This was the most exciting day of the entire 7-day event. It was probably the most exciting because it was the last day of what had been a pretty grueling week. But looking back now, I don’t remember it that way. I remember it was hot. I remember I was tired. I remember I was on the brink of dehydration. I remember the cramps. And I remember the aches. But what I don’t remember is the pain. In fact I don’t remember anything but the good parts of it all. Years ago I read that we can’t remember pain so I guess that is why I don’t.
I remember all the good things about RAGBRAI. I remember the friends I met and even those I talked with either in passing or in being passed. Today I met some special people…I’ll tell you about them shortly.
And “shortly” it will be because I didn’t take any notes for today’s ride…nothing…nada.
I remember something else…it was coooollllddd last night (July 27th). Going from 110° during the day to just above freezing at night…that’s a jump in just a week. It didn’t really get that cold, but when you are sleeping without any cover, you can get chilled pretty quickly. My sleeping bag was packed up into a tiny ball stuffed into its storage bag and I didn’t want to have to take the time to “mess with it” when I woke up. But I was so cold and I couldn’t sleep so with just one hour before my alarm would go off, I unpacked the sleeping bag and luxuriated in its warmth for that wonderful hour. I should have done it long before then!
As you can tell from the pictures I left early – 5:37 a.m. and there were a lot of ups and downs, hills, that is, between me and Clinton. I knew I had a long way to go ere I laid my head to rest. As the day progressed the line got longer stretching out for miles and miles.
But before I “lay my head to rest,” let’s stop a time or two along the way. This brave guy is a throwback to the “old days” when almost everyone wore a costume of some sort. As I said, I didn’t write any notes and regrettably I don’t remember his name. I recall that he was very friendly and he told me about “the way it was.” He was dressed as Mother Hubbard. Some of the costumes that RAGBRAIers used to wear and a few still do were and are very imaginative…It looks like he has Mother Hubbard in his lap, but actually she was an appendage in front of him sewn into his clothes. I can’t imagine riding over 70 miles with something like that riding along with me. By the way, there’s a nice bike in the background with the red-taped handlebars…that would be mine.
About 10:30 or 11:00 a.m., 50 miles into the ride, I stopped for a hamburger and a hotdog and a Diet Pepsi. I sat at a picnic table across from a nice couple from California, Greg and Jeanne, to partake of some good food and better conversation. We enjoyed sharing stories and just had, at least for me, one of the best rest stops of the whole event. He also blogged about RAGBRAI and had some nice things to say about our visit together. Check out his blog: http://nelsonragbrai.blogspot.com/2012/07/day-7-mississippi.html
About 12:30, I arrived in Clinton and made my way by a lot of wonderful Iowans and no doubt a few from other states giving imaginary “high 5’s” as we rode by. I have to say that is one of the most exciting things about riding a bike for a day-long or week-long event, having people “wave you home.”
But I had one more RAGBRAI line to wait in. This one was a celebratory line where proud riders were dipping their front wheel in the Mississippi River on the eastern edge of Iowa. Next week these accountants, doctors, lawyers, carpenters, waitresses, housewives, college and high school students, teenagers, elderly, men, women, boys, and girls, will be back in their other lives doing what they do, but this week, let’s just call them “riders” for they, we, have accomplished a feat few in this life ever experience. This was another reason for my excitement today and despite my not riding a couple of days, I was extremely glad to have done the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. I was in the saddle for 5 hours, 4 minutes, and 48 seconds. I arrived at my car at 12:35 p.m. and dragged my leg over the seat and “lovingly” placed my bike on the bike rack.