Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

RAGBRAI XLI Day 4: Des Moines to Knoxville

Another first for me today on RAGBRAI - I was COLD. I started just after 6am and it was about 57 degrees. Such a difference from 2011. Anyway, it was a nice change. I wasn't teeth chattering so it was okay. I stopped a few times right away to take pics. The sunrise was blasting the State Capitol building, making it look like it was glowing. The pics don't really do it justice.

After that was a ride through the state fairgrounds and then... then the hills appeared. Lots of 7-9% grades with a few 10s in there for good measure. Chilly and hilly. It was almost 20 miles to the first town of Runnels, where I stopped for breakfast. There was a grade school through high school pep band that was really good. I decided to buy my breakfast from them and threw in an extra couple bucks for their fundraiser. 

There was hardly anyone in Runnels. Such a contrast from what the first town looked like yesterday. I guess a lot of people stayed for the whole concert and fireworks last night in Des Moines and slept in. As a matter of fact, the number of people the entire route was very very light - the lightest amount of cyclists I've encountered on any day in RAGBRAI. I have been using a GoPro camera on this trip. It takes a still photo every 10 seconds. My plan once I am home is to make a time lapse video of each day. Once I do that you will see how empty today was. There was a lot of time where I saw no one in front of me at all. I saw no one behind me either. Just me, corn, an occasional cow, and shit tons of hills. I know the Garmin data doesn't agree, but today *felt* hillier than Monday. All I know is I am glad I stopped myself from drinking any more beer last night, because doing today hung over would have been a nightmare. 

Right before getting into the "meeting town" of Monroe, while going up yet another hill, I popped my chain. First mechanical issue I've had. It was no big deal to fix, but starting up from a dead stop on a hill really blows! I was glad for the lack of riders, because I likely would have had to walk the rest if it was crowded. I really would like to be able to say I didn't walk any this time, unlike 2011 where I had to walk Twister Hill.

A few miles outside of the end town of Knoxville, I saw the 230 foot slip n slide I had wanted to do. At the point I reached it, I had just warmed up. It was in the 60s. Had I gotten soaked I would have risked being cold again, so I passed.  Once in Knoxville, the route took me through their race track and under the bleachers. That was cool - a nice change. Plus it was flat ;) 

I got into the downtown/event area of Knoxville, parked my bike against a tree, and laid down on the grass in the shade for a nap. After a bit I woke up, got some lunch, and sat under a tree the town named the Peace Tree. Knoxville is home to a craft brewery called, you guessed it... Peace Tree Brewing Company. Once Dan, Tanya, and CJ showed up, we took a tour and had a few of their beers. We had a really good time.

That's the part I tend to forget once in a while when I am out riding. Sometimes, especially during the last half of the week, the bicycling part really begins to feel like a chore. As the week goes on the feeling grows stronger and by Saturday I can't wait for it to be over. I call it "starting to crack". I did it in 2011 as well. I'll finish - I am too stubborn, determined, whatever you want to call it, to do anything but finish, but my love and joy of being on the bike diminishes somewhat.

But then a few hours pass by and I am with friends and we are eating, drinking, and laughing, and I forget all about that. Strange how that works.

Here's another cycling quote I had saved to my hard drive:

While I am out on my bike here in Iowa, I am impressed and amazed by the beauty of this state. Pictures will never ever do it justice. Seeing it at bicycling speeds really allows you to take it all in, too. However, being impressed and amazed doesn't mean I can't also be pissed at the reason it's so beautiful - the hills. But at the end of the day, when the riding is over, he's absolutely right. 

Maybe I should just pace myself a little better. I suppose I can try tomorrow. 

 Pictures will likely have to wait until tomorrow - Internet is ridiculously slow tonight. I'll post the link but you'll have to check back tomorrow to see them. Here's the link to the day 4 set. 

Here's the Strava data:

Day 4 Glympse

I came oh so close to forgetting my water bottles this morning. Yikes!

Anyway, here's today's Glympse link:

When today is done I'll be over halfway done!

RAGBRAI XLI Day 3: Perry to Des Moines

What a day. After sleeping like a rock I woke up for the 45 minute trip back to Perry from the hotel. Saw yet another terrific sunrise. I see them almost every day with my work schedule, but I never ever tire of them. Every day I get to see a sun rise is another day I'm alive :)

Anyway, we got back to Perry, and I met up with two of Billy Jo's cousins, Shawn and Christine, and Shawn's husband Joe, and Christine's sister-in-law Kathy. They all live in the area and joined me for today's ride. It was great to see them. 


Me, Shawn, Joe, Kathy, Christine

We got a bit later start today. Well, late for me anyway. What a difference 6:15 to 7:15 makes. Wow was it crowded. The first town had more people than I have ever seen on RAGBRAI before.

Today was much better in all ways. 30 miles less, less than a third of the hills, 65 and cloudy. If you have to have something for me to bitch about, there was a pretty good headwind the last half, but nothing too bad. I was all for taking it easy on today's ride... until I saw Lance Armstrong and a paceline of 15 or so behind him go by as I was stopped and drinking a chocolate milk. I have no idea how I was able to catch up with them, but I did.  I rode all the way into the next stop town in that paceline. I never got close to him, about 7 rows back, but still- how cool! :) Adrenaline got me caught up to them, and it kept me there for 4 or 5 miles. I didn't even remember I rode 85 miles yesterday until I stopped! 

After that, we ate breakfast and went on. One small bitch of a hill, but nothing bad. It was a fun relaxing ride. It was also a day of a few RAGBRAI firsts for me. First, I actually had to pee during a ride on RAGBRAI. Usually I can drink gallons and never ever go, Second, I had a beer before the ride was over. I usually don't do that, but some people on this ride get shitfaced the whole trip, stopping in every town for a shot and beer. I have no idea how they do it. My guess is they get a ride at some point. I had my beer less than eight miles from the end. All good :)

Lots of people have asked about the names on my bike and think it's really cool that I have done this. Also, I am getting a lot of people talking to me about my bike tattoos. 

Another different RAGBRAI thing was riding into an actual city. Most of Iowa is small-town to the extreme. Des Moines' downtown is still small, but it's got a bit of a skyline!

In all the activity today I forgot to extend the time on Glympse and it expired before I was done riding. Sorry about that! 

Today's Charity Miles was for Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Per your votes, tomorrow is Wounded Warrior Project, Thursday is Autism Speaks, and Friday is ASPCA. Saturday I finish with SU2C. Thanks to all who voted :) 

Lastly, if today couldn't get any more surreal... I mean - being in a 27 mph paceline with Lance Fucking Armstrong??!??!? -  but anyway, we went for dinner to Applebee's here in Des Moines.  Dan took a picture of me at the end of RAGBRAI 2011. I had no idea he did it.  Here's the pic:

Well I posted it on Flickr and someone asked if they could use it to redecorate an Applebee's. I told her to contact Dan. Well, it made it onto a mural in Applebee's. I thought it would be about the width of a booth. Boy was I wrong! 


Let me tell you, eating dinner and seeing yourself on a wall is friggin' WEIRD.

Okay, we are headed to downtown Des Moines to check out the concert. 90's alternative heaven! Sponge, Filter, Live, and Everclear. 


Pics from today 

Here's today's ride info from Strava. More tomorrow, but I doubt it tops today!

Day 3 Glympse

I guess it worked most of yesterday, and today we head to Des Moines so it should have coverage the whole way. I must say, I'm impressed with Verizon. 2 years ago I couldn't even make a call 98% of the first 3 days.

Copy/paste into the address window:

My legs feel fine today. Right knee pain from yesterday is gone, and there's only 1200 feet of hills today over the 50 miles.

RAGBRAI XLI Day 2: Harlan to Perry

I'm so glad    that's over with. Yikes. That was the longest ride I have done since the 102 on day three of 2011 RAGBRAI 2 years ago.

At one point or another all 4 H's appeared. The humidity was always there. The hills were there for the first 3/4. The heat was there for the last half. The headwind was there when the hills finally showed mercy and laid down. At least the headwinds were only for about 5 miles. 

The day started off really really foggy. When the air splats against you, it's humid!  

The first town was Kimballton. This is where you had to decide if you were doing 83 or 107 miles. As I said yesterday, I didn't give that 107 option a thought. I ate breakfast and headed the 83 direction. Good move on my part. 107 would have wrecked me. 

What else?? Oh yeah, the hills. These were different than the hills the first few days of 2011. Those were relatively short 6-8% graded hills. Many of these were more of the 3-5% grade, but a mile or longer.  I did hit 40.0 on one downhill, even though Strava says it was only 39.8. Even the halfway town of Guthrie Center had a radar gun/sign at the bottom of the hill into town. I only saw 34 on that.

There was one hill that stood out, near Springbrook State Park. 10%+ grade. Long. 85% of the people were walking it. I toughed it out, but wow it was tough. I think at one point I was down to 5 mph. Ouchie. 

As the day went on the heat really turned on.  As a result, the traffic jam at the beginning of today really thinned out. When that happens, and I get tired, hot, achy... it gets kinda lonely out there. There's good stretches where it is completely silent except for the sounds of my bicycle. Not even a bird chirping. Headphones are a big no-no on RAGBRAI, not to mention suicidal. During these periods, my head starts telling me I can't do it. My legs tell my head to shut the fuck up. Hard to explain the strangeness of it and why it happens, but I just try and shake it off and keep going.  I downloaded this pic to my hard drive a while ago, and it went through my head today.


Even with the 4 H's and the strange isolation on a ride with thousands of people... I improved my average speed to 17.2 from 16.4 yesterday, while lowering my average heart rate by 12 bpm. If I learned something from 2011, it's that this week can whip your ass into shape like no other :)

Western Iowa really is a scenic area. It's beautiful, and you can really enjoy it at 15-20 mph. 

Pics from today - click here. 

Strava data for my ride today: 

Lastly, there's a guy running this thing. I don't know if he's a complete badass or insane. He didn't start last week or last month, either. He's running day for day. I saw him today, 38 miles in.  I took a pic (it's in the flickr set) and shouted a few words of encouragement. I just checked his website. He was going for the 107 today. Now I feel like a wimp!!

Okay enough rambling for tonight. I am absolutely beat and am going to sleep. In an air conditioned hotel room in Stuart, Iowa. Not in a tent in Perry. Which is currently getting absolutely pummeled by a severe thunderstorm. I hope everyone there is safe. 

Day 2 Glympse

Here's the glympse for today. I guess clicking doesn't work so you'll have to copy/paste it into the address bar. Today is more rural and hilly so it might not work:

It's very very foggy which means humid as hell, just like the forecast called for. This should be fun! :-/