My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ghost Bike: R.I.P. Carrie Pete

This morning was perfect for early ride before getting ready for work.  I woke up before my 4:15 alarm and checked the weather on my iPhone.  63°F and partly cloudy.  I got dressed and took the dogs out before heading out.  The air was calm, if a bit humid, but it was nice out.  I decided to go only with shorts and jersey - no base layers or arm warmers today!  There'll be plenty of days for those coming up.

At 4:35, I mounted up and headed out.  (I use two headlights - a stronger one to see and another I set on flash mode to be seen.  I also have a flashing taillight and a light strapped to the back of my helmet so I'm visibile.)

When you first start out on mornings like this you get a bit chilled until you get your motor warmed up.  It usually takes a mile or so.  Before you're warmed up, you second guess your clothing options.  I thought about turning around to get arm warmers.  But didn't.

This morning, there were some patchy areas of light fog.  Nothing too bad.  I could certainly see and be seen.

County Highway M is a nice road to ride, I think.  Recently repaved, with wide shoulders (at least 4'), its pretty smooth.  I was riding west on Cty M from Highway 113 to Middleton.  About 2 miles from Hwy 113, just past Cty K, the road bends left and goes up a hill as you pass Governor Nelson State Park.  The climb is about 70' - pretty easy (but remember, that's about the height of a 7-story building).  As I'm riding, I'm focused on the patch of shoulder illuminated by my headlight and also paying attention to the car traffic. 

Near the top of the hill, just as I ride past it, I notice something on my right. In the patchy fog, I recognize it - a bicycle painted all white.  A ghost bike.

It was recently left there, chained to the speed limit sign post.  I continued my ride, but kept thinking about the ghost bike (which, in the fog and early morning darkness appeared like a ghost) and the news stories I read about a recent accident in this area.  My route took me back to the intersection of Cty K and Cty M just north of the ghost bike.  Instead of turning left to head back towards home, I turned right.  I wanted to get a pic.  I wanted to write this post.
The sign attached to the top tube reads "RIP Carrie Pete."  Carrie was struck by a pickup truck on October 8 at about 11:40 a.m.  The driver had fallen asleep.  (News stories are linked here.)

I don't know Carrie.  Never met her.  But I do know that she is a special person to someone else.  She is someone's daughter.  And/or someone's wife, and/or sister, and/or mother, and/or  friend.  (Obit here)
Carrie Jo Pete

What I do know is that she died senselessly.  I'm sure the driver didn't mean to hit her.  And I'd bet that it is tearing him up.  Ironically, she may have saved his life - the collision may have prevented him from going into the ditch and wrecking.

So, this is a plea, dear readers (both of you).  Share the road. Drive attentively.  Don't drive drunk or (just as bad) when you're sleepy.  And share the road.  Cyclists DO have a right to ride on the roads (we do not belong on sidewalks).  And remember, when you see a cyclist, he or she is not an inanimate object.  He or she is someone's child.  Someone's lover.  Someone's friend.  Someone's Carrie.

Rest in peace, Carrie.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I want to thank everyone - all 60 of you!!! - who supported my fundraising efforts again this year!  Many of you have contributed for each of my three years riding with Team LIVESTRONG.  Together, we have contributed more than $2500 this year and $10,000 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation since 2010. 

Please know that your contributions to the Foundation are going to provide support for cancer patients and their support networks, whether it be assistance navigating the bureaucracy of the medical and insurance world, or educational materials.  There is on-line, call center, and printed materials.  All of this is provided for free to people who need it.

Harvey and Mary Avery
James Avery
Patricia A Black
Robert C Borch
Martha Alejandrina Boyd
michael brevig
Brain Brewer
Debra K Brown
Victoria Chung
Jason Dummert
Erin Fath
Gene L Fornecker
Joseph Gill
Jenny Goldschmidt
Ilya Gorbonos
scott gralla
erin green
Lisa Marie Green
Christina Hafeman
Rodney Hawkins
Kathleen L Johnson
Richard J. Ketter
Jennifer Knecht
Lynn Knight
Mike Koltes
Jerome Landmark
Sandy Langer-Wood
Loretta L Langlois
Stephanie Laudon
Tammy Jean Lenbom
Keith Lucius
Erin E Lynett
Janelle Marotz
Ken Mischler
Linda R Mont
Krissy Nelson
Brad Olson
Annalisa Oswald
Natalie Rew
Howard C Richards
Daniel M. Romano
Margaret Rudolph
Debby Schufletowski
Linda Skoglund
Margaret Smith
Bob Soldner
Patricia Sprang
Catherine St Jean
Mary Stapenek
Timothy Stellmacher
Matt Storlie
Chayot Thongklin
Mary Ellen VanValin
Lisa Voisin
Lisa Voisin
John Vonder
Woodrow Wiedenhoeft
Michael Worringer

I hope I can count on your support again in 2013.  I look forward to riding again.  I look forward even more to a time when cancer is a footnote in history, not a threat to the lives of our loved ones or ourselves.


Monday, October 22, 2012


Well, it's still hard to get more than a few minutes to write out the post for the last day of this year's ride. Plus I need to do a post thanking all my sponsors. And, for good or ill, one addressing the latest news regarding Lance Armstrong and my future with the team (hint: I'm staying! and plan to ride again next year).

But first, my post about Day 7.

The last day was almost 70 mi from Anamosa to Clinton (one of the longer last days). There would be some ups and downs today as we got closer to the river.

The thing about the last day is that the team schedules a meet up location/time. This is the only time all week we need to somewhere at a specified time. We would meet at about Noon at a small college campus inside Clinton. But more on that later.

I had a chance to ride with a couple of strong athletes today: Matt Rivera (a marathoner) and Andy Wirsing (who rode his bike from Clinton home ... to UPSTATE NY! after we finished ... in 6! days).

Maybe the best compliment was from Andy, when we were hugging the left lane and flying, commenting about how fast I was driving the train. Of course, gravity was giving me a big hand in that as we were going down a long descent. We hit an intersection and turned left at full speed (maybe 25). Fortunately, we hit a gap in the group so I swing a little to the right before diving thru the corner. That was fun!

Andy dropped me going up the next hill. (Oh gravity, you can be such a fickle partner!)

#SeenOnMyBike - a beautiful view from on top of a hill overlooking the farmland valley in eastern Iowa

Matt stayed with me and we rode together the rest of the way to Clinton. We got in a couple pacelines that we're chugging along pretty well. But we kept coming upon congested bike traffic and cars coming the other way. I finally suggested we jump out. Too busy for a paceline, I thought.

Eventually we made it to the team meet up location in Clinton. Traditionally, the team rides the last couple miles to the the Mississippi in formation, two-by-two, survivors in the front. It's an amazing experience. (Hence the scheduled time.) This year, I caught it on video on the cell phone. (Sorry its sideways.) Here is the video:

Heading Home. Hoping my memories don't fade like the shadows.

Finally, I want to thank my Team LIVESTRONG teammates (all of who I hope I can now call friends!) for a wonderful week. I don't want to leave anyone out, so I'll skip listing everyone by name. It was great spending the week with you. I can't wait to see you all again next July!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

RAGBRAI Days 2, 3 and 4

Disclaimer- In the 2+ months since we rode into Clinton to end RAGBRAI XL back in late July, things have been a little crazy in my life.  We moved and I changed jobs.  Things are finally starting to settle back down.  But it has been about 10 weeks since the ride.  And I don't keep notes as I ride.  So these posts are from memory, sometimes triggered by the photos I did take.  As a result, this post is not as good as it should be.  Honestly, the only thing I recall off hand about day two is that I met a guy named Dale from the Madison area and will be buying a tandem from him so I can ride RAGBRAI next year, or the year after, with my daughter.  Let's see if I can conjur up more memories...

I previously wrote about Day 1 here.

Day 2 took us from Cherokee to Lake View. 
I don't have any special stories from D2, except this - I met a rider, Dale, wearing a Capital Brewery jersey (near Madison).  Turns out that he's from the Madison area, too.  We talked about riding, family, etc.  Turns out he has a tandem he rode with his son, who is no longer interested.  So I'm going to buy it from him so Olivia can ride with me in 2013 or 2014.
Now, to let the pictures tell theirs.
Just a few more of the 20,000 riders on RAGBRAI.  I especially love the combination of the "biker" look ("Hills Angels")  w/ the Norse inspired helmet.

"TRUCK UP!" RAGBRAI is ridden on the open roads. Thankfully, 99.9% of aware and careful.

One of several hand-cyclists I saw all week. Riding using your legs to motor for 500 miles is tough enough. I cannot imagine doing it all with your arms. #inspiring #tough

Dinner at the VFW.  Great food!
The view across the lake in Lake View.  The band shell is ready for the night's concert.  Heard them perfectly all night.
Day 3 was the start of the three longest days of the week - two 80+ mile days and one 77.  But you know, 81 miles just wasn't enough for some masochists out there.  Riders feeling up to it could ride an additional 23 miles, including a couple of big climbs, to cover 104.5 miles on the day.  Hey that sounds like fun!  Sign me up!  Two Century Rides in four days?  Excellent!
So, I opted to ride the Karras Loop.  I'm really glad I did, too.  I actually ran into Krissy and her dad in Stratford, the small town on the loop.  If you recall, Krissy was my riding partner for the iGranFondo the day before RAGBRAI officially began. And her birthday was coming up.  She had been searching for the only ride patch she didn't have - 2010, which was the first year I rode.  The patch has sat in my handlebar bag the last two years.  So it gave me great pleasure to pass it along to someone who has ridden twelve RAGBRAIs now. 
Happy Birthday, Krissy!
The other memorable moment of Day 3 was the watermelon in Dayton.  Oh! My! God! It was the best watermelon ever!  56.5 miles into the day, there was a church just as you enter Dayton that was selling the seedless watermelon.  Did I say it was good?
As for the extra miles of the Karras Loop, the worst were the miles at the start of the Loop where we headed east on Cty Hwy D54.  We rode in a serious headwind.  It was like riding with a parachute on.  Once we turned south, we made a nice descent into a river valley and then came back up other side.  The hill was long and fairly steep.  But it wasn't the hardest hill of the day.  Once we pulled into Stratford we were welcomed by local ladies handing out leighs to all the riders.  After a great lunch, the Loop had another descent and climb. 
As I was about to return to Dayton, I caught another impressive rider.  This guy was riding a unicycle!  He had never ridden 100 miles ever, so decided he wanted to do his first on the unicycle.  I saw him multiple times  throughout the week.  Insane.  And incredible.  Chappeau, young man!
After leaving Dayton again, we headed to Lehigh.  Lehigh is a small town along the river valley.  It was great getting to fly down into town.  The climb out was actually longer and steeper than the hills on the Loop.
It was a great day on the bike, all in all.  Even riding into that headwind at the start of the Loop.
Day 4 took us from Webster City to Marshalltown. 
 My one story about this day, was that after riding "solo" (or about as solo as you can in the middle of 20,000 other cyclists), I ran into a couple of LIVESTRONG teammates, Tina and Deren in Story City at a food vendor in the city park.
We ate lunch together and chatted. Turns out Tina grew up in Dubuque too and her folks lived on the same street as my folks, albeit more than a few blocks away. The three of us rode a century old carossel in the park before heading out of town. We rode together the rest of the way. It was a great day riding, talking, and sharing with those two. I'm proud to call them friends now and look forward to riding with them again soon.
On the last stretch heading towards Marshalltown, I got separated from Tina and Deren.  Then, right as I got to town, I heard a voice shout out the greatest combination of two words ever: "FREE BEER!"  I turned right, crossed the tracks, then left into the driveway, where I was warmly welcomed with a cold beer.  Anyone riding a bike was welcome here.  And it was a welcome relief after another day of riding in temps in the mid-upper 90s and low 100s.  Another example of how RAGBRAI is such a great event!

Iowa hospitality on display in Marshalltown: "FREE BEER!" Thank you so much!

Ok, three stories....  That evening in Marshalltown, a storm rolled in starting at about 10:00.  A handfull of us gathered under the awning on the side of the bus, shooting the shit, drinking a beer, and staying dry.  As the rain and wind picked up, a few of us ducked in the team bus. The folks from Austin had the fun job of walking about camp checking on everyone.  By midnight the storm had passed.
The worst part of the storm missed us.  But we still had winds strong to blow over at least one tent.
View from the bus of the storm rolling in at 11:00p.  That's not the sun.  Or the moon.
Yes, Lance signed the inside of the team's SAG bus.
All in all, we survived storm with nary a problem.  Well, except for me.  Due to my own stupidity.  I tried to outthing Mother Nature.  With the winds blowing strongly, I came up with the (not so) brilliant plan to drop my tent so it wouldn't blow over/away.  It remained staked in.  And it worked.  The tent didn't blow away.  Of course, neither did anyone else's.  But, sitting on the ground meant that the open top was no longer protected by the rain cover.  I ended up with a bit of rain inside the tent.  I was able to soak it all up... using my cotton sleeping bag.  So I had no sleeping bag that night.  And it was probably the coolest night of the week.  So, it wasn't the best night for sleeping.
I previously blogged about Day 5 and Day 6, as they were pretty special days. Ehh, chronology, who needs it? Next up: Day 7, the last day of the ride.