Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 25, Coralville to Davenport, IA





July 24, Hiawatha to Coralville

I’m sitting in a athletic field that includes baseball diamonds, rec center and a water park that is filled wall to wall with colorful tents and life is good. Later this evening near by the movie “Field of Dreams” will be shown in a large outdoor screen.  Things are winding down on the ride, only one more day until we finish in Davenport on the banks of the Mississippi.

We’ve had wonderful weather on the ride, cool in the morning and warmer in the afternoon. For this time of year, it’s been perfect. Stories abound about previous years of rain, rain and more rain or extreme heat all week long. So it’s not a big surprise that today was less than perfect.

Started off overcast. By the 20 mile point it became evident that by looking at the sky that showers were heading in our direction. We stopped once or twice for snacks, coffee and water and by 11:30 it started to drip on us, that turned into spitting rain and finally showers as we pulled into a town for lunch. With the rain falling we found a food stand selling pull pork and brisket sandwiches that didn’t have a line. Jim, Lauri and myself stood huddling in a doorway of a storefront eating our lunch followed by ice cream sandwiches.

We decided to head out though the showers were continuing. The temperatures were not cold nor was the rain and as long as we kept moving, we would be warm. The roads had several rolling hills that kept us working pretty hard including a couple of 12% grades that forced many of the less experienced riders to push their bikes up the hills.

Looking over my shoulder I could see a line of clouds that allowed the blue sky to start to appear and I can see over several minutes that the blue sky was moving in our direction. With 5 miles to  Coralville the showers taper off. Buy the time we entered the RAGRAI the rain stopped and we rolled across the red carpet laid out for out for the riders. 

We found a brewery and had a couple. As we sipped the beer, the sun came out and dried us out and warmed us up.

We made it to our campsite. Following showers we all headed out to a Whole Foods type of place that served sandwiches and such. As I sit on the grass blogging away, I could my blessing to be able to enjoy the company of great friend and experience Iowa in the summer.


In the the the movie "Field of Dreams" there is line that has become an tag line of sorts and is often repeated. In the movie, a the Shoeless Joe character asks; “is this heaven?” and the response is: “No it’s Iowa.” After such a wonderful week riding the roads, enjoying the camaraderie, who am I to say if it’s Iowa or Heaven?

Happy Biking,

Brian







Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 23, Cedar Falls to Hiawatha

The ride out of Cedar Falls was more crowded today.  As the ride is progressing it seems that additional riders are joining as the ride is coming to an end.

The day was clear and warmed up as the day went on. The first stop was for coffee and bagels at the same vendor that we’ve stopped at before. The various vendors travel with the tour setting up their site approximately the same distance from the start each day.

We calculated that RAGBRAI drops about a million dollars each day of the tour. That’s pretty significant amount to be injected into the economy of the small towns that we travel through.

Happy Biking,

Brian
Miles 77
2400 plus feet of climbing








July 22, Eldora to Cedar Falls

Woke up to another cool morning that was overcast. That was a good sign that it would remain cool for the ride. Today and for the rest of the ride the map shows some ups and downs as the topography slope down toward the Mississippi.

As a whole, the riders are becoming more comfortable on the ride, sleeping a bit later and taking a couple more breaks as the day goes on. 

We arrived in Cedar Falls, Jim and Lauri’s hometown,  at about 2PM, put up our tents and relaxed a bit. Jim had brewed up batch of dark beer for the riders, so of course we had to sample it when we got in.

Happy Biking,

Brian

65 miles
1700 plus feet of climbing

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July 21, Fort Dodge to Eldora

Cool last night. Woke up needing a jacket to get out of the sleeping bag. Just right for cycling.  After the typical morning routine of packing bags, taking down the tent and dragging the bags into the baggage truck, it was time to put on the sunscreen, make the last minute check take all the cycling gear was accounted for; helmet, gloves, camera, GPS and such, it was time to roll.

With a couple of quick turns we were on the road with the other riders. Just a great day of photo ops. The road wide open with sun low on the horizon and color full riders all around.

About 20 miles in we stopped for coffee and bagels at a vendor (K&K) that has become a regular for use. We lollygagged in the early morning sun until we felt that it was necessary to move on. Generally the roads today were well maintained, smooth and fast with perhaps a touch of a tail wind as well.

40 mile on we stopped on the route at small town called Williams where they laid out the welcome mat. Several classic cars were on the streets and I discovered a car museum in town. All very nice.

We pushed on a found a town that was packed. The group separated as we all found something interesting to eat. I end up with a rhubarb pie with homemade ice cream.  That’s lunch isn’t it?

We rode into camp at 5ish, set up the tent with the goal to hit dinner at the fairgrounds by 6PM. As a special treat, the fairgrounds was having a tractor pull. I’ve heard of tractor pulls but never attend one and it was visible from our campsite, so of course I just had to go!

I can’t say that it was intellectually stimulating, but it was kind of fun and maybe with a couple of more beers it may have been more fun, but it was free so who’s complaining.

Tomorrow we’ll be traveling to Cedar Falls, which is less that 60 miles, so it will be shorter day. I hope that it’s as fun as the past three days.

Happy Biking,

Brian

74  miles
1,400 plus feet of climbing










July 20, Storm Lake to Fort Dodge

The weather forecast was accurate. I was woken up several times by the sound of rain hitting the tent, but by early morning the rain had stopped so that we could pack up our tents with out the rain falling on us. We had decided to head out to McDonald's for coffee and breakfast before starting the ride since McDonald's was right around the corner from the campsite. No sooner had we ordered than we looked out the windows and saw that the roads were getting wet with rain. We put it off as long as we could, had headed out at about 9AM into a drizzling rain. 

It’s never a lot of fun riding the rain, but it was warm and the rain wasn’t cold, so on we rode. The rain front started to break up and we stopped for coffee and bagels about 20 miles into the ride where the sky began to clear with blue sky opening up. We even started to have some tail winds just push us along at a nice pace.

Yesterday we had a bit of climbing and today we had some nice downward oscillating hills. By the time we pulled into the campsite at Fort Dodge, we had climbed slightly over 1,200 feet.

72.76 miles
1,200 plus feet of climbing

Happy Biking,

Brian





July 19, 2015, Sioux City to Storm Lake

There are days that you just want to bike and bike and bike and not have the day end, this is one of those days. I’ve be training enough that the 77 miles and over 4000 feet climb just was just about right, though I might have been able to complete a century if required. The temperatures were cool in the morning warming up in the afternoon, but not too hot. The climbing was over 4000 feet, but the max grade was maybe 6% but most of the time about 3%, which is very do able.

I was awoken at about 4AM to the sound of other riders taking down their tents and trying to get an early start on the day. There was no need for that, we didn’t really push that day and were into camp by 4PM. A long day, but there was no need for a extremely early start. Our little group of 6 were on the road by 7AM.

After getting setting up our tents and showering, we headed out for dinner. We were far enough out of the main part of the town that we weren’t close to the churches that host dinners, so we headed off down the road to a Pizza Hut that was within walking distance of the camp site. We followed dinner with a trip to the local Dairy Queen for some well deserved ice cream. We also received a heads-up from another rider to expect rain shower in the early morning hours before returning to the campsite and turning in for the night.

77.67 miles
4,000 plus feet of climbing







Friday, July 17, 2015

RAGBRAI

It's summer again, so it must be time to start traveling again. The first ride of the summer will be a week across Iowa. The ride has been held annually since 1973 and attracts over 10,000 riders plus additional 5,000 support staff and vendors.

It's like a county fair that moves from town to town every day, starting at the western border of the state and ending at the Mississippi on the eastern boarder. It's the middle of the summer so it will be hot muggy with chance of thunderstorms and pouring rain, but that is all part of the charm. It's an adventure with 10,000 of your closest friends.

I rode RAGBRAI ten years ago at the encouragement of Jim and Lauri Young, long time biking friends. We had met on the coast to coast ride in 2002, Seattle to Boston. Also joining will be Phillipe and Agnes, friends from Paris. We met Phillipe several years ago on a ride and since road several trips with both Phillipe and Agnes.

All these bike rides start with a air of excitement, we just don't know what the ride will bring. Whatever it brings, we be experiencing it together. Maybe it will be a cool morning ride with the sun low on the horizon, or it could be a hot sun beating down on you as you push your way through a headwind, of head down in the pouring rain. It can be anything, but you can guarantee that there will be coffee stops and cool beers at the end of the day and swapping of stories. All in all, it all about the adventure, not the destination.

Check in occasionally as the trip progresses. If there is wi-fi and I have time, I’ll be updating the blog as we go.

Happy Biking,

Brian Cox