Sunday, August 7, 2011

Heat, sweat......and pie


Mind over matter. It’s all a matter of attitude, and yes, even though this is day 5 of little sleep on a sticky air mattress and biking in heat indices of 125 or so – why, what’s wrong with that? Whee! I bound around the tent, getting ready, putting my various supplies in my back jersey pocket……or trying to……what the….oh. I have my jersey on inside out.

It’s going to be another long day.

* * * * * * * *

So this obsession with pie – not that that’s a bad thing mind you – is something to behold. I’ve learned, much to my amazement, that rhubarb pie is the big seller – unless you get to a town early on, it’ll all be sold out. Really, rhubarb? Where I come from, we treat that stuff like a weed, or like something you leave on neighbors’ doorsteps in the middle of the night. Here in RAGBRAI-land it’s a delicacy, which just goes to show you that you can get people to buy pretty much about anything.

And never let it be said that the townspeople don’t take this dedication to pie seriously, oh no. I quote from the Des Moines Register, which has a daily page dedicated to RAGBRAI:

Nine Churdan community organizations united to make the pie-tasting experience a reality for riders coming through. “They told us we needed pie, so we made pie,” Churdan Library Director Shari Minnehan said. “We were told it was an important part of the experience.”

Well. ‘Nuff said.

Today is another day with a lot of climbing, and as usual, it’s insanely hot and brutish. People are really starting to piss me off with their complete lack of understanding of the whole concept of “ride right.” It’s bad enough on straightaways, but on those screaming downhills where I blaze past most people, it’s unacceptable. Next time I’m going to attach a sign to my bike that says “I’m fat and I’m surly and I’m faster than you, so get the hell out of my way!” Plus I have a whole year to design the patented Leftiminator, which will be a Speed Racer-like device that will attach to the front of my bike somehow, whereby any left-riding miscreants will be summarily shoved out of the way by a large cudgel that will shoot out, clearing a path.

Oh sure, some cyclists might wind up in a ditch, say, or in traction, but my new motto is “if you’re not right, you’re not my problem.” Case closed.

But then as I’m thinking evil thoughts, I wind up in a bizarre conversation that has me shaking my head in befuddlement the rest of the day. There I am blitzing along (as opposed to toodling, because hey, it’s early in the day yet), when I hear a question seemingly directed at me:

Guy cyclist: Hey, did that wheelset come with that bike?

Me, puzzled: Who, mine? Why yes.

GC: Because that’s a really nice wheelset – really great. And you’re a really strong cyclist!

I have no idea what to say to any of this.

Me: Umm, thanks?

GC: Awesome wheelset! Those will last you a lifetime!

Me: God willing and the crick don’t rise!

Okay, I don’t really say that, but it’s what comes to mind for some reason. Is that what pickup lines sound like on RAGBRAI? “Hey, nice wheelset, baby!” Still shaking my head…..

Later that day is a visit to the Templeton Rye distillery, a listen to a great marching band in Mitchellville, a couple of pictures of Annabelle the Traveling Cow, a chat with a local lady about how beautiful her phlox are, and a purchase of popsicles from a couple of nuns, right in front of a gazebo where all the towns mailboxes are. In other words, a typical RAGBRAI kind of day.

Of course, my life would not be complete without at least one major mishap each day, so today’s is this: there I am blazing down a hill at around 40 mph, when we go over a bridge that has seams that aren’t quite as fitted as they should be. I see the people in front of me yell as they go over this bump, but it’s too late to slow so over I go too, and shit, there goes my camera! Damn damn damn.

I pull over, and am aided in my search by another cyclist who’s also pulled over because he lost his phone. We’re picking up various things – I’ve picked up a handful of AA batteries before I realize that hey, my camera doesn’t even take AA batteries. My compatriot, he comes up to me with his findings.

Other guy: Here, I grabbed your camera out of the way, and here, you also lost this.

He hands me a brand new bicycle tube, still in a box. I start laughing.

Me: Thanks, but…..that’s not mine.

Him: Are you sure?

Me: Positive – mine is in a little bag under my seat. But here, do you want some AA batteries?

So my camera is rather crushed, but I’m more upset by the possibility that I might have lost my RAGBRAI photos than about the camera itself. I’ve found a camera card, but who knows if it’s mine or if it’ll still work? I cobble the camera back together, and damn, it doesn’t work.

Until it does. Yep, after several more tries, it decides to start working. Yay! This pretty much counts as a miracle in my book.

* * * * * * * *

One of the best roadside signs I see is the one that echoes our thoughts exactly as we’re nearing Grinnell, our next overnight town. Because as soon as you start getting close to any overnight town, you also wonder WHERE the heck is this damn place?? So the sign that says “Where the hell is Grinnell?” (2 miles ahead!) – that says it all right there.

That night, I find my bicycle cookies at Yumi’s Bakery, and then we head to the concert on Main Street, where I see the most awesome sign, which no one else finds unusual: “No firearms allowed in beverage garden!” I gently nudge a police officer aside so that I can get a good picture of it, and find out that if they hadn’t put that sign there, then people could carry their firearms around willy nilly. Who knew?

Friday is going to be our longest day, mileage-wise. Longest. Day. Whee?

1 comment:

Suerae Stein said...

First of all, I LOVE Rhubarb pie! But have to admit that the only reason it tastes so good is all the sugar that has to be added, and the ice cream, of course. As always your post cracks me up and I can totally relate to your fear about losing your photos - that would make me cry for days. SO glad you didn't lose them or the camera! I am behind in my reading. We are on vacation and was on a train for 32 hours, and guess what? We went through Iowa! And you're right - it's HILLY! We also went through Illinois, which seemed much flatter. I will have to catch up on your next couple of posts! Because you make me feel like I was on RAGBRAI - what the hell does that stand for anyway? :) ~Suerae