Monday, August 07, 2006

July 30th - RAGBRAI!!!

So I participated in a day of RAGBRAI. Looking back I keep thinking that it was such a huge accomplishment for me. I can't believe all the things that my body has done lately and I wanted to make sure I finally wrote some of them down.

RAGBRAI has its own characteristics, unique charm, essentially a party on wheels. It even comes with it's own language.

I biked with two other friends, Sarah and Jonathan, we started our day in Marengo Iowa. I awoke at 5:20 to make it there on time. I was so tired, lack of sleep and as I stepped outside my sisters house I thought it was already way to hot outside. It was already probably in the 70's and the sun had just come up.

My sister dropped me off in Marengo, a short drive from Amana, and I meet up with my friends. Soon after my sister dropped me off I was sitting in the AC again talking over breakfast as my friends were still getting ready to go. Soon enough Jonathan and Sarah were ready.

Jonathan who was biking on a mountain bike made a comment, "I think we can make it in 3 hours", I laughed. I was like with your nobby times, I don't think so, I was just trying to be realistic, I thought we could make it in 4, but had no idea how hilly the course was. The course was 48 miles and I knew if it was flat it would be realistic but was still optimistic and unsure of the roads that lay ahead.

So we started out and 2 minutes 45 seconds into the ride, problem 1. Sarah has a problem with her bike tire, she didn't seem to be biking as fast as normal, and the bike tire is not turning properly, the brake is rubbing weird, and so we turn around. Thankfully we were only .66 miles out and still close to home.

We got bak to where we started and Jonathan got out the tools and starts adjusting the time, by this time I was already sweating, thinking to my self it was way to hot to do this and wondering if I should simply stay home or go home. But soon enough the tire was fixed, but then Jonathan realized that Sarah had packed everything possible in her back pack and so he began going thro it, removing most of the unnecessary items.

Okay.. So we are back on the road, I look down I'm cruising around 14 mph, not to shabby, anyway we get to the main road where thousands of bikers were going by, I kept thinking how in the world do we get on, and how are we going to stay together, as that was our plan. We finally get on, were biking in a large pack several teams pass us.

On RAGBRAI you can be on a team. I have yet to figure out what the exact purpose of having a team but I guess there are a few benefits.
1. You get to where cool, funky hot costumes, or a cool riding shirt will have the same effect.
2. You always have people to bike with as long as you can keep up with at least 1 member.
3. You always have people to party with in your campsite but you'll most likely have to camp and sleep outside if you have a big team.
4. You have someone to pick you up early on the course when your too hot and think your going to die
5. You may have a cool bus to ride in.

Anyway, so several teams passed us, it felt so weird to be going so slow, we were maybe biking at 6-8 mph. We were caught on the right which I guess as the day went on it was the last place I wanted to be. So were on the road, less than a mile on we get to a very large hill, I was like ohh.... great. I hate hills, I am horrible at hills, I was hoping that this is just the start and then it's flat. Nope.. WRONG!! We go down and then up a decent size hill, I'm cruising down at 25 and cruising ( or rather not so cruising) up at 6-8 mph, which for me is totally painful. So hill after hill after hill I think it will never end.

By this time I keep loosing Sarah and Jonathan, I go a little faster o the downhill and way slower on the uphill, (I think Sarah could kick my butt on any up hill almost any day of the week!) I'm trying to slow down to find them on the minimum flats but there are hardly any. As the day went on, I would go bike and then go slow and find Sarah and yell out a name letting them know I was there.

I saw several teams drafting, another advantage of teams. So we get about 6 miles in, I ask Sarah to pull over, we are at the top of a hill, right before we go down it, and i simply need a break, my mind is racing thinking we are only 6 miles in and already stopping, and thinking it is going to be a LOONG day, not to mention, are we even going to make it??

We continue to biking, and find out that it just works better for me, who hates biking slow, its just harder for me to do, to slow my natural rhythm down, so I bike ahead, listen to some jams of others bikers who have radios on their bikes and talk to a few bikers who bike next to me a so they go by. We make 1 more stop before getting to Williamsburg which was 15.8 miles. We took a couple quick pictures and a water break and then continued, from here on out I biked pretty much alone, which I was totally okay with, I finally figured out the hills, or at least most of them, I would go down around 25 and go up around 19, I was cruising and it was Great!!

The best part of my picking up speed was I was then able to take longer pit stops which I always went for the shade and then waited for Sarah and Jonathan which was truly a life saver for me. Sarah and Jonathan would get to me grab a drink of water and say okay ready, and I am thinking holy cow!! I'm wiped, and I've been resting for a good 8 minutes. So I'm so thankful I was just able to bike a little faster and take a little longer breaks.

As I mentioned earlier RAGBRAI has it's own language, it really surprised me when we first started, it reminds me of like computer feeks have their own language and these bikers had come up with a language to fit their needs perfectly!

Car Up - Was an echo of people yelling it down the line to let you know, somewhere, usually fairly soon a car was coming towards you on the left, most drivers were very cautious and slow& I was very thankful for that but I saw two cars that were zooming by at least 45 mph.. craziness!!

Car Back - Means a car is on the right side of the road (The side everyone is biking on) which is a disaster especially on hills, the cars would have bikers passing them and I am sure they were often frustrated, At one point I was behind a Semi, which was very scary, I thought if he or I made one wrong move I was toast!

Biker On & Biker Off - Self Explanitory - but used when getting off or back on the road, usually followed by a right or left.

Rumbles - when there are those rumble bars before stop signs there was an echo of rumble on the right, so you could hopefully safely avoid the very annoying rumbles. The first time I heard this, I was like.. what in the world are rumbles..

Then of course there was slowing or stopping when it simply hit massive crowds and you had to walk your bike. So the day was going fairly well, other than I was so hot, there were several times I thought I could pass out and others I was almost crying thinking I couldn't simply go any farther. We decided to take a 1/2 hour break when we reached Windham, thank goodness!!

I don't know if I could have gone much farther, we found some food and some shade and I tried taking a short nap but instead didn't get much in but thankful for the short rest.

We started back on our journey at 12:15 or so, on the road again, we get going again and thankfully we are now only about 12 - 15 miles from Coralville,. We turned the corner to go to Cosgrove and there were all these signs, saying you can do the hill, you can make it, Cosgrove just on top of the hills, Man they were insane!!

We went up the steepest hill in Iowa in the shortest idstance or so they say... Whew, I've never seen so many people jump off their bikes in the middle of a hill, including my self, I was walking it! Everyone kept saying if you had a granny gear you were okay, but I definitely did not have a granny gear. Later on in the day Sarah told me a story of a dad going up the hill hauling his daughter in a pull along up this hill and it went something like this.

Daughter - Dad, were going really slow..
Dad - Huffing and Puffing, well because your really heavy, this thing is really heavy.
Daughter - How much does this thing weigh
Dad - totally out of breath, Ohh I dunno maybe 15 pounds or so..
Daughter - Wow and I weigh like 30 or so thats like 40 pounds Dad
Dad - Huffing and Puffing - yeah..

When Sarah was explaining this story I couldn't help but think how cool it was of that dad to work so hard and let his daughter enough a ride out of Love, and how much God is like my father as well, how hard he works for me, even when I don't deserve it, how much he gives me just out of his pure love! Its amazing!

After several hills and me wanting to throw up and pass out we made it to Cosgrove, I just had to stop, I stood infront of a sprinkler for a while before collapsing under a shaded tree, thinking I was going to die from the heat. Someone happened to mention how much further it was to Iowa city, and said 10 miles, I had only traveled 2 miles!!! CRAZINESS!!

I saw several buses picking up team members, just saying it was to hot, This is where I sooo wished I had a team with a bus something, just let me ride!! Anyway about after a 15 minute rest we got up and took off a gain. I went ahead and could barely stay ahead of Jonathan and Sarah or barely catch up at times!! Jonathan because very fast, or maybe I slowed down, but man that boy was like full of energy, he was hyped! It was amazing! I only wished I had the energy to challegne him but I was toast!

We made 1 or 2 stops before we made it to Iowa city, I have never been so happy to see Iowa City before!.


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