Cherokee to Lake View, Iowa: July 23-24, 2012

It’s hard to believe that it has been 2 months since I rode in RAGBRAI.  I would really like to finish posting the pages for this event, but there have been so many pressing matters that have prevented me from doing so.  The good news is I have found a house.  After looking at about 30 or more houses, it was a great relief to finally find something I liked and had those things that I was looking for in a house.  The good thing about this house is that it is new and I guess I could say the opposite is true also, i.e., the bad thing about it is it is new.  The first is obvious while the latter might be less so.  A new home requires so much more work and expense initially, e.g., window treatments and the myriad of others things that are necessary to make a house into a home.  I am not a decorator.

I am especially pleased about the location in Monroe, Ohio.  It is less than 5 miles from a bike path that joins other bike paths which meander their way from very near downtown Cincinnati and downtown Dayton.  I believe there are more than 150 miles of bike path in all.  I may end up doing my first century on this bike path.  About five miles from my new home a branch off the main bike path arcs up toward Dayton and back down toward Lebanon and then back home on regular streets about 10-12 miles from my home.  Also the streets in the area are 2-lane roads, but a little less traveled than those closer to Cincinnati.  And it is fairly close to my sons and their families.

Well, let’s talk about RAGBRAI and I am still smiling and happy even if it is hot.  The picture at the right was taken at the beginning of the ride.  For some reason, they had placed cones to keep the riders “corralled” and the result was complete stoppage as the riders had to squeeze through certain places.  It appears at least one rider wanted to volunteer to go!  Today’s ride was 67-miles long through the cornfields and soybeans of Iowa.  I really enjoyed the first 55-60 miles, but the last 8 miles just about sunk my ship.  It was another very hot day and not a cloud in the sky!  I was kinda wondering why they didn’t turn the windmills on so we might get a little breeze!   There were a few riders who were not able to complete the ride and some didn’t even start the ride again today (sagging).  I saw at least a two ambulances on their way to pick up some riders who I later heard were suffering from dehydration.  I did try to drink more today and that did help; however, when I arrived at the campground, I was just completely tuckered out.

At one stop, while I was eating a funnel cake…great nourishment…It has been a long time since I have had a funnel cake (nothing bu fried bread with powdered sugar sprinkled on top), I was talking with Saul.  You can tell just looking at Saul that he is one of the real riders…If I remember correctly, Saul said one of his parents was Jewish and the other Christian.  He said he always thought they named him Saul just to cover all the bases!  This was one of the great things about RAGBRAI and other touring events like it – you get to meet a lot of really nice people along the way.  Everyone has a story and if you are patient you can hear some really great ones.

Along the way, the flat bridges were a relief from the climbs.  There didn’t seem to be many waterways in Iowa; may have been where we were riding, but it was nice to see this river.

Janet, my tent neighbor, who has ridden in 7 previous RAGBRAIs, said it was the hottest she can remember.  In fact, she said about 15-20 miles from the finish, she asked someone with a truck if he would take her to the campground.  She told me she was sagging tomorrow and it didn’t take much for me to agree to ride the bus with her.

I’m pretty sure I have written previously about the SAG Wagon.  No one seems to know where the name originated and there are many opinions on what it stands for.  SAG refers to a vehicle which travels the route to look for any rider who has either mechanical or physical difficulty requiring assistance.  Many of the tours, including RAGBRAI clearly state the SAG Wagon is not a taxi service, but sometimes there are riders who really need that service.  I suppose because the rides on RAGBRAI are as long as they are and because it attracts a large number of casual riders, i.e., riders who have hardly ridden around the block let alone the long distances of RAGBRAI rides, there are perhaps more need for a taxi service.  Also don’t forget the aged riders…oops that’s me.  Pork Belly Ventures have started offering this service which you reserve the night before.  The bus was filled with about 150 cyclists each day and they made at least 3 trips.  I felt a little sheepish about riding the bus, but once I got into it, it wasn’t bad at all!  However, when I look back on it, I often think about my favorite saying, “Pain is temporary; quitting is forever.”  It is easy to forget how hot it was.  I do remember thinking, “This is supposed to be fun…not torture.”  That gives me some comfort about having not ridden on a couple of days.

Janet, Sandy, and I had a nice restful day…sitting in the shade with like-minded cyclists.  Of course, we were there long before those who braved another very hot day on the road, but not long before Ed.  Ed rode hard each day and was usually one of the first riders.

This is Bryan who has only been riding a couple of years.  He was also one of the first riders in; he averaged about 15 miles per hour on a 67 mile ride.  Pretty good for a young guy!  This was a great day to sag, because we had a table to sit at and one of the riders (not pictured, sorry) had a sister that lived nearby so we were able to ride in her van to a local restaurant for breakfast.  The picture, above right, was just over a rise from where we were sitting.  There was plenty of shade where we were waiting throughout the day, but not where our tents were.  Somehow the tents found their way to the sunniest part of the park, ball field, or wherever we camped for the night.

Tom was one of my favorite guys to talk with throughout the week.  He was just a great listener and shared himself with others.  Anyone who always seems to have nice thing to say about others is almost always a nice person him or herself.  Thanks, Tom, for making me feel welcome.  Tom and Jim rode everyday together and were among the later group in getting to the campground.  Not because they were slow riders, but because they stopped and sat and talked to everyone they met along the way.  If they saw a farmer on his porch, they would pull up a rocker and sit and talk with him (or them).  They are a great example of what makes RAGBRAI so much different than many of the other week-long tours.  Tom said he had no idea how fast they rode Jim said they usually averaged about 17-18 mph  – when they were riding, that is.  One funny things Tom told me was that he would not ride fast downhill.  He said if he got up to about 30-35 mph, he would slow down.  In fact, he said he was terrified about riding too fast downhill.  I believe he was serious, but he may have just been yanking my chain.


About SteveVarnum

I am 81 years old. I started riding a bicycle at age 70 and like most avid cyclists, fell "in love" with it. For a Grand Adventure, I decided to ride at least 100 miles in every state. I completed all 50 states. I did the 48 contiguous states in May - November 2010 (73) and Hawaii and Alaska 2011 (74). I have ridden > 36,000 miles in past 11 years and at 81, I still am still riding.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Bicycles, Bicycling, Exercise, Friends, Iowa, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cherokee to Lake View, Iowa: July 23-24, 2012

  1. Pingback: What a cool Mission ! - Page 2

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