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.|
|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.