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: