My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RAGBRAI D6: Best Day Ever?

Maybe not, but it was a lot of fun. Of course, when you take 8-1/2 hrs to ride 42 miles, you better be having fun!

D6 actually began the night before. It was the RAGBRAI 40th Anniversary celebration in downtown Cedar Rapids. The evening was a celebration of RAGBRAI. and included honoring the seven riders who have done ALL FORTY RIDES(!).

Then it was time for the Counting Crows. Team LIVESTRONG was represented up front at the concert. There were at least a dozen of us in the front of the audience. It was a lot of fun. Thanks again to Marty for arranging for the bus to get us back to camp (on his yard).
Counting Crows in Cedar Rapids on Thursday night. Great show!
Knowing it was a short day the next day, we planned on "sleeping in" and hitting the road at about 9 on Friday. (And if the teammates who weren't out until 1am would have gotten that message, we would have slept in at least past 7.)  That morning we were treated to a pancake breakfast prepared by Drew's family. Drew's grandfather has a mobile kitchen he brought over. The pancakes were delicious. Thank you!  (For more about Drew and Marty, or more specifically, Marty's son Jack, see my D5 post.)

A group of about 12 of us on Team LIVESTRONG rolled out together this morning, including the LIVESTRONG intern Eliza. I'm not convinced that she had been on a bike before. "There's a seat in my shorts!"

Eliza though did have "Super Dave" with her as her personal escort. Dave volunteers as the team mechanic and is a former pro racer. And was in the peleton with Lance. Great guy and served as a great guide/chaperone/body guard for Eliza.

It was a good thing, too, as we lost Eliza and Dave before we even got out of downtown Cedar Rapids. But they caught up to us at the first stop, a place called "The Rut."  I'm sure a bunch of lycra clad cyclists are not the usual clientele at The Rut (a place named after the mating season for deer), but they treated us great!

While we were enjoying bloody Mary's and other beverages, Eliza was introduced to Team Spin.  

Eliza meets Team Spin. << It's a conspiracy, Eliza! Runa away! << Too late!

Eliza gets spun. << And she sticks the dismount! <<  
She's all smiles. Hmmm. How did all those stickers get on her? And look at the placement! Now, we know why she is smiling!
Welcome to RAGBRAI, Eliza!

This was the theme of the day - ride a way then stop and have fun. We rode to Mt Vernon and ate breakfast and ducked into a bar for a beer.

We rode on, fighting a strong headwind out of the north, to Springview where we grabbed lunch ... and ... a beer.

You get the idea. This was not a day for challenging yourself. It was a day to enjoy the experience of RAGBRAI and the comraderie of the team. I had a fantastic day riding with Barb, Tina, Deren, Eric, Allen, Eliza, Dave, Gene, Don and Cindy. (I know I'm missing someone! Sorry!)

Rather than heading into the overnight town, Anamosa, in the last few miles, we turned left and went off route to the party in Stone City. Stone City sits in a valley, surrounded by hills on all sides. It was fun riding into. We had dinner and a beverage or two there. They had a bluegrass band playing there too.

Sidebar: My brother Tom plays in a bluegrass band as well (The Cosmobilly Band).  As I listened to the music, I wondered if he knew these guys.  He lives not too far from where we were.  I found out a week or so later that not only a) does he know the guys in that band, but b) his bassist was playing for them; c) he was there... when I was... less than 50' away from me!; and d) he and his band (including his son Lakota) played at a farm where a couple teams were staying just outside of town that night!  If I had only turned my head to the right, I would have seen him - he was probably the only one there in bib overalls rather than lycra shorts!  And I would have been able to listen to him play that night, too. Such is life, I suppose.

Climbing out of Stone City was advertized as brutally steep.  The party organizers had arranged rides in trucks and ATVs for riders who didn't want to climb the hill.  I took it as a challenge. So, when it came to head to camp for our team meeting, I saddled up, along with a handful of others - including ELIZA!  I actually thought the hill wasn't that bad.  It wasn't any steeper than the two on the Karras Loop (see D3 post - yet to come) nor the longer one out of Lehigh that same day.  As I tapped out the climb, I heard my chain starting to slip.  I tried changing gears to move the deraileur, but it kept slipping.  Finally, just as the climb started to flatten out, the chain dropped.  Damn.  At least it wasn't on the steepest part.  I got the chain back on and pressed on.  We all made it to the top (Chapeau, Eliza! Well done!) and rode the final few miles into town.

Entering in to Anamosa on the scheduled route, riders passed under a gate celebrating the city's role in state corrections.  Having gone through Stone City, we didn't come past the gate.  I did however hear about it. 
Riding into Anamosa (home of a large state prison).  (photo from:
That evening, the team meeting was especially emotional. Dave and Gina shared the story of the loss of one of their boys to cancer when he was a teenager.  Gina also shared how, when her other son was a counselor in Vail one summer, Lance Armstrong approached him to ask about his story - why was he wearing the yellow bracelet.  As the brother shared, he said that Lance should talk to his mom.  So Lance had the brother call Gina right then and took the time to listen and talk to her and offer her some words of support.

Next, Eric spoke.  Eric is in his early to mid 20s ... about the same age as Gina and Dave's son.  He just recently opened up to his friends that he is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed as a teen.  Now he was sharing his story with a group of 75 strangers who are now part of his family.  Needless to say, there were tears and Eric, Gina and Dave spent some time talking and bonding.
Eric and Gina hug near the end of the evening's team meeting.
This was to be our last night in camp together.  The next morning, we would saddle up for the last time this year and ride to Clinton.  Once in Clinton, we would gather together to ride in formation to the official ending spot of RAGBRAI - the dip in site on the Mississippi River.  But that's for another post.

It was an incredible day.  It was fun.  It was challenging.  It was emotional.  It was supportive.  It was LIVESTRONG on RAGBRAI.

Thanks for reading.  Comments welcome below!

No comments:

Post a Comment