As I said in a recent post, I planned on riding a couple days of RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) this week. And, guess what? I did it and had a blast! I rode Tuesday (Perry to Des Moines) and Wednesday (Des Moines to Knoxville) with my dad. My sister and mom also rode together on Tuesday.
We got up bright and early -5:30 a.m. – to get the car loaded and drive to Perry (about a 40 minute drive from Des Moines.) When we got to the swine veterinary (it is rural small town Iowa after all) office that my dad and his team, More Cowbell (check out their website by clicking on the link) were staying the night at, my dad was still sleeping. So, we didn’t start riding until between 7 and 8 a.m. We were really blessed to have such great weather on Tuesday. It was a cool 65 degrees when we got to Perry and I wanted a jacket most of the ride. I didn’t even break a sweat until near the end of the day’s 54 miles. A huge difference from last year’s RAGBRAI, when the temperatures exceeded 100 degrees most of the week (and I happened to pick Wednesday to ride, the hottest day.)
Tuesday’s ride was pretty flat, but very congested. An estimated 35,000-50,000 people were riding Tuesday. Probably because of the cool weather and shorter distance (Monday was the century ride: 100 miles.) and most people seemed to get a late start and were pretty tired. Lots of people show up from out of state, even out of the country. So cool! It always amazes me that so many people want to be a part of a bike ride across Iowa!
Okay, on to Wednesday’s ride: I was happy to sleep in my own bed (instead of camping with 20,000 other people in Water Works Park) and even sleep in a little before leaving for Wednesday’s ride with my dad. The Des Moines to Knoxville route was about the same distance: 51 miles. Definitely a short day compared to most RAGBRAIs. But, Wednesday’s route was really hilly, so I definitely got some strength in.
We pedaled into our relatives’ acreage in Knoxville a couple hours later than we did the day before in Knoxville (probably because of a later start and spending a little too much time eating ice cream and on the slip n slide along the route. Hey, it’s not a race!) We enjoyed a laidback evening talking and picking blueberries before heading into town to grab some dinner before driving back to Des Moines. I slept really well and am hoping to ride the full week, next year! Wish my dad luck as he finishes out the week!
I didn’t go out and party the night before, but it sounded like downtown Des Moines was crazy. This is the first time Des Moines has been an overnight town since 1997-the year I was born- so it was a big deal. Des Moines has changed A LOT since 16 years ago. Esp. downtown. It was great that Des Moines could show off how far we’ve come and host a great night (with little sleep for most riders. I heard they couldn’t get people to leave.)
To a great RAGBRAI experience!