Yes yes, I know, Ragbrai was about 6 months ago and I’m a little behind. I had meant to live blog from the road, but alas, the singular world wide web connection in Iowa was elusive. And I’ve had other things to blog about since then, but have kept thinking…but Ragbrai! Things need to be in order! So, my dear nineteen of readers, the highlights:
· You know how you have past experiences and you learn from them and think you’re doing the right thing? So yeah, the fact that the last 2 Ragbrais I did were the hottest on record and I didn’t even pull out my sleeping bag because it was so damn hot and muggy? So I smartly didn’t bring one this year? Bad. Fucking. Move. Note to self: using your towel to drape over yourself as a pseudo-blanket doesn’t work very well.
· Day One, I am almost plowed down my Schnauzer Lady. This is the batty little old lady who rides with her poor ancient schnauzer in a basket on her bike. Of course her bike is weighted down with all sorts of crap because she’s apparently also a semi-hoarder, so she can barely keep the thing upright. Which leads to her being in front of me, trying to get moving, and starting to tip over, right in my way of course.
Schnauzer Lady: “Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!”
Me: “Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!”
Luckily some good Samaritan manages to stop her before she hits the ground, AND before she does so right in my path. Disaster averted.
· Best lines of the week: Ann is riding along next to a serene and sweet 72-year-old lady, with a basket on her bike and I believe an I Love Jesus sticker on her helmet. The full effect. Suddenly a peloton of cyclists go zipping by in some long-ass pace line, as people can’t seem to help themselves from doing.
Little old lady: Look at those assholes, all clipped in and stuff! Who the hell do they think they are? Where the hell do they need to be? Look at them!
Ann almost falls off her bike from laughing so hard, and for the rest of the week this becomes the rallying cry of Team Sloth: “Look at those assholes, all clipped in and shit!” It never ceases to amuse.
· Scene, Day One: Sloth Michelle and I are riding next to each other as we start out, amidst a sea of people. Suddenly she moves off to the left, and I hear a faint “Winning!” from her. Say……what??
Me: “Did….did I just hear you say….. “winning”?”
Oh, it’s now ON. When there’s an opening, I make my move and go flying by her on the left.
Me: “Who’s winning NOW, bitch??”
Cue uproarious laughter from our fellow cyclists. So yeah I guess I can be a wee bit competitive (all in good fun of course).
· My tent is a shitlord. As of day 2, I’m already composing a letter in my head to the asshole Coleman tent manufacturers.
Dear Horrible Tent People:
I’m sure you were very proud of yourselves in creating such a compact little bundle for your tents, one easy to tote around, without a spare inch of space. Kudos! Bravo! Might I point out though that there is one problem: the fucking thing won’t fit BACK in the bag once you’ve actually used the damn thing.
This is how physics works. If something fits into a bag with no room to spare when that thing (tent) is perfectly dry and unused and fresh off the factory floor, what are the chances it’ll fit BACK into that bag once it has, say, a wee bit of dew on it? SLIM TO FUCKING NONE.
I hate you people.
· I determinedly stick to my low-carb diet. Day one: Burger with no bun. Other forms of protein. A cheese stick. Nuun instead of sugar-laden Gatorade. I feel very virtuous.
· By Day Five, I am subsisting on popsicles, watermelon, corn, and pickle juice. Fuck you low carb and the horse you rode in on.
· Iowa, seriously, 19% grades? Really? I love you, but COME ON.
· By Thursday, Day Five, bitterness has set in. This year’s route is long and hilly and I’ve just had it. This leads to the following thoughts in my head:
o Upon seeing the handmade roadside signs: “What the hell people, those don’t even RHYME!”
o Seriously, another fucking hill?
o FINE, I’ll ride in the middle of the road TOO, you asshole cyclists, since you’re all incapable of understanding the rules of the road EVEN ON DAY FIVE.
o Similarly: “No, I’m NOT going to call out ‘rumbles’ three times. Because if by day five you haven’t yet figured out that there’s always 3 sets of rumble strips in a row, then you’re too stupid to be out here.”
· Ackley, Iowa = the Bedford Falls of Iowa. Not only do they have the most amazing decorations coming into and going out of town, but they’re selling CANDIED BACON. ‘Nuff said.
· One day at our Brancels campsite, we’re chatting with this nice guy who’s doing Ragbrai for the first time, and we come to a realization.
Me: You know, it’s true, those movies they show on the buses out here are pretty damn depressing.
Nice guy: Yeah, I mean had I seen those beforehand, I never would have signed up for this.
Me: Right – you have the Race Across America one, where the one guy gets plowed over by a truck. Then the Ragbrai Spokes one, where the one guy is riding for his wife who died of suicide.
NG: And the rest of them have causes they’re riding for! I need a cause.
Me: You certainly do. Otherwise what’s the point? How about biking for People Without a Serious Cause? They need love and attention too.
· At the same time, the best thing about the Spokes movie are the lines from John Karras, one of the two founders of Ragbrai. When it was suggested by their employer, the Des Moines Register, that they let whoever wanted to join me on their maiden trek across Iowa, Karras’ response was : “I thought that was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard.” And later, about the 90-year old guy who decided to do the ride a couple of years in: “He was glacially slow.” Classic.
· Ragbrai included some off-roading this year. Fun.
· Goatsies! This was right before the tornado hit. Or what the little girls who owned the goats decided was a tornado. Because when the wind picked up, chaos ensued.
Little girls: EEK! Eek! What do we do! And Hansel is stuck!
Yes, poor goatsie had gotten his string wrapped around his chair. I, umm, proceeded to lift the chair and untangle him. It took 3 seconds. The girls were in awe of my prowess.
· If you don’t like biking in the heat and sun, I’m going to say you proooobably won’t like Ragbrai. One person on Team Sloth, who rode on average about 8 miles a day since she’d ride to the first town and then catch the SAG wagon, seemed to forget this part.
Me: Umm, so are you planning on riding more tomorrow? (after hearing that she had been just riding to the first town) Maybe to the second town at least?
Slothy Sloth: No, this is working for me!
Me: But….you’re not doing much riding then.
SS: Yes, but I don’t like riding in heat.
SS: Or sun. When the sun comes out, hoo boy, I’m done.
Me: But……it’s Iowa. The last week in July.
Me: Heat and sun are kind of a given.
SS: I just can’t ride under those conditions.
So there was that.
· The worst thing about Ragbrai this year, other than my tent being a shitlord, was the fact that my hands and feet were completely screwed up. I’ve always had the poor circulation thing, but this was epically horrible. Both got extremely painful and then numb, yet still painful, however that works. As the week wore on, I’d have to stop more and more often to shake out my hands and take my shoes off and rub my feet. This was not good.
· The best thing about Ragbrai…….well, that’ll be in the next post. It was as epically awesome though as the hand/foot thing was horrible. More so.