Well, here we are. Day 7. 70 miles to get to the Mississippi River. Time to get home, time to see loved ones, to sleep in a bed, to not wait in line to go to the bathroom, and for that bathroom to actually have plumbing.
The riding weather all week has been so much better than I ever could have hoped for, and today looks to be no different.
The last day of RAGBRAI is a strange one... it seems there is a rush to finish. Hell, I was done before 10 am last time I did it in 2013. At least with this year- the reason it may feel rushed is that there's almost nothing notable to talk about, at least regarding pass-through towns. Many had very little to nothing going on.
I decided to skip my now usual breakfast today, since I wanted one more piece of Amish pie with that wonderful ice cream. I found them near Lone Tree, Iowa. Today I decided on cherry pie. Sooo good. I am really going to miss eating pie and ice cream every day :(
I continued on, only stopping for an extended period of time about an hour and a half later, it the town of Wilton. In what was a common occurrence this week, that amount of time meant it was time to eat a full meal. Since the salad bar wasn't an option on day 7, I opted for Dang Bros, that "wood-fired pizza in a retrofitted fire truck" vendor I posted a picture of. I ate a delicious 10" pizza and continued on.
Honestly, the ride was fairly uneventful. There were some pretty big hills, but nothing I hadn't dealt with all week. I made it through the first crazy steep and long descent of the day just fine. According to the elevation map, I only had one more to do, and it was right at the very end. I caught my first glimpse of the Mississippi River with about 12 or so miles to go. The last pass-through town, Blue Grass, ignored their downtown completely and instead routed everyone through their drive-in movie grounds. I wasn't thirsty, hungry, or anything, so I didn't stay long. It was a long walk through the gravel lot before the pavement and the ride resumed. 10 miles to go.
At one point the route turned onto a major highway, where the right lane was reserved for cyclists. At this point there was a bit of a tailwind and a very slight descent. A couple of cyclists from the Air Force team passed by me at a very high rate of speed. I decided that since my day and week were almost over, I'd try to catch them. It took a couple of miles at 20-24 mph to catch them, and then I drafted them for a couple more miles. It was a good 30 minutes or more of hauling ass- wayyy faster than I normally ride.
The next thing I know, there's a resident on the side of the road clapping as everyone rides by, informing us that "it's all downhill from here!" While this was welcome news for many, it wasn't for me for two reasons - I'm really not kidding- I enjoyed going up all these hills in Iowa. The other reason was that last terrifying downhill I was expecting. I pictured myself just losing it at the end of this epic journey, only to crash right into the river... some finish that will be!
Turns out the descent, while over 200 feet, was at most a 4% grade in parts. Piece of cake. I turned right off the street and into the large parking lot. I saw Carrie waiting for me and taking pics. It was so good to see her!!
And then, just like that, it was over. For the third time in eight years I had pedaled across Iowa on this thing called RAGBRAI. The line to wait for the tire dip site was long, but moved fairly quickly. Besides, what was one last line? It almost seemed fitting that there was a line at the end :)
30 minutes later I dipped my front tire in the Mississippi River. My ride was now complete. Carrie and I grabbed a beer and a bite to eat, and then it was time to head home.
Did I say my ride was complete? It was almost complete :) I didn't want to wait for the shuttle service to get me back to where my car was parked, so I decided to just bike there. It was a couple miles away - no big deal. Ohshit. That's a 10-12% grade hill in front of me that goes on for blocks!! Thankfully the signs for the parking lot had me go north a block and the west up a 8% grade instead.
As I write this post on August 8th, this round of fundraising generated $2,596 for Stand Up to Cancer. I am beyond thankful for all those that donated. Since I started the Pedal Another Mile team on Stand Up to Cancer in the fall of 2010, a total of $18,558. Simply amazing.
If you were waiting for me to finish the ride, or would like to donate, the SU2C team page is and always will be open for further donations. I'd really love to get past that $20,000 mark at some point in the future. Even if it means another RAGBRAI :) Yes, for the first time after finishing one of these, I'm not saying it's my last one. I can guarantee you it won't be next year or the year after, but don't rule out four years from now, the 50th anniversary ride. Hey, maybe I'll be over my fear of downhills by then ;)