RAGBRAI 2012 – Day 3

Tuesday was the start of a 3 day stretch of 80+ miles per day. The forecast was still hot. With a long day ahead an early start to beat the heat was in order. How about a 4:35 start?

The sky was overcast to start and no moon light could get through. It was dark out there. The darkest I have ever cycled through. I later heard 2 cycles were hit by cars that morning in the dark. No blinky on the rear of their cycles.

The route today was mostly east with a little north at the end of the day to get into Webster City. When the heat started to rise and the wind started to blow it was directly from the east. It was a strong east wind all morning until about noon when it switched to the south. The wind was whipping decorations in town after town.

A very strange thing happened to me on this day. For some reason my legs wouldn’t work in sync. I compare it to golf. Some days it seems like you have never played the game before. My legs were acting like they had never been trained. The chain appeared to be sloppy and herky-jerky. I even stopped at a repair tent and the guy took the trike for a spin looking for a problem. No problem with the trike. It was all me. The next day I hopped on the trike and the legs worked perfectly. It was just this one day? Go figure.

By Day 3 the ride is starting to get into its groove. The week-long riders know their lanes. Riders have seen each other and exchanged small talk with many over the first two days. A comfortable feel starts to set in.

The pass through towns this day were very well spaced. The first stretch was 11.5 miles followed by 7.7, 9.3, 8.2, 6.3, 7.1, 5.4, 7.9 and finally 17.8. Lots of pass through towns to break up the riding.

It was observing the activity in a RAGBRAI overnight town that originally got me interested in RAGBRAI. Watching Tipton host RAGBRAI in 1982 then again in 2008 fascinated me. It is that interaction that intrigues me most about RAGBRAI. The tremendous amount of civic pride that goes into the planning and hosting RAGBRAI each year. Either as an overnight town or a small town pass through town.

Just try to image a small town of a couple hundred people hosting 15,000 visitors compressed  into a 4-6 hour period. Every church, non-profit and school group imaginable wanting a small piece of the financial pie that will be left behind. Youngsters help how they can by holding out a hose shower for riders to cycle through. Nursing home residents line the route and wave to the riders. It is a once in a generation chance to show off their town to the world.

It is virtually the world that does visit those towns. Riders from every state and many foreign countries are registered for RAGBRAI. The average age is 45. Not exactly a young person’s ride, yet riders of every age group, including too young,  are represented. All income ranges and professions are represented. (Did you know that attorneys talk too much all the time?)

Then to show how small the world is … On the back of my trike I had a RAGBRAI license plate which had my home town written on it. Shortly after noon a rider in his 20’s approached me and asked if I knew the Kelnhofers from Rice Lake? I replied I grew up 3 houses from Dick and Midge. “That’s my grandparents,” he exclaimed. We talked for a while and he was off. About an hour later he once again approached me from the back and he asked if he could take my picture.  He had already called his Grandmother Midge and confirmed that I really did know them.

It was about 3:00 when I rolled in Webster City. Long, hot, windy day but other than legs not working properly and chapped lips, doing fine.

Bruce continued to find excellent camping locations and the Middle School in Webster City once again filled the bill. The list of things to consider when choosing a RAGBRAI campsite included items such as showers, porta potties, food and late afternoon-evening shade. The top item on that list had quickly became late afternoon-evening shade. When I was attempting to spot the pink tent I always looked in the tree-lined shady areas first. That’s where I found it again in Webster City. Great job Bruce!

One of the best evening meals of the week was in Webster City at the church across the street from the school. A choice of Beef and Noodles and/or Vegetarian Lasagna was served to hundreds that evening. Their extra huge portions of desert was appreciated by all. After dinner Bruce asked me what I had planned for the evening. I replied, “Sit in the chair and stare blankly into space.” The two riders sitting across from us shook their head in agreement. Exhausted like two years ago? No. Fatigued? Oh yes.

Another long hot day was on the agenda for the next day. A good night sleep was in order. It didn’t happen. The noise during the night was non-stop. Cars, trucks, garbage trucks, drunks leaving the 3 Dog Night concert, you name it, they made noise during the night. Maybe I was giving Bruce too much credit for finding good camping sites? Just kidding.

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