RAGBRAI ’19 Ends

Last RAGBRAI ’19 beer stop. The hat was a necessity.

We didn’t get  to my house until 2:20 am Sunday morning. Toni still had to load up and head home, so she had another half hour to go. Her husband Chip came over and spent the evening, so he could drive her home.

Friday was a decent day, but Saturday was just mean! Ha! Not only was it a longer day than usual for a last day, the last 25 miles was nothing but hills… many of them big hills… There was one particularly bad one that just seemed to keep going around switchbacks and then at the end, the last 100 feet were at about a 45 degree angle!!!

Apparently Iowa raccoons have drinking problems. I saw quite a few of these.

The last couple of years the baggage truck was at the dip site. (The tradition is to dip your tire in the Mississippi at the end of the trip to signify you were all the way across the state. There is a starting dip site too.) We missed the sign that said the truck was at the high school. I’d made a judgement error and packed the keys to the Jeep in my baggage, so we had to ride back up from the river (it was a lot lower than the rest of the Keokuk) and find the baggage truck. We got the bags, got the keys and Toni watched the bags while I rode to Long Term Parking to get the Jeep and come back for Toni. That added another 45 minutes of messing around before we could leave.

Bike tower in Denmark

We were tired and obviously not that organized. We stopped at a fast food stop bathroom to clean up some and change clothes. Unfortunately we both forgot to separate out things we needed. Our husbands encouraged us to either camp for the night or get a room since it was so late, but we just wanted to get home. That made it a 22hr day, which would have been rough WITHOUT the bike ride part of it. Adding to that, Friday night was not good for me and I only got about 3 hours of sleep. Not sure what my issue was, but I got to bed in plenty of time and then just lay awake. Toni doesn’t like to drive on the highway, so I drove all the way. Fortunately she likes to chatter, so between that an a 5 hour energy drink, we made it without incident.

Pickle Club Sandwich for lunch – Pickles are supposed to be good for tired legs…

Despite the copious quantities of sunscreen, we both ended up adding to our sketchy bicycling farmer’s tans. We also ended up with some sun rash too. It was itchy and quickly got sore if scratched. I don’t know if you can tell the difference in the picture at the top or not. It really shows up on my shoulders. I take benadryl at bedtime each night, so that probably saved me issues.

I ended up with only 6 beer stops, so I didn’t get a T-shirt. The beer stops did make for welcome breaks. A few times it was hard not to just lay down and take a nap though. I was afraid if I did that, I might not wake up until the ride was over!

I slept to about 10 on Sunday morning. I didn’t do anything too ambitious yesterday. I’ve  lots of sore muscles and it will take a bit to recover.

This was the view of the river in Montrose with 10 miles to go.

Back to work today! Murphy was glad to see me, but probably not so much this morning when I dropped him at the vet. He was due for his annual check up, plus grooming and nail trims. He’s not fond of the vet, so he may not be that pleased that I came home to subject him to that!

I hope you enjoyed following along. I’m already making plans for next year.

RAGBRAI ’19 Wed/Thurs

The camera never captures the perspective… These are some rolling hills!

Wednesday was a rough day. We got our usual early start, but it was an 87 mile long day with lots of hills. Toni was already walking hills yesterday morning. She calls it, “Getting in my cross-training.”

We managed to finish without having to SAG, but we got in late. Toward the end, the sanctioned stops were starting to close on us, so we had to stop and buy water at convenience stores. We didn’t get in until after 7:00pm and we were all in. We had a lot of trouble with poor cell service, so we struggled checking up on each other.

Huge American Flag outside Hyvee Shipping in Chariton.

When we finally got in, we were going to be lazy and order a pizza, but the wait was over two hours. As it was, by the time we got set up, cleaned up and a shuttle to town, we didn’t find food until after 9:00. We ended up with Gyros that we ate on the shuttle back to camp. They were excellent. No problems sleeping last night!!!

Unicorn sprinkler to ride through in Chariton.

We were up and on the road again early today. I’m was feeling some effects from yesterday, but still making it. Not as many stops and pictures yesterday. Well, actually quite a few stops, but too pooped to do much!

Lots of patriotic spirit with huge flags flying everywhere. This one was in Bloomfield.

Beautiful Davis County Courthouse in Bloomfield.

RAGBRAI ’19 – Wednesday Morning

https://iowadot.gov/autotrails/great-white-way

I had a better day yesterday. It was a shorter day at only about 40 miles. Not sure how they measure because Toni says she always comes up with more mileage than what they state in the briefings – even without the screw-ups in directions…

We were frustrated in the morning because the first town was farther out than stated. We always wait for the first town for breakfast and we were starving by the time we got there. There weren’t even any options in the overnight town yesterday morning as we were leaving. They had cleared the streets for the events the night before and it was like a ghost town when we rode out first thing. The streets were still cleared of vehicles and there was a street sweeper out cleaning up debris. I was looking over my shoulder for Stephen King’s Langoliers!

RAGBRAI Riders don’t follow directions well…

We finally found a place for pancakes for breakfast when we got to the first town. Another fundraiser. That made things all better! Gave us a sugar rush to ride on for a while.

I always complain about the poor signage. We are always getting lost, particularly trying to find our way around the overnight towns. But as you can see to the left, at times it wouldn’t make any difference. People just follow the herd, right or wrong, no matter the sign…
We did more side trips yesterday and spent a couple hours at one of the towns watching a corn cannon and melon cannon among other things. The first stop for the Backpocket Brewing Company was at 9:00am, so we weren’t in the mood for beer before breakfast. One less tag on the wrist band. Ha!

Bathtub rides

The shorter day meant we were able to spend more time together too. Unfortunately we ride at different paces and one of us is always struggling to keep up with the other or off our pace trying to wait. Usually we ride together to the first town for breakfast, split up and then meet for lunch and again at the end. Since we’ve started visiting the beer tents, there have been more meet-ups during the day. Ha!

When we first started this, we used walkie-talkies to try and coordinate. Now with cell phones, we don’t do that, but sometimes the old way might be better. A lot of the rural areas have limited cell service. I usually try and call Kevin each night, but there are times when the calls won’t go through because the system is overloaded. Toni is having the same issues.

Corn Cannon shooting at bicycle targets

This is the corn cannon we saw yesterday (Left). There was also a melon cannon. (I put the melon cannon video up on Twitter.) I wondered about the corn cannon shooting at bicycles targets… With 30,000 bikers going through these small towns, there are no doubt some people that would love to take a shot at us! Everybody isn’t as nice as I am!  Particularly when I’m hungry and tired…

We took more time and did more sight seeing yesterday. We did eat late and were trying to not talk to anyway as we felt like Betty White and Abe Vigoda from the Snickers commercials, i,e. moving slow and grumpy because of being hungry. No shower drama at least. We were all set to hit one of the Churches for a Loaded Potato Bar that they had been promoting, but it closed at 6:30 and we didn’t get there until 6:37. That was a let down as Toni had been excited about that. We found a restaurant with a pizza and pasta bar deal that worked out well for us.

Came across this petting zoo at a farmers market type place

I took more pictures yesterday. I’ve got some of them here. I have also been posting some on twitter during the day if you are a twitter person:  https://twitter.com/BergerAud15

Today is going to be a long day. 87 miles. Toni was already struggling and walking up one of the hills, so that will make it rough for her. We’ve never taken the SAG Wagon, but there’s a first time for everything…

Found this barn with dried flowers stored in the hay mow

I liked this guy’s beard

RAGBRAI ’19 Tuesday Morning

Sunday, the first day of the ride, was miserable. It rained during the night, Saturday night, and we had to pack up our wet things in the rain in the morning. It really cooled off so I was cold most of the night. Then we immediately got wet as we were packing up to go. It rained most of the day, so we were cold both on and off the bike. I felt bad for all of the ice cream vendors and other people who had cold foods and drinks. They were all geared up due to the heat last week and Sunday, all anyone wanted was warm food. Toni and I were really dreading the heat, particularly after sweating to death Friday night and most of the day Saturday, but I guess this is a case of being careful what you wish for! We definitely got a break in the heat!!!

Egg on a stick with beef on a stick. They need to figure out egg on a beef stick!

I generally don’t take a jacket riding due to the bulk, but I kind of wished I had. Toni did ride with a jacket, but she said she was sweating in it a lot of the time. I was cold when riding and freezing when stopped. Sunday was a tough 57 mile day. It remained cold overnight, but I was able to find a place to buy a new air mattress though, so I slept better. We ate at a Spaghetti supper at one of the Church fundraisers. $12 for all you could eat. $15 with pie (Toni Ha!). Ran into a chatty guy that wouldn’t leave us alone.

We tried to hang out our wet things to dry at the camp, but it continued to sprinkle and mist, so that wasn’t too effective. I was using the day’s dirty socks to sponge up and remove the water puddles in my tent..

Trying to cross the street with a crush of bicycles going by…

Monday was a better day, but longer. 70 miles, but then the directions were poor at the end and I rode past the camp site and back for another 6 miles. I was not a happy camper! Literally! I stopped and asked for directions and the woman I spoke to said that was happening a lot… and then proceeded to give me wrong directions!

The wind averaged 14 mph against us all day, so that added some effort. I was fine into the afternoon, but the last quarter was tough. We were fairly late getting in and by the time we got showers, we were too pooped to go to town for supper. We got walking tacos from the Ranchers and Cattleman’s Association at the fair grounds where we were camping.

People were not honoring the lights out at nine rule, so it was a tough night. People were still setting off fireworks at the campground after 10 and I could hear the “Here Come The Mummies” concert from town. They sounded pretty good, but I was too tired to want to go stand and listen. That and camping by the road under a street light (only choice) made for a restless night, despite being tired.

It’s interesting what vendors are here every year and which disappear. We ate at Mr. Porkchop yesterday. They had a beer vendor at their stop this year. They have one bus with beer taps on the side,  and a second bus (painted pink to look like a pig) full of corn cobs which they use to fuel their grills. They are always well organized and they have good food. We usually stop there a couple of times each year.

Iowa Beer Bus

We’ve visited Backpocket Brewing‘s tent a few times. They have a cocoa stout we like. It’s a good, friendly place to take a break. I have the wrist band to get a T-shirt, but you have to hit 10 of their 14 locations and I doubt I’m up to that.

I did find more interesting things to take pictures of as you can see here. This sounds a bit down, but I was mostly upbeat through the day. There were some girls at the showers that harassed me (beating on the shower door and making rude comments when I left) and that had me down last night. I may have returned the sarcasm a bit when I was leaving. Ha!

Mr. Porkchop Grills

We were up and on the road a little after 6 this morning.  Today is only a 40 mile day, so that should be a little easier.

Mr. Porkchop Grill loaded up!

 

Mr. Porkchop Corn Cob Bus

RAGBRAI ’19 – Council Bluffs

Toni enjoying her row to herself

Friday we drove from Monterey, Indiana to Keokuk, Iowa. It should have been about a 6-1/2 hour drive, but it ended up taking about 8 hours. We were dreading it a bit because it is the first year for this town to host the finale and they seemed to be disorganized. It turned out it wasn’t an issue. Things were easier than expected. We were able to park near where we camped Friday night and then the buses left from near long term parking. We were able to move our packs and things back and forth with the Jeep. Friday night was rough because the temps remained in the high eighties. There were a lot of bugs where we camped, so I couldn’t have my tent open to get any air.

It’s a big Beer Tent!

Saturday morning we boarded the bus before 6:00 am for the 5 hour trip to the starting town of Council Bluffs. We lucked out and both got half a row each to ourselves, so that allowed us to stretch out and get at least a little sleep. The trip was uneventful, but we had a hot afternoon and evening. We did visit a beer tent that gave us some respite. It was still hot Saturday night and I ended up with a couple of additional setbacks. Someone rode over one of my tent fly lines and ripped it out of the stitching. I’m not sure if I will be able to repair it. Then when I was heading to bed, my air mattress deflated. It was hard to sleep! I put my blanket that I use for a pillow under my hip, but then it got cold and needed the blanket to keep warm. I’m going to try and watch for a sporting goods store today and see if I can replace the air mattress. Unfortunately that means I’ll have to carry it along since nothing was open before 6 am today when we headed out. My alarm went off at 4:30 am. Yikes! Even at that though, Toni was up before me.

Toni and I having a beer yesterday afternoon.

We stopped for breakfast this morning in Underwood, about 13 miles in. It’s been raining this morning so instead of being hot as expected, I’m cold! Ha! I guess you never know.

RAGBRAI ’19 – Friday Starting Out

Toni and I, packed up and ready to hit the road

My sister-in-law Toni and I headed out for RAGBRAI today around 12:30 pm today. We had a few setbacks that lengthened the trip, but overall it was uneventful. We have gotten stuck in traffic in Chicago almost every year, so we decided to go cross country this time, since the start was farther south in Iowa. As it turned out, that put us on a lot of county roads, so we really didn’t make any better time. I drove and the Jeep isn’t the smoothest ride!

We had to get my bike carrier modified (Thanks Burt’s Body Shop), because both of our new bikes have frames that are too small for the carrier as it was made. There aren’t many options for Jeep bike carriers, so it was good that we could “fix” it. That seemed to work well for us. We both like our newer bikes (mine from last year and Toni’s from a year or so ago), though I’ve been struggling to find a saddle that works for me. I’ve also been having some issues with my left wrist and Toni is having some shoulder issues, so this trip could be a bit challenging!

RAGBRAI ’18 – Wrap Up

Toni didn’t want to spill her saddle bag, so she let me do the lifting honors.

Toni and i successfully completed another RAGBRAI journey. Woo-hoo! (Toni and I have been joking about all the Woo-hoo women here! Ha!)

The ending day on Saturday was long… 69 miles and as usual, lots of hills as we got closer to the river. We were motivated to get home, but it was still an all day endeavor.

We were going to forego the dunk site and just head to the Jeep, but as we came to expect this trip, we had no internet service. Without Google Maps to guide us, we decided we were best off just to follow the route to completion and head to the parking site from there.

Elvis would be proud of my peanut butter and ‘naner Buca-wiche

We’ve had vehicle issues in the past, i.e. dead batteries, lost keys, etc., but fortunately the Jeep was ready to go when we got there. As expected, the smaller bike frame did not fit on the carrier, so I had to take the tire off my bike and put it inside. Everything fit, but it had to go in a certain way so nothing got damaged.

Again, without Google Maps, it took us a bit to find our way out of Davenport and get on the road. What should have been a four hour trip took a little longer, but part of that was our stop at Culver’s for Butter Burgers. We also imposed on their restroom to change clothes and take a wet nap sponge bath. (It felt really, REALLY good to get a real shower and wash my hair when I got home!) We make it back to our house about 10:00. Murphy actually barked at me! Apparently a week away made me a stranger, but he was ecstatic when he realized it was me.

Despite my constant use of sunscreen, I came back with a pretty good tan. I am apparently learning, because I didn’t have any spots of sunburn this year. Even better I didn’t get any of the sun rash that I’ve gotten in the past. I was tired, but felt like I got stronger as the week went on.

Toni and I were already discussing next year on the way home. We are always energized by the accomplishment. We had a blast! Here’s to next year! Cheers!

 

RAGBRAI Friday Morning

Sunflowers surrounding a farm where we had fresh peaches. Very pretty setting.

We’re still alive. Internet service has been poor. I’ve had trouble connecting the last couple of days. We’re in Harper, having breakfast. Pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and Bloody Mary’s. All the

Lots of uncomfortable people practicing their patience…

major food groups. Ha!

I did go ahead and buy the bike. I’ve had some issues with the derailleur. I transferred my old saddle over, but I’m still getting a bit sore since the different frame style has me riding in different positions than I’m used to. I think it will be better once I get used to it. I’ve basically taken it in each evening to have something tweaked. They all say it’s a good bike, but it just has some new bike kinks to work out.

Along with the internet issues, the lack of adequate Kybos has been an issue too. The picture to the left is an example of the lines. That gets to be an issue when you put off stopping until you need to! There’s a lot of dancing going on in these lines! Ha!

There are a lot of idyllic scenes along the way. Toni and I try and find places to meet up where there’s shade to take a break. We usually meet people to talk to and it’s fun to watch the seemingly endless line of bicycles go by.

This picture was one of our stops along the way. This was at the Templeton Rye Distillery. They weren’t giving out samples! Not that I’m much of a whiskey fan anyway… I would probably have tried Rye since I’ve never had it before.

Many of the iconic features along the way try and draw you in, even if they are off the actual ride route. Since the route changes every year, there are always new things like this to see. I didn’t take time to do the tour this time, but it was a cool place to stop. In the past I’ve done things like toured museums and dug for fossils.

 

RAGBRAI ’18 – Day 3

Today’s ride is more challenging than yesterday’s with 72 miles and about 2,500 feet of climb. It’s been pretty warm today too, though not horrible. I was cold last night with the temperature down around 60. I had brought a mylar blanket, but didn’t expect to need it. I didn’t want to get it out in the middle of the night since it’s so noisy and we have the tents set up almost side to side.

As always, there were some interesting things to see. The custom made Indiana jersey’s were impressive. I would have bought one if they were selling them! They had them made special for their team.

This giant cornhole game was pretty cool too! Brought new meaning to the term “throw pillows”. Some of the participants referred to it as a Pillow Fight.

So more on the Bike saga… My bike with the cracked frame is a Scott bike. I did an internet search and found that there is a Scott dealer in Ames, a town we’re passing through on Wednesday. I called them and they said they dealt in Trek and Scott bikes, but were more familiar with Trek’s warranties. Scott required a voucher be sent in for approval, so even if the damage was covered under warranty, they would not be able to do anything for me that day.

When I got into Denison last night, the Trek dealer said the black bike I had been riding was spoken for today and there were no other bikes available that would fit me. No one else was doing loaners so it looked like I was going to be riding the bus instead of a bike today. I explained my situation and they asked me to come back in the morning and see if the bike actually went out.

As I was walking away, I thought about it more. I turned around and went back and asked if I could go ahead and buy it. I told them that without the bike I couldn’t ride at all and whoever else was asking to do the demo still had their own bike to ride instead.

They decided to let me have the bike again today. I’m going in this evening to get some final tweaks on it and purchase it. They gave me a 23% discount on the bike and were trying to work out a way to get my old bike home to me when I left. They were very helpful and sympathetic. I wasn’t excited about the expense of buying a new bike, but I was thrilled that I wasn’t going to have to ride the bus for the remainder of RAGBRAI. So far I’ve never had to ride the SAG wagon and it was going to be a sad climb on that bus if I had to do it today.

15 more miles to go today. Wish me luck! There are a few additional things posted on Twitter if you want to look there.

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.