RAGBRAI 2010

The following is my account of RAGBRAI 2010. It starts with a column (Ink Blog) printed in the Rice Lake Chronotype on July 28, the mid-point of RAGBRAI.

Following that is my day by day account of the ride which was written the week after RAGBRAI while still fresh in my mind.

It remains in the first draft version.

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Everyone has a bucket list. Things that they want to do before they die. Some people write down the things they want to do and check them off as they are completed. Most people have a mental bucket list.

Written or not it is always very satisfying to complete an item on a bucket list. This summer I am working on my bucket list. I am working on a 28 year old “I should do that sometime” adventure.

I’m going to ride a tricycle across Iowa. I’m going to ride RAGBRAI. The (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. A week long 500 mile cycle ride from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River. As this Ink Blog goes to press I will be a little over half-way through the trip and I’m doing it on my trike.

The first question people ask is normally … why Iowa? It’s like this. RAGBRAI is the grandaddy of all bike rides. Ten thousand riders from every state and many foreign countries clog the route each day. It is the oldest and largest ride of its kind. No other bicycle ride compares. None.

I first observed RAGBRAI in1982 as it made my wife’s hometown of Tipton an overnight stop. RAGBRAI returned to Tipton again in 2008 and once again I was there to observe the participants.

RAGBRAI is more than a bike (or trike) ride. With 10,000 riders and thousands more support staff, it is a cultural and educational experience. It is a moving community/party that descends for one evening on cities the size of Rice Lake or Cumberland.

I was fascinated the way thousands of tents went up in a matter of hours. Every church and non-profit group within 20 miles setting up a food and/or beverage stand to feed and quench the thirst of the masses. Entertainment and Beverage Gardens. The rows and rows and rows of porta potties. The next morning everything is gone except for the money that was left behind. And it is off to the next city. For seven days. Five hundred miles on a trike.

Then comes the question … why a trike? Comfort, plain and simple, comfort. The size of my trike’s tractor style seat exceeds the size of my rear end. On top of that seat I have a thick sheepskin cover to reduce sweaty monkey butt. The trike also keeps my back upright. I’m not hunched over the handlebars. There is stability that comes from riding on three wheels instead of two. Finally there is the basket on the back to transport a small cooler on a hot summer day. Comfort. It’s all about making myself as comfortable as possible.

Then might come the statement … you’re (insert adjective here) crazy.

I’ve always marched to the beat of a different drummer. Friends who know me would agree with that statement. But ride a trike 500 miles across Iowa? Arnie, come on. Get serious.

This is the first physical challenge I have ever attempted. I often hold out my hands and say “these hands were made to shuffle paper.” I am a long time walker, but that is it for physical activity and exercise. I figure over the past 30+ years I have walked at least 25,000 miles or once around the world. I’ve often wondered how fat I would be if I hadn’t done all that walking.

To prepare for this trek across Iowa I have rode more than 2300 training miles in this past year. I have gone out of my way to find hills to climb. I thought I was going to die the first time I attempted the Augusta Street hill and now it is a breeze. I’ve been scared by a skunk, bear and racoon. I put up my first tent since I was in Boy Scouts. I have basically put my life on hold until this challenge is complete.

OK, maybe I am a little crazy. But my bucket list is one adventure shorter than it was last year. Is yours? Come on do one. The crazier the better. You won’t regret it.

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Day 1

I knew Day 1 was going to tough. On paper it was to be the hardest day. After level riding in the city of Sioux City, riders started to climb the hills on their way to Storm Lake. Waves and waves and waves of riders passed me by. Slow riders were to stay to the right and I hugged the white line of the right of the road. I expected to see a few other trikes like mine but every other trike on the ride was of the recumbent variety. I wondered why?

The hills of western Iowa are similar to the Blue Hills which I trained climbing. As I peddled along I remembered to “drink before thirsty, eat before hungry and rest before tired.” I certainly kept hydrated then stopped in Kingsley and had a “Breakfast Sandwich” from a local church.

Just past the half way point of the day I arrived in Washta. I had been climbing hills for a little over four hours now. I was tired. Real tired. It might be said near exhaustion. Them were some big hills. One right after another. I found some shade and laid on the ground. After about 20 minutes I got up and heaved my guts out. I laid back down and thought “six and a half more days, I better get going.” So I did. I got back on the trike and started to peddle.

As I peddled now any thoughts of “having fun” that day were erased from my thoughts. It was survival. I had trained for a year for this trip and certainly wasn’t going to give up now. If I got through Day 1 it would be easier tomorrow.

Just get through today… just get through today…

The entire RAGBRAI route is charted showing the elevation changes each mile of the route. They are called the GeoBike charts. After Washta I knew I had a few miles of relative flat then right after Quimby the hills would start again. At the 48 and 52 mile markers very steep hills were indicated. I knew I had to rest at Quimby before attempting those two hills.

After about a 15 minute stop in Quimby I started out again and climbed the first hill without much difficulty. While on the descent from that hill I could see a handful of bikers walking the second hill. I gathered as much momentum as possible and half way up realized I too would be walking a portion of the hill. Damn. I didn’t want to do that on day one.

As I walking and pushing the trike the Wilson family passed me by. That would be Greg, 38, Shelli, 33, and children Remington, 8, Chastity, 7, Hope, 3, and Preston, 1. All six on the same bike. In the 10 seconds or so they took to pass me will be remembered by me forever. As they passed Remington yelled at me, “YOU’RE A WALKER … WE’RE RIDERS NOT WALKERS … YOU’RE A WALKER … WE’RE RIDERS NOT WALKERS!!!” The little shit was trash talking me. Greg burst out in laughter as did I. Greg obviously had a training regimen that included mental toughness and Remington was just mimicking it. It was funny. I am sure Greg later explained to Remington that trash talking fellow bike riders might be considered by some to be in poor taste however.

The days ride had started at 6:00 and I arrived at my camp at 4:00. It took me 10 hours to ride the 68 miles to Storm Lake.

During those 10 hours I received many comments from fellow riders about my seat. My tractor style, sheepskin covered seat. The seat was proclaimed by many to be the “most comfortable seat in RAGBRAI.”

No matter how tired I was, I waved to as many people watching us from the sidelines as possible. Especially the kids who pointed at me and smiled.

How tired was I when I reached Storm Lake? One week later I remembered nothing about Storm Lake. Not where the camp was set up. Not what I ate. Nothing. I do remember thinking about the 79 mile trip in front of me the next day. That would be eleven miles longer than today. But flat. Very, very flat.

Day 2

The most important weather element to me on this trip was wind. More than heat or humidity. Wind. The wind for Day 2 was going to be from the south. Since a portion of the day was headed north that would be helpful. Also as shown by the GeoBike chart, the route from Storm Lake to Algona is flat. Easy day ahead?

Heck I was feeling so good I had my picture taken with Pocahontas in Pocahontas.

I had a Bloody Mary in my hand. Maybe that was why I was feeling so good. I had read many times about the pies on RAGBRAI. I had never read about the Bloody Mary Specials along the route. On Day 2 Bloody Marys became a habit. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. I really started to look forward to them. They were a treat from the water and Gatorade.

Day two will stick in my memory for all the ambulance sirens. There was one stretch of bad roads which caused some accidents but the sirens were all day long. Veteran riders blamed some of the accidents on unregistered riders clogging the road and swerving when they shouldn’t. I can’t say.

Toward the end of the day I received a couple encouraging words from other riders. That surprised me. Prior to that I was largely ignored except for comments about the comfortable seat.

I had signed up for a tent service where my tent would be set up for me each day by the time I got to each overnight town. When I arrived in camp in Algona I was informed by the tent crew one of my tent poles had broken. Instead of having a one man tent I now had a 1/2 man tent. They would try to cobble it together each day but if the front end broke also I would be out of a tent altogether. Just what I didn’t want to hear. I had dreaded the idea of camping or whatever you want to call it. Now I had a bum tent. Every single day for the rest of the week I worried if I would have a tent set up when I got to the next town. I saw dozens of tents like mine spread across the grounds during the week. Mine was the only similar tent that was broken. Hours each day would be spent worrying about that damn tent. Sure there were stores somewhere that probably had new tents. But where would they be and who had the time and energy to go looking, unless absolutely necessary?

While preparing for the next day a multi-year veteran RAGRAI rider approached and started to talk to me. “How much does that trike weigh?” he asked.

I said I thought I had read someplace it was 65 pounds.

How many speeds?”

Three”

In all seriousness he then asked, “Do you know what the hell you are doing here?”

Very tired and with a bum tent I replied, “Not really. I’m just an old paper shuffler and this is the first physical challenge of my life. Up until a year ago at this time the trike had never gone over one mile at a time.”

He then explained. My riding a 65 pound, three speed trike 80 miles that day was equivalent to him or anyone else on RAGBRAI riding 200 miles on their bikes. No wonder I was tired. He expressed doubt I would be able to sustain that pace. It would be near impossible. I now knew why I was the only big trike on RAGBRAI. I wasn’t trying to just accomplish my goal of riding RAGBRAI, I was trying to accomplish the “near impossible.” I never planned on trying to accomplish the “near impossible.” But it sure explained to me why everyone else had more energy than I did at day’s end.

I decided to take the Shuttle bus to the food vendor area. I needed to eat and it was too far to walk. While on the bus I talked with my seat mate. When he learned I was the guy on the trike he started to ask the same kind of questions I had just answered. He said he would never attempt to accomplish what I was trying to do. The earlier encouraging words on the road were starting to make sense to me.

Later that night I laid awake in my 1/2 tent pondering the situation. I had just completed two of the three longest days of the ride. The next day was easier and the day after that easier than that. If I had made the first two days I knew I could make the next two even if I was trying to do the “near impossible.” I’ll show them. I trained over 2300 miles the past year getting ready for this trip. I decided … “Near Impossible” … bring it on.

Day 3

The ride from Algona to Clear Lake was 63 miles and fairly flat. The trip was about 60% East, 20% North and 20% South. The day was hot, humid and with a strong south wind. Second day of a strong south wind. That wind direction had to change by Thursday. A strong south headwind that day would knock out myself and hundreds of others. Thursday’s wind direction was the topic of many conversations.

At 63 miles my target time to arrive in Clear Lake was going to be 2:00 at latest. There was a Water Show at 5:30 and I wanted to be there for that. (More later) By arriving by 2:00 that allowed me about 6 1/2 hours of pedal time and two hours of rest during the day. No problem. And there wasn’t. But did I mention it was HOT.

The first pass through town was Wesley. It was 14 miles out of Algona. I would be arriving there right about 7:00 in time for some breakfast and coffee. I saw on a sign the football team was serving biscuits and gravy. That sounded good.

As I turned the corner entering the Main Street of Wesley, a guy I would describe as looking like a Hawkeye linebacker, stood from his chair and yelled for all to hear, “That’s my new hero” as he pointed toward me. Surprised? I almost felt embarrassed. Almost.

As I neared the entrance to Clear Lake I could see a large arch across the street to greet us. On the right side of the street was the Clear Lake High School Football Team clapping their hands as riders past their way. Their uniforms were visible from blocks away. By the time I arrived in Clear Lake thousands of other riders had already been greeted into town. The enthusiasm level had fallen. As I got about a block away one of the players noticed me. He jabbed the guy next to him and pointed and soon the whole team had been jabbed and I had been pointed at many times. The team lined up for high fives. Start the day being called a “hero” and finish the day with high fives. Not bad. Not bad at all.

I arrived at the Clear Lake campsite and found my tent’s backside tied to a chain link fence. Not ideal but worked. If the crew can find a chain link fence in each location the rest of the week we’re home free? They also put it on a slight downhill as rain may be coming. Thunderstorms in the middle of the night. Thunderstorms that would change the wind direction from south to a more northerly direction and cool things off. Come on thunderstorms!

So anyway with knowledge of my tent being erected I got ready to go downtown.

First things first was to find the Surf Ballroom. It wasn’t open but I wanted to see it anyway. Their were shuttle buses going to the crash site. No thanks. I wanted to make sure I was back for the water show.

The driver of the show boat was a cousin of Karen’s and our niece’s boyfriend was one of the performers. I didn’t get to see or talk to John or Heather but I did see the show.

The water show ended at 6:30. I knew I had to get back to camp. I hadn’t got ready for the next day yet. The cot wasn’t even set up. Lots to do before bedtime at 9:00.

During the night it stormed. Really bright lightning and very loud thunder did its job. It changed the wind direction. Instead of a south wind we now had a very light northerly breeze.

It was a very good day from beginning to end.

Day 4

The trip from Clear Lake to Charles City was a mere 51 miles and once again flat.

While I never lingered long in pass through towns, except when having a Bloody Mary, Cartersville tempted me to stick around. It was in Cartersville the party got a little out of hand. The flying trapeze over a man-made lake drew a crowd. According to news reports the trapeze was shut down about 2:30 due to nudity of participants. By that time I was already in Charles City reflecting on what occurred to me during the day.

A number of riders passing me by this day made comments or asked questions about the trike. Guys were using words such as “awesome” and “amazing” that I was still on the ride. Questions about how many speeds the trike had were normal. Having some of the guys on the ride take notice and give me encouragement was nice.

BUT…

Then there was the pretty young lady who passed me by then slowed until I caught back up to her. She too was interested in the number of speeds on the trike. After a few seconds of such small talk she said to me, “You must have … incredibly … strong … legs.” I almost felt violated. I had just been mentally undressed on County Road B45 in Floyd County, Iowa. It was the first time I had ever been mentally undressed by a pretty young lady.

A short time later another pretty young lady passed me by and said,”You must be the strongest man out here. Nobody else could do what you are doing.”

Two compliments by two different pretty young ladies within an hour of each other. Me? What the hell was going on here? Obviously a number of fellow riders also believed what I was attempting to do was “near impossible.” But there I was still around on Day 4.

I was feeling really good when I peddled into Charles City and found my tent once again tied up to a chain link fence. Two more days of worrying about the tent and that would be it.

I was feeling so good that I went downtown and took in The Dweebs concert from 5-8. A little NW Wisconsin humor and entertainment for me.

The two days of easy riding were now over. Tomorrow would be 80 miles and hills. A good night of rest would be needed.

Day 5

This was the day that was dreaded by many. Charles City to Waterloo. It was 82 miles of hills. Not big hills but still one hill after another. Practically non stop. It was about 70 miles of riding south before heading east again, thus the concern earlier in the week of the wind direction. Luckily the storm in Clear Lake changed the wind and a very gentle ENE wind helped along the way.

As I was leaving Charles City the small chain fell off the sprocket. I put it back on and knew that it went on way too easy and was way too loose. If the chain wasn’t tightened I wouldn’t be going anywhere. Usually there was a portable bike repair service tent set up just as we were leaving overnight towns. Hopefully there would be one this morning. There was and it was only three blocks away. Within a few minutes the chain was tight and I was on my way. If that had occurred miles down the road a long wait would have been in store for me. If I was going to have a breakdown that was the place to have it.

I was off and my goal was to get to Parkersburg, the half way point of the day, by 11:00 with a goal of reaching Waterloo by 4:00.

As I rounded the corner entering Parkersburg I could hear someone on a loud-speaker talking to the crowd. Just as I passed the Master of Ceremonies he said “That’s the kind of ride I like.” I knew he was talking about my seat. All the time I was getting remarks on still being in the ride, the number of compliments on my sheepskin covered seat easily outnumbered any other discussions with me. It seemed that hundreds of time I heard “Can we trade seats?” … ”That looks comfortable.” … “I like your seat.”

It was shortly after Parkersburg that a gentlemen about my age made a point of riding up to me.

Are you OK?”

Yes.”

Are you sure you’re OK?”

Yes, why?”

You never stop. You never stop to drink. You never stop to eat. You never stop to rest. This is the sixth time today that we have passed you. We pass and leave you behind, then stop, and when we start again there you are in front of us again. You never stop.”

I explained to him that I stopped every hour for 5-10 minutes but take few long breaks. Later that day a couple in my Bicycle Club also remarked to me that they passed me six times that day. People were noticing me. Some were even concerned about me.

Shortly after that encounter as I was peddling down the road I noticed a food stand coming up on my right side. I wasn’t going to stop but I did notice one of the people in line was looking at me. It was very obvious to me she was looking at me. In fact this young lady was staring at me. As we made eye contact and I was passing her by she nodded her head up and down and mouthed to me, “You are awesome.” This was now the THIRD very attractive young lady within 24 hours that went out of their way to compliment me. This doesn’t happen to me. That is not “near impossible” for me to imagine happening, that is impossible for me to imagine happening to me.

Meanwhile back to reality…

Our campsite in Waterloo was at the Hawkeye Community College. When I found the site I immediately noticed no chain link fence for my tent to be attached to. The crew did find the only tree in the area to tie my tent up to however.

I was much more tired at this day’s end than the previous two. After all this was a much harder day. But supposedly this was to be the last difficult day. Supposedly.

In fact I purchased my first tee-shirt this day. I had decided earlier in the week I wouldn’t buy a tee-shirt until I knew I was going to finish the route. When I reached Hudson and started to head east I figured the worst was over. The shirt said, “Smooth sailing from here.”

Yea, right.

Day 6

Waterloo to Manchester was 20 miles shorter than the previous day. Not flat but not extremely hilly.

The previous day rain was in the forecast for today. A 60% chance. However that percentage was reduced considerably by the time I asked a Waterloo volunteer what the forecast was. She said it was only a small chance of rain now and we should be good to go, or as the tee-shirt read “smooth sailing.” I decided to only take a lightweight rain coat instead of my full rain suit just in case.

According to the map the pass through towns would come fast and furious at the beginning of the day. Washburn, Gilbertville, Jubilee, Shady Grove were stacked on the map one right after another. I laughed when I when saw the sign on the outskirts of Gilbertville that read “Next food 30 miles.” I knew another town was just a few miles down the road. What I didn’t know was that Jubilee and Shady Grove weren’t going to have any vendors. They were too small. It was going to be 30 miles.

I had barely passed that 30 mile sign when it started to sprinkle. Everyone who brought rain gear with them stopped to put it on. The sprinkles became harder. Then they were no longer sprinkles, it was rain. Then the lightning and thunder started. It was no longer rain it was a full-fledged thunderstorm. No problem Jubilee was just ahead. The city was closed. No place to stop.

While I could average 10 mph in good conditions I sure couldn’t keep that pace in a thunderstorm. So I peddled. And I peddled. And I peddled. And it seemed I was getting nowhere. Finally the town of Rowley was in sight. I was cold, wet, hungry and still in desperate need of my first coffee of the day. When I arrived in Rowley every inch of covered area was taken. There was nowhere to stop. I had to keep going.

A couple of miles out of Rowley I saw a young kid on the side of the road yelling out the menu at the farm up ahead. I heard him say “hot coffee.”  It didn’t matter what the circumstances were I wanted a cup of hot coffee. I turned into the driveway and a man yelled out to me “all the way back to the shed!” I looked up and saw a machine shed with a few other riders taking shelter. I peddled in.

I found fellow riders wrapped in blankets sitting in lawn chairs trying to warm up. The look of fatigue was everywhere. And the rain continued to come down. For two more hours I took shelter in that shed.

I had hoped to be done riding for the day shortly after noon. But here it was noon and I was still in the shed only half way to Manchester. Cold, wet and already tired.

When the rain finally stopped the wind had shifted again. It was now a very strong south wind and the humidity was at 100%. Smooth sailing? Not a chance.

Nobody was talking to anyone on the road when the ride continued. The sole focus of everyone was to just get to Manchester and dry out. I was naturally worried if the crew was going to be able to get my tent up and what condition would it be in when I got there? It was raining in Manchester also.

The second half of the trip seemed to last forever. Already tired from riding in the rain I now faced hills with a very strong cross wind.

The thought of this being my last night in the tent kept me going. I had been looking forward to my last night in the tent ever since my first night in the tent. The more I peddled the closer I came to the end of the road…

When I finally arrived in Manchester four hours later than expected, I was spent. Our camp was set up on the grounds of an elementary school. The crew once again found a small tree to tie my tent to. The tent never looked better. The crew had also done an outstanding job of keeping our gear dry during the day. It could have been worse.

Ever since the tent broke on Day 2 I looked forward to tossing it away. It was not salvageable. I scouted around the school to find the dumpster. I planned on throwing the tent away in that dumpster the next morning.

One more day to go.

Day 7

The final leg of RAGBRAI was a 47 mile ride from Manchester to Dubuque. At mile 34 was Potter’s Hill. The hill everyone talked about for months leading up to RAGBRAI. A 1 1/2 mile long, 350 foot climb hill. A killer. (GeoBike Chart) After Potter’s Hill it was downhill into Dubuque where more hills would greet us before arriving at the Mississippi.

I awoke at 5:06. My first thought was “oh shit, the lines for the porta potties will be long.” And they were. If you got up before 5:00 you could normally get right in but after 5:00 was always a wait. The day wasn’t starting off right.

After packing up and putting my baggage in the truck I gleefully took my tent and threw it in the dumpster! I was done sleeping in a tent. Forever!

I grabbed a cup of coffee at a C-Store. I didn’t want to get in the position I did the day before and go hours before my first cup. Then it was off to Dyersville and The Field of Dreams. I had visited the Field of Dreams on a handful of occasions before but I never give up the chance to do it again.

The weather was getting hotter as each mile progressed toward Potter’s Hill. I wasn’t that concerned because I had decided months ago if I had to walk the hill I would walk it. No problem. Then it appeared. Three quarters of the width of the hill was covered by walkers with only 1/4 of the road being used by those trying to bike up. It was time to get off and start walking. It was then I discovered that walking up Potter’s Hill would not be as easy as I thought. I had never trained to push a 65 pound trike up a hill over a mile long. While bike riders were pushing along their bikes I struggled mightily to push my trike. I thought I would never reach the top.

When I did reach the top my legs ached for the first time all week. I mean they really ached. I was sweating as much as I had all week. Exhausted is the only term to describe my condition at that point. Luckily I had about 5 miles of downhill to Dubuque ahead of me.

During the downhill decent speeds were achieved by the bikes that scared me just thinking about it. As bikes were screaming past me doing at least 50-60 mph the riders were yelling “YEE HA!” I was trying to hold the trike back at 30-35 mph thinking to myself, ‘OH SHIT!” Scary? Oh yes.

As I entered Dubuque I noticed the crowds on the sides of the street cheering us on but for the first time all trip I didn’t care. I didn’t wave to them. I didn’t say “Hello” to the kids pointing and smiling at me on my trike. I was in an absolute dead tired state of physical exhaustion. Potter’s Hill had done me in. I still had a number of hills within Dubuque still to conquer before getting to the Mississippi. The crowds were saying “Only two more hills to go.” After two hills the crowds were still saying, “Only two more hills to go.” I thought they would never end. Up ahead I saw another hill with many of the bikers walking. I too had to walk that hill. Then another hill. Pushing my 65 pound trike along.

By now I was not just physically exhausted I was also mentally and emotionally exhausted. I wanted the finish line so bad and it just never seemed to come. I was so close to the “near impossible” yet still so far away.

Finally I could see the Mississippi. It was near tire dipping time. I wanted so bad to dip my front tire in the Mississippi to end this trek across Iowa. When I finally got there I saw a number of steps that had to be navigated to get to the river. I knew I would never be able to haul the trike down and then pick it up and carry it back up. After 500 miles I would not be able to dip my front tire.

I started to push the trike up the ramp leading away from the dip site. Next to me on the ramp was a young guy that towered over me in height. He looked down at me and said, “You made it.”

I looked up, nodded my head and replied, “Yes, I made it.”

“That’s incredible.”

He grabbed his camera and asked, “Can I take a picture of you?”

And for what must have been the hundredth time this week someone snapped a picture of me and my trike. I had done the “near impossible.”

Karen and her brother Keith were waiting for me somewhere. Not sure where but I knew they were somewhere. Before setting out trying to find them I found a patch of grass in the shade and collapsed like I did way back in Washta the first day. This time I covered my head and sobbed. There was nothing left in me.

After hundreds of hours of training and planning I had achieved my goal of riding RAGBRAI on my 3 speed trike with the comfortable seat. I couldn’t believe it was over.

When I decided to embark on this mission I had no intention whatsoever of making this a “near impossible” goal. I always figured there would be a number of other trikes like mine riding along. I had no intention of attempting to do something that would bring attention to myself from other riders. I had no intention of attempting to do something so special.

Before the ride some of my friends playfully said I was “crazy” for doing this. When I got back I told them I was not “crazy.” I was just “too stupid to know better.” Nobody told me that it couldn’t or shouldn’t be done so I just trained like I could do it. And I did.

One of the most memorable pictures I took was of my feet after I showered in a real shower. I doubt my feet will ever look like this again. That is a Sandal tan!

I have been asked many times if the ride was “fun?” I reply that my description of RAGBRAI will never include the word “fun.” I never had time to have fun. I had to conserve every ounce of energy for the ride.

Would I do it again?

I can’t imagine circumstances that would lead me to do it again. But not for a minute do I regret doing it once. Every hour of training and planning and doing was worth it. I placed myself in a position far out of my comfort zone and survived.

Upon returning home the first Quote of the Day I received in my inbox came from Victor Hugo (1802-1885). Victor said…

People do not lack strength; they lack will.”

It was certainly “will” that brought me across the finish line that day.

It was all I had left.

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