Tuesday, July 29, 2008

RAGBRAI Day 2 – Harlan to Jefferson (83 miles, 5,239 feet of climb)

Mondy, July 21st - Knowing it was going to be a long day with lots of hills, we were again up at 5:00 am and on the road around 5:45 am. There was an optional century loop just a few miles into the ride which didn’t even temp us! Our first town/stop was at a cute little town called Kimballton. Obviously we were in Danish territory as they were having an aebelskiver breakfast. So even though we missed Danish Days in Viborg just a few days earlier, we didn’t miss out on the aebelskiver! It was good but not near as good as what the ladies in Viborg make. I could tell this wasn’t an original recipe – it was made from pancake batter and they didn’t serve the special homemade strawberry jam with it.

On to Elk Horn, another Danish community with a Danish windmill. And the hills kept getting longer. Heartland Tower was a water spot furnished by the Air Guard and greatly appreciated after that especially tough climb. They also had some mighty fine strawberry-rhubarb pie with ice cream, all for $2.00! Now if someone would have cold water, pie, and ice cream for me every time I climbed a big hill around here, like the Frog Creek hill off the Bluff Road!

Coon Rapids was our next stop and a fun town. It was a meeting town – this is where riders could meet up with their SAGs, so there was always a lot of action in the meeting towns. The town played up the “coon” theme and even sold raccoon tails which we saw many people wearing on their helmets or the back of the cycling shorts. This was probably the warmest day of RAGBRAI and we were glad to find an air conditioned building where they were serving pork sandwiches.

We ran into Tim in Coon Rapids. Seems like the line for the port-a-potties or Kybos (as they are called on RABRAI – some say that stands for keep you bowels open) is a place where one will frequently find others you know! Tim of course had done the century loop and still managed to catch us!

Leaving Coon Rapids the hills flattened out more and it was just 27 more miles to our destination, Jefferson, with one stop in between.

We were camped at the Knights of Columbus building in Jefferson, a very nice spot, and very handy as they were serving a beef & noodle supper complete with pie and ice cream of course! We were close to the downtown and entertainment and Ashley and I walked down there a couple of times. Otherwise we were content to sit around camp and talk with every one about what they saw out on the road and commiserate about the hills!

Monday, July 28, 2008

RAGBRAI – Day 1, Missouri Valley to Harlan (60 miles, 3,797 feet of climb)

Sunday, July 20th – We left the campground shortly after 5:30 am as it was just starting to get light. I had a headlight and we both had our blinky red tail lights. As soon as we got to the main route we were following a sea of red blinky tail lights. The only time we needed a map for RAGBRAI was to find our camp site – otherwise, you just follow the pack!

About 10 miles out we stopped at BeeBee Town for a delicious breakfast buffet at Mama Rafiel’s, one of the vendors who followed RAGBRAI all week.

We rode at a leisurely pace and stopped at all the towns: Underwood, Neola, Minden, Minden, Shelby, and Tennant but we still arrived in Harlan around 11:00 am and were the first into our camp. I think this is when we came to realize that RAGBRAI is a way more relaxed ride than what we have experienced before!

We were camped with a host family across from a park and the swimming pool. With showers so close by we decided to use the pool showers rather than wait for our solar shower bags to warm up. We had a nice shady spot to sit and chat with the others in our camp as they arrived throughout the rest of the day and into the early evening. And it was nice to have time to explore Harlan with its court house square.
Everyone in our group was off to bed early to get a good night’s sleep before what we knew would be our hardest day of the week – 83 miles and 5,239 feet of climbing. Unfortunately, it was an interrupted night’s sleep when we were awakened to a public address system at 2:00 am telling us to take cover as a storm was coming in.

Our host family (a couple in their 30’s or 40’s?) was up also and brought their radio out. They indicated the storm was well to the east of us. Ashley and I opted to go back to our tent and try to get back to sleep, which we did. While others, who have probably seen the movie Twister a few too many times, stayed up for a couple of hours waiting for the F-5 tornado. I’m not sure it was the smart thing for us to do to go back to bed, but we were only 20 feet from our host family’s brick house and brick garage where we could take cover if needed. The other thing that topped off the bizarre night was that our “hostess” obviously spent quite a bit of time in the beer garden earlier that night – she was completely snockered but trying to comfort the campers by telling them not to worry, that it would probably only be an F-2 or F-3 tornado! Did I mention, the radio had thunderstorm warnings – NOT tornado warnings! But we were lucky as the campers in the main camp grounds were evacuated to storm shelters around town and the only that happened was a brief period of wind and a couple of sprinkles. But with a death that occured when a storm hit Spencer during RAGBRAI a few years back, I'm reassured to know that the RAGBRAI are very careful of everyone's safety.

RAGBRAI – Arriving in Missouri Valley

This lttle doggie gets to go to RAGBRAI!

Saturday, July 19th – Charlie drove Ashley and I to Missouri Valley. We arrived around 4:30 pm and the vehicle and bike traffic made it hard to get around but we finally located our ShuttleGuy service and quickly unloaded and got Charlie back on his way home away from the mayhem!

Ashley and I took the shuttle to the Expo where I stocked up on chamois butter, a necessity for the week! Surprisingly, among all the thousands of people, we managed to see the Biking Viking group on our way to the Expo and on our way back from the Expo!

Returning to camp, who do we see, but Tim from Sioux City! It was nice to have a familiar face in camp!

It was a hot, sticky night and there was quite a bit of lightening off in the distance but luckily we didn’t get any storms that night.
I originally thought we would wait and leave after 8:00 am the first day to avoid the biggest mass of people, this was advice from the Siouxland Cyclists. But knowing it was going to be hot and muggy on Sunday we decided to get up at 5:00 am and try to get out of town early.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

RAGBRAI Pictures

Wow, an experience! I've been immersed for a full week into a culture I've never experienced before - RAGBRAI!

Too tired and too much to do to give much of a detailed report but here are some pictures and a few of my impressions:

Glad I had the experience - it's so unique and hard to explain until you have been there. And what is better than riding bike all week long!

RAGBRAI may have a circus like atmosphere but it is a bike ride to be taken seriously - the official route was 471 miles and I think we had a few more than adding the miles getting to and from our camp each day. And IOWA IS NOT FLAT! Lots of climbing, especially on day 2 which was also a long day (around 80 miles).

All sorts of riders; from CAT racers to those who dusted off their Huffy 10 speed to join the ride for a few miles.

A million different bikes!

Solar showers work well!

The route was gorgeous; winding roads along some very picturesque farm land and river valleys. Going through the Amana colonies has a totally differet feel from visitng them by car.

Did not see any naked-beer-slip-and-slides. Not saying they weren't out there but there are all sorts of RAGBRAI experiences and my RAGBRAI experience was early to bed, early to rise!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

RAGBRAI - Doing Great!

No mishaps, great weather except for about 60 miles of head winds today - but not so bad. Been doing lots of climbing. Iowa is NOT flat!! Lots of people having lots of fun. Full report when we return!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Off to an early start at 5:45 am, beating the warm temps we reached Harlan at 10:50 am - then another half hour tootling around town to our camp site. So far, so good, loving RAGBRAI!! I was worried most about the masses of people but that really has not been bad...so far, we haven't had lines for anything! Today was like riding the county line south of Irene for about 60 miles - rolling hills, so it wasn't bad.

The Shuttle Guy is taking really good care of us once again. Today camp is in the back yard of a host family, right across from the aquatic center and just a few blocks from Harlan downtown where all the action is. This year a new addition to the Shuttle Guy, they brought in coolers of iced beer - they're not sure how they are going to charge - probably free will donation!

I thought RAGBRAI would be so many people we wouldn't see anyone we knew but last night in Missouri Valley we saw the Biking Vikings, Donna and Kyle's group two different times! Today I saw Jack and Pam from Sioux Falls. And Tim from Sioux

Tomorrow is the most challenging day of the week - 82 miles and LOTS of climbing. Thanks for the weel wishes and prayers - keepp them coming our way!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

RAGBRAI – Here I Come!

Yipppeeee! In a few short hours my husband will drive my daughter and I to Missouri Valley for the start of RAGBRAI . I can’t believe I’m doing this, and a few times I have paused to ask myself, “why am I doing this?” Then I remember all those reasons why I signed up last January. Here is my top 5:

5. Its only one day more than Tour deKota. I’ve done the full week of TDK twice, so I believe I can make it through RAGBRAI although it will be more challenging as it is a hillier route than the TDK’s I’ve ridden.

4. Good time of the year for me to get away from work as it is the last week before the students start orientation and classes.

3. I didn’t ride the whole week of TDK – so I had to find another week long ride and this was close! Actually I haven’t heard anyone say TDK was FUN this year so I’m glad I had a reason (like my daughter’s wedding!) to not stick it out the full week.

2. Spending a week with my oldest daughter on a bike, what could be better! Well, maybe only one thing better would have been the youngest daughter, husband, and son-in-law sagging for us!

1. When people find out you ride bike, they always ask “have you been on RAGBRAI?” When you reply “no,” that usually ends the biking conversation because RAGBRAI is the only bike ride that non-biking people relate to! Also, it just feels like I need to do RAGBRAI to validate that I am a true biker or maybe it’s more like someone who like to combine a party with a bike ride! I’m sure that is the same reason Lance started riding in RAGBRAI!

Seriously, I have to remember that there are still people who haven’t heard of RAGBRAI – which seems unbelievable to me! But just this last week I was talking with a friend about planning a baby shower. I had told her before that I was going on RAGBRAI and wasn’t sure I would be at the shower depending on the date. When the date was picked and she called back I told her I would be on RAGBRAI and her reply was “Is that like an ALL day bike ride?” Like ALL day was an awfully long time to be gone riding bike!

Well, here we go. I’m signing off for the week. Prayers for safety and tail winds for Ashley and I are most welcomed!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


The Hooterville Mayor recently made a reference to living in God's Country. I couldn't agree more, this is a great state, great area in the southeastern corner, especially my little town of Wakonda and the surrounding area! Complete strangers will give a biker their car! But that's another story best told by Ride Vermillion.

Anyway, I was thinking of what a great week it has been and how you don't need to live in the big city to find entertainment and good food. For example, Sunday evenng we made the 12 mile trip to Viborg to see the movie "Sex in the City" in the state's oldest movie theatre. While ticket prices recently went up to $5, you can't beat the prices of their concessions. We had a package of Nibs, peanut M&M's, a box of Junior Mints (we were really craving sweets!), and a bottle of water for a grand total of $3.25.

Last night was pizza night at the local Wakonda Hotel & "Pit" - home to chef extraordinaire, Torey. The newlyweds and youngest daughter took us out - we loaded up on 3 varieties: veggie, ham and salami, and the four meat. Very yummy....this will probably upset Tez, but we prefer Torey's pizza to the famous Charlie's pizza. Now if Torey only made that yummy garlic cheese bread they have at Charlie's!

And to top it off, we have great roads for riding bike with low traffic and friendly motorists - it's Nirvana!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekend in Lanesboro, Minnesota

There is no such thing as a coincidence; a couple of synchronistic events lead to a great weekend! Allow me to explain. Charlie and I were planning to go away for the weekend but didn’t have any definite plans. I wanted to include some bike riding and was looking on-line at some of the bike trails in southern Minnesota. Synchronistic event number 1: after emailing Mary Jean late Wednesday evening to ask how she liked the Midwest Scenic Bike Tour, she replied first thing Thursday morning and had wonderful things to say about the ride. She mentioned that Lanesboro, Minnesota was her favorite stay over town. We now had a destination for our trip! A quaint, small town with wonderful bike trails along the Root River.
Synchronistic event number 2 involved finding a B&B with a room opening. Just as I was beginning to think that every room was booked I found a room at the Coffee Street Inn. The owner said someone had just cancelled for the weekend and a room opened up for two nights! Chatting with some of the other B&B guests confirmed that all the rooms in town are usually all booked on weekends by April.
Some highlights of the weekend:
Beautiful scenery; rolling hills along the Root River valley.
The Amish colony of Harmony. We didn’t tour the colony but saw several of the buggies traveling the roads near Harmony and saw their beautiful quilts and baskets for sale at the Farmer’s Market on Lanesboro.
Riding the Root River Bike Trail. My favorite was riding the side-by-side recumbent with Charlie!
Riding the bike trail to Whalen for rhubarb pie!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

MaMa Mia - the Movie Comes Out Next Week!

We saw the musical MaMa Mia this past winter in Las Vegas and I absolutely loved it! What a fun, feel good play, set to the great music of ABBA. I can hardly wait to see the movie with Meryl Streep and Pierce Bronson which comes out on July 18th. But with RAGBRAI starting that same weekend and the MS Ride the week after RAGBRAI, I probably won't get a chance to see the movie right away....but it will be something to look forward to!
In the meantime I'm overdosing on ABBA music. Besides repeatedly playing my ABBA's Greatest Hits CD, I've been listening to all ABBA music on Sirius Radio Channel 3, which started on Monday of this week and is playing for a limited time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Not So Many Toads Today

The alarm went off at 5:45 am and my husband rolled over and asked if I was riding my bike to work today. I quickly determined that my legs were feeling the effects of riding a pretty good clip with the LaneHogs the night before and replied, "No, I'm too tired." Then I got out of bed and saw what a beautiful morning it was, the weather man was saying the winds were calm at 5 mph out of the south. Oh, what the heck, it was too nice NOT to ride to work. And what is better for stiff legs than to get back on the bike and spin it out! Surprisingly I managed to average 16.2 mph from my door to the door of work. Which is a pretty good solo average for me (with no wind pushing me).

I'm getting into this bike commute, I love that I'm saving gas, and that I get in some training miles while getting to spend the evenings with my husband.

Luckily with my job I don't see many people in the summer until the students come back the end of July. So basically it doesn't matter if I'm a little smelly with helmet head hair! No, really, I think the "baby wipes" I use to clean up with takes care of most of the B.O. Sounds like the showers and locker rooms in the new building might be available starting July 15th.

This morning there were only a few places on the road with baby toads - they missed the big party yesterday.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Commuted to Work by Bike

It was a beautiful day to commute to work by bike! My goal each year is to commute by bike a total of 5 days. With a 50 mile round trip daily commute that saves me almost a tank of gas.

Also, I've seen some interesting wild life that I would have otherwise missed. For example, this morning the roads were covered with baby toads hopping about! I've never seen so many in my life. I think I managed to somehow not run over any as I kept a watch out and didn't see any toad slime on my front tire.

Total number of miles in for the year (since April 1st): ~1230. Commuting miles: ~200.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Long Weekend Coming to a Close

It was a great weekend, that again went by all too quickly. Here is a quick recap.

The long weekend started on Thursday evening with the annual July 3rd party some of our friends have. Lots of yummy food (ribs from Famous Dave's and chicken from Uncle Ed's), some yard games, and sitting by a bonfire. And the evening was so cool that the fire felt good!

Friday (July 4th) I rode bike while my husband polished his model A. In the afternoon, our youngest daughter was home to chat awhile and to take advantage of washing her car in her Dad's shop.

Friday evening we headed to Centerville. Lots going on there this weekend with their 125th celebration. We went for the Poker Alice Concert and tribute to Gary Knutson, a former member of the band who died of Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Gary and my husband were cousins, here is an article that was in the Argus Leader. It was really cool to see Gary's son playing his Dad's guitar with his Dad's band.

Saturday morning we were back in Centerville for the parade. My husband drove his model A pickup. Nice parade and it looked like it was very well attended. I must confess, I went back to the bakery since we were in town. There was a long line out into the street and they looked like they were going to sell every single pastry they had on hand. They were out of apple fritters, so we had donuts - but it's all good!

In the afternoon my husband and I worked on our perennial flower bed behind the house, did some tilling and then headed on a hunt for some nice rocks to add to the flower bed perimeter. We raided the rock piles of several relatives and friends. Several people have since offered us to come out to their fields this fall and pick as much rock as we would like! Been there, done that, that's why I'm NOT married to a farmer!

After cleaning up, we set up our lawn chairs, listened to some ABBA music, and had a glass of wine in our back yard, enjoying the view of our weed free flower patch. A very relaxing evening.

This morning we woke up early as we tend to always do. I went for a quick bike ride to Irene and back (16 miles). We were both tempted to skip church knowing our minister was on vacation and we had a fill-in lay minister. But decided we should go and we were really glad we did, it was a great service and the minister had a very meaningful message. We went out for lunch and are back home contemplating going out to dig up some wild roses to plant in our flower bed but it looks like it is going to rain any moment, a good excuse to take a nap!

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Independence Day Ride

A beautiful day for a ride! As I recall, the temps are much cooler today than they were a year ago on July 4th. Last year some of us Lane Hogs did a loop from Vermillion to the Spink/Nora area and Elk Point. Then we regrouped after some lunch back in Vermillion and some of us rode the Vermillion-Meckling-Bluff Road loop. It was very hot when we finished. I got in my airconditioned car and drove home which helped to revive me a bit and then went and found the 12 easiest miles I could to total 100 miles for the day.

Today I was riding solo and came no where close to a century ride, but got in 65 very enjoyable miles.

I left Wakonda around 7:30am and rode the Centerville-Viborg-Irene-Wakonda loop (42 miles). I've been riding this route a lot this year and one of the reasons I like it so well is that you have the option to stop every 10-14 miles! And I took advantage of each stop this morning. On my way to Centerville I started thinking about those yummy apple fritters a group of us had at the Bakery last time we did this ride. I had to stop for one of those. I planned to skip the stop in Viborg but I think the sugary pastry had me craving some protein and they have the best cashews at the convnience store in Viborg - the kind in a little paper sack kept all nice and warm. So I had to make a stop for the cashews. On to Irene and I thought I better stop and have a Coke to help me climb the hills south of Irene. I was taking no chances on bonking!

I stopped at home and my hubby was in, we chatted while I had a sandwhich, and then I was off to complete my ride with a 23 mile loop along the Bluff Road. I managed to ride the last 23 miles without stopping and eating along the way! It's not surprising that I gain weight ding biking season!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Commuting by Bike

The last two days I've commuted to work by bike. Monday was just too nice of a day to pass up riding to work and today was a bit breezy but the south wind was a great benefit for the ride home. Mileage one way is 24.45 miles from my door to the bike rack at work.

When the final phase of construction is finished on our buidling, we will have locker rooms with showers, which will be really nice for commuting. Right now, I make due with cleaning up at the sink in restroom. I'm sure those who work with me, will appreciate it when I can actually take a shower after rding my bike in to work!

I have 140 miles in so far for this week and hope to get some more riding in but first I need to get some things checked out on the bike. Hopefully it won't have to stay in the shop long!