Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

Sunday Day 1 - Onawa to Dennison

I suppose I slept okay. As good as possible for sleeping on a 1.5 inch sleeping pad on bumpy ground :)

About an hour after I went to sleep a very horny train went through town. Seriously, the conductor must have passed out on it. My earplugs were no match.

I was up at 5am, had some coffee, packed and got ready. There was a beautiful sunrise. It’s one of my favorite things about RAGBRAI...they rarely disappoint.

I was on the road a little before 6:30. Those mini mountains I was talking about having to go up? The road went between those hills. In fact, the beginning of this ride was flat as a pool table. I seemed I didn’t even go up a foot of elevation until mile 7.

I’m typing this while waiting in line for a breakfast bowl in the first pass-through town of Turin. There’s a line for everything this week, but who cares? It’s not like I have anywhere to be. The weather so far is perfect. It’s about 60 and calm.

Turin to Ute

“Did you say Ute?”

Okay, the hills have begun. A pretty long 7-8% grade at mile 14 being the feature so far. For not having any Hill training to speak of in, well, five years... I did absolutely fine with them. I think just having 2100 miles for the year and finally having some sort of control over my heart rate while exercising are making it easier than before. What I didn’t expect is that the downhills are not as fun as I remember them. A few are downright terrifying. It’s not so much the speed as it is the road conditions and the sheer number of people around you. They’re in front of you, they’re behind you and then blowing by you on both sides. I don’t know if it’s my age or the fact that I crashed hard a mere six weeks ago, but going 30+ mph down a hill on tires an inch wide isn’t as alluring as it used to be. Seeing how I’m at about 1300 feet above sea level right now and it finishes on Saturday around 500... well there’s going to be more down than up overall. Who would have thunk it- I actually prefer going UP hills now. LOL!!

I passed right through the town of Soldier. I didn’t need food, water, or bathroom. The road got quite bumpy after Soldier and into Ute. I stopped at Ute to refill water and type a little, and BS with the locals. I wanted to make sure I was pronouncing the town name correctly.  Ute is a little past the halfway point. There’s still more than half of the hills left though.

From Ute I continued onto the tiny town of Charter Oak. I was greeted by a group of local kids and their moms offering free (goodwill donations accepted) cookies and lemonade. This is a somewhat rare occurrence on RAGBRAI. A lot of this week is BIG money for businesses. It is refreshing to see local people willing to literally give away food to get you the energy you need to go on. I stopped and had a cookie and lemonade (and tipped them $5) and they even gave me a snack baggie first aid kit with neosporin, a bandaid, and aspirin. I said it the first two times I did this ride... I have never encountered so many friendly people before in my life. It’s shocking there are even prisons in this state- I’m not sure where the bad people even are in this state!  Anyway, one of the moms informed me that the hills the last 10 miles would change my mind about how easy today was. She said during winter storms there’s two hills most two-wheel drive cars can’t even make it up, and we were going up both of them. She wasn’t lying. Still, I’m in far better shape than the first two times and made it up them just fine.

As I rode into Denison, Iowa, I was greeted with a sign that had the two words you want to see together: FREE BACON

I was thinking it would be half a slice. It was a fistful. Denison is immediately my favorite ragbrai town ever. I don’t even care what follows in the next six days. It can’t be topped. As I’m telling this to a local volunteer, two ladies approach with dozens upon dozens of bacon donuts. FREE bacon donuts.

Friends... Denison, Iowa is quite literally, heaven. Screw that Field of Dreams bullshit.

I enjoyed a couple local beers in the town square as well. I’m told the camp is by the high school, a flat mile and a half away. I think I’ll hang out here a while longer. It is after all, heaven.

Since there’s a big honk in’ cell tower here and much of the crowds are still on the road, I shall attempt a photo album upload. If it fails, I give up. If we are Facebook friends you’ll be able to see them this week, if not I’ll create an album when I get home.


UPDATE: the squarespace iPhone app is a joke. No photo albums :( keeps timing out. I made the album on my Facebook page public. Just search for Dave Brink and they should show up.