Monday, June 11, 2012

Extra Miles On The Raccoon River Ride

Cate's hand and bike computer at ride's end . The spots are due to the pattern of her bike glove.
Don’t you like the spotted hand?  It belongs to my sister Cate, and is from her Facebook wall.  She took this photo at the end of the Waukee to Jefferson overnight bike ride that we took with Brigid and Eldon and 96 others in a ride sponsored by the Des Moines Bicycling Club.

The Raccoon River Ride should have been just a bit over 100 miles in two days, but as you can see, we topped 123.  Cate and I did that due to the incredible Sheller sense of indirection.

Cate and I on day one, one of the few photos my ailing camera functioned for.
At the start of the ride, we turned north by accident, heading to Dallas Center, a town that is on a new loop of trail that, beyond Dallas Center, is still under construction.  And didn’t realize our error until we got to a town we weren’t ever supposed to arrive in.

So we earned about 15 extra miles.

We laughed about it Saturday, and were convinced the ride Sunday would be comparatively easy—after all, our return journey from Jefferson to Waukee would be 15 miles shorter.

What we didn’t count on was the 20 mph headwind.  We were climbing a “wind hill,” either a stiff side wind (bad) or a stiff head wind (even worse), the whole way.

The 15-mile-shorter trip took more than an hour longer.

Well, despite the wind, the two-day event was still a fun ride, and a good shakedown cruise for RAGBRAI.  Brigid and Eldon were great hosts and we all had a homemade spaghetti feed the night before the ride.  The trail is very nice—paved the whole way with lots of scenery.

Our group at the campground in Jefferson.  Me, Eldon Rocca, Brigid Rocca and Cate Sheller.

Oddly, the one town that is passes through which mostly seems to ignore the trail is Adel—other towns have parks with water and restrooms along the trail, but this Dallas County village, which is pretty substantial compared to other towns the trail rolls through, seems to ignore the existence of the trail.

Anyway, no doubt I’ll squeeze one or more added blog posts about this ride, but for now, what did I learn for RAGBRAI?

  • If a biker says she’s slow, she might be lying.  A lady we kept seeing at stops on the first day was constantly complaining about her lack of speed, yet she was always there, waiting, at the next stop.  Unless she teleported, she was faster than we were.  As were Brigid and Eldon—their trikes may be slower than most bikes, but not ones ridden by the mighty-slow Sheller duo!
  •  My tent is ridiculous.  It made some sense for two men last year, when it was hauled place to place by a support van.  For a solo rider using the luggage truck?  Eldon looked at our cluster of tents and said it looked like a mall with mine as the anchor.  It’s huge, and makes up for that by taking a lot of space and being very heavy when stowed.
  •  The bike can wear the water pack.  I don’t have a Camelback, but I do have a brand X version, and I like having the wicked witch of the west basket in front, with a silly looking green lunch box, extra water bottle and my water backpack.  The bike can wear the water.  It felt a bit silly on RAGBRAI last year, but this ride confirms it—silly it might be, but it’s also practical.
  •  My camera is dead.  It’s dead, Jim.  I barely got 2 usable photo because its operating software freezes in startup, and I can’t get it to work.  This is regrettable, because my little Kodak was a very serviceable camera for RAGBRAI last year.  But I’ll need to either borrow Audrey’s or get a different point-and-shoot, because this one is kaput.

Well, there you have it.  It was a great time.  More later this week on trikes and on the folding bike that I test drove!
Eldon and Brigid, leaving lunch on day one of ride.

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