My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 7 - Manchester to Dubuque

Here we are.  Day 7.  The last day of RAGBRAI.  The last day of a great week. 

There are two characteristics of the day's ride.  It was the shortest route, clocking in at 47.5 mi.  And it was the hilliest.  "Highlighted" with the climb up Potter Hill immediately outside of Graf and about 12 miles from Dbq.

If you look at the elevation graph, you see a 400 ft drop immediately before a 350+ ft climb.  Looking at that graph, you'd think you would have momentum from the descent to help carry you up hill.  You would think....  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As we had all week, Team WiscAwesome started stirring at 6:00 to get ready to hit the road at about 7:30.  The weather was great - the rain and wind from Day 6 were both gone.
Team WiscAwesome packing up camp for the last time. (Karen, Mike, Brandon, Me, Holly (L-R))
Today, riding into my hometown, I wanted to ride ahead and get there to see my family.  My wife and daughter came down from Wisconsin and spent the night with my folks, who still live in Dbq.  My goal was to meet them by 11:00.  So I said goodbye to my team and rode off ahead.
Let's Go!
I took off and rolled through Earlville on the way to Dyersville.  Dyersvile, home of the Field of Dreams.  And the Basilica of St. Frances Xavier. (A basilica is a Roman Catholic church that has been given the right to use that name, by the pope. Only some large important churches have this right. Source: Wikipedia)  You gotta give the Catholics credit, they sure know how to build their houses of worship.

Heading east out of Dyersville, riders had could take a detour to visit the Field of Dreams.  (If you are interested, the Field of Dreams is for sale, including 193 acres and 7 buildings.  65,000 visitors annually.  No price listed.  Serious inquiries only.)  Having been there before, I chose to bypass the Field and continue on to and through Bankston.

With a steady climb, we hit our peak elevation of 1200 feet west of Graf near Camp Little Cloud, a Girl Scout camp my two sisters had spent time at.
View from Girl Scout Camp Rd looking northeast.  It's only 1200 feet up, but it felt like the top of the world.

The ride into Graf was intense.  As noted above, it was about a 400 ft drop into town, with a couple of turn on the way down.  I don't think I used my brakes.  At all.  Just got in a tuck and rode.  Fast.  I was easily over 40 mph as I flew down the hill.  I tried to stay left - the usual protocol, but a couple of times came up on other riders who were on the left side and didn't hear me when I shouted.  So I passed them on the right.  That was a blast.  And insane.  If I had hit a rock on the road, I might've....  But... It... Was... Fun!

I was really hoping to use my momentum from the downhill to help propel me up Potter Hill.  Yeah.  That didn't happen.  First, there was a left-hand turn at the bottom of the hill.  Second, we had to go through Graf.  And, as I noted back on Day 1, you don't just go through a town, even when you want to.  You have to dismount because of the congestion.  Finally, there was about 1.5 miles from the bottom of the descent to the start of the climb.

As we started the climb, there were a couple of guys sitting on the tailgate of their truck with a sheet of plywood sarcastically wishing us luck.  There was a "smiley face" that wasn't smiling, with "x"s for eyes painted on their sign.  Yeah, thanks for the encouragement.

The start of the hill wasn't too bad.  The slope wasn't too steep for the first 1/4 mi or so.  Then we made a slight turn to the right and the climb kicked in.  I quickly moved through the gears.  Too quickly.  And found myself out of gears about 1/3 of the way up.  I never got myself into a good rhythm.  Instead, I stood up and tried to stomp it out.  This was fine... for a while.  A *little* while.  I was now stuck.  I couldn't sit back down, I wouldn't get into a cadence that I could keep the bike upright.  I pounded as long as I could.  Then I stopped.  I was just over 1/2-way up the hill.


I really wanted to make it up that hill.  I thought I had done enough hill work to make it.  I was wrong.  Nothing I did in training prepared me for that hill.  So I walked the rest of the way.  Along with about 3/4 of the riders who were on the hill with me.

Here's a pic from about 3/4 of the way up looking back down:
Potter Hill Rd.  6% ave gradient; 19% at steepest.
 As I approached the peak, I realized that if I wasn't going to make it up, the least I could do was encourage those who were still pumping.  So started clapping and cheering those still on their bikes.  "C'mon, you can do it!  Almost there!  Keep Pumping!  Way to go!"  A few thanked me for the encouragement.

At the top of the hill, a local little league had a tent for riders to take a break at, and have their picture taken (I Survived Potter Hill theme).  They also had a whole Harry Potter theme to it.  I didn't stop.  Didn't deserve to.  Instead I climbed back on my ride and got ready for the ride into Dbq.

Now, I thought that we would come into town on Asbury Rd, which is pretty flat.  But I soon realized that that was not the case.  Instead, we entered Dubuque on Middle Rd and then on Pennsylvania Rd.  There was a lot of up and downs, rolling hills, along these roads.  UGH.

But I was pumped!  I was in Dubuque!  I made it.  Only a few miles until the river.

Quick aside....  It was at a stop light as we entered the city, that I found out from a sheriff deputy who was doing traffic control that Steve Briggs had passed away. (See Day 5 post.)

The really cool thing (for me at least) of the ride into Dubuque was that it went past my high school, a block from my childhood home, and past my elementary/middle school.  As I rode past Senior (Dubuque Senior HS), I lifted my fists and shouted "SENIOR CLASS OF '83! GO RAMS!"  I think I heard some other riders chuckle at me.

We cruised down Clarke Dr past Clarke College.  About a mile from Senior, we passed some spectators at the corner of Woodworth and Clarke.  Including the parents of two of my childhood friends.  I shouted "Hi" as I passed.  But I also stopped and turned around.  It was great to see Carol and Bob again.  It has been years.  We talked for about 5 minutes before I pushed on.  Great people.  I looked to my left as I rode on and saw our old house.

We made the right turn onto Madison Hill and rode down (yes, I flew again) as we approached downtown and went past St Patrick's (which is longer a school) and rode down Main St towards our final destination.  We passed under the Town Clock Tower and turned left to go to the Port of Dubuque.

The LAST turn! (almost)
Over the bridge and to the Port. 
And to the River.  The Muddy Miss.

Arrival time: 10:50 a.m.  Goal met.

And that's it.  It's over.  A joyous celebration.  With an anticlimactic feeling afterwards.  But what a great ending to a fabulous week.  Despite the not making it up Potter Hill and in spite of the weather on Day 6, RAGBRAI XXXVIII was an amazing experience.

There will be a couple more entries, so stay tuned.  I need to thank my supporters and comment on some of the characters I saw on the ride.

1 comment:

  1. Bob: I really enjoyed your day by day story. Here was mine. It's a little different from yours!