My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 6 - Waterloo to Manchester

Ok.  Let's be up front about this.  Day 6 was one of the most miserable days to ride a bike.  Ever.  Ok, maybe not ever, but certainly in July in Iowa.  The thing about the day was that it was impossible to dress for without being uncomfortable.  Unless, of course, you had some fancy specialized (expensive) gear.

That morning, the temps were in the mid- to upper-60s.  It was raining.  So, we were cold and wet.  If you had rain gear on, you'd get too hot and it would cling to you.  If you didn't have rain gear, you'd be... cold... and wet.
Photo fr the Dubuque Telegraph Herald
Doesn't that look like fun?!?

At one point, two of our riders, Holly and Brandon were so misearable and cold that they were going to SAG it in, only to find that the SAG wagon had recently departed and they'd have to wait at least an hour for another to return.  Given the choice of waiting in the rain and cold or riding in the rain and cold, they chose to ride.  A lot of people gave up on this miserable morning.

Day 6 started from the 'Loo and was scheduled for 62 miles.  It wasn't raining yet when we pulled out, but the sky was grey and it didn't look too promising.  I decided to not pack my nylon rain jacket.  I figured it would get too hot with the temps in the 60s.  By the time we got about 5 miles out, the rain began.  It wasn't too bad though, a steady rain.

The first two towns were both within the first 7.5 miles of the ride, so we opted to to meet up as a team in the third town, Jubilee, just over 15 miles into the day's ride.  On the way, I had to pull off the road.  I had a bad brake rub for some reason.  So as I'm making adjustments a car pulls up and three people jumped out, one taking pictures of me as I worked on my bike.  Turns out they were with the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.  I had a (dumb) quote in the article they published.  But I finished the adjustment and headed on to our meet-up town.

When I arrived in Jubilee, I had to ask if I was there.  Seriously.  It was literally a crossroads - county hwy V62 and Jubilee Rd.  There was a church there.  And three other buildings.  The only indication that this was a "pass-through" town was the tent posted on the side of the road.  After waiting 5 minutes (and starting to get cold), I decided to get back on my bike and ride on.  On to Shady Grove.

Shady Grove was another 8 miles.  The rain had changed to a drizzle.  The temps dropped.  It was now becomming nasty.  With rain, the bigger drops don't feel so bad.  With drizzle, it feels more like pin pricks as it hit you.  The challenge was finding a speed that was comfortable.  Too fast and the movement against the air was more like wind chill.  Too slow and you don't generate enough body heat to stay warm.

Shady Grove was not a town either.  It was another intersection.  At a farm.  Maybe the town was off ahead when we turned right.  But the stands were there.  There was a bike store selling rain gear.  For $30!  I decided to pass.  As long as I was at the right speed, it was ok.

I met up with the rest of Team WiscAwesome at Shady Grove.  Holly and Brandon were wet (surprise!) and freezing.  They decided to SAG from here and went off to hook up with the van to catch a ride on to Manchester.  So we took off for Rowley, leaving them behind.  On the way, we stopped at a farm for a bite.  I really preferred these kind of stops - at a local place where the benefit is going to the people on the route (as opposed to the corporate vendors who travel along the ride).  Great food, a tent to stay dry under and a grill to heat up by.

After a 20-minute (or so) stop, we continued on.  We rolled through Rowley and on to Quasqueton (Quasky) for our next meet up.  I pulled over to wait and while on the side of the road, a cantankerous old man was trying to drive through the route, 10,000 riders be damned.  A sheriff's deputy tried to explain why he could go the way he wanted to.  The old man wouldn't hear it.  He tried to pull out adn the deputy had to threaten him with arrest.  Finally the old man relinquished and backed up.

As we all met up, Bandon and Holly joined us.  The wait time for the SAG Wagon was an hour, and there was nowhere to wait.  So they rode on.  We walked around Quasky, had some food and then looked for shelter to warm up in.  Around the corner from the food tents was the fire house.  They opened their doors, cranked the heat and passed out blankets.  Holly and Brandon were both blue and took the blankets.  There were about half-dozen other riders in there warming up along with us.  THANK YOU QFD!

And the rain finally stopped!  YAY!

Now, on to Manchester!  The sun was out, the road was drying.  Should be a great ride into Manchester.  Did I mention the wind? Oh yeah, it picked up and was coming out of the east.  As we headed east.  It was the strongest headwind that we rode into all week.  But it was DRY!!!

The last 22 miles to Manchester were tough.  They were also closer to 30 miles.  The flooding in Iowa hit Manchester fairly hard the week before and forced ride organizers to detour our approach to town.  Only we didn't know it.  So I'm gauging my effort based on time riden since we left Quasky, thinking we're almost there.  We're almost there.  We're.  Almost.  There. 

Then we were there!  But not.  The detour took us past a residential subdivision by the golf course (if I remember right).  It turns out we were still a couple miles away from town.  I was never so happy to see town as I was that afternoon.  Our camp was on the far side of town, but that was ok, because I was there.  I was in Manchester.

I contacted Jim and Qing and was able to find them pretty quickly.  When I did, I literally wanted to just drop my bike, grab a beer and crash.  It's a damn good thing that day was Day 6 and not Day 2.  It was a spirit breaking kind of day.  But it was behind me.

The rest of Team WiscAwesome floated into town and my energy level came back.  I offered to make the beer run on a bike.  I was intending to ride Mike's as his doesn't have clips and I didn't want to be clipped in hauling beer.  Turns out I rode Holly's.  I'm about a foot taller than she is and more than 100 lbs heavier.  I thought the ride felt a little small for being Mike's bike.  It was good for a laugh after I got back.  Of course, the store was on the other side of town - about 3 miles away.  Getting there was ok.  Getting back with three 12-packs & a bottle of margarita mix in a back pack was ... interesting.  But I made it.  And there was much rejoycing.

Mike, Britt and Maddie
Maddie, Me and Jim. (Brandon in the background with his back to us.)
Are we playing Apples to Apples or Cribbage?
It was our last night together.  My last chance to be a "kid" for a while.  We had a great time.  Tomorrow would be the last, and the shortest, day of RAGBRAI.  It would also be the day of The Hill.  And then back to reality.

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