Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

RAGBRAI XLI Day 5: Knoxville to Oskaloosa

I gave myself a major attitude adjustment this morning. I didn't come out here to be miserable. I love riding my bicycle, and yesterday I couldn't stand it, and worse... there were three more days to go!

I woke up today and my quadriceps were already hurting. I figured they'd loosen up after a couple of miles, and they did.

The first few miles out of Knoxville were very easy today. Mostly flat and downhill. It was at this point where I decided, for lack of a better term, to stop being a whiny bitch :)

Yes, RAGBRAI is a tough thing to do. Yes, there's hills. Yes, it's challenging. But lots and lots of people do it every year.

Furthermore, and much more importantly, I am fortunate to be healthy enough to be able to do it. There are countless people right now who would give anything for the pain of a hill-filled bicycle ride over the pain of cancer or cancer treatments. Pain that is unavoidable.

So I told myself to quit bitching. Quit letting the hills dictate my mood. Why I let yesterday get to me so bad I don't know - I guess I was just in a bad mood. Today, however, I was going to enjoy the pain. Not once during the 54 miles did I switch to my climb page on the Garmin bike computer. That page shows total elevation gain and current grade of the hill. Up until today I'd flip to that page at the bottom of every hill, and look at it as I labored up the hills. I decided to say fuck it- don't care how steep, don't care how much you've climbed already... just go.

It was a great ride. At the end I finally looked at the climb page and discovered that I had climbed 200+ more feet then yesterday, yet had the mood of someone who just did 50 miles downhill.

Today I crossed back across Lake Red Rock, this time on the dam. I also discovered that Lake Red Rock is the biggest lake in Iowa. After a quick stop at a roadside all you can eat pancake and sausage stand, I rolled into the city of Pella. I didn't stay long, but basically saw it was Holland in Iowa. Being Dutch, I was torn between staying a while or going on. This was only 12 miles in, and I wasn't sure if my newfound attitude was going to stick yet, so I snapped a few pics and took off.

When I finished, we went to a winery for a picnic. I didn't partake - wine gives me an instant headache - but I did drink a beer! 

We checked into the hotel, I showered and napped, and then we decided to avoid the crowds in Oskaloosa and head back to Pella for dinner. Even though the distance on the bike route was 40 miles, by car it's about 15. I'm glad we went back. What a cool town.  

Flickr set of pics for today is here. Here's one of me in Pella:

Here's the Strava info:


Tomorrow is 52 miles and relatively flat, but it would have been a good day even if it were hilly. :)

Day 5 Glympse

It's another chilly start. I remembered my jacket for this one :)

Copy/paste for today's Glympse:

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.