Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

Filtering by Category: RAGBRAI


Well, I'll be on the road in about 7 hours.  I think...think I have everything packed.  I am a neurotic mess thinking I forgot something when we go away on a weekend trip to New Orleans or something.  This is overload... this is a week.  This is throwing a bicycle and camping into the mix. I only hope I don't forget anything.  Like my bike.  

I'll be making another post in a minute which I think I'll be able to pin to the top.  I am not bringing my laptop or iPad, only my phone.  That being said, I am going to spend a whole lot of time in rural Iowa, where "cell service" may not be a phrase uttered quite often, especially with thousands of extra cell phones attacking the occasional tower.  I will try to update as much as I can - I just don't know the delivery system.  I'd like to take a lot of pics, so I really hope Instagram works.  The Squarespace iPhone app is pretty lackluster, so there won't be much flash to any posts I put here.  I'm not even sure I can share from here to the Pedal Another Mile Facebook page... did I mention I did not anticipate how fast this was coming?  I spent 2100 miles, hundreds of hours, on my bike getting ready for this week... I let a few things online fall to the wayside.  I'll do what I can, and we may even experiment along the way.  I think my GPS unit will actually broadcast where I am (if there is cell service).  Maybe I'll try and figure that shit out on the long bus ride tomorrow.  

So I will make a pinned post now, with links that will stay up all week, and then the next time I post will be from Iowa.  

Good night all!

Crunch time

It's a little alarming how fast this is here.  I leave about 4am next Saturday, headed to the end town of Davenport.  A week from right now I will be getting off a bus somewhere in the start town of Onawa. 

I can only hope I'm not greeted with this, like on my initial RAGBRAI:



I think I can safely say I am ready for this challenge, or as ready as I'll ever be.  The RAGBRAI training coach recommends that you have 1000 miles for the year when you arrive in Iowa...


I think I'm good on that front :).  I also think that I set my mileage goal for 2018 a bit too low, as I will pass it near the end of RAGBRAI.    

My only concerns about the week are my lack of hill training and the weather.  The weather is completely out of my control - I just hope it's not too rainy or windy, and 7 straight days of heat indexes in the triple-digits.  I will likely not have more than a few minutes in air conditioning from the time I get off the bus until the time I get back in my car a week later.  

The hills?  Well, I know for a fact I am in way better shape physically than I was the first two times (especially heartrate-wise), and in over 900 combined miles those first two times, I walked up one hill. 

This will be a busy week - I'll be getting everything packed - the checklist of things to bring is extensive, and I'm sure there will be things I am forgetting - I just hope it isn't anything major, like my bike. 

In the most important part of this update, I want to again thank everyone who has donated to Stand Up to Cancer.  As of right now, $1,350 has been donated this year (that's over $3 a mile!), bringing Team Pedal Another Mile's grand total since I started in 2010 to $17,312.  If you haven't yet donated, please know that 100% of your donation goes to cancer research - not a penny of it goes to overhead, advertising, or salaries.  Those are paid by corporate sponsors.  The minimum to donate is $5 and I'd really appreciate it!  The fundraising page will be open the entire time I'm on the ride, and will remain open afterwards.




Three weeks. THREE WEEKS?!?!?

RAGBRAI starts in three weeks already??!??  WTF!!!!

Okay, okay... my last post was two and a half months ago and it was complaining about the horrendous "spring" weather we were experiencing.  I really meant to make some more posts between then and now, but life, work, and training for RAGBRAI had other thoughts about that, and that's okay.  This post will catch up.

The weather obviously improved, somewhat.  I had many very cold rides early on. Weekday rides are exclusively before work, starting at about 6:30 am. it wasn't too uncommon to start my ride in temps in the low 40s.  There's been quite a bit more rain than normal, sometimes resulting in flooded, impassable trails.  There's been days with temps in the upper 90s and heat indices in the 110-115 degree range.  Despite all of this, since the day of my last post, I have ridden 53 times totaling 1,332 miles.  Not too bad, considering I have a full time job with a 2-3 hour daily round trip commute. 

Highlight of these 53 rides include three metric centuries (100km or greater), riding down a trail for a few hundred yards with deer on either side of me not more than 20 feet ahead (I wish I had the GoPro on for that!), and...

a pretty nasty crash three weeks ago, to which I am still bearing damage.  I was two miles from the end of a 31 mile ride on Sunday June 10th.  The pavement was damp the entire ride due to overnight rain, and I thought I was being cautious enough.  Apparently not.  I approached a 90 degree left turn, slowed considerably (not enough) and entered the turn.  The next thing I know I'm on the ground, bleeding, and my left hip/thigh is screaming in pain.  The bike seemed okay, except the front brake hood/lever was knocked out of alignment.  I determined it was ridable and finished the last two miles on adrenaline.  I had road rash on my shoulder, elbow, and knee, but none of these were too bad.  The elbow bled a LOT, but no stitches were required.  My big worry was going to be my left thigh.  Before I even left the parking lot, I knew I was in for a long period of discomfort.  I only hoped that I'd be able to resume riding quickly, as RAGBRAI was a mere six weeks away.  I went home and immediately began ice and tylenol treatment.  The following week was pretty uncomfortable, especially sleeping.  I am a left side sleeper most of the time, and the size of the hematoma on my leg was not going to permit left-side sleeping anytime soon.  Oddly enough, the only activity that did not hurt on Monday was the three minutes I spent on the indoor bike trainer.  I reluctantly decided to not ride Tuesday morning, but by that afternoon decided I'd give it a go on Wednesday.  Everything went well on that ride, and each one since has been fine as well.  95% of the bruising is gone, but a sizable swollen lump remains.  A doctor visit resulted in assurances it was normal and would recede with time. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a pic of my leg at it's worst, about 10 days after the crash:

The bruised area was about 12 by 6 inches.

Like I mentioned, most of the color is gone now, and I'm patiently waiting for the swelling to recede.  There's no pain rmaining and I can sleep on my left side again.

So that's what has been going on, cycling related, since my last post.  I'll be making an effort to update more in the next three weeks, and then, if there's a cell signal, I'll be posting daily from the trip.

In much more important news, I'd like to thank everyone who has already donated to team Pedal Another Mile at Stand Up to Cancer, as I am attempting to raise $10 donated for every mile ridden on RAGBRAI.  This would bring the total raised since 2010 over $20,000.  There has been over $1,000 raised since March - so over $2.50 per mile has already been donated!! Thank you all SO much!  If you haven't donated and would like to, I thank you!  Just follow this link.  Even the minimum donation amount, $5, means a little over a penny a mile, and every penny counts!! 



First Things First

I’ll fill you in on what’s been going on in my life in future posts.  This post will focus on something much more important.  I’ll go into detail, but let’s get it out there right away:

I’m going to ride my bicycle across Iowa again this July.  Yes, I’m going to do RAGBRAI for a third time, and the first time in five years.  And as with the other two times, the reason I am going to do it is to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer.  

After 2011 I said I’d never do it again (or at least not for 10 years), and then did it in 2013, at which point I said I'd never do it again, ever... 

I feel that it is time to do it again.   There are so many people in my life and in the lives of those around me that are in a battle for their lives because of this horrible disease, and I feel that this has become “my way” to try and help raise money for a great organization that really is helping fight this horrible disease. 

I donate to SU2C, and rather than just ask people to to do the same, I challenge myself to get across an entire state under my own power in seven days, and ask that people donate a penny, a nickel, a dime, whatever, per mile (of which there is 428 of them in RAGBRAI 2018) to my fundraising page at Stand Up to Cancer.

Stand Up to Cancer is a unique charity in that the corporate sponsors pay for the administration, advertising, and overhead costs, while all donations from the public go directly to research.   You can rest assured that your donation is used towards finding a cure, and not a TV commercial or a CEO's salary.

From the day in 2011 when I came up with the idea of riding RAGBRAI to raise money for SU2C to the day I dipped my front tire in the Mississippi River for a second time after finishing in 2013, your generosity equaled almost $16,000 raised for Stand Up to Cancer.  I'd love to be able to raise the equivalent of $10 for each mile I ride in 2018 RAGBRAI.  That would equal $4,280 and get Team Pedal Another Mile over $20,000!! 

I'll post more details later, and I will continue to clean up (dust off) this website, but I wanted to share this news as soon as I registered for the ride.

I Stand For...

I had an idea riding during one of the final days of RAGBRAI to go a little farther than just putting the names you provided me on my bicycle. I am peeling those labels off and if they stick I will put them all on a piece of paper and keep them with the other memorabilia from the week.  

I wore my Stand Up to Cancer biking clothes for the last day. The back of the jersey says "I Stand For" and there's a blank white box. Once I finished, I asked Dan to take a picture of my back as I lifted my bicycle on the shore of the Mississippi River.  

I then opened Photoshop and entered every name that was on my bicycle into that blank white box. and saved it as it's own file. This was a bigger and more time-consuming project than I thought it would be, but it's all done, and two weeks after the ride isn't *too* bad :)

Every file in this directory is lastname_firstname. Click the name, and then when the picture comes up, click the three dots in the lower right corner and select download. The resolution is high enough for printing photos if you like, as well.

Thanks again to Dan for being my photographer the whole week!!

RAGBRAI XLI Day 7: Fairfield to Ft. Madison

Well, I did it :)

I got an even earlier start than usual - we were all tired of RAGBRAI by Friday. The only reason I decided to do it again was because Dan and Tanya said they were going to be there the whole week and we were going to be in hotel rooms the entire time. I wasn't going to risk camping in miserable heat like 2011. Like I said, I like camping and I like bicycling. I don't like doing both in Iowa in July. But even then, seven different hotels in seven nights is pretty grating as well. Poor Dan did so much loading and unloading of the truck I'm surprised his back didn't go out!

So Friday night I decided to get as much done and ready for Saturday as possible, and hoped to leave by 5:15 or so to be able to start at 5:45, a full half an hour earlier than my norm. Well, I started at 5:47. Not too bad!!  

Saturday was windy out of the NW and surprisingly chilly. My Garmin thermometer read 48 degrees when I started.  Monday when I was riding it read 96. Two years ago the heat index was in the 110s a few days. I heard last year was even hotter. I wonder if this was one of the coolest days in RAGBRAI history. 

Early on, in the first mile or two, I felt immediate pain in my right knee. It must have been the cold because it went away, thankfully. After that went away I started hauling ass. My goal was to stop at roadside stands only, and blow through the towns, speeding up the day. There was 63 miles to do today with twice the hills of Friday. I wanted to finish by 11 so we could be headed home by noon. 

Apparently all the roadside stands take Saturday off, because there was barely any to choose from. I was feeling really good and the wind had switched north and I was on a good stretch of a southerly route so the tailwind gave me speed AND the right attitude for the day. By the time I stopped to eat something it was mile 31. I was halfway done. Heck, I had 21.7 miles done by 7am. I was moving at a very good clip for being solo (not in a paceline). The first 20 miles were a continuance of the flatness of Friday, meaning most of the hills I had to climb would be concentrated in the final half of the route. This didn't phase me at all. Not even when I saw a road sign telling me I was on an Iowa Historic Hills Scenic Byway. Not sure of the history part, but it was scenic and hilly. Again, I didn't even look at the climb page on the Garmin- just attacked every hill I came to. I was very happy my attitude change was still sticking.

When I stopped for food I was so happy that there was FINALLY corn on the cob. I saw none at all Thursday or Friday and it was infuriating. I wanted corn on the cob, dammit! So after eating the corn and an awesome breakfast burrito, I set off for the last half. I stopped a few times to take pics and once for a gatorade refill and a free banana at a roadside, but other than that, 20 miles went by quickly. The grueling part was I was headed due east now, and the winds were still straight north, leaving us to deal with quite a nasty cross-wind. 

Miles 15-35 or so were without a doubt the shittiest road conditions of the week. Just lots of cracks, potholes, and separation joints, jarring my already tired and achy body.  Luckily things turned around after that.

I stopped in the last pass-through town of the day to look at Mt. RAGBRAI, a literal mountain of bicycles. I took a few pics, put my jacket into my jersey pocket, and took off for the final nine miles. 

With about two miles to go I could see glimpses of the Mississippi RIver. One last long downhill into the valley, a trip through the downtown area, and there I was, finished! I looked down at my Garmin and was shocked to see my average speed was 18.2 (Starva has decided it was 18.1) . That's right, on day seven in a row of 50+ mile days I rode my fastest of the week. I finished at 9:45 and we were on the road before 11, the time I had hoped to finish by.

408.28 miles in seven days. Unlike 2011, I didn't break down and cry the last ten miles of this journey. Even though I didn't want to admit it, I think I knew back then that things were not good for Billy Jo. Just six weeks after I finished Billy Jo was in chemotherapy again, and for the last time.  A year after that she was in hospice. So my tears in 2011 were because deep down I knew the end was near. I like to think that this time marks the end of the first chapter of a new beginning.

I said it would be ten years (if ever) before I did RAGBRAI again and I'd need a hotel every night. Thanks to Dan's logistical miracles and him and Tanya's willingness to take a week off and spend it with me, in seven different hotel rooms, and transporting me all over the place, I decided that I would do it this year as both a memorial to Billy Jo, as a memorial/tribute to those whose names are on my bicycle, and as a way to raise even more money for Stand Up to Cancer. As of this writing, $15,817.40 has been raised since 9/30/10. Over $3,000 of it since I said I'd ride again this year. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity.

I will not be doing another RAGBRAI. I think twice is enough. Some people do it every year,  to some it is the only vacation they get all year and that's how they decide to spend it.  More power to them. I can see the allure of it, but there's a lot of world out there. I finally got a passport at 42 years of age, and there's still no stamps in it. No matter what way you do RAGBRAI, it is not cheap to do so. In 2014 I could ride across Iowa yet again, or I could maybe get that first stamp in my passport. It is an easy decision for me.

I will always leave my team page open, and maybe I'll do another cross state ride at some point. Just not Iowa :) - the state is beautiful, and after two trips across it at this pace I have still not met one mean or rude person from there, but my days of crossing it by bicycle are over.

Dan, Tanya, CJ - again... thank you so much. I am serious when I say that this would not have been possible without you. I simply would not have done it. I had a great yet exhausting time, and I hope you did too. 

Here's the flickr set for Day 7. Dan has a lot of pictures to sort through and I will make another blog post once I have them and they're on flickr. I will also be updating the RAGBRAI 2013 page with a "by the numbers" type of post, including updating the food/drink tally for each day. Yes, I wrote it all down, and it was A LOT. Despite that, I lost 4.7 lbs this time, a much better outcome than when I actually GAINED 3 lbs in 2011 after 490 miles on my bike. 

Also, I had a GoPro take a picture every 10 seconds I was on the bicycle, across the entire state. I plan on making time lapse videos of each day and once they're on youtube I will post them. That may take me a few weeks though.  

Okay that's it for today - the alarm goes off at 4:30 and instead of riding all day I have to be at work in the morning :-/. Thanks for reading! 

Here's the Strava data for day 7: