RAGBRAI ’18 – Day 2

Rover Truck Stout, Garlic Parmesan Fresh-made chips and a loaded burger for supper Friday night.

Up at the crack of dawn to catch the bus at 6:00am. The Rover Truck Stout last night and the long day yesterday made for a good night’s sleep, though it was a little cool. The one good thing is that we’re on Central Time now so we gained an hour back. It was still way too early after my night in the tent. The bus trip is boring, but at the same time there is some anticipation excitement. Toni can sleep, but I rarely can.

We got into Onawa, Iowa about 1:00 pm. Got things unloaded, tents set up, etc. We decided to go into Town. My bike has had an issue with the tire rubbing and it’s been more than I could adjust out. I decided to take it to a shop here and get it checked out. MY BIKE FRAME IS CRACKED!!! They said that if I hit a big bump, it could break and throw me off. Not a good thing. Fortunately they had demo bikes to try, so I picked up this sweet black one to ride tomorrow. (Below) It looks fast so we’ll see. They did a custom fitting so I think I’ll like it.

Loaner Bike from Trek

Initially they told me that I could try a different one to demo each day, but after further discussion a couple of things came up: 1) They are only following the ride until Wednesday and 2) They have other people signed up for demo’s, so it will depend if they have one available for me. Really hate to come this far and end up riding the SAG wagon from town to town. I guess we’ll see how this plays out.

About 43 miles to Denison tomorrow. I’m hoping there’s not a break in period! This will be one of the shortest days of the ride.

RAGBRAI ’18 Begins

Well, Toni and I are packed and ready to head out. As always, this has been a challenge and we’re hitting the road a little later than planned – 1:30 in lieu of before noon… A challenge for me, not Toni. She was here early as usual.

On the positive side, I was able to get everything including my tent into my bag and under the 50 lb limit. So now I’m wondering what I’ve forgotten and whether I’ll be able to continue to keep it that tightly packed. Packing today was a lot easier than it will be inside a tent… in the dark… at 4:30 in the morning!

This has been a rough week with three nights that I didn’t get home until almost 10. I’m not exactly well rested as I head out today, so wish me luck! We’re looking at about a 4 hour drive through Chicago (which could extend the 5 hours) and across Illinois to get to the ending Town, Davenport, Iowa.

Check out updates here and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/BergerAud15 Those will be a little more timely.

IMS Observations

My husband, Kevin, was at an Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) event the other day and I’ve trained (educated) him to look for hearing aids and hearing protection. Ha! He said there were multiple places where you could get ear plugs and most of them included some kind of marketing connection.  Hmmmm… something for me to think about.

Hearing Aids at IMS? Not during a race!!!

He snapped a picture of the gentleman to the right, watching a race with his hearing aids on.Yeah, this is an example of one of those few times I recommend NOT wearing your hearing aid!!! Even with an existing hearing loss, you should be wearing ear protection. You could be damaging ranges of hearing where you were previously adequate.

But then he also saw this cute “Pit Crew”. He spoke to their mother before taking the picture. They got recommendations from their audiologist for the proper headphones for this application. The set the baby on the left is wearing is a hand-me-down from her older sister, so they’re old hands at this. Getting used to them at a young age not only helps make them acceptable, but also starts a life-time habit of hearing protection. Will this prevent them from ever wearing hearing aids? That’s hard to say since there are so many potential causes including just advanced age, but it definitely gives them a leg up on others.

Kevin is becoming my #1 salesperson. He actually ran into someone else from Plymouth there and in the conversation on hearing conservation, he found out that he was a hunter and had been stymied trying to find fitted hearing protection for gun use. I can do that! Kevin gave him my card, so I’m looking forward to meeting this gentleman. I’m sure I can make his situation better.

Solar Eclipse

As the hype grows, I’ve been thinking about the solar eclipse today. Thanks to Waffle House, I found this handy map (see right) in case you want your eclipse viewing “Smothered & Covered”. I heard on the radio that Krispy Kreme was planning competing events. Chocolate Glaze! Unfortunately, Indiana will be mostly bypassed for the total eclipse. We’ll only get a side view, but that’s still something like 85% coverage.. That should still be cool and weather permitting, I’m sure I’ll step out side to check it out.

Picture of Sanford Stadium from ajc.com article

My friends around Atlanta are planning parties and events. Any excuse for a party and a day off work, right? The University of Georgia is planning a party in Sanford Stadium. (Article here) Do you tailgate for an eclipse? Knowing the Bulldogs (and I’m a UGA graduate, so I know of what I speak), the answer to that will be a resounding YES, Y’ALL!

Nest Thermostat asking to activate their eclipse rush hour savings

One of the other interesting tie-ins I saw was with the Nest thermostats. I chose to install one in my home. So far I’ve been pleased. More than similar devices, I have observed Nest really trying to make the green connection and not just personal energy cost savings. They send out a report on how many “leafs” you earn each month for energy savings along with a comparison to other Nest owners. There is a running total on their website showing their estimate of how many Kwh of energy that has been saved by their devices.

The tie-in to the eclipse is that in their blog, Nest repeats a report that suggests the solar eclipse, as it blocks out solar panels, will reduce green energy production by as much as 9,000 MW resulting in traditional systems coming back on line to pick up the slack. “At Nest, we think of these high-demand times on the energy grid as rush hours.” They suggest that if you opt in, their thermostats will automatically cool your home a little extra before the event so that it can reduce the load during the event. Personally I think that’s as much marketing as an actual need, but it’s still an interesting concept and it’s another reminder of how the Internet of Things continues to find new ways to work for us.

Maybe I’ll see you out in the semi-darkness today. I didn’t accept the invitation to go to Atlanta and get the full effect… <sigh> Looks like it’s going to be rainy/cloudy there anyway.

While I doubt this will be any kind of life changing event, it is one of those cool and rare physical phenomenons of which we should all take advantage. Hopefully for most of us it’s not literally a once-in-a-lifetime event, but it is pretty rare… And unlike most astronomical events, you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to see it! Bonus!

Excerpted with permission from the Easterday Construction Blog

RAGBRAI ’17 – The End

Someone spent A LOT of time on this cool arch.

Becky and Toni wrapped up yesterday and hit the road for home about 5. The drive back to Plymouth was 6+ hours to they were pretty wiped out when they got home a little after 11. They had a lot of issues getting out of the ending town. Apparently the End-of-Ride Festival had a lot of the streets shut down, so getting from the ending point, to the parking area, back to pick up the bikes and then getting out of town was difficult. It added time when they were already tired. They had decided they wanted something to eat, but that didn’t work out and they ended up just buying gas station snacks for the way home. Oh, and a Culver’s Concrete Mixer…

Exciting and sometimes scary with all the people on the slopes

Becky said the last day was tough, but fun, with switchbacks up and down though lots of small mountains. There are some pictures at the end of the post, but it’s hard to capture the scope and scale of the slopes. She saw several accidents and possibly one fatality.

She was frustrated on the one hill. There was someone in front of her going slow who stopped suddenly. Becky was going slow also and was right behind him, so was forced to stop. She couldn’t get enough momentum to get her bike going again, so she had to walk the rest of the hill.

Lots of people decorate their bikes

She said the Iowa Dairy Queen was out passing out milk. She usually stops for that, but since the beer tent was just past that, she decided to pass. For some reason didn’t she think beer and milk together would be the best choice when she was hot. The towns all have different things going on, so the wall that she signed and the bicycle arch pictures are just a couple of the things she saw. She says there is a lot of cool stuff out there.

Beer with 200 of my closest friends yesterday.

Apparently the craft beer tent is always popular. (Imagine That!) They have a drink ticket program where if you get it stamped enough times during the week, you get a T-shirt. Becky and Toni only stopped a couple of times, so they weren’t in the running for a shirt.

Becky always talks about the showers and when they get good ones, and how sometimes they aren’t so great. Apparently some people just avoid them! She said by the end of the week, there are some pretty stinky people! Standing in line with them is an added challenge. Ha!

She didn’t want to take my number…

I think that about wraps things up. Thanks for following.

RAGBRAI ’17 – Friday Update

Getting our Protein and Veggies

I didn’t hear much from Becky yesterday. She said they finally found the hills, but that has led to poor reception. It can’t help to have 10,000 other people around you trying to get service at the same time. She only sent one picture which I posted. Even at the end of the day in the larger town, she couldn’t get service to call.

She did say that she and Toni were having fun yesterday. She’s been having issues with her lips being windburned/sunburned. You can kind of see that in the picture from yesterday and the firefighter one from today. She said she would try and do better and send more. I’ll tweet them out as I get them.

Toni and I playing water ball with the hunky firefighters.

Today she’s been playing water ball with “hunky firefighters” and she just topped out at 42.2 mph going down one of the hills. The climb up the other side doesn’t sound like much fun…

Just had a huge downhill at 42.2 mph. It was awesome! Not looking forward to going back up the other side.

Rope Swing for cooling off

RAGBRAI ’17 – Wednesday Update


Riders are laughing at the sign and the “Duesey of a Town”, but I think they’re missing the explanation at the bottom.

The girls seem to be doing okay. Becky said things were getting to her a bit yesterday and she was grouchy, but Toni said she was fine. Vice versa, apparently Toni was a little testy tonight when they got in and their bags had been sitting out and got wet. They rode through a lot of light rain today, which Becky said was mostly okay. Better than the wind yesterday. She said she had wind burn from yesterday. They had mostly headwinds and the report was that it was consistently around 17 miles an hour.

There was a little excitement tonight. Someone slipped and fell in the shower. Feet went out from under her, fell backwards onto her back and hit her head. Had to be carried out.  She said it was a little scary. Then they went for Pizza tonight and waited over an hour to get served. They weren’t happy.

As if this isn’t difficult enough on my road bike!

Tonight she camped by the Kybos. Said that was the only option. She was mainly concerned about the slamming doors. Then some guy came in and set his tent right in front of her door. She’s going to have to climb over it to get out. She was amused when she signed off tonight. She just heard him tell his friend to set his alarm for 9:55. He’s not going to be happy when Becky’s alarm goes off at 4:30 and she gets up and starts packing up.  🙂

Enjoying Beer and Music in the Park in Garner, IA. A pleasant lunch spot!

Creative Water Bottle Filling Station

Cool House outside Clear Lake

Pancakes and Sausage for Breakfast Wednesday Morning

Looks like my dog, though I can’t imagine Murphy going for that! This have me a “dog fix” at least. I’m missing Murphy!

The things you see on #RAGBRAI… I didn’t know these even existed anymore! There was no dial tone though…

RAGBRAI ’17 – Monday Update

I’m taking over the writing here to update you on Becky’s RAGBRAI journey. I do this for friends and family, so thought it would be worth sharing with her clients following online.

  •  Kevin

Becky and her sister-in-law, Toni, headed out for Iowa last Friday. Toni got to our house a little before 10, but they ran into complications with the new bike carrier and didn’t get on the road until after noon. Both of their bikes have small frames, so getting them on the standard size carrier was a challenge.

Toasting their arrival and the start of this year’s adventure.

This RAGBRAI route is in the northern part of the State. It’s a little shorter at under 450 miles, but very hilly… or as Becky said, small mountains…. She had been worried about getting through Chicago, but said getting to Chicago was worse. Lots of road construction. Then at  the end of the trip, Google took her on a lot of county roads. She said it was pretty going around cuts into the hillside, but it wasn’t a direct route.

They had been concerned about rain forecasts in Iowa for Friday, but the rain had stopped when they got there. Unfortunately, the camp site was still wet and muddy. It wasn’t a huge campsite, but Becky was still concerned that there were only two Kybos for the whole site.

Saturday morning there were some issues with their bags when they got to the charter bus. They are allowed 50 lb and they’re always pushing it to the limit. Because of the wet tents they were over, so they had to do some creative repacking. The trip to the West side of Iowa was uneventful, though most of the trip was through Minnesota… that’s how far north they were. Becky said everyone sounds like extras from Fargo with the accents and speech patterns.

Becky and Toni on the Pea Pod

Saturday night’s campsite was a little better. They found a grassy spot to set up. Rich, the guy that traveled with them in the past, bailed this year. Apparently some health problems. Becky had bought some blow-up seats. They blow up by whipping them around to catch the wind and then they look like a big pea pod. Toni didn’t have room for hers, so they shared one. It got them off the ground, but she said it was tough not rolling against each other.

They always seem to find Ice Cream. They’re still hunting for the Maple Bacon Ice Cream they had a couple of years ago…

Sunday was the first day of riding. It was about a 60 mile day. Unfortunately they missed the sign for the campsite and added about 7 miles to the day. Becky said it went pretty well, but she was really yawning when we talked at about 9:30 last night. She was bummed that the battery charger on her bike wasn’t working so she was having to find places to charge the phone. Becky found the craft beer tent along the way. They met up and found ice cream and walking tacos along the way too. Last night was Chinese noodles for supper.

I’ve heard from her a couple of times today and she’s doing okay, though a little sore. She bought a new bicycle seat and hadn’t broken it in before leaving. Apparently it’s breaking HER in at this point.  She’s better than 3/4’s of the way through today, so she’ll be fine.

I think those are the highlights. I’ll also post some things to BergerAud15 on twitter if you want to follow that.


Those of you that know me, know I’m down to the wire in my preparations for RAGBRAI. (And for those of you that want to know more about this year’s RAGBRAI, follow the link here.)  I’m known to procrastinate in my training, but this year has been a little worse than usual. I’m not much for cold weather riding, so I didn’t get started as soon as I would have liked. Then I came down with a cold over Memorial Day weekend which turned into Pneumonia. It’s hard to ride a bike when you can’t breathe, so I lost almost four weeks to illness. I felt like I was back starting from scratch when I got back out after that.

I’m back on the saddle now though and putting in a few more miles each weekend. This weekend I took advantage of the holiday and got in about 100 miles. I rode around Ancilla College on Saturday, put in about 60 miles on the Nickle Plate Trail out of Rochester on Sunday and got another 25 miles in around Lake Maxinkuckee on the 4th. I’ve only got about three weeks to go though before I hit the road on the 21st  for Lansing, Iowa. They usually recommend getting in about 600 miles of training before RAGBRAI, but I’m going to be hard pressed to get that total this year.

If you’re interested in following me, I’ll have Kevin post some updates and pictures that week. Stop by and wish me luck before then! Plan your hearing aid breakdowns to be simple the week of July 24th. Sandy will be holding the fort down all on her own.

The Destinies of Those Who Signed…

The Destinies of Those Who Signed (click to Enlarge)

We see the romanticized portraits of those who signed the Declaration of Independence and really don’t consider what they risked to bring us the liberties that we enjoy.  They might well shudder with rage to see how easily we consider giving up those rights when it seems expedient to us.

Take a look at the excerpt (upper right) which lists some of the lessor known patriots who were signatory to the Declaration of Independence and the not so pleasant fates they met after signing the document that marked the birth of our nation.  Some lost their lives, some lost the lives of their families and some lost fortunes, all of which they pledged to the cause of Independence.

As July 4th rolls around on the calendar, all Americans should be cognizant of the sacrifices of the past as well as the sacrifices of those currently serving in our military to protect the rights and liberties we enjoy.  It did not end with declaring independence.  No, our independence had to be forcibly taken and now, just as they did then, we need to cherish it and fight to maintain it.

The except in the captioned box is taken from an essay on the signers of the Declaration of Independence by Rush H. Limbaugh Jr., distributed by the Federalist Magazine.

Printed with Permission from the Easterday Construction Blog