Finally, RAGBRAI day is here! Or CABRAC, as I prefer to think of it: Crazy-Ass Bike Ride Across Cornland. Whee! Yay! I can only imagine how much awesome funness this is going to be! This is the day we leave to drive to Davenport, camp overnight, then take a bus to the western part of the state the next day.
The drive manages to be uneventful, as does the process of setting up camp. It turns out that my own tent is somewhat Tash-Mahalian, i.e. huge, which wasn’t quite as I recalled it. Oops. At least we can put our bikes in there if the weather looks like it’s going to start sucking. Which is where we’re hanging out that night, in our tents, sweltering, when suddenly we see flashlights and hear an official sounding voice.
Officer: Excuse me, everyone listen up - there’s a massive storm coming in, it’ll be here in around half an hour, we’re recommending that people leave the campsite and go to a nearby shelter.
Hmm. We’ve set up our tents, which was a pain in the ass, we’re settled in for the night…..how bad could the storm be? We ask the officer his opinion.
Us: So what would you do?
Officer: Well, to tell you the truth….I’d leave. It looks like a pretty bad storm headed this way. And there are a lot of trees around here – you don’t want one falling on your tent.
We decide to stay.
That is, until the massive gust of wind comes along that almost blows our tents over. And we realize that it would be a sucky way to start off a week-long bike ride by, say, having a tree fall on our heads.
Just as we’ve made this executive decision, the police cars come along with their loudspeaker: “Please evacuate the camp now – a massive storm is headed this way. Please evacuate now, we are expecting 70 mph winds.”
Sigh. Off we go to, of all places, a local hockey rink. A hockey rink with artificial turf, no less. Of course, to my mind, this is just adding to the fun, the fun that is RAGBRAI! A bucolic ride amidst the serenity of cornfields, a relaxing sojourn where I become one with my bike, achieving a state of Zen heretofore unseen. Bliss awaits, so what’s a minor storm to stand in the way?
I sit on our charter bus next to Blake, aka Random Bus Guy, who’s also doing RAGBRAI for the first time, with his dad who’s done it a number of times. We discuss our strategy for the ride, mine being the following: only eat food from church ladies, food on a stick, pork chops, and try a walking taco at some point. What the heck is a walking taco, you ask? Yes, I wondered the same thing. Apparently this is a concoction whereby they take a bag of doritos, crunch it up a bit, add taco meat and other stuff, and then you eat it right out of the bag. Naturally, Blake and I conclude that the perfect RAGBRAI food would be a pork chop on a stick from a church lady……in a bag. Let the quest begin.
Later, Blake tells me what is surely one of the funniest RAGBRAI stories of all time: his dad has been part of a team called It’s Not My Fault, or INMF. So one night one of the guys on their team came back to camp late after drinking, and is stumbling through the campsite looking for his group. “It’s Not My Fault,” he drunkenly shouts, over and over, waiting for someone to answer him back.
“Enough with the guilt trip, asshole!” is the yelled response from some camper. “Shut the fuck up and go to sleep!”
This has me giggling for hours……
Yet again, we set up our tents, chuckling at the chaos of the night before. Today there don’t seem to be storms nearby, but it’s so damn humid that just standing there waiting for my bike to come off the truck, I’m dripping with sweat, as is everyone else. Is it really possibly to be this hot and humid when not in an actual sauna? People camp out as long as possible in the rec center that we’re right next to, which is blissfully air-conditioned.
That’s when we hear the tornado sirens.
Yes, tornado sirens. It’s a telling sign that when I text this to a friend who knows me and my Schleprockian existence well, instead of expressing alarm or concern, her response is “Lol, when are the hurricanes? The locusts?”
I’m not sure Iowa knows what it’s getting itself into, what with having me along on this grand adventure.
That night, after the all-important bike prep - which basically consisted of duct taping Slowpoke the Sloth to my bike (hello Team Sloth!) - I can hardly sleep. Okay, part of that is because it’s still insanely hot and humid, but also because I can’t wait to get started. Omg, finally! I couldn’t possibly be more excited! My first RAGBRAI!! I keep poking Ann and asking her why they didn’t make me do this before.
Me: This has all of my favorite things! Country roads, biking, food on a stick, small towns! This is SO cool….this will be the BEST. WEEK. EVER!