretty much straight south.  It was the longest day (not including the Karras Loop) at 82 miles.

Day 5 was also Britt's birthday.  Happy 25!
Like the Birthday hat? Britt mounted it leaning forward as a horn - for aerodynamics (she said later).  I was ahead of the team and missed this, but the others made this for her in Parkersburg.  And yes, she wore it the rest of the day.

When we broke camp in Chuck Town, I told the others I was riding ahead and would see them in Waterloo.  It didn't occur to me until I got close to Parkersburg that it was Britt's b'day.  D'oh!  Once in Parkersburg, I tried to connect with the team but missed them and couldn't reach them on the cell.

(Ahh, the tale of the cell phones.  A wonderful device that allows one to remain connected while out and about.  Works great as long as a) there are towers nearby to relay the signals; and b) the system isn't overloaded with 10,000 bikers in the middle of an Iowa corn field when it was designed to handle the traffic of only a few hundred.  I found that the best time to tweet and update Facebook was between 12:00 and 5:00... a.m.  This was much to my sister's chagrin, as she kept posting "where are you and why aren't posting?!?" messages on Twitter and FB.  [Side note: she really wanted to come back to Flyoverland and ride this year, but it didn't work out for her.  She's a NY'er now.]  But I digress from my digression.  Back to the main tale....)

I made it a goal to finish the day's ride by 2:00 - or in under 6.5 hours, including a meal stop.  I made it to the campground in Waterloo at 2:15.  But, I did cover it in under 5.5 hours of ride time.

Parkersburg did a great job hosting as a meet up town.  A local artist created these sculptures to greet the riders.

They take their tornados seriously in Iowa.  Especially when an EF-5 rips your town apart, as happened in Parkersburg only two years ago.  (The tornado destroyed 282 homes, 22 businesses, 37 living assistance residences, and took 8 lives.)  Both sculptures were made entirely from bikes and bike parts.

On the way out of Twisterville, Cliff Bar had set up a tent and was handing out free goodies.  (Love the Shot Bloks!)  Next to them was a chiropractor who was providing free adjustments.  For the first time all week, my lower back was hurting, so I thought I'd get an adjustment.  Bad idea.  Never get an adjustment on the fly from someone who has not done a thorough exam.  While it felt great at the time (but the back pain did return before the day's ride ended), I actually still have tingling on the outside of my right foot - sciatic nerve?  You get what you pay for I guess.

From Parkersburg, it was on to, and through, Stout and Dike.  Leaving Dike, and heading east on county highway D19 then south on state hwy 58, we were tantalizing close to Waterloo.  At one point, there was a sign pointing to the left "Waterloo 2mi."  But noooo, we had to continue on for another 15 miles or so before we'd hit camp.

Which brings us to Hudson, home of the Pirates.
(photo borrowed from HCS's website)
I stopped at a local stand to get some Gatorade.  Turns out the proceeds were to benefit a young girl with a chronic disease.  (I want to say her name is Emily and it was for juvenille diabetes.)  So, I bought two Gatorades and a pirate flag.
Tied the flag to the underside of my seat and rode off to Waterloo.  Argh.

We came into Waterloo and they had us set up camp near a casino and waterpark on the south side.  We never got anywhere near downtown.  Hell, we didn't ride through any of the town.  I'm not even sure the camp site was within the city limits.  Oh, and I beat our support vehicle in by about an hour.  That was a little frustrating.  But, given that they had met up in Parkersburg with the rest of the team, it was understandable.

Lots of space, but the grounds were in awful shape.  Huge ruts everywhere and long grass and lots of weeds.  Jim, Qing, and Meghan had a hell of a time getting in with the RV.  (Meghan had ridden with the guys that day - her knees were not good.)  Not because of the land, but because of traffic control - they wouldn't let them through because they were in an RV and this was a camp site, not the RV site.  We finally connected at about 3:30 and were able to start setting up shop.  Once we got somewhat settled, Jim, Qing and I made a beer run into town.

I will say this.  One nice thing about larger communities is that they have the capability to run lots of shuttles.  And there are places to go.  And go we did.  To a grocery store about  2 miles away.  Worked out great.

Did I tell you it was Britt's b'day?
Earlier in the day, someone bought cupcakes to celebrate.  Here's the birthday girl enjoying one. 

After a cupcake, a beer (or three), and a shower, we all hopped on a shuttle bus to go get some real food.  But we ended up at Applebees.  It was great, even though the twelve of us got split into three tables.  Karen bought dinner for Britt and Mike.  The rest of us split the costs of dinner for Jim and Qing as a token of our thanks for their support this week.  And I must say, that was the best Applebees meal ever.  (The fact that we hadn't had real food all week didn't hurt that evaluation.)

By the time we got back to camp it was dark and time for bed.  Only two days to go.  So far the weather was awesome, even if it was a little hot.  Wish I could say that would hold for Day 6.

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