RAGBRAI 2012 – Day 1

This year was going to be different. Everything planned was different from my experience in RAGBRAI 2010. From what and how I packed for the week to having a personal support vehicle/driver and a different trike.

My RAGBRAI 2010 camping/tenting/showering experience was horrid. No need to rehash … but it was horrid. I don’t like camping and every reason I don’t like camping happened that week.  This year would be different. Bruce Kleven wanted to experience RAGBRAI without riding so in addition to driving he would also be my tent master. I would not have to concern myself with setting up or taking down camp. The plan was him to text me the camp location.  When I arrived in camp the tent and cot would be set up. When I left in the morning I would just leave and Bruce would pack up.  A list of things to consider when choosing a camp site would be his guide. A borrowed pink tent would make camp easy to find.

Instead of peddling a Sun 3 speed upright trike, I would have a Sun EZ Tri-Classic 21 speed recumbent trike.

Oh yes, this year was going to be different.

The route this year was the 9th easiest of the 40 years of RAGBRAI. No big named hills but rather constant steady rollers. Weather would play a big part in how hard or easy the route would by the end of the week.

The weather forecast for the start of RAGBRAI was hot. I joked the week before RAGBRAI that “I would be on a 471 mile ride across drought stricken Iowa. Should be a hoot.” There was no drought ending rain in the forecast. Only hot. I would be all right if I faithfully followed rule #1 of RAGBRAI. Eat before you are hungry. Drink before you are thirsty. Rest before you are tired.

Coffee at Casey’s C Store started the trip at 5:00 on Sunday July 22. The plan was to have breakfast in Alton 15 miles out. But coffee to start the day and trip was a good omen.

At least half the day would be spent traveling south with the remaining heading east. South winds of 10-15 mph made peddling a little tough at times and it was hot. Temps over 100 were recorded throughout the area.

The first ambulance siren was heard a 8:04. They would continue almost non stop for the next four days treating heat exhaustion.

One of the people I met that day was a gentlemen from San Diego.  He peppered me with questions about Jeffrey Dahmer. Nice to know that is still what some people think of when they hear Wisconsin?

Another guy was on roller blades. I saw him in my rear view mirror for some time back there. He was following me in the far right side 3′ shoulder of the road. A strip of paint outlined the 3′ shoulder just like many of the roads back home. He finally approached me and said he had been following me for some time. He was fascinated with how I was able to steer my tricycle with such skill to always keep it within the 3′ area. I told him of the many miles of practice I had on the same type of road and finished with “… and besides, I’m good.” He smiled and nodded his head in agreement.

Day one was a rather short 54.4 miles from Sioux Center to Cherokee. In addition to being short it was also fairly easy at only 1583 feet of climb. It was a different kind of climb today. All day long there was small hills that needed to be climbed with a couple of medium large hills thrown in. But there never seemed to be much of coasting downhill … Until just before Cherokee when a very long, very exciting downhill coast led us into town.

All in all it was a great Sunday ride. Sure it was a little hot but it was only 55 miles and much of it in the early morning. When I remembered how exhausted I was two years ago after the first day I felt really good.

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