Tuesday, July 28, 2015

RAGBRAI | 2015

Last Friday, my two sisters and I rode RAGBRAI.  Even though this race started in the 1970's and I'm an Iowa native, this was my first time riding RAGBRAI.  Luckily, both of my sisters have rode the entire week previously, so they prepped me as much as you can.  Alicia completed the full week in 2012 {hottest RAGBRAI on record & 2nd longest route} Ashley completed the full route in 2013 and has rode a few days each year since.  
For those of you unfamiliar with RAGBRAI, it's a {pedal} bike ride across Iowa in one week.  The route changes every year this year happened to be 481.5 miles from start to finish.  Friday, the day we rode, was from Hiawatha to Coralville {65.6 miles with 2955 feet climb} 
Alicia and I had planned to ride Friday for a while {although we didn't commit until the day before} but Ashley didn't decide to ride until 5pm the afternoon before, when I went to her house to grab bike shorts and convinced her to join us {she already rode Monday - Wednesday}.  So, with no notice she dropped everything and we headed to Alicia's house {just over 2 hours away}.  We parked down the street and rode up to her Alicia's back patio to surprise her.  We ended up driving to our friend Hailey's house to spend the night since it would be closer to the start the next morning.
via Instagram
Since I hadn't trained at all {w/ the exception of pulling the kids two miles on two separate occasions!} I was pretty nervous!  We woke at 4:30 to get ready, drive to 'tent city', and start biking by 5:30a.  The first leg was 16.1 miles and went really good.  We watch the beautiful sunrise and before we knew it, we were at Whittier.  At this point, I was only concerned about my butt because OMG it HURT!  Like BAD!  I struggled getting off my bike!  Whittier was a TEENY TINY 'town' that really didn't offer much, but I did split a breakfast sandwich with my sister.  This was a quick stop and we were on our way to Springville.  Springville was just 3.3 miles up the rode and we debated about stopping at all, but this town was happening.  It really put me in the RAGBRAI mood.  Good music {& dancing - before 8a!} and lots of food.  I had a half an order of scrambled eggs with cheese here.  At this point we comment that it's almost a little chilly out, but I refuse to complain because I thought it was going to be 97* and sunny, which would be worse!  We continue 10.7 miles to Mount Vernon and stop again.  This town was hopping!  TONS of fun!  Lots of live music & food.  Ashley and I split an order of mini donuts & cheese balls.  I take a video of a band that is playing tons of songs that Adam's band plays and send it to him.  Ashley decides to call for Hailey to pick her up at the next stop.  On our we out of town we stop at OneMission and I get a cute shirt.  We rode two more miles to Lisbon, and to be honest I don't think we even stopped.  I can't remember this town, I think it was basically just connected to Mt. Vernon.  We did stop at Sutliff Cider 2.4 miles later just long enough to check our phones.  The local news had sent a text about the bad storms headed our way and our dad text giving us a heads up, too.  We knew where we were and where the storm was, so we thought we could out run it if we kept going.  So we got on our bikes and headed out even though we really wanted to stop for a drink and to enjoy the music for a bit.  There were tons of people dancing and having a great time.  Right as we left Sutliff it started raining.  It was pretty light, and didn't feel too bad.  The one difference once we left Sutliff and headed to Solon was that the hills became less 'rolling hills' {which we had experienced most of the morning} and more HILLS.  As we rounded the final corner coming into Solon, the rain let loose and the lightening started cracking.  Luckily, we were just getting ready to stop for lunch anyways.  Alicia grabbed a sandwich and sweet corn and I picked up a piece of pizza and a Mt. Dew and we waited out the storm.  Or attempted to.  About 30 minutes in, after talking to other RAGBRAI-ers, we decided to call it.  The final 20 miles were really hilly, I'm {VERY} inexperienced & there were so many bikes on the road, we just felt it wasn't worth the risk.  So, just 20 miles from the 'finish line', I waived the white flag. 
Of course, just as Ashley came to get us, it started clearing off and Alicia and I both commented that we wanted to keep going.  But since we already had Ashley come down to get us, we didn't want to make her turn around and go back to Iowa City.  At first I was, okay, I still am, pretty bummed to quit.  My only goal was to finish, and I didn't. BUT I will say that it was so much fun to experience that I will definitely be doing a day or two again.  It was cool to learn the lingo, and see riders of all ages and types, but the comradery of the entire group was the best thing of all.  I can't tell you how many times my eyes filled with tears over the sweetness of all of these people.  They're constantly looking out for their 'teammates'.  Blown tires, wrecks, hills ahead... they're right by your side helping and encouraging, whether they had been riding together for years or just a few minutes.  
Personal stats - Year 1
45 miles rode
30 mph - fastest speed
0 wrecks/blown tires from me
I learned the lingo & how to shift gears
I also learned the importance of bike shorts!!! :)

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