Tim took care of me every step of the way. He was constantly looking out for me during the ride. He would often get ahead of me because he was a stronger hill climber than me, but he would slow once he was on top of the hill and wait for me to catch up. I was very lucky to have such a loving riding partner.
Here is an account of each day:
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tim and I drove to Burlington, Iowa where we met some of his fellow team BEAST members. We left our car in Burlington and drove with them to Chariton, Iowa. In Chariton we found our group, Bike Burlington, and set up our tent in their camp area. Once our camp was set up we went into Chariton and walked around the town square. The square was full of activity, music, food and people. The atmosphere was a lively one throughout the town. I had a foot long corndog and an ice cream at a local ice cream parlor. Yumm
After eating and a bit of sight seeing we headed back to our tent.. There were bands, music, and lots of excitementt in the area. I was excited to crawl into bed and get a good nights sleep to prepare for the next days ride.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
About 4 AM it started raining! It rained lightly at first and then it rained hard for about an hour, hailing for a short time. We had planned on getting up at 5:15 AM, in order to start by 6:00 AM, but it didn’t stop raining until about 6:15. When it did stop raining, there was a flurry of activity with campers packing up their tents, pumping up tires, and heading out.
When we hit the road the streets were wet and crowded. I was so filled with emotion, happiness, pride, fear, and disbelief. I couldn’t believe that this day had finally arrived. I was riding on RAGBRAI with Tim!
Our breakfast was a breakfast in a bowl complete with a little kitten to keep us company. For lunch I had corn on the cob. Before we entered Ottumwa we had Beekman’s homemade ice cream. I had chocolate!
When we entered Ottumwa there were lots of spectators waving and welcoming us to town. One of the funniest things some one said to us was, “ We are glad that you made it here.” to which I had to reply, “ Not half as happy we are.” I was delighted that I had made it through the first day without getting hurt, wrecking my bike, or giving up.
In Ottumwa we set up our tent and hung out the items that had gotten wet from the morning rain, and then headed for the shower. The showers cost $5 and they were a tractor trailer with 7 shower heads. I was so thankful that the showers were hot, I didn’t mind the lack of privacy.
After we were cleaned up we walked to a local convenient store for a pop. Once we quenched our thirst, we headed for the vendors. We didn’t get in much shopping before it started raining again. We took shelter in our tent and waited out the storm. Fortunately it didn’t rain long and then we were able to head into town.
For supper we had a spaghetti dinner at the catholic church. After supper we went into town to check out the festivities. We walked up and down the strip and sat and people watched for a while before heading back to camp.
Our total miles were 76.9 with 3,388 feet of climbing! The cities that we went through were: Chariton, Millerton, Bethlehem, Confidence, Iconium, Moravia, Unionville, Blackesburg, and Ottumwa.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Friday was the most difficult day. We woke up with our scheduled 5:15 alarm. We had wet laundry and a wet tent to pack from the previous days rain. We headed out bright and early as planned. The day started out with large hills! I love hills!
We stopped in Pekin at the school for breakfast. It was a nice stop with real restrooms, (no port o potties) shade, the school band, baked goods, and a bench inside to rest. We had sausage egg muffins and baked goods for breakfast.
We stopped in Brighton for lunch. Brighton had a cute little town square. It was quiet warm and sunny so we started off with a smoothie and a cool seat in the shade. After our smoothie we had a bbq chicken sandwich.
There were some big hills at the end of the ride. I can remember looking at one and thinking, “ You have got to be kidding me.” I put my bike in granny gear and peddled my heart away. At times I was sure that this spinning feeling must be how a gerbil feels in a running wheel. I refused to give up! There were several people pushing their bikes up these big hills, but I REFUSED to give up. I came to ride, and that was just what I was going to do.
Just before we arrived in Mt. Pleasant I saw what I would have to say was my favorite costumed riders. It was a monkey chasing a banana. I thought that was very clever! A bit later we came upon the monkey standing on the side of the rode. I asked him what happened to his banana. He pointed to the cornfield. Not only were their costumes cute, they were nice guys.
Cornfield stops were common along the route. I wish I would have posed for a picture coming out of one.
We reached Mt. Pleasant a little later than we had planned, but the heat and hills were wearing me down. Our campsite in Mt. Pleasant was in the very back of the campground and we had to take a rough gravel and dirt road to get there. This campsite was packed!
I should mention,the Bike Burlington camp directors had done an amazing job of securing our sites each day and making sure that our luggage was unloaded and that we had cool drinks waiting when we finished each day.
We kept with our usual routine of setting up the wet tent and hanging our laundry. We found showers in the basement of an old church. The showers were cold but the cold water felt good on my aching muscles and warm skin. I took an extra long shower because I didn’t feel the need to share the hot water. Showers also served as a time to wash the stinky clothes from the days ride.
After cleaning up and setting up camp we took the trolley up to the bus stop and then the bus to a local church for a meatloaf dinner. After we ate we went to the center of town check out the local venders. We had heard much talk of severe weather to come, so we were mindful to watch the skies as the evening went on. We headed back to our tents as soon as we thought the dark clouds were upon us.
The forecast was rain and wind, possible from 6pm to 6 am with the possibility of some storms being severe. To prepare for the storm, we checked the ties on the tent and pulled the poles as tight as possible. Each night the tent had leaked just enough to get us and our bedding wet. We were able to give the tent an extra spray of waterproofing the previous day, so I was hopeful that we would stay dry.
We sat around and visited with some fellow riders as the winds blew and lightning flashed. As it started to rain we took shelter in our tent. It was warm and we were unhappy about having to zip up our door and windows. I was worried that our tent was going to blow away or fill up with water. We had been in our tent for about 30 minutes when we heard an announcement. I could tell that the announcement was coming from something moving. I was unable to make out anything that was being said. Tim and I peeked out of the tent windows to see if there was any movement. I was afraid that the announcement was that they were evacuating the campground. I thought that I heard our neighbors say that there was a meeting in the church that said that the weather forecast had been revised to light rain with no winds. This eased my worried mind and I was able to fall asleep. I think it only rained about 15 minutes all night. It wasn’t until the next day that someone told us that the announcement had actually said that the local hospital, police, and fire departments had been put on full alert and they would keep us posted as to weather alerts. I am glad that I did not hear that, as I never would have been able to sleep.
Friday’s ride was 75.5 miles with 2,841 feet of climbing. The towns that we rode through were: Hendrick, Martinsburg, Pekin, packwood, Pleasant Plain, Brighton, Germanville, Lockridge, and Mt. Pleasant.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
5:15 AM brought our RAGBRAI wake up alarm. We folded up our wet tent and gear and headed out. Just as we were heading out someone in the camp played a bugle to get everyone up and going for the final day of riding. In this camp there were several rows of US Air Force tents.
We had Chris Cakes for breakfast. Chris Cakes is a pancake / breakfast catering franchise. They use a batter dropping machine to make mass quantities of pancakes very quickly. The cooks are known for flipping the pancakes to plates. Tim caught his moring breakfast. This was an all you can eat breakfast, and we took full advantage.
We made a few stops for water on the last day, but didn’t eat lunch until we were finished. In Burlington they had a Snake Alley Challenge. The challenge was optional, but I was feeling courageous so I thought I would give it a try. I made it to the last turn, and had to give in. It wasn’t until I was down a block from the alley that I realized that I wasn’t in granny gear going up Snake Alley. I can’t help but wonder if I had been in granny gear would I have made it? I’ll have to rematch the snake some day. Look out Snake, we’ll meet again.
We arrived in Burlington and watched the riders dip their tires into the Mississippi. We had lunch of pork tenderloins and pop. We walked up and down the Port of Burlington for one last look before we mounted our bikes again and headed up to get our car and then to Bickels to get our gear.
Saturdays ride was 46.9 miles with 1,145 feet of climbing. We rode through New London, Lowell, Geode State Park, and Burlington.
This has to be one of the best experiences of my life. It would not have been possible without Tim. Thank you sweetie for encouraging me to continue an active lifestyle and watching over me every step of the way.