Mission & Monument Peaks
About This Site
RAGBRAI "The 25th Ride"It was the 25th year of RAGBRAI but it was the first for us (Brent, Lonnie, and I). Hey, Brent and I even made it on the PBS video. Check out our 6 seconds of fame in .MPG format:
How did we end up riding across Iowa? Well the ride idea can be traced back to Meredith.
Heat, intense heat, humid heat (98 degrees + 100% humidity = 110 degree heat index), and being cooked alive alongside cornfields is my primary memory of Iowa. You don't experience that type of heat in California. Dry heat is one thing, but humid heat sucks the energy out of you. Actually, the first six days were just a little uncomfortable but bare able, but the last two days it heated up. It was great to experience moments of civilization (air conditioned shopping mall stop for food on the bus back to the airport after finishing RAGBRAI).
Friday 7/18 two days before RAGBRAI
Saturday 7/19 the day before RAGBRAI
On the way there, that's where we picked up some sayings spray painted on the road that would last throughout the ride and continue on with others.
Grab your bikes.
Eventually, we arrived into town and setup camp. We went into town and picked up beer from the store. That night we got someone mad since our group (which included the Winnie & Pooh chicks) were talking so much that the old guy said his 82 miles the next day was going to be tougher than ours.
We laughed out how people were pitching their tents in stables. Later we wouldn't be laughing anymore since stables make great shelters to stay out of the rain. We even played bingo that night. We played three cards each. It took me a moment to realize I had a bingo, but I did win a few bucks. The postal service was also handing out passports (to get stamped in each town) and was also passing out clickers. (.MP3 audio file)
Official RAGBRAI Day 1 (Sunday 7/20)
I tossed a practically empty bag on the baggage truck and carried most of my stuff in my panniers including the beer. Every other bottle was wrapped in a shirt so they wouldn't break. That morning was a mass exodus out of Missouri Valley. The road was flooded with bikes heading out of town.
We only climbed 3000+ft that day over 82 miles (flat by S.F. Bay Area standards), but it was a lot like riding over several hundred little overpasses through cornfields. Eventually we reached our destination of Red Oak and set out for food. We finally decided on a buffet place. I had two plates of food while Brent had three plates. He declared he needed at least 4000 calories a day instead of the average 2000-2500 a normal person needs.
Official RAGBRAI Day 2 (Monday 7/21)
Having learned from the day before, I carried the bare minimum of stuff in my panniers (just beer) and tossed everything else on the truck that day. On our way to Creston, Brent slowed down to check his rear tire and it ended up being a flat. After a little while I noticed he wasn't behind me anymore. I stopped for lunch along the way thinking they would see me. Since I had an empty cup of ice after downing my soft drink at lunch, I broke out a nice refreshing beer from my pannier as I kept an eye out on the road for them. Eventually, I rolled into Creston and picked up another pair of shorts and RAGBRAI shirt in the vendor location and then hung out under a tree near the ever roaming bulletin board (where you can leave notes for other people) until Brent and Lonnie showed up.
We camped out on some high school field and took the shuttle into town. Downed a few beers at the beer garden and listened to music.
Official RAGBRAI Day 3 (Tuesday 7/22)
Started the morning off with a quick high-energy pace with Team Blaster--a tandem towing a trailer with a radio blaring using two motorcycle batteries for radio power. We would jump on the Team Blaster pace line several times throughout the ride. Sometimes it grew to over 100 riders riding two abreast. We eventually peeled off and entered the town of Cumming (yes a real town name).
That was definitely a party town with beer flowing and music blaring. I downed like 4-5 beers on an empty stomach. While Meredith was partying, it was either Lonnie or Brent who raised her unguarded bike seat on our way out of town.
There was a downhill after Cumming which I did around 32 MPH+ with cars passing on the left. I thought I was going to get some serious road rash but I survived without an incident. It's really hard to ride straight when you've had a few beers. That night we also did laundry and ate at the restaurant next door to it. At the laundry mat is where we met Jody and Chris for the first time. We became known as the "laundry boys" to Jody. She mentioned how it was almost a dorm-like atmosphere at the laundry mat.
We camped out on the zoo grounds that day in Des Moines and even showered in a vacated prison with bars on the shower stalls.
Official RAGBRAI Day 4 (Wednesday 7/23)
Eventually, we made it to our camping spot--one that Brent chose at the bottom of a hill depression and about a quarter mile away from the baggage truck. After camp was setup, we took the shuttle into town where we took in more beer and music from the U.S. Air Force band--they sounded alright actually. That night we had some good rain, thunder, and lightning too.
Official RAGBRAI Day 5 (Thursday 7/24)
On that optional 28-mile loop to make it a century ride, there was only one food vendor at the very end of the loop. Normally food vendors are found about every 5 miles along the route so you can stop for food and drink at any time. At one point along the ride, I noticed a rider sporting a Star Trek Enterprise ship on his helmet. A few people at that food vendor looked at me funny when I recited NCC-1701 (Enterprise's number which they didn't recognize). We eventually made it into Bloomfield where someone had painted a mile or so of road with yellow paint--their version of a yellow brick road. Lonnie and I picked a prime camping spot under shelter and had a nice pvc pipe shower to cool off.
Official RAGBRAI Day 6 (Friday 7/25)
Later on during the day, it got even hotter and I practically melted. I was thankful for the Iowans sitting out in their lawn chairs spraying riders with garden hoses as they rode by. Lonnie tossed up the tent on a football field when we arrived in Fairfield and I just laid back in the grass. At one point, Lonnie mentioned some nearby tent shade a few feet away and I just crawled over to it. 95+ degrees and 100% humidity does not a good time make. Dinner consisted of food we could get at the snack bar of a baseball diamond. That night I said I was setting my watch alarm for the crack of dawn (5:15am) and if they wanted me to help put the tent away, they'd better get up early too since I was planning on beating the heat.
Official RAGBRAI Day 7 (Saturday 7/26)
and for a Dove bar too.
Got to the end of the ride before 11am. Picked up some lunch and then it took some time to locate the Pork Belly People (bus service we hired to take us back to Omaha), but I managed to find them and drop off my bike. 98 degrees and 100% humidity was really uncomfortable. I took the shuttle to the YMCA for a shower and hung out at the pool for about two hours. Then I took the shuttle back to the Pork Belly People. I still remember one guy's comment at the Y, "It's great to be able to take a piss in something that's not moving all the time." By the time I got back to the Pork Belly bus, they already had my bike loaded up and Brent and Lonnie were already in the lead bus. We were lucky to be in the lead bus since the second bus broke down and those people didn't get into the Ramada Inn until 1am while we arrived at 11pm. Halfway through the 400+ mile ride back to the start in Omaha, NE we stopped at a mall for food. Civilization! It was 98+ hot and humid outside but inside was a nice air conditioned mall in the low 70 degrees. It was great to sit down and enjoy a fast food meal from Arbys. We then hopped back on the bus and made it to the Ramada. We hung all our clothes out to dry outside on the rear railing of our room on the third floor (a sight to behold) and packed our bikes away once more for the trip home. We were kind of amazed that a few riders were actually setting up their tents on Ramada property.
That Sunday morning, Lonnie took off first for his 7am flight. Brent and I had some time to kill so we rented a car and drove around Omaha. Got some real Omaha steaks at some steak place. We eventually got back to the airport in the pouring rain and took off for home--the land with no extreme heat and humidity.
Now for Brent's version of events...
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