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Triathlete Blog

Ragbrai – A Few Days

By July 23, 2008July 6th, 2015No Comments

Wait, I think it’s Wednesday. Right?

I’m not even sure where to begin. I guess I should start with Monday. Monday started at 2:20 am. There was a golf cart driving through town shouting through bullhorn at all Ragbrai campers that a major storm with high winds was moving in. All of a sudden the giant silver maple that provided shade at 2 pm for our tent was not such a good idea. We moved into the methodist church across the street. Found a pew to sleep upon and thank god for cushioned pews. The storm blew through and we were safe in the church. We were not safe – however – from the snoring bear that was on the floor. By some miracle of god or faith I reached under my pillow and found two quarters. I am not kidding. In my sleepy state I thought to myself – Chris lost his pocket change – anyways I realized I had two chances to stop the snoring bear. I threw the first quarter – in the dark – and heard it hit the wall. The second quarter did the trick. The snoring stopped. In the morning, I woke to hear one of our teammates – Billy Boy – telling everyone that someone threw change at him in the morning. Yes, that was me. Hell of a shot I’d say.

Monday was the century day. Chris, Red Bear, Billy Boy, Baron and I headed out for 100 miles. It was a glorious day. Early on I made a move on the group and beat the boys into town. That felt good. The rest of the team met us at some in between town. The team shopped for new uniforms in a consignment shop. Marsh found the most fabulous disco shirt. Jen got a cat tail. Shady Tom got a bow tie. I found the coolest shirt in the kid section – it was red and said ROCKSTAR in rhinestones. Top that off with a Kum-N-Go (no joke, that’s the name of the gas stations around here) hat and you have a stylish trailer trash outfit put together for under 50 cents. We rolled out of that town and the group picked up some pack meat. I was really frustrated so I made an attack to go off the front and drop the entire group. There were about 40 men chasing me and it was hard work. I told myself if I could hold them off for 5, I could do 10 – 20 – turned into 45 before I got swallowed proudly by the peleton. Some other team guy told me my effort was inefficient, I told him to zip it. I’m not here for efficiency.

We ended up creating a party in Scranton since we had beat most of Ragbrai there. Someone bought about 20 x 18 packs of cheap beer. The team was sorely disappointed that I would not parttake in their festivities but I said someone has to be the voice of reason and someone has to instigate a beer criterium and be sober enough to enforce the rules. A giant storm rolled in, the fesitivities continued and then we all rode back into the end town.

That night the Timmers continued the fesitivites a bit too far. I found him in a bar shouting very loudly that he was a townie. The problem was he was shouting this at a townie. We were sitting in these swivel chairs and he make a very risky move. The man behind us who was a townie and also about 300 lbs – well, Timmers decided to swivel him around and shout at him that I was looking for whiskey. I was not. And the townie was not impressed and told the Timmers to take himself and his girlfriend out of the bar. Timmers then excused himself to the restroom and snuck out the back door. We found him later at the camp and then Red Bear tackled him to keep Timmers from running away from us again (note: best not to lose the Timmers when intoxicated).

The next day Chris and I rode mostly by ourselves. It was a short ride and the course was mostly flat. I disqualified everyone on Ragbrai riding with children, fanny packs, I-Pods, beads, camelbacks, tandems, dogs, large toys on their bodies or helmets, writing on their legs, Ragbrai jerseys, tutus, sandals, crocs, toe cages, riding in the left lane going under 12 mph, riding more than 3 abreast, those wearing full European racing team kits, those on teams that start with a man’s name….as you can see I pretty much disqualified everyone on Ragbrai.

We had a great camping site at the Iowa State Arboretum. The team ended up stopping in one of the towns (it’s a pattern – in the two years we have been off Ragbrai, our team has gotten more into festivities than cycling…) so they rolled in late – and without the Timmers. His sister, Jen, told me I should probably go ride back out to find him or call the Boone County Jail. I would do no such thing. I was finally clean (actually paid for a shower that day) and enjoying my first beer of Ragbrai (and my last). I had gone for a great run on the ISU cross country course and was done working out for the day. The Timmers eventually came back and he had been totally Ragbraied – he was wearing a bunch of beads, a cheetah skirt and had “Val’s b*tch” written on one of his arms. I’m not sure he even knew who Val was. Apparently he and another team that we find often had stopped on the major hill into Boone telling the riders welcome to Ames. Ames was about 9 miles away.

That evening we hung out in Ames. I was walking down the street when someone said don’t let this underage girl into the bar – and with that I found myself in a bar. Good times were had. My times were all dry times but good nonetheless. You can have a good time without beer. Trust me. Shady Tom announced Ragbrai was his natural habitat. Two cougars stalked Baron and Billy Boy. It was all classic Ragbrai fun.

Today’s riding was annoying at best. There were too many people, too many packs, too many squirrely riders and too much wind. I did my share of pulling. I nearly threw up pancakes. We saw many accidents out there which slowed us and scared us. Chris and I finally decided to just ride alone. I broke up with Ragbrai because the day was just frustrating. 77 miles and I just had enough of people riding to the left, riding squiggly lines and riding in giant packs.

And now we sit in camp. Chris, Meredith and I. We wait for the group. We have found a pool but the lap lanes are once again filled with salty cyclists. I am salty. I am hungry. I have ridden about 260 miles in the past 4 days. And there is more tomorrow. I cannot wait. For as much as I disqualify the ride I still enjoy it. I have made many observations about the ride and its riders which I will share at another time. Until then I will keep enjoying the miles, the people I meet along the way. I have yet to eat meat on a stick or corn on the cob. It will happen. After all, this is Iowa and I am on Ragbrai.