Sunday, July 30, 2006

25 Overnight Guests? Sure!

Team DLO pulled in on Friday to spend the night with us. For those not familiar with RAGBRAI it is an annual bicycle ride across the state of Iowa, held the last full week of July, beginning on a Sunday and finishing on a Saturday. This year was the 34th version. It is the largest annual bicycle ride in the known universe with 10,000 “official” riders plus many more riding unofficially. The route always varies and this year the last overnight was in Coralville, adjoining Iowa City/University Heights. One of the big stories this year was that Lance Armstrong rode two days, and set off a great deal of excitement. Let me state that this ride is not a race, you go through small towns and see the best the rural life has to offer. Think about being able to eat all the home-made pie you want without gaining weight!

Lisa and I have both done the ride in the past and when an old friend asked if her bike group could stay here, there was no hesitation on our part. Lisa’s only condition was that she could go to Newton on Wednesday night and ride with them on Thursday and Friday. She is always good about getting training rides in. I rode with her one day two weeks ago for a total of about 8 miles.

The support bus pulled in about noon Friday, along with the van and trailer. The drivers haul tents, clothes, beer, and other necessities. Drivers are the unsung heroes of RAGBRAI. They unloaded and checked things out.

Riders started coming in a little after 2:00. The last group pulled in just before 6:00. The riders were coming 76 miles that day from Marengo. Wednesday and Thursday nights Team DLO slept in vacant lots with no toilet facilities or showers. Just walking into air conditioning was a huge luxury for them. This has been a very hot and humid RAGBRAI with temps in the mid 90’s and heat indices in 105 range. Since our geothermal system pulls hot air out of the house past the water heater, we have a large supply, but to be sure I enlisted Mike and Amy next door to help with showers. Between their two and our two we had everyone cleaned up in no time. Many also enjoyed the girls’ wading pool too.

The members of Team DLO are representative of what makes RAGBRAI great. They were: unfailingly polite, interesting, fun loving, and courteous. They hail from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado, and New York. We put 4 into each of the upstairs bedrooms, three in the living room, two in the music room, three in the girls room and two in the basement. Two folks slept outside in their tent by choice.

Saturday is always a relatively short day, only 54 miles to Muscatine. Lisa managed to shame me into riding so we took off at the relatively late time of 9:15. The temp when we left was 84 degrees. We rode to West Branch (10 miles) and stopped for bananas and water, we then went through Springdale, and went to West Liberty (18 miles) where we stopped at 11:30 for lunch. It was 95+ by this time. We managed to find some shade near the park, and hang out for a good hour.

We rode to Attalissa, where we stopped at Buelito’s to say hello to the owners, my band frequently plays there. We got to Muscatine about 3:00. Everyone in the team met and we rode in formation down to the Mississippi River. RAGBRAI tradition is that you dip your back tire in the Missouri on Sunday when you start and you dip your front tire in the Mississippi at the end.

Here are Lisa and I with Jo Ann at the end.

We rode back in the team bus, we had Lisa’s parents meet us along interstate 80 and picked up the girls so that they could ride home in the bus with us. They were glad to do this, since they were at Grandma’s on Friday and missed the festivities. They now consider themselves equal to Mike and Amy next door since we too have had a bus here, just like the Hawkeye bus that comes for football games.


jm@houseinprogress said...

Seriously? That looks like an awesome amount of fun. Hope everyone was okay given the hot, hot weather!

Mike said...

It is an unbelieveable amount of fun. We made it fine in the heat. I probably drank 3 gallons of water on the road. I have found nothing that compares to traveling beautiful country at 15 miles an hour. The best part is that you eat like pigs all week and come home to discover that you've lost weight.