Sunday, July 26, 2015

In Which CR Biker Rolls 400 Miles

My sister Cate and I doing an ussie near big flag at edge of Wilton on final day of RAGBRAI 2015.

An average RAGBRAI is about 460 miles. My RAGBRAI team, Team Joe, has 4 members and one support vehicle that we take turns driving. So I usually ride about two-thirds of RAGBRAI.

So I’m pretty pleased to be able to say that I rode 400 miles last week, traveling most of the way across Iowa from Sioux City to Davenport, which means I rode most of a RAGBRAI.

It was quite a week. A highlight was Friday, when Team Joe swelled in numbers as two daughters, two sons and a girlfriend of one of those sons all wore team colors. I also rode much of that day with my sister Cate. Somewhere up there in the last third of the route, Brigid and Eldon were also on the ride—nine Team Joe members in the pretty yellow shirts, printing coordinated by Eldon, art by Amanda.

The core of Team Joe on the first morning of RAGBRAI outside homeless shelter in Sioux City--Brgid, Cate, Eldon and I.

Friday ridng crew included Cate, Katy, Kate, Theresa, CR Biker, Ben and Jon.

The parts of RAGBRAI I rode were unremarkable in terms of scenery—I don’t know if I’m just getting too used to Iowa’s rolling landscape, or if the route this year just happened to avoid the best-looking vistas—but Friday included the Coralville Dam, and that was something to see.

I guess Friday was the week in microcosm, in a way. It had the best and worst parts of RAGBRAI. So for CR Biker, what were the highs and lows of RAGBRAI?

Lows (there are more highs, and I want to finish with the highs):

Rain on Friday. We had rain Monday, too, when riding from Storm Lake to Fort Dodge. Friday’s rain was different—colder, harder, driven by a 40 mph or so wind that made raindrops sting like hail. My teammates said they were rain bullets or rain shrapnel. Riding in the rain is tough at best, and this was a tough rain.

The one good attribute was that it was mostly a headwind. Bikers don’t usually like headwinds—but in this case, they at least slowed the descent down hills. A steep drop that normally might cause Argent to top 30 mph led to speeds like 15 mph in the stiff headwind.

A tailwind would have been terrifying. A side wind might have been fatal. Hooray for that headwind.

Well, the day turned sunny and hot later, and the miles piled up and the hills got steep and headwinds were no longer our friend, but any wind is less of a factor if it’s not raining.

Coralville on Friday. I’ve never seen an overnight town that took bikers through a vendor scrum before they finished their nightly ride—and that gesture by Coralville was definitely not appreciated. You arrive in town hot and tired, looking for your end point and a shower before you consider the evening plans. The last thing you want is a scrum to walk through and vendors trying to sell their wares. No, Coralville, that was not cool.

The arch and carpet? Cute, that was a good idea. The vendor hell riders had to endure? Very poor form.

That’s it. I could complain about chafing, heat rash, bugs, etc., but not only are those not such a big deal, they are just normal RAGBRAI conditions and probably not as bad this year as in past year.

Highs:

Heroes named “Joe.” No, I do not mean CR Biker, but rather Sioux City Joe. Marco, our support vehicle, arrived in Sioux City with a serious problem that developed on the way from Des Moines to the ride start—the driver side window would not close. This was taking place late on a Saturday afternoon—after most garages were closed.

I hope Brigid or Eldon will write their story and share it at some point, but in the end, a friendly car salesman got them in contact with his mother’s husband (the salesman’s father had died a few years ago, so it was not his dad, but clearly in generosity the two are kindred spirits). Sioux City Joe restores cars as a hobby, and although he was not able to fix the window, he was able to hotwire the motor and get the window to roll up and then remove the switch so nobody would put the window down. Way to go, Sioux City Car Seller and Sioux City Joe, you two rescued Team Joe.

Bicycle on display in museum at La Porte City on Thursday.

Our generous hosts. Jean, Amy, Amy’s husband, Big Dog, curse-like-a-soldier Ryan, the fine folks at the Sioux City homeless shelter—thank you. Thank you, too, to Eldora, the tiniest overnight town and the one where Team Joe could not find a home—but it turned out the tiny town had its act together and did just about everything right. Coralville, if you ever need to host RAGBRAI again, shut up and listen to whoever planned the Eldora stop. And, again, a huge Team Joe thanks to Jean, Amy (and her husband), Big Dog, curse-like-a-soldier Ryan, homeless shelter guys—your hospitality was appreciated.

The Microsoft banditos: Chris, Brian, Nigel and Jon on Sunday. Chris was new to RAGBRAI, but the rest rode with me on my first RAGBRAI, was it 2011?

The reunion of the Microsoft banditos. It was a blast to run into Jon now and then, share a meal and a brew, and it was fun to host the former Microsoft boys for their stay near the city of five smells. RAGBRAI 2015 was a reunion of sorts of the group from my first RAGBRAI years ago.

Again, I don´t know the details first hand, but the epic tale of Brian and the tinfoil will live on among RAGBRAI legends. Ask my eldest son or one of the other Microsoft banditos for details.

View from a RAGBRAI bathroom.

Mother Nature’s cooperation. True, there was that quick Friday storm with its bullets of rain. True, Monday morning was soggy. True, the temperature topped 100 on Saturday. But, for most of the week, the sun smiled, the temperature was mild, the nights were cool and good for sleeping—the weather left little to be desired. For late July in Iowa, it was gorgeous.

The new bike. Long-time readers may recall that I had some scary health issues during RAGBRAI last year—general exhaustion and ominous chest pains. I trained harder this year, and it paid off, I think. I got a bit worn at times, but nothing like last year. Besides better training, the difference was having a road bike. Argent proved to be perfect for its purpose. I was able to power up hills. On Francis, I never tried to slingshot from hill to hill, but it was almost not avoidable on Argent.

On Tuedsay, I faced a decision. Go for 100 miles or not? In my four previous RAGBRAIs, I was clearly not ready to ride the Karras Loop and go 100 miles in a day. This year, I decided not to decide in advance, because I knew it would require a day of near perfect weather, plus keeping on time in early communities. Well, the weather was gorgeous. Brigid rode with me in the morning, and kept a brisk pace. Cate rode with me in the afternoon, and for a while we rode with Jon. Although Jon slowed way down to ride with us, for Cate and I, it was very fast moving at the pace of Jon.

And my body held together. No serious aches. No cramps. And when I got to Buckeye by 3 and the choice was either 15 more miles or go for about 40 miles—well, when would there be a better day? With Cate as my companion, I went for it.

Late afternoon Tuesday. Cate and I have finished the Karras Loop and are riding the final 15 miles.

The upshot was I finished that evening rather late and pulled into Eldora quite tired. But I did it, I earned my Karras Loop patch, I rode Argent more than 100 miles in a day (I think my bike computer recorded about 103 miles for the day).

Last, and not least, the newly expanded Team Joe. I enjoyed the whole RAGBRAI week, especially with Jon able to ride, too. But as I already wrote, the Friday ride with extended Team Joe was—despite a broken spoke on Katy’s bike ,a morning flat tire for Cate, the rain, and the fact that Ben and Kate flew so fast that I did not see them after the start until after the end—wonderful.

Taking photos and joking at lunch spot Friday--a Mount Vernon store that is a combination of diner, ice cream shop, video store, tanning salon and antique shop. And it's all one store. Motto: For all your sandwhich, desert, tan, video and antique needs.

Way to go, Team Joe. I hope many of you in the extended team are inspired to ride more RAGBRAIs. As for the core four, despite our ups and downs, we have already begun talking about next year.

RAGBRAI is like nicotine—it is very addictive. But, at least it’s an addiction that is good for you. See more of my RAGBRAI photos here. And see you all on the ride next year!

My bike computer as I pull into the final town I rode to, Wilton. The ride Saturday ended in Davenport, but I was on driving duty that afternoon. I had gone 400 miles in seven days, 100 on just one day.

Friday, July 17, 2015

In Which A Final Warm RAGBRAI Training Week Flies By

Team shirts for RAGBRAI--thank you, Amanda and Eldon!

I’m writing this blog post on a borrowed tiny Paraguayan laptop computer, courtesy of my oldest son. He left the computer here after returning from the Peace Corp, and we haven’t used it, primarily because we didn’t have the password.

Now he is back in Iowa for RAGBRAI, and I should be going to bed soon, but I’m writing this last pre-RAGBRAI post.

I’m pretty excited.

The last week of training has not been perfect, but had its highlights. Last Sunday, we went to Big Creek State Park north of Des Moines and met our youngest son and his girlfriend for kayaking and biking. It was a summer hot afternoon, so the biking was pretty sweaty and short, but that also made it an almost perfect day to be out on a lake in a kayak.

Bikes in rack at park ready to ride.

Getting ready to kayak.

We just rode 3 miles, and have to turn back to ride 3 more. Hot day.

Wife and I on lake at Big Creek State Park.


Monday was again super hot, so I only did limited miles—but rode about 12 in the heat of the afternoon, when the heat index was over 100. I’m not crazy, I don’t think—I just wanted to get some heat practice in. I rode carefully and slowly, and all was well.

Tuesday was the long ride. My aim was 60 miles, but I rode with my sister and she had an afternoon commitment, so I only made 50, but that was not a bad total. Then, I deliberately slacked off. I rode 10 miles on Francis Wednesday, only because my lock was on Argent and I forgot it on the way to the gym, so I rode for exercise. Thursday it rained in the morning, but the grandkids came over in the afternoon and my son was in town, so one of my daughters, my son and I did a couple of bike rides carrying kids on toddler seats.

Herons on Cedar Lake Tuesday.




It is really muggy and hot today, but the weather forecast for the week ahead is not too bad. I’m pretty much all packed and ready to roll. I have avoided reading most of the important RAGBRAI documents, such as the instructions for entering Sioux City. I’m just assuming RAGBRAI will be there when we get there.

I guess I’m ready. We’ll see. I hope to update you several times during the week, if I am lucky, get internet access and also continue to figure out the instructions en espaƱol on this Paraguayan computer!

Got my RABRAI haircut on Wednesday, and noticed this milkweed in parking lot near hair place. Saw in the paper that a local group will give out milkweed seed bombs for riders to toss in ditches. Well, good.

Driving schedule. We are so organized.

Friday, July 10, 2015

In Which 50 Miles Gets Measured

A nice bike addition for RAGBRAI--a bike computer. And pink tape to hold wire adds a touch of class, too.
We purchased some bike computers, recently, my wife and I. One was for her bike, one for my new bike (Francis already has a computer).

The models we chose are pretty simple, basically only recording speed, distance and time. The installation wasn’t too hard, although I am increasingly discouraged at the icon craze in directions. I want text. Don’t just “show” me, write it out a bit. For instance, the directions called for you to hit the “reset” button by showing a green circle. The actual reset button is a tiny white dot on the back of the computer that requires a paperclip to activate—so the directions were a double lie. They said “no tools,” and a paperclip is, indeed, a tool. They also depicted the “reset” button as something it is not, and didn’t, using useful English words, describe where the heck that button was in the first place.

Words, manufacturers, words. I understand and appreciate the need for pictures—I am not advocating for text-only directions—but be a lot more chatty. We’re not all of us post-literate persons.

Anyway, after some French was spoken, the computers were installed and appeared to function. My wife and I rode together and called out distances and speeds a bit like crazy people. The devices agreed on distances, and they only had minor variance on speed—probably because, at that second, our bikes actually did vary in speed a little bit.

We rode the Boyson Trail area, and were thinking of a Lowe Park ride, when we got a phone call that brought use home a bit early.

That afternoon, around 2, I started riding again. I wanted to get as many miles in as possible, and headed north, figuring I would go as far as the pavement went and then turn around and head south.

I have several impressions of that ride. One is that Argent reached some strange speeds—like 20 mph—on some flats when I was feeling at my best. I don't know why, I was just putting the speed on--maybe just because I knew I wasn't planning any hill challenges that day.

I had a rehearsal at 6 that evening, and my goal was to get to 46 miles before that—the idea was that the commute home would add 4 miles, if I made it to 46, that meant I would have a 50-mile day. So after the journey north to Schultz Road, I turned back south.

I did the modified detour on the Cedar River Trail—where I cut down some back streets behind Wright Brothers School and ended up crossing Center Point at the New Pioneer Coop. And I rode down to Cedar Lake. I had seen, and tried (with no success) to photograph some honey bees on clover at Lafayette, and was thinking about critters as I rode. This week, I’ve seen an eagle, some hawks and lots of other assorted Iowa wildlife. For example, I saw a pretty orange and black bird, a bit smaller than a goldfinch, twice. I have no idea what it was. A mom turkey and her babies scurried across the trail in front of me on my ride this morning.

Anyway, as I neared Cedar Lake, I was musing how I have encountered snakes in past years, but have not seen many on bike rides this year.

I rode around the lake, and then sat on a bench to rest and snack. I was topping 40 miles by this time, and was tired. Before circling the lake again (I needed a few miles to get to my target), I stood up to walk around a bit and take some photos.

And I almost stepped on it. Snake. A big one, too—I didn’t see his or her head as he or she darted into the weeds, but the body I did see was thicker than a garden hose and more than two feet long. It was black with yellow stripes. It got away before I could take a clear photo, but see my effort below. I did, however, catch a large lake bird out on a stroll at lake's edge.

Cedar Lake.

You may not see it well, but in the lower left corner, hidden in the weeds, is something black with yellow stripes. A snake.

Lake walker at Cedar Lake July 10, 2015.

Anyway, I did reach my 50-mile target for the day. I only climbed the MMU hill once—it was, after all, a day for a mileage goal. But I have done substantial rides for four days in a row.

I’m taking it a bit easier today. I got my old bike out to commute to the gym, and did end up on a 10-mile trail ride on the way home. The Boyson Trail was unexpectedly closed in Hanna Park, but I merely did some park lawn riding to get back to the trail.

Streets they make detours for, trails and sidewalks they sometimes just close. Not my favorite approach to transportation.

I also spoke to my oldest son last night. He’s pretty excited about coming back to Iowa for RAGBRAI. My oldest daughter made a cool shirt design, which I’m sure I’ll show later on this blog.

Despite storms expected Saturday, it has been a good biking week!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

In Which Birds of Prey Continue Their Support

Zoomed all the way and from across the Cedar River. We could not be sure at the time, but I think this fuzzy image, of a very large bird with a distinctive white head, confirms it. The eagle was seen.

I did not see a hawk close up today, as I did on yesterday’s ride.

I heard one, or more. When I rode to campus for bell practice late in the afternoon, as I crossed central campus there were several rounds of distinctive screams. One or more of our Mount Mercy resident hawks was nearby, but I didn’t see it or them.

Today’s bike rides totaled 41 miles—25 with my sister and two of my daughters, and 16 commuting miles. I rode to campus three times—twice on commuting trips and once just for the thrill of the hill. So today, I climbed the Mount at MMU six times.

That ought to be a good day of RAGBRAI hill practice.

In some ways, the ride was a bit of a repeat of Tuesday’s. In other ways, it was different.

What was the same and what was different:

I encountered a bird of prey. Yesterday it was two birds—hawks on a telephone wire. Today it was a bald eagle viewed from across the Cedar River. I wasn’t sure it was an eagle from the distance, but looking at the photo on the computer confirms it. Yes, Team Joe members, it was definitely an eagle.

My group climbed the MMU Hill for practice and then posed for an ussie with a nun. Which my sister and I did on Tuesday. Only today, the nun was Frances Warde rather than Catherine McAuley. And there were four Team Joe members in the groupie today, not just two.

Victory! That's the Team Joe Battle Cry! We came, we climbed, we survived and had our group photo taken with Frances Warde.

We ate lunch at the Flying Weenie. I was surprised to learn my daughters had not been there yet. Clearly they were overdue. I didn’t ask, but I think they enjoyed their Chicago dogs. My sister got a brat and it was about 4 inches longer than the large bun that struggled to contain it. I went for the gyro, while yesterday it was the Chicago dog. It was, once again, a good biking lunch.

Bikes parked at The Flying Weenie, above. My lunch, below. Gyro, fries and a cream soda.



Like on Tuesday, our Wednesday group aimed at a southern ride. Yesterday, we rode a bit more and went down to Ely. Today, after lunch, we changed directions and headed west to the Ellis Park trail, where the eagle was seen.

Along the way, I’m afraid there was some plotting going on. The daughters are abuzz with plans for the one day of RAGBRAI when Team Joe swells in membership. Should I be afraid?

Yes.

Final thoughts: After I got home and ate supper, my wife wanted to go on a walk, so I did. And it was a bit tiring—after all, I had biked more than 40miles. But walking is a feature of RAGBRAI too, and maybe something you should do if you’re planning on riding more than one day. We bike, we walk, we eat, we drink and we sleep. I’m trying to do all to prepare! And an indifferent deer appeared for use during the walk.

I have zoomed, but maybe not as much as you think. Deer ambled across trail during our evening walk. Second view below.



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In Which Hawks Cheer Me On to 45 Miles

Hawks on power poles on 74th Street NE.

Actually, my sister posted on Facebook that Map My Ride measured our ride today at 44.94 miles, but I guess it’s OK for me to just claim the other 0.06 miles, don’t you think?

It was a nice day for a RAGBRAI prep ride. It was a bit after 10 a.m. and rather cool when I started my ride to my sister’s nearby house. Along the way, I heard a familiar-sounding screaming cry—the kind that has become common this summer at Mount Mercy University where a family of hawks is being raised from a nest on the Warde Hall cupola.

And there, on top of a power pole on 74th Street, sat two large birds. I don’t know why they were calling. Are these adults hollering to a youngster I didn’t see? Are these juveniles complaining that mom and dad are just too slow with dead things? Or are these simply territorial birds concerned about a big, wheeled mammal suddenly encroaching on their private dinosaur land?

Whatever, it felt good to hear the hawks yell—it seemed like a good omen for the day’s ride, for no particular reason. I met my sister, and then we headed back to my neighborhood to do the Brentwood Drive hill climb. Then we headed south to Mount Mercy University, were we added more hill practice by scaling The Hill.

Afterwards, of course, we posed for a victory ussie with Mother Catherine.

My sister, Mother Catherine and I after my sister and I completed the MMU tour de hill-climbing the hill four times.

By the time we were done at MMU, I wasn’t feeling so cool anymore. The day never really got hot—nor even warm, by Iowa summer standards—but plenty of sunshine and a light breeze and vigorous biking made me warm.

It was then on to the Cedar River trail, heading south to Czech Village. Our plan was lunch at the Flying Weenie. We weren’t 100 percent sure where it was in relationship to Czech Village, but luckily guessed “west,” which proved to be the right direction (both in the sense of the bearing we turned and fitness of the outcome of the presumption).

I had a Chicago dog with fries, and some baked beans. My sister had a burger and fries. The Flying Weenie is an awesome place to stop for a biking lunch, by the way. And the fries are the finest in Cedar Rapids.

This--a dog, fries and baked beans. My lunch at the Flying Weenie.

After the excellent lunch, we rode to the trail’s end in Ely, where we paused and ate snacks we had packed and also thought positive thoughts about the city leaders of Ely for the fine new restrooms they constructed at the end of the Hoover Trail.

And then we biked back again. Along the way, my sister informed me that if I wanted to climb Cottage Grove hill, I was on my own. I said “no,” that I had enough hill practice for today—and between twice climbing the Brentwood hill and four times climbing the MMU hill, we rode up six substantial hills, which I think is decent.

Tomorrow, more of our RAGBRAI crew will gather for yet another practice ride. I’m hoping to break 60 miles at least one day this week (don’t freak out, daughters, I don’t mean on tomorrow’s ride) and may be able to track the miles soon, since my wife bought a computer for Argent today.

My sister raised an interesting question today: “Are you going to try to ride the Karras Loop?”

Hmmmmm.

Finally, just for you biker-flower fans—a bit of what was blooming this afternoon after I got home:

New Hollyhock, rear garden. I used to have black ones. Now, a white one.

Coneflowers are just getting started.

Native lily at it's peak.

You can see yellow lily in background, which has been in bloom for a week or so. This pretty darker one by the mailbox just bloomed today.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

In Which I Ride The Seven Hills of CR

Me, ready to ride. Wearing water on my back, and RAGBRAI-ready monkey paws on my hands. Turns out wearing water on your back is not that big of a deal..

Well, technically there are more than seven hills in Cedar Rapids. I didn’t even ride the Brentwood Drive hill right next to my house—not only was I tired after a 40-mile or so ride, but it looked like rain, so I thought better of it.

But Wednesday, I rode a substantial number of miles for the third day in a row, and that bodes well for RAGBRAI. I deliberately wanted to pick the hilliest ride possible. I am not sure of my miles today—maybe Cate can comment on that—and “seven” hills counts only what I consider to be really substantial hills, not any minor up grades.

For some reason, as you’ll see in my photos, it was also critter day Wednesday.

Anyway, the hills I climbed:

First was the “back drive” entrance to Mount Mercy University. This is the service drive that goes by Andreas House, the Villa and garage, and ends up in front of the library. In my opinion, it’s the most challenging of the five rides up the MMU hill.

This large tree at Mount Mercy lost a limb some weeks ago, and I recall an MMU janitor telling me the whole tree would have to come down because it was rotten inside. Much as I love trees, I think he was right. They were cutting down this tree today as I rode on campus.

Second was the long driveway that loops by Sacred Heart Convent. This ends up by the library from the other direction.

Third was the sidewalk by Warde Hall, leading to the Warde Hall parking lot, and fourth was the sidewalk between Warde Hall and Basile Hall.

I heard a familiar scream as I climbed the Basile Hall sidewalk towards Warde Hall. Falcons. Three are in this photo, on chimney, on cupola and sliding down roof. Groundskeeper told me they had quieted down in recent weeks but are getting noisy again--I wonder if it's because junior is flying around more.

Those are the four “substantial” hill climbs at Mount Mercy. You can also get on to the MMU campus by taking the drive between Lower Campus and Warde Hall, but that’s the least hilly of the routes, and thus not the most useful for today’s hill-themed ride. That fifth way, the drive by Warde Hall, is, however, my chosen hill exit route—it’s the safest way to get off the MMU hill via bicycle. For each of my MMU rides, I rode to Rohde Family Plaza before exiting campus, and there I posed for a photo after the four climbs.

Victory pose at MMU. I have climbed the hill four times riding Argent.

After riding to MMU and climbing it’s hills four times, I rode to the Cedar River Trail. I’m not counting J Avenue as substantial enough, so I basically rode all of the way around Cedar Lake and through downtown to the Prairie Park Fishery without doing any substantial hill climb.

Skunk! In field near Cedar Lake. Fortunately, I had to zoom in to get this image--skunk is maybe 40 yards away. That is close enough for me--hope later trail users didn't have closer skunk encounters.

Pelican joins usual goose and duck crowd at Cedar Lake.

But I was several hours into my ride and getting a bit weary, so I stopped and had my snacks. Then, I returned to Otis Road and rode up the next hill: Memorial Drive.

My hill ride snacks, all eaten at Prairie Park Fishery.
As it turned out, Memorial Drive was memorable for broken pavement on downhill stretches. I rolled along several inclines and “declines.” I was expecting the road to end at Cottage Grove, and hill six was going to be the Cottage Grove Hill, but Memorial Drive actually leads to Bever Park. So I rode through the park, all the way—and I would count the park itself, which unexpectedly had a nice hill at its west end, as the next hill.

When I finished my park ride, I was pretty much lost. I was in a winding neighborhood of stately homes along streets that aren’t familiar to me. Eventually, however, I ended up on the street that leads to Washington High School—and Washington abuts Cottage Grove.

So, that provided the seventh hill. First, I rode rode east down Cottage Grove hill, then I turned around and rode back up the hill.

One time I wish I had my nice Nikon rather than my Canon point-and-shoot. There were lots of nice butterflies at Prairie Park Fishery, but I could not get a decent butterfly image with my little camera--the big one with the big lens would have come in handy! Still, a trio of butterflies on clover at the lake.

It was quite a hill to serve as the final climb, and I wasn’t even planning for it to be the final climb (if it hadn’t clouded up so much, I was toying with the idea of climbing the Bowman Woods hill from three sides, just so I could justify claiming I had climbed 10 hills).

The ride was “short” only because I got a later than expected start. My plan was to be on the bike by 11, and to take and eat lunch on the way. But I also wanted to use a Camelback—partly to see if I have all of the water backpack pieces for RAGBRAI, partly just to get used to wearing the darn thing. I really shouldn’t call it a “Camelback,” which is a trade name, when I have a generic water-holding backpack, but that’s the name most people would know.

Anyway, I was able to assemble, from two different bladders, a complete set. And then I greased my chain and inflated my tires—just because I’ve been putting in a number of miles lately and thought Argent was due for those minor bits of bicycle maintenance.

Well, it was about noon. So instead of packing lunch, I just ate a quick PBJ and some chips. Then I got ready for my ride.

It was probably pushing 1 by the time I left, and it was about 5:30 when I got home.

So the miles today would not count as a RAGBRAI day, and I’m not sure how much climb there was. But there were seven hills—some of them quite impressive (try riding a bicycle up the Cottage Gove hill). So I’m going to say it’s a day in the “win” column for RAGBRAI prep.

From Tuesday, not Wednesday. My wife and I rode to Center Point. It was like the ride I did Monday with my daughters, only faster with fewer stops. If you need a training coach, my wife would be much tougher than my daughters.

Monday, June 29, 2015

In Which We Ride Hills and Go 35 Miles

My daughters and I. Ussie before starting ride at 2 p.m. We finished around 6--35 miles in 4 hours.

Two of my daughters plan to ride a day of RAGBRAI this year, from Hiawatha to Coralville. We met this afternoon for a practice ride.

They are both pretty new at this biking game, so to start the ride, we rode the neighborhood hill loop, going up the Brentwood Hill heading east, then going around and doing it again headed west. It was my second time, since I had already done the loop this morning.

Then, we rode to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, me leading the way since I knew how to get there, and headed north. It was, I think, the first visit to the village of Lafayette, and to the train station at Center Point, for my kids.

Center Point, where we turned back and headed for home.

The day was perfect—a mild headwind headed north, which worked to our advantage on the way home. One daughter rode a nice road bike, the other a heavier mountain bike, but both gamely kept up.

I think the day shows that they can handle a RAGBRAI-like ride. Granted, there is more climb in a RAGBRAI day, but the hill loop at the start showed them that they can handle hills. And 35 miles is not a RAGBRAI day, but it is over half of such a day.

So the group had a good day today. And I had a slightly better day. Together, we rode more than 35 miles. Add to that the 5 miles I rode this morning, and I topped 40 miles.

I get the feeling that theses two are also plotting. “You go ahead, we’ll catch up,” they’d say, and then there would be the murmur of conversation. I can’t wait to see what happens later this summer.


Daughters finish ride, above and below.