Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids to Animosa, Iowa: July 26-27, 2012

As “promised” yesterday, I took the day off because of the heat…and maybe, in the back of my mind, because of the 85-mile distance.  I had another restful day.  After finding my bike in amongst all the rabble of “other” bikes, I was changed a tube which had a broken valve stem.  It wasn’t leaking, but I was afraid I would be out on the road and it would go flat.  I also cleaned my chain and got ready, my bike got ready, to roll tomorrow…early.

Most of the afternoon, I sat and talked because Tent City was in the sun…again.  I met Rick from Abilene, Texas, and Rob from Bend, Oregon.  Rob who is riding in his second RAGBRAI this year, has only been riding a couple of years; he started when he was 60 years old.  We swapped stories.  As I said, the people are what make this event such a great one; however, having said that, I have to expand it a little:  It takes a special kind of adult to want to ride a bicycle – either just starting to ride or never having stopped riding from childhood.  It is the kid in us, I guess.  Bobby used say you never have to worry about another cyclist stealing your bike…it’s all those other people.  The best place for the tents…in the sun!!

This is a shot of Janet’s bike…it has to be the “World’s Smallest Bicycle,” because Janet is the world’s smallest cyclist…except for the little people.  I think Janet is about 4’ tall…maybe an inch or so more.  She never wants for anything.  If she wants to go into Tent City before it opens, she just says, “I need to get my medication.”  If she wants to get to the front of the line… whatever line, she says, “I need to get my medication.”  Sometimes she has to be a little more imaginative and change the wording slightly like in a crowded bus and she wants a seat, she just says, “I need to sit because I just took my medication.”  Never fails…she gets there…first…I have to say it was a lot of fun being around her and as I said before she certainly helped me get through the week.

RIDING AGAIN – Cedar Rapids to Anamosa, Iowa:

What a great ride today.  The heat had abated substantially.  The mileage was a very low 48 miles.  I stopped for breakfast on the bridge which had been set up with vendors serving RAGBRAI riders.  I had biscuit and gravy…did I tell you I had gained weight…don’t know why.  I finally got a piece of pie later in the day.  You can see from these pictures how early my start was.  But don’t worry, the afternoon cometh…and it will be another day in the sun for our tents.


Slowing…Stopping…More signals riders use.

These shots below are on the bridge and one looking at another bridge across the way.  Just part of the 470-mile buffet.

Somewhere along the way, we saw the Ladies Accordion Club.  Today was probably the hilliest day and I really loved those hills.  On every downhill ride, I went blasting down, moving to the far left side of the road passing everyone…getting a jump on the climb ahead.  About a quarter of the way up the hill, I quickly retreated to the far right side of the road…watching as all those I just passed now passing me…until we crested and I would do it all over again.  That’s the most fun part of the ride…the downhill part…It was a good day to ride…The picture at the right shows a different way to ride…one I have always wanted to try.

One of the most gratifying parts of riding is when I am giving it all to pedal up a steep hill…passing others and saying quietly, “on your left”…well, actually, I was ripping by them at nearly 5 mph.  Oh, I didn’t mention…they were walking!  That’s the only time I pass anyone on a climb is when they are walking their bikes up the hill!  On the other hand one of the most embarrassing parts of riding is when someone passes me, jumps off their bike and starts walking their bike up the hill, yelling back to me, “Come on, draft on me…let me know if I am going too fast for you.”

RAGBRAI is known for its pies and its church ladies that make pies.  I stopped at one of the churches which had lots of pie ladies.  I asked one of them which pie was the best…I knew when she didn’t pick her own that it was probably going to be a good choice…and it was.  Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of the pie…or the church ladies…This rider is staying close to the ground and he’s coming through…


I chatted a bit with Anna Maria as we ate lunch.  I thought I had a picture, but evidently I was wrong.   Another rider (unknown by either of us) brought us a slice of pizza.  He said he had more than he could eat and we were glad to accommodate him.   Anna Maria rides her bike to work every day.  When I worked for the VA in Tacoma, Washington, I lived about a mile (seriously just a mile) from work.  It occurred to me that I should ride my bike to work which I did for 3 or 4 days.  I had to quit because of the long dist…No, actually, I quit due to the humidity, I was soaked with sweat in just a mile and there was nowhere to shower.  I sure wish I had started riding back then on a regular basis.  I owned a Schwinn Varsity which is considered a classic today.  I had bought it about 5 years earlier.  I doubt I rode more than 200 miles the entire time I had that bike.  In those days, late 70’s, bikes didn’t have water bottle cages and they weighed 2-3 times more than bikes today.  My Schwinn weighed 37 pounds and my Time weighs less than 15 pounds unloaded.  Still, I would have been a lot better off physically had I kept the bike and gotten serious about riding while I was still young…er.

Because the ride was so short today, I arrived at camp about 11 a.m.  Anamosa is home to a maximum security state prison, but it doesn’t appear the residents are all quaking in fear.  In fact, they used the prison garb as costumes for the welcoming committee.


When we got to camp there were, no lines for the Kybo (otherwise known as an outhouse or Porta-Potty), no lines for the shower, no lines for the lavatories outside the shower, no lines for a snack, lots of seats under the tent so I grabbed my Kindle and sat under the tent to read.

Awhile later, Harold came by and we struck up a conversation. It turned out we have lived parallel lives. His birthday is September 7th, mine is the 6th. He is 72 and I am 74. He was in the Air Force and so was I. He has three children and so do I. He has 15 grandchildren…oops not quite so parallel…I only have 7. Nevertheless, we enjoyed sharing so many similar things about our lives. If I remember correctly, we both served at some of the same air bases.

At the end of the ride, I finally got a Mocha Frappe – there was a McDonald’s a couple of blocks from the campground.  Maybe I do know how I gained weight…hmmm…

Janet wanted me to go to town with her in the late afternoon so we could see Anamosa in the afternoon, and so she could find a RAGBRAI T-shirt, and most importantly so we could eat dinner.  We went to one of the local churches and, as expected, it was great.  Then we walked the streets of Animosa looking for her T-shirt.

We got to actually see our first SAG wagon on this ride.  Neither of us believed there were any.  It appears, Janet is absolutely amazed to actually see one in captivity.

After Janet found the shirt she was looking for, we waited for a bus to take us back to the campground.  A great day on the Great Bicycle Ride…

A couple of picture I had to include, one of Janet holding court for the ladies camping nearby.  Amd the other a picture of Tom with his smile on as always.


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.

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